In a state with a $35+ billion manufacturing sector that accounts for 17 percent of the total gross state product, every week is manufacturing week. Thanks to Gov. Henry McMaster’s proclamation, October 1-5 is officially Manufacturing Week 2018 in South Carolina.
Manufacturers in South Carolina employ 14 percent of the state’s nonfarm workforce, based on the latest 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing employees in South Carolina enjoy an average annual compensation of $71,123 (2016 data), according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U. S. Census Bureau.
South Carolina’s manufacturing industry is growing at a record pace that shows no signs of slowing, from manufacturing headquarters to expanding advanced manufacturing operations. The SC Department of Commerce reports that 31 foreign countries are represented by new manufacturing projects since 2011.
The International Trade Association reports that over the period 2010 – 2016, SC manufactured goods exported from the U.S. grew at 55.7%, with China (20.4%), Germany (12.1%), and Canada (11.1%) representing our state’s three largest export markets. South Carolina now leads the nation in the export sales of tires and passenger vehicles, while the state boasts a diversified industry of manufacturers across a variety of products.
The manufacturing industry plays a key role in economic growth in South Carolina with 3,403 manufacturing firms identified in 2015. And it’s growing. Boeing, Volvo Cars, Mercedes Vans, their suppliers, and many others in the Charleston Metro area are growing the region’s manufacturing base even further. Over 600 manufacturing concerns in the Lowcountry have been identified by the SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), whose regional headquarters for training is at the Lowcountry Graduate Center.
“The growth of advanced manufacturing in South Carolina has presented a challenge to us in higher education to meet the exploding demand for educated talent in STEM fields in general and quality manufacturing specifically,” explained Dr. Nancy Muller, director of the state-funded Lowcountry Graduate Center. “We are committed at our North Charleston campus to continue to serve as a dynamic portal for offerings to meet these growing needs. We are purposely located with ease of access to some of the finest academic programs available in the Southeast from top-flight institutions, and with convenient class times for working professionals, in a high technology learning environment.”
In the proclamation, the governor acknowledges the ever-widening range of products produced by South Carolina manufacturers, from food, pharmaceuticals, and plastics to alternative energy, sports equipment, automotive, and aerospace. Clearly, the future of advanced manufacturing appears strong in the state as a whole and also in the Lowcountry region for the foreseeable future.