Top 6 industries in Charleston

Shipping container | Photo by @jeff.thoreson

Charleston attracts companies with its pro-business environment, high quality of life, low business costs, skilled workforce, below-average taxes, international airport, and deepwater port — according to the Charleston County Economic Development Department.

Among the diverse businesses here are several key industries that have a major impact on county residents, affecting all aspects of life in the Lowcountry, from the job environment to transportation. Without further ado, here are the top six industries in Charleston County.

Aerospace

  • Aerospace provides 336% more jobs in Charleston County than the national average. From 2011 to 2021, the industry saw an increase of 48% in jobs.
  • Thanks to Boeing, which first opened here in 2011, North Charleston is one of just three places across the globe that assembles + delivers wide body jets. 

Automotive

  • Mercedes-Benz Vans is an industry leader that opened in Palmetto Commerce Park in 1999. The plant underwent a major expansion that was completed in 2018, and employs over 1,300 people.
  • The automotive industry provides 141% more jobs in Charleston County than the national average. From 2011-2021, the industry experienced a 100.7% increase in jobs.  

Defense

  • The Charleston Defense Contractors Association formed in 2002 + advocates for the defense industry’s growth.
  • The county has approximately $2.6 billion in annual contracts from the Naval Information Warfare Center, which designs cyber networks for communication, computers, and space systems.

Tech

  • The Charleston area has 400+ tech companies, including businesses such as Blackbaud, Phish Labs, and Benefitfocus that are headquartered in the area. 
  • Often named one of the “next Silicon Valleys,” the Lowcountry is one of the fastest growing mid-sized metros for computer hardware engineers.

Life Sciences

  • The Charleston area has 35 pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, 50+ research and development labs.
  • According to a 2020 report, MUSC has a $4.5 billion economic impact and provides 30,582 jobs in the Lowcountry. Roper St. Francis Healthcare is another top employer in the region, providing 6,000 jobs.

Logistics

  • Charleston County is in a prime location for the movement of goods, and has skilled workers, numerous transportation and logistics companies, and warehouse space.
  • The SC Ports Authority offers weekly service to 140+ destinations worldwide. Charleston International Airport is a joint civil-military airport and the largest airport in the state.