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Revving the Economic Engine: South Carolina’s Auto Cluster

Revving the Economic Engine: South Carolina’s Auto Cluster

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In April 2013, the NADO Research Foundation released the report Revving the Economic Engine: South Carolina’s Auto Cluster(PDF). Over the last 30 years, South Carolina has developed a flourishing, globally competitive automotive and ground transportation cluster which is a major engine of economic growth in the state.  While the impact of the auto and ground transportation industries on the South Carolina economy may seem obvious with the large presence of BMW and Michelin alone, the full breadth and depth of the auto cluster was not realized until 2011, when the University of South Carolina (USC) Moore School of Business published the first comprehensive analysis of this economic engine.  The analysis estimated an economic impact of $27.1 billion using 2008 data and supports over five percent of the state’s total employment.  For every one job created in auto manufacturing, more than three jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.

South Carolina has a reputation for being a competitive state among economic development circles, and the state also has significant transportation facilities such as the deepwater Port of Charleston, inland port in Greer that will open later in 2013, and rail and interstate corridors providing connections within the state and to nearby cities such as Atlanta and Charlotte.  The state’s workforce development system and the collaborative research campus at Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research are also assets that make South Carolina and the 10-county Upstate region competitive.

This report was produced through the NADO Research Foundation’s Center for Transportation Advancement and Regional Development under a cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration.


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