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The one to watch

Cane Bay (copy)

Cane Bay Plantation in Berkeley County is one of the many suburban Charleston housing developments that continue to add new residents to the region. File/Staff

A new report that measures counties' attractiveness to new talent placed Berkeley County eighth among the nation's top-ranking counties. The rankings were released this week by Emsi, an economic analysis firm, for its fourth annual Talent Attraction Scorecard

The scorecard included large, small and micro (populations of 5,000 or less) counties across the U.S. A few main trends emerged:

  • Southern counties "rising in the ranks"
  • Western cities "punching above their weight"
  • Sunbelt states — the southeast to the southwest — "thriving"

Berkeley County has been moving up in the ranks in Emsi's report, starting at No. 85 in 2017, then No. 41 last year. Of all the counties in this year's top 10, it made the biggest jumps in the last three years. 

The county has been growing rapidly, and has seen success in recent years in attracting major investments from employers. In 2018, Berkeley County scored three of South Carolina's top economic development announcements

A $600 million expansion of Google Inc.’s Moncks Corner data center was the year’s biggest announcement by value, per the state's Commerce Department. A $255 million expansion of J.W. Aluminum’s Goose Creek campus ranked fourth in the state for value, and welding and fabrication firm W International's plans to hire 600 new workers ranked third for job creation. 

The county's current unemployment rate is just 1.6 percent, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. That's compared to 1.8 percent for South Carolina and 3.3 percent nationwide. Over the last year, job openings recorded by the department have hovered around 1,000 each month.

The top-ranking large county in Emsi's report was Duval, in the heart of the Jacksonville metro area. According to the report, the largest industries there are hospitals and restaurants, but the addition of Amazon and Wayfairdistribution centers over the last two years boosted the economy. 

Other high-ranking counties were in the PhoenixLas Vegas and Dallas-Fort Worth metro areas. 

Among small South Carolina counties, Lancaster County ranked the highest (No. 25), followed by Jasper (No. 34) and Chester (No. 136). 

Counties were ranked based on six metrics: net migration, overall job growth, skilled job growth, educational attainment, regional competitiveness and annual job openings per capita. 


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Openings, closings:

  • All-vegan restaurant Vegan on Rivers is now open in North Charleston.
  • Chick-fil-A in West Ashley is reopening on Nov. 21 in a new location.
  • The downtown women's boutique Utopia will close at the end of the year. 
  • Mavis Discount Tire will open a store at the Mills Creek shopping center.

Financial statement:

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


“If the U.S. economy stopped growing, Charleston will do better than most other areas.”

Lawrence Yun, economist with the National Association of Realtors

Yun spoke about Charleston's economy at a recent commercial real estate forecast. Bolstered by strong employment and a steady influx of new residents, the city will likely keep growing, but at a slower pace, he said.

Other stuff you should know:

  • Urban Electric Co. is expanding its North Charleston operations with a $10.7 million investment that will create 180 new jobs. (Post and Courier)
  • Holiday airfares from South Carolina airports will be less expensive this year, and Charleston International has the best deals. (Post and Courier)
  • The solar industry is at odds with Duke Energy and Dominion Energy over how much the utilities should pay for solar power. (Post and Courier)
  • The 737 Max groundings have weighed on Boeing's orders and deliveries of new planes, leaving the company far behind its competitor Airbus. (AP)
  • After launching early Tuesday, Disney's new streaming service, Disney Plus, says it's already signed up more than 10 million users. (Variety)

Sound smart at work:

horse-track-expo copy (copy)

Horses gallop around the track during the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, held in the early 1900s (1901-02) at what is now known as Hampton Park. 

"Hey boss, did you know that Charleston's Hampton Park used to be a horse-racing track?"

At one point, Charleston was one of the most significant sites in the world for the sport, and the city had as many as 10 racetracks. This Sunday, the Post and Courier will be celebrating that tradition with the Steeplechase of Charleston at the Stono Ferry Racetrack in Hollywood. 

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Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.