AKA the “Other Carolina” State

8th to ratify the Constitution and 1st to secede, South Carolina seems to have been punished every year since the Civil War because of it. South Carolina has been especially hurt by the current recession, with an unemployment rate currently at 11.5%. But don’t count SC as a TKO just yet, they’re home to some of the oldest industries in these United States.

One of America’s first cash crops was tobacco. It thrives in South Carolina’s climate today just as it has for almost 350 years. This is not likely to change soon because despite a reduction in smoking domestically, cigarettes in developing countries are very popular. South Carolina does not rely on tobacco alone though. Poultry, dairy, and hog farming are also big today. Processing facilities for these animals requires a lot of manual labor, which is usually done onsight on near by. In addition to that South Carolina also farms soy beans, peaches, and sweet potatoes.

One of America’s second cash crops was cotton. SC had their hands in this one too. Just like processing for animal products is done within the state so has cotton, which led to a booming textile industry. The Piedmont area of the state plays home to this, where shipping lines to the rest of the country connect. Unfortunately, the textile industry starting moving to China in the latter half of the 20th century and shows no signs of coming back to the southern US. Since much of the state remains undeveloped Forrest, logging and paper manufacturing are contributors to the economy as well. All of these industries above rely on some kind of exploitation of nature and the blue collar factory jobs that come along with it. While vital to the health of any economy, these jobs do not produce much wealth for the state.

South Carolina recognizes this and has taken some steps to diversify their manufacturing base. BMW manufactures their X6 and X5 SUVs and made the last generation Z4 in Spartanburg, SC. There are also plants around the state that make other machinery and industrial chemicals.

It is on the coastline of South Carolina where largest singular source of income can be found. Tourism. Being a resident of the south I’ve made many trips to the South Carolina coast. You’ve basically got two big population centers. Myrtle Beach is the first. Hotels line the strip and reach for the sky. It’s popular every year with biker weeks, though this practice is changing. People are drawn to Myrtle Beach because it’s very cheap to stay there relative to other beaches from Virginia to Florida. The area is highly developed and there is much to do from shopping to concerts to golf. You can’t spit in any one direction without hitting a golf course.

Further down the coast is one of the most charming towns in the southeast, Charleston. This area is a tourism and transportation hub. A port with high customer satisfaction rates and retiring boomers help keep a fresh supply of money into the area. Finally all the way down towards the Georgia border is Hilton Head. HH is your standard high-end beach destination. Gorgeous, expensive, and worth every penny.

But tourism alone can’t hold up an entire state, unless you have Florida’s coastline. This is why unemployment is so high. What really hurts the state is their lack of leadership in any one area. Many major corporations have operations in the state but so few are located there. Of all the Fortune 500 companies, only two are located in the state, and you haven’t heard of them. They are on the low-end of the list and aren’t huge employers.

The good news is South Carolina has plenty of people ready to work, tons of space to do it, and the power to do all the tax incentives they need to get companies to move in. The future could look bright for SC, but only because the present is so dim. And that’s why they’re merely a runner-up to the other state that shares the name ‘Carolina’.

Photos: reellady,

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categories: economics, tour of the country