South Carolina Ranked as the #1 State for Manufacturing

South Carolina Ranked as the #1 State for Manufacturing

Natalie Johnson
Posted 01/18/2023

map of south carolina

Manufacturing has been a key component to the South Carolina economy in the last 10 years and the state’s efforts to improve infrastructure and educate a highly skilled workforce are paying off. The state has been making headlines lately for its attractiveness to corporations around the world. 

South Carolina is now ranked as the #1 best state for manufacturing according to the Site Selection Group. North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia follow close behind. 

The state’s manufacturing employment has grown 17% in the past decade and it is now the leading exporter of tires and passenger vehicles in the United States. The state received all A’s for their Manufacturing Health and Global Reach in 2019 by the Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card. And these are only a few of the awards and ratings the state has received recently. 

In 2022, South Carolina won nearly 100 projects with over 5,000 jobs anticipated to come to the state in the coming year. There are still around 500 active projects with companies looking to relocate to the state and officials plan to continue to make improvements to attract companies looking to quickly begin operations. 

Many of these projects are related to the manufacturing industry as the most prominent industries in the state continue to be aerospace and aircraft manufacturing, automotive production, advanced materials manufacturing, and distribution.

There are several factors that make the state an attractive location for the manufacturing industry:


Five interstate highways run through the state, including I-95 which runs North to South, all the way from Maine down to Florida. 95 is considered the busiest highway in the United States for truckers and spans 15 states, crossing through more states than any other highway. 

There is also an extensive railway system in the state. According to the Association of American Railroads, 65.4 million tons of freight was moved along South Carolina railroads in 2019. 

In addition to ground transportation, South Carolina bolsters the deepest port on the East Coast. The Port of Charleston is now 52 feet deep and can be utilized at any time and at any tide. The new channel, which was completed in 2022, spans 40 miles from the ocean through the inner harbor to connect three container terminals and the turning basins have been widened so ships can pass each other or turn around with ease. The port of Charleston is the 6th largest container port by cargo value in the United States and many of the railways deliver cargo to this port. The recent expansion of this port has been crucial in attracting business to the state.


The ability to hire and retain a skilled workforce was the most significant factor in companies’ decisions to move to the Palmetto State and in the states ranking as number one for manufacturing. 

The SC Technical System is the state’s largest system of higher education and educates more undergraduate students than all other South Carolina institutions combined. ReadySC has trained over 300,000 individuals since 1961 and its “Train the Trainer” program was recognized by the Association for Talent Development as a “Best Practice” for training and development. Apprenticeship Carolina has trained over 40,000 apprentices since 2008. 

Programs such as readySC, Apprenticeship Carolina, and the 16 technical colleges located in the state prepare individuals for a fruitful career in manufacturing and play a key role in attracting business to the state. 

Pro-Business Economy 

In addition to the advantages listed above, the state also offers many tax incentives for businesses including: no property tax, no local income tax, no inventory tax, no wholesale tax, no sales tax on manufacturing machinery, industrial power, or materials for finished products, no unitary tax on worldwide profits, and a favorable corporate income tax rate. 

Manufacturing continues to be essential to the South Carolina economy and brings a multitude of jobs to rural communities. If you’re looking for a high quality education or a new place to manufacture goods make sure the Palmetto State is at the top of your list. 

For more information on the state’s business incentives visit the South Carolina Department of Commerce website. 

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Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson is the previous editor/website administrator for, and is currently a student at Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.

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Natalie Johnson

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