Commerce secretary: SC manufacturing leads a robust time of growth.

Date07 November 2022

South Carolina is enjoying one of its busiest years on record for business recruitment, and manufacturing is leading the way, according to Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III.

He joined leaders from three of the state's hottest industries life sciences, aerospace and automotive on Nov. 3 at the S.C. Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Greenville for a discussion of the state's economic outlook for 2023.

"Almost all of the biggest business recruitment we are seeing in the state right now is in manufacturing, and we're going to continue to have a strong manufacturing backbone for our state's economy," Lightsey said.

He said several megatrends affecting manufacturing worldwide will also affect the state in the near future and for years to come, including changes in technology, an increased focus on sustainability and lingering supply chain issues which are causing many businesses to look at suppliers closer to home.

Here is a look at observations by industry leaders:

Life sciences

The life sciences industry is the fastest growing in South Carolina, with more than 1,000 companies statewide, according to James Chappell, president and CEO of SCBIO, the state's economic development organization for the industry.

Life sciences contribute $25.7 billion annually to the state's economy, he said. More than 87,700 people are employed in the sector with an average salary of $87,369.

"We're growing faster than several other states in the Southeast when it comes to life sciences, but still in the middle of the pack when it comes to the number of life science jobs available per capita," Chappell said. "When it comes to this industry, the powder is there we just need the match to light it."

The industry's presence ranges from homegrown firms like Nephron and Ritedose in Columbia and Poly-Med Inc. in Anderson to large national companies such as Thermo-Fisher Scientific, Zeus and Bausch and Lomb.

Chappell said SCBIO is working on a goal of turning South Carolina into a geographic hub for life sciences through a strategy that combines building workforce and partnerships, nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship and letting more people know what the state has to offer. SCBIO is getting middle school students interested in life sciences through Rad Lab, a mobile gaming platform that teaches them about the industry. SCBIO is also working with the state's technical colleges to help get more people trained in the industry, with a special focus on reaching...

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