Case Study: Charleston Regional Development Alliance

In May 2004, Avalanche’s President, Amy Holloway, led and authored the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA)’s economic development strategy, Forward Charleston, which evaluated the region’s economy, identified its target industries such as aviation and automotive, and provided a five-year implementation plan to boost the region’s economy and build its brand identity as a destination for business. In July 2010, Avalanche created a new strategic plan for the region, Opportunity Next. The nine-month planning process engaged more than 2,500 residents and regional leaders. In May 2016, Avalanche developed a joint Global Competitiveness Strategy with the CRDA and Charleston Metro Chamber called One Region.

Avalanche has had the pleasure of working as the CRDA’s economic development strategist for the past ten years on more than a dozen projects, including three five-year strategic plans, a Regional Talent Demand Study, a Regional Competitiveness Center, a Career Headlight Portal, facilitating annual progress audits, serving as a strategist for creative sector and talent recruitment initiatives, and providing business development support. Today, the Charleston region’s economy is one of the best performing in the nation.

The Results

  • Between 2010 and 2018 Charleston has had 61 new expansion/relocation projects, created 7,880 new jobs, and created $392.6 million in new payroll.
  • The Charleston metro is responsible for 21% of jobs created in South Carolina between 2013 and 2017.
  • Mercedes Benz Vans and Volvo expanded operations in Charleston, investing $2.5 billion total into their facilities in 2018.
  • The Medical University of South Carolina announced an innovative partnership with Siemens Healthineers to study care for stroke victims and pediatric medicine.
  • Google expanded operations at their Berkley County data center with an investment of $600 million, for a total investment of $2.4 billion into the data center.
  • The Scientific Advancement International Corporation broke ground on a new facility in Charleston in 2018 and will create 200 jobs on top of their existing presence in the region.
  • By the end of FY 2016-2017 Charleston has 10 new businesses announcement, 7 of those in high impact clusters. This mean 654 announced new jobs for the region and more than $223 million in capital investment.
  • Charleston was one of only 4 cities achieving inclusive economic growth according to an article published by the Brookings Institution in April 2017.
  • In 2016 Charleston won the “Best Project of the Year” award by the Site Selectors Guild for bringing Thorne Research to Charleston.
  • Trident Technical College in Charleston was given a $50,000 grant by the Bosch Community Fund to support IT Career Clusters.
  • In the past 10 years, the Charleston region generated 58% of net jobs created in South Carolina.
  • Between 2009-2014, Charleston saw a 14.2% increase in jobs. Unemployment is now at its lowest level since 2008.
  • In 2015, Charleston-North Charleston, SC moved up 22 spots to #17 in the Milken Institute Best Performing Cities list.
  • Between 2009-2014, Charleston saw a 10.7% increase in population.
  • Since announcing its selection of the Charleston region in 2009, “The Boeing Effect” has taken hold: Boeing directly created 8,200 jobs and sustains another 20,000 jobs in the Charleston region with the spin-off effect of additional aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturing services. The total estimated impact of Boeing’s presence is more than $11 billion in economic activity in the region.
  • In May 2015, Volvo announced that it will build its first North American manufacturing plant in the Charleston region. This $500 million investment could create up to 2,000 jobs over the next ten years and up to 4,000 jobs by 2030.
  • Daimler AG will invest $500 million and add 1,300 jobs at its North Charleston plant to make the new version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo van.
  • Fast Company dubbed Charleston Silicon Harbor. Charleston’s tech economy is growing 26% faster than national average and just as quickly as Silicon Valley.
  • In 2013, Clemson University opened the world’s largest turbine testing facility in Charleston.
  • In 2013, Google announced it will invest in a third data center facility in Berkeley County.
  • Dredging the deepwater Port of Charleston to 50+ feet was one of five port projects expedited by the Obama administration.
  • Condé Nast Traveler named Charleston the No. 1 tourist destination in the US for the third year in a row. Travel + Leisure ranked Charleston the Best City in North America.
  • The Charleston International Airport landed both Southwest Airlines and JetBlue service.
  • Parliament, Charleston’s creative cluster leadership body, hosted its 21st sold-out Pecha Kucha night. Parliament’s Economic Impact Study found that Charleston’s creative cluster adds more than $3.2 billion to the regional economy.
  • For the third year in a row, in 2015 Charleston hosted DIG South, the Southeast’s own interactive festival celebrating innovation and the digital economy. The festival has doubled in size every year.

We’ve engaged the Avalanche Consulting team on a number of projects over the past 10 years, including our two most recent regional target industry strategies. Time and again, they’ve provided insightful, creative, and meaningful guidance for our region’s economic and workforce development efforts. The quality of their thinking, cutting-edge research, and commitment to truly engaging a large and diverse group of stakeholders has led to broad-based community support for their strategic plans. This is a smart, energetic, and innovative team – we highly recommend Avalanche and their work.

-David T. Ginn, President & CEO, Charleston Regional Development Alliance


In the past 10 years, the Charleston region generated 58% of net jobs created in South Carolina.

Between 2009-2014, Charleston saw a 14.2% increase in jobs.

Between 2009-2014, Charleston saw a 10.7% increase in population.


Economic Development Strategy
Marketing Plan
Customized Research
Talent Alignment Strategy
Headlight Data Portal


Amy Holloway
(512) 917-3815