The Charleston region has been a hotbed for manufacturing expansions, job creation and expanding industry over the past few years; and those successes have contributed to urban sprawl, economic disparities, infrastructure issues and unaffordable housing.
One in four jobs created in South Carolina from 2009 to 2014 were created in the tri-county area. The Charleston region’s unemployment rate has reached a five-year low of 4.5%.
The region is also dealing with urban sprawl and traffic congestion, as areas of housing and areas with jobs often fail to match up. Road funding does not keep pace with the growing population, data show.Amid the explosion of job and population growth, the area is also experiencing rising housing costs. Nearly 32% of homeowners spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2014, which is higher than in Raleigh, Austin, Texas, Seattle, Nashville, Tenn., or Greenville.
And while Charleston is a highly educated region, much of its talent come from areas outside the Lowcountry.
These challenges spurred community leaders to create a five-year strategy for the Charleston region. The Charleston Regional Development Alliance and Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce spearheaded those efforts.
The One Region Global Competitiveness Strategy, known as “One Region,” is designed to propel the region’s economy forward, help it stay globally competitive, create regional prosperity and tackle the challenges it faces.
Amy Holloway of Avalanche Consulting gave an overview of the initial findings and plans for One Region on Tuesday to about 300 business leaders at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. The full report will be made public in the next few weeks.
Over the past six months, an eight-member executive committee, 74-member advisory group, 520 survey respondents, 263 interviewees and numerous focus group and meeting attendees have contributed their perspectives on the challenges facing the region and what needs to be focused on going forward.
Holloway said the idea is to create a plan that will “transcend economic cycles and politics” and remain “adaptable, allowing space for activities to respond to market forces while values and goals remain the same.”
One Region identified four regional values and then built goals around them.