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In November, 2015, the Charleston Metro Chamber and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) announced the launch of a strategic planning process to create a 5-year economic development plan for the three-county region. The process and resulting plan– One Region: A Global Competitiveness Strategy to Enhance the Region’s Economy – was a six month analysis of the region’s economic assets and community dynamics. The plan, outlining the steps that need to be taken in order for metro Charleston to continue to grow as a globally competitive region with a robust economy, represents an exciting evolution for metro Charleston. The goal of the strategy is to work collaboratively as a region to further enhance the economy through advancements in talent, infrastructure and other assets. As the research, analysis and planning process concluded, the results and the One Region strategy will be shared, beginning in May. The strategy is developed from a three-phase process which has taken place over the past months, generating input, community information and feedback from multiple stakeholders on how the Charleston region is currently performing.
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One Region: A Global Competitiveness Strategy
Phase 1:Competitive Assessment A detailed economic and demographic analysis of the region as seen through eight critical dynamics of community well-being – Affordability, Quality of Place, Infrastructure, Talent, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Equity, Global Fluency and Economic Momentum.
Phase 2:High Impact Clusters & Competencies Validation An evaluation of past performance of the region’s existing clusters including an examination of state, national and global industry trends and how they relate to the Charleston region. Analytical tools were utilized to understand the health of the region’s industry base as well as emerging opportunities. Validation of high impact clusters and competencies involved input from the region’s business leaders.
Phase 3:Competitiveness Strategy & Implementation Plan Provides a series of strategic recommendations to help the Charleston region realize its full economic potential. The implementation plan includes detailed timing, metrics and task assignments. Facilitating the One Region process are the firms of Avalanche Consulting (Austin, TX) and McCallum Sweeney (Greenville, SC), both of which have worked with the Chamber and CRDA for several years and are nationally recognized for their work in economic development strategy and corporate location selection services. A One Region 80-member Advisory Group, which has guided the process, is comprised of leaders from a diverse range of public sector, private sector, nonprofit and educational organizations. Co-chairing the advisory board are Ken Seeger, President at WestRock, and Jeff Spicer, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo. One Region Strategy Executive Committee Members include Mitchell Bohannon, Consultant at Thomas & Hutton; Chris Fraser, Principal & Managing Director at Avison Young; Jessica Jackson, Global Corporate Citizenship at Boeing; Mark Lattanzio, Charleston Regional President at SunTrust; Dr. Mary Thornley, President at Trident Technical College; and Anita Zucker, Chairperson and CEO at The InterTech Group. A Competitive Assessment summary, released by One Region in February, provided information on Charleston’s well-being contrasted against eight benchmark regions (the same regions as those analyzed in the Regional Economic Scorecard). Key findings from the summary are shown below and the full summary can be viewed on the One Region website at OneRegionStrategy.com. When the full 5-year strategy with detailed findings is completed and released in May, metro Charleston will have the opportunity to align resources toward the achievement of shared goals that, when achieved, will result in a globally competitive economy for the region as a whole. With the One Region strategy at hand, we can secure our future prosperity by ensuring our economy is robust and sustainable for many years to come. Visit the OneRegionStrategy.com to learn more.
One Region Competitive Assessment Summary
Affordability: Infrastructure: Equity
- Housing in the Charleston region is expensive for both homeowners and renters. And, the region has the lowest rate of home purchases for millennials.
- The region’s jobs to population imbalance is severe. Population growth and job growth are not occurring in the same place.
- Suburban population growth forces single-passenger commuters. Commute times have increased dramatically in recent years.
- Longer distances to work means higher transportation costs for workers and worsening affordability. And, traffic fatalities per capita are high.
- The region does not have adequate roadways to support the population to job growth imbalance. And, funding for roadway improvements is low in South Carolina.
- As a result, traffic is the number one problem cited by survey respondents.
Education: Equity: Economic Momentum
- The Charleston region is well educated but depends heavily on imported talent.
- A lot more residents are getting associates degrees. Residents with Bachelor’s degrees are also growing, but primarily for older workers, not for 25-44 year old workers.
- Minority educational attainment improvements are mixed. African-Americans are becoming more educated, but not Hispanics.
- In the Charleston region, median income levels for African-American and Hispanic households are less than half that of White households.
- Education outcomes are improving, but funding per capita is average compared to other benchmark regions.
- Demand for technology skills is booming, but output of STEM graduates by local institutions lags.
- The profile of individuals in management occupations does not match regional demographics or that of other globally competitive regions. Non-White and female corporate leadership levels are low.
Global Fluency: Economic Momentum
- The region enjoys a tremendous increase in exports and large foreign employer base.
- But, foreign-born residents are a small and slow-growing share of the region’s population.
- Residents have yet to travel the world like other benchmark communities, despite the large retiree population.