Why South Carolina represents the future of manufacturing

Why South Carolina represents the future of manufacturing

August 7, 2023 | SC News Biz

South Carolina’s manufacturing industry is a case study in evolution.

From its beginnings as a major textile and apparel producer — an industry that is still relevant today – to earning a notch on the electric vehicle Battery Belt, The Palmetto State is known worldwide for its adaptability and diversified collection of manufacturing industries.

Technology is the driver as South Carolina is an industry leader in advanced manufacturing, attracting nearly $10 billion in investment in the electric vehicle industry alone over the past five years from companies across the globe, representing a workforce 75,000-people strong.

As South Carolina’s EV industry is on the leading edge of The Battery Belt, which stretches from Michigan to Georgia in the Southeast, The Palmetto State continues to outpace its peers as a top producer of complex products, like plastics, optics, photonics and composite materials. That translates into jobs, as South Carolina has averaged manufacturing employment growth of more than 17% over the past 10 years, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Other pillar industries, like aerospace, have also evolved, representing $28 billion in annual economic impact, owing to Lockheed Martin’s new F-16 production line in Greenville and the launch of Boeing Co.’s much anticipated Dreamliner aircraft, which is manufactured in North Charleston.

SC Biz News plays a vital role in telling South Carolina’s manufacturing story. With markets in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC Biz News has its pulse on the fast-paced sector that represents over $200 billion in economic investment statewide.

SC Biz News’ coverage culminates with its annual South Carolina Manufacturing Conference and Expo, which brings together over 200 companies from across the Southeast drawing over 2,000 attendees each year to the Greenville Convention Center.

Attendees will hear from industry thought leaders and stakeholders on a wide array of trends, including digital transformation, upskilling the workforce, automation and technology, as well as participating in recognition events that honor professionals making an impact on the industry and in the community.

South Carolina’s manufacturing industry is on an upward trajectory while making history on several fronts, including education. Clemson University, for example, will soon offer a bachelor of science in automotive engineering — the first undergraduate degree of its kind in the nation. Much of the learning will take place at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, itself a cutting-edge facility preparing the future workforce to advance electric vehicle manufacturing technology that also includes Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation, where students learn alongside corporate partners like GE, KUKA Robotics, Hass Automation and BMW Group, to name a few..

To the east, the University of South Carolina is home to the South Carolina Research Authority-USC Innovation Center, which includes the McNAIR Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research. Over the past year, the center has nearly doubled in size and includes a digital transformation lab featuring partnerships with corporate heavyweights IBM, Samsung, Siemens and Yaskawa.

From the classroom to the corporate board room, South Carolina’s manufacturing evolution signals a new era of productivity and innovation that will reverberate across the globe.

Jason Thomas is the executive editor of SC Biz News. Reach him via email at jthomas@scbiznews.com.

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