- Grand Strand Weekend
- South Carolina for Kids
- South Carolina Bar-B-Que
- A Midlands Weekend
- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
Even before the recent economic downturn, South Carolina had experienced a century’s worth of profound changes in economy and business. The rice crop moved offshore in the late 1800s and the center of the cotton trade moved to the Gulf states in the early 1900s. That left timber as the main cash crop all up and down the coast, specifically huge pine tree farms to feed the pulp and paper business.
For most of the 20th century, the largest employers along the coast were massive, sulfur-smelling paper mills, which had as big an effect on the local environment as on its economy. But even that’s changing, as Asian competition is driving paper companies to sell off their tracts for real estate development—not necessarily a more welcome scenario from an environmental perspective.
In the Upstate, the story has been the declining manufacturing base of the old textile mill industry. However, despite frequent media portrayals, the truth is that many towns and cities in the Upstate—Greenville in particular—have made a deft transition into the global economy.
Since World War II, the U.S. Department of Defense has been a major employer and economic driver in the entire South, and South Carolina is certainly no exception. Despite the closing of the Charleston Naval Yard in the mid-1990s, the grounds now host the East Coast headquarters of SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center), which provides high-tech engineering solutions for the Navy. Charleston also retains a large military presence in the Charleston Air Force Base near North Charleston, which hosts two airlift wings and employs about 6,000.
Myrtle Beach went through a similarly anxious state of events in the mid-1990s with the closing of Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. As with Charleston, the local economy appears to have weathered the worst effects of the closing.
Farther down the coast, Beaufort is home to the Naval Hospital Beaufort and the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and its six squadrons of FA-18 Hornets. On nearby Parris Island is the legendary Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, which puts all new Marine recruits from east of the Mississippi River through rigorous basic training. Major military facilities inland include the sprawling Fort Jackson complex outside of Columbia and Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.
Of course, tourism is also an important factor in the local economies of the area, particularly in seasonal, resort-oriented areas like Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Kiawah, and Seabrook Islands. Charleston also has a well-honed tourist infrastructure, bringing at least $5 billion a year into the local economy, and is routinely voted as one of the top three American cities to visit.
Another huge economic development on the coast has been the exponential growth of the Charleston seaport. From the 1990s on, the quickened pace of globalization has brought enormous investment, volume, and expansion to area port facilities. Charleston’s port experienced record volume in 2006–2007, though the recent economic downturn has hurt business.
As a statistical snapshot, the median income of South Carolina is $39,326 per year, ranked 39th among the states.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition