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How South Carolina Cities Stack Up


Columbia, South Carolina is definitely on the rise when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a growing mix of cooperative workspaces like SOCO, pitch competitions like The Proving Ground, and continued support from big guns like the USC’s Technology Incubator, it’s easy to see why.

EngenuitySC, an economic development non­profit in Columbia, recently released its 2015 Midlands Regional Competitiveness report, which digs deeper into South Carolina’s entrepreneurial potential by comparing spots like Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville against a national average in various categories such as talent, entrepreneurship, innovation, high impact clusters, and livability (more on what those categories actually mean below).

Check out some highlights from the 2015 report:

Talent (A region’s ability to provide a skilled workforce to meet the demands of industry in its economy)

  • When it came to potential employment outlook, Columbia was named the fourth best city in the U.S.
  • 30.7% of the population has a Bachelor’s degree or higher, which is more than the national average (high­five, you studious South Carolinians, you)!
  • The percent of people employed in STEM related fields declined last year.

Entrepreneurship (A region’s capacity to support creation of new knowledge and generate new ideas, products and processes.)

  • South Carolina is ranked 29th in the U.S. for startup activity, as opposed to 46th last year. This was the biggest 1­year increase nationwide, according to research from the Kauffman Foundation. #KeepPounding
  • Activity from small businesses (with between 20 and 499 employees) decreased slightly. It’s okay, though. New Year, New You.

Innovation (A region’s capacity to support creation of new knowledge and generate new ideas, products and processes.)

  • Raleigh absolutely owned this category with an index score of 354, with the second highest location, Tallahassee, trailing longingly at 158. Columbia, on the other hand, lagged behind with an index score of 74. But with projects like the Innovista and the Center for Applied Innovation, which will provide business opportunities for IT students, this number should increase over time, the report notes.
  • Universities and colleges spent less money on research and development last year. Budgets, man.

High Impact Cluster (A region’s relative size, strength and density of high impact clusters and ability to grow industries that are competitive on an international scale.) 

  • The average number of people employed per square mile in Columbia is almost triple the national average.
  • The number of shared employment clusters fell from last year’s data, but is still above average, so, hey.

Livability (A region’s ability to attract and retain talent through building a dynamic live, learn, work and play environment.) 

  • Columbia was named one of the nation’s top college towns in 2015, according to data from Livability.com. Cough it up to sports, entertainment options, and affordability.
  • The volunteer rate remained lower than similarly sized regions and lower than the national average overall

And there you have it. Although there is still plenty of room for improvement, the Palmetto State has a burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit that is steadily gaining steam. For the full report, check out http://engenuitysc.com/competitiveness-report.

By: Xavier Edwards