According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the state boasts one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, a low rate of unionization, no inventory tax, no wholesale tax, no unitary tax on worldwide profits, no state property tax and no local income tax. South Carolina’s low cost of doing business has allowed the state to consistently rank as one of the most business-friendly states in the country. South Carolina was also ranked third in the nation on the 2010 State Economy Index for globalization; no doubt because of the more than 1,200 international companies that operate in the state.
In addition to South Carolina’s low business operating costs, there are also a number of customized incentive programs in place, including corporate income tax credits, license and withholding tax incentives and discretionary property tax incentives. These measures have consistently worked to control the cost of doing business for companies operating in the global marketplace, which as created a competitive business environment in the state where successful companies are the norm, not the exception.
For South Carolina’s business students pursuing international business majors, the state’s pro-business incentives and tax structures, coupled with an established global influence, help create an environment with near-endless opportunities.
South Carolina’s International Trade Partners
According to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, more than 1,200 international companies operate out of South Carolina. Foreign-owned companies provided jobs to more than 102,000 South Carolina residents in 2008, which totaled seven percent of the state’s total private industry employment. Overall, foreign trade was responsible for more than 500,000 jobs in South Carolina in 2008. To further highlight this state’s flourishing international business growth, consider that South Carolina’s trade-related employment grew five times faster than the total employment rate between 2004 and 2008.
In an effort to further facilitate international business growth in the state, the South Carolina Department of Commerce has set up two international offices, one in Europe and one in Asia. These satellite offices help foreign-owned companies establish, expand or relocate their business operations to South Carolina. As a result, the Palmetto state now boasts some of the most sophisticated and pioneering companies in the aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and technology industries.
The large South Carolina ports of Charleston and Georgetown are of vital importance to this southern state, as they provide more than $9.4 billion in annual wages, and they generate more than $23 billion for the state’s economy, according to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. Port Charleston, in particular, ranked eighth in the country for international shipment activity, and is now one of the busiest ports along the Southeast and Gulf coasts. For international business professionals such as logistics managers and international trade specialists, the opportunities here are vast.
South Carolina now sells products to almost 200 foreign markets, with Germany, Canada and Mexico leading the pack. China, however, is closing in fast, as it is now South Carolina’s fastest growing trade partner, according to the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from America’s largest corporations.
South Carolina is a principal exporter of transportation equipment, as well as agricultural products, yet service exports also play an important role in South Carolina’s international trade business.
International Business Jobs in South Carolina
Buoyed along by a highly skilled workforce, incentive programs, low taxes, and readySC, South Carolina’s nationally recognized workforce training program, international businesses have not only succeeded, but also thrived here.
A great example of South Carolina’s success in the global market is the BMW US Manufacturing Company’s Spartanburg-based production facility for the German automotive icon, which has added more than 7,000 jobs to South Carolina. According to the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the economic impact of BMW on South Carolina’s economy is valued at more than $8.8 billion. As of 2011, BMW has produced more than 2 million vehicles in South Carolina, making this company the largest automotive exporter from the U.S. to non-NAFTA countries.
When searching for a location at which to establish the second final assembly line for its 787 Dreamliner in 2009, South Carolina was an obvious choice for Boeing because of its business-friendly climate and qualified labor pool. Boeing is now just one of more than 100 aviation and aerospace companies operating out of South Carolina. These companies, which employ over 16,000 South Carolina residents, include: GE Aviation, Lockheed-Martin, Honeywell, Michelin Aircraft Tires and Parker Aerospace, just to name a few.
Alternative energy has become a burgeoning industry in South Carolina, with Rollcast Energy opening the state’s first commercial biomass plant. GE’s wind energy business, through GE Energy Engineering Infrastructure, is headquartered in Greenville, and the IMO Group, which makes wind turbine components, has plans to establish their first U.S. manufacturing site in South Carolina.
South Carolina has become a hot location for international distribution because of its easy access to five interstate highways, 54 airports and major freight service locales, such as the Port of Charleston. As such, companies such as Target, Walgreens, Dollar General, Wal-Mart, QVC and Regal Logistics have chosen this prime, East Coast location for both domestic and international distribution efforts.
Making International Business Contacts in South Carolina
There are a number of South Carolina organizations that provide practical information for businesses either starting or expanding their international business efforts: