2014 Regional Report: The Southeast

South Carolina (No. 5): Excelling at Efficiency
BMW’s announcement that it would invest $1 billion in its Spartanburg factory was a major win for the Palmetto State. All counties saw employment growth in 2013 continuing into 2014, yet most job growth clustered around urban areas. There is a positive mindset at the statehouse, says site selector Gingerich. “Governor Haley is making things as efficient as possible. There is one stop for what you need to get done.”

“Governor Haley is making things as efficient as possible. [South Carolina offers] one stop for what you need to get done.”

Major recent expansion and relocations include Giti Tire’s $560 million factory in Chester County, GE’s $400 million advanced manufacturing plant in Greenville County and LPL Financial’s $150 regional headquarters in York County. The Tax Foundation ranks South Carolina’s state and local tax burden 9th-lowest out of 50 states, and ranks it 37th in business tax climate. South Carolina spends over $896 million per year on incentive programs.

Louisiana (No. 9): Touting Training
In 2013, Louisiana announced more new jobs and recorded more capital investment than any year since the Great Recession began. Did somebody say, “oil exploration?” The state attracted 67 major projects representing over $26.4 billion in new capital investment, associated with 27,000 new jobs. Nucor has started production on its $750 plant in Convent, and Bell Helicopter began building an $11.4 million aircraft assembly facility in Lafayette.

According to Louisiana State University’s economic forecasters, eight of the state’s metro areas will record robust employment gains through at least 2015, driven by increasing construction activity. Real GDP growth is slated to rise to 2.6% next year, up from the current 2.4%. Site selector Jerry Szatan touts Louisiana’s LED FastStart program, aimed at providing relocation and training programs to expanding and transferring companies. “No state has done more than Louisiana in getting the employer a workforce trained in its particular needs,” he claims.

Recent strides mark a turnaround for a state that “historically has been very challenging” as a business environment, says Thomas Stringer, principal and practice leader at Ryan’s Business Incentives and Site Selection department. “But you have a dynamic administration in place now, implementing substantial policy changes in how they work with businesses.” The Tax Foundation ranks Louisiana’s state and local tax burden fifth-lowest out of 50 states, and ranks its business tax climate 33rd. The state spends over $1.8 billion per year on incentive programs.