How Enterprise-Friendly are SC Cities?

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In order to excel in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, South Carolina must be as attractive as possible to businesses wishing to relocate to or expand in the state. While state-level policies undoubtedly drive our state’s overall economic health and job creation potential, we cannot afford to overlook the vital role played by local communities. Cities and towns are the real engines that drive the statewide economy and South Carolinians should consider how they compare against each other with respect to enterprise: the economic, social, and education factors attractive to businesses.

We were surprised to learn that though there are numerous state-level comparisons of South Carolina’s free enterprise friendliness to inform policymakers at the Statehouse, the same sort of report dedicated to comparing cities and towns in South Carolina simply didn’t exist.

To fill this knowledge gap, Palmetto Promise Institute and American Indicators have collected data on South Carolina’s 50 most populous incorporated areas and ranked them based on criteria that both ensure business success and protect the entrepreneurial spirit.1 The four categories ranked are Economic Vitality, Business Tax Burden, Community Allure (Quality of Life), and Infrastructure.

In summary, this report looks at a number of factors: What cities have the best tax policies? Which have more community allure, such as low costs of living and low crime rates? What cities have experienced the most year-over-year population and job growth? What type of economic vitality do cities have, including the average incomes for local residents? These and other questions are answered in this report.

Our goal is to bring a new statewide focus on local decision-making. For after all, the “little platoons” of civil society, the backbone of South Carolina’s potential are her local communities.

A break-down of the top-ten most enterprise friendly cities in South Carolina is below. View the entire report, with information on all 50 cities, here.

The Enterprise-Friendly Formula

Economic Vitality  (35% of overall score)

  • Recent job growth from 2014 to 2015 (50% of economic vitality category)
  • Residential population growth from 2014 to 2015 (12.5%)
  • Long-term population growth from 2005 to 2015 (12.5%)
  • Median per-capita income, averaged from 2011-2015 (25%)

Business Tax Burden (30% of overall score)

  • Business property taxes as of March 2017 (100% of Business Tax Burden category)

Community Allure/Quality of Life (20% of overall score)

  • Cost of living index, 2016 (35% of Community Allure Category)
  • Per-capita violent crime rate, 2013 (35%)
  • Percent of adults age 25 or older with at least a high school diploma, 2015 (15%)
  • Average SAT composite reading and math scores for 2016 graduation seniors (15%)

Transportation Infrastructure (15% of overall score)

  • Distance to primary commercial airport (25%)
  • Distance to commercial rail service (25%)
  • Distance to port capable of handling container shipping (15%)
  • Distance to interstate highway system (25%)

Scoring

Due to the volume of metrics studied in this report, which rive rise to an overall grade for every municipality, each page in the “City by City” section lists every score for every aspect listed above. The best score in each category is 100, the worst is 0 according to the proper comparison.

Top 10 Enterprise-Friendly Cities in South Carolina

1) Bluffton, SC – Overall Score: 81.07/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 81.07/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 90.53

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 99.99

Residential Population Growth (20005-2015): 100

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 87.60

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 51.10/100

Cost of Living: 12.11

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 77.17

High School Graduation Rate Score: 80.87

SAT Composite Math and Reading: 51.49

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score: 74.38/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 88.79

Distance to Rail Line: 37.60

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 85.75

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 85.38


2) Mauldin, SC – Overall Score: 75.07/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 54.02/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 43.82

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 41.67

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 52.45

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 81.39

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 72.78/100

Cost of Living: 49.33

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 88.12

High School Graduation Rate Score: 83.15

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 81.33

Transportation Infrastructure▼

Score: 94.48/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 100

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 92.53

Distance to Major Commercial Aiport: 85.38


3) Greer, SC – Overall Score: 72.52/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 55.94/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 58.91

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 61.77

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 54.05

Median Per=Capita Income (2011-2015): 48.03

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score:91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score 52.76/100

Cost of Living: 37.29

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 67.53

High School Graduation Rate Score: 37.62

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 69.53

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score: 99.74/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 100

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 100

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 98.96


4) Simpsonville, SC – Overall Score: 72.39

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 55.62/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 41.97

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 71.09

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 54.82

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 75.61

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 58.01/100

Cost of Living: 26.38

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 85.92

High School Graduation Rate Score: 74.86

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 49.81

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score: 92.63/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 100

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 91.31

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 79.20


5) Fountain Inn, SC – Overall Score: 70.05/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 50.54/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 46.34

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 59.04

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 47.66

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 56.15

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 91.44/100

Sales and use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 58.59/100

Cost of Living: 55.44

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 63.47

High School Graduation Rate Score: 72.50

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 40.65

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score: 88.07/100

Distance to Highway System: 100

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 87.24

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 65.05


6) Greenville, SC – Overall Score: 69.84/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 53.38/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 55.63

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 78.89

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 41.71

Median Per-Capita Income (2010-2015): 41.95

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 47.75/100

Cost of Living: 49.33

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 40.18

High School Graduation Rate Score: 55.90

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 53.58

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score: 94.54/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 100

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 94.77

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 83.41


7) Hilton Head, SC – Overall Score: 68.60/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 60.50/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 53.07

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 47.52

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 43.56

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 60.50

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score 50.83/100

Cost of Living: 0.13

Per Capita Violent Crime: 77.17

High School Graduation Rate Score: 82.03

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 76.47

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score 65.52/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 56.61

Distance to Rail Line: 34.79

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 71.72

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 98.96


8) Spartanburg, SC – Overall Score: 66.82/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 52.87/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 76.50

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 30.37

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 32.84

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 26.89

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 36.23/100

Cost of Living: 72.50

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 3.18

High School Graduation Rate Score: 26.30

SAT Composote Math & Reading: 38.63

Transportation Infrastructure Bill▼

Score: 90.92/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 100

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 91.31

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 72.36


9) Tega Cay, SC – Overall Score: 66.58/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 77.00/100

Recent Job Growth (2014-2015): 56.97

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 94.39

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 93.73

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 100

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 57.08/100

Sales and Use Tax: 57.08

Community Allure Score Score▼

Score:62.22/100

Cost of Living 3.72

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 93.87

High School Graduation Rate Score: 95.11

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 92.01

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score 67.05/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 95.64

Distance to Rail Line: 75.96

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 17.41

Distance to Major Airport: 79.20


10) Union, SC – Overall Score: 63.96/100

Economic Vitality Score▼

Score: 54.74/100

Recent Job Growth (2015-2015): 91.85

Residential Population Growth (2014-2015): 14.69

Residential Population Growth (2005-2015): 31.99

Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015): 11.92

Business Tax Burden Score▼

Score: 91.44/100

Sales and Use Tax: 91.44

 

Community Allure Score▼

Score: 42.55/100

Cost of Living: 90.14

Per-Capita Violent Crime: 23.58

High School Graduation Rate Score: 12.99

SAT Composite Math & Reading: 5.31

Transportation Infrastructure Score▼

Score:59.08/100

Distance to Interstate Highway System: 55.83

Distance to Rail Line: 100

Distance to Port with Container Shipping: 65.71

Distance to Major Commercial Airport: 14.77

 

 

Overall Enterprise-Friendly City Rankings

RankCityEconomic VitalityBusiness Tax BurdenCommunity AllureTransportation InfrastructureOverall Score
1Bluffton92.1691.4451.1074.3881.07
2Mauldin54.0291.4472.7894.4875.07
3Greer55.9491.4452.7699.7472.52
4Simpsonville55.6291.4458.0192.6372.39
5Fountain Inn50.5491.4458.5988.0770.05
6Greenville53.3891.4447.7594.5469.84
7Hilton Head Island60.5091.4450.8365.5268.60
8Spartanburg52.8791.4436.2390.9266.82
9Tega Cay77.0057.0862.2267.0566.58
10Union54.7491.4442.5559.0863.96
11Clemson61.5157.0870.5166.9362.79
12Fort Mill62.8457.0857.5274.8961.86
13Lexington53.1857.0873.3976.3061.86
14Port Royal33.3791.4469.9649.2460.49
15Seneca31.1691.4455.5362.1958.77
16Rock Hill54.5057.0854.0171.5457.73
17York62.8657.0840.2966.2057.11
18West Columbia50.2557.0851.9478.3956.86
19Irmo38.7357.0871.5376.1456.41
20Conway49.8457.0853.6471.9156.08
21North Augusta41.2857.0864.1975.1655.69
22Hanahan70.8815.6057.0797.4555.52
23Summerville69.5215.6063.0092.5955.50
24Easley45.5157.0859.1670.7655.50
25Orangeburg50.0357.0851.5965.5354.78
26Moncks Corner81.2415.6049.8276.3154.52
27Greenwood31.7491.4436.2347.2752.88
28Clinton47.1857.0847.3159.6652.05
29North Myrtle Beach53.0157.0832.5163.5451.71
30Anderson44.4057.0839.4873.3351.56
31Mount Pleasant70.225.4159.2986.5251.04
32Aiken60.5915.6072.9867.5150.61
33Beaufort27.4491.4428.9743.7649.39
34Goose Creek47.3515.6067.2695.5249.03
35Gaffney57.2615.6057.8575.5647.62
36Florence53.5015.6049.4384.9646.03
37Charleston56.055.4151.1695.3345.78
38Cayce48.7715.6060.5578.8045.68
39Forest Acres52.5215.6054.3370.3844.48
40Newberry14.8957.0861.6465.4044.47
41Laurens21.5557.0840.8974.2043.97
42North Charleston50.865.4144.2997.4042.89
43Columbia49.6215.6041.3077.8341.98
44Sumter53.7915.6044.7055.1740.72
45Lancaster57.4715.6030.8651.4238.68
46Myrtle Beach42.8515.6040.0563.1237.15
47Georgetown10.0357.0833.0365.4237.05
48Camden31.0315.6042.0158.7032.75
49Hartsville19.4915.6051.8859.3730.78
50Bennettsville8.1915.6034.0251.6122.09

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@PalmettoPromise

Palmetto Promise Institute promotes public policies that remove barriers to opportunity and help South Carolinians flourish. By unlocking the full promise of the Palmetto State and her people, South Carolina can lead a state-driven American renaissance.