How Enterprise-Friendly are SC Cities?

Jobs & Economy
April 3, 2017

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 81.07/100
Recent Job Growth (2014-2015) 90.53
Residential Population Growth (2014-2015) 100
Median Per-Capita Income (2011-2015) 87.60
Business Tax Burden Score 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 74.38
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 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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 Airport 85.38

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

Economic Vitality 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 88.07/100
Distance to Interstate 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 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 (2011-2015) 41.95
Business Tax Burden Score 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure Score 36.23/100
Cost of Living 72.50
Per-Capita Violent Crime 3.18
High School Graduation Rate Score 26.30
SAT Composite Math & Reading 38.63
Transportation Infrastructure 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 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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 Commercial Airport 79.20

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

Economic Vitality Score 54.74/100
Recent Job Growth (2014-2015) 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 91.44/100
Sales and Use Tax 91.44
Community Allure 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 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

 

 

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