It has been stated countless times how important landing the Boeing manufacturing facility has been to the Charleston area. Most people point to the direct number of employees that Boeing will either hire or relocate from their existing production facilities in Washington. State and local economists also factor in the number of jobs that will be created by other types of businesses, either those serving Boeing directly as a supplier or those created to serve the influx of new workers into the area. But the Boeing announcement is only one piece (albeit a very big one) of good news for an area that seems to be getting more than its fare share in recent months. The Charleston real estate market has been predicted to be one of the stronger markets in the country this year. The big tourist events that typically draw thousands to the area have had encouraging attendance reports.
While you may have certainly read many of these talking points in the local newspaper, what I don’t think can be understated is the “momentum” that the Charleston area seems to have right now from an economic perspective. Not long after the Boeing announcement and with substantially less fanfare, Clemson University announced that it had received almost $98 million in government funding to build a wind turbine testing facility on their research campus on the old Navy Base. Regardless of your political leanings and what you think of the stimulus money allocated to this project, there is no other way to construe this additional news as continued momentum for Charlestonians. While the impact will not be as immediate as Boeing, this new turbine testing facility could be what lures other large companies to the area to take advantage of the research being conducted here. The model has been shown to work in other regions, so why not Charleston? While the impact of these recent developments is hard to measure with precision, the Lowcountry economic forecast is certainly positive.