The Best Places to Start a Business in South Carolina

April 17, 2015


South Carolina is considered one of the best places in America to start a business.

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South Carolina has often been recognized as one of the most business-friendly states in the nation.

The state’s Department of Commerce promotes small-business initiatives to help entrepreneurs set up shop. These initiatives include a variety of state and local small-business grants and other incentive programs — a recognition that new businesses boost the state’s economy by creating jobs, raising revenue and promoting growth of cities.

Incentives for businesses

In South Carolina, business incentives are found on the state and local level and many, called statutory incentives, are awarded to all existing or new businesses that meet a certain criteria. Some incentives include:

Job tax credit. Offered to companies that create new jobs.

No state property tax. Local property taxes still apply.

No local income tax. State income tax still applies.

No sales tax on manufacturing machinery, industrial power or materials for finished products.

No wholesale tax.

Additionally, the state offers discretionary business incentives, which are awarded for performance or on a case-by-case basis.

Finding a pro-business environment is not the only thing that determines if a business prospers. Choosing the right place to set up shop can also have lasting impact on the success of a business. Where a business locates will determine costs, access to markets, growth opportunities and the health of a business.

[For more information on how to start a small business, check out NerdWallet’s small business guide.]

Where are the best places to start a business in South Carolina?

To find the best places to start a business in South Carolina, NerdWallet examined communities with populations over 7,000 and more than 500 businesses. These businesses range in size from sole proprietorships to large companies. We used six variables in two categories for our analysis.

Business climate. We looked at average revenue of businesses, percentage of businesses with paid employees and the number of businesses per 100 people. A higher measure for each variable indicates a more business-friendly environment.

A majority of businesses in the U.S. — and in South Carolina — are made up one person and don’t have paid employees.

Local economic health. We looked at annual median income, annual median housing costs and unemployment rates for each community. We analyzed income and housing costs, so areas with high median incomes and low housing costs scored higher. We examined the unemployment rate to see whether a community’s economy supports business success. A lower unemployment rate scored higher.

Key takeaways

Manufacturing is big in South Carolina. The state is home to a variety of manufacturing companies, ranging from automotive to pharmaceuticals. Manufacturing makes up 42.3% of business revenue in South Carolina.

Tourism is important. Three locations that made it to the top of our list — Myrtle Beach, Beaufort and Georgetown — are known for strong tourism economies.

Greenville County stands out. Three cities in Greenville County — Greenville, Mauldin and Greer — made our top 10 list. Greenville County has taken action to boost local economies and the business climate.

Read a more in-depth analysis of each city at