South Carolina: Supporting Business From Launch To Legacy

The South Carolina Department of Commerce’s new brand campaign reinforces the state’s commitment to companies’ long-term success.

By Kari Williams
Sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Commerce
From the March/April 2024 Issue


South Carolina is looking to the future, while building on the state’s multi-decade track record of economic development success and proven ability to help companies thrive in a time of transformation, in its new “Launch to Legacy” campaign.

“With a nod to the state’s heritage, an eye toward the future, and a spirit of embracing innovation, the ‘Launch to Legacy’ brand positions South Carolina to carry out our vision and strategic priorities,” said South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III. “The messaging and reimagined logo reinforce our commitment to business as we continue to compete globally while building a high-tech, diverse, sustainable economy.”

South Carolina economic development
Nephron Pharmaceuticals campus in South Carolina. Owner Lou Kennedy says the move to the Palmetto State has been instrumental in the company’s growth. (Photo: Courtesy South Carolina Department of Commerce)


The South Carolina Department of Commerce (S.C. Commerce) launched the campaign in January, with a focus on the “new economy.” Its three main tenets include:

  1. When you invest in South Carolina, you grow—as a business, a person, and as a community.
  2. The South Carolina landscape is built for the new economy­, where people can work where they love.
  3. South Carolina is the new home and headquarters of American innovation.

The state’s “unique trichotomy” of top talent, pro-business policies, and family friendly locations provides a platform for corporations, entrepreneurs, and families to thrive, according to Kelly Coakley, Director of Marketing and Communications for S.C. Commerce.

“The state’s renowned vacation destinations are now also highly ranked business economies, offering employees this unprecedented ability to ‘work where you love,’” she said.

The “Launch to Legacy” campaign, according to Coakley, “reinforces” the idea that companies can build a legacy within the Palmetto State and shows South Carolina’s commitment to each company throughout the business life cycle.

“South Carolina is a pro-business state in actions, not words. A low corporate tax rate, workforce development programs, low cost of living, incredible culture, diversity, and a responsive Department of Commerce. South Carolina does that. All this, not to mention, employees love it. I love it. Honestly, what more do you want?”

— Lou Kennedy, CEO, Nephron Pharmaceuticals

“Companies like to locate and grow where they can see themselves being successful,” Coakley said. “And what better way to hear that story than from the voice of another successful company, which is what the brand media campaign does. It tells the South Carolina story through the perspective of some of the state’s CEOs.”

One of those CEOs is Lou Kennedy, who owns Nephron Pharmaceuticals. She said the company’s move to South Carolina has been “instrumental” in its growth.

“South Carolina is a pro-business state in actions, not words,” Kennedy said. “A low corporate tax rate, workforce development programs, low cost of living, incredible culture, diversity, and a responsive Department of Commerce. South Carolina does that. All this, not to mention, employees love it. I love it. Honestly, what more do you want?”

Part of what makes Nephron fit within the South Carolina landscape is “pivotability,” a word Kennedy said the company coined itself.

“It’s the ability as a private company to move quickly and do what we need to do to be able to compete with large global pharma companies,” Kennedy said. “The atmosphere in South Carolina allows you to do that all day, every day. Pivotability is alive and well in this state.”

South Carolina also is the new home and headquarters of American innovation, according to Coakley. The state’s workforce, policies, and location contributed to the success of companies like Boeing, BMW, and Volvo—along with entrepreneurial startups.

South Carolina economic developmentThe state is recognized as a leader in the electric vehicle transformation, and since 2022, several companies have reinvested or invested in South Carolina. Last March, Scout Motors selected the state to establish its first manufacturing plant for all-electric, next-generation trucks and rugged SUVs. The $2 billion investment is expected to bring 4,000 jobs to the state.

Redwood Materials announced in December 2022 its $3.5 billion investment in the state’s Lowcountry for a closed-loop battery recycling and production facility. This project will bring 1,500 jobs to the state. At the same time, Japan-based AESC selected Florence County, SC for its state-of-the-art battery cell gigafactory. Between December 2022 and December 2023, the company announced a total investment of $1.62 billion and 1,620 new jobs.

Also unveiled in 2022, BMW planned a $1 billion investment at Plant Spartanburg to produce electric vehicles and $700 million for a new high-voltage battery assembly facility in Woodruff.

Diversifying Industries

While known for manufacturing, South Carolina aims to build on “decades of economic development achievement” to prepare for future competition, including industry diversification. This has led to interest in advanced energy, life sciences, and headquarters sectors.

Of those, Coakley said life sciences is the fastest growing sector—compared to other states in the region—with 1,033 life sciences companies that have an annual economic impact of more than $25 billion.

“Broadly, we are seeing the largest amount of development in biotechnology and medical devices, but the therapeutics field is also growing,” Coakley said. “Additionally, the life sciences industry represents high-paying jobs, which South Carolina seeks to attract and retain to provide the next generation with opportunities to find lucrative careers without having to leave the state.”

Nephron is one of the state’s success stories. A certified female-owned and female-controlled business, it established new operations in Lexington, SC in 2011. Three years later, Kennedy moved its headquarters to West Columbia, SC after spending two decades in Orlando, FL.

Nephron has since announced multiple expansions, investing millions of dollars with thousands of new jobs, while producing more than 1 billion doses of medication daily.

Tech Hubs

The state, according to Coakley, also is focused on advanced energy. The U.S. Department of Commerce designated the consortium SC NEXUS as one of 31 Tech Hubs, which gives it the ability to apply for unique federal funding opportunities.

“A Tech Hubs designation is a strong endorsement of the SC NEXUS plan to supercharge advanced resilient energy through a focus on grid resiliency and to become a global innovation leader during the next decade, creating jobs and improving opportunities for South Carolinians while helping to secure the nation’s economic and national security priorities,” Coakley said.

The SC NEXUS Consortium consists of more than 35 public and private partners, including S.C. Commerce, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson University, among others.

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