FLORENCE, S.C. -- The North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) region has seen an unprecedented amount of growth over the past two years, and that trend should continue in 2019 as interest in our region has been heavy to begin the year.
Looking back at 2018, the region had 20 announcements representing more than $623.6 million in capital investment and the creation of 655 new jobs. It was yet another excellent year, following our record-breaking 2017.
Our regional partnerships with both our county members and allies continue to foster an atmosphere that companies seek. Of the announcements in 2018, 13 were new companies to the region, while the remainder were expansions.
We continue to see a decline in the region’s unemployment rate, as it is down more than a percentage point from this time last year to 4.3 percent as of December 2018.
Last year around the time of this issue, we were excited about Inland Port Dillon’s construction being underway and an opening date fast approaching. This year we are even more excited to see the port not only operating but operating effectively. According to the South Carolina Port Authority, as of December of 2018, 22 importer/exporters are actively utilizing Inland Port Dillon, 11 ocean carriers are directly serving the port, and it has customers from as far as 150 miles away.
Nearly one-fourth of our active projects throughout the region have some port-related aspect to them. These numbers show the port is activity driving interest into our region and is not only having an impact on Dillon County but the entire region.
Our public and private partners have also been hard at work over the last year, developing and increasing the amount of product we have in the region. Of the nine NESA counties – Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg – five of them either are constructing, have constructed or have announced they will be constructing speculative buildings. These buildings are key as we are seeing companies seek buildings more and more over properties where they have to build from the ground up.
In 2019, we plan to utilize these resources to generate more leads and expand our existing industry base. We will continue to work alongside our county partners and allies to aggressively pursue these leads and try to reach our ultimate goal of turning them into announcements, creating new jobs and capital investment throughout our region.
We are excited to see what 2019 has in store for the NESA region.