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The primary mission of the SmartState® Program is to elevate the state’s knowledge economy by generating high-skilled, high-wage jobs in South Carolina.

The SmartState® Program’s established research centers help elevate the state’s knowledge economy by creating public-private partnerships, supporting start-up firms, and helping to retain highly skilled workers. Each of these efforts results in the creation of jobs that are among the highest paid in South Carolina.

Following the 2008 recession, geographic regions with the highest rates of economic growth have typically had higher shares of their workforce employed in the knowledge economy. The skills associated with these jobs often include more advanced training in the fields of mathematics and science, complex problem solving, and creative and technological innovation. The commercialization of new technologies leads to economic growth and significant knowledge spillover effects.

As of 2016, the SmartState® Program is responsible for helping to create and support approximately 12,483 jobs in South Carolina, which are associated with $2.4 billion in economic activity and $669 million in labor income for South Carolinians that would not exist otherwise. Approximately 5,081 of these positions are knowledge economy jobs created directly through the SmartState® Program, with the 7,402 arising from additional spending activity generated through the economic multiplier effect.

The specific employment multiplier associated with these estimates is 2.5—for every ten knowledge economy jobs created through the SmartState® Program, an additional 15 jobs are created elsewhere in South Carolina. This multiplier effect is larger than the state average. Each new job created through the SmartState® Program increased total South Carolina employment by more than it would if that job had been created in another industry of comparable size.

The average annual salary associated with a SmartState® job is $70,803, roughly 78 percent higher than the average annual salary among all jobs in South Carolina. When examining the salaries of all jobs associated with the SmartState® Program, including those created through the economic multiplier effect, the average annual salary is estimated at $53,610. This dollar amount is approximately 34 percent higher than the average annual salary among all South Carolina jobs. l

“One of the driving forces behind regions in the United States that have experienced high-wage job creation in the 21st century is the presence of a strong and vibrant knowledge economy. Since 2002, the SmartState® Program has helped facilitate the development of South Carolina’s knowledge economy, and in the process, has generated more than 12,000 jobs with annual salaries that pay significantly above the state average. As of 2016, the SmartState® Program is responsible for helping to create and support approximately 12,483 jobs in South Carolina, which is associated with over $2.4 billion in economic activity and $669 million in labor income for South Carolinians that would not exist otherwise."

DR. JOSEPH VON NESSEN Research Economist Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina