While Charleston frequently receives recognition as a top national and global visitor destination in the world, it has developed a reputation as a burgeoning tech and creative hub, largely driven by the twenty and thirty somethings who place a premium on place, continuing education and livability.
At the Charleston Digital Corridor, our recipe is simple – take one of the best business climates in the country, leverage all relevant resources and then, layer on a set of targeted, value-oriented services to help tech businesses thrive. Charleston, first settled in the late 1600s, is experiencing a twenty-first century renaissance. Spend a weekend here and you will be hooked.
The South’s Best Cities 2020SOURCE: Southern Living, March 2020
Charleston takes the #1 spot on Southern Living's The South’s Best Cities 2020 list.
Top 25 Best-Performing Large CitiesSOURCE: Milken Institute, February 2020
Charleston-North Charleston ranks 13th on the Milken Institute's Top 25 Best-Performing Large Cities list. It is 15th in one-year job growth and performed well in one- and five-year high-tech GDP growth, ranked 19th and 15th, respectively.
Top Boomtowns in AmericaSOURCE: smartasset, December 2019
Mount Pleasant, Charleston, and North Charleston all rank in the top 10 for Boomtowns in America.
The 50 Best U.S. Cities for Starting a Business in 2020SOURCE: Inc., December 2019
Charleston ranks #7 on list of best cities for starting a business in 2020.
Where Jobs Will Be in 2020SOURCE: Forbes, December 2019
Charleston is tied for #5 on list of where jobs will be in 2020.
Innovation Job GrowthSOURCE: Brookings Institution, December 2019
Charleston ranks #10 in cities that have gained innovation jobs.
Best Small Cities in AmericaSOURCE: Conde Nast Traveler, October 2019
Charleston ranks #1 best small city in America for the 9th consecutive year.
Best Places to Live in AmericaSOURCE: Money.com, September 2019
Charleston ranks #17 out of 100 for Best Places To Live in America
Best CitiesSOURCE: Travel + Leisure, July 2019
Charleston ranks #1 U.S. city and 12th in the world.
Most Dynamic Metro AreasSOURCE: Walton Family Foundation, June 2019
Charleston ranks 8th ‘most dynamic’ metro area for medium metros.
2019’s Best & Worst Cities for StaycationsSOURCE: WalletHub, May 2019
Charleston ranks #6 for best American city for a staycation.
Gender Equality in Tech IndustrySOURCE: CompTIA, April 2019
SC ranks 6th best in gender equality in the tech industry.
2018 Best Performing CitiesSOURCE: Milken Institute, January 2019
The Charleston-North Charleston metropolitan area ranks #16 on the 2018 Milken Institute Best-Performing Large Cities Index, a ranking of U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The ranking is 5 spots higher than the ranking of #22 in 2017.
Best Small Cities in the U.S.SOURCE: Conde Nast Traveler, October 2018
Charleston ranks #1 best small city in the U.S. for the 8th consecutive year.
50 Best Places to Live in AmericaSOURCE: MONEY, September 2018
Mount Pleasant, SC ranks #25 on list of best places to live.
Best Cities in the WorldSOURCE: Travel + Leisure, July 2018
Charleston ranks #10 best city in the world.
Best Cities in the U.S.SOURCE: Travel + Leisure, July 2018
Charleston ranks top city in the U.S. for the 6th year in a row.
Best Small US CitiesSOURCE: The Post and Courier, June 2018
Charleston ranks #4 best small city in the US.
Top 10 Cities in the US for Young PeopleSOURCE: CNBC, June 2018
Charleston ranks #6 best city with highest livability score.
2018's Best & Worst Places to Start a CareerSOURCE: WalletHub, May 2018
Charleston, SC ranks 4th in Best Places to Start a Career.
The Most Prosperous Cities in the U.S.SOURCE: RentCafé, May 2018
Charleston ranks 3rd in most prosperous cities in the U.S., with North Charleston ranking 5th.
Inclusive Economic Growth in the 100 Largest U.S. Metropolitan AreasSOURCE: The Brookings Institution, March 2018
Charleston ranks 11th for inclusive growth.
High-growth Firms and Cities in the US: An analysis of the Inc. 5000SOURCE: The Brookings Institution, February 2018
Charleston ranks #13 among US metros for high-growth
Yelp's 2018 Economic OutlookSOURCE: Yelp, February 2018
Charleston ranks #1 for small business growth
Best Places to LiveSOURCE: Livability, January 2018
Charleston ranks #27 of 100 Best Places to Live.
Coolest Small CitiesSOURCE: National Geographic, January 2018
Charleston ranks on list of coolest small cities.
Charleston ranks #16 in DigitizationSOURCE: The Brookings Institution, November 2017
Charleston ranks #16 (out of 100) in share of jobs in high digital skill occupations.
Charleston #1 US CitySOURCE: Travel + Leisure, July 2017
Charleston Ranked #1 Best City in the US, for the 5th consecutive year.
Charleston Ranks in Best Cities For Young ProfessionalsSOURCE: Forbes, May 2017
Charleston Ranks #23 for Best City For Young Professionals
Charleston #4 Best Midsize City For JobsSOURCE: Forbes, May 2017
We ranked all 421 current metropolitan statistical areas based on employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2005 through 2016. Rankings are based on recent growth trends, mid-term growth, long-term growth and the region's momentum. We also broke down the rankings by size since regional economies differ markedly due to their scale. For our midsize cities list, we ranked the 98 MSAs that each have between 150,000 and 450,000 jobs.
The 6 Best Cities to Start a Business Right NowSOURCE: Inc.com, May 2017
Charleston Ranked #5 Best Cities To Start A Business Right Now
Charleston Among Few to Achieve Inclusive Economic GrowthSOURCE: The Brookings Institute, April 2017
Charleston in top 11 for achieved growth, prosperity, and inclusion that benefited a majority of workers of all races and ethnicities.
Charleston in top 25 U.S. "Next in Tech" CitiesSOURCE: TechNet, March 2017
The Next in Tech - 25 Emerging Start-up Hubs
Charleston Named "Best City In The World"SOURCE: Travel + Leisure Magazine, July 2016
Charleston moved up from the No. 2 slot last year to No. 1. The city has shown incredible resilience and, as one reader wrote, there is still “no place quite like it.”
2016 Best Cities for Tech (outside CA & NY)SOURCE: DataFox, May 2016
Charleston, SC ranks #8 on the list of "sneaky-great cities for tech that offer fast-growing businesses, strong fundamentals and affordability – without the cutthroat competition of the big-name startup hubs."
Charleston Ranked #19 Best Place To LiveSOURCE: US News & World Report , March 2016
Charleston ranks #19 Best Place to Live by U.S. News. To make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life.
Top 20 Metro for First Fundings in 2014SOURCE: Brookings Institute, January 2015
Charleston ranked #12 in the country for first fundings - This rank takes into account the population of the region and normalizes it against the nation as a whole.
2014 Best Performing CitiesSOURCE: Milken Institute, January 2015
Nationally, over a five year period Charleston's relative high-tech GDP growth moved up from #5 to #4.
South Carolina ranked #9 out of the Top 10 Pro-Business States in the USSOURCE: Pollina Corporate, July 2014
Pollina's Corporate's annual 50-state ranking indicates how well each state has positioned itself to retain and create jobs; in the 2014 report, South Carolina ranked #9 out of the Top 10 Pro-Business states.
#1 Travel destination in North America, #2 in the WorldSOURCE: Travel + Leisure, June 2014
Charleston took home Travel & Leisure's top honor for favorite North American travel destination and 2nd best in the world due to its inviting hotels, excellent dining, and unique historical attractions.
Charleston named in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in US Metro Areas ReportSOURCE: Brookings InstituteJune 2014
In a report on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in US Metro Areas, Charleston ranked #9 for Metro Areas in which Foreign Owned Enterprises (FOEs) account for the largest share of private employment.
Leading Locations for 2014: The MSAs with Strongest Prime Work Force GrowthSOURCE: Area Development, June 2014
Among the 379 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) surveyed across the United States, Charleston ranked 22 among the "Leading Locations for 2014" that are poised to capitalize on economic and work force growth.
Charleston ranked among 2014 Best Cities for Job GrowthSOURCE: New Geography, May 2014
Five measures of growth were used to rank 398 metro areas across the United States; Charleston ranked #17 among the 92 "midsize" (ranging from 150,000 to 450,000 jobs) best cities for job growth.
Charleston #2 of America’s Most Exciting Mid-Size CitiesSOURCE: Movoto Real Estate, March 2014
Of the 117 cities surveyed across the United States, Charleston ranked #2 of the Most Exciting Mid-sized Cities (defined as 120,000 to 210,000 residents). Ranking criteria ranged widely from the number of live music venues per capita, to the number of parks, to the percentage of young residents aged 20 to 34.
South Carolina #4 Best State to Achieve the American Dream of Economic ProsperitySOURCE: Business Climate Blog, March 2014
South Carolina ranked among the Top 10 states in the US that have experienced success in creating conditions that enable residents to achieve their "American Dream", particularly in regards to areas such as job environment, job benefits, material prosperity and financial security.
Charleston Included in "Most Active" Map of Tech Hubs in the USSOURCE: State Tech Magazine, November 2013
In the feature "Silicon America", Charleston was named as one of the "most active" IT and innovation areas in a map of tech hubs across the United States.
South Carolina #8 Best State for doing BusinessSOURCE: Chief Executive, May 2013
In Chief Executive’s ninth annual survey of CEO opinions of "Best" and "Worst States" in which to do business, South Carolina was ranked #8 Best State (out of the 50 US states) for doing business.
Charleston ranked #3 out of Top 30 Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs 2013SOURCE: Under30CEO, March 2013
Out of 30 cities in the United States, Charleston was voted #3 of the Best Cities for a new company to open shop based on local resources, culture, atmosphere and overall appeal to young entrepreneurs.
Charleston ranks #9 for Job recovery among US metro areasSOURCE: Brookings Institute December 2012
The Charleston region outpaced major metros such as Dallas, New York and San Francisco in employment, output (GDP) and housing growth to achieve a #9 ranking for job recovery among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas.
Charleston ranked among Top 10 Cities with Cleanest AirSOURCE: CNN Health, October 2012
The Honeywell AirGenius Awards judged 100 U.S. cities based on airborne pollen levels, particulate air pollution and smoking regulations; Charleston ranked #9 out of the Top 10 Cities with the Cleanest Air in the US.
Best Downtowns in USSOURCE: Livability, October 2012
Charleston ranked #2 among 10 Best Downtowns in US, as a place that offers excellent amenities and a high quality of life.
Charleston Voted #1 City in the WorldSOURCE: Conde Nast Traveler, October 2012
While Charleston has claimed honors as being voted the top city in the US for two years in a row (2011, 2012), it has also been ranked as the #1 destination of the "World's Great Cities" by Conde Nast Traveler's readers.
Charleston #2 Top State for Doing Business 2012SOURCE: Area Development, September 2012
South Carolina's strong business and labor climate propelled the Palmetto State to the #2 overall spot in the Top States for Doing Business Index, up from a fourth ranking in 2011.
2012 Best Communities for Young PeopleSOURCE: America's Promise AllianceSeptember 2012
Charleston was recognized among the "100 Best Communities for Young People" in the United States, a competition that spotlights communities that demonstrate a cross sector support and lasting commitment to youth development through innovative programs and services throughout the community.
100 Leading Locations for 2012SOURCE: Area DevelopmentJuly 2012
Charleston ranked 2nd among Area Development’s Top 20 South-Atlantic Cities, as one of the 100 "Leading Locations" across the US.
Charleston #4 Best City For Jobs This SummerSOURCE: Forbes , June 2012
In a period when the national unemployment rate had just grown to 8.2%, this survey indicates the Best and Worst Cities for getting a job in the summer of 2012. Charleston ranked #4 nationally, with a net employment outlook of 24%.
Best-Performing Cities 2011SOURCE: Milken InstituteDecember 2011
Charleston ranked #11 among the Top 25 Large Metro areas of the 2011 Best-Performing cities Index.
2011 Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice AwardSOURCE: Conde Nast TravelerOctober 2011
Charleston was voted the #1 Best City in the World by Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Award.
Charleston Among Select US Cities To See "Brain Gain" in Educational AttainmentSOURCE: Brookings Institute, September 2011
Charleston is included among a list of US cities experiencing "Brain Gain" in regards to increased educational attainment in metropolitan areas.
Best Towns of 2011SOURCE: Outside MagazineAugust 2011
Charleston was voted one of the 19 Best Towns (to visit and live) in the US, based on factors such as affordable homes, solid job prospects, and vibrant nightlife.
2011 Best Cities for Job GrowthSOURCE: New Geography, May 2011
Charleston was ranked #8 out of 90 Medium-sized Best US Cities for Job Growth, a measurement that emphasizes the robustness of a region's growth both recently and over time.
Charleston Highly ranked in Small Business Vitality Scores 2011SOURCE: The Business Journals, April 2011
Charleston came in 3rd on a list of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas that offer the best climates for small businesses.
Charleston Named One of America's Favorite CitiesSOURCE: Travel and Leisure, November 2010
Charleston was named one of America's Favorite Cities out of the 35 US cities ranked by residents and visitors for their culture, shopping, restaurants, nightlife.
2010 Small Business Vitality ScoresSOURCE: Upstart Business Journal, January 2010
Based on population, employment and small business growth, Charleston is named #4 of the most vibrant US metropolitan areas.
World's Smartest CitiesSOURCE: Forbes, December 2009
Charleston Ranked #8 for strong infrastructure, attractive economy and savvy urban planning
Charleston Ranked a "Top City"SOURCE: Lonely Planet, December 2009
Lonely Plant, an international tourism guide, has named Charleston one of the “Top Cities to go to in 2010.”
Charleston Ranked one of the 10 best small "Adventure Burgs"SOURCE: Outside Magazine, August 2009
Chucktown is affordable (median home price, $235,000) and small (pop. 110,000) but comes with the vitality of a metropolis, thanks to its kaleidoscopic heritage and a happening downtown.
Progressive Environmental Stewardship & Sustainable GrowthSOURCE: National Resources Defense Council, July 2009
Charleston ranked 11th among 405 small cities as a sustainable community - one that can continue in a healthy way into an uncertain future.
Best Cities For Technology JobsSOURCE: Forbes, June 2009
Charleston is ranked #7 Best City for Growth in Technology Jobs
Most Livable Cities in AmericaSOURCE: US Conference of Mayors, June 2009
Charleston is recognized as the #1 most livable city in the US.
Next Cities: Best Places to Live & Work for Young ProfessionalsSOURCE: Next Generation Consulting, June 2009
Charleston is ranked # 2 among cities with 100,000 to 200,000 population
America’s Strongest Housing MarketsSOURCE: Forbes, January 2009
Charleston is ranked among the top 25 best housing markets in the US.
2008 Best Performing Cities: Where America’s Jobs Are CreatedSOURCE: Milken Institute, September 2008
Charleston is ranked #10 for job creation among mid-sized metros.
The Best Cities for Doing BusinessSOURCE: Inc.com, August 2008
Charleston is ranked #6 best places for business among 30 mid-sized cities
Small Business Survival Index 2006SOURCE: Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, November 2006
South Carolina ranks 11th among entrepreneur-friendly states
50 Next Great Adventure TownsSOURCE: National Geographic, August 2008
Charleston is named one of "the 50 next great adventure towns"
America's Best High SchoolsSOURCE: US News & World Report, December 2007
Charleston County’s Academic Magnet High School Ranks 27th in the Nation
Top 10 Cities U.S. and CanadaSOURCE: Travel + Leisure, August 2007
Charleston is listed among the 10 best destinations in North America
The Best Cities for Doing BusinessSOURCE: Inc.com, May 2007
Charleston recognized as one of the Top 20 Midsize Cities in the US.
Hot Spots for EntrepreneursSOURCE: Entrepreneur, November 2006
Charleston metro area ranked #2 among top mid-size metros and the State of South Carolina ranked#5 nationally.
Five-Star Knowledge Worker MetrosSOURCE: Expansion Management, May 2006
Charleston metro area among top 20 percent in the US.
Top U.S. Cities for Doing BusinessSOURCE: Inc.com, May 2006
Charleston region ranked #12 among midsize metros in the US.
Best Performing Cities : Where America's Jobs Are CreatedSOURCE: Milken Insitute, May 2006
Charleston region listed among top 25 largest metros in the US.
Hot Cities for EntrepreneursSOURCE: Entrepreneur Magazine, October 2005
Charleston metro area ranked #4 among top mid-size metros.
New American Dream TownsSOURCE: Outside Magazine, August 2005
Charleston is ranked among top 10 cities in the US.
America's Most Unwired CitiesSOURCE: Intel.com, June 2005
Charleston metro area ranked #32 in the US.
Best Places for Business and CareersSOURCE: Forbes, May 2005
Charleston metro area listed among top 50 in the US.
Technopolis Found: Top Tech CitiesSOURCE: Popular Science, February 2005
Charleston ranked #40 out of the Top 50 in the US.
Notable highlights include:
- 5% corporate income tax
- 7% maximum personal income tax
- No state property tax
- No local income tax
- Tax credits for Research & Development
- No unitary tax on worldwide profits
- Tax credits for new jobs
- Tax credits for corporate headquarters facilities
- No inventory or intangibles tax
In addition to business incentives by the State of South Carolina, the Charleston Digital Corridor provides tech and tech-related companies a host of high value services that stay with the company throughout the different stages of growth.
Notable highlights include:
- Reduced Business License Fees
- Five Year Tax Abatement
- Streamlined Permitting
- Assistance with Infrastructure Providers
- Access to Digital Corridor's services
The availability of an abundant, stable and competitive business infrastructure is the vital underpinning of Charleston's tech community. Businesses operating in the Digital Corridor benefit from reliable and competitive business services and transportation infrastructure provided by a host of recognized local, national and international service providers.
The Charleston Digital Corridor is pleased to facilitate business services for start-ups, expanding tech and tech-related companies, as well as companies seeking to expand or relocate to Charleston.
Charleston is easily accessible from anywhere in the world. Due to increased demand, the Charleston International Airport just completed a major expansion to accommodate their expanding flight schedule. Charleston is served by nine airlines offering non-stop flights to twenty-five major national cities. The Charleston region is also home to six executive airports to accommodate corporate and personal aircraft.
- Jet Blue
- British Airways
The Charleston region features a fiber optic, digital, IP-based network that offers businesses reliable, state-of-the-art communications services. Businesses in the Charleston region tap into everything from the latest feature-rich voice and data services to advanced wireless solutions - all provided by leaders in the telecommunications industry. Notable highlights include:
- The Charleston region has 19 digital switching offices.
- Instant rerouting ensured by dozens of fiber optic SONET rings.
- Fiber connections are available to major buildings, ensuring continuous communications.
- More than 90% of the region's telecommunications lines are buried.
- Communication services include OC3 to OC 192 capabilities; Gigabit Ethernet Services; Fully Managed Services and Multi Protocol Layer Switching.
Talent is the currency of the 21st century. Business and community leaders in the Charleston region understand the critical role education plays in advancing a knowledge economy. From pre-kindergarten through doctoral level studies and even, computer code schools, Charleston is committed to providing the best educational opportunities possible.
Educational attainment in the Charleston region is higher than in the United States overall. In fact, US Census Bureau ranks Charleston among the top 15% of all U.S. metropolitan areas in terms of the proportion of residents holding advanced degrees.
Charleston area residents enjoy diverse options in K-12 education, including:
Four public school districts:
In addition to the Schools Districts, Charleston is home to:
- A growing number of charter schools
- Many independent schools, including nationally recognized schools - Ashley Hall, Porter Gaud, Pinewood Preparatory and Trident Academy
- A number of public magnet schools, including Charleston County's Academic Magnet High School, consistently ranked among the nation's top ten schools by Newsweek
- South Carolina's Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities or the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, ranked among the best academic secondary schools in the nation
For additional information on area public and private schools, visit the South Carolina Department of Education.
Beyond K-12, more than two-dozen college and universities provide easy access to a full spectrum of higher education opportunities, from computer science to the culinary arts. Colleges in the region are regularly ranked among the nation's best by Peterson's, U.S News & World Report and other respected guides. Notable Higher Education Institutions in the Charleston Region include:
The Charleston region is within reasonable proximity to several top-tier research universities, including those in Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (RTP). The state of South Carolina is also home to three universities with highly respected, growing research programs:
- Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)_
Research funding fiscal 2016: $259.5 million
- Clemson University
Research funding fiscal 2016: $176 million
- University of South Carolina
_Research funding fiscal 2016: $220 million
Private Coding Schools
Recognizing that the demand for talent by Charleston tech companies has outstripped the supply, Charleston is home to multiple computer code schools, including CODEcamp.
- CODEcamp is a community-sourced training program offered by the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation to provide instruction in open source Web and mobile technologies.
Charleston's historic architecture is just the beginning. Like other vibrant historic peninsular cities – think Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco - Charleston has award-winning restaurants, a lively arts & cultural scene, and fashionable boutiques. One big difference: Charleston offers the perfect scale and civility for the human experience and some of the most friendly people in the country.
Today, Charleston has been discovered as a national and global destination for business and talent, where young entrepreneurs, established professionals, growing families, college students, and retirees can all thrive and come together.
Arts, Culture and Entertainment
From the world-renowned annual Spoleto Festival to the new Gaillard Center, Charleston is a nationally recognized destination for the arts. Highlights include a world-class symphony orchestra, ballet company, host of theater companies, art museums and an increasing number of art galleries and studios. The dining scene is equally unparalleled; Charleston offers a wide range of award-winning restaurants across a spectrum of local and international cuisines. To learn more, notable resources include:
Sports and Recreation
With its wealth of natural beauty, Charleston has much to offer in terms of sports and recreation activities. From spending time on the water kayaking, sailing, fresh or salt water fishing, or paddle boarding, to enjoying land activities such as golfing, bicycling, playing tennis, bird watching or horseback riding, there are activities for all levels of outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Charleston also hosts annual events such as the Cooper River Bridge Run. Notable resources include: