Industry Clusters

We advance the economic competitiveness of South Carolina’s companies by supporting industry clusters.







What is an industry cluster?

Have you ever wondered why certain industries tend to be located in certain areas? For example, Napa Valley in California is famous for its wine production. A large number of tech companies and start-ups are concentrated in Silicon Valley. New York is the center of the American publishing industry, and London is a capitol of global finance. Each of these is an industry cluster – a group of companies in a similar industry located close to one another.


How does an industry cluster work?

Companies tend to stay in the same location for a long time. Over the years, a natural concentration or “cluster” of specialized suppliers and skilled workers is created, along with institutions that provide specialized training and education, research, and technical support to the industry. 


Shared Labor Pool

Businesses perform better where they can find employees with specialized skills, and workers want to be where companies can hire them. People are also drawn to places where others share their interests and ideas. These “pools of talent” generate new ideas and attract other talented people.

Supplier Specialization

Almost every company relies on specialized supplies provided by another company. The competitive environment in clusters forces specialization of suppliers. New market demands are met more quickly and efficiently than they would be outside of the cluster.

Knowledge Spillover

The competition inside industry clusters encourages new ideas and innovation. Industry clusters also encourage entrepreneurship as workers move between employers and more easily spot opportunities to create their own companies.



Industry clusters attract new companies to South Carolina.
Industry clusters attract new companies because the suppliers and workers necessary to support their operations are already in place. In most cases, the cluster’s location is also desirable because it offers easy access to research and development institutions. Cluster leaders develop institutional knowledge of the industry and become marketers to prospect companies.

Industry clusters grow existing companies in South Carolina and create jobs.
The infrastructure created by industry clusters increases the efficiency and productivity of individual companies. In turn, companies expand and create more jobs.

Industry clusters make it easier to start new companies in South Carolina.
Industry clusters create opportunities for entrepreneurs to succeed. New lines of business are more visible, and the specialized suppliers and talent pools make it easier to start a company.

How does the SC Council on Competitiveness support industry clusters?

In some cases, the cluster leaders organize their own non-profit organization without facilitation from a third-party. In other cases, the cluster leadership organizes with the assistance of another organization like the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. The level of support the Council provides varies according to the cluster’s stage of growth and specific needs.