The South Carolina Department of Commerce administers South Carolina’s economic development program. Created by the General Assembly in 1945 as the Department of Research, Planning, and Development and later known as the State Development Board, it had five governor-appointed members.
During the late 1940s and 1950s the board sponsored industrial recruitment missions through which governors and state businessmen cultivated relationships with northern corporate executives. It also provided site location data and coordinated state and local development efforts. In early years the board lacked funding and staffing and held extraneous responsibilities for geological studies and promoting tourism.
Governor Ernest Hollings was the first governor to make economic development a central concern. He increased board membership to fourteen, and it began concentrating its efforts on industry recruitment. Board directors and chairmen began working more closely with governors.
In 1993 the Development Board became the S.C. Department of Commerce. Since then, economic development has remained a priority of governors, who have helped create a modernized state economy supported by knowledge-based industries. Today the department has divisions dedicated to industry recruitment, export development, existing industry and small business support, community and rural development, and workforce development. The South Carolina Film Commission and the Public Railways and Aeronautics Divisions are housed within the department.
The department maintains several overseas offices to aide international recruiting and to help state companies reach foreign markets. The South Carolina Japan Office opened in Tokyo in 1983 and is the longest continually operating state office there. The South Carolina European Office opened in Brussels in 1974, moving to Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1980s and then to Munich in 1999. In 2005 the state established the South Carolina China Office in Shanghai.
South Carolina. Preparedness for Peace Commission. Report to the Governor and Members of the General Assembly. [Columbia, S.C.], 1945.