Economic growth, where does Oconee County stand?

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by Caroline A. Warner

Recently, the Economic Innovation Group published a study monitoring economic growth in the United States following our most recent recession called The New Map of Economic Growth and Recovery. The survey’s findings indicate that the majority of the country experienced negative business establishment growth in the four years following the recession.  In fact, from 2010-2014, nearly three in five counties (roughly 60%) had more businesses that closed their doors than opened them. According to the Economic Innovation Group, “the 2010s recovery was marked by a collapse in new business formation.”

Almost across the map, the 40% of counties that did experience positive business establishment growth were concentrated near large urban centers. A mere twenty counties generated half of the country’s new business establishments. (For scale, there are 3,143 counties or county-equivalents in the United States.) This unprecedented shift toward a less entrepreneurial economy serves as an ominous manifestation of the country’s economic development.

Oconee County defies all of these findings. Of South Carolina’s 46 counties, only ten experienced positive business establishment growth. Oconee County was one of those ten. The other nine counties: Greenville County (the Upstate’s only other representative on this list), York County, Lancaster County, Lexington County, Berkeley County, Horry County, Charleston County, Beaufort County and Jasper County, either include or abut a major statistical area.

Why is this important?

Most experts believe that business establishment growth is a definitive sign of economic growth for their communities. These entrepreneurial efforts oftentimes serve as a concrete indication of the economic development trends to expect in the years to come. Or, quite frankly, the future of economic development in Oconee County is incredibly bright.


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