Economic Cluster & Innovation Strategy

The Charleston region has grown rapidly over the past decade. Regional economic development initiatives are informed by a cluster strategy that identifies target industries. Target industries contribute to regional prosperity by increasing high-wage employment opportunities accessible to the workforce. SB Friedman was engaged by the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) to identify target industries for the next five years and strategic priorities for enhancing the local innovation ecosystem.

The CRDA engaged SB Friedman to identify implementable, near-term strategies to support a targeted, diverse set of economic clusters which will increase high quality jobs and improve economic resiliency in the Charleston region. SB Friedman conducted initial analysis to identify target clusters through a combination of quantitative analysis and stakeholder interviews. After identifying target clusters, SB Friedman identified key needs and corresponding strategies to unlock additional growth opportunities within each over the next five years.

In addition to cluster strategies, SB Friedman identified strategies specific to the innovation ecosystem. Over 50% of economic growth is driven by innovation. To continue growing the regional economy, SB Friedman conducted interviews with venture capitalists, incubators, research institutions, and major corporations. Combining interview feedback with quantitative analysis of research and development funding, patents, business applications and more, SB Friedman identified strategies to advance the innovation ecosystem within each of the target clusters.

Results: The CRDA economic cluster and innovation strategy was developed alongside a broader regional economic recovery and resiliency strategy, also led by SB Friedman. The strategic plan was completed in April 2022 and will be released in the summer of 2022.