Commercial real estate offices in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina

South Carolina

Charleston Office
25 Calhoun Street
Suite 220
P.O. Box 610 (29402)
Charleston, SC 29401
USA (Map)
Tel: +1 843 723 1202

Columbia Office
1301 Gervais Street
Suite 600
Columbia, SC 29201
USA (Map)
Tel: +1 803 254 2300

Greenville Office
55 E. Camperdown Way
Suite 200
Greenville, SC 29601
USA (Map)
Tel: +1 864 297 4950

2016 Regional Overview: Columbia, SC

Getting to Know the Region

  • A strong economy, pro-business environment and efficient logistics collectively support major industries.
  • Non-agricultural employment in the region is at its highest level in over ten years.
  • Population growth is strong as residents and businesses are attracted to the region’s high quality of life and low cost of living.

    I-20 I-26

  • AIR:
    Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE)

  • RAIL:
    Norfolk Southern

  • PORTS:
    Port of Charleston
    SC Inland Port (Greer)

Central Location is Key

Accessibility to other markets is becoming a primary factor in site selection for both businesses and residents. Businesses look to cut transportation costs and expand market access, while residents enjoy the many weekend and day trips to nearby cities. Major interstates run through the region, allowing short drive-time access to Charlotte, NC; Atlanta, GA; and Charleston and Greenville, SC, among others.

The Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is made up of 6 counties centrally located in South Carolina, halfway between the Port of Charleston and South Carolina Inland Port in the Upstate. Activity at the Port of Charleston is increasing over recent years. Total volume for the Port of Charleston at the fiscal year to date shows a 3.4% increase over the 2015 fiscal year to date. The port continues to grow with no signs of slowing down, as it undergoes the construction of a new terminal in North Charleston and a recently funded deepening of its harbor to 52 feet by 2019. The location of the inland port in Greer expands the Port of Charleston’s reach by 212 miles, allowing access to more than 95 million consumers within a one-day drive. Built in 2013, the Inland Port adds to the connectivity of the state by providing a direct route via a Norfolk Southern rail line to the Port of Charleston. The Inland Port recorded 9,392 rail lifts in August 2016, a 28.3% increase from a year ago. The combined success of the Inland Port and increased demand within South Carolina markets has led the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) to announce plans for a second inland port facility in Dillion County.

The region’s airport, Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), sees more than 1.2 million passengers per year, processes more than 168,000 tons of air cargo and is home to a UPS regional air hub. Additionally, several airports are within a two-hour drivetime, including Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Charleston International Airport (CHS), Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) and Augusta Regional Airport (AGS).

Economy and Labor Market

The region’s economy is largely driven by manufacturing, professional and business services, finance, insurance and real estate sectors and a strong military presence.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), gross domestic product (GDP) for the region totaled $38.4 billion in 2015, accounting for 19.3% of South Carolina’s total GDP. Total GDP is up over recent years as the economy improves and major sectors such as professional and business services grow and contribute to a larger portion of total GDP.

The finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing sector accounted for 19.0% of the region’s total GDP in 2015, increasing from 17.6% of total GDP in 2001. Professional and business services made up 10.0% of total GDP in 2015, up from 8.6% in 2001. Manufacturing remains strong, and accounted for 11.9% of the region’s GDP in 2015.

Major Sectors as a Percent of Columbia MSA GDP (2015)

Columbia MSA GDP as a Percent of South Carolina's GDP (2015)

  • All Industry

  • Manufacturing

  • Professional & Business Services

  South Carolina   Columbia, SC MSA

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Colliers International Research

Fort Jackson, located in Columbia, South Carolina, is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center, training 54% of the Army’s Basic Combat Training (BCT) load and 60% of all women entering the army. According to a recent study by the Darla Moore School of Business, Fort Jackson has a direct economic output of $963 million annually. The total economic impact on South Carolina is $2.2 billion. A majority of Fort Jackson’s economic activity is concentrated in the Columbia MSA. The total annual economic output for the installment is $2.2 billion, with $963 million of the total directly supported by Fort Jackson. Fort Jackson employs approximately 8,800 civilian and military employees.

Supported by a business-friendly environment, state and local tax incentives, efficient logistics, right-to-work status and a talented labor force, the region has successfully recruited investments from various domestic and foreign companies. Area Development Magazine recently ranked South Carolina the Number 3 State for Doing Business, a testament to the region’s attractiveness for business development.

Companies continue to invest in the Columbia, SC MSA. Since 2011, more than $2.5 billion have been invested in the region and more than 10,000 jobs have been created. Approximately 75% of total capital investments since that time have been concentrated in Lexington and Richland counties. More than $2.1 billion and $1.4 billion have been invested in the two counties, respectively.

Recent major investments include Jushi USA in 2016, Haier and GKN in 2015. Jushi USA announced an investment of $300 million to add 400 new jobs in Kershaw County in 2016. West Fraser, a Canadian wood and paper products company, announced a $33.0 million expansion of their facility in Newberry County in October 2016. Other industries expanding in the market are automotive, alternative energy and plastics and rubber.

2015-2016 Highlighted Capital Investments | Columbia, SC
Jushi USA Richland $300,000,000 400 Plastics & Rubber
Invista Kershaw $80,000,000 20 Textiles
Haier America Kershaw $72,134,500 410 Plastics & Rubber
Akebono Brake Corporation Lexington $40,500,000 100 Automotive
Cypress Creek Renewables Calhoun $34,000,000 N/A Alternative Energy
West Fraser Newberry $33,000,000 N/A Wood & Paper Products
Carolina Chips Orangeburg $32,000,000 15 Wood Products
Husqvarna Orangeburg $29,800,000 N/A Metal Products
Cypress Creek Renewables Lexington $20,400,000 N/A Alternative Energy
GKN Aerospace Orangeburg $20,000,000 75 Aerospace & Aviation
The Okonite Company Orangeburg $19,500,000 12 Metal Products

Source: CentralSC Alliance, South Carolina Department of Commerce, Colliers International

Wage rates are up over recent years given the economic recovery, skilled labor force and competition among employers. Annual wages for all occupations in South Carolina averaged $40,580 in 2015, remaining below the national average annual wage of $48,320.

The annual wage for all occupations in the Columbia, SC MSA averaged $42,200 in 2015. Annual wages vary given skill-level and ranged from approximately $19,000 to $102,000 among major employment sectors. The hourly 10th and 90th percentile wages for all occupations averaged $8.41 and $33.92, respectively, with the overall hourly wage averaging $19.43.

As of September 2016, approximately 396,100 individuals were employed by a non-agricultural job in the Columbia, SC MSA. Similar to other markets across the United States, the region was adversely affected during the recent economic downtown and lost 32,300 jobs as a result. The economy has since recovered, regaining all jobs lost and creating an additional 27,600 jobs, or 7.5% greater employment than the pre-recession peak of 368,500 jobs in December 2007.

Major employment sectors include manufacturing, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, trade and education and health services. Manufacturing employment made up 8.3% of total non-agricultural employment in September 2016 with 32,900 individuals employed in the field. Manufacturing employment is on the rise throughout the region and has surpassed the pre-recession peak of 31,500 jobs. Professional and business services accounted for 12.7% of total non-agricultural employment in September 2016, with 50,700 jobs. The sector has been growing over recent years. In September 2005, the sector made up 11.9% of total employment and employed approximately 42,300 individuals.

Employment by Sector & Percent of Total Employment
(September 2016)

    72,400; 18.3%

    50,300; 12.7%

    32,900; 8.3%

    85,500; 21.6%

    49,800; 12.6%

    37,600; 9.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Largest Employers | Columbia, SC
State of South Carolina 25,000 Government State
Palmetto Health Alliance 9,400 Health Services Richland
University of South Carolina 9,000 Education Richland
Fort Jackson 8,800 Military Richland
Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC 6,422 Insurance Richland/Lexington
Lexington Medical Center 6,300 Health Services Lexington
Richland County School District One 4,229 Education Richland
Richland County School District Two 3,600 Education Richland
Lexington County School District One 3,550 Education Lexington
SCANA 3,000 Energy Lexington Fulfillment Center 2,500 Logistics Lexington
Kraft-Heinz 2,500 Manufacturing Newberry
City of Columbia 2,438 Government Richland/Lexington

Source: Colliers International Research


The Columbia region is home to multiple public and private universities, as well as technical college systems, collectively offering training and education programs that support the region’s growing labor force.

Allen University is a private liberal arts, Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Columbia, SC.

8 departments

Fall 2014 Enrollment:
Undergraduate: 660

Benedict College is a private, co-educational liberal arts, Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Columbia, SC.

34 majors
12 departments

Fall 2014 Enrollment:
Undergraduate: 2,444

Columbia College is a women’s college offering undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in Columbia, SC.

35 undergraduate majors
3 graduate degree programs

Fall 2014 Enrollment:
Undergraduate: 1,120
Graduate: 101

Midlands Technical College offers flexible class schedules and various Associates degree and diploma programs at six campuses throughout the Midlands.

100+ degrees, diplomas and certificates in career programs and arts and sciences

Fall 2014 Enrollment:
Undergraduate: 11,424

Columbia International University is a private Christian university in Columbia, SC.

19 undergraduate majors
Various master's degrees and professional certificates

Fall 2014 Enrollment:
Undergraduate: 560
Graduate: 543

University of South Carolina is a public research university located in Columbia’s downtown.

100+ undergraduate majors
200 graduate degree programs

Fall 2014 Enrollment:
Undergraduate: 24,866
Graduate: 8,105

The Columbia, SC MSA counties consists of 11 school districts. Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw and Saluda counties each have one school district. Lexington and Richland counties have 4 and 2 school districts, respectively, as well as a shared district. All but two school districts received absolute ratings of excellent and good in 2014. Many schools offer magnet programs and place a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

2014 School District Rankings | Columbia, SC
Calhoun 1 Excellent 2 2 1 1,775
Fairfield 1 Average 5 1 1 2,900
Kershaw 1 Excellent 11 4 3 10,532
Lexington 1 Excellent 15 7 5 24,537
Lexington 2 Good 7 6 2 8,917
Lexington 3 Good 2 1 1 1,995
Lexington 4 Average 3 2 2 3,447
Lexington/Richland 5 Excellent 12 5 5 16,825
Richland 1 Average 30 9 9 24,320
Richland 2 Excellent 19 7 6 27,340
Saluda 1 Excellent 2 1 1 2,177

Source: South Carolina Department of Education

Living Here

The Columbia region provides a high quality of life for families and young professionals alike. The region features various outdoor recreational opportunities such as kayaking and scenic hiking trails in the area’s lakes, rivers and parks. Year-round festivals include concerts and food, which are sure to be fun for everyone. Downtown is vibrant, with restaurants and retail boutiques for daytime entertainment, and features a booming nightlife with bars and a growing brewery scene.

Home sales are strong in South Carolina. Between January and October of 2016, there were 10,653 home sales in the Greater Columbia and Southern Midlands regions, a 9.5% increase. According to the South Carolina Realtors Association, at the year to date, total sales in the Greater Columbia region increased 9.9% in 2016 over 2015. Median home prices are on the rise in both areas. The median home prices are rising in both regions. The median home sale price in Greater Columbia was $160,000 in 2016, increasing 6.0% over the previous year. The median home price in the Southern Midlands was $104,000, increasing 9.6% over the same time period.

YTD 2016 Median Home Prices (Jan - Oct)

2016 Total Closed Home Sales (Jan - Oct)

Median Home Price
Change from 2015

Greater Columbia: +6.0%
Southern Midlands: +9.6%

Total Closed Home Sales
Change from 2015

Greater Columbia: +9.9%
Southern Midlands: -3.5%

Commercial Real Estate in Columbia

Commercial real estate is strengthening as the economy improves. Construction starts are finally on the rise, rental rates are reaching historically-high levels in many markets and vacancy rates are trending down for most property types. South Carolina’s commercial real estate markets closely mirror these national trends and are welcoming significant interest from both users and investors.

The office market includes 159 office buildings accounting for 9.8 million square feet throughout Columbia. The industrial market consists of 82.9 million square feet in 1,014 industrial buildings across Aiken, Calhoun, Clarendon, Darlington, Fairfield, Florence, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda and Sumter Counties. The Columbia retail market is made up of 12.8 million square feet in 112 anchored shopping centers. The multifamily market consists of 49,036 units, 1,417 of which delivered in 2016.

    159 buildings
    9.8 million SF

    1,014 buildings
    82.9 million SF

    112 centers
    12.8 million SF

    190 complexes
    49,036 units

Based on commercial real estate inventory tracked by Colliers International South Carolina.

Conditions are strong for Columbia’s office market, which is experiencing an influx of interest from tenants and investors. Rental rates are at record-high levels and continue to increase. Occupancy is high and options for quality space are limited. Tenants are competing for space in the Central Business District (CBD) as large blocks of contiguous, Class A space run in low supply. Suburban submarkets, specifically those close to the CBD, are welcoming robust activity as some tenants look for lower occupancy costs and greater parking availability.

The Midlands industrial market has experienced significant improvement and growth over recent years, with strong sales and leasing activity. Improved logistics, tax incentives and a skilled labor force are attracting companies from a wide array of sectors seeking light manufacturing and assembly plants, as well as distribution and warehouse space. The resulting effect has been a tightening industrial market, with increasing rental rates and a strong investment sales market. Speculative construction remains limited to a few buildings throughout the market despite significant demand for space.

Columbia’s retail market is booming, with development activity at its highest level in years. Vacancy is extremely limited at prime locations and any vacant space is leasing at higher than average rental rates. As a result, developers are turning to new construction and redevelopment of older centers to meet the growing demand for space. Rental rates are increasing throughout the market, especially for junior anchor and shop space, which are in greatest demand. Downtown Columbia is welcoming new restaurants and retail shops as residential development remains strong in the submarket.

Multifamily development is flourishing as various student housing and multifamily complexes have delivered in the market. A majority of development is concentrated downtown, with a few developments in the suburbs. Revitalization of the CBD and growth at the University of South Carolina are driving downtown developments.

Commercial Real Estate Growth Cycle: Where the market stands and where it is going.


Current real estate conditions are favorable and motivate investment sales, capital investment and new construction. Occupancy and rental rates are increasing across all property types and tenant interest remains strong. Construction is beginning to gain momentum in response to demand but remains limited, further contributing to escalating rental rates.

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Regional Demographics

The Columbia MSA makes up nearly 17% of South Carolina’s population and offers favorable demographics, with strong population growth and a skilled, educated labor force.

* ESRI forecast
** ESRI estimate

2021: 976,470*
2016: 929,124**
2010: 875,054 (Census)

2021: 372,914*
2016: 355,405**
2010: 335,279 (Census)

2021: $72,261*
2016: $66,197**
2021: $54,168*
2016: $49,489**

AGE (2016)**
20-34: 206,151 (22.2%)
35-64: 355,844 (38.3%)
65+: 128,496 (13.8%)

Caucasian: 57.9%
African American: 34.9%
Hispanic Origin: 5.4%

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT (2016 Population 25+)**
High School Graduate: 27.5%
Associate Degree: 9.1%
Bachelor's Degree: 19.0%
Graduate/Professional Degree: 11.6%

Source: ESRI Demographics, Colliers International Research

Healthcare Services

The Columbia, SC region is served by exceptional healthcare providers and systems. In addition to approximately 15,000 medical professionals, the region is home to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Serves: Richland & Lexington Counties
Hospital Beds: 942
Hospital Campuses: Palmetto Health Richland, Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Parkridge

Serves: Lexington County
Hospital Beds: 414
Hospital Campuses: Lexington Medical Center

Serves: Richland County
Hospital Beds: 332
Hospital Campuses: Providence Hospital Downtown, Providence Hospital Northeast

Serves: Kershaw County
Hospital Beds: 121
Hospital Campuses: Kershaw Health Medical Center

Serves: Fairfield County
Hospital Beds: 25
Hospital Campuses: Fairfield Memorial Hospital

Source: South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Area Attractions

There is much to see and do throughout the Columbia region. Below are some of Columbia's popular attractions.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, the state’s most popular tourist attraction, features more than 2,000 animals in natural exhibits. A 70-acre botanical garden offers scenic views of the Saluda River and wooded trails, among other sites.

Lake Murray is a man-made lake and power reservoir to SCE&G. The lake was complete in 1930 and sits above nearly a dozen communities, thousands of graves and bomber planes among other fascinating things. Lake Murray covers approximately 50,000 acres of land and 650 miles of shoreline. It is 41 miles and 14 miles wide at its widest point.

Congaree National Park, the only national park in South Carolina, offers a variety of activities, including hiking, canoeing, kayaking and fishing.

Columbia has been home to South Carolina’s State House since 1790. The State House is located at Main and Gervais Streets and offers rich history to visitors.

The South Carolina State Museum is South Carolina’s largest and most comprehensive museum. The museum highlights South Carolina art, science and technology, natural history and cultural history. A new planetarium and 4D theater recently opened.

EdVenture is a locally managed, not-for-profit children’s museum. EdVenture offers many exhibits including EDDIE, the world’s largest child.

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