University of South Carolina

Moore School study: Natural resources boost economy

South Carolina’s bountiful natural resources contribute nearly $30 billion annually to the state’s economy, and more than 230,000 jobs are tied to business activities formed around this resource base, according to a study released Wednesday (May 27) by the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business.

“While it is hard to put a value on all the ways natural resources contribute to South Carolina’s economic development, it can be clearly shown that they support thousands of jobs, millions in income and a permanent base for economic development that should last forever,” according to the report, which was prepared by economists Dr. Douglas P. Woodward and Dr. Paulo Guimaraes in the school’s Division of Research.

“Access to abundant recreational opportunities and natural assets plays an important role in economic growth and quality of life, so protection and enhancement of our natural resources should be part of our overall economic development strategy,” said John Frampton, director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which initiated the study.

The impacts presented in the study, titled “Underappreciated Assets: The Economic Impact of South Carolina’s Natural Resources,” measure the annual economic activity associated with certain resource bases such as land (forestry) and water (fishing, swimming, boating).

The study produced the following facts, all pertinent to the year 2008:

  • Visitors and local residents who took advantage of South Carolina’s most famous recreational assets – its sandy beaches and ocean surf – added about $3.5 billion to the state’s economy and supported nearly 81,000 jobs.
  • Fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing added about $2.2 billion to the economy and supported nearly 59,000 jobs.
  • The state’s forestry industry exported more than $1 billion in forest products and supported nearly 84,000 jobs.
  • The boat-building industry added nearly $400 million to the state’s economy and supported more than 9,500 jobs.
  • Mining activities added nearly $219 million to the state’s economy and supported more than 2,500 jobs.
  • Commercial marine fisheries in South Carolina added about $14 million to the state’s economy and supported 661 jobs.

As the economy recovers from the recession and “expands in the years ahead, these impacts will grow,” the report said. “Natural resources should always be considered integral to economic development.”

And, well-managed natural resources have still another impact, according to the report: “Increasingly, scholarly research shows that talented people – the kind the state wants to retain – reside in places with quality natural resource-related amenities and recreation opportunities. Thus, they provide a magnet for human capital.”

The complete study is available online on the Moore School’s Division of Research Web site:


The value of natural resources

  • Economic impact: $30 billion annually
  • Employment: 230,000 jobs

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 05/27/09 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 06/11/09 @ 2:59 PM | Permalink