The Midlands of South Carolina consists of eight counties: Richland, Lexington, Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Orangeburg, Saluda, and Sumter. Columbia's Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 767,598 as of 2010, and we are one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Southeast with a 19% increase in population since 1990. This growth continues to attract new and innovative companies that are looking for an educated and productive workforce. The region's economy is supported by industries such as advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, information technology, insurance technology and services, military and defense, alternative energy, and transportation/logistics. Low costs of doing business, a highly skilled workforce, high quality of life, and extensive transportation infrastructure make the Midlands an ideal place to do business.
Human capital and educated workforce is abundant in the Midlands, with nearly 40% of the population 25 years in possession of a bachelor's degree or higher. Our region's centers of higher education include four technical colleges, six independent senior colleges, and a nationally ranked research university. Columbia ranks 23rd in the nation for doctoral degrees and 32nd for college degrees.
Columbia is nationally ranked among the top five cities for highway connectivity with an interstate network that includes I-20, I-26, I-77 and I- 95, and offers easy North to South and East to West access. Regional air transportation is provided by the Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) which also serves as the Southeast Regional Air Hub for UPS covering nine states and the Port of Charleston, the eighth largest shipping terminal in the US, is located less than two hours away. Rail service to Columbia is supported by both CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern and passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak.
Within Columbia there are over 30 companies with international ties to 13 countries across the globe. Businesses from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom all take advantage of our strong transportation network and wonderful quality of life. Since 1988, these companies have invested over $1.5 billion into our local economy and have added flavor and diversity to our local culture. The City of Columbia prides itself on being a diverse All-American community that people from all over the world want to call home.
Currently, the City of Columbia has seven sister cities:
Yibin City, China