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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- University of South Carolina economists are saying that two areas in the Midlands are raising the stakes in the state economy.

"This year we've seen the Midlands come back," Dr. Doug Woodward said.

Woodward, an economics professor at USC, said one county is making big strides.

"Lexington County actually is standing out now as, by many measures, as No. 1 in the state for business activity," he said.

Woodward said not only is the area small business friendly, but corporation giants are calling Lexington County home as well.

"It's also very diversified in terms of what they've been able to attract, from Amazon to pharmaceuticals like Nephron to Michelin is expanding," Woodward said.

And right next door in Richland County, Columbia has it's own powerhouse.

"The other big employment generator that's helped a lot for the Midlands is USC, itself," he said.

From academics to athletics, USC benefits the entire state.

Boasting more than 31,000 students, USC brings the economic boom.

"[Students] do have an impact on our economy. Some stay here and work, but while they're going to school they are a big generator of demand for our local businesses," Woodward said.

Columbia also has the government to thank for it's continued economic favor.

"We should get some notice, we're in expansion right now," Woodward said.

Economists said the only thing that could throw off their predictions is a potential reduction in monetary stimulus, which could raise interest rates and reduce asset prices.

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