Charleston is home to the nation's first and largest styrene-butadiene synthetic rubber manufacturing plant. In the aftermath of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Empire of Japan cut off 90% of the United States’ natural rubber supply. The search for a rubber substitute quickly began.
In January 1943, the plant at Charleston began producing synthetic rubber. By the end of the war, it had produced 131,000 tons of the synthetic substitute.