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Governor sells state’s advantages to aerospace representatives

Chuck Crumbo
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The Palmetto State has emerged as a role model to the rest of the country in its ability to attract and grow manufacturing, Gov. Henry McMaster said today in keynoting the fourth annual S.C. Aerospace Conference & Expo.

“Nobody has the assets required for growth and economic opportunity than your state does right now,” McMaster told a room packed with aerospace industry executives, as well as representatives from academia and government, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

McMaster ticked off a list of advantages for manufacturers to do business in South Carolina, including access to the Port of Charleston, extensive workforce development programs and a network of research universities.

South Carolina, McMaster said, exports more cars than any other state and is the nation’s No. 1 tire manufacturer.

“There’s no place more competitive than South Carolina,” McMaster said.

One example McMaster cited was the state’s efforts in workforce development. When a foreign company has been recruited to expand to South Carolina, representatives from ReadySC, a unit of the state’s technical college system, head overseas to study the firm’s manufacturing processes.

The ReadySC team then returns home and designs a training program for South Carolinians so the company will have a local workforce ready to start when it launches operations in the Palmetto State.

“Nobody else does this,” McMaster said.

South Carolina has emerged as one of the top states for the aerospace industry, thanks in part to Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston. Boeing South Carolina, which was created in 2009 and rolled out its first S.C.-built 787 Dreamliner in 2012, employed about 7,200 people as of July, according to the company’s website.

Aircraft and spacecraft export sales totaled $5.7 billion in 2016, up 47% over the previous year’s total, according to a news release. The industry has more than 400 private sector companies and four military aviation facilities in South Carolina.

Overall, the state’s aerospace cluster counts more than 53,000 South Carolinians employed in the civilian and military sectors.

Reach Chuck Crumbo at 803-726-7542.

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