The aerospace cluster has a long and proud heritage in South Carolina. Today, South Carolina is home to two aerospace giants, Lockheed Martin Corporation in the Upstate region and most recently The Boeing Company which builds the 787 Dreamliner in the Charleston region. Industry estimates project 25,000 new aircraft will come into service by 2026, with total production value of $4.4 trillion.
In 2012, South Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt appointed the Aerospace Task Force to develop a strategic plan to grow the state’s aerospace cluster. The group of public and private leaders recommended priorities for action. Regional Advisory Councils were also convened to provide regional input.
In late 2013, New Carolina received a $400,000 Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnerships grant from the United States Department of Commerce/Economic Development Administration. New Carolina worked closely with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and other partners around the state to compete for these funds which will allow additional planning related activities to occur to support the aerospace cluster. New Carolina will compete for the next round of funding related to these grants in 2014 to continue to advance the aerospace cluster in South Carolina and assist the Department of Commerce in executing the Aerospace Task Force’s Strategic Plan.
Using the Community Partnerships federal grant, New Carolina partnered with USC’s McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research and the state Department of Commerce to commission an economic impact study of the aerospace cluster in South Carolina. The study revealed that the aerospace cluster is a driver of economic growth in South Carolina, supporting over 102,000 jobs in various industries, and with an impact of $17 billion to the state’s economy.
South Carolina’s aerospace cluster consists of over 400 large and small civilian firms, as well as four major military aviation facilities:
• Joint Base Charleston (Charleston Air Force Base),Charleston
• Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort
• McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Eastover
• Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter
There are over 53,000 workers directly employed by these civilian and military facilities in South Carolina. The average compensation rate of a civilian aerospace employee is about $71,000 - far greater than the state average compensation of about $41,000.. Surprisingly, the type of businesses entering the cluster are mostly small businesses with 5 or fewer employees. These small businesses comprise 95% of aerospace firm growth over the five-year period from 2007 - 2012.
The study’s findings show that as the aerospace cluster continues to grow, it will bring higher-skilled jobs, increased wage levels and growth in small businesses. The study’s findings also indicate that with continued, targeted efforts by New Carolina and its partners, South Carolina can compete globally and nationally as a destination for the aerospace industry.
Aerospace Industry Day (in cooperation with USC McNAIR) –August 19, 2014
Aerospace Economic Impact Study - completed August, 2014
Aerospace Cluster Fact Sheet - 2014
Aerospace Cluster Economic Impact Study - 2014
South Carolina Aerospace Task Force Strategic Plan – 2013
List of South Carolina aerospace related firms
Department of Commerce Aerospace Brochure / State ofBusiness World of Opportunity
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