Haley, officials heading to London air show
COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley will lead a 30-member South Carolina delegation to an international aerospace expo outside London next week in the hopes of wooing more aircraft suppliers to the state.
Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said Thursday that he expects meetings at the Farnborough International Airshow to eventually lead to new companies coming to South Carolina as Boeing steps up production in North Charleston.
“It’s the most important marketing event we do,” Hitt said.
A trip to the similar biennial air show in Paris became a sticky issue for Haley’s administration last year after The Post and Courier detailed the weeklong trip’s costs and itineraries.
The S.C. Department of Commerce spent about $158,000 on last year’s mission, and the state’s public-private regional development alliances collectively kicked in another $64,000.
Hitt could not say Thursday precisely how much the state is expected to spend on next week’s Farnborough International Airshow, only that the cost will exceed $100,000 and that state dollars, money from regional development groups and private cash will be used.
“All the people we’re interested in talking to are in one location,” said Hitt, who will not make the journey. “It’s an ideal place for those of us involved in economic development to see a concentration of people in a short amount of time.”
He said the Commerce Department has about 50 company meetings set up, about a third of which Haley will attend. The others will include officials from regional economic alliances and Commerce staff.
The S.C. delegation also will host a Sunday night reception for about 100 guests at Trinity House, whose website boasts “some of London’s most elegant banqueting and conference rooms.”
Haley, who will be accompanied by a two-member security detail, is bringing along one staff member to this year’s trip, compared to two last year.
Last summer Haley said the state closed two deals while in France. Hitt wouldn’t go that far but said agreements involving two foreign employers were in the works.
Asked Thursday about the Paris payoff a year later, Hitt cited two aerospace manufacturing plant announcements from the fall: GKN Aerospace in Orangeburg County and TIGHITCO in the Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston.
TIGHITCO is not a foreign company and is owned by The InterTech Group, which is based in North Charleston. Commerce spokeswoman Amy Love later clarified that the second Paris-related deal has yet to be announced.