South Carolina industry hunters are sufficiently armed to track and bag some fresh business at the Farnborough International Airshow near London this week.
Some of the aerospace-related businesses South Carolina has landed in the past 18 months:Company Location Investment New jobsTIG HitCo North Chas. $30 million 350GKN Aerospace Orangeburg $38 million 250Cargo Composites Wando $700,000 40Honeywell Int. Greenville $25 million 30AvCraft Tech. Ser. Myrtle Beach $1 million 150Carbures Greenville $6.5 million 50So. Air Repair Greenville $750,000 20Source: S.C. Department of Commerce
But they would be absolutely tickled should Boeing provide another slug of firepower, more than it has already.
The company can take full credit for putting the Palmetto State on the world map as an up-and-coming player in the aerospace industry. Boeing started building its first 787 Dreamliner jets in North Charleston last year and completed its first plane in April. A successful run of test flights followed.
That's plenty enough for South Carolina to promote across the pond.
Bobby Hitt, head of state Commerce Department, noted that the second locally made Dreamliner rolled out of the hangar about a week ago. Two more jets that were manufactured in the Seattle area were added to the local lineup as well, putting four 787s out on the complex's flight line.
“That's a big deal, too, as far as I'm concerned,” Hitt said Thursday.
MilestonesAn even bigger deal would be if all the stars suddenly aligned and Boeing is able to deliver its first locally made 787 to Air India amid the world's most important aviation event.
“It'd bound to have a resounding marketing message,” Steve Dykes, Charleston County's economic development director, said a few weeks ago.
Hank Taylor, vice president of global business development with the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, agreed.
“I think anytime you have proof in the pudding it strengthens your credibility. ... Anything that continues to strengthen that credibility and image is good thing for us,” he said.
Hitt pointed out that Boeing's “firsts” in South Carolina — the initial rollout and maiden flight of the 787 from North Charleston — drew worldwide media attention.
“That's one of the reasons that milestones are important,” he said.
Obviously, Boeing South Carolina isn't going to turn over its first-born plane to Air India until both the aircraft and the customer are ready.
It's a longshot, but a delivery is still technically in the cards, though no schedule had been released as of Friday. After all, the business-to-business part of the Farnborough show runs through July 13.
Burning leatherEven without a 787 delivery to boast about, South Carolina is traveling to the air expo knowing the lay of the land. The Commerce Department and local economic development agencies have been sending representatives since 2005 to England and France, which hosts the exhibition every other year.
Taylor is working his third event.
“One thing I've learned ... is it's always good to start with a plan of attack,” he said,
The hunt for new business at Farnborough starts in earnest tonight when Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled to host a social reception for about 100 aviation executives and other VIPs at Trinity House, which describes itself as having “some of London's most elegant banqueting and conference rooms.”
Taylor said the state delegation will highlight the local 787 factory's accomplishments to date. Meetings have been scheduled with about 50 aerospace businesses over the next five days, and, not surprisingly, most of them have ties to Boeing. “We will definitely be burning the leather to reach and touch as many people as we can,” Taylor said.
Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.