A South Carolina research group has joined with Israel in their first joint request for proposals on a collaborative industrial research and development program.

The SCRA of Charleston and the Israeli Industry Center for Research and Development, both part of an agreement signed in October by state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and Israel’s Southeast U.S. Consul General Opher Aviran, represent a new bi-national initiative to promote new industrial research and development projects.

The projects must involve at least one South Carolina-based company and one Israeli firm. SCRA will execute the agreement on the state’s behalf.

“We look forward to helping our South Carolina companies grow through this exciting initiative,” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney. “This collaboration will further innovative research and collaboration and will ultimately advance South Carolina’s ‘Knowledge Economy.’ We are delighted to be a key player in the process, and we look forward to many positive partnerships and successes.”

The request for proposals hopes to stimulate generation and development of new or significantly improved products or processes for commercialization in global markets.

The technology sectors envisioned for this program consist of those areas where there appears to be the greatest overlap in capabilities and mutual interest between South Carolina and Israel. These areas include, but are not limited to, biomedical and life sciences; advanced materials; sustainable energy/water/agriculture systems; transportation; defense and homeland security; and insurance and health information technology.

For more information, contact Russ Keller at Russ.Keller@scra.org.

Silicon Harbor

Charleston, a tech hub?

That’s the conclusion of StateTech magazine’s “Must-Read IT Blog” list.

The story includes a map of 13 tech hubs across the nation. While many are clustered along the West Coast, the Holy City stands out along the East Coast as one of the places “nipping at Silicon Valley’s heels,” according to the report.

Referred to as Silicon Harbor by the periodical, Charleston is called a rapidly growing tech hub.

“ ‘Despite being the 75th largest metro area in the U.S., Charleston is ranked in the top 10 fasting-growing cities for software and Internet technology,’ according to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance,” the magazine said.

“Big companies with footprints in Charleston include Blackbaud, Boeing and Google. TwitPic and Amazon’s CreateSpace count among the household names to emerge from Charleston,” the story reported.

“The reason people are here and want to be here is because it’s a great lifestyle community,” Ernest Andrade, director of business development for the city of Charleston, is quoted in the magazine. “When you’re in the technology industry, you can choose to live where you want to.”

Honing skills

Want to get free training for a job in manufacturing?

The Trident Technical College Division of Continuing Education and Economic Development is adding a new certification track for South Carolina manufacturing to its educational offerings on its North Charleston campus.

Classes begin next spring. The free training for qualified applicants is being offered for a limited time and as space allows. Trident Tech is one of eight schools in the S.C. Technical College System to offer the South Carolina Manufacturing Certification.

“We believe this program will be an asset to our community and the state by helping to prepare workers for manufacturing jobs,” said Bob Walker, vice president of Trident Tech’s Division of Continuing Education and Economic Development.

The program consists of 200 hours of classroom training, hands-on skill training and includes participation in a production simulation.

Students will gain skills for high-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing including reading blueprints, enhancing their use of hand and power tools, improving their aptitude for basic math and fundamental communication skills, understanding the manufacturing process as well as honing research and decision-making skills.

The S.C. General Assembly funds a $2,119 scholarship per student. Students are responsible for paying a $20 fee to cover the costs of drug screening and a background check. In order to qualify for the scholarship funding, a student must:

A) have a silver-level WorkKeys certification;

B) be unemployed or underemployed. However, students currently employed may qualify if they would like to “re-career” in the manufacturing sector;

C) successfully pass a drug screen and background check;

and D) be a resident of South Carolina.

This certification prepares students for a career as a certified production technician. The starting salary for certified production technicians ranges from $25,000-$35,000 with career growth opportunities available. By taking additional courses, production technicians can advance to front-line supervisors, CNC operators, mechatronics technicians or advanced welders. In addition, production technicians can enhance their business skills and pursue positions in management or as industrial engineering technicians.

For more, contact the Division of Continuing Education and Economic Development at 574-6969.

For comprehensive guidelines on the South Carolina Manufacturing Certification program, go to www.sc techsystem.edu/scmc.

Job link

For general job training, head to the new career center in Mount Pleasant.

Goodwill Industries and East Cooper Community Outreach have developed a new Job Link Center inside of ECCO at 1145 Six Mile Road in Mount Pleasant.

Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the center is a free public service that offers job search tools, training, resume building and career coaching.

“Our partnership was a natural fit as both ECCO and Goodwill are striving to build stronger communities,” said Robert Smith, Goodwill president and CEO. “When people have economic independence, they tend to be happier, more confident and contribute more to their community.”

Each nonprofit organization will play a critical role in helping unemployed individuals land long-term jobs through the Job Link program.

ECCO will help clients work through obstacles that keep them in a cycle of unemployment. Goodwill will ensure clients find sustainable work and that they receive appropriate job training. Once those clients are hired, ECCO will foster them through their first years of employment with continued support and assistance.