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March 11, 2015 – GSA Business

Two state agencies are partnering to launch a program aimed at helping defense-related businesses in South Carolina grow and expand into new markets as Congress considers deep cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.

The initiative, involving the Department of Employment and Workforce and the Department of Commerce, offers business consulting services on an application basis to firms that could be hurt by U.S. Department of Defense budget cuts.

The program will help firms reduce their dependency on Defense Department contracts by encouraging them to diversify into other growing industries, primarily the aerospace and automotive industries, the agencies said.

By diversifying portfolios, the goal is that South Carolina-based contractors will be affected less by cuts in federal defense spending, the agencies added.

Under the program, firms in the state with Defense Department contracts may apply for consulting services in four areas: strategic planning, sales and marketing, lean product development and quality certifications.

The S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Dilks-Simone Enterprises Inc. and kglobal, a Zenetex company, have been selected as approved vendors to provide consulting services for defense firms in South Carolina.

“This new partnership with the Department of Commerce will ensure that defense-focused employers are able to diversify their products and markets so they continue to thrive in the Palmetto State,” said Cheryl Stanton, director of the workforce agency. “Proactively working with businesses to diversify their economic opportunities is integral to creating a prosperous economic future for workers, job seekers and businesses.”

Helping defense firms grow and diversify is important to the state’s economy, the agencies said. According to a recent economic impact report commissioned by the S.C. Military Base Task Force, there are more than 600 defense-contracting firms in the state. The average income for defense industry workers in South Carolina is $47,280, 21% higher than the state’s average of $38,990, according to the report.

“Our defense firms play a vital role in supporting the missions of our military, but they also bring big impact to our state’s economy,” Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said. “With our growing aerospace and automotive sectors, there are more and more opportunities for defense-related businesses to expand into new areas.”

The Department of Employment and Workforce is administering the program with a $700,000 defense industry assistance grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment within the Defense Department. An eligible firm selected for the program could receive up to $75,000 in the value of services. Funds must be expended by Aug. 31.

Interested defense-related firms may access the application online as a word document or find the application in Commerce’s publications directory.

Eligible firms must first conduct an assessment that evaluates the product or service offering, the manufacturing or service process, finance, sales, marketing and quality control. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the grant funds are fully committed.

“South Carolina is proud to be called the most patriotic state in America, and taking care of our eight military installations and the businesses that serve them is important to us,” Gov. Nikki Haley said. “With these two jobs agencies collaborating, programs like this one will help make sure that defense contractors continue to operate successfully and grow jobs in our state.”

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.

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