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Manufacturers Alliances in South Carolina: Driving Growth

A manufacturers alliance advocates for the industrial sector and works to advance manufacturing. Whether regional or national, these organizations are dedicated to helping manufacturing companies prosper. They work as government liaisons, act as a resource to manufacturers, and foster an industrial workforce.

South Carolina is a manufacturing hub for the Southeast region of the United States and is home to a variety of manufacturing industries. These include aerospace, automotive, advanced materials, textiles, and tooling, to name a few. The large manufacturing community in South Carolina has led to the development of different manufacturers alliances in the state.

South Carolina Manufacturing

The University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business did a study on the economic impact of manufacturing in the state. Findings show that manufacturing contributes $206 billion a year to South Carolina’s economy. It also makes up 16% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Other survey results show that 30% of South Carolina jobs are tied to manufacturing, and that the annual wage of these jobs is 33% higher than the state’s average annual wage. Additionally, 38% of South Carolina’s general funds come from the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing also enables job creation in South Carolina. For every 10 manufacturing jobs created in the state, another 14 jobs are created to support this growth. The study’s findings paint an optimistic picture of the South Carolina manufacturing sector and highlight its importance to the state’s economy and GDP.

South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance

Founded in 1902, the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA) has been working to advance manufacturing in the state for over a century. Branded as “the voice of manufacturing in South Carolina,” SCMA serves the interests of manufacturing companies in the state through legislative advocacy, regional councils, and industrial initiatives. According to SCMA’s website, the public policies that the organization supports include workforce development and education, employment issues, economic development, energy, the environment, and legal reform.

Aside from advocacy, SCMA also offers education and opportunity to South Carolina manufacturers, sharing best practices for their industries, and enabling local and regional connections. A specific issue SCMA focuses on — one that is impacting the country’s entire manufacturing community — is the workforce shortage. To help combat the worker shortage within South Carolina, SCMA fosters relationships between students, parents, educators, policy makers, and manufacturers. This public/private partnership is known as SC Future Makers.

SC Future Makers helps build relationships between schools and manufacturing companies to connect students to manufacturing internships, apprenticeships, and jobs in their community. This initiative is the result of a partnership between the state’s governor’s office, department of commerce, department of education and workforce, technical college system, and education oversight committee. Enabling direct interaction between manufacturing companies and students is a game-changer for solving the state’s industrial workforce talent challenges.

South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Though SCMA does a lot to support and advance manufacturing in South Carolina, it is not the state’s only manufacturing organization. The South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) has been a resource to manufacturers in the state since 1989. This nonprofit group operates under the United States Department of Commerce and is a partner of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

SCMEP helps manufacturers in the state to remain competitive, improve performance, and increase profitability. This organization is part of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Altogether there are 51 centers in the MEP program, located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Each manufacturing extension center, including SCMEP, works with companies within their state/region to provide customized services to meet their needs.

Unlike SCMA, which is a membership organization for South Carolina manufacturing companies and a legislative advocate, SCMEP works with manufacturing companies in the state. SCMEP offers services like consulting, training, and professional development to help South Carolina manufacturers grow. This organization has featured programs to help with issues such as cybersecurity, workforce development, and the adoption of advanced technologies.

Through their consulting and training services, SCMEP has had a real impact on the South Carolina manufacturing industry. In 2022 alone, the organization had a $3.33 billion statewide impact. Within the sector of workforce development, SCMEP helped create 2,396 jobs and assisted manufacturers in retaining 3,669 jobs. Additionally, SCMEP has served 516 South Carolina manufacturers, attained $265 million in new investments, and enabled companies to retain $2.5 billion in sales. These stats show the tremendous impact SCMEP has had on the state’s manufacturing sector.

South Carolina Manufacturing Events

In addition to manufacturing organizations, manufacturing events also help to advance the manufacturing industry. One of these events is SOUTHTEC, which focuses on manufacturing technology and takes place every two years in Greenville, South Carolina. Not only does this event provide an opportunity for manufacturers in the region to connect with each other, it also provides them with the opportunity to connect with South Carolina’s manufacturers alliances.

Several SCMEP representatives participated in SOUTHTEC 2023, taking the stage to discuss manufacturing’s impact on South Carolina and highlight opportunities for growth. If you’re looking to meet with organizations such as SCMEP to advance your manufacturing company and your career, make sure to attend SOUTHTEC.