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State lands $3M grant to help defense contractors diversify

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South Carolina has received a $3 million grant to help defense contractors diversify their business and become less dependent on U.S. Department of Defense contracts.

The grant aims to assist companies with training in strategic planning, sales and marketing support, product or service development and quality control, according to a news release issued by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce and the S.C. Department of Commerce.

The grant is the second round of funding for the program. In 2015, nearly $1.4 million helped 20 companies achieve $219 million in new sales while retaining $422 million in existing sales. That translated into retaining 1,090 jobs and 450 new jobs, the release said.

To qualify for the grant, a company must earn at least 10% of its revenue from defense contracts and must show its revenues declined 5% in 2015 from 2014.

Defense contractors operating in South Carolina generated a total of $917 million in economic activity in fiscal year 2014 and supported at least 8,791 jobs earning nearly $402 million in employee compensation, the Commerce Department reported, according to the release.

“This is a vital program that has proven successful. It has not just kept businesses operating; it is helping businesses grow,” said Cheryl Stanton, executive director of DEW. “The last round of grant funding saw the companies involved grow employment by nearly 50%. Our goal with this program is to save jobs and increase employment opportunities.”

South Carolina ranks 22nd in Department of Defense spending, including payroll and contracts, with Pentagon spending being responsible for 3.3% of the state’s gross domestic product.

“We were excited to be involved in this grant last year, and we look forward to assisting again,” said Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. “In South Carolina, we have many economic development tools at our disposal, and this new round of grants will allow these companies to further diversify their operations and thrive for years to come.”

For more information, contact Michelle Paczynski by email or at 803-737-3828, or Fred Gassaway via email or at 803-760-5771. 

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