A state commerce program will try to help defense contractors become less dependent on winning military business.
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and Department of Commerce are making $3 million available to help defense contractors broaden their customer base as the Pentagon cuts back due to sequestration.
DEW spokesman Bob Bouyea told South Carolina Radio Network that the grant will help companies train in strategic planning, sales and marketing support, product or service development and quality control during federal budget cycles. “With sequestration they’re losing some of their ability to stay in business,” Bouyea said. “So what we’re doing is providing a grant. And the grant helps them diversify.”
This is the second round of grant funding. Last year, DEW officials said nearly $1.4 million helped achieve $219 million in new sales while retaining $422 million in existing sales. Bouyea said that translated into helping 20 companies retain 1,090 jobs and create 450 more.
To qualify, a company must receive at least 10 percent of its revenue from defense contracts and must demonstrate that its revenues declined 5 percent 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 8,700 jobs earning nearly $402 million in total employee compensation, the Commerce Department reported.
South Carolina ranks 22 in terms of Department of Defense spending in the nation including payroll and contracts with Department of Defense spending being directly responsible for 3.3 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.