South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness, also known as New Carolina, has been awarded a contract through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) so that it can offer grants to businesses interested in supporting the state’s nuclear industry. New Carolina was one of only 10 organizations chosen to receive the funding out of 173 entries nationwide.
The South Carolina award involves about $600,000, the maximum amount awarded.
New Carolina Executive Director George Fletcher says his organization will connect existing and future businesses with opportunities and that will mean jobs for South Carolinians. He says the nuclear industry is growing.
Fletcher says New Carolina will identify new technologies relevant to the nuclear industry being developed at the state’s universities and technical colleges and work to help develop start-up companies around those technologies.
Fletcher says there are now seven existing nuclear plants in South Carolina and four planned, as well as five in North Carolina with one proposed. Two plants are proposed for Georgia. A Westinghouse manufacturing facility in Columbia produces nuclear fuel rods that are shipped to many other states.
Fletcher says since no new nuclear plants have been built in the U.S. in 30 years, 80 percent of the parts for existing reactors are manufactured offshore.
So either training existing companies to come in, or recruiting new companies to come in a both viable strategies. This grant is specifically for getting small businesses engaged with the industry.
But Fletcher says the grants may also help service provider companies that assist nuclear facilities.
The Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster is a group of 37 North and South Carolina-based organizations operating under New Carolina that collaborate to strengthen services, products and policies to extend South Carolina’s global leadership in nuclear energy.