Light Manufacturing and Assembly
The Light Manufacturing cluster is a broad category that includes the assembly and manufacture of light components, materials, and equipment that supply larger end-use original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
The aerospace industry provides some of the best examples in this category. Currently the Boeing Corporation’s investment in the composites-based Dreamliner and its nearby manufacturing facilities in Charleston creates new opportunities throughout the state of South Carolina for suppliers to serve the just-in-time manufacturing process. The extent of supplier expansions has yet to be played out, but the City of Seattle estimates that one aerospace OEM job translates to 1.8 jobs elsewhere in its economy. This would translate to over 5,000 supplier jobs related to the Charleston plant.
This presents a timely opportunity for all sorts of light manufacturing suppliers to locate in our region and serve the Boeing network, and depending on the types of parts or systems they provide, to also supply Spirit and Honda in North Carolina and Gulfstream in Savannah as well.
The Lowcountry Opportunity:
We anticipate that the Lowcountry will enjoy both a “push” and “pull” effect in the manufacturing industry:
- Push: Neighboring ports will inevitably bring new opportunities for assembly in the region. Several foreign automotive importers already assemble in east coast ports in order to reduce import tariffs on their products. Countless other products are also affected by tariffs in a similar manner. Bringing low-tariff components into the Savannah/Lowcountry region, and turning them into final goods will be a growing scenario.
- Pull: Starting with Gulfstream in Savannah and now with Boeing in Charleston, the Southeast is becoming a global hub for advanced aerospace manufacturing, materials, and components. Suppliers of all sizes will come to the region to be a more integrated part of the supply chain and to tap into the existing labor force.
The manufacturing and assembly opportunities for the Lowcountry will not be exclusive to the civilian aircraft industry. A defense manufacturing industry is present in the Lowcountry (Daniel Defense, XRD, Northrop, etc.), and the Marine Corps Air Station brings with it some very strong capabilities in aircraft skills in the workforce.
Furthermore, the region is poised to stand-up the F-35 operations and training facilities, making it one of the leading technology training centers for the US military. Growth in defense contractors in the region will be a natural extension of the growing aerospace industry across South Carolina and Georgia. Specialized training programs for existing military workforce will further enhance the region’s assets in this field.
Also Be Green Packaging’s recent choice of the Lowcountry indicates that green product manufacturing and manufacturing processes are an opportunity for the region. Clean, sustainable development that preserves the Lowcountry’s quality of life is something we prize very highly.
- Assembly and Kitting
- Military Vehicle Components
- Aircraft / Aerospace Components and Training
- Green Products
- Biomedical Supplies
- Industrial Machinery