S.C. at air show: Lots of meetings, no deals

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday that no business deals have been signed during her visit to an international airshow outside London, but the sessions are a starting point for attracting new business to the state.

“We’re not closing deals here because we’re making new meetings out of these,” Haley told reporters in a conference call from the Farnborough Airshow.

Aerospace giants Boeing Co. and Airbus have announced large international orders at the show, which the governor described as “total chaos” with its thousands of attendees, aircraft buzzing overhead and multiplicity of displays.

Haley argued that it is vital for South Carolina to have a presence at the event because Boeing is building 787s in North Charleston and Lockheed Martin has an aircraft maintenance facility in Greenville. Airbus has announced it will build a plant in Alabama to assemble its A320 jets.

Attracting aviation suppliers to South Carolina means they can also service the Alabama site, Haley said.

“There’s a lot of buzz about that,” Haley said. The governor said selling the state “is easy” because the cost of doing business is lower, the state can provide a trained workforce willing to conform to each firm’s needs, and it doesn’t have lots of red tape or union issues.

“The meetings we have had here have been valuable,” she said.

While she was one of three or four governors at last year’s airshow in Paris, Haley said double that number are in Farnborough.

“They see this as an industry that’s on the rise and they all want a part of it,” she said. “We’re all fighting for the same thing, which is: ‘How do we get these companies to come to our state?’”

Last week, Commerce Department Secretary Bobby Hitt said Farnborough would be the biggest marketing opportunity of the year for his agency and that officials would court suppliers for Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Haley says she held about 15 sessions with various company officials on Sunday and Monday.

Overall, Commerce Department officials scheduled about 50 meetings with business leaders during the show. Haley said she plans to return to South Carolina on Wednesday.

The governor said South Carolina has been “the buzz” at the session, because the state has been so successful in attracting members of the aviation industry.

Boeing officials have said the North Charleston plant will produce four planes by the end of the year. They hope it produces about three-and-a-half planes a month by the end of next year.

The South Carolina delegation consists of four Commerce officials, including Deputy Secretary George Patrick — a retired Air Force general — Haley, her government liaison and two security guards for her, as well as two people from each of the six regional alliances, according to Commerce and the governor’s office.

Commerce Department spokeswoman Amy Love said the estimated cost of the trip is “around $100,000 with support from alliances, partners, sponsors and private sector” and that costs to the taxpayer will be less than last year’s Paris airshow trip.

Haley was criticized for the trip to Paris last June because it cost taxpayers $160,000 through Commerce Department spending alone. That included expensive hotel rooms and, for the first time, renting a chalet for events. That trip extended to Munich, where officials toured BMW headquarters. Haley’s husband also attended. Critics called it a taxpayer-funded junket and vacation.

More in Herald Business Journal

Amazon lists 20 finalists for HQ2, and no, we aren’t on it

Los Angeles was the only West Coast city listed. They seem to like the nation’s capital.

Strange and wonderful creatures come through door of Bothell clinic

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

House passes bill aimed at lowering gender wage gap

The bill would hinder employers from retaliating against female workers who ask about others’ pay.

Planemaker joins forces with auto-industry supplier Adient

The new venture poses a threat to Zodiac Aerospace and Rockwell Collins

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Glitches slow Boeing, SpaceX plans for human spaceflight

Boeing has an issue with its abort system that may cause the spacecraft to “tumble.”

Most Read