COLUMBIA, S.C — Steve Townes has been named chairman of SCAerospace, a private-sector leadership group organized by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. He will serve a two-year term as chairman.
“Businesses serving a common industry naturally cluster in a geographic location, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing with aerospace in South Carolina,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president and CEO of the SC Council on Competitiveness. “Proactive leadership is crucial to promoting the industry cluster, accelerating innovation and growing markets. Steve’s energy and expertise will do just that for aerospace in South Carolina.”
Townes is an aerospace entrepreneur and industry leader with 35 years in the aerospace sector. An engineering graduate of West Point, Townes founded Ranger Aerospace in Greenville, South Carolina, in early 1997. He has remained Ranger’s CEO through several successful private equity-backed aviation services consolidations, employing thousands of professionals over the years.
“Steve Townes is a respected, dynamic leader in the aerospace world and is the perfect fit to be founding chairman of SCAerospace,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “This industry-led group will build on the strategic plan developed by the Aerospace Task Force in 2013 and help position our state as a solutions-oriented competitor on the global stage.”
Townes says other industry leaders are being invited to participate and will be announced at a later date. SCAerospace will convene for the first time this summer to establish action items for the coming year.
The formation of SCAerospace is one in a series of advancements made by the SC Council on Competitiveness and the SC Department of Commerce to grow the aerospace cluster in South Carolina. The organizations are also working together to develop a GIS-based, interactive asset map hosted on the SCAerospace website. Staff from the SC Council on Competitiveness conducts one-on-one meetings with aerospace companies to determine capabilities and to report expansion and development opportunities to the SC Department of Commerce.
The organizations partnered with the McNAIR Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research last year to organize the state’s first Aerospace Industry Conference and Expo, drawing over 300 attendees. The second annual conference and expo has been expanded to two days and is scheduled for Aug. 26-27.
The McNAIR Center was also a partner in releasing an economic impact study on South Carolina’s private sector aerospace firms in addition to the state’s four military aviation facilities. The study revealed that the aerospace cluster has an annual impact of more than $17 billion on the state.