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Commerce trade missions cost S.C. taxpayers $134,000

Staff Report
Published Nov. 26, 2012

Trade missions to Japan and England cost S.C. taxpayers about $134,000, according to figures released by the state Commerce Department.

The July event at the Farnborough International Airshow in England totaled $97,133.76, the agency said.

The tab included travel costs for Gov. Nikki Haley, 11 state employees, plus exhibits and expenses associated with promoting the state at the airshow.

Travel costs for the Farnborough show, including airfare, hotel and food, totaled $37,626.11. Another $59,507.65 was spent on the state exhibit, including items, shipping, and the design and printing of invitations.

A weeklong trip in September to attend the SEUS-Japan conference in Tokyo cost $36,880.89. The figure includes $28,984.30 in travel costs — airfare, hotel and food — for the governor and seven state staffers.

The state also paid $593.15 for marketing supplies, $3,850 in conference fees and $674.03 for the Japan American Chamber luncheon.

Other costs for the Japan trip included $1,551.53 for translator and consultant services, $568.34 for prospect meetings, $462.60 for rental of conference rooms and $196.94 for printing.

South Carolina has attended the airshow, which alternates between England and France, since 2005, and the trip has been crucial in building the state’s budding aerospace business, state officials said.

Initial contact was made with The Boeing Co. at the airshow, and that led to the investment of the 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston and the creation of more than 6,100 jobs, state officials said.

This year’s trip, which included about 50 meetings with various firms, was aimed at attracting aerospace suppliers to the state, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said.

Going to the SEUS conference sought to build on South Carolina’s ties to Japanese companies and attract investment in the Palmetto State.

The SEUS conference involved seven southeastern states and Japan. Haley was one of five governors who made the trip.

At the conference, S.C. delegation participated in 23 meetings — 16 of which involved Haley. The state’s goal is to attract direct foreign investment, Hitt said, noting that 75% of new companies that made economic development announcements in South Carolina were from Europe or Asia.

Japan is the second-largest investor in South Carolina, behind Germany. There are 147 Japanese companies that have operations in South Carolina, representing a $7 billion investment and 12,500 jobs.

Previous coverage

South Carolina the ‘it’ state at international airshow, Haley says
Hitt: S.C. has a strong pipeline of aerospace prospects
S.C. officials hope to build on relationships with Japan
South Carolina sending delegation to Japan to lure businesses