When the 2019 S.C. Manufacturing Conference and Expo gets underway Tuesday, it will feature 275 exhibitors, more than 3,000 attendees and speakers representing government and industry, making it the state’s largest manufacturing conference to date.
Scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Charleston Area Convention Center, the S.C. Manufacturing Conference is sponsored by SC Biz News, the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership and SC Aerospace, a South Carolina Council on Competitiveness initiative designed to market the state’s aerospace industry.
Rick Jenkins, publisher of GSA Business Report and conference director, said the event has grown significantly since the first conference in 2015. That event featured 150 exhibitors. This year he expects about 275 exhibitors, Jenkins said. About 1,500 people attended the first conference. Jenkins said the 2018 conference saw 3,000 attendees.
“The conference has grown a lot, and I attribute that to just how important manufacturing is in South Carolina,” Jenkins said. “It’s not just BMW anymore; it’s Volvo, Daimler, Boeing, but more important than that, we have all of these support companies that manufacture things the big companies need.
“The Upstate is one of the fastest growing manufacturing hubs not only in the Southeast but in the country, so that interest has resulted in this conference continuing to do very well,” he said.
The conference will feature a Salute to Manufacturing awards luncheon, an aerospace luncheon, 2020 auto, aerospace and tire economic forecasts, a Manufacturing 4.0 breakfast, an executive women’s panel and a manufacturing apprenticeship breakfast. Organizers have planned 17 courses for manufacturing executives, VIP cocktail receptions and VIP dinners.
Jenkins said there are two things the conference seeks to accomplish.
“One is to provide the type of content that manufacturing employees want to hear; along with that content comes the training courses that SCMEP provides,” he said. “Second, we want to bring in the supply chain companies, which are our exhibitors, to talk to the manufacturers and to try to create matches and business — and provide a place for that business to occur.”
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster will speak and present awards during the Salute to Manufacturing awards luncheon. The event will be held at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 30, where 30 companies are recognized in several excellence categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Award categories include:
• The Carlisle Associates Smart Move South Carolina Award
• Innovator of the Year
• Outreach Award
• Emerging Manufacturer of the Year
• Transformation and Operational Excellence Award
• Lifetime Achievement Award
S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt will deliver a keynote address prior to an economic forecast session. Other speakers include Mike Fox, general manager and site director for Lockheed Martin, Sky Foster, manager of corporate communications for BMW Manufacturing Co., and Tim Hardee, president of the S.C. Technical College System.
It’s free to attend the conference and walk the expo floor, however there are fees to attend the luncheon and breakfast events. Full conference details are online.