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New Carolina Wins Major SBA Contract to Grow Nuclear Cluster

Trade & Development - Economic Development

COLUMBIA, SC – South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness (New Carolina) has been awarded an “Innovative Economies” contract through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to further develop the state’s nuclear cluster. New Carolina was one of only 10 organizations chosen to receive Innovative Economies funding out of 173 entries nationwide.

SBA’s Innovative Economies is a pilot initiative that supports industry clusters, which are designed to maximize the economic strengths of a region, enhancing an area’s ability to create jobs and compete on a national and global scale.

Through the SBA award, New Carolina will help more small businesses in the state become nuclear suppliers, helping these companies to grow and create well-paying jobs, and advancing the nuclear cluster in the state as a whole.

Under the SBA contract, which totals about US$600,000 (the maximum amount awarded by SBA), New Carolina will identify gaps in the global nuclear supply chain, determine which small businesses can fill the gaps, and connect those businesses with opportunities. In addition, New Carolina will identify new technologies relevant to the nuclear industry that are being developed at the state’s universities and technical colleges. Then, it will work to commercialize the innovations through the development of start-up companies to supply the nuclear energy industry. The ultimate goal of the SBA contract is to establish a network of suppliers in South Carolina that can serve the nuclear industry in South Carolina and worldwide.

“South Carolina has long been a leader in the nuclear field and no state would benefit more from a renaissance in nuclear energy than South Carolina,” says US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “Nuclear energy and nuclear technology are job creators in South Carolina.”

New Carolina will spearhead the project through its Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster, a group of 37 North and South Carolina-based organizations working to strengthen the industry. CNC will work to recruit small businesses to the nuclear industry; link small businesses with technology, development and financing; and establish mentoring opportunities, so that existing companies can build their customer bases and develop new market opportunities and new companies can become nuclear suppliers.

SCRA, an organization that focuses on applied research and commercialization, will partner with New Carolina on the project, providing small business support through its SC Launch! affiliate as well as project management for the contract. SCRA affliate Advanced Technology International (ATI) will help transfer technology from laboratory-based research and development to small businesses, which can commercialize them.

New Carolina Executive Director George Fletcher says that the SBA contract is timely in South Carolina because the nuclear energy supply chain needs attention and small businesses have a place in the industry.

“Nuclear power is the only carbonless source of baseload energy and there are $30 billion dollars of new nuclear plants being proposed within 2.5 hours’ drive of Columbia. SCANA, Duke Energy, Southern, Progress and Santee Cooper are all working on the permitting of new plants. They will all use the Westinghouse AP 1000 Reactor. Since a new nuclear plant has not been built in 30 years, 80 percent of the parts for that reactor are now being manufactured offshore. The domestic supply chain has atrophied,” Fletcher says. “South Carolina has a robust nuclear energy industry, already employing 15,000 people. At peak construction, there will be 38,000 jobs in the state. The combination of new power plants plus service for the existing fleet of reactors creates a critical mass of opportunity that can be tapped by small business. We are excited to have this SBA support to help existing SC companies tap into these opportunities and to help launch new firms.”

“We are pleased to partner with New Carolina on this important nuclear cluster program that will assist in the transition into local and national markets of nuclear R&D technologies developed by small businesses in South Carolina,” says Bill Mahoney, SCRA CEO. “Through its proven business models, SCRA’s ATI affiliate continues to demonstrate both the technical capability and technical capability and process competency to outdistance formidable competitors and secure contracts to benefit both South Carolina and national clients. Teaming and winning with New Carolina in this bid is particularly rewarding and we look forward to sustained delivery of assured outcomes through this partnership.”

About New Carolina
South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness (New Carolina) is a public-private partnership working to increase South Carolina’s economic competitiveness through a cluster development strategy. Its focus is to: (1) Strengthen core industries through clusters, (2) Foster innovation in business and education through initiatives, (3) Connect the dots across efforts. Building and supporting clusters was the top recommendation of Harvard Professor Michael Porter, who presented his analysis of South Carolina when he came to South Carolina in 2003. New Carolina is the go-to organization for cluster development, bringing leaders of companies within the same industry together to facilitate, define and implement industry-wide strategies. New Carolina works with 15 statewide and regional clusters including Advanced Security, Agribusiness, Automotive, Aviation/Aerospace, Life Sciences, Composite, Creative, Textiles, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, Engineering, Insurance Technology, Recycling, Tourism and Nuclear.

About the CNC
The Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster (CNC) is a group of 37 North and South Carolina-based organizations that collaboratively strengthen workforce, services, products and policies to capture and extend South Carolina’s global leadership in nuclear energy capabilities. The Cluster operates under the New Carolina organization in Columbia.

About SCRA
SCRA is a global leader in applied research and commercialization services with its headquarters in South Carolina. SCRA collaborates to advance technology, providing knowledge-based solutions with assured outcomes to industry and government, with the help of research universities in SC, the US and around the world. SCRA currently manages over 100 national and international programs worth over $1.4B in applied R&D contract value.

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