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South Carolina Announces Composites Cluster

03 September 2006

The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness has added an advanced composites cluster to its current roster of statewide industry clusters.

Former South Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year Bill Masters will co-chair the cluster, along with Ed Maier of the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP). SC's Council on Competitiveness defines a cluster as a group of interconnected companies in a similar line of business that collaborate to build and expand their products and services.

For the last two years, SCMEP has been working with manufacturers in the composites arena, helping companies craft and implement strategic plans, increase process efficiency and develop new technology. The organization also has been working with textile, chemical, and plastics manufacturers who have the ability to transform into composites producers.

""SCMEP has laid a solid foundation for building this cluster with research that has uncovered over 150 composites-related manufacturers in South Carolina,"" said Council Executive Director George Fletcher. ""The next steps will be to get the CEOs of these companies talking, and build a network with suppliers, universities, federal labs and other tech resources. We are confident Bill Masters and Ed Maier will lead this cluster successfully.""

Bill Masters, president of Evolution Kayaks, said, ""Composites have been a part of my life since I made my first kayak in 1971, and then the first Kevlar kayak a few years later. I clearly saw a process that could revolutionize parts that needed high strength relative to weight. I look forward to helping bring the many South Carolina composites practitioners together to be more competitive.""

""Advanced composites represent the fastest growing segment of manufacturing, with global growth rates reaching as much as 105 percent in recent years,"" said Ed Maier, program manager with SCMEP. ""They are an outstanding avenue for manufacturing expansion in South Carolina, due to the state's textile base and variety of composites companies already manufacturing products here.""






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