As the aerospace industry continues to boom in Georgia (we exported over $8.25 billion dollars in aerospace parts last year), local suppliers are looking for new opportunities to get at the table with major aerospace manufacturers to increase their business.
Our Center of Innovation for Aerospace hosted the inaugural SOAR (Supplier Opportunities and Aerospace Resources) Conference in Savannah last week to do just that. More than 100 suppliers gathered at the Coastal Georgia Center and met with big aerospace manufacturers like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Gulfstream and Meggitt.
This event was also supported by numerous partners including Georgia Power, the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Savannah Economic Development Authority, and the UGA Small Business Development Center.
“We wanted to give our aerospace suppliers in Georgia who have never had a conversation with a large manufacturer the chance to not only talk with them but leave with potential leads, more knowledge, and an opportunity for future business.” – Center of Innovation for Aerospace Director Steve Justice
Jay Neely, VP of Law and Public Affairs at Gulfstream Aerospace, kicked off the day with a presentation on the values Gulfstream lives by when they work with suppliers while also discussing the different economic development and workforce needs the overall industry has.
It was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the four major OEMs in attendance, who discussed their process and strategy for working with suppliers.
Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr gave the luncheon keynote address highlighting the importance of the local aerospace industry to the Georgia economy, which is ranked in the top five among U.S. states. The Commissioner noted that of our over 500 aerospace companies, most are relatively small companies of under 100 employees which can benefit greatly from events like SOAR.
Development Sessions to connect suppliers with resources and Fast Pitch sessions (one-on-one appointments between suppliers and manufacturers) took place throughout the day.
“The interest in the Fast Pitch sessions surpassed our expectations,” said Justice. “In total, over 64 one-on-one meetings took place between these suppliers and the large manufacturers.”
Development Sessions included topics on aerospace resources, doing business with the government, international trade, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing, marketing planning, strategic planning, and the current state of the SpacePort Camden project.
“SOAR Savannah was not only an opportunity for these smaller suppliers to get more plugged into the business, but the OEMs themselves had the opportunity to find out about providers they didn’t know existed right here in the state,” said Amy Hudnall, deputy director for the Center of Innovation for Aerospace. “This will only increase business here in Georgia and add to our growing industry.”
SOAR will become an annual event each fall, with next year’s set to take place in Macon. For more information on the event, click here.
For more information on the Center of Innovation for Aerospace and how they work to help aerospace businesses connect, compete and grow in Georgia, visit Aerospace.GeorgiaInnovation.org.
If you are an aerospace company in the state, we want you in our directory! Please submit your information to our Provider Directory to be listed with all other Georgia aerospace companies free of charge!
To view the photos from SOAR Savannah, click here.