President and CEO of Ranger Aerospace to Lead SC Aerospace Group

Columbia, SC (April 13, 2015) – Steve Townes has been named chairman of SCAerospace, a private-sector leadership group organized by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. He will serve a two-year term as chairman.

“Businesses serving a common industry naturally cluster in a geographic location, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing with aerospace in South Carolina,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president and CEO of the SC Council on Competitiveness. “Proactive leadership is crucial to promoting the industry cluster, accelerating innovation and growing markets. Steve’s energy and expertise will do just that for aerospace in South Carolina.”

Steve Townes
Steve Townes

Townes is an aerospace entrepreneur and industry leader with thirty-five years in the aerospace sector.   An engineering graduate of West Point, Townes founded Ranger Aerospace in Greenville, South Carolina, in early 1997. He has remained Ranger’s CEO through several successful private equity-backed aviation services consolidations, employing thousands of professionals over the years.

“Steve Townes is a respected, dynamic leader in the aerospace world and is the perfect fit to be founding chairman of SCAerospace,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “This industry-led group will build on the strategic plan developed by the Aerospace Task Force in 2013 and help position our state as a solutions-oriented competitor on the global stage.”

Townes says other industry leaders are being invited to participate and will be announced at a later date. SCAerospace will convene for the first time this summer to establish branding and action items for the coming year.

“I am committed to serving the aerospace industry in South Carolina and am honored to be selected as chairman of SCAerospace,” said Townes. “I see phenomenal potential for our state and region as aerospace takes off across the Southeast. I will tirelessly advocate for our industry’s growth and urge fellow CEOs from other regions to take a close look at South Carolina for their next branch operation.”

The formation of SCAerospace is one in a series of advancements made by the SC Council on Competitiveness and the SC Department of Commerce to grow the aerospace cluster in South Carolina. The organizations launched networking events this year designed to connect the industry with assets located in South Carolina. The organizations are also working together to develop a GIS-based, interactive asset map hosted on the SCAerospace website. Staff from the SC Council on Competitiveness conducts one-on-one meetings with aerospace companies to determine capabilities and to report expansion and development opportunities to the SC Department of Commerce.

The organizations partnered with the McNAIR Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research last year to organize the state’s first Aerospace Industry Conference and Expo, drawing over 300 attendees. The second annual conference and expo has been expanded to two days and is scheduled for August 26-27, 2015.

The McNAIR Center was also a partner in releasing an economic impact study on South Carolina’s private sector aerospace firms in addition to the state’s four military aviation facilities. The study revealed that the aerospace cluster has an annual impact of more than $17 billion on the state.

Five Fast Facts:

  1. South Carolina’s aerospace industry consists of four military facilities and over 460 private companies. The military facilities and private companies directly employ 54,000 people.

Since 2007:

  1. South Carolina’s aerospace cluster has exceeded that of Washington State in employment growth, firm growth, and revenue growth.
  2. South Carolina’s aerospace cluster has exceeded Alabama in employment growth and revenue growth.

Since 2010:

  1. South Carolina’s private-sector aerospace core has had an average annual employment growth rate of 11.4 percent, which is approximately eight times higher than the employment growth rate for the state over the same time period.
  2. South Carolina’s private-sector aerospace core has had an average annual firm growth rate of 19.2 percent, with the majority of growth originating in small firms with five or fewer employees.

 Additional Resources & Information

South Carolina’s Aerospace Industry Conference & Expo August 26-27

South Carolina Aerospace Cluster Fact Sheet

South Carolina Aerospace Economic Impact Study

South Carolina Aerospace Task Force Strategic Plan

About South Carolina Council on Competitiveness

 The SC Council on Competitiveness is a business-led, non-profit organization advancing the long-term economic competitiveness of our state, industries and citizens.  Our work is accomplished through actionable economic research, support of industry clusters and education and workforce initiatives.  For more information, visit 

About South Carolina Department of Commerce

 As South Carolina’s leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing business grow. Commerce has recruited world-class companies to South Carolina such as Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental,, ZF Group, BMW and Google Inc. and also supports startups, small and existing business, innovation and rural development initiatives. Commerce partners with the S.C Technical College System via readySC to support workforce training and recruiting, and with the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, which provides worker training and employment opportunities within the state. Consistently, South Carolina has ranked as one of the top states in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment, according to IBM-Plant Location International reports. The state won the Gold Shovel Award and the Project of Year Award from Area Development magazine in 2012. For more information, visit

Industry contact:

Deborah Cameron
Director of Aerospace Initiatives
SC Council on Competitiveness

Media contact:

Kelly J. Davis, APR
Riggs Partners