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New Carolina Announces Advanced Security Cluster

North Charleston, SC – New Carolina - South Carolina's Council on Competitiveness, announced the creation of its new Advanced Security cluster today as part of the Charleston Defense Contractors Association's (CDCA) Small Business and Industry Outreach Symposium. The cluster, called the Lowcountry Advanced Security Technology Research Alliance (ASTRA) brings together business leaders and technology professionals from the region to discuss ways to increase South Carolina's competitiveness in one of the state's fast-growing industry sectors.


George Fletcher, executive director of New Carolina, hired Beth Meredith last year as the council's Lowcountry Change Agent, responsible for facilitating and building clusters in the region. Meredith says ASTRA, like all clusters, provides opportunities for companies and individuals to communicate and share information that can benefit the local industry sector, making the regional and state economies more competitive.


“At one of our initial meetings, members discussed ways to support future workforce development. Rebecca Ufkes of UEC Electronics mentioned a local school that fosters interest in engineering, an industry need ASTRA identified,” Meredith explained. “Attracting high school students to pursue careers in engineering is one way this cluster can help ensure the industry's growth and success.”


Mike Resler, the cluster chair for ASTRA and CDCA President, took the idea of purchasing a three-dimensional printer to the CDCA Board. The Board agreed to donate $18,700 to the Academic Magnet High School of North Charleston to purchase the printer. Resler presented a check to Career and Technology Education teacher Brooke Houtz as part of today's announcement.


“CDCA considers this an investment in a future highly-skilled labor pool for our industry in Charleston,” Resler explained. “The students involved in Project Lead the Way at Academic Magnet High School may indeed be our future engineers and employees.”


“If there is one thing that motivates students, it's new equipment and technology,” Houtz said. “This printer will help our students have a better grasp of the complexities of the design process and is the kind of tangible contribution that will entice students to look into careers and training in engineering.”


Together with partners, South Carolina's Council on Competitiveness is driving the movement towards a New Carolina – a South Carolina with a brighter future and a competitive, winning economy.  The focus is on a strategy to build clusters, improve the economic environment and connect the dots between efforts across the state.   For more information on ASTRA, email Beth Meredith at or call 843-529-6293.

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