State leaders attending Paris air show

Gov. Haley inside the cockpit of a Charleston AFB C-17 at the Paris Air Show. / Governor's Office

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Leaders from around the Palmetto State, including Governor Nikki Haley, are in France this week attending the Paris Air Show.

Haley is joined by Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, as well as delegations from cities, including Greenville and Charleston, to market South Carolina as a cluster location for aircraft-related support operations and as an attractive location to establish a business. The Columbia Economic Development Office said the Paris Air Show is the largest aeronautical gathering of manufacturers and suppliers in the world.

Read more Columbia council approves Benjamin trip to Paris Air Show

Columbia City Council voted to send Mayor Steve Benjamin on the trip. Some people felt spending roughly $6,000 on the trip was unwise, especially at a time when the Council was continuing to work on the 2011-2012 budget.

When council discussed the issue last month, Mayor Benjamin pointed out the potential impact the trip could have on the Midlands.

"All of Boeing's current, future and potential supplier are going to be there," Mayor Benjamin said at the time. "If we want to have any hope of leveraging Boeing's significant investment in South Carolina into jobs for our city and region then we must be there as well."

He added several citizens have offered to pay for the trip, but believes it's a slippery slope if public officials accept money from the private sector to go to meetings.

"I think we don't go we will have missed an opportunity," councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said. "I think we will get more calls and more emails from people saying, what are you doing? Why did Rock Hill get such and such or why did someone else?"

WACH Fox left messages with the City of Columbia to see if Mayor Benjamin has arrived in Paris, but those messages were not returned.

Click on the related story to read more about the Paris trip and how state leaders hope it will impact South Carolina.