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Columbia, S.C. The 1928 Gervais Street Bridge spans the Congaree river.

Discover

S.C.

A new day is dawning for this “New Southern Hot Spot.” By Lynn Seldon and Waynette Goodson

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photo by brian gomsak

Columbia, South Carolina, has proclaimed itself the “New Southern Hot Spot” — bold words for a place that’s little more than 100 miles from Charleston. No doubt, Columbia is a venerable Southern city, the state capital no less, with a winning home team, the South Carolina Gamecocks, and enough fork-tender barbecue to feed all the tailgaters at Williams-Brice Stadium. But can it live up to its new slogan? We’ll investigate . . .

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Columbia, S.C. From left: Woodrow Wilson family home, uSC Horseshoe gates, pedicab on Main Street

And sports fans agree that the hottest thing to ever happen here is the Gamecocks’ back-toback College World Series championships in 2010 and 2011. Enough said. USC’s campus is part of a vibrant downtown area, where Columbia’s new “hotness” thrives

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at the historic riverfront district. The Congaree Vista, or “the Vista” as locals call it, is home to more than 60 restaurants and bars, and about 40 art galleries and specialty shops. The Vista’s revival marks the first phase of plans to redevelop an area called City Center. In fact, the City Center Partnership has spent the last decade revitalizing the downtown, and today it’s paying off. Just last year, Mast General Store, Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse, Wedding 101, Wine Down on Main, Anthony’s Past Time Cafe, J. Gumbo’s, and RB’s Bodacious Barbeque all opened in the area. But perhaps the crown jewel is the renovation of the 1979 Nickelodeon Theatre, the state’s only nonprofit art house film theater. City Center Partnership CEO Matt Kennell says it best: “Columbia has been transformed into a must-visit destination. It’s a safe, clean, and exceedingly friendly place to visit, shop, dine, and most of all, have fun!”

Crowning Achievement But there are even more exciting downtown plans in the works to the tune of a $200 million investment. The new project will transform the grounds of the former state mental hospital on Bull Street into a multiuse urban space. It’s even expected to become a national model for sustainable development practices — potentially

photos (from left) courtesy of historic columbia foundation, usc, columbia metropolitan convention & visitors bureau; map by steve stankieWicZ

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olumbia, South Carolina, is first and foremost a college town where the University of South Carolina Gamecocks rule the roost.

“Columbia has been transformed into a must-visit destination. It’s a safe, clean, and exceedingly friendly place to visit, shop, dine, and most of all, have fun!” usairwaysmag.com

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THE THE NEW NEW

SOUTHERN HOT HOT SPOT SPOT

Meetings Meetingsthat thatmeet meetyour yourneeds. needs.Surroundings Surroundingsthat thatsuit suityour yourstyle. style. Columbia’s Columbia’satmosphere atmosphereisisan anideal idealmix mixofofgracious graciousSouthern Southernhospitality hospitalityand and21st 21stcentury century business businesssavvy. savvy.Meeting Meetingplanners plannersare arefired firedup upabout aboutour ourunique uniquevariety varietyofofconvention, convention,conference conference and andexhibition exhibitionspaces spaces– –from fromcontemporary contemporarytotointriguingly intriguinglyhistoric historic– –with withSouth SouthCarolina’s Carolina’sonly only downtown downtownConvention ConventionCenter Centeratatthe thecity’s city’sheart. heart.

With With12,000 12,000hotel hotelrooms, rooms,top-rated top-ratedattractions attractionsand and an aneclectic eclecticselection selectionofofrestaurants, restaurants,vibrant vibrantnightlife, nightlife, urban urbanart artgalleries galleriesand andnaturally naturallyinspiring inspiringriver riverfront front parks, parks,we’ve we’vegot gotwhat whatitittakes takesto tomake makeeverything everything memorable memorableand andany anyleisure leisurevisit visitthe thestart startofofaa beautiful beautifulfriendship. friendship. Call Call800.264.4884 800.264.4884| |ColumbiaCVB.com/HotSpots ColumbiaCVB.com/HotSpots


y l l a y c l i d s n a

Columbia, S.C.

Where to Stay When it comes to where to lay your head in Columbia, it’s hard to beat the Hilton Columbia Center, located in the historic Congaree Vista district and recently named a AAA Approved Four Diamond lodging. hiltoncolumbia.com

one of the largest downtown green areas on the East Coast. “At 165 acres, this represents the single largest neighborhood project in our city’s history and the largest piece of undeveloped downtown property east of the Mississippi, so the stakes are high,” says Mayor Steve Benjamin. “But I’m confident that, when completed, this project will be a crowning achievement for our city.” No doubt, that’s hot! What do Benjamin and other area leaders attribute the new energy to? They’re quick to point out the avid volunteerism and unbridled regional spirit. As president and CEO of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ike McLeese puts it: “We have become a can-do, coalition-building community.” For example, the Midstate Chambers Coalition comprises 19 chambers of commerce in an 11-county area smack-dab in the center of the state — including Fort Jackson, which handles a majority of the U.S. Army’s basic combat training.

Cooperation Is Key

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Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre, who spearheaded the group, believes the coalition sets a regional cooperation record. “If the central region of our state is to prosper in what is now a global economy,” Halfacre says, “we must all work together in the Midstate footprint to make it happen.” Mayor Benjamin agrees, citing more than $1.1 billion in regional capital investment since he took office in mid-2010, perhaps best seen in the burgeoning insurance information technology industry that’s rivaled only by Hartford, Connecticut (see “Up and Coming” on p. 78). Despite its new hot status, Columbia is still a place where Southern hospitality and volunteering are a way of life. “If you want to make something cool happen, not only does no one stand in your way, they’ll go out of their way to help you,” says Tracie Broom, a partner at Flock & Rally: Events + Communication for a Brave New South. Broom sites community involvement at events like the Indie Grits film festival,

Faces of Columbia:

Mayor Steve Benjamin Steve Benjamin was elected mayor in 2010 with a record turnout. He’s the first-ever African-American mayor of Columbia, and by the end of his second year in office, the city enjoyed a second straight year of budget surplus.

Where do you take out-of-town visitors?

What has changed the most since you took office? The most spectacular transformation has been on Main Street, where new businesses and restaurants are lighting up storefronts like never before, and people are crowding the sidewalks for the first time in a generation.

What do you love most about Columbia?

Mayor Steve Benjamin in front of the State House

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While we benefit from all the urban hallmarks of a modern metropolis, we’re still an oldfashioned Southern town. People still pull over for funerals. Gentlemen still hold doors open for ladies. We still serve sweet tea in every restaurant, and we still remember that the two most important words in the English language are “Thank You.”

photos (from top) courtesy of the hilton and by brian gomsak

From the three rivers flowing through the heart of our city to marquee destinations like Riverbanks Zoo and the South’s largest children’s museum, EdVenture, there is so much to do and see that I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to one.

Columbia, SC is home to Fort Jackson–the U.S. Army’s largest Initial Entry Training Center–and McEntire Joint National Guard Base. Annually, more than 65,000 soldiers attend basic training at Fort Jackson and over 350,000 family members and friends visit our city to attend graduation ceremonies. Our leaders work hard to make our “Famously Hot” city the most military friendly community in America. Welcome.

www.columbiachamber.com


You can get Anywhere from here. At Midlands Technical College,

students really can get anywhere their education or career goals take them.

Midlands Technical College (MTC), located in central South Carolina, has more than 100 programs of study. The college offers many strong choices in Healthcare, Engineering and Industrial Technologies, and Business and Public Service.

The Bistro at Shoppes at Flight Deck in Lexington

701 CCA Columbia Open Studios, Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival, Jam Room Music Festival, and the region’s Famously Hot New Year Event. “Volunteerism is huge here,” Broom says, “so the nonprofit event scene is really hopping.”

Always Hot The more than 750,000 residents of the state’s largest metropolitan area might argue that Columbia has always been “hot,” starting from its founding in 1786. The area’s rich history as a Civil War hotbed (the Secession Convention was first held here) and its numerous historic sites, from the State House to the family home of President Woodrow Wilson, attract a steady stream of heri-

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The college has options such as the Bridge Program and Gamecock Gateway for students who seek to transfer to the University of South Carolina or other four-year institutions. Many of MTC’s students have bachelor’s or master’s degrees and come to the college for career education and training. Others seek a fast track into the world of work through Corporate and Continuing Education programs such as QuickJobs. photos courtesy of columbia metropolitan convention & visitors bureau

Viva la Vista festival

tage tourists, who line up for tours of antebellum abodes. Think shaded sidewalks, wraparound porches, palmetto trees, and blooming magnolias (see “History” on p. 96). But residents and visitors don’t live in the past. Today, culture is alive and well in Columbia. Expect an array of museums (EdVenture Children’s Museum and the Columbia Museum of Art), a wide range of art galleries and shops (Devine Street is just the start), and a diverse dining scene (see “Bon Appétit, Y’all” on p. 94). Folks can also venture out to charming small towns like Lexington, Blythewood, Irmo, Little Mountain, and Forest Acres. “Forest Acres continues to be a special place, offering superior residential opportunities with great schools and

midlandstech.edu


Make a Living

Make a Life

if arT Gallery

Expect an array of museums, a wide range of art galleries and shops, and a diverse dining scene. bank vault [at the Sheraton Columbia Downtown Hotel], purchase folk art on the side of the road, stroll past palmetto trees on Main Street, and splurge on some of the best barbecue in the South?” asks Ric Luber, president and CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism. But all this action is just a taste of the big platter of reasons the center of the Palmetto State has become so, well, hot. It’s Columbia’s unique combination of attractions that keep people coming for a sip — and staying for a long, tall glass of Southern hospitality (and maybe a bite of barbecue).

photo courtesy of columbia metropolitan convention & visitors bureau

convenient shopping and dining,” says Forest Acres Mayor Frank J. Brunson. “In the Midlands, we share a reputation for friendliness that is genuine.” Even better, the area’s temperate year-round climate keeps lucky residents and tourists kayaking the trio of rivers, hiking the Congaree National Park, and fishing at Lake Murray. (The temperate temps are one of the reasons CNN Money magazine named Columbia One of the 25 Best Places to Retire in the country.) “Where else can you visit a nationally recognized zoo [Riverbanks Zoo & Garden], enjoy a cocktail in a former

LLexington exington provides provides the the best best of of all all worlds. worlds. Residents Residents and and guests guests can can enjoy enjoy our our three three

rivers rivers and and Lake Lake Murray, Murray, stroll stroll through through historic historic neigborhoods neigborhoods or or take take part part in in one one of of our our many festivals, celebrating a culture, uniquely ours. What else? An abundance of many festivals, celebrating a culture, uniquely ours. What else? An abundance of natural natural beauty; beauty; aa thriving, thriving, pro-business pro-business environment; environment; top-tier top-tier schools schools and and aa safe, safe, family atmosphere. We invite you to visit Lexington and see all we have to offer. family atmosphere. We invite you to visit Lexington and see all we have to offer. Our Our Southern Southern Hospitality Hospitality Awaits Awaits You! You!

www.lexingtonsc.org www.lexingtonsc.org

www.lex-co.com www.lex-co.com

www.lexsc.com www.lexsc.com


Columbia, S.C.

Focal Point

The Congaree Vista

photo by brian gomsak

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Once a cotton warehouse district and railroad terminal by the Congaree River, the Vista has experienced a modern-day revival. In fact, it’s one of the places to hang out downtown. Think restaurants, art galleries, creative agencies, retail shops, and antique dealers, all anchored by the South Carolina State Museum. vistacolumbia.com

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Columbia, S.C.

Go Outside!

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ou don’t have to go far to find Columbia’s outdoor activities. Brimming with opportunities to embrace your sporty side, Columbia is custom-made for recreationminded visitors.

Reel in enough outdoor adventures to enjoy every season. By Katie Mcelveen

Bassmaster holds tournaments on Lake Murray.

photo by brian gomsak

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Kayakers can’t get enough of the Midlands’ three rivers, which are calm enough for inner-tube rides but also offer up rapids, ranging from Class II to Class V, to keep things interesting along the way. Across the region, walking paths meander along waterways, past Civil War ruins, through sundappled forests, along historic canals, and over what was once the nation’s largest earthen dam, located on Lake Murray. Renowned as a bassfishing destination — Bassmaster regularly holds tournaments here — the lake also attracts swimmers, boaters, and Jet Skiers to its cove-strewn shoreline. Need more? Golf is enjoyed year-round, and there’s even a national park. With an office that is the Congaree National Park, park ranger Lauren Gurniewicz loves to go to work. The 26,000-acre swath of floodplain is filled with towering trees, moody swamps, and wide, lazy creeks. Recently transferred from a park in Oklahoma, Gurniewicz can’t get over the range of landscapes, plants, and animals she sees in the park. Her tip for first-time visitors? “Visit the boardwalk. In two and a half miles, you’ll see everything from old-growth forest with gigantic champion trees to swampier areas where cypress knees protrude out of the water and on to Lake Weston,” she says. “If you take the canoe trail that runs through Cedar Creek, you’ll probably spot a few river otters playing.” Congaree National Park isn’t the only way to take in the region’s waterborne beauty. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Columbia, Lake Murray offers almost 650 miles of shoreline and usairwaysmag.com

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Columbia, S.C. area of detail:

Columbia

Lake Wateree FAIRFIELD

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West Columbia Columbia Cayce Columbia Regional Visitors Center Columbia Metropolitan Airport

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CALHOUN

Throughout the year, bass boats bob above favorite fishing sites. According to guide Dale Gossett, they’ve likely found one of the many submerged islands that rise from the bottom of the lake and attract the highly sought striped bass. But you don’t need a boat to catch fish on Lake Murray. Along the shore, hooks baited for bream, shellcrackers, catfish, and crappie get plenty of hits. Columbia’s three rivers, the Broad, the Saluda, and the Congaree, also are worth exploring. Riverfront Park in Columbia and West Columbia’s Riverwalk — both part of Three Rivers Greenway — meander for miles along the scenic rivers. Only a few miles from downtown, both bike-friendly parks are also set with benches and green spaces. Michael Mayo owns Palmetto Outdoor Center, which operates kayak, canoe, and tubing excursions along Columbia’s waterways. His favorite place to take kayakers and tubers is the Saluda River,

map by steve stankiewicz

Women’s roller derby has hit Columbia, and it’s hot! Watch “Leighthal,” “pinky slamstockings,” and other Columbia Quadsquad rollergirls (columbiaquadsquad .com) and richland County regulators (richlandcounty regulators.com) crash, cruise, and dodge their way around the rink from January through october.

nearly endless options for water-based activities. “It’s the largest recreational draw for the region,” says Miriam Atria, president and CEO of the Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board. “The lake also is what consistently brings in visitors for overnight stays.” But humans aren’t alone in staying the night on Lake Murray. “Each summer, hundreds of thousands of purple martins arrive at dusk to spend the night on Lunch Island, which is the largest natural roosting sanctuary in North America,” Atria explains. “Just before dawn, they all leave. It reminds me of the [Alfred Hitchcock] movie The Birds!” During the summer, kids splash along sandy beaches; bright kayaks, water-skiers, and personal watercraft crisscross the calm water, and sailboats glide across the surface. Most weekends, boaters meet up at one of the waterfront restaurants that line the lake to jam to music, grab a bite to eat, and just enjoy the sunshine.

Congaree National Park


FORESTACRES

SOUTH CAROLINA

a city apart for Dining & Shopping!

Above: Williams-Brice Stadium, kayaking on the Congaree

specifically from Riverbanks Zoo to the Gervais Street Bridge. “The current is good, there are a few rapids along the way, lots of wildlife, and at about the halfway point, a little island where you can stop, have lunch or a snack, and watch the ospreys dive-bomb into the water for fish,” he says. “It’s also one of the few places along the river where you can get a glimpse of the State House.” He particularly enjoys the ride in the spring, when hundreds of rare rocky shoals spider lilies burst into bloom along the banks, transforming the landscape into a wonderland of white. Columbia’s mild climate also makes golf

Meet Coach Ray Tanner in many ways, University of south Carolina (UsC) gamecocks head baseball coach ray tanner is the face of Columbia, thanks to two straight College World series championship wins.

What’s so special about Gamecocks baseball? to come to a game at Carolina stadium is an event. it’s the entire atmosphere — the engagement of the university, community, and all of our great fans.

Are any players you’ve coached still in Columbia? We have quite a few who have come back to either live or work — or they have never left. Columbia is a wonderful city to live in. We have a lot of former players who said, “this is where i want to be.” that speaks volumes about their experience at the university and the city of Columbia.

What are your three favorite things to do? We have a tremendous zoo [riverbanks Zoo and garden]. Children enjoy it, but so do adults. Downtown — it’s an area that’s home. it’s not corporate america; it’s local. there’s also the university, whether it’s a sporting event or just any day. it exudes energy, and it’s fun living here.

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Casual Dining

photos (clockwise from left) courtesy of columbia metropolitan convention & visitors bureau (2), usc

Faces of Columbia:

a four-season sport; public courses throughout the region are surprisingly diverse, offering a range of elevations and challenges. Greens fees are reasonable, and golfers can choose from several courses designed by well-known architects including P.B. Dye (Northwoods, Cobblestone Park, and, with his father, Pete Dye, Windermere); Davis Love III and Steve Melnyk (Oak Hills); and Willard C. Byrd (Timberlake Plantation). Rather spectate than participate? No matter the season, the University of South Carolina’s Gamecocks are playing on a field, pool, track, court, or diamond. Fall brings the power and passion of Southeastern Conference football to 80,250-seat Williams-Brice Stadium. Pregame tailgating, which begins hours before kickoff, ranges from Champagne and candles to beer and barbecue, and is as much of a tradition as the team’s dramatic, smoke-filled entry onto the field to Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, or the theme song from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. During winter, men’s and women’s basketball takes center stage at the Colonial Life Arena. Come spring, the baseball team — which won national championships in 2010 and 2011 — can’t wait for the umpire to yell, “Play ball!” “University of South Carolina Athletics provides one of the top fan experiences in the country,” says Athletics Director Eric Hyman. “The unbridled passion and tremendous support of our fans, coupled with nationally acclaimed programs competing at the highest level of intercollegiate sports in some of the finest athletic venues in the nation, makes attending a Carolina game a memorable event.” Ready to play?

Bonefish Grill Cafe Caturra Lizard’s Thicket Miyo’s Pasta Fresca Rosso Trattoria Sakura Sato Tombo Grill TGI Fridays

Delicatessens

Groucho’s Deli Hooligan’s Linda’s Little Deli & Deck McAlister’s Deli

Lunch Plus

Casa Linda China Max D’s Dino’s Five Guy’s Burgers and Fries Hibachi I WOK Kim’s Lunchbox Lillian’s Bakery Milano’s Pizza PJ’s To Go San Jose The Happy Cafe The Other Store The Pizza Joint Tokyo Grill Village Idiot Yummy Yummy II

Sweet Treats Baskin Robbins 32° Yumilicious

In the heart of the Midlands of South Carolina…

usairwaysmag.com

www.forestacres.net

Fast Food

Chipotle Firehouse Subs Moe’s Southwestern Grill Pizza Hut Sonic Subway Taco Bell Wendy’s Zaxby’s Zesto’s Zoes Kitchen

Breakfast & More

Bruegger’s Bagels Dunkin’ Donuts Joe Muggs (in Books-A-Million) Starbucks The Original Pancake House


Columbia, S.C. The Inside Poop on Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Famously Hot Festivals & Events Did you know that the souper bowl of Caring started in Columbia, south Carolina? in 1990, brad smith, then a seminary intern at spring Valley presbyterian Church, delivered this prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the super bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat.” and the inspiration for a national youth-led movement was born. today, Columbia is home to many exciting events year-round, from a juried film festival (indie grits Festival) to a foodie extravaganza (Viva La Vista). be sure to mark your calendars!

By Lynn Seldon

jubilee: Festival of Heritage aug. 18, historiccolumbia.org

WE ARE COLUMBIA!

221 Pickens Street | Columbia, SC 29205 803.834.4048 | p info@1x1design.com

ColumbiaSC.net

architecture | interior design

World Beer Festival Jan. 19, 2013, columbiacvb.com/beerfestival Souper Bowl of Caring Feb. 3, 2013, souperbowl.org

Richland County Economic Development

PROMOTING CORPORATE SUCCESS

St. Pat’s in Five Points march 20, 2013, stpats5points.com Columbia International Festival apr. 6–7, 2013, cifonline.org Indie Grits Festival apr. 17–21, 2013, indiegrits.com

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Richland County and the Columbia MSA offer:

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Lexington Wine Walk may 11, 2013, lexingtonwinewalk.com

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Artista Vista apr. 25–27, 2013, artistavista.com

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Asheley C. Scott, President

Famously Hot new Year Dec. 31, famouslyhotnewyear.com

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www.1x1design.com

uSMC ultimate Challenge Mud Run oct. 13, usmcmudrun.org

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Blessed with a unique blend of 21st Century sophistication and small town charm, the City of Columbia has something for everyone.

Viva La Vista sept. 29, vivalavistasc.com

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lands, gardens, historic ruins, and vast plant collections. the Walled garden showcases hundreds of plants suitable for home use, while the Woodlands Walk boasts a log-cabin interpretive center and the ruins of an antebellum textile mill. and get a load of this: home gardeners will love learning that the zoo sells one of the most unique souvenirs found in Columbia — or anywhere. riverbanks Compoost is all-natural composted zoo poo compliments of the animals. that’s heavy doodie. riverbanks.org

We W eA Are re C Columbia olumbia

Whether you’re looking for cutting-edge arts and culture or first-class dining and entertainment, we’ve got it all served up with a healthy dose of southern hospitality.

USMC Mud Run

Summer Concert Series in Finlay Park through aug. 18, columbiasc.net

photos (from left) courtesy of riverbanks zoo & GarDen(2), columbia international festival, columbia metropolitan convention & visitors bureau

With nearly a million visitors annually, south Carolina’s top tourism attraction, riverbanks Zoo & garden, is much more than a great “can-do” in Columbia. it’s a must-do. situated on the banks of the Lower saluda river in West Columbia, more than 2,000 animals roam the zoo’s natural habitat–style exhibits, from african savanna to Lemur island. barriers such as wet and dry moats create an environment virtually free of bars and cages. and temperate year-round weather allows daily activities such as penguin feedings, bird shows, gorilla and elephant presentations, and diving demos at the pacific coral reef tank. Zookeeper talks and personal animal encounters occur throughout a typical day. to make visits even more special, check out the carousel rides, pony rides, rock climbing, up-closeand-personal animal feeding, and the new sky-high safari ropes course for kids and kids at heart. Just across the river, riverbanks botanical gardens features wood-

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• A young, skilled, and abundant workforce of over 380,000 • University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business ranked #1 undergraduate business program by US News and World Report • Excellent transportation system including access to three interstates: I-20, I-77, and I-26 • World class attractions including Riverbanks Zoo and Congaree National Park Columbia International Festival

For more information contact the Richland County Economic Development Office at 803.576.2043 or lindsayn@rcgov.us


Columbia, S.C.

IT-oLogy is a nonprofit group dedicated to growing the IT talent pipeline.

South Carolina State House

Up and Coming

Insurance IT helps boost Columbia’s traditional economic base. By Marc Rapport

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While Fort Jackson, the University of South Carolina (USC), and state government are still major employers, insurance services and technology — led by names like BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Aflac, Colonial Life, and Computer Sciences Corp. — have blossomed, making the Columbia area one of the nation’s leaders in that sector, even rivaling traditional stronghold Hartford, Connecticut. But high-tech ventures are not limited to

usairwaysmag.com

insurance. Nuclear energy is big here and getting bigger, and there’s a growing community of research and spin-off firms coming from incubators in and around USC, including those in the areas of hydrogen fuel cells and biomedical products. Westinghouse employs about 1,200 people locally, producing fuel rod assemblies at a plant that’s among the largest of its kind. In other nuclear energy news, partnership agreements have been made linking efforts in Columbia and at the Savannah River Site near Aiken to develop small, modular nuclear reactors that could represent the future of safe, clean electricity production. Speaking of the future, the insurance IT

from left: photos courtesy of columbia metropolitan convention & visitors bureau, it-ology

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olstered by a major Army training post, a flagship university, and state government, Columbia has emerged as a leader in insurance IT.

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Columbia, S.C. No. 1 public university Honors College • Best B.A. for the buck according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance • No. 1 program in international business • Economic impact of more than $4.1 billion • National sustainability leader for LEED green buildings • The flagship university for South Carolina • Nationally recognized programs for freshmen • A leader in sustainable energy research • Last year, 23,895

Columbia Metropolitan Airport handles more than 1 million passengers per year.

Top 10 Employers Let’s count them down:

10. Time Warner Cable 9. Wells Fargo Bank 8. Verizon Wireless 7. Michelin 6. AT&T 5. SCANA/SCE&G 4. University of South Carolina 3. Lexington Medical Center 2. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina 1. Palmetto Health Alliance

field — including software development companies, suppliers, and service providers — has taken on a particularly strong role, employing an estimated 15,000 people, with an average salary of $62,000 and an annual economic impact of $6.7 billion, according to research by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen at USC’s Darla Moore School of Business. “We have large, nationally known firms here but also a number of smaller startups and wellestablished niche operations, all of which combine to create a business environment and demand for people with those kinds of skills,” says C. Grant Jackson, senior vice president of community development for the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. “The local talent base is not large enough to sustain long-term growth in the insurance IT market, or in the skilled trades whose demand [will greatly increase] with the construction of

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back national champions in baseball • More than 50 percent of AAAS fellows in South Carolina teach at USC • Football ranked in the top 10 nationally • South Carolina’s leading educator, serving more than 45,000 students on eight campuses

We’ve taken off! More than 260,000 alumni around the world • Fifteen SmartStateTM Endowed Chairs changing the world through cutting-edge research • Top 5 percent in faculty awards for U.S. public universities • Tier One Carnegie research and community engagement university • $227 million in research funding • Top 50 “Best Value Public University” from Princeton Review • One of the most beautiful campuses in from top: photos courtesy of columbia metropolitan airport, fort jackson

Graduation at Fort jackson

two new nuclear power plants by SCANA [parent company of SCE&G, the state’s largest utility],” Jackson adds. That $10 billion project — the first new nuclear plants in the U.S. in decades — is expected to create about 3,000– 5,000 jobs during construction and up to 800 permanent positions afterward. To grow the IT talent pipeline, IT-oLogy, a nonprofit collaboration of businesses, schools, and organizations, helps to advance the profession through initiatives such as special teaching programs, career fairs, and job shadowing. Ensconced in a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Columbia, the center unites industry and education to address what its director, BlueCross BlueShield executive Lonnie Emard, calls “an epidemic, as companies are all struggling to find the talent they need.” “We’re working to create a model that can be used around the country to show how you can begin with curriculum in schools and move on to technical schools and internships and influence the whole chain to create a ready workforce that presents all kinds of opportunity,” Emard says. While insurance IT and nuclear energy are up and coming, traditional industries still drive Columbia’s economy. Verizon Wireless has a 1,600-person call center in the area, and newcomer Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. has announced plans for a $313 million, 700employee plant in Lexington County. More than 1,000 people work at a Michelin plant there that produces some of the world’s largest tires for earth-moving equipment. Meanwhile, Continental Tire is building a factory of similar size in Sumter. Other local manufacturers include Husqvarna, Bose, and Komata. Richland and Lexington counties — the core of the Midlands of South Carolina — are

faculty, students and staff donated 331,836 hours of community service • Back-to-

the nation • Global initiatives on all seven continents • Largest “green” residential complex in the world • Top 5 women’s equestrian team in the nation • Top 25 public university school of music • $1 billion Carolina’s Promise capital campaign underway

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ing up a new distribution center expected to employ at least 1,200 at full operation (and another 2,500 around the holidays) near Columbia Metropolitan Airport, which handles more than 1 million passengers per year and

From Good to Great The navigating From Good to Great Foundation is an offshoot of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce that unites experts, stakeholders, and funding to further the community. “We needed an advocate to bring people together to work on issues to move things forward,” says Grant Jackson, chamber senior vice president for community development. “That’s what we’ve done with Good to Great.” The group addresses issues such

as transportation, homelessness, and workplace development. It played a key role in the creation of the downtown’s new Transitions center, a shelter and training facility for the homeless. “Reaching our full potential as a community requires that nothing separate us, be it a road, neighborhood, race, age, or even the river that forms the boundary between our counties,” Jackson says. “We can always do more.”

serves as a Southeastern regional hub for United Parcel Service. Providing the brains for all these industries is a challenge, and the Columbia-area educational infrastructure is up to the task, starting with the local schools, according to Dr. Kaye Shaw, executive director of the Midlands Education and Business Alliance (MEBA), a private-public consortium that connects students, parents, and educators to career opportunities. “We’re working with educators to create a business-oriented culture here,” Shaw says, “so our young people know they can find good jobs, stay here, raise their families, and contribute to their community.” Sounds like the perfect formula for success. LIFE CYCLE NAGEMENT MA

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also home to several major hospitals employing about 15,000 people, in addition to the more than 3,500 civilian jobs along with a similar number of military people stationed at Fort Jackson. Most of the 77,000 or so state government jobs also are in the Columbia area. On the warehousing and services side, Target has a major regional distribution center in nearby Lugoff, not far from Camden, and Amazon is ramp-

“We’re working with educators to create a business-oriented culture here, so our young people know they can find good jobs, stay here, raise their families, and contribute to their community.”

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Faces of Columbia:

Meet Lou and Bill Kennedy These Nephron owners may be based in the Orlando area, but their hearts belong to Columbia. By Lynn Seldon

In 1991, Bill Kennedy purchased Nephron Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures generic respiratory medications. His wife, Lou, has led the company as president and CEO since 2007 — a period of 300-percent sales growth. Today Nephron is capable of shipping more than 100 million doses monthly. As native South Carolinians and University of South Carolina graduates, the husbandwife team holds a special place in their hearts for their alma mater — and for Columbia. They met at a Gamecocks football game and they’re quick to point out that USC beat Georgia that day.

Why did you build Nephron’s $300 million-plus plant in nearby Cayce, South Carolina? We are very excited about a skilled-labor pool. We are most excited that this is a non-union state. The average wage for this new plant is going to be just above $70,000 a year. Also, the back of our property is serviced by rail. South Carolina is well- positioned for getting products out of the state.

Adjacent to the historic University of South Carolina’s 200-year-old academic campus in Columbia, SC, the Innovista research district is becoming a nexus of new knowledge developed in University research laboratories in partnership with start-up companies and expanding industry. At the gateway to the Innovista is the new home of the University’s Darla Moore School of Business. When completed in 2013, it will be one of the greenest buildings of its size in the world. PROJECT GOALS:

What’s so special about Columbia? The folks are friendly, hospitable, and welcoming. It was a very big draw in our dealings with economic development. The second attraction is USC and the whole school system. And don’t forget the fun of Gamecocks sporting events!

Our whole family’s here. Our daughter’s a student at USC. So, certainly spending time with family is a nice draw. But I would have to say that tailgating is a completely wonderful sport in the state of South Carolina! Also, we love to eat at the Blue Marlin. We were introduced to each other at that restaurant, and it is very special to us. The shrimp and grits are a favorite!

photo courtesy of nephron pharmaceuticals

What are your favorite things to do here as a couple?

• LEED Platinum and a Net-Zero rating • More than 40% more efficient in water use over code. • Landscaping with native plants using collected rainwater for irrigation. • Stormwater management practices will remove 80% total suspended solids • Over 20% of the project area will be dedicated to open, green space • A green roof that helps improve energy efficiency • Completely eliminate CFCs and HCFCs in the refrigeration systems • High efficiency lighting and HVAC systems • Maximize the use of natural light • Utilize CO2 monitors in common spaces such as classrooms to manage air flow

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Columbia, S.C. Left: uSC campus Right: Midlands Technical College

A Well-Schooled Business Community

neer they produce [at the state’s four-year schools], we’ve got to produce seven technicians to support them. So we need to stay connected in a big, big way.” In addition to Midlands, the 30,000-student main campus of the University of South Carolina is more than a growing sports power in the premier Southeastern Conference. Its Honors College was named the nation’s best among public universities, according to a soon-to-bepublished guide, A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs. USC’s College of Engineering and Computing boasts the Condition-Based Maintenance Research Center, which aids the U.S. Army via research to support a timely and cost-effective aircraft maintenance program. The director of the CBM Research Center, Dr. Abdel E. Bayoumi (mechanical engineering), saved the government almost $40 mil-

from left: photos courtesy of usc, miDlanDs technical college

The education and business communities in and around Columbia have a long history of working together to offer targeted and general educational opportunities that fit a changing workplace and society. A centerpiece is the state’s technical college system. In Richland and Lexington counties, Midlands Technical College has seven campuses that enroll more than 18,000 students a year in more than 100 credit-earning and certification tracks. In addition, the college serves another 30,000 people in corporate and continuing-education programs. New and existing companies turn to Midlands before they expand or relocate to ensure appropriate programs exist, or to create targeted training if they don’t, says the school’s president, Dr. Sonny White. “We are really very wellpositioned here,” White says. “For every scientist and engi-

lion last year through his work. Not to be outdone, USC’s Darla Moore School of Business offers a graduate program in international business that’s consistently ranked among the top in the nation. Just as impressive, the school is moving to a new home downtown that’s planned to be the most energy-efficient build-

ing of its size in the world. Design goals include earning LEED Platinum and Net-Zero ratings, meaning the building will generate as much energy as it consumes. But Midlands and USC aren’t the only schools in the area. Other educational institutions include 3,100-student Benedict College

(one of the country’s largest private, historically black colleges), as well as Columbia College, Allen University, and South Carolina State University, about 45 miles away. So whether you’re in downtown Columbia or on the outskirts, a good school isn’t hard to find — making finding a good job a lot easier.

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Since our founding in 1946, BlueCross has offered security, stability and strength to the people of South Carolina. And we plan on doing it for many more years to come.

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Columbia, S.C.

McCutchen House

McCutchen House

From the tallest building, to the

fastest train, to the largest ship and the deepest submarine cable photos courtesy of usc

Known as the “portal into USC,” McCutchen House was originally built in 1813 as the second faculty residence on campus. Today, the house operates as a “living laboratory” for students in the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management. “No other school in the South runs a restaurant in a historic building that’s so prominently featured on campus,” according to Neal Smoak, McCutchen House director. “That’s what sets us apart, and that’s why our graduates are so heavily recruited. It’s our leadership and on-the-job training that makes us so marketable for the hospitality industry.” But the best part for USC students and area residents is that McCutchen House is open for lunch during the fall and spring semesters. That means soup, salad, an all-you-can-eat buffet, and homemade desserts, such as the famous chocolate-walnut pie. Sweet! hrsm.sc.edu/mccutchen-house

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The Arts

Alive and (Very) Well

C

Columbia’s arts scene melds the old with the new. By Katie Mcelveen

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photos (from left) courtesy of columbia museum of art, alternacirque, edventure children’s museum

From The Art of Seating exhibit, designed and manufactured by Vivian Beer (born 1977), Penland, north Carolina. Current, 2004. Welded steel, automobile paint. 24” x 16” x 36”

Alternacirque

ulturally curious? Columbia is awash with both traditional and contemporary programs in the visual arts, film, dance, music, and drama.

In fact, the area offers more than 130 cultural organizations, with programs and exhibits ranging from avant-garde movies at Nickelodeon Theatre to tours of historic buildings at the Lexington County Museum. Andy Smith, the Nickelodeon’s executive director, is thrilled with Columbia’s progress as a cultural city. “There’s a lot of great energy here right now, particularly in the arts scene,” Smith says. “From the opening of 701 Center for Contemporary Art to the launching of bands like Toro y Moi and Washed Out to the Nickelodeon’s move to Main Street, Columbia is like a wave that’s just beginning to crest.” Here are a few noteworthy swells: Dance: The city’s multicultural mix shines in its 16 dance companies. Don’t miss the high-energy performances of Borenya West African Drum and Dance. And in the realm of the avant-garde, Alternacirque combines belly dancing with fire, acrobatics, and the occasional hula hoop. Too much? At the Ira and Nancy Koger Center for the Arts, two professional ballet companies — Columbia City Ballet and Columbia Classical Ballet

— stage elegant and often edgy versions of classics like Swan Lake, as well as their own premieres. Music: The South Carolina Philharmonic’s unique programming — think jazz paired with Beethoven on the same bill — brings excitement to the classics, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other major concerts sell out the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena. At the recently renovated 3,099-seat Township Auditorium, artists like Tony Bennett regularly wow crowds. Theater: Columbia’s Town Theatre stages traditional productions in the country’s oldest continually operating community theater building. You’ll also find respected community theaters in Lexington and Chapin. For an off-off-Broadway vibe, head to the Vista district of downtown Columbia, where Trustus Theatre assures thought-provoking productions — and comfy recliner seating. Visual Arts: Although it owns a fine collection of European and American art, the Columbia Museum of Art also hosts major traveling exhibits. Next up: The Art of Seating, which

will showcase 200 years of American chair design. For more modern tastes, 701 Center for Contemporary Art features contemporary exhibits and an artist-in-residence program. There are also a number of private galleries in the Vista, as well as at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, where works from local artists can be viewed at no charge. History: South Carolina’s Statehouse is a piece of living history; the six bronze stars on the outer walls mark direct hits during Civil War battles. For more Civil War memorabilia, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in the South Carolina State Museum presents an array of impressive artifacts, including the original signed copy of the Ordinance of Secession. And at the Lexington County Museum and Historic Columbia Foundation, guides lead tours of antebellum homes. Kids: Columbia Children’s Theatre and Columbia Marionette Theatre stage imaginative productions. And kids can use their own imaginations to anchor news shows at the mock TV area in the EdVenture Children’s Museum. Other play areas include a blooming butterfly garden, as well as “Eddie,” a 40-foot-tall boy that teaches children how the body works by allowing them to climb inside and explore.

eddie at edVenture

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When I grow up, I want to be a

A ch chAir thAt begs the question: PAP PAPer or Plywood? The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design presents the history, innovation and construction of American chair design from the 1800s to the present, curated from a private collection. Columbia Museum of Art columbiamuseum.org | 803.799.2810 1515 Main Street in downtown Columbia, SC 200 Years of american Design

april 28 -

august 26

Faces of Columbia:

“Easy Edges” Line Designed by Frank Gehry | Manufactured by Easy Edges, Inc. | High Stool, 1971 | Photo by Michael Koryta. The Art of Seating is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in collaboration with the Jacobsen Collection of American Art and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

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Meet Designer AnnaBelle LaRoque Like a modern-day Jackie O., AnnaBelle LaRoque is always perfectly put together. She should be: As the owner and designer of LaRoque Studio: Boutique, she’s known for her soft, feminine dresses, tops, and skirts. LaRoque also understands the value of flattering separates that will outlive trends without a trace of dowdiness. But Jackie O. isn’t her only inspiration: Students from the nearby University of South Carolina regularly pop into the atelier and help keep LaRoque ahead of the style curve. “Their youth keeps my designs fresh,” she says. “Once I see what’s new, I translate it into a classic design with a modern perspective.” LaRoque also draws on the nature of Columbians. “The people here are warm and inviting, and my clothes reflect that. There’s nothing jarring or jagged.” Case in point: the Carolina Bow Dress. A comfortable, elegant A-line embellished with a flirty bow, it was one of LaRoque’s first designs and remains a topseller today. shoplaroque.com

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Columbia, S.C. “The food scene in Columbia is really getting going and we’re proud to be at the forefront,” Davis says. Known for his dynamic menu that focuses on local produce and meats, Davis effuses about what’s available fresh from local farms and markets — and subsequently seen on lots of area menus. Here’s where he likes to eat — his inside dish on Columbia dining: @116 “Our neighbors on State Street have a fun, ever-changing menu and great Spanish tapas. This is our staff’s regular spot for after-shift drinks and food.” 116state.com Baan Sawan “I love when co-owner and chef Alex Suaudom has boar on the menu. This bistro has awesome curries and the best Thai food in town.” baansawan.blogspot.com The Gourmet Shop “This Europeanstyle cafe is great at lunch. Try a panini or their chicken salad. Pick up a bottle of wine from their wine shop and choose from a great selection of cheeses in their market on your way out.” thegourmetshop.net

Bon Appétit, Y’all Great recommendations from a local chef By Lynn Seldon

Palmetto Seafood Company

“Lucius Moultrie [the owner] has a great selection of local seafood to take home to cook, and prepared shrimp, scallops, clam strips, fried oysters and fish to go.” palmettoseafood.com Davis also digs his ’cue. “My favorite Southern comfort food is without a doubt barbecue,” he says. “I love ribs, shoulder, and whole-hog cooking.” When possible, Terra’s menu features BBQ Lamb Shoulder Stuffed Mac & Cheese Gratin. “It takes two Southern favorites — barbecue, and mac and cheese — and combines them into a rich explosion of flavor,” Davis says, adding that locals know to ask for “Lamb Mac.” His current favorite place for great local ’cue is Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on Wheels, part of the national food-truck craze that’s hit downtown Columbia.

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“Motor Supply has a daily-changing handwritten menu, great wine list, and it’s the spot in town for Sunday brunch.” motorsupplycobistro.com

Terra’s shrimp remoulade

Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on Wheels “This food truck serves up

originals like smoked brisket in hickoryhoisin sauce with handmade focaccia bread. Find the truck’s location on the official Web site.” artisanbbqtruck.com

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PHOTOS (FROM LEFT) BY BRIAN GOMSAK, JIMMY SOBECK

hen it comes to Columbia cuisine, chefs know their grits — and their farmers. So who better to ask for local recommendations than Mike Davis, acclaimed chef at locavore-leaning Terra in West Columbia?

“This ‘meat and three’ [an entree and three sides] is a Columbia institution for Southern favorites and a hearty breakfast. Don’t miss the fried chicken.” lizardsthicket.com Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe

“Great favorite Southern dishes at dinner with a wine list to match, but I love the po’boys on the lunch menu.” mrfriendlys.com Rosso Trattoria Italia “A cool neighborhood Italian spot [in nearby Forest Acres] with a great bar. Don’t skip the pizza menu.” rossocolumbia.com

Right on ’Cue!

Favorite barbecue styles (mustard versus vinegar versus ketchup) can spark heated discussions. These fiery Columbia-area hot spots most definitely do their ’cue just right: Maurice’s BBQ (mauricesbbq.com); Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant (palmettopig .com); Hudson’s Smokehouse (hud sonsbbqsauce.com); RB’s Bodacious Barbeque (rbsbodaciousbbq.blogspot .com); Little Pigs Barbecue (littlepigs .biz); Doc’s Barbeque & Southern Buffet (docsbarbeque.com); Shealy’s Bar-B-Que (shealysbbq.com); and Big T’s Bar-B-Que (bigtbbq.com).

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History B Pack your sneaks for a self-guided tour. By Waynette Goodson

orn in 1786 to establish political and regional parity between the Lowcountry and the backcountry, Columbia is a hub of culture, education, and government. “Walking through the Robert Mills district under the canopy of old oaks, visitors have access to some of the most notable historic buildings and gardens in Columbia,” says Robin Waites, the foundation’s executive director. Visit the Museum Shop at the Robert Mills House at 1616 Blanding Street to pick up your free self-guided walking tour brochures or to purchase a guided tour of the Robert Mills House,

Hilton Columbia Center VIBRANT IN THE VISTA

photo by brian gomsak

And that spells one thing: history, and a lot of it. Thankfully the Historic Columbia Foundation makes it easy for visitors to explore all the historic homes and gardens. While there are a half-dozen self-guided walking tours, the one with the biggest historic return goes through the Robert Mills district. Mills was one of the first architects born and trained in the U.S., and he designed some of the nation’s most prominent buildings, including the Washington Monument.

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Visitors have access to the most notable historic buildings in Columbia. Mann-Simons site, or HamptonPreston Mansion (a former Union Army headquarters). “Spanning more than 200 years, these dynamic historic sites offer a glimpse into the lives of Columbia’s wealthiest planter families before the Civil War,” Waites explains, “as well as a young man who would become the nation’s 28th president [the Woodrow Wilson home] and an entrepreneurial African American family who ran a lunch counter and grocery store at their property [the Mann-Simons site] during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” The foundation has been excavating the Mann-Simons site for several years and processing all the new artifacts, which will go into a free public outdoor exhibit scheduled to open this summer. “We uncovered a rich diversity of artifacts, from bottle caps and cans to unexpected items like 30 one-inch copper straight pins, coins, and 10 cartridges of unfired ammunition,” says archaeologist Jakob Crockett — proving that history is still very much alive in Columbia. historiccolumbia.org

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