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Fall 2014

Building our future Aerospace, automotive clusters booming

Jennifer DeVito learned aircraft maintenance technologies at Trident Technical College and now works in the aerospace sector.

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County Spotlight: York | Special Section: Cities Mean Business | Best Place to Work in S.C.


Table of

Contents Focus: Aerospace and automotive 24 Automotive R&D right on track 30 Aerospace sector takes flight

Cover Photo: Jennifer DeVito, a graduate of Trident Technical College’s aircraft and avionics maintenance technology programs, now works in S.C.’s growing aerospace sector. (Photo/Trident Technical College) At left: Students at Greenville Technical College prepare for careers in aerospace. (Photo/Fred Rollison)

Special section: CITIES MEAN BUSINESS

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Innovative programs help cities attract young entrepreneurs.

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50 S.C. companies honored for being great places for employees.

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Departments 6 Bill Settlemyer’s Viewpoint

10 Business Accelerator

56 S.C. Delivers

7 Upfront

12 Spotlight: York County

64 1,000 words


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If you majored in the humanities in college, chances are you didn’t have much interaction with students in the sciences or engineering. The reverse is also true. And, when you did take a course in that other world, it probably just reinforced that you had chosen the right path. But I’m here to tell you, that wall, that separation, needs to end. Just the other day, I had the pleasure of meeting Ahsan Mehedi, who is the first doctoral student in USC’s aerospace engineering program. He showed me the McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research. Right now, it’s a cluster of offices and a cavernous open space in the SCRA building in Columbia. However, listening to Mehedi describe what will be there very soon, I couldn’t help catching his enthusiasm. Equipment will go into one end of the space to develop composite materials for the aerospace industry, with robots that can be programmed to perform tasks. Mehedi had many choices for his graduate work, but he chose USC because his research will go hand-in-hand with the industry. He won’t Licia Jackson have to wait years to find out whether his research can be applied. Editor, The same is true in the automotive industry in South Carolina. SCBIZ Magazine Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville is working – right now – to develop composites, fibers, software, technology and other products useful to the automotive field and beyond. More R&D is going on at the S.C. Technology and Aviation Center’s test track, a unique resource for automotive marketing and research just 10 minutes from downtown Greenville. Read about all this and the state’s efforts to provide the workforce for aerospace and automotive clusters in this issue of SCBIZ. This is also the time when we honor the Best Places to Work in South Carolina. And – wow! Every year, the amenities these companies provide for their employees are more amazing. Take a look at the perks, from arcade games to yoga sessions, in a special section in this issue. The whole state should be proud of the reimagined South Carolina State Museum, which just opened its expansion including a planetarium, observatory and 4D theater. Every child in the state will have the opportunity to look into an expanded universe, thanks to generous donations both public and private. We give you a snapshot of what’s there — and a beautiful photo of the nighttime planetarium — in these pages. Thanks for coming along with us on this journey. We hope you enjoy this issue!

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Bill Settlemyer’s

Viewpoint State flying high with BMW and Boeing

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ny time is a good time to celebrate the success of the state’s two marquee manufacturing giants located at each end of the state – BMW and Boeing. Actions speak louder than words, and both companies have continued to give a “thumbs up” to South Carolina by expanding production and rolling out new products. These global giants do not make decisions quickly or lightly. In Boeing’s case, for example, the design and production of a new commercial jet has a multi-decade timeline from conception to the projected end of production. What accounts for our success in hosting these and other manufacturers of similar pedigree? Some of our strong points stand out more than others, but together they add up to a winning formula. From my years in observing the economic development recruiting process, I believe that our history of consistent cooperation and enthusiastic support from public officials at the state, regional and local levels is central to our success. And (thankfully) it hasn’t been a case of letting companies “cut corners” to do business here. Instead, it’s been a proactive effort to ensure that their time, efforts and funds are not wasted on unnecessary red tape and that they have the resources they need from us to be competitive in global markets. As for incentives, don’t place too much weight there. Incentives are the entry fee states have to pay to compete for companies

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like BMW and Boeing, and most states are in the game at this level. But far fewer can walk the talk in terms of the “customer service” provided by our public and private economic development representatives. I would say the same about the lack of union activity in the state and the official hostility to unions typical of this and other Southern states. You can check this box for many states these days, and union membership continues to shrink countrywide. It used to be said that, like some other Southern states, “cheap land, cheap labor and low taxes” were the keys to economic development in South Carolina. Then the tune of experts and business leaders began to change: You also needed infrastructure and a ready and skilled workforce. These elements will continue to grow in importance. These days, a worker in a factory may well spend more time pushing buttons and controlling robotic manufacturing systems than turning a wrench. Knowledge of math and computers and the ability to adapt to complex systems and work well in teams are all essential in today’s manufacturing environment. Given these trends, workforce development and education at all levels will only grow in importance. Comprehensive research universities like Clemson and USC are essential, and Boeing has made it clear that it wants access to similar resources in the Lowcountry. The first tentative steps have been taken towards expanding the mis-

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sion of the College of Charleston (which is also a university under state law) to meet the needs of Boeing and other high tech companies in the region. This effort should be accelerated for the good of the entire state, not just the Lowcountry. At another educational level, Trident Technical College is seeking funds for an aeronautical training center to help create a pipeline of skilled workers to staff Boeing’s North Charleston facilities. Boeing has also announced plans to establish an IT Center of Excellence and an Engineering Design Center here, and both should be supported with the kind of graduate education and research programs that can be grown over time through the University of Charleston arm of the College of Charleston. Years ago, former Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Alan Mulally spoke to Charleston area business leaders, assuring them that future growth in jobs and business opportunities was in the cards for Boeing’s South Carolina operations, but only if we could keep pace with their technology and provide the resources needed. That’s a challenge that South Carolina should welcome and meet with the same enthusiasm and support that has fueled the state’s economic development efforts in the past.

Bill Settlemyer bsettlemyer@scbiznews.com

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UPFRONT

regional news | data

Giti Tire plan boosts S.C.’s tire powerhouse

S

outh Carolina’s reign in tire manufacturing continues as Giti Tire announced it will build a $560 million manufacturing plant and create about 1,700 jobs in Chester County. The plant at the Carolinas I-77 Megasite will be the Singapore-based company’s first manufacturing venture in North America. At the June announcement, S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said Giti will be the fifth original equipment tire manufacturer in the state, joining Michelin North America, Continental, Bridgestone and Trelleborg A.B. Both Michelin and Continental Tire the Americas are also headquartered in South Carolina. The plant will be Giti’s ninth in its global system, which is concentrated mostly in China. Giti spokesmen said factors in picking Chester County included the area’s workforce and training opportunities through the technical college system, proximity to major transportation infrastructure, port facilities in Charleston and access to the growing Southeast market.

Giti’s Executive Chairman Enki Tan (from right) spoke to the media with Gov. Nikki Haley and S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. (Photo/ James T. Hammond)

The Chester County plant will make both passenger and light truck tires for automotive manufacturers and replacement markets. The 1.8 million-square-foot facility will include manufacturing and distribution operations. The company did not say when the plant will be operational. During the first phase of production, the plant will have a projected capacity of 5 million tires annually. Giti Tire plans to increase production capacity based on market demand.

FAST FACTS | AEROSPACE The aerospace industry’s economic impact in S.C.

102,721

Total employment

Total economic impact

Total compensation

$532.1 million

State tax revenue generated annually from the aerospace cluster

Source: “Uncovering the Stealth Cluster: The Economic Impact of Civilian and Military Aerospace on South Carolina” by Joseph Von Nessen, economist with the University of South Carolina

Boeing South Carolina. (Ph oto/Kim McManus)

Cover Story

Page 30

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$17.4 billion

$7.3 billion

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Upfront

The expanded State Museum, left, has an observatory atop the building, with legs of its telescope extending down into the new lobby. The telescope’s tripod is part of the new logo, seen over the entry doors. Above, a permanent NASA gallery in an alcove in the planetarium lobby features objects from South Carolina astronauts. (Photos/Licia Jackson)

State Museum expansion adds planetarium, 4D theater

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vastly expanded and renovated South Carolina State Museum is adding some new sparkle to the nighttime sky in downtown Columbia. The reimagined museum project, known as Windows to New Worlds, opened Aug. 16. It brought $21 million in construction money into the Midlands as the museum grew by 50,000 square feet to 225,000 feet, making it one of the largest in the country, said Executive Director Willie Calloway. The project was made possible by public and private contributions, including funds from state and local governments. The new museum is expected to have a $19 million economic impact as it entertains and educates 250,000 visitors yearly. Corporations with operations in the state, including Boeing and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, have made donations to enhance the museum’s offerings. Here are the expansion’s main attractions: • Boeing Observatory: The 2,500-square-foot observatory houses a fully digitized 1926 Alvan Clark 12 3/8-inch refracting telescope and fully equipped classroom. Users will be able to access the telescope, provide coordinates and receive images over the Internet in classrooms across the state. The telescope sits inside a dome on the roof, with a door that opens to view the

State Museum by the numbers

$21 million

Construction costs for renovation and additions

$19 million

Statewide economic impact

225,000

Total square footage in expanded museum

250,000

Visitors expected in first year Source: South Carolina State Museum

sky. The telescope’s legs extend down through the building to the museum entrance, and a drawing of them is a part of its new logo. • The Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy: Adjacent to the observatory is a telescope gallery featuring instruments dating to 1730. Local astronomy enthusiast Ariail donated 58 of the collection’s 65 telescopes. The collection includes a 5.6-inch Henry Fitz telescope made in 1849 for Erskine College in Due West. It is the oldest surviving American-made observatory instrument. • BlueCross BlueShield Planetarium: The 55-foot dome and theater can take visitors to deep space, as well as

displaying art masterpieces or natural history photography on its curved ceiling screen. The observatory telescope’s views can also be shown, as well as satellite-based programs from NASA. The Digistar 5 system will show spectacular views of the solar system, as well as real-time stars and constellations from any location on Earth. • The Rev. Dr. Solomon Jackson Jr. 4D Theater: Joining high definition 3D digital projection films with physical features to provide multisensory experiences, the theater is the only permanent one of its kind in the state. Strobe lights, vibrating seats, water sprayers, bubbles and ankle ticklers are synchronized with the screen images. In conjunction with the expansion, the museum has a new lobby, with the bricks and wood floors of its 1894 mill building uncovered. In the floor beneath the telescope legs, which extend into the bedrock for stability, is a map of South Carolina. The museum store, the Cotton Mill Exchange, also has a refurbished and larger home, and the Crescent Café on the second floor has been renovated. Also of interest are a catering kitchen and a new separate entrance for school field trips. Near the student entrance is a lunchroom, where the young visitors can break for a meal.


Business accelerator

Business Accelerator

Left: A cool space welcomes entrepreneurs at the Myrtle Beach Startup.SC location. Above: A Startup.SC meeting at the Litchfield Beach site. (Photos/Startup.SC)

Grand Strand startup brings tech entrepreneurs to the beach By Jenny Peterson, Staff Writer

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s South Carolina rides a wave of momentum in attracting new technology startups, the Grand Strand Technology Council, a nonprofit based in Myrtle Beach, asks the tech community: “Why not bring your startup to the beach?” That’s the slogan for the Grand Strand Technology Council’s new startup program, Startup.SC. The technology council secured a $250,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s Innovation Challenge to help jump-start the program. “Georgetown and Horry counties are dominated by tourism and manufacturing and this is an opportunity to move up the food chain for Internet-related business,” said John Sanders, chairman of The Grand Strand Technology Council. “There is a very significant group of tech-savvy folks with potential here.” The aim is to attract entrepreneurs developing mobile apps, games, applications and additions to existing computer programs. Twenty entrepreneurs are already working out of shared office space in Litchfield Beach in Georgetown County and a satellite location in Myrtle Beach.

“The number of apps and games on the Internet and smartphones is unbelievable and what’s not yet developed is probably ten times that amount,” Sanders said. “We’re just seeing the beginning.” While the aim is for technology-based businesses, entrepreneurs in all industries and of all ages are encouraged to apply. Tenants get free access to office space, professional mentoring from company CEOs and financial planning for raising capital. “We’re trying to provide an environment where they can meet together, get help for their business, share resources, put business plans together and work together to come up with bigger and better things,” Sanders said. “The mentors are the key.” While the space is free, tenants agree to donate back to the center if their business is successful and prototypes are sold. The technology council will match the grant through fundraising and use the money for social media marketing, recruitment and to fund operations, Sanders said. Ryan Smith, formerly of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, was recently hired as executive director of Startup.SC. Mike Schroll, a member of the Grand

Strand Technology Council, web and mobile technology expert and Startup.SC founder, said he wrote the winning grant after noticing a need in the Grand Strand business community. Schroll ran a shared office space in Myrtle Beach and said many business owners approached the council about needing more resources. The 20 entrepreneurs currently at the two Startup.SC sites are all in different stages of their businesses. “Some we’re helping with pitches and fundraising, some people just have an idea,” Schroll said. “This is not a ‘rent-a-space’ place; this will be a ‘participate-in-programs’ place,” Sanders said. “We’re looking for people to be there full time to develop their programs.” Schroll said the Myrtle Beach area and its low cost of living are already attracting entrepreneurs. “We have all the resources a company needs to thrive on the Grand Strand,” Schroll said. “There’s no reason why they need to be anywhere else.” For more information about Startup.SC, visit startup.sc or whynotthebeach.com.


county spotlight

York

Runners and walkers enjoy the Rock Hill Outdoor Center at Riverwalk, which offers 250 acres of public recreation including kayaking, walking and biking trails.

On the map

York County sees a surge in economic development By Jenny Peterson, Staff Writer

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une 16, 2014, was the largest single day of employment announcements in South Carolina’s history – nearly 7,000 new jobs and $800 million in investment on the way. The South Carolina Department of Commerce announced that much of that investment would come to York County, an area tucked in the northern part of the state along the I-77 corridor marked with picturesque lakes, rivers and other natural beauty.

See YORK COUNTY, Page 14

Special Advertising Section

About York Coun ty 4.3%

Economic output grow th rate from 2012-13

2.8%

Jobs growth rate fro m 2012-13 Population: 239,36 3 (2013) Average county wag e: $41,496 (2013) Unemployment Ra (May 2014): 6.4% te


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County Spotlight: YORK

YORK COUNTY, from page 12

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With a high quality of life, top-rated schools and a lower cost of doing business, investors who are looking to move to the Charlotte area are finding that life in York County is as attractive as the business incentives.  The announcements included LPL Financial LLC, the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer, moving its headquarters from Charlotte, N.C., to Fort Mill, in York County, bringing 3,000 jobs and a $150 million investment. That same day it was announced that Lash Group, a health care service provider, will locate its new national headquarters in a 250,000-square-foot space in Fort Mill, with a $90 million investment and 2,400 new jobs. That followed the announcement that Giti Tire, the tenth largest tire company in the world, will establish its first North American manufacturing facility in nearby Chester County, bringing 5,400 jobs and $560 million in investment along the I-77 corridor. In York County, the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill and the many recreational amenities along picturesque Lake Wylie make the community a tempting site for relocation. “In the past, our tagline has been that we are the best of all worlds,” said Manning Kimmel, chairman of the York County Economic Development Board. “We have access to a large metropolitan area in Charlotte, rapidly growing cities in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, and a rural setting in the western part of the county.” Situated just 20 minutes from the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport and in close proximity to the Port of Charleston, the S.C. Inland Port and the new Norfolk Southern intermodal facility in Charlotte, York County is in a prime location for moving products into commerce. York County also benefits from having plenty of room for development – an issue that limits the potential for growth in larger urban areas. Historically, York County was seen as a See YORK COUNTY, Page 16 Special Advertising Section

During a visit to York County on June 16, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that Lash Group, a health care service provider, will locate its new national headquarters in a 250,000-squarefoot space in Fort Mill with a $90 million investment and 2,400 new jobs. (Photo/Nancy Pierce)

Capital Investment, 2013-14 2013-14

$102.7M

Distribution

$512.2M $127.3M Total

$242.2M Headquarters

Other

$40.0M

Manufacturing

Jobs, 2013-14

431

Distribution

6,760 Total

443

Other

356

Manufacturing

5,530

Headquarters


County Spotlight: YORK The SouthCross Corporate Center is a 40-acre mixed-use development in Rock Hill, one of many sites available for quick relocation. (Photo/York County Economic Development)

YORK COUNTY, from page 14

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quiet suburb of the bustling financial hub of Charlotte. But a recent push for strategic partnerships has put York County on the map. With an active economic development department enticing new companies with incentives and speculative building space

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Special Advertising Section

for immediate move-in, there will likely be more business announcements to come. “While we focus on capital investment and job creation, our ultimate goal is to raise the quality of life for York County citizens” said Kimmel. “We try to keep the pipeline as full as we can, and so far 2014 has been a fantastic year.”

Build it and they will come A big push in helping to attract and land big clients for York County is speculative buildings. By providing a shell building with all the utilities immediately available, York County is able to accommodate companies with tight deadlines. Construction of these spec buildings is


County Spotlight: YORK

made possible by the contributions of grant funds and local utility providers including the York Electric Cooperative. The buildings provide companies the opportunity to finish out the space to their specific manufacturing requirements in a timely manner. Kimmel said the first spec building was a 40,000-square-foot shell building in Rock Hill that brought in nearly 40 interested companies to take a look at it. Coroplast Tape, a German manufacturer that makes adhesive tapes for the automotive industry, moved into that first spec warehouse in 2013, bringing $12 million in investment and more than 150 jobs. Working with private developers and funds from the sale of the first spec building, the county currently has plans for an additional four spec buildings including a 276,000-square-foot building at the Riverwalk Business Park in Rock Hill. “Businesses are calling us, interested in seeing what we have to offer. A lot of it comes down to real estate,” Kimmel said. “We’re lining up tours with people from all over the world. Our inventory of sites and buildings is critical in giving them options.”

York Technical College’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Okuma Training Institute deliver world class training to local industries using machine tools, simulators and advanced CAM machines. (Photo/York County Economic Development)

Targeting industries, preparing a workforce York County has a long history in the manufacturing industry, specifically textiles, with a low-cost, pro-business regulatory

environment. Financial and manufacturing companies have come on the scene over the past few decades. See YORK COUNTY, Page 18

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County Spotlight: YORK The Catawba River in York County offers many choices for outdoor recreation including boating, fishing, camping, kayaking and canoeing. (Photo/York County Economic Development)

YORK COUNTY, from page 17

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Economic development officials are now targeting additional key industries – automotive, plastics, machinery, aviation and aerospace manufacturing, distribution, and

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financial services processing – that they hope will usher in a new era of economic growth. “We have the benefit of a manufacturing background, but a population with a very diverse set of skills,” Kimmel said. Currently, York County is seeing a surge

in technology related employment. That includes companies like Shutterfly, an online photo-sharing site, which moved from Charlotte to York County in 2013. That location manufactures photo books, prints and other gifts and employs office workers to support the growing online network. 3D Systems, a cutting-edge technology company, is also headquartered in York County. The company is a global, integrated solutions 3D printing company that specializes in 3D printers, print materials, professional and consumer custom-parts services, and 3D imaging and customization software. Winbro Group Technologies, which manufactures advanced machine systems that produce the cooling holes for aero and industrial gas turbines, moved to York County in 2010. “The fact that these leading technology companies are here makes a strong case for more technology companies looking to relocate,” Kimmel said. On the horizon is high-speed “gigabit” Internet service throughout Rock Hill’s aptly named Knowledge Park. The service provided by Comporium, a local telecommunications company, will bring high-speed Internet service to the downtown area with plans currently under way to add the service to Rock Hill’s five business parks. Officials hope its installation will attract more high-tech jobs. In partnership with Clemson University, Knowledge Park is already home to a technology incubator that is helping connect local entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed. To meet its growing workforce demands, York County is working with its universities, technical schools and public high schools to prepare students. York Technical College and ReadySC are the county’s top partners in preparing students for the technology and manufacturing industries. York Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Okuma Training Institute deliver world class training to local industries using machine tools, simulators and advanced CAM machines. York High School’s Manufacturing See YORK COUNTY, Page 18

Special Advertising Section


Front Row (L to R): Hyon Ju Trapp, Head Teller; Heidi Hunter, Personal Banker; Kaye McMaster, Private Client Relationship Manager Back Row (L to R): Traci Thompson, Branch Manager; Claude L. Moore III (Trey), Rock Hill Community Executive; Trudie Ledford, Teller

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banknbsc.com 803-327-2512 Banking products are provided by Synovus Bank, Member FDIC. Divisions of Synovus Bank operate under multiple trade names across the Southeast.


County Spotlight: YORK

YORK COUNTY, from page 16 Certificate and Rock Hill’s Applied Technology Center Material Handling Program are industry-led curriculum for secondary school students. The classes are designed and developed by existing companies and speak to real-life job skills. Using the latest technology, students graduate with the skills to work in York County. Students are guaranteed an interview from participating companies if they complete the program. Other higher-education institutions,

including Winthrop University and Clinton College, also help develop students ready to enter the local workforce. Dr. Greg Rutherford, President of York Technical College said, “By bringing the expertise of existing industry into our school system and partnering with local companies to educate students for future jobs available in the county – it’s a win-win for everyone.”  

The value of quality of life It’s not hard to sell York County to business executives and potential employees.

With a cost of living lower than Charlotte, yet less than 15 minutes away, and with expansive recreational opportunities and scenic natural settings, it’s an attractive place for all ages. Bounded on both sides by Lake Wylie and two large rivers, the Catawba and Broad, the area offers outdoor recreation such as camping, hiking, boating, fishing, mountain biking and more. Kings Mountain State Park and National Military Park, situated on 6,000 acres in northwest York County, has two lakes, a boat landing, campsites and stables. The Rock Hill Outdoor Center at Riverwalk offers 250 acres of public recreation including kayaking, walking and biking trails. The center boasts the Giordana Velodrome, a 250m cycling venue endorsed by USA Cycling. This month, the Center is opening the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track. The new venue will host the 2017 BMX World Championships with 3,000 amateur and 300 professional riders from around the world. Families also enjoy a public school system that is routinely ranked “excellent” by the South Carolina Department of Education. Students at Fort Mill and Nation Ford High Schools have some of the top SAT scores in the state.  

Strategic partnerships build on shared success

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York County’s success depends on the cooperation and success of municipalities and organizations in the Charlotte region and along the I-77 corridor. By pooling resources, the county and its adjoining neighbors have used unique partnerships to capitalize on their shared success. This is most evident in the South Carolina I-77 Alliance — a new economic development alliance including York, Chester, Fairfield and Richland counties — that will work to market the corridor nationally and internationally. “Regionalism is a key part of what we do,” said Dr. Britt Blackwell, chairman of the South Carolina I-77 Alliance Board. “All along the I-77 corridor, we share great infrastructure and access and it’s to all our advantage to work together.”

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Special Advertising Section


FA L L 20 2 013 SPRING 20 2 014


Aerospace and automotive in S.C.

Automotive R&D right on track By Bill Poovey, Staff Writer

T

he repaved 1.04-mile, 300-foot wide track in Greenville County could easily be a drag strip or raceway, attracting spectators to cheer on cars or motorcycles roaring to a finish line.

Instead, the one-time runway at the S.C. Technology and Aviation Center

is quietly gaining a reputation as a regionally unique resource for automotive marketing and research. Automotive suppliers are among paying users of the track so far. Researchers already steering electric cars on the blacktop are involved in testing aimed at wirelessly recharging batteries that power vehicles, eventually www.scbizmag.com

while they zoom along.

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See AUTOMOTIVE R&D, Page 26

Two cars sit on the test track at the S.C. Technology and Aviation Center in Greenville. (Photo/Mallory Baxter)


At the USC College of Engineering and Computing, we’re more than degrees.

Helping your business by: • • • • • •

Preparing graduates Inventing new technologies Identifying problems, researching solutions Leveraging federal funding Offering advanced degrees online Partnering research opportunities

Our students and faculty develop new technologies from interactive apps to alternative energy sources. Working with our faculty allows your business to partner for federal funding opportunities. Plus, USC provides sponsors exclusive access to innovations.

Learn more at http://cec.sc.edu The University of South Carolina is an equal opportunity institution.


Aerospace and automotive in S.C.

The Research One Building in the works on the CU-ICAR campus will have office and lab space for companies to develop technologies in the automotive, mobility and energy fields. (Rendering/CU-ICAR)

Sage Automotive, headquartered on the CU-ICAR campus, partners with others on R&D to develop interior materials. (Photo/Sage Automotive)

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AUTOMOTIVE, from page 24

26

The test track at the 2,600-acre former Donaldson Air Force Base complex is free of ties to any specific companies. It is located 10 minutes from downtown Greenville and 2.5 miles from the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Track users can transport products, customers or executives using the state’s largest general aviation airport that is also on the center property. A cluster of other buildings within view is available for exhibits or demonstrations or for use as a model for testing vehicles under urban conditions. That has Jody Bryson, the center’s president and CEO, promoting the track as a revenue generator at the developing business park. Bryson and the center’s board have overseen recruitment of more than 99 companies that are operating on the property jointly purchased by the city and county decades ago. “We are all about capital investment and job creation as an organization and we have to have revenues to do that,” Bryson said. The track is the latest piece of a burgeoning R&D cluster in the state’s automotive industry. After a decade of recruiting, the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research has attracted a lineup of 20 research and development partners to the Greenville campus. That growth has another new building with office and lab space in the works for companies to develop

technologies in the automotive, mobility and energy fields. Among the campus partners, Roding Technology North America, a subsidiary of German engineering and technology company Roding Automobile GmbH, has opened its doors, in what CEO Richard Smith describes as a “first step toward a possible manufacturing facility.” Smith said the aim is helping to meet growing demand for the company’s carbon fiber technologies for automotive, aerospace and marine industry customers. “Greenville County provides us with an excellent business environment, a top notch workforce and exceptional market access,” he said. The privately owned company’s expertise includes precision tooling and carbon fiber applications for the automotive industry. Its Roding R1 super sports car has a lightweight carbon fiber chassis and BMW straight-six turbo engine. The company also provides its technology expertise to the aerospace and marine industries.

‘Detroit of the South’ Other campus partners include the Cadfem U.S. Inc., a provider of software for composite simulations; Michelin; Sage Automotive Interiors; custom fastener and connecting element manufacturer Tigges USA Inc., and carbon fiber manufacturer Toho Tenax America Inc. Sage Automotive, which is headquartered on the CU-ICAR campus, works with industry partners on R&D to develop new yarns, chemical coatings or foam used in its interior textiles, said CEO Dirk Pieper. Having neighbors like JTEKT, Koyo Bearing, Michelin North America and BMW

Manufacturing is beneficial, he said. “We’re really trying to become the Detroit of the South,” Pieper said. The company also frequently works with university materials departments to assist in product development efforts that are 10 years from reaching the market. “Ten years in the automotive space quite frankly is not as far out as you’d think. We are already designing for vehicles that are going to come out in three years,” Pieper said. The company makes automotive interior textiles for door panels, seating materials and headliners. It is looking to make products more environmentally friendly, lighter weight to aid fuel efficiency, more stain and odor resistant, more durable and easier to clean. It’s also testing new product designs to cater to changing consumer tastes. Interior designs, for example, are reflecting consumers’ love of technology by using two-tone metallic sheen, Pieper said. Proximity to Clemson’s automotive students has been beneficial in gauging evolving consumer trends, Pieper said. “It allows our designers and engineers to have creative interaction with a very creative group that keeps us on the cutting edge.” “The academic community is incredibly international,” Pieper added. “It allows us to get a global perspective just by going across the street.” The federal government is helping fuel CU-ICAR’s growth. A $2 million Economic Development Administration grant is helping pay for the planned $9 million Research One Building. The four-story building next to the BMW Information Technology See AUTOMOTIVE, Page 28


Aerospace and automotive in S.C.

Deep Orange 4 is designed and built by Clemson University graduate students. (Photo provided)

Working on wireless charging AUTOMOTIVE, from page 26 Resource Center includes 22,000 square feet of high-bay research space and areas for Clemson’s Department of Automotive Engineering, classrooms and labs. CU-ICAR Executive Director Fred Cartwright has said the Research One Building slated to be completed in 2016 is already needed, as more companies are looking to come to the Upstate “and we don’t have any space to put them.” The building will include 53,000 square feet of office space in the upper three floors and is the sixth and final building in the campus Technology Neighborhood 1. Dave Valentine, president of CU-ICAR partner Esys Automation, said “CU-ICAR has created a very powerful and innovative way for OEMs, suppliers, research and education to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways.” “It became clear that there is a very strategic advantage for us to expand into the Greenville area,” Valentine said. He said it allows Esys “to enhance support to our existing customers and provide a solid foundation to grow our business in the Southeast.” A short drive from CUI-ICAR, the repaved runway at the S.C. Technology and Aviation Center already has gained national attention.

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Greenville layout perfect for needs

28

In addition to showcasing products, Bryson said the track’s proximity to CUICAR provides new research opportunities, with professors being able to offer use of the track to their industry clients. Every professor at ICAR “has a number of automotive or aerospace clients they work with who could be potential users for this test track,” he said.

Northville, Mich.-based ZF North America, which has a transmissions plant in Gray Court and another plant in Duncan, is among the track’s early users. Spokeswoman Ashley Van Horn said the company used the track for a week last year and has plans to use it again with another media group in November. Van Horn said the July 2013 event co-

incided with the Gray Court plant opening and allowed “showcasing our technologies” to about 30 media members. “Some of the journalists and some of our people had never been to Greenville and were just blown away,” Van Horn said. At the event, 34 people drove Jeep Grand Cherokees, BMWs, Jaguar XJs and Porsches in tests that included electric power steering, shocks and 8-speed and 9-speed transmissions, which are now built in Gray Court. Some of the vehicles were loaned by automakers, she said. “On the straightaway you could feel the gearshift for our transmission,” Van Horn said. ZF first visited the track in February 2013 and discovered “it’s pretty remarkable. SCTAC is just so close to everything,” she said. The facility “was so flexible for our needs. We had everyone stay downtown and they walked to dinners and it was perfect.” The track repaving was part of a $1.2 million project, Bryson said. A longer, concrete taxiway is situated parallel to the track and both are adjacent to an “urban track landscape” with overhead power lines and buildings of different heights to simulate a couple of city blocks. The area provides a unique environment for the automotive industry to test vehicle technologies, Bryson said. The track “has the potential to be a real game changer in terms of the automotive industry, in not only South Carolina but the Southeast. Most test tracks in the country are tied to a particular OEM,” Bryson said. “We are OEM neutral. And we are so close in proximity to CU-ICAR and to a vibrant downtown area like Greenville.” The track’s location off Interstate 85 between Atlanta and Charlotte and the area’s weather are also beneficial to the effort, Bryson said.

Joachim Taiber, an automotive engineering researcher at CU-ICAR who formerly worked in the BMW Information Technology Research Center, is using the track for work on wireless communication in vehicles. With Clemson as a center partner, Taiber’s use of the track, now designated as part of a nonprofit International Transportation Innovation Center, is part of a project to test wireless recharging technology aimed at removing distance limits for electric vehicles. That research is funded with a $12 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. Taiber said his work is also linked to teams that include Toyota, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Duke Energy and Cisco. He said a test track is being developed at the University of Michigan and “connected vehicle and automated driving” is also being tested in California and Texas. “The reason we are working on that, the biggest complaint about electric cars is no range and high cost,” Taiber said. “So if you can charge the car wirelessly while it is in motion, then you have unlimited range and we did also some analyzing the cost of the infrastructure. If there are enough cars using the infrastructure then it can actually work out pretty nicely. If you have that charging option you don’t need to oversize the battery, which takes cost out of the car.” Taiber said that while there is “fierce competition” over automotive manufacturing locations, the attitude toward research and development is different. “R-and-D you cannot build in every state, a CU-ICAR center,” Taiber said. “We work with different companies.” Car clubs and car dealers are also prospective users of the SCTAC track, he said. “What we are not planning is a race track,” Taiber said. Scott Miller contributed to this story.


Aerospace and automotive in S.C. Nate Oswald, enrolled in the aircraft assembly program at Trident Technical College in the Lowcountry, is enthusiastic about a career with Boeing. (Photo/Gibson Pitts)

Aerospace sector takes flight

Massive growth puts pressure on S.C. to create an aerospace workforce for generations to come By Liz Segrist, Staff Writer

N

ate Oswald would stare at the Boeing South Carolina campus in North Charleston every day during his commute to a car dealership. He had worked on cars all his life, so he expected to enjoy selling

www.scbizmag.com

them, but he missed working with his hands. He quit his job last year and en-

30

rolled in the aircraft assembly technology program at Trident Technical College. “I didn’t want to sit behind a desk anymore,” Oswald said. “Every day when I passed by Boeing, I kept thinking, ‘Why am I not working there? Why not?’” See AEROSPACE, Page 32


Aerospace and automotive in S.C.

AEROSPACE, from page 30

www.scbizmag.com

Trident Technical College students learn aircraft maintenance and assembly tech, but classes are scattered across campuses and have waiting lists. The college hopes to build an Aeronautical Training Center. (Photo/Trident Technical College)

32

At Trident Tech, he is learning how to shape sheet metal for aircraft components and how to fix electrical systems on aircraft. Oswald will graduate this December. “My dad was in the Navy and I grew up loving planes. I feel like I’ve finally found my niche,” Oswald said. “No one talked about this as a career when I was in high school. No one. But now I know kids going into high school who see it as a career.” The South Carolina aerospace industry is experiencing huge growth since Boeing began producing 787 Dreamliners in the Lowcountry a few years ago. The sector now employs 53,000 workers, including those at private aerospace firms and military aviation facilities, according to a new study from Joseph Von Nessen, a University of South Carolina research economist. Since 2010, South Carolina’s aerospace companies have had an average annual employment growth rate of 11.4%, which is about eight times higher than the general employment growth rate for the state over the same time period. And the industry has

seen a growth rate of 19.2% in the number of firms in the same time frame. Aerospace suppliers are moving to the state and some S.C.-based suppliers are expanding. Boeing South Carolina continues to grow with plans to expand its North Charleston Dreamliner campus, ramp up production rates, create a local engineering and information technology presence and build a propulsion center. Most recently, the aerospace giant announced plans to make North Charleston the sole producer of the 787-10, the longest and newest member of the Dreamliner family, rather than share production with its Puget Sound counterparts. This decision will bring aerospace jobs, investment and growth to the state for decades to come. As the industry’s growth explodes, it needs more workers. Shortages for general assemblers, aerospace engineers and aerospace mechanics are expected since too few graduates meet job demand. For the Lowcountry, companies looking to hire general assemblers can expect up to 200 positions to See AEROSPACE, Page 33


Cities Mean

Business A p u b l i c at i o n o f t h e M u n i c i pa l As s o c i at i o n o f S o u t h Ca r o l i na

Creating growth Innovation helps cities attract entrepreneurs

|

Issue 2

|

2014


You see a police car‌

We see a police officer who works closely with fire departments and EMS, who knows every business owner downtown, who can name every city street and who buys 12 snow cones on Saturdays even though his T-ball team has never won a game. www.CitiesMeanBusiness.org


6 Innovative programs across the state fuel entrepreneurs

Contents

By Amy Geier Edgar

Cover and table of contents photo: Charleston Digital Corridor

Business A publication of Municipal Association of South Carolina

10 Cities adopt business friendly practices

11 Embracing alternative energy

By Amy Geier Edgar

By Reba Hull Campbell

1411 Gervais St., P.O. Box 12109 Columbia, SC 29211 803.799.9574 mail@masc.sc www.masc.sc Miriam Hair Executive Director, Municipal Association of SC

Features

Cities Mean

Cover Story

12 A day in the life of water and wastewater managers

Reba Campbell Deputy Executive Director, Municipal Association of SC

By Amy Geier Edgar

Contributing writer Amy Geier Edgar

DepartmentS Published by

4 Letter from the Editor

5 Innovation

By Reba Hull Campbell

By Amy Love

www.scbiznews.com

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina

www.citiesmeanbusiness.org | Cities Mean Business 3


Letter from the

editor

We hear frequently that small businesses are the backbone of our economy here in South Carolina. That reality is so evident in the growth of the number of entrepreneurs who are deciding to start, build and grow their businesses in our state. Many of these creative entrepreneurs could decide to locate anywhere in the world, and they are choosing cities in the Palmetto state. Read about what business owners in this “entrepreneurial movement� are looking for when they decide where to locate. Also find out about how the S.C. Department of Commerce is supporting this effort with its new Innovation Division. Something companies of all sizes look for is a business-friendly environment. The Municipal Association recently rolled out a new tool to help streamline the process of business licensing, especially for companies that do work in multiple cities and towns. Learn how a standardized business license application is helping businesses cut down on paperwork. Cities as large as North Charleston and as small as Woodford are making strides to be more energy efficient. Find out what they are doing in areas such as solar and wind energy to prove that clean energy can make a difference. One important function of cities and towns is providing safe and clean water and wastewater services. While these jobs aren’t glamorous or visible daily to residents, they are critically important to the safety and the quality of life in our cities and towns. Read about what a day in the life of a wastewater operator is like.

Reba Hull Campbell rcampbell@masc.sc

Editor

4 Cities Mean Business | www.citiesmeanbusiness.org

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina


INNOVATION

Innovating South Carolina’s Economy By Amy Love

South Carolina has seen firsthand how

in the Midlands. The pilot in this region is expected to

startups can grow from innovative concepts into major

grow statewide with demonstrated successes.

employers in the state. Companies like Benefitfocus and PeopleMatter in Charleston have seen exponential

High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act of 2013,

growth with no signs of stopping; both companies have

which provides state tax credits for angel investors. The

major expansions under way.

tax credit equals 35 percent of the amount invested, up

In addition, efforts aimed at boosting technology skills and entrepreneurial support are thriving across Amy Love

Director of Innovation S.C. Department of Commerce

In June 2013, South Carolina legislators passed the

South Carolina and in our cities and towns. In the Upstate, the Iron Yard has created a successful coding

to $100,000 annually for investors in early stage, highgrowth startup companies in South Carolina. South Carolina has mighty momentum around innovation efforts.

program – where students are guaranteed employment

To continue this forward movement, the Depart-

after completion – in addition to a business accelerator

ment of Commerce launched the state’s first Office of

program, which is expanding nationwide and receiving

Innovation to position South Carolina as a top state to

accolades.

start and build a high-growth business. Our roadmap

Major corporations in our state’s strongest indus-

is the S.C. Innovation Plan, which offers recommenda-

tries like aerospace and automotive are leading innova-

tions on leveraging the state’s resources around sup-

tion efforts to keep their industries on the cutting edge,

porting home grown, high-growth companies, con-

while providing opportunities for companies to spin

necting the innovation community, providing access to

out of their efforts and grow in South Carolina.

capital for companies and fostering homegrown talent

South Carolina cities and towns are putting resources in place to make their communities “entrepre-

for the jobs of the future. In the first-ever South Carolina Innovation Chal-

neur ready” so that aspiring companies can easily open,

lenge, organizations from across the state were invited

plant roots and grow.

to apply for state grants aimed at meeting one or more

Universities are turning research into products and

of the Innovation Plan’s goals. Organizations submitted

technologies that will become successful businesses that

more than $6.8 million in requests for $2.5 million in

can change the world. Higher education is training the

initial grants. Projects at 14 organizations in Anderson,

teachers of the future with new models of education

Beaufort, Charleston, Darlington, Florence, Greenville,

that incorporate technology and experiential learning,

Horry, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg and York coun-

and help students start a business before they’ve even

ties were selected to receive $2.4 million in funding.

graduated. Our technical colleges are partnering with

These diverse projects focus on IT training, entrepre-

regional efforts to draw more students into code train-

neur support, fostering startup companies and agri-

ing and enhanced technology programs.

business apprenticeships.

Workforce development and education initiatives

By supporting programs and projects that are

like CoursePower are preparing the talent pool for the

boosting opportunities for home-grown firms and

jobs of the future. CoursePower offers a minor in ap-

expanding the state’s entrepreneurial and innovative

plied computing to students of any major in four col-

capacity, South Carolina will continue to prove that it is

leges and universities, including the technical college,

just right for business and just right for innovation.

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina

www.citiesmeanbusiness.org | Cities Mean Business 5


The Flagship 2 provides offices for startup and growing companies in the Charleston Digital Corridor. (Photo/Charleston Digital Corridor)

6 Cities Mean Business | www.citiesmeanbusiness.org

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina


across the state fuel entrepreneurs By Amy Geier Edgar

I

nnovation and entrepreneurial activity

“It is incredibly important for entrepreneurs to create new startup companies which is what I call ‘the foundational fuel’ for a tech ecosystem.”

are key to the successful growth of South Carolina’s economy. To support those

efforts, there is a growing focus across the state to make cities and towns “entrepreneur ready” so that businesses can easily open, plant roots and expand. The S.C. Department of Commerce opened its Office of Innovation in October 2013 with a goal of making South Carolina a top state to start and build a high-growth business. The initiative’s goal is to enable entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development successes in the state,

Nate DaPore president and chief executive officer, PeopleMatter

foster commercialization of technologies, support increasing capital to home-grown companies and raise the profile of the state’s innovation assets. For the first round of its South Carolina

want to continue their momentum and create

Digital Corridor’s CODEcamp is a software

Innovation Challenge, the department in

a business environment in South Caro-

May awarded $2.4 million in grants to 14

lina that is ideal for high-growth

organizations across the state to boost high-

companies to thrive. It is my

tech and entrepreneurial economic develop-

hope that this reinforces

ment. The diverse projects included IT train-

all the ways that South

training, mentorship and

ing, entrepreneur support, startup company

Carolina is ‘just right’ for

networking — to enter the

support and agribusiness.

innovation.”

“It’s been exciting to see the energy and

oping new talent and providing students with the skills they need — including hands-on

workplace and develop

The Charleston Digi-

high-tech software skills.

impact that South Carolina’s startup com-

tal Corridor Foundation

munity has already created,” Secretary of

was awarded $247,000 and

Commerce Bobby Hitt said. “Through a

the Harbor Entrepreneur Center in

dedicated, statewide innovation effort, we

Mount Pleasant was awarded $250,000. The

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina

education initiative focused on devel-

The Harbor Entrepreneur Center provides programs such as Accelerator and Forum that are designed to create intersections among

www.citiesmeanbusiness.org | Cities Mean Business 7


The new farmers of Dirt Works Incubator Farm, Johns Island, S.C. Dirt Works Incubator Farm is a project of Lowcountry Local First’s Growing New Farmers program, and the first of its kind in the state. Growing New Farmers is a three-phase program that includes apprenticeship, incubation and farm land-match. (Photo/Lowcountry Local First)

high-impact entrepreneurs, founders and

“Charleston over the next decade will

investors.

emerge as a major tech hub on the East Coast

Nate DaPore, president and chief ex-

rivaling Raleigh, Atlanta, the Northern Vir-

ecutive officer of PeopleMatter, sits on the

ginia area and Boston if we as community

Board of Directors of the Charleston Digital

continue to embrace the momentum in the

Corridor and serves as a mentor for the 500

tech ecosystem,” DaPore said.

Startups group. “It is incredibly important for entrepreneurs to create new startup companies which is what I call ‘the foundational fuel’ for a tech

Two city-supported business programs, The Knowledge Park incubator offers help to high-tech entrepreneurs. (Photo/Knowledge Park, Rock Hill)

the Duke Energy Center for Innovation in Hartsville and the Knowledge Park Innovation Center in Rock Hill, also were

ecosystem,” DaPore said. “It’s where new in-

growing the tech startup ecosystem. They

awarded grants. The Hartsville program re-

novations, tech jobs, discoveries and larger

play a vital role in helping early-stage entre-

ceived $100,000 and the Rock Hill program,

tech companies are created. By creating start-

preneurs get their companies up and running

$250,000.

up companies, entrepreneurs create an eco-

by providing inexpensive office space, access

system that begins to feed itself and spawn

to peers, guidance from mentors, key busi-

Hartsville opened the Duke Energy Cen-

more and more startups and faster innova-

ness and recruiting connections, low cost

ter for Innovation in July 2013. The center

tion. It’s the flywheel effect.”

training such as the CODEcamp, and creat-

started off with six entrepreneurs and the

ing a “network” effect, DaPore said.

first just recently graduated, said Director

Igniting that flywheel effect of creating more startups is enabled by initiatives like the

The quality of life in the Charleston area

The Community Foundation for a Better

Ben Chastain. This program is part of the

Charleston Digital Corridor and the Harbor

also is a major draw for talent to support the

Clemson Technology Villages that are being

Accelerator, DaPore said. Facilities, support

growth of startups and to lure new startups

built across the state through a pilot program

and training offered by these incubators and

or existing software companies to the area,

of the Clemson Institute of Economic and

accelerators are critical to nurturing and

DaPore said.

Community Development.

8 Cities Mean Business | www.citiesmeanbusiness.org

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina


The center helps entrepreneurs with market analysis, patent research, business planning and product development. The staff guides entrepreneurs through the process of finding angel investors or getting traditional loans through a bank, and helps to connect them with a network of support and community resources, such as Clemson University and industry executives. The foundation also is engaged in a master planning initiative to expand and update the city’s current plan, Hartsville 2020 Vision. All of these efforts go hand-in-hand to guide the city’s development into the future and

Ben Chastain, director of the Duke Energy Center for Innovation in Hartsville, congratulates the first graduates of the program, Catrina and J. Houston Penny of FME Nuclear Solutions. (Photo/Duke Energy Center for Innovation)

make it a dynamic place to work, play, dine

information technology businesses transmit-

and shop, Chastain said.

ing very large files like graphics or videos.

launched as the second phase of the program

Rock Hill will be among the first cities in the

to provide farm business incubation, infra-

Southeast to have that service, Warner said.

structure and mentorship for apprentice pro-

The Rock Hill Knowledge Park Incubator currently has nine companies involved in its program with several of those set to graduate in the coming months. A few of those companies have even relocated from other states

“That technology opens up the door to new companies,” Warner said.

The Dirt Works Incubator Farm was

gram graduates. Dirt Works is the first farm incubator in South Carolina and is currently

But it’s not just high tech companies that

in order to launch in Rock Hill, according to

are attracting creative entrepreneurs in South

Director David Warner.

Carolina.

home to six new farmers, Seibert said. Participating farmers lease an acre of land for $2,000 a year and are provided access to

“We advocate for their success,” Warner

Agri-business is attracting an increasing

said. “We’re trying to build an entrepreneur

number of entrepreneurs. All over the state

storage, irrigation and a mentor farmer. They

culture here.”

in cities large and small demand is grow-

are given three years in the program to refine

ing for sustainable agriculture and locally

their business, build their market and save

edge Park Initiative that is part of the efforts

produced food, and a Charleston program

capital to launch their businesses off the Dirt

to revitalize the downtown and the city cen-

is helping to support new farmers and offer

Works site.

ter core by creating an urban village where

business assistance.

The incubator is part of the larger Knowl-

people can live, work and play. People in

a tractor, packing shed, walk-in cooler, tool

In addition to the acreage leased to new

Lowcountry Local First was awarded

farmers, an acre of Dirt Works is reserved as

knowledge-worker jobs are looking for cities

$100,000 from the Department of Commerce

a teaching plot where apprentices, commu-

that offer art, music and entertainment as

for its entrepreneurship and innovation ef-

nity members, and students can learn core

well as a walkable downtown that offers the

forts through small business and agriculture.

farming concepts and innovative techniques,

options of bicycling and public transporta-

LLF’s Growing New Farmers Incubator

Seibert said.

tion, he said.

Program utilizes a three-phase strategy of

Since the Growing New Farmers pro-

“We’ve been successful at recruiting, but

apprenticeship, farm incubation and land-

gram began in 2010, and the incubator farm

we also want to grow our own jobs,” Warner

linking services to cultivate future farmers,

launched in 2012, the program has created

said.

according to Nikki Seibert, director of sus-

eight farm jobs, three agriculture support

tainable agriculture.

jobs, and six part-time jobs, Seibert said.

A key to attracting the high-tech knowledge jobs is having the infrastructure avail-

The apprenticeship component of the

“This really is about job creation,” she

able to support them. Technology and com-

program provides hands-on mentorship, struc-

said. “Agribusiness is the largest industry

munications company Comporium is rolling

tured curriculum, coursework and field days,

in South Carolina. We need to continue to

out Zipstream, its Gigabit per second service,

and access to networking through Growers

grow it in a way that supports local econo-

in Knowledge Park. This ultra-fast Internet

Group meetings. The program has 12 current

mies, especially in and around our rural

service will be a boon for high-tech and

participants and has graduated 95 apprentices.

communities.”

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina

www.citiesmeanbusiness.org | Cities Mean Business 9


Business friendly cities By Reba Hull Campbell

F

or a business owner, few things can be

development opportunities and prosperity

more frustrating than paperwork. And

for our region. We support this effort and

ness license application for each city in which

sometimes government paperwork can

hope this is the beginning of more positive

he does work, a contractor (or other transient

become an impediment to getting a job done,

change for our local business community.”

business owner who does work in multiple

Instead of gathering and filling out a busi-

especially in the arena of business licensing.

The one-page application contains all of

For companies that conduct business in

the information most cities need to issue a

tion’s business information section one time.

multiple cities and counties, different zoning

license. Originally developed with contrac-

He will submit copies of the application to

ordinances, permit regulations and business

tors in mind, cities can use the standard ap-

participating cities along with job-specific

licensing requirements can sometimes be

plication for any type of business working in

information.

confusing and make compliance with local

multiple jurisdictions.

laws difficult. While variations in some zoning and per-

locations) can complete the standard applica-

The standard application does not relieve

“Adopting the application is a local decision for each city to make,” stressed Scott

the business from complying with each city’s zoning or building requirements.

mitting processes are necessary among juris-

Slatton, legislative and public policy advocate

dictions, there are some processes that can be

for the Municipal Association. Slatton also

voluntary, we encourage cities to accept it

streamlined so companies that do business in

serves as the staff liaison for the Business

as a way to help reduce paperwork, thereby

multiple cities and counties can cut down on

Licensing Officials Association. “We are

making cities more business friendly,” added

paperwork.

working closely with all cities in the state to

Slatton.

Contractors, caterers and landscapers are

encourage them to consider accepting this

“While using the application is strictly

City business licensing staff members

among the types of businesses particularly hit standard form.”

have been trained on what they need to do

by the variety of paperwork they often had

Three months after its introduction, the

to accept the new application through the

to deal with when working across multiple

application had been endorsed by more than

S.C. Business Licensing Officials Association

jurisdictions.

50 cities and three counties (updated list at

run by the Municipal Association. “Business

www.masc.sc, keyword: BL application).

licensing is a complex profession involving

In response to these concerns, representatives of the Municipal Association of South

Lexington’s business license official Sonya

knowledge of the law, finance and a good

Carolina and its affiliate organization, the

Lee says, “Hopefully this new standardized

dose of customer service,” says Slatton. “The

S.C. Business Licensing Officials Associa-

application will show that business license

Business Licensing Officials Association is a

tion, have created a single standard business

ordinances are not there to be a hindrance or

great resource for these professionals to get

license application that a business can use in

an extremely time consuming process to the

training on best practices like this new stan-

any jurisdiction that chooses to accept it. The

business community. We want the process to

dardized application.”

S.C. Chamber of Commerce and a variety of

be as painless as it can be for all contractors

local chambers of commerce and business

or businesses that may do business in mul-

that business license officials can receive, and

organizations provided input on developing

tiple jurisdictions considering the differences

the S.C. Business Licensing Officials Associa-

the application.

in our ordinances and rates.”

tion provides more than 30 hours of training

There are multiple levels of accreditation

“This is a huge step forward for regional

Similar to the Municipal Association’s

growth and development in our community,”

model business license ordinance and Busi-

said Carl Blackstone, president and CEO,

ness License Handbook, the standard business

Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

license application provides cities with an-

new application and the list of cities that have

“Simplifying this process and adopting it

other “best practices” approach while main-

adopted it, visit www.masc.sc (keyword: BL

statewide will bring greater ease to economic

taining local flexibility.

application).

10 Cities Mean Business | www.citiesmeanbusiness.org

annually on topics including business licensing law, technology and customer service.

For additional information about this

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina


Feature Story

Embracing alternative energy By Amy Geier Edgar

S

outh Carolina cities and towns are

utilizing open-air, fully electric vehicles for

embracing alternative energy. By har-

a more personal police patrol of neighbor-

nessing the power of the sun, wind,

hoods and large city events, among other

and earth, North Charleston, Woodford and

initiatives,” Summey continued. “Coupling

Wellford are leading the charge toward a

alternative energy with sustainable develop-

clean energy future.

ment practices, as North Charleston has

Alternative energy is defined as any source of energy that does not come from fossil fuels. That includes not only solar and wind energy but also energy produced from biomass, landfill

done, is producing a brighter future for us The City of North Charleston uses open-air fully electric vehicles for patrol of neighborhoods and events.

all.” In 2011, the Town of Wellford (pop. 2,378) partnered with Lockhart Power Company to

gases, geothermal energy or hydropower. Some

town’s new solar panels, Stoudemire mused

generate renewable energy from its landfill.

innovative South Carolina towns are proving

that “there are no moving parts; no mainte-

The Wellford Renewable Energy Landfill Gas-

that clean energy can make a difference.

nance we need to do; they just sit there and

to-Energy Project captures methane from the

soak up the energy,” he said.

landfill and converts the gas to power for its

In 2011, the Town of Woodford (pop. 185), located in Orangeburg County, received

In 2012, the City of North Charleston

customers. Landfill gas is a byproduct of the

an Energy Efficiency and Conservation

(pop. 98,471) proved itself as a leader in en-

bacterial decomposition of organic materi-

Block Grant to undertake energy efficiency

ergy efficiency when it constructed its new

als. The methane gasses produced as garbage

upgrades to their community center and fire-

city hall, which earned Silver LEED certifica-

decomposes can be combined with oxygen to

house. A portion of that grant went toward

tion from the U.S. Green Building Council.

create fuel that can be converted to electricity,

purchasing and installing a 5kW solar array

“As home to a majority of the state’s solar

or compressed to fuel vehicles. By capturing

on the town’s community center. The 36-pan-

power and the world’s largest wind turbine

the methane from the landfill and converting

el array now powers the community center

and drivetrain testing facility at the Clem-

it to electricity, Wellford and Lockhart Power

and is producing so much power that the

son University Restoration Institute, North

have created a partnership that brings clean

town is getting a credit on its monthly bills,

Charleston is a proud supporter of the use

energy not only to town residents but also to

saving more than 20 percent on energy costs.

of alternative energy sources,” said North

other Lockhart Power customers.

Mayor Charles Stoudemire, in an inter-

Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. “Large

The South Carolina Energy Office,

view with the Emily Hall Tremaine Founda-

solar arrays are a common sight in North

through its ConserFund and Energy Efficien-

tion, noted that it was a six-month stint in

Charleston, including the installations at the

cy Revolving Loan programs, can help towns

Holland that opened his eyes to alternative

Boeing 787 Final Assembly Facility, Water

across South Carolina realize their energy

energy. Stoudemire says that “what they did

Mission International, and atop the Intertech

efficiency goals. Municipalities can apply

with wind power and conservation really got

Group’s buildings around town.”

for funding to assist in energy efficiency up-

me interested in

“We have made strides to lead by ex-

how we use en-

ample, outfitting our fire stations

ergy. We’re really

with solar water heaters and

wasteful.” Of his

grades as well as the installation of alternative energy infrastructure.

Information about the SCEO loan programs is available online at www.energy.sc.gov/incentives.

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina

www.citiesmeanbusiness.org | Cities Mean Business 11


A day in the life of

water and wastewater managers By Amy Geier Edgar

M

ost of us turn on our faucets and

are responsible for making sure plant equip-

license from the state Department of Labor,

flush the toilets without consider-

ment works properly. They run tests to deter-

Licensing and Regulation in water treatment,

ing where the water comes from

mine the water quality and make any neces-

biological wastewater treatment and water

or ends up. Water and wastewater treatment

sary adjustments to the amount of chemicals

distribution. He also has an “A” level license

plant operators work quietly behind the

in the water.

in wastewater collection from the Voluntary

scenes ensuring that the water we all use on

Water and wastewater plant operators

a daily basis is safe for public health and for

also are responsible for complying with the

types are based on education level, experi-

the environment. While most folks may take

strict standards of the U.S. Environmental

ence and a passing a test.

their water for granted, these operators and

Protection Agency and the S.C. Department

managers work diligently to clean, test and

of Health and Environmental Control. Viola-

from administrative to laboratory work. He

monitor this vital resource.

tions can result in environmental concerns

even has been involved in discussions with

The duties of water and wastewater treatment plant operators vary depending on the

Certification Program. Both of these license

Moats said his duties include everything

and public health issues, as well as hefty fines. industries looking to locate in the area. Eric Moats has been superintendent of the

“It’s very rewarding helping

size of the plants. In a small plant, there may

Abbeville water and wastewater plants for 26

our community,” Moats said.

be only one operator maintaining all the sys-

years. He has a degree in microbiology from

“Most people aren’t aware

tems. In large plants, multiple operators may

Clemson and is a member of the Water Envi-

that there is someone

work shifts or have specialized duties. The

ronment Association of South Carolina and

operators run and maintain the pumps and motors that move water and

the S.C. Rural Water Association. Moats holds an “A” class

wastewater through filtration systems. They

Greg Gress, Town of Sullivan’s Island

12 Cities Mean Business | www.citiesmeanbusiness.org

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina


at the water plant while they’re at home eating their Thanksgiving dinner or asleep at night.” Moats has four operators at the water plant and two operators at the wastewater plant. All of the operators are dual license holders so they can work in either capacity. Moats said it’s extremely hard to find qualified, licensed operators who can come in and work. He said it took him a year and a half to find a replacement for an operator who retired. And Moats said he expects hiring will continue to be a challenge. “We’re running out of time in the state of South Carolina,” he said. “The average age of our operators is 55.” In fact, the American Water Works Association estimates that almost 50 percent

Tammy Jackson takes readings in her job as lab director for the City of Dillon’s water treatment operations.

of today’s water and wastewater operators

and all of the maintenance and repair of

to pass the required certification exams and

will retire within the next five to seven years.

pump stations and collection lines. He also

learn multiple skill sets such as plumbing,

Moats said he and other superintendents

operates and maintains the wastewater treat-

electrical and construction. Being a small

have been communicating with technical

ment plant.

system makes it hard to compete and pay an

colleges to express the need for more young

Bailey has two employees at the plant and

people in the field. Central Carolina Techni-

said they are on call round-the-clock because

cal College has developed a Youth Appren-

of their small number of staff.

ticeship program that encourages high school students to consider a career in the water and wastewater industry. Moats said the work is steady (“People

operator what they are worth, he added. Tammy Jackson has been the lab director for the City of Dillon for more than 23 years.

“My family is accustomed to me leaving at all times of the day and night,” he said. Bailey is a second generation operator

She has a biology degree from Francis Marion University and is a member of SCRWA. She holds an “A” Water Treatment license and

with Biological “B” Wastewater and Water

an “A” Biological Wastewater license. She also

flush their toilets every day!”) and vital to

Treatment “D” licenses. He has been em-

is certified as a Class A/B Underground Stor-

the environment and the public health of

ployed by the City of Woodruff for 14 years

age Tank Operator.

the community. He wishes he could hire two

and has been in his current position for six

more operators, plus a maintenance worker

years.

and janitor. In the meantime, he and his crew continue to put in long hours. “Sometimes people want to take a vacation and I say, ‘Sorry, I have to have you at work,’” Moats said.

Jackson has numerous duties including analyzing water samples, adjusting chemi-

Bailey thinks the public might be sur-

cals, running tests on sludge, and completing

prised by how much dedication it takes to

DHEC reports. Along with Jackson, there are

operate a wastewater system.

15 employees in the Water and Wastewater

“This is not a factory job or even a job at

Department. Finding and hiring operators

a regional wastewater treatment plant where

can be a struggle, she said, when oftentimes

they have an abundance of employees,” he

operators want to stay where they are or go to

has to pay overtime for others to fill in. With

said. “We are a small community that has to

larger areas that can afford to pay more.

budgets tight, this can be difficult.

handle every aspect, and it’s on my shoulders

When employees do get time off, Moats

Lee Bailey, public works director for the City of Woodruff, also works with a small

to make sure everything gets completed.” Hiring at the wastewater plant can be dif-

Many people do not realize that water and wastewater is checked seven days a week, Jackson said.

crew. On the wastewater side of his job, he is

ficult. First, Bailey has to find people who

“I think most people automatically as-

the lab director with all of their testing done

can overcome the stigma of working with

sume the water is readily available, not real-

in house. He handles the collection system

wastewater. Then, the applicant has to be able

izing that it was treated, sampled and tested

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina

www.citiesmeanbusiness.org | Cities Mean Business 13


that through our labor we are contributing

since 2001. He has spent 30 years in the water

to make the lives of our customers healthier,

and wastewater treatment business. He is a

safer and more convenient by having quality

certified Water and Wastewater Treatment

tap water at the push of a faucet,” she said.

Plant Operator in both Illinois and South

Doris Wilson has been the chief operator of the Town of Pendleton’s wastewater

ment license and a “B” Water Treatment and

treatment facility since 1999. She has worked

Distribution license in South Carolina.

in the wastewater field for the last 20 years.

Lee Bailey, City of Woodruff

ment Federation, American Water Works

Wastewater license, a “D” South Carolina

Association, SCRWA, South Carolina Water

Water license, a Trainee Permit South Caro-

Quality Association and the National Asso-

lina Wastewater Collection, and a Trainee

ciation of Sewer Service Companies.

Permit South Carolina Water Distribution.

Some of his responsibilities include mak-

She is a member of the Water Environment

ing recommendations to council on budget-

Federation and the SCWEA Blue Ridge Foot-

ing and rate projections, interpreting techni-

hills District.

cal documents and contract language, manprojects, maintaining compliance with the

the facility, troubleshoots facility equipment

regulatory requirements on both drinking

and processes, maintains daily records, col-

water and wastewater, and communicating

lects data, writes permit renewals, prepares

the status and performance of the utility to

reports and helps with budgeting.

council. himself), plus a billing clerk. Being part of

maintenance worker works every day of the

such a small utility, he says it is a challenge

year, including holiday and weekend sched-

to recruit quality staff who can work together.

Jackson said it is rewarding to know that

“One of the keys to our success is our in-

that it’s hard to hire an operator in a small

centive program,” Gress said. “I try and keep

town due to the pay scale. Plus, with a small

a pulse on salaries that surrounding utilities

crew, they ultimately work more holidays and

are paying and keep our incentive program

weekends than facilities with more operators,

up to date.”

she added.

send results to DHEC monthly.”

Gress has a five-member crew (including

including herself, and one part-time laborer/

ules. Like the other operators, Wilson agreed

remove the solids, treat and test effluent, and

aging construction of all capital improvement

erations and performs daily inspections of

Her staff of three full-time operators,

every day,” she said. “We have to screen and

Gress is a member of the Water Environ-

Wilson has an “A” South Carolina Biological

Among her duties, Wilson manages op-

Doris Wilson, Town of Pendleton

Carolina. He holds an “A” Wastewater Treat-

A challenge of the job is maintaining the

Wilson said people would be surprised at

level of service while keeping rates down.

the clarity of their effluent. She said she has

Sullivan’s Island has a fixed base so all cost

given plant tours and heard people comment

of service must be spread among the same

it was clearer than their tap water.

number of users each month, Gress said.

Wilson said she is proud that through

Gress said the most rewarding part of his

proper wastewater treatment, generations to

job is providing the tools for his employees to

come will get to enjoy the creeks and lakes.

ensure that their water and wastewater is safe

her work has a role in preserving the safety

“The most rewarding thing about my

of the environment as well as protecting the

job is being able to minimize the impact of

Gress said he thinks there is much the

public health.

wastewater on the environment,” she said. “I

public doesn’t know about water and waste-

leave every day with the feeling of pride in

water treatment jobs. Indeed, the work of

our accomplishments.”

these employees is vital to every community,

“Not only is it our responsibility to deliver safe drinking water to our customers 24/7, but we also have their health in our hands. What a wonderful feeling to know

Greg Gress has been manager of the Sullivan’s Island Water and Sewer Department

14 Cities Mean Business | www.citiesmeanbusiness.org

for both the public and the environment.

but they fall in a rare category where their anonymity actually spells success.

A publication for the Municipal Association of South Carolina


Hom etown

SNAPSHOT

Photo/Lowcountry Local First

of rm is part An actual fa g st’s Growin y Local Fir . Lowcountr m r Progra s Incubato er m ar F New ning at ers are lear rm fa ew n Six ave ere. They h s, shown h Dirt Work actor, of land, a tr re ac an to access r farmer, and mento ed sh g in k pac elp eeded to h er things n th o g n o am . them learn


You see a street‌

We see a lifeline that is a hometown with planned traffic flow, fire stations, thousands of visitors each year, city parks and community centers for children of all ages. Our streets take us to our jobs, our churches, our fun places and even to grandma’s house. www.CitiesMeanBusiness.org


AEROSPACE, from page 32

Ahsan Mehedi is working on a doctorate in aerospace engineering at USC’s McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research. He looks to Boeing for his future. (Photo/Licia Jackson)

and offer students apprenticeships to get hands-on experience. The Challenger Learning Center in Columbia, the SOaR summer camp in Aiken and Battery Creek High School in Beaufort are among those promoting the idea of being an aircraft assembler or mechanic to kids. These initiatives are crucial steps in

Aerospace and automotive in S.C.

go unfilled annually, according to a workforce study commissioned by the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. Boeing South Carolina Vice President and General Manager Jack Jones has said that state leaders, educators and business executives need to focus on promoting STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — subjects in the classroom and through apprenticeships to fill the workforce gaps now and in the future. Efforts are underway. The EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University at Joint Base Charleston, the USAeroTech Institute in Greenville and the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics in Myrtle Beach offer sectorspecific training. The University of South Carolina and McNair Center have created a first-in-state master’s and doctoral program in aerospace. Trident Technical College is working to build an Aeronautical Training Center a few miles from Boeing’s campus. ReadySC and Apprenticeship Carolina work with companies to train workers

growing the state’s aerospace workforce, but efforts need to be intensified to prevent industry from recruiting mostly out of state for these high-paying jobs, according to industry executives and state leaders. Trident Technical College President Mary Thornley said the No. 1 challenge to South Carolina’s future as an aerospace hub is the state’s shortage of skilled aerospace workers — and the state needs to create short-term pathways to filling gaps immediately and long-term, multi-pronged approaches to training future generations of aerospace workers. “On the West Coast and in Everett, Wash., there are generations in the same family that have had aerospace careers,” Thornley said. “We don’t have that culture, so we must create it. ... We need to start creating the magic for kids to entice them to pursue aerospace as a career.”

Aerospace master’s, doctorates State leaders and educators saw a need to expand aerospace programs as Boeing began See AEROSPACE, Page 34

www.scbizmag.com

33


Aerospace and automotive in S.C.

Average salary comparisons for S.C. industry

Aerospace jobs $70,749

Manufacturing jobs $48,453 South Carolinians $41,206

The aerospace industry’s footprint in S.C Total aerospace workers: 53,000, of which 36,000 work for military aviation facilities and 17,000 work for the aerospace core, or private industry Total aerospace core firms: 466 Multiplier effect: 2.2, meaning for every 10 jobs created in the private sector of the aerospace cluster, an additional 12 jobs are created elsewhere in South Carolina

Boeing S.C. (Pho to/Kim McManus )

Since 2010, South Carolina’s aerospace core has had an average annual employment growth rate of 11.4%, which is approximately eight times higher than the employment growth rate for the state over the same time period. Source: “Uncovering the Stealth Cluster: The Economic Impact of Civilian and Military Aerospace on South Carolina” by Joseph Von Nessen, economist with the University of South Carolina

AEROSPACE, from page 33 building Dreamliners in the Lowcountry. Last fall, USC’s College of Engineering and Computing began offering the state’s first master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and engineering management, as well as a doctorate in aerospace and an undergraduate minor in aerospace engineering. Twenty-five students signed up for the minor and 10 signed up for the master’s degrees. One student — Ahsan Mehedi — signed up for the aerospace doctorate program. Mehedi is also getting a duel master’s in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering from USC. The new programs and scholarships lured Mehedi to South Carolina from his research and development job at a battery manufacturer in Bangladesh. He is studying composites and looks to Boeing for his future. “Technology is changing so fast. Ten years ago what we didn’t think was possible, now is possible. Even more, we can’t think about what will be possible in 10 years,” Mehedi said. “I think the fresh ideas and fresh blood should come up in the industry right now because that energy will bring about new concepts and technologies.” USC McNair Center Executive Director Marty Keaney said aligning STEM initiatives and career awareness with K-12 education is imperative if students are going to be interested in aerospace careers by the time they arrive at college. “There’s a large manufacturing presence here and there’s a need for high quality robust programs to be able to support these companies and others that are coming,” Keaney said. “The need for aerospace engineers is growing and will continue to grow as Boeing and other companies expand.”

www.scbizmag.com

Workforce development

34

Every high school in South Carolina should offer aircraft maintenance or assembly classes and every college and university in the state should offer aerospace undergraduate degrees, according to James Stephens, interim director for the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. “We want to show companies coming into or considering the state that South Carolina is serious about educating our stu-


nautics Commission’s SOaR summer camp in Aiken offers a similar program for high school students. “We try to get kids excited about this career path and where they can go with this,” Donelan said. “Aerospace is huge in South Carolina. But we want kids to understand that science is fun and interesting and can get you a really good paying job. Kids need exposure to that. Many kids leave here saying it’s what they want to do when they grow up.”

The S.C. Aeronautics Commission’s SOaR summer camp in Aiken is a chance for high school students to learn about aerospace and aviation careers. (Photo provided)

Aerospace and automotive in S.C. www.scbizmag.com

dents for growing industry,” Stephens said. “This industry requires incredibly skilled workers. If something breaks on a plane, it’s not like a car where you can pull off the road and fix it.” Colleges and universities should offer training certificates and enable students to “stack them” to continue developing skills, said Debra Cameron, aerospace initiatives director at New Carolina. Cameron said these institutions should consistently add new certificates based on industry needs, such as offering a composites certificate. “For our workforce development efforts, we should view it from a holistic viewpoint for advanced manufacturing for our state,” Cameron said. “Reshoring is happening from China and it’s not the low-skilled jobs coming back. It’s the advanced manufacturing that requires a more technical workforce.” Trident Technical College hopes to build an Aeronautical Training Center on the college’s North Charleston campus to supply workers for growing aerospace firms in the state. The $79 million project has secured around $38 million from local and state governments and the college’s foundation. The college offers programs for aircraft maintenance technology, avionics maintenance technology and aircraft assembly tech, similar to Greenville Tech’s offerings, but these are scattered among several campuses and all have extensive waiting lists. The new center would enable a consolidation into one building and an expansion of offerings. “This is only the tip of the iceberg for the aerospace growth in our state,” Thornley said. “We have to think . . . the same way people who build planes envision a new aircraft. We need to think toward the future in terms of workforce and pipeline if we hope to provide a workforce for this sector.” Students who visit The Challenger Learning Center in Columbia spend their days playing with robots, sitting on flight simulators, learning about planes and going on space missions, said Carolyn Donelan, the center’s lead flight director. As a part of Richland County School District 1, the center offers day trips or weeklong summer camps for student groups from around the state. Through hands-on activities, they learn about aerospace and aviation careers. The South Carolina Aero-

35


Best Places to work

B

est Places to Work in South Carolina is a multiyear initiative to encourage the state’s companies to focus, measure and move their workplaces toward excellence in the hope that they will attract and keep talented employees. Recognizing the Best Places to Work in South Carolina is an initiative between SC Biz News – publisher of the Charleston Regional Business Journal, the Columbia Regional Business Report, GSA Business and SCBIZ magazine – and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. The companies who choose to participate are surveyed by Best Companies Group, an independent research company. The research is a two-part process. In part one, the employer completes a questionnaire about employee policies and procedures, among other information. In part two, employees answer an employee survey. The collected information from both sets of questions is used to determine the strengths and opportunities of each participating company. The workplaces are then ranked based on this data. All participating companies receive an individual Assessment Findings Report that not only summarizes and sorts employee feedback, but includes South Carolina benchmarking data for comparison. Each participating company pays a fee that covers the cost of research, the survey and report. The cost an individual company would have to pay if the analysis were done independently would be considerably more. Economies of scale apply when Best Places Group conducts a survey with a large number of companies from the same state. We are convinced that the real value of participating in the program is not whether a company wins an award but in the employee survey feedback it receives. The report will enable a company to develop and implement the strategic steps necessary to create a great workplace and continue to improve the performance of its business. On the following pages, we present the Best Places to Work in South Carolina for 2014.

www.scbizmag.com

Sponsored by

37


Best Places to work

What makes

employees By Jenny Peterson, Staff Writer

www.scbizmag.com

A

38

ll 50 winning companies on this year’s Best Places to Work list have one thing in common—they invest in their employees’ happiness and well-being and find ways to reduce employee stress. It could range from daily stress-busters like ping pong tables, arcades and a companywide Xbox 360 tournament, to more profound perks like not having to worry about taking time off for a personal or family matter. No matter what industry — technology, energy, banking, insurance — when asked what makes their employees want to work for their company, leaders didn’t list the amount of bonuses employees were eligible to receive. They listed the meaningful perks that bring employees together and make them want to show up every day. As a result, 90 percent of employees at the small-to-medium companies on this year’s list plan to continue working for their company for the next two years. Ninety-two percent of employees at large companies say they plan to stay with the company for the next two years.

A Continental Tire the Americas employee enjoys playing a game of ping pong in the company’s main cafe. (Photo/Continental Tire the Americas)

Some companies offer unique benefits — an electric car charging station at Shealy Electrical Wholesalers, for example; an employee-run vegetable garden at Charleston Water System in Hanahan, even the use of the CEO’s private beach house for employees at First Reliance Bank in Florence, for going above and beyond in the workplace.

Below are some common themes among perks that all stood out among the winners.

Fun at the office Technology companies have long made cool spaces and office fun the standard. Blackbaud Inc., one of the largest technology companies in Charleston, offers


Personal investment

Top: Camp Blackbaud brings fifth-graders in for a product development camp, where they worked on a scavenger hunt app for their schools. Above: Colonial Life employees build a Habitat for Humanity home for a local family. Right: Infinity Marketing’s Friday Fuel tradition provides free coffee and doughnuts for employees.

order to help employees get back on their feet, many companies offer counseling and other personal services through an Employee Assistance Program, which may provide counseling for marital, parental or financial problems, and/or assistance for specific conditions such as substance abuse, smoking and gambling. At VantagePoint Marketing firm in Greenville, a life coach is available to all employees at no charge. Greenville’s Palmetto Technology Group provides outside financial counseling to employees and Shealy Electrical Wholesalers has a chaplain visit branches weekly for spiritual advisement. Many companies offer opportunities for continuing education and seminars. Telogical Systems in Charleston offers a program called “The Telogical Launchpad Career Accelerator,” which provides all new employees a year-long professional development

program of personal effectiveness training, mentoring and leadership training in order to accelerate their careers. A unique service offered by SPARC is a complimentary cab service for all employees, anytime. The technology company has an arrangement with a local cab service and when employees need a cab, they use their ID badge to have the fare billed to the company. The service ensures that employees don’t have to worry if their car breaks down, if they are not in a position to drive, or otherwise need transportation.  

Family-friendly perks From family nights at sporting events, paid time off for paternity leave, even a future scholar savings plan at BoomTown, employee perks at the winning companies extend well past the worker. This includes half-day Fridays during

www.scbizmag.com

Fostering an environment where employees feel like the boss genuinely cares for their well-being involves investing in employees’ lives and helping them cope with stress. This includes having flexible hours so that employees do not have to use paid time off during family emergencies or crises. In

Best Places to work

arcade games for employees and food trucks on-site during lunch to promote a social lunch environment. Palmetto Technology Group in Greenville holds an Xbox 360 tournament among employees. A Wii gaming system is available for employees at SC Telco Federal Credit Union, a Greenville financial services company. There’s beer at the office along with company happy hours at Charleston technology companies BoomTown and SPARC. Every Friday in the summer, SPARC has activities such as water slides, margarita machines and a doughnut truck. BoomTown allows employees to bring dogs to the office and have an on-site dog park. Highly anticipated events and parties at the office were listed as important employee extras, especially during the holidays. At Orangeburg-based C.F. Evans & Co., employees are given a holiday ham and carving board each year. Nearly half of employers on the list provide employees regular free breakfasts and lunches. Employees at Telogical Systems technology company in Charleston enjoy “breakfast on the boss” every Monday. Employees at Find Great People staffing firm in Greenville get breakfast provided every Friday morning. While it appears employees would never want to leave the office, most of these companies offer generous, flexible time off to recharge. Many companies have telecommuting options, half-day Fridays and even the option of unlimited paid time off at SPARC and Advantage Media Group, a Charleston book publisher. Scott and Company LLC, a Columbia accounting firm, offers employees an average of 25 days off per year not counting holidays. North Charleston technology company SCRA offers all its employees paid time off from Christmas Eve until Jan. 2.

39


Best Places to work

the summer, flexible hours to accommodate school events and doctor visits, company family nights and complimentary sporting event tickets. At NBSC, a Columbia-based banking division of Synovus Bank, employees can take up to 20 hours a year of paid time off for school-related activities for their children. Several companies offer adoption assistance, including reimbursement of agency fees and legal assistance. Six companies offer employer-sponsored eldercare assistance, which helps employees with transportation to medical appointments and meal delivery for aging family members as well as counseling support for caregiver stress.

Health and wellness

www.scbizmag.com

The growing water plant

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At the Charleston Water System treatment plant in Hanahan, the nearly 60 employees have a unique view: a large, raised vegetable garden with nearly a dozen varieties of fresh produce, all ripe for the picking. The 20-by-20-foot garden bed has been a welcome addition to the plant for nearly four years. Employees are encouraged to take home fresh produce from the garden. Whatever is left over is donated to the nearby Summerville homeless shelter. “Most of it ends up (given to) charity,” said Peter Horlbeck, an engineer with Charleston Water System. Practically an on-site famer’s market, the current crop includes corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, eggplant, various peppers, basil, cantaloupe, okra and watermelon. A fall garden will include collards and broccoli. Horlbeck said the vegetable garden was started by a now-retired employee, who had a plot at home and suggested a garden for the large outdoor space, which would promote healthy eating. “The idea got taken around to upper management, and they said, ‘Sure, as long as we donate half of the produce to charity,’” Horlbeck said. Plant Director Dr. Jane Byrne was the driver of the project and got approvals for the garden; Assistant Director Jonathan Walker took care of securing the materials to build the garden plot. Charleston Water System pays for the seeds for the various crops and also provides the irrigation. Employee Joyce Whitehurst has assumed the lead as in-house chief gardener for the seasonal crop production. “Everybody just gets a kick out of it,” Horlbeck said.

These employers invest heavily in programs and incentives to keep employees healthy. Whether offering yoga and on-site massages or free health screenings and workout facilities, health and wellness is a major part of the employee conversation. There is an on-site physician’s assistant for employees at Thomas and Hutton Engineering, with offices in Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach. A health resource center staffed by a certified nurse is available for employees at Colonial Life. A nurse is also on site monthly at Shealy Electrical Wholesalers. Blackbaud offers employees, their spouses and retirees free biometric screenings at its Daniel Island campus. National accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman offers employees personal wellness coaches and incentive gift cards for meeting with them. At Select Health, a Charleston health care services and insurance provider, employees are allowed six free visits a year with a registered dietitian. There are built-in fitness areas, such as on-site gyms, gym membership reimbursements, stand-up and treadmill desks. Many companies offer walking trails around their campuses and host team weight-loss challenges. For relaxation, Cherry Bekaert LLP, a Greenville accounting firm, brings in masseuses to offer employees massages at work. Colonial Life has affordable sports massage therapists available twice a week on site.


Best Places to work

BoomTown loves its dogs and lets their owners bring them along to work. Here, Charlotte provides moral support in the marketing department. (Photo/BoomTown)

Giving back through employees

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Many employers realize the benefit of giving back to the community and empower their employees to determine which causes to support. This includes a “volunteer for vacation” initiative, in which employees can earn paid time off by volunteering in the community, or through the company’s partner charities. Many companies sponsor events where employees participate in team walks for March of Dimes, American Heart Association or the national charity event Day of Caring. At Jackson Lewis legal firm in Greenville, employees every month are encouraged to propose a charity based on something that is personally significant. Money is raised through activities such as casual dress days, bake sales and raffles for that cause. At MWV Specialty Chemicals and Palmetto Technology Group, there are volunteer opportunities encouraged during work hours, including Meals on Wheels. Recycling is a major initiative at many of these companies, with recycling bins, paperless records, even solar panels installed in the workplace. A unique feature at Shealy Electrical Wholesalers in Columbia is an electrical vehicle charging station where associates and customers can charge their vehicles free. The company also has installed solar panels on its warehouse, and its new buildings are designed to harvest daylight and be energy efficient.

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Best Places to work

Best Places to Work 2014

large companies

The companies are listed by ranking. Large companies have 250 or more employees; the numbers given below are for their employees in South Carolina.

1. Edward Jones

City: Florence Employees in S.C.: 521 Services: Financial services www.edwardjones.com Edward Jones is the nation’s largest financial services firm in terms of branch offices, with 11,000 U.S. locations. Every aspect of their business, from investment types to branch locations, is designed to cater to their more than 7 million individual investors in communities where they live and work. Financial advisers work with clients to understand personal goals – from college savings to retirement – and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones embraces the importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options available today. Their business model is one financial adviser and one branch office administrator in each Edward Jones branch. Financial advisers are paid to study for licenses, then they go on salary plus earn commissions and bonuses and get subsidized benefits in their early years. They eventually transition to commission earnings supplemented by profitability bonuses and profit sharing, even the possibility of limited partnership. Edward Jones, a partnership owned by about 13,800 associates, is headquartered in St. Louis and operates in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. All income after expenses is paid out to associates through bonuses, profit sharing and partnership earnings.

2. Elliott Davis

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City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 306 Services: Accounting www.elliottdavis.com Elliott Davis is one of the largest accounting, tax and consulting services firms in the Southeast and ranks among the top 50 CPA firms in the U.S. With offices in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, the firm provides a wide range of accounting, tax, assurance and consulting solutions, concentrating on core industries, niche areas and emerging business sectors. Growing since 1925, Elliott Davis is a member of The Leading Edge Alliance, an international professional association of independently owned accounting firms.

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3. Shealy Electrical Wholesalers Inc. City: West Columbia Employees in S.C.: 182 Services: Distribution www.shealyelectrical.com Shealy Electrical Wholesalers has provided professional distribution for the electrical

industry for over 65 years. The company prides itself on partnering with the best suppliers in order to deliver the highest quality products and solutions to its customers. This philosophy has helped Shealy grow into an industry leader describing a wide range of electrical components and solutions throughout the Southeast. Shealy provides products and services for industrial/OEM, contractor, automation, residential and utility markets throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

4. Total Quality Logistics City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 53 Services: Transportation, third-party logistics www.tql.com TQL is one of the fastest growing providers of transportation logistics services in North America, connecting shippers who have products that need to be moved with truckload carriers who have the capacity to move it. The company’s more than 2,400 employees identify the right trucks for particular freight loads, negotiate rates and work to satisfy their cus-

tomers’ delivery requirements. TQL was the first freight brokerage company in the nation to introduce mobile freight-finding applications to the trucking industry. The company’s investment in industry-leading technology and its insistence on honest, straightforward communications has made it one of the largest freight brokerage firms in the nation and a nationally recognized Best Place to Work.

5. MWV Specialty Chemicals City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 429 Services: Manufacturing www.meadwestvaco.com MWV Specialty Chemicals manufactures, markets and distributes specialty chemicals derived from sawdust and other by-products of the papermaking process in North America, Europe, South America and Asia. The company is a world leader in wood-based carbon products; a leading U.S. supplier of paper size, lithographic and gravure printing ink resins; a leading U.S. supplier of rosinbased adhesive tackifiers; the world’s largest supplier of asphalt emulsifiers; pioneers in


Best Places to work

the pine chemicals business and the world’s leading supplier of activated carbon for automotive emissions control. Some of MWV’s products include: Evotherm,® an asphalt additive that makes paving at the coolest temperatures possible; WestRez,® used to make traffic strips, keeping drivers on the right side of the road; Tall Oil Fatty Acid, used to create the Murphy® Oil Soap that cleans wood products in the home and Tallax,® used to produce Duraflame® logs that burn cleaner and longer than traditional wood fires.

6. Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 177 Services: Accounting www.dhgllp.com As the largest CPA firm based in the southern U.S., Dixon Hughes Goodman combines deep industry experience, comprehensive accounting and advisory services and a strong commitment to personal service. The firm draws on immense resources to combine the staples of audit, tax, and accounting with innovative consulting and management advisory services. Its real value, however, lies in the ability to offer those resources in a way customized to work best for its clients.

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7. Colonial Life

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City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 856 Services: Insurance (non-health care); employee benefits www.coloniallife.com Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co. helps America’s workers protect and preserve the vitally important things they’ve worked so hard to build. Colonial Life is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, cancer, critical illness and supplemental health insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million working Americans and their families. The company helps its customers design benefit programs to address their business needs. In one-to-one counseling sessions with employees, Colonial Life offers simple, straightforward advice about the benefits they have and those they may need to fit individual lifestyles and budgets. Colonial Life’s more than 8,000 independent agents work in one of the fastest-growing segments of the insurance industry.

8. Benefitfocus City: Charleston Employees in SC: 817 Services: Technology www.benefitfocus.com Benefitfocus Inc. (NASDAQ: BNFT) is a leading provider of cloud-based benefits software solutions for consumers, employers, insurance carriers and brokers. Benefitfocus has served more than 20 million consumers on its platform, which consists of an integrated portfolio of products and services enabling clients to more efficiently shop, enroll, manage and exchange benefits information. With a user-friendly interface and consumer-centric design, the Benefitfocus Platform provides one place for consumers to access all their benefits. Benefitfocus solutions support the administration of all types of benefits including core medical, dental and other voluntary benefits plans as well as wellness programs.

9. O’Neal Inc. City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 204 Services: Engineering, construction www.onealinc.com O’Neal is an integrated design and construction company that specializes in complicated projects that have complex processes and intricate design. The company has been successfully delivering capital projects in the automotive, pharmaceutical/biotech, process chemical, manufacturing, energy, and pulp and paper markets worldwide. O’Neal is in the business of project delivery — integrating overall project planning, design and construction to create cost-effective capital solutions.

10. Life Cycle Engineering City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 183 Services: Consulting www.LCE.com Life Cycle Engineering provides consulting, engineering, applied technology and education solutions that deliver lasting results for private industry, the Department of Defense and other government organizations. The quality, expertise and dedication of its employees enable Life Cycle Engineering to serve as a trusted resource that helps people and organizations achieve their full potential. Founded in 1976, LCE is headquartered in Charleston, with offices across North America and experience around the globe.

11. Continental Tire the Americas LLC (CTA) City: Fort Mill Employees in S.C.: 710 Services: Manufacturing www.conti-online.com With sales of around $33.3 billion in 2013, Continental is one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers. As a provider of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently employs around 182,000 people in 49 countries.

12. Ob Hospitalist Group City: Mauldin Employees in S.C.: 84 Services: Health care — provider www.obhg.com Ob Hospitalist Group’s mission is to elevate the quality and availability of obstetric care to expectant mothers by providing in-house board certified OB/GYN physician support to its hospital partners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The group’s service-oriented physicians are superbly skilled at providing emergent care in times of crisis or routine care in the absence of a patient’s private physician. OBHG hospitalists welcome the opportunity to treat unassigned and/or uninsured patients, thereby ensuring all patients presenting at the hospital are granted the very best medical care regardless of time, location, complication or circumstance. The group’s physicians are leaders in developing the hospitalist model’s reputation for excellence in providing quality care, reducing risk and increasing physician availability. OBHG’s passion for preserving life extends to all patients, their newborns and families and compels its physicians to deliver excellence in every patient encounter and humbly serve with diligence and integrity.

13. Select Health of South Carolina City: North Charleston Employees in S.C.: 410 Services: Health care - Insurance/Services www.selecthealthofsc.com Select Health of South Carolina, one of the state’s largest health insurers, manages the delivery of health care to more than 300,000


14. T-Mobile USA City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 979 Services: Telecommunications www.t-mobile.com T-Mobile and MetroPCS became TMUS on the New York Stock Exchange May 1, 2013. Together, they are the nation’s fourth largest wireless provider, serving more than 42 million subscribers with their nationwide 4G network and about 70,000 total points of distribution.

15. McAngus Goudelock &Courie City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 233 Services: Legal www.mgclaw.com McAngus Goudelock & Courie is a metricsdriven law firm built specifically to meet the needs of insurance companies and their customers. From 10 regional offices, the firm

serves clients across the Southeast. MGC includes practitioners with varying levels of experience, ranging from senior litigating partners to associates, as well as paralegals and professional support staff. MGC is “AV” rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory – the highest rating available to law firms. The firm strives to understand each client’s business, industry and goals. It attracts clients from across the business spectrum and earns their loyalty through a strong work ethic and uncompromising client service. MGC is committed to zealous representation and obtaining excellent results in the most cost-effective manner. In addition to offering assistance to immediate problems, the firm strongly emphasizes counseling and continuing education through on-site training seminars, telephone consultations and written updates. “We want clients to understand the issues relevant to their business because we believe that avoiding problems is as important as finding solutions,” the firm stresses. MGC has the experience and resources to provide its clients with the best possible representation and to deliver smart, strategic, forward-thinking legal counsel in all areas of practice. MGC is focused on delivering success to its clients.

16. Blackbaud Inc. City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 1,275 Services: Technology www.blackbaud.com Serving the nonprofit and education sectors for 30 years, Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) combines technology and expertise to help organizations achieve their missions. Blackbaud works with more than 29,000 customers in over 60 countries that support higher education, health care, human services, arts and culture, faith, the environment, independent K-12 education, animal welfare and other charitable causes. The company offers a full spectrum of cloud-based and on-premise software solutions and related services for organizations of all sizes including: fundraising, eMarketing, advocacy, constituent relationship management, financial management, payment services, analytics and vertical-specific solutions. Using Blackbaud technology, these organizations raise more than $100 billion each year. Recognized as a top company by Forbes, InformationWeek and Software Magazine and honored by Best Places to Work, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Best Places to work

members across the state through the First Choice health plan. Members keep their regular Medicaid and receive many expanded benefits and services like health education and nurse support. They also have access to an extensive provider network of physicians, specialists, pharmacies and hospitals.

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Best Places to work

17. Terminix Service Inc. City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 17 Services: Pest control www.trustterminix.com For more than six decades, Terminix Service Inc. has been protecting the health, property and environment of the residents of South Carolina, western North Carolina and the Central Savannah River Area of Georgia by providing quality termite and pest control service. With over 50 locations and nearly 1,000 employees in the Carolinas and Georgia, Terminix is able to provide quality pest control the customer can trust. Through professional training, state of the art equipment and the most advanced treating technology, Terminix specializes in the latest termite baiting systems, guaranteed to eliminate termites from the home in a safe and practical manner. Terminix can also provide precision pest control with residential ProSTAR Pest Control Service. In addition to quality termite and pest control, Terminix specializes in fumigation, repairs, new building pre-treats, fire ant control, mosquito management and crawl space dehumidification and moisture sealing.

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18. Cherry Bekaert LLP

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City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 39 Services: Accounting www.cbh.com Cherry Bekaert LLP has designed its practice with one thing in mind: cultivating client growth. The nationally recognized, growthoriented firm has the resources to take the clients’ businesses as far as they want to go. The firm’s industry specialists already know the marketplace and can help make the most of emerging opportunities while minimizing compliance headaches. With down-to-earth style and wealth of practical advice, the firm is an indispensable part of each client’s team. Ranked among the largest accounting firms in the country, Cherry Bekaert specializes in finding solutions that impact its clients’ ability to grow. For over 65 years, global corporations, publicly traded and private businesses, governmental and nonprofit entities, emerging firms and successful individuals have relied on Cherry Bekaert as their growth partner.


21. Charleston Water System

City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 392 Services: Banking www.bankNBSC.com NBSC, a division of Synovus Bank, currently serves 26 communities in South Carolina from 42 locations. For over 100 years, NBSC has focused on relationship banking and remains dedicated to the communities it serves. Together with affiliates of Synovus Bank, NBSC offers diverse lines of business and personal financial services including business banking, investment services and mortgage lending. At NBSC, customers are not just account numbers or voices on the phone; they are neighbors, friends, and family. Even though NBSC belongs to one of the strongest and most capable regional banking networks in the nation, its employees consider themselves first and foremost members of the community.

City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 432 Services: Water and wastewater utility www.charlestonwater.com Charleston Water System, formally known as the Commissioners of Public Works of the City of Charleston, is an independent utility governed by an elected board of commissioners. Its 429 associates protect public health and the environment of the community by providing high quality, reliable water and sewer services. The Hanahan Water Treatment Plant produces high quality drinking water that’s delivered to customers through 1,750 miles of water mains. The Hanahan Plant meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements and is a member of the Partnership for Safe Water. CWS also provides wastewater service (not stormwater) through 700 miles of collection mains, 187 pump stations and eight miles of deep tunnels that carry wastewater to the treatment plant. The Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant treats an average of 19 million gallons a day and releases clean water into Charleston Harbor. CWS is committed to preventing pollution and improving the environment. The system has implemented an environmental management system and is certified under ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management.

20. SYNNEX Corporation

22. Jackson Lewis P.C. City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 24 Services: Legal www.jacksonlewis.com Founded in 1958, Jackson Lewis is dedicated to representing management exclusively in workplace law. With over 770 attorneys practicing in 55 locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Jackson Lewis is included in the AmLaw 100 and Global 100 rankings of law firms. U.S. News - Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” named Jackson Lewis the 2014 “Law Firm of the Year” in the Litigation-Labor and Employment category. The firm was also named a Tier 1 National “Best Law Firm” in Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management; and Litigation – Labor and Employment and earned a spot on the BTI Power Elite for being recognized by corporate counsel as one of the top law firms in building and maintaining client relationships. The firm’s wide range of specialized areas of practice provides the resources to address every aspect of the

23. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 268 Services: Legal www.ogletreedeakins.com Ogletree Deakins is one of the largest labor and employment law firms representing management in all types of employmentrelated legal matters. The firm has 700 lawyers located in 45 offices across the United States and in Europe. Ogletree Deakins is the “Law Firm of the Year” in both the Employment Law - Management and Labor Law - Management categories in the 2014 edition of the U.S. News “Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms” list. In addition to handling labor and employment law matters, the firm has thriving practices focused on business immigration, employee benefits and workplace safety and health law. Ogletree Deakins represents a diverse range of clients, from small businesses to Fortune 50 companies.

24. Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 133 Services: Legal www.wcsr.com A full-service business law firm, Womble Carlyle serves a wide range of regional, national and international clients in industries that include health care, life sciences, financial services, commercial real estate, intellectual property/patent and telecommunications, as well as educational institutions and governmental bodies and agencies. The firm provides value by combining professional skill, technology and a thorough understanding of its clients’ needs to deliver high quality, cost-effective and responsive services. For more than 130 years, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, lawyers have helped businesses grow and thrive. The firm is perennially ranked among the leading law firms in the country by American Lawyer magazine.

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City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 587 Services: Distribution, leading IT design-todistribution business process services company www.synnex.com/us.html SYNNEX Corporation is a leading distributor of IT products and services, servicing resellers, retailers and original equipment manufacturers such as HP, Lenovo, Intel, Seagate and Microsoft, throughout the world. The company’s primary business process services are wholesale distribution, contract assembly and business process outsourcing, or BPO. The company’s valueadded service model streamlines business processes to help customers across the globe lower their costs and create greater efficiencies. SYNNEX provides a variety of professional and marketing services, including demand generation, education and training, pre-and post-sale technical support, end-user enablement, server assessment, design and integration, recycling and trade-in, contract design and assembly and IT resource planning. SYNNEX also offers financial options to secure credit lines and help close deals, and sponsors a variety of programs, communities and events to enable resellers to build and grow business in specific vertical markets.

employer/employee relationship. Jackson Lewis has one of the most active employment litigation practices in the United States, with a current caseload of over 6,500 litigations and approximately 550 class actions. Jackson Lewis is a founding member of L&E Global Employers’ Counsel Worldwide, an alliance of premier employment law boutique firms and practices in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific Region.

Best Places to work

19. NBSC, a division of Synovus Bank

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Best Places to Work 2014 Best Places to work

small-medium companies The companies are listed by ranking. Small companies have 15 to 249 employees; the numbers given below are for their employees in South Carolina.

1. Hire Dynamics LLC

City: Simpsonville Employees in SC: 18 Services: Staffing www.hiredynamics.com Hire Dynamics is an industry-leading staffing provider for contact/call centers, manufacturing facilities, supply chain, e-commerce operations and corporate offices.

2. Palmetto Technology Group City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 20 Services: Technology www.palmettotg.com Palmetto Technology Group is a Microsoft Tier 3 Cloud Champion, Cloud Accelerate partner and cloud deployment partner providing technology solutions including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Private Cloud and IT Infrastructure to businesses and enterprises nationally. PTG offers outsourced IT support and computer repair for all industries including manufacturing IT support, dental IT support, medical IT support, legal IT Support and nonprofit IT support.

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3. A.T. LOCKE

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City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 18 Services: Accounting atlocke.com A.T. LOCKE is a provider of accounting, analysis and guidance critical for decision making. Through the collective experiences of the A.T. LOCKE team in collaboration with client management, the firm can help companies bridge the gap to the future by providing accurate, timely and relevant financial statements. Specific accounting management services includes bookkeeping, budget preparation, audit coordination,

financial reporting, controller functions and CFO level functions. Along with the various accounting functions, A.T. LOCKE team members provide valuable insight to and interpretation of clients’ financial data.

4. SC Telco Federal Credit Union City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 100 Services: Banking — credit union sctelco.com SC Telco is a not-for-profit full service financial institution owned by its members and dedicated to “improving the financial lives of our members.” The credit union is governed by a volunteer board of directors who are elected by the membership to serve. All income is returned to the membership through lower loan rates, lower fees and higher dividends. Services provided to members include: savings accounts, checking accounts, auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards plus financial counseling to members who have met hardships.

5. VC3 City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 61 Services: Technology www.VC3.com VC3 has been on the leading edge of information technology since 1994, providing a

full range of IT services to the private and public sectors in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Headquartered in Columbia, VC3 was named one of South Carolina’s Fastest-Growing Companies in 2007 and again in 2008 and earned the distinction of being named one of the 2013 Best Places to Work in South Carolina. VC3 is also an enterprise member of IT-oLogy and is actively supporting their vision, mission and objectives. The company’s professionals implement IT projects and services that provide above-average returns on investment, significantly enhance productivity, and lower technology ownership costs.

6. VantagePoint Marketing City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 19 Services: Advertising/public relations/marketing www.vantagep.com VantagePoint is a nationally recognized leading business-to-business marketing firm serving a select group of regional, national and global clients. The company is known for its insights and ideas that bring measurable impact to its clients’ businesses. VantagePoint has significant depth of expertise in each of the following five disciplines: marketing, including customer and market insight and marketing strategy and programs; advertising, including creative devel-


Best Places to work

opment and production, media planning and buying, search engine marketing, direct mail and sales collateral; branding, including brand positioning and architecture, corporate identity and style guide development; digital, including website development, digital and social media and various Web 2.0 capabilities such as search engine optimization; and public relations, including media relations, event planning and trade show support, internal communication and issues management. VantagePoint is experienced across a range of industries, including food service, transportation, packaging, technology and health care.

7. Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 246 Services: Banking www.palmettocitizensfcu.org Palmetto Citizens’ goal is to be the best place for its member-owners! Palmetto Citizens provides essential financial products and services to its members, such as checking accounts, mortgage loans, car loans, IRAs, VISA, savings and investment-type services. These core products are essential, but the credit union especially works to improve the financial well-being of its members. Having a member-owned, not-for-profit status as “people-helping-people” gives Palmetto Citizens a unique ability to provide valuable products and services that are in the best interest of members — both saving them money compared to other financial institutions and by offering financial options that are intended to truly benefit them as consumers. Palmetto Citizens strives to be more than a member’s primary financial institution, by focusing on the best ways to help them “achieve their potential” through better financial practices and the wise usage of financial services.

8. SCRA

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City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 157 Services: Technology www.scra.org SCRA is an applied research corporation with over 30 years of experience delivering technology solutions with high returns on investment to federal and corporate clients. To fulfill its mission, SCRA has three sectors. The Technology Ventures sector helps early-stage companies commercialize inno-

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Best Places to work

vations and create jobs. The Applied R&D sector manages national and international R&D programs worth nearly $2 billion in contract value. And the R&D Facilities sector builds and manages research facilities that include wet labs, secure rooms for sensitive work and advanced, high-tech manufacturing shops. Multiple economic impact studies show SCRA’s cumulative output on South Carolina’s economy to be $15.3 billion.

9. SPARC LLC City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 179 Services: Technology www.sparcedge.com SPARC is a software product development company creating engaging, forward-thinking technology while keeping team members, customers, partners, and the community at the core of everything it does. From its headquarters in Charleston, SPARC provides software development services for the government and commercial sectors, and develops commercial software products for the executive leadership, human resources, energy management, big data analytics and mobile markets. In 2013, SPARC was ranked by Inc. 500 as the 14th fastest-growing private company in the U.S.

10. BoomTown City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 115 Services: Technology www.boomtownroi.com BoomTown is a web-based software company that offers a robust online marketing system for real estate professionals. The system includes a customized WordPress real estate website integrated with local MLS data, personalized online advertising campaigns, a dedicated client success manager and a cutting edge leads management system with marketing automation.

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11. Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co.

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City: Mount Pleasant Employees in S.C.: 77 Services: Engineering www.thomasandhutton.com Thomas & Hutton is a privately held professional services company founded in 1946. To provide quality professional services and project support to its public and private clients, the company’s technical competencies include civil, environmental, structural and

marine engineering; land surveying; land planning; landscape architecture; geographic information systems; and construction administration. With regional offices strategically located throughout the Southeast, more than 170 dedicated employees and the latest technical resources, Thomas & Hutton is highly experienced in project planning, survey, design, permitting and construction administration. Thomas & Hutton’s proven experience, knowledge of the industry, personal attention and diverse services ensure a professional approach to today’s project challenges.

12. Turner Agency Insurance City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 19 Services: Insurance (non-health care) www.turneragencyinc.com As a local independent insurance agent, Turner Agency Insurance has a long history of providing the highest-quality insurance services to the Upstate of South Carolina and beyond. Founded in 1962 by Clarence Turner Jr., Turner Agency is committed to developing long-term relationships. The agency offers personalized insurance protection from a choice of companies. The agency’s job is to educate, advocate, and negotiate the insurance needs of its clients. Turner Agency bases its business on the traditions of integrity and industry leadership, and its staff of insurance professionals treats the concerns of clients as their own. The agency’s longevity is credited with putting the needs of its clients first. Simply stated, its mission today is the same as it has ever been: to earn and keep business by providing the best insurance advice, to win the trust of clients by protecting their assets and limiting their risks and to deliver customized solutions at the lowest possible price. As an independent agency with a specialized focus on business insurance, personal insurance, life and health insurance, the Turner Agency remains committed to a simple philosophy of integrity, honesty and value.

13. Scott and Company LLC City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 29 Services: Accounting www.scottandco.com Founded by Randy Scott in 1995, Scott and Company LLC is a progressive full service certified public accounting firm located in both Columbia and Greenville. The firm has


Best Places to work

highly experienced and well-credentialed professionals who draw upon a range of industry knowledge and accounting, auditing, tax and consulting engagements to provide unparalleled service. Scott and Company professionals are guided by core values including competence, honesty and integrity, professionalism, dedication and accountability. Services include assurance and advisory services, corporate advisory services, tax and advisory services, small business services, real estate cost segregation services and services provided through its alliance with international firm BDO Seidman. The firm’s mission is to provide the same level of quality service as a national firm, but at much better value.

14. First Reliance Bank

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City: Florence Employees in S.C.: 107 Services: Banking www.firstreliance.com First Reliance Bank, founded in 1999, has assets of approximately $355 million, and employs over 100 highly talented associates. The bank serves the Columbia, Lexington, Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Florence markets in South Carolina. First Reliance Bank offers several unique customer pro-

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grams which include a Hometown Heroes package of benefits to serve those who are serving their communities; Check ‘N Save, a community outreach program for the unbanked or under-banked; a Moms First program and an iMatter program targeted to young people. The bank also offers a Customer Service Guaranty, a Mortgage Service Guaranty and free coin machines. It has 8-8 extended hours in all of its Florence, Charleston, West Columbia and Lexington locations and is open on most traditional bank holidays. The bank’s commitment to making customers’ lives better, and the idea that “There’s More to Banking Than Money,” has earned the bank a customer satisfaction rating of 95% (2013 results from an outside survey firm).

the staffing team helps companies find the right candidate for their organization. FGP Technology can staff IT departments from the CIO level to deskside support/help desk roles on both a project and permanent basis. For high-level positions, FGP’s executive search consultants bring years of expertise in specialized industries like manufacturing, accounting, health care and nonprofit to help find the best people. But building a great company doesn’t stop once companies find great team members – they have to develop, retain, and sometimes even transition people. FGP’s HR Consulting division provides a wide variety of HR services, including employee opinion surveys, outplacement and complete outsourced HR services.

15. Find Great People

City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 28 Services: Manufacturing www.rhythmlink.com Rhythmlink International designs, manufactures and distributes a variety of medical devices for intraoperative neuromonitoring, electroencephalography, evoked potentials, polysomnography, long-term monitoring epilepsy and critical care units. Founded by neurodiagnostic technicians and engineers

City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 54 Services: Staffing www.fgp.com Find Great People is one company with many solutions. If a company needs employees on a temporary or temp-to-hire basis, the company’s professional staffing team is here to help. With a focus on office support, HR, legal, marketing and accounting and finance,

16. Rhythmlink International, LLC


17. Advantage Media Group City: Charleston Employees in S.C.: 19 Services: Publishing/printing www.advantagefamily.com Advantage Media Group is an international publisher of business, self-improvement and professional development books and online learning. Advantage has one mission: to help its clients and their constituencies Learn & Grow™. A pioneer of author-centric publishing, Advantage provides authors a full range of services and expertise including book writing, book publishing, electronic and digital platforms, distribution, marketing and sales to over 25,000 bookstores and retailers around the globe. Advantage created Talk Your Book®, a collaborative process, custom-tailored for busy professionals who want to expand their businesses with a book. The company offers marketing services to equip authors with the necessary book marketing strategies to grow their business. Advantage is also a leader in online learning: crafting curriculum, courses and online universities for authors and experts, professional associations and corporations.

human resource consulting and outplacement services. Founded in 1999, Human Technologies Inc. is one of the Southeast’s most innovative and versatile human resource firms. Leveraging the development and delivery of custom-designed programs built on accountability and quality, their core competency is the design and administration of exceptional workforce management services.

20. Rosenfeld Einstein, A Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 57 Services: Insurance (non-health care) rosenfeldeinstein.com Rosenfeld Einstein is a full-service, independent insurance agency and consulting firm in its third-generation of family leadership. The firm’s philosophy is to design highly personalized programs for clients in which it first provides assistance as a trusted adviser and advocate for their needs. The firm’s broad areas of specialties include employee benefits, business and personal coverages, financial planning, workplace safety consulting and wellness programs.

21. Telogical Systems City: North Charleston Employees in S.C.: 63 Services: Technology www.telogicalsystems.com Telogical Systems is a technology company that creates competition-aware marketing solutions for the nation’s largest communications companies. To do this, the company maintains a database of all the offers that are in the market, wraps a lot of technology around it and then infuses its clients’ marketing campaigns with real-time, automated competitive context to help them acquire and retain more customers.

Best Places to work

in 2002, Rhythmlink strives for continuous innovation and superior quality in all of its products. Rhythmlink also offers custom packaging, custom products, private labeling and contract manufacturing services.

22. Electric Guard Dog LLC City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 39 Services: Security services www.electricguarddog.com Electric Guard Dog, the No. 1 theft deterrent service in the U.S., is the market leader in electric security fences and perimeter security in the country. A security partner for 3,000+ commercial and industrial locations across the U.S., they protect businesses from cargo theft and copper theft and provide a safer work environment for employees, while reducing total security costs.

18. C.F. Evans & Company Inc. City: Orangeburg Employees in S.C.: 62 Services: Construction www.cfevans.com C.F. Evans & Company Inc. is a general contractor firm specializing in multifamily construction. The company provides a full range of services including concept analysis, preconstruction and construction management. With each project, C.F. Evans exemplifies its core values of respect, dedication, integrity, partner relationships, teamwork and accountability while providing world class customer service.

19. Human Technologies Inc. www.scbizmag.com

City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 93 Services: Staffing www.htijobs.com Human Technologies Inc. is a multi-faceted human resource advisory firm providing professional recruiting, industrial staffing,

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Best Places to work

23. Infinity Marketing City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 57 Services: Advertising/public relations/marketing www.infinitymkt.com Founded in 1993 and located in Greenville, Infinity Marketing is a full-service marketing agency offering media planning and buying, production and creative customization solutions and interactive applications. Infinity primarily supports consumer-driven clients concentrated in either local business or multi-market operations throughout the country. Infinity was recently named one of the state’s best performing and fastest growing companies for the second year in a row.

24. Spirit Communications City: Columbia Employees in S.C.: 153 Services: Telecommunications www.spiritcom.com Spirit Communications is a leading provider of voice, data and Internet services to enterprise and government customers. Located principally in South Carolina, Spirit owns and operates its own fiber network throughout North and South Carolina as well as surrounding markets in Georgia. Spirit offers a broad array of communications services, including innovative hosted and cloud services. Additional innovative products and services include hosted Voice over IP (VoIP), MPLS virtual private networks, Internet and hosted firewall services, and Spirit Mobile Voice. In addition to its expansive reach

across the Southeast, Spirit can offer customers the ability to connect anywhere across the globe. Spirit Communications also serves the major telecommunications carriers to provide some of the most advanced communications services in the nation. With over 5,000 miles of fiber, Spirit can serve the needs of the most prominent wireless and wireline carriers. These services include Fiber to the Tower (FttT) backhaul for wireless carriers with speeds up to 10Gbps, as well as backbone transit for carriers with speeds up to 40Gbps — the fastest in South Carolina. Spirit Communications is headquartered in Columbia and has regional offices in Charleston, Greenville, Charlotte, Asheville and coming soon: Wilmington N.C., Augusta and Savannah, Ga. Spirit is owned by the independent telephone companies and cooperatives across South Carolina.

25. Automation Engineering Co. City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 43 Services: Manufacturing www.teamaec.com AEC designs, manufactures and installs complete industrial automated equipment – each system tailor-made to specific requirements. AEC provides great custom material handling equipment, and its engineers offer exceptional support which is unmatched in the industry. AEC offers a variety of industrial automation products, such as transfer systems, threading tables, conveyor systems, turning rollers, process tables, gravity skids and shaker bars, and a lot more.

26. M33 Integrated Solutions City: Greenville Employees in S.C.: 37 Services: Logistics www.m33integrated.com Unlike many logistics providers, M33 delivers a strategic combination of technology tools, intelligence and consultative expertise to help customers optimize logistics and support business goals. M33 believes the best way to optimize logistics and drive business growth is through scalable technology tools and transportation services. The company’s innovative co-management approach means the client can retain as much or as little control over logistics processes as desired while freeing internal resources to focus on core competencies. As each client’s trusted partner, M33 is committed to helping reduce costs and improve efficiencies to give each organization the ultimate competitive advantage. M33 offers integrated solutions— co-managed logistics, freight settlement, international shipping, parcel management, freight brokerage, capacity management and supply chain intelligence—and an industryleading transportation management system, Blackbeard, to help overcome business challenges, drive growth and gain a true competitive advantage.

Photos from the event held on Aug. 7 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Columbia.

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Photography by Jeff Blake

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Mark Wright, from SC Biz News, was the emcee.

Palmetto Technology Group

Shealy Electrical Wholesalers Inc.


S.C. DELIVERS

Ports, Logistics & Distribution

Chad Bishop of Greenbrier Farms says increased regulation will force more farmers to incorporate technology to track production. (Photo/Bill Poovey)

Software helps farmers keep records for new regulations By Bill Poovey, Staff Writer

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Greenville company has developed a farm management software system that one customer predicts will become a staple for business-minded growers.

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ByTech Technologies is promoting and marketing its

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Agrimax system across the Southeast as an organizing and record-keeping tool, primarily for produce growers. See FARMERS, Page 58


S.C. Delivers Top: ByTech Technologies founder and CEO Jack Stone, standing, and Mitchell Goldsmith, the company’s vice president of operations, demonstrate the Agrimax software management system developed for fruit and vegetable farmers. Right: Chad Bishop, a co-owner of Greenbrier Farm in Pickens County, is among the first users of the software. (Photos/Bill Poovey)

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FARMERS, from page 56

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ByTech Technologies Vice President Mitchell Goldsmith said the Agrimax system is aimed at helping small and midsized farms prosper — in some cases survive — at a time when the government is rolling out new regulations. The 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act includes requirements to be administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for example. There are also changes in the 2014 Agriculture Act. Goldsmith said the 2011 law is the “first overhaul since the early ’90s in terms of food safety and basically set out a list of standards, a floor that every farm is going to have to meet in the next 10 years in order to remain open. For the first time the FDA is going to have ability to actually shut farms down if they don’t meet these standards.” Goldsmith said Agrimax is a cloud-based system that allows farmers to plan their farm, schedule all their crops for a season with harvest dates and planting dates and then keep records. He said that includes production records and records for certifications and regulations. “Everybody wants farm to school. Everybody wants farm to hospital,” Goldsmith

said. But no school district or hospital system will buy from a farm that isn’t certified in good agricultural practices. Also, farms that are organically certified must keep records on production practices and go through an annual audit. And farms that sell to grocery stores for their private label must meet another set of standards requiring detailed records. “And so what we did was give farmers a very simple tool to be able to do that,” Goldsmith said. “Reality is the local food market is hot,” he said. “The Upstate of South Carolina is just getting started. If you go to western North Carolina, if you go to parts of Virginia, it is exploding.” Agrimax was first offered in February, and about 15 systems have been sold. With new regulations upcoming, Agrimax user Chad Bishop, as co-owner of the 300-acre Greenbrier Farms organic livestock and produce operation in Pickens County, said farmers have even more reasons to be organizing production and keeping records that show what they are doing.

Bishop said farmers relying exclusively on “doing things straight out of their noggins” and farms operated with old mindsets about record keeping have to change to survive. “We grow 200 different kinds of vegetables in small amounts,” Bishop said. He said Greenbrier is “primarily a directconsumer kind of farm,” and he is using Agrimax to help show him how profitable each vegetable is and to develop records. Bishop is among ByTech Technologies’ clients who have invested $1,500 up front in licensing fees and agreed to $500 annual payments for Agrimax. Andy Rollins, Upstate agent for the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, said the Agrimax system differs from others in the way it “helps coordinate the activities on the farm better.” “When you have six or seven different crops, you have four or five different planting times for each of those. Doing that in your head is a difficult task,” Rollins said. “This software, it is a new endeavor but it offers promise.” Goldsmith said ByTech has a “memorandum of understanding” with Clemson University and Agrimax has been demonstrated at some of those meetings. “We’ve gotten users that way,” he said. “We are actually working right now on a new marketing plan where we work with food distributors. What we’ve discovered is food distributors need the kind of information that we’re creating. They want to know those harvest dates. They want to know those mixes of crops.” ByTech founder and CEO Jack Stone said that with new regulations, consumer focus on food safety and the complexity of farming “to keep track of all of that, technology is probably the best answer.” Stone, whose family-owned apparel manufacturer bought and sold the Umbro sportswear company, said that on average, foods are transported at least 1,500 miles over a three-week period before they are consumed, and nutritional content is reduced by 50%. “Ninety percent of what we eat here in South Carolina is imported, but we grow enough in South Carolina to feed effectively all of South Carolinians,” he said.


By Ashley Boncimino, Staff Writer

Foreign-trade zones

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hird-party logistics provider Sunland Logistics Solutions’ Simpsonville facility has been approved as a foreign-trade-zone site, which allows the company to bypass some or all customs duties and certain excise taxes. Foreign-trade zones were created to encourage U.S. participation in national trade and to incentivize manufacturing in the country, according to the company. About 70,000 units of product per year will be going through the space. The entire property site has been approved as a foreign-trade-zone site, and about 70,000 square feet have already been activated inside the building and inside the parking lot. Though other customers can use the space, the only customer currently using

the zone is Zhejiang Wafeng, a China-based wheel manufacturer that supplies automotive parts to BMW, according to Sunland Logistic Solutions Marketing Manager Liza Twery McAngus. “It can be beneficial to a customer who imports to our FTZ by consolidating and delaying duties payments to customs or avoiding duties and excise taxes altogether

S.C. Delivers

BMW supplier to use Sunland Logistics’ foreign-trade zone in Upstate if the product comes to our FTZ zone and is exported out of the U.S without ever entering the U.S. commerce,” she said in an email. From start to finish, it took Sunland six months to apply, be approved and activate the foreign-trade-zone space, which is located in the 730,000-square-foot facility at 1312 Old Stage Road in Simpsonville. To be certified as a foreign-trade-zone site, Sunland submitted an application through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security, an explanatory request letter, a letter of recommendation from a foreigntrade-zone state director and the completion of an activation stage, according to the company.

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S.C. Delivers

Infrastructure

By Chuck Crumbo, Staff Writer

Boosted by recent announcements, alliance markets potential of I-77 corridor

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ollowing the last of three news conferences in a five-hour period that announced the creation of 7,100 jobs and the investment of up to $800 million, the head of the newly founded S.C. I-77 Alliance vowed to keep the ball rolling. The back-to-back-to-back economic development announcements in Chester and York counties produced what officials think was the largest number of new jobs to be formally announced in S.C. history. “We hope to help build on that tremendous momentum,” said Britt Blackwell, chairman of the alliance. The alliance markets the four S.C. counties — York, Chester, Fairfield and Richland — intersected by Interstate 77. Fairfield and Richland are also is members of the Central SC Alliance, which markets the Midlands. Although the new investments target the northern end of I-77, Blackwell said the alliance aims to promote the benefits for office and commercial projects to locate along the 90-mile stretch of interstate between the North Carolina-South Carolina border and Richland County. The announcements “cement our marketing efforts to connect Columbia and Charlotte along the critical path of what we believe has unreserved potential,” Blackwell said. The corridor is anchored by Charlotte, the region’s banking and finance center and home to the sixth-busiest airport in the country, and Columbia, the Palmetto State capital and home to the University of South Carolina.

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Officials in all counties and municipalities along I-77 are “working together as a team” to promote the corridor, Blackwell said. However, the alliance is so new that it’s still hunting for an executive director. Blackwell, who’s also chairman of York County Council, said the alliance has received about 50 applications for the job. The economic development announcements Blackwell and others celebrated on June 16 included: Giti Tire, the world’s 10th-largest tire manufacturer, plans to build a $560 million manufacturing plant and add about 1,700 jobs in Chester County. The plant at the Carolinas I-77 Megasite will be the Singapore-based company’s first manufacturing venture in North America. The Lash Group, a patient support services company, plans to consolidate the operations at three Charlotte locations into a new 250,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Fort Mill. The initial $57.3 million investment could reach $90 million if the firm adds a second facility on the campus. The company plans to have 1,200 workers on the payroll when the Fort Mill campus opens in March 2016. Overall, the jobs total could climb to 2,400 employees over the next several years, the company said. Independent broker-dealer LPL Financial plans to invest at least $150 million and add 3,000 jobs in a new headquarters in Fort Mill. LPL said its investment, which will run through 2022, aims to accommodate its

growing customer service operations. LPL presently employs more than 1,000 workers at three locations in Charlotte. The LPL and Lash Group announcements involve moving offices and jobs from Charlotte across the state line to Fort Mill. Blackwell points out both announcements also could lead to the creation of thousands more jobs. And those jobs could lead to thousands of people moving into the area, buying and building homes, and sending their children to local schools. “We have the benefits of being in South Carolina and having the best school system in the state here in Fort Mill,” Blackwell said. Being located off the transportation corridor, which links the Upstate to the Port of Charleston via interstates 77 and 26, was important to his company’s decision to locate in Chester County, said Lei Huai Chin, managing director of Giti Tire Group. The location offers an “extensive and efficient infrastructure network including interstate highways, rail, close proximity to airports and a major metropolitan area to support the company’s needs and growth for many years to come,” Chin said. The S.C. Department of Commerce has encouraged the formation of regional alliances to promote common assets and pool resources, both public and private funding, to recruit new companies and help existing firms expand and create jobs. The I-77 alliance is a public-private, nonprofit economic development corporation.

The new I-77 Alliance serves the area bound by Charlotte, shown here, on the north and Columbia on the southern end.


S.C. Delivers

Industrial market

By Liz Segrist, Staff Writer

Tightening in Charleston’s industrial market spurs spec construction

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peculative building is making a slow comeback in the Charleston market. Economic developers and industrial brokers have been promoting a need for speculative buildings since the recession put the brakes on construction and development. Manufacturers and logistics companies looking to move to or expand within South Carolina want to do so quickly. They seek modern, expandable facilities where they can begin operations immediately without having to wait for a build-out or permitting. Post-recession construction rates and lack of financing have stymied speculative construction, according to several industrial brokers. But now the Charleston region’s decade-low industrial vacancy rates are enticing private developers to finance speculative buildings, though local brokers say more are needed. A new, 182,000-square-foot speculative building is fully leased in Crosspoint, a 305-acre industrial park within Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston. A joint venture between Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties and Charlottebased Childress Kline Properties owns Crosspoint, which sits about nine miles from Boeing South Carolina’s campus. Boeing’s Research and Technology organization will occupy about 100,000 square feet and JAS Forwarding will occupy about 80,000 square feet of the spec building, according to Mike White, Charleston Industrial’s broker in charge of Crosspoint. Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger would not confirm the Boeing site. “That first facility was significant,” White said. “When that was built and came online last January, it was the first speculative building in the Charleston market in five years.” Another speculative building in Crosspoint — this one about 270,000 square

Construction began on a speculative building in Crosspoint in 2012 and the building was completed in the first quarter of 2013. It is now fully leased to Boeing, for its research and development team, and to JAS Forwarding. (Photo/Aerial Photos Elite)

feet — is under construction with a projected December completion. And 75 acres are cleared for a build-to-suit of up to 1.3 million square feet, White said. Plans call for up to 10 spec or build-to-suit facilities in the park. Additionally, Stone Mountain, Ga.based Pattillo Construction is building a 140,000-square-foot spec building in Palmetto Commerce Park, according to Mike Ferrer, Lincoln Harris’ vice president of office and industrial brokerage. The industrial market has tightened in recent years as locally based companies, particularly advanced and automotive manufacturers, have expanded. Northeast and West Coast companies also are consolidating operations in Charleston. Growth from the Port of Charleston, Boeing South Carolina, warehouse and distribution companies, and manufacturers demands require more industrial inventory in the market, according to local brokers. The influx of companies and diversification of industry have created a huge demand for new industrial facilities that are at least 200,000 square feet. “The demand has been here for six to

12 months already. It becomes frustrating to have a lack of product,” Colliers International Charleston principal Simons Johnson said. “The time is now for new, modern Class A buildings that can be designed both for manufacturing and distribution.” Johnson expects to see construction begin on at least two more spec buildings within the next year, potentially in North Pointe Industrial Park in Hanahan, Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston and Jedburg Industrial Park, north of Summerville. Companies scrambled for space prerecession, often moving into spaces that did not fully meet their needs. Now companies will wait for a facility that meets their needs or expand to another location with a movein ready facility, according to brokers. White thinks 2015 will be the turning point for the local industrial market as Boeing increases 787 Dreamliner production rates and expands its footprint. This could drive demand in several sectors. He expects to see more suppliers move into the area and local suppliers expand, which will further constrain the market and open the door for new construction.


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The new BlueCross BlueShield Planetarium at the South Carolina State Museum lights up the night on Columbia’s Gervais Street. The planetarium has its own lobby. In the foreground is a tree grown by topiary artist Pearl Fryar of Bishopville especially for the museum. (Photo/Jeff Blake)

2014 SC Biz - Fall Issue  

SCBIZ is the quarterly magazine serving senior level decision-makers across the entire state of South Carolina. In addition to the print pub...