Charleston Regional Business Journal - September 20, 2021

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS Greg Tedder joins Hussey Gay Bell.




Traffic jams

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After nearly 18 months of lost revenue and stalled shows, Charleston’s theaters are ready to return to the stage with health and safety protocols in place. Page 6

South Carolina invests $360 million to widen congested sections of I-26. Page 8

Leadership changes Robert Engelhorn replaces Knudt Flor as BMW CEO and president in South Carolina. Page 10

Tech savvy

Small businesses embrace digital tools to help them survive the pandemic. Page 13

In the kitchen

Culinary expert Jenni Ridall helps revive local kitchens. Small Business Spotlight, Page 4


Upfront................................. 2 SC Biz News Briefs................. 3 Small Business Spotlight........ 4 In Focus: Information Technology.......11 List: IT Services and Networking Companies....... 14 At Work...............................29 Viewpoint............................ 31

Musicians Christian Zamora, Justin Parrish, John Holenko and Thomas Norris warm up at rehearsals for Charleston Stage’s production of “Bright Star.” (Photo/Teri Errico Griffis)

Soft skills a key indicator for employee retention By Teri Errico Griffis


illon Lesniewski majored in history at Clemson University. He never expected his education to transfer to a successful career at a tech company, but after nearly five years of promotions, he is now a product owner at BoomTown, a software company in Charleston. Lesniewski said people often judged his course of study, assuming he’d work at a museum or something artistic and unstable. But history is an underrated major, he said. During his four undergraduate years, he researched, wrote, debated and questioned in ways that translated well into the professional world.

So what if he didn’t know the technology? Lesniewski knew he had the skillset to learn it, and that is what set him above the rest of the candidate pool — even those with relevant occupational skills. “People try to make a big deal that I didn’t study software, that I can’t code a website or build an API, but I don’t need to know everything,” Lesniewski said. “I just need to know what brings me to the table and recognize my own strengths, like interpersonal skills, patience and empathy. Those are what earned my seat there.” More and more, workforce experts are finding that soft skills have become critical indicators of individuals who can not only attain employment, but retain it.

Power List: Banking pros

The first Power List explores some of the most influential people in S.C. banking. Special Section begins Page 17

Technology companies like BoomTown and Blackbaud on Daniel Island know occupational skills can be taught, but flexibility, problem solving and whether an employee brings kindness and passion to their daily role cannot, said Stephanie Walker, Blackbaud’s vice president of talent acquisition “Organizations have grown to recognize that soft skills and higher emotional intelligence lead to greater success,” Walker said. “It’s not just about completing the task.” Blackbaud Senior Director, Leadership and Culture Monica Mutter said the focus starts in the interview and whether the candidate can tell a story. See SKILLS, Page 5



Sellers market continues across the Southeast


outh Carolina’s housing market is on fire, and that means if you’re selling real estate, you’re getting at or above asking price in record time on most locations. The pandemic has had a number of economic ripple effects that economist likely will spend the better part of this century trying to figure out, but numbers don’t lie. Real estate professionals and their buyers understand the allure of places like South Carolina during a health care crisis like coronavirus: You have relatively cheap land, low taxes and a low population density. Then add some of the garden-spot amenities, such as Charleston’s reputation, Columbia’s access to state government and higher education, and the Upstate’s location as a gateway to the mountains, and you have a recipe for high demand. However, if you’re already here, that means equity. CoreLogic, a California-based property and financial data analytics company, analyzed the first quarter equity data for all 50 states to compare how each state is ebbing and flowing with the national housing market.

Equity in the South While the national housing market has lured people away from many states as they realized they could work remotely, the South has become a hot market for those looking to get away.


Yearly change in equity



North Carolina








South Carolina









The value of homeowner equity rose 19.6% between Q1 2020 and Q1 this year, increasing nearly $1.9 trillion in 12 months.


Average home equity gained by the average U.S. homeowner over the past year.


California gained the most during that time.


North Dakota had the lowest equity nationally.

Source: CoreLogic Homeowner Equity Insights



“Certainly having occupational skills and experiences is important, but having soft skills indicates that an individual can grow with a company and truly adapt effectively to changing economies.” — Michelle Paczynski, assistant executive director for S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce





September 20 - October 3, 2021 3

SC Biz News Briefs UPSTATE

GSA Business Report

Hilton hotel opens in downtown Greer A four-story Hampton Inn by Hilton has opened off Greer’s 112 N. Main St. near The Spinning Jenny, a folk music landmark, and Trade Street. The hotel, owned by Sycamore Greer LLC and managed by the Sycamore Investment Group, features 108 guest rooms, a board room for 14 people, a heated saline pool, a fitness center and a lounge with fire pit, according to a news release. The hotel has a conference room available for lease to local businesses. The 108-room Hampton Inn will serve as an epicenter for “I am so excited to be part of this historical downtown Greer revitaliza- additional downtown redevelopment as efforts continue tion,” Shana Tharan, general manager of down Main and Trade Streets. (Rendering/Provided) the hotel, said in the release, “Everyone in the community has been so supportive and excited about the hotel. It is refreshing to open a hotel in such a collaborative environment.” Last summer when GSA Business Report spoke with Reno Deaton, president and CEO of the Greer Redevelopment Corp., after the conclusion of the first phase of Trade Street’s restoration, he noted that several projects — the Hampton Inn, city parking garage and the $32 million 275-family planned community dubbed Project Homecoming — would help make the city’s downtown a destination. “Again, we’re really fortunate that the tools they (the city) have given us in terms of a new downtown, in terms of support for the hotel, for the new parking structure that is under construction, gives us the ability to tell a great story to the next set of investors who are looking for an opportunity to start their project in a way that really embraces the character of this downtown,” Deaton said last year.


Columbia Regional Business Report

Premium Peanut is investing $64.3 million to establish operations in Orangeburg County in a move expected to create 130 jobs. The grower-owned peanut shelling company, founded in 2014 and headquartered in Georgia, has a plant shelling capacity of 300,000 tons, or 10% of the U.S. peanut crop, according to a news release from Central SC Alliance. The company, which serves major snack, candy and peanut butter manufacturers in more than 30 countries, added an oil mil in 2018. “Premium Peanut is proud of the value we have been able to create for over 400 grower-owners, in addition to providing quality products to customers around the world,” CEO Karl Zimmer said in the release. “We are thrilled to expand our operations and establish our footprint in South Carolina.” The new facility will increase capacity, with portions of the facility expected to be operational by spring 2022. Growers interested in learning about the company’s cooperative model can contact the company’s buying point representatives, while those interested in employment opportunities can visit the company’s careers webpage. VOLUME 14 NUMBER 12 ■ COLUMBIABUSINESSREPORT.COM

Back in full swing

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HOSPITALITY SOS Recovering industry still in need of workers

S.C. State Fair returning with emphasis on satefy. Page 2

West Columbia company requiring vaccinations. Page 6

Place of refuge

University of South Carolina named Anne Frank partner. Page 7

City of Women

Columbia project adds nine honorees to ranks. Page 9


Upfront ................................ 2 SC Biz News Briefs ................ 3 In Focus: Human Resources ............. 12 List: Executive Recruiting Firms ................................. 14 Bonus List: Industrial Staffing Agencies ........................... 15 At Work .............................. 17 Viewpoint .......................... 20

By Christina Lee Knauss


Contributing Writer

he popular Midlands restaurant chain Lizard’s Thicket closed its Beltline Boulevard location in recent weeks. There’s nothing wrong with the building and the chain isn’t giving up on the location — it’s a temporary shutdown because there isn’t enough staff to keep it open. The locally owned chain joins many restaurants around the state in facing a labor shortage, happening despite recent statistics that show the unemployment rate in South Carolina falling overall and the hiring rate in many industries, including leisure and hospitality, increasing.

Ending a statewide labor shortage was a goal of S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s directive to end federal pandemic unemployment benefits starting June 26. South Carolina was one of 26 states to withdraw federal benefits before they ended nationwide on Sept. 6. While some industries, hospitality in particular, have seen employment numbers increase, they are still not attracting enough workers to operate at normal, pre-pandemic levels. “The hospitality sector was experiencing staffing challenges before the pandemic began, and COVID-19 exacerbated the problem,” said Duane Parrish, director of See HOSPITALITY, Page 13

By Melinda Waldrop

rank Knapp sees one straightforward solution to the labor shortage facing many industries as the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic: Make more workers available. Three pieces of legislation currently before the U.S. Senate can help accomplish that goal, said Knapp, president and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce. The bills, including the bipartisan Durbin-Graham Act of 2021 co-sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, would provide a path to legal status for three key groups of potential laborers: immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers; recipients of Temporary Protective Status; and farmworkers. “If we’re going to do anything about immigration reform, let’s take care of the people who are here working, contributing, paying their taxes,” Knapp said. “This is the time to do it. We have an economic need for them to contribute more.” In February, Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, introduced for the third time the Dream Act, which would allow immigrant students without lawful status brought to the U.S. as children to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. Dreamers, granted work permits and freedom from deportation under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, would have to meet educational and work requirements and have not committed a felony, among other stipulations. Immigration reform efforts could also be addressed more sweepingly in a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that has passed the Senate and moved forward in the U.S. House of Representatives last month. The resolution, to be voted on again in the House on Sept. 27 before returning to the Senate, would allocate $107

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General operating grants provide boost to seven Midlands nonprofits. Page 11


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Immigration changes could pave path to workforce growth


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Premium Peanut establishing Orangeburg County operations

With publications in Charleston, Columbia and the Upstate, as well as a statewide magazine, SC Biz News covers the pulse of business across South Carolina. Above are excerpts from our other publications.

Donating your car is as easy as


LOWCOUNTRY NEWSROOM Executive Editor - Andy Owens • 843.849.3142 Editor, Custom Publishing Division Steve McDaniel • 843.849.3123

September 20 - October 3, 2021


Staff Writer - Teri Errico Griffis • 843.849.3144


There are two halves to the business: restaurant consulting and editorial content. For restaurants, we help fill in the gaps by providing guidance for streamlining operations, managing tedious tasks like creating health department compliance plans and developing staff training manuals. In the test kitchen, we create unique culinary content for our clients through custom recipe development and food and prop styling. I have spent 15+ years working in food and beverage, and have experienced many sides of the industry, including corporate catering, owneroperated restaurants, food festivals, cookbook production and food and prop styling. I’ve developed what I believe to be a unique skillset that can help other culinary professionals reach their own goals, whether that is to write a cookbook, create on-brand culinary content or streamline their existing menu and operations.

Editor - Melinda Waldrop • 803.726.7542


Research Specialist - Paige Wills • 843.849.3125 News Editor - Alexandria Ng • 843.849.3124 Digital Editor - Rob Lyle • 843.849.3119

Each project is a new contract with its own terms, rate, length, goals, etc. Some of these may be ongoing month-to-month arrangements, others last 2-3 months or just a few weeks for recipe development, down to 1-2 day photo shoots.

UPSTATE NEWSROOM Editor - Ross Norton • 864.720.1222


Associate Editor, Custom Publishing Division Jim Tatum • 864.720.2269

My clients are a diverse set of food professionals that range from restaurateurs to cookware brands, farmers to magazine editors. Professionally, I hope to have a positive influence on the local culinary community — someone that can be relied on and trusted for doing good work. I am so lucky to live in a place like Charleston, where there are so many noteworthy culinary businesses and more popping up each day. Anyone looking to take their food business to the next level, I’d love to help them get there.

Staff Writer - Molly Hulsey • 864.720.1223 LOWCOUNTRY ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Account Executive Amanda Alford • 843.849.3109

South Carolina’s Media Engine for Economic Growth

Group Publisher - Rick Jenkins • 864.720.1224 Director of Advertising - Robert Reilly • 843.849.3107



Creative Director - Ryan Wilcox • 843.849.3117 Events Account Executive - Melissa Tomberg • 864.720.1220 Events Manager - Kim McManus • 843.849.3116 Accounting - Robin Tillotson • 336.605.1025 Subscription Services • 877.615.9536 CUSTOM MEDIA DIVISION Director of Business Development Mark Wright • 843.849.3143

Year established:


Number of employees:


One full-time, plus contract photographers, cooking and styling assistants per project.

TK Culinary Consulting & Test Kitchen offers creative and administrative support for food professionals and culinary brands.


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September 20 - October 3, 2021 5

SKILLS, from Page 1

“We ask candidates to describe how they’ve handled different situations in the past and to share more about themselves and their interest,” Mutter said. “We look at how they articulate that. It’s our chance to get to know the candidate beyond the resume.” Regardless of the candidate’s background, Walker listens for whether someone is passionate about helping customers or not, if they’re creative and work well with teammates or if they’re goal-oriented. “These types of soft skills are paramount to ensuring that the candidate is a good match for Blackbaud, and vice versa, that Blackbaud is a good match for the candidate,” she said. Prior to his product owner role, Lesniewski worked in BoomTown’s customer service department and eventually became a team lead, hiring often for the constantly rotating team. He ascribed to the same process of candidate evaluation. “If conversation flowed easily, whether a person was talking about their life or their skills, I knew that would translate to someone who could hold a conversation well with clients,” he said. Of a pair of candidates Lesniewski hired, one came from a strong customer support background, but lacked interpersonal skills, while the other transitioned from food and beverage but was extremely congenial. The team expected the can-

Blackbaud employees volunteer at a food pantry as part of the company’s mission to give back and contribute to local causes and communities. (Photo/Provided)

didate with hard skills to flourish, but instead, she quit within a year. The food and beverage worker has since thrived and has become a respectable member of the company. He is still with BoomTown three years later. Never underestimate the power of a conversation, Lesniewski said. Even when he’s talking to someone in the hallway about their dog or weekend plans, it’s work. He’s building personal connections with coworkers. Those relationships not only make his work life more meaningful, but they create a support system when he needs help. Now he’s no longer a random name in an email, but someone trustworthy. The same goes for conversations with clients.

“The things that I bring to the table, others don’t, and it’s important to recognize what you’re there for, versus what others are there for,” Lesniewski said. “I can put myself in the shoes of a 65-yearold real estate agent way better than our developers can. I know how to make a decision and how clients will react.” After years of pushing occupational training, and with 97,000 vacant positions statewide, South Carolina, too, is shifting its focus more equally toward soft skills. This summer, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce started a certification program to recognize six essential soft skills in the workforce: communication, digital literacy, problem

solving, professionalism, teamwork and time management. Workers can self-lead or attend an instructional training to earn the S.C. Essential Soft Skills Certificate, said Michelle Paczynski, assistant executive director for SCDEW. Unlike other classes that people can attend and check off as completed, with the Essential Soft Skills training, attendees are assessed and must score at a specific level to earn the certificate, which companies throughout the state are starting to recognize. “In a place where many companies still don’t know a year from now where they will be and how they are going to operate, soft skills have become front and center for a candidate to be considered for employment opportunities,” Paczynski said. “To us, soft skills are the behavioral skills that are transferrable to most positions and are indicators of whether a candidate could succeed with a company.” The pandemic has changed the workforce landscape indefinitely, and virtual and hybrid workers must be able to adapt to ever-changing operating procedures. “At Boomtown, we had a successful employee come from a fashion background. The previous support manager was an art history major,” Lesniewski said. “I don’t think what makes someone good is where they came from, but rather who they are as a person.” CRBJ

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.







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September 20 - October 3, 2021

Theater shows go on with vaccine, testing mandates in place By Teri Errico Griffis


hen Charleston Gaillard Center surveyed its audience to find out what would bring patrons back to the theater, Lissa Frenkel, president and CEO, said that 94% of respondents said they’d be more inclined to purchase tickets if vaccinations or testing were required, in addition to a mask policy. The Gaillard instituted a mandate and saw a bump in ticket sales almost immediately. Charleston Stage is seeing a similar spike after requiring vaccines and tests for its September production. With so much opposition to mandates, Frenkel said she was surprised by the response. “That 94% was really indicative of what folks were really feeling in order to come to these artistic presentations,” she said. “They had to have some verification that it was a population that was safe.” Theaters around Charleston have had a difficult year with sales falling further as COVID-19’s delta variant has resurged, and patrons have been required to wear masks to performances. In August, The Gaillard — which hosts both shows and events — instituted socially distanced seating and mask man-

dates, per city guidelines since the building is owned by Charleston. There was some pushback, Frenkel said, but nothing too crazy. Yet sales just weren’t where she wanted them to be. As of Sept. 3 with the Lowcountry Jazz Festival, however, the organization has put the vaccine/test mandate in place and is now booking to capacity in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and local health recommendations. “The institution was hit pretty hard, but the staff was creative in how to keep The Gaillard front-of-mind with programs,” she said. “Artgoers seem to be pretty united. They want to see the arts remain open.” To maintain the safest environment, staff and actors alike are being tested once a week. Charleston Stage is following a parallel protocol with the help of Roper St. Francis. After shutting down in March 2020 and postponing Bright Star, story and music by Steve Martin, the theater was ready to reopen on Labor Day after one year, five months and 22 days. But COVID-19 struck again. A cast member, who tested negative on a Monday was found positive on a Thursday. Soon after, nearly a dozen actors and staff members all tested positive, including founder and producing art director

Julian Wiles, who had been vaccinated. Everyone who tested positive had been vaccinated, he said. The show was pushed back a week. Since then, just like Charleston Gaillard Center and Charleston Music Hall, the theater instituted not only a mask mandate, but mandatory proof from all patrons of a vaccination or negative COVID test in the last 72 hours. The process has become a national standard, adopted by Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall. “The delay of Bright Star really hit home on the importance of these protocols,” Wiles said. “We had one person spread it to a dozen others. It’s very obvious that this then affects production, which impacts fans, and it’s a trickle effect.” When the pandemic hit in March, Charleston Stage quickly downsized, furloughing 19 staff members. Ten stayed on and accepted salary reductions until the theater stabilized. Wiles said most of the staff has returned at this point, except for employees who chose to move on. While not producing isn’t costing the theater as much money to operate, Charleston Stage still had to refund or raincheck all those who purchased single-show tickets or subscriptions during the shutdown, losing 70% of its income. “What that means is because we’re

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honoring those prior ticket purchases, we will have fewer cash tickets to sell this year,” Wiles said. To plan for the 2020-2021 season, the theater has to budget based on what income won’t be coming in. Right now, Wiles said he’s not restricting the number of guests, but Charleston Stage isn’t filling up the house yet either. The main challenge for Charleston Stage has been the moving target of when things will “normalize,” Wiles said. First it was two weeks in March 2020, maybe summer, maybe 2021. What has helped the organization stay afloat, Wiles said, were two rounds of Paycheck Protection Program loans and American Rescue Plan funding. Both Charleston Stage and The Gaillard also received Shuttered Venue Operator Grants, the executives said. Additionally, Wiles credited generous donors, especially those who didn’t ask for refunds. In fact, in 2020, Charleston Stage received more donations than it ever had during a typical year. “Some people actually gave twice, and so even though it didn’t replace all of the lost income, it certainly allowed us to hang on as much as we could,” Wiles said. Wiles founded Charleston Theater 44 years ago and has grown the operations to a staff of more than 30, the downtown




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September 20 - October 3, 2021 7

Ravyn Meador, resident stage manager at Charleston Stage, communicates with staff during rehearsals at The Dock Street Theatre on Sept. 8. (Photo/Teri Errico Griffis)

Bright Star cast members follow strict mask mandates during rehearsal. At live shows, they must remain masked at all times unless they are on stage. (Photo/Teri Errico Griffis)

theater and a classroom in West Ashley. “We didn’t want to lose all that,” he said. “If we did lose it because of the pandemic, it would just take years and years and years to rebuild that.” For Theatre 99, a small improvisation theater on Meeting Street, closing down during the pandemic wasn’t an option, no matter how hard it was to sustain operations, co-owner Brandy Sullivan said. “The pandemic has been constantly impacting us, and last year was awful,” she said. “But there was no plan B.” Like all non-essential businesses, the theater temporarily closed its doors at

make the “big ask” from fans, whether it was to move or for an emergency. “But when COVID hit, it was time,” she said. “And the support felt wonderful during the dark time… The whole last year was one of the saddest times for us, but it was heartwarming to be a part of Theatre 99.” Sullivan said she was overwhelmed at the kindness bestowed upon her business. Even a one-time donation of $25 was felt throughout the for-profit business. “We’re working seven days a week and managing the company is the big thing,” she said. “…There’s probably between

the start of the pandemic. Come summer, Sullivan convinced some company members to put on online shows, but it wasn’t the same without the heavy audience participation Theatre 99 had come to rely on. In October, Sullivan, who co-owns the theater with her husband Sean, opened the doors again, but this time to only 15 or 20 people, spread out and with required masks. “We hobbled along through that, and we’ve been doing that the whole time since October,” she said. “We had to make money because the rent was due.” Sullivan knew someday they’d have to





50-60 active members right now.” Wiles said sharing the experience of theater is something that’s endemic to the human situation. After all, theaters closed in Shakespeare’s time because of the plague, and the shows always came back, he said. “Theater and the arts in the community mean a lot to people here, and they wanted to see it, they want to see us stay here and survive,” he said. “Live events are something that are so special that we’re never going to give up.” CRBJ

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.


September 20 - October 3, 2021

Engelhorn to lead BMW plant as Knudt Flor retires By Molly Hulsey


obert Engelhorn is the new president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. In a private ceremony at the BMW Zentrum, Engelhorn took over plant leadership from Knudt Flor, who is retiring. Engelhorn most recently was director for BMW Plant Munich in Germany, where he prepared the plant for production of the all-electric BMWi4. Installation of a new electric battery plant was among the highlights of Flor’s six-year tenure in Greer. The assembly Engelhorn plant supplies lithium-ion battery modules for two vehicles — the BMW X3 xDrive30e and the BMW X5 xDrive 45e. Flor was at Plant Spartanburg for a $600 million expansion, the 25th anniversary celebration of BMW in South Carolina and assembly of the 5 millionth car. His tenure also was marked by record production until the COVID-19 pandemic caused a worldwide supply slowdown that caused the Greer plant to halt production — 1,500 cars a day at the time

— for a brief time in 2020. Flor oversaw that challenge as well as the return to production. The value of cars made for export at Plant Spartanburg exceeds the value of exported vehicles made by any other plant in the United States, according to the company. “Plant Spartanburg has been a critical part of BMW’s global production network for decades, and the plant’s impact is far reaching,” Engelhorn said in a company news release. “Their performance — both in quality and production — is impressive, and I am excited to lead this extraordinary team.” Both Flor and Engelhorn have overseen aspects of BMW’s emphasis on preparing for the future of the electric vehicle, including this battery module assembly plant in Greer. Engelhorn joined the BMW Group in 2011 and held various positions at the Munich and Regensburg plants in Germany. In 2016, he moved to the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in China, where he led the technology and production division for the Dadong and Tiexi plants, the news release said. In 2018, Engelhorn took over as director for BMW Group Plant Munich. “Robert is the perfect match for Plant Spartanburg. He combines great inter-

Both Flor and Engelhorn have overseen aspects of BMW’s emphasis on preparing for the future of the electric vehicle, including this battery module assembly plant in Greer. (Photo/Fred Rollison Photography)

national experience and broad technical expertise, especially for the manufacturing of electrified cars,” Milan Nedeljkovic, a member of the BMW AG Board of Management responsible for production, said in the release. “I’m sure he will successfully steer this plant into its great future.” Flor is retiring after 33 years at the BMW Group and nearly five years as president and CEO at BMW Manufacturing. He is the second-longest serving

president of the Spartanburg plant. BMW Group Plant Spartanburg is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, again producing about 1,500 vehicles each day. The South Carolina factory exports more than two-thirds of its models to 125 global markets. About 11,000 people work at the plant, and 40 of the company’s 300 suppliers are in South Carolina. CRBJ

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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September 20 - October 3, 2021 9

Charleston, Greenville and other SC airports receive millions in FAA grants By Teri Errico Griffis


harleston International Airport will receive almost $2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to put toward making the airport safer and more sustainable. On Aug. 24, the FAA announced it was investing $766 million into nationwide projects that have potential to mitigate

environmental impacts, increase accessibility and expand capacity at airports in 44 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the FAA said. Charleston airport will break its $1,980,524 award into several projects, including sealing and rehabilitating taxiway pavement surfaces and joints. The airport will allocate $84,000 to purchasing a handicap passenger lift device to assist passengers with disabilities as they

board and exit airplanes. “These grants will improve safety, sustainability and accessibility at airports across our country,” said Steve Dickson, FAA administrator, in the release. This is the fifth round of funding for fiscal year 2021 Airport Improvement Program Grants, and Charleston is one of 279 grant recipients. In addition to the FAA’s allocation to Charleston airport, the Lowcoun-

try Regional Airport in Walterboro will receive $883,586 to update the existing taxiway and construct a new one. The Lexington County Airport in Pelion will be granted $184,778 to also rehab its taxiway. Each year, the Airport Improvement Plan receives upward of $3 billion in funding. Throughout 2021, the FAA awarded more than 1,800 grants. CRBJ

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

Bank of America donates $500K to SC minority business program By Teri Errico Griffis


ank of America has granted $500,000 to South Carolina to launch a statewide Minority Business Accelerator program. The program will support and scale minority-owned businesses by offering targeted training and access to business coaches and large corporations. The Greenville Chamber of Commerce has successfully operated its own MBA since 2012, but the Charleston, Columbia and Greenville chambers of commerce will jointly lead the statewide program, which is set to launch in January, the organizations said in a news release.

“Minority businesses are an integral piece of our economy and our state’s ability to thrive,” Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bryan Derreberry said in a statement. “Through the support of Bank of America and the partnership with the Columbia and Greenville Chambers, we are establishing a statewide program that will provide access to education, resources and opportunities to cultivate growth for high-potential minority businesses.” Each program will be taught by an instructor following the Interise StreetWise MBA curriculum. Participants spend six months in rigorous training, then work closely with mentors, coaches and MBA peers to work on their Strategic

Growth Action Plans. Participant can expect to leave the program with a three-year plan, and their firms poised for accelerated growth with access to capital and business networks. After completing the StreetWise MBA program, businesses experience 36% growth rate in revenue, create jobs four times faster than the private sector and see $2.4 million in new contracts per firm, according to the chambers. Bank of America’s $500,000 grant is part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, fiveyear commitment to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local communities, the company said. Bank of America South Carolina President Kim Wilkerson hopes the collabora-

tion with the three chambers encourages others to step up and support minority-owned businesses. “Here in South Carolina, Bank of America remains focused on creating opportunity in the areas of jobs, training, and workforce development as these areas are where systemic, long-term gaps have existed and where significant change is required to achieve sustainable progress,” she said. By expanding the program throughout South Carolina, the state will also increase its inclusive economic development, the chambers said. Participants must be headquartered in South Carolina and have at least one other full-time employee. CRBJ


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Nominate a Health Care Hero in one of these categories: • • • •

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September 20 - October 3, 2021

State allocates $360 million to widen I-26 By Teri Errico Griffis


tatewide traffic has increased by nearly 30% in the last decade, with more than 22 million vehicles per year traveling Interstate 26 between Columbia and Charleston. To alleviate congestion, South Carolina is accelerating plans to widen key portions of the highway between the Capital City and the Holy City, allocating $360 million from the state’s share of American Rescue Act funding, Gov. Henry McMaster said this week. “Interstate 26 was built more than 60 years ago,” S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said in a statement. “Since that time, traffic has increased and this segment of South Carolina’s interstate network has become plagued with congestion, delays and accidents on a routine basis.” Original plans to widen the highway — previously determined by SCDOT to be high priority — projected widening 30 miles in various phases through 2029 and 2030, Hall said. Funding access has allowed the state to push the project up by six years. “This proposal utilizes a one-time

With funding secured, plans to widen key sections of the highway between Charleston and Columbia have been expedited by six years. (Photo/File)

funding boost of $360 million to pull the widening work forward, enabling the bulk of the widening to go to contract over the next three-four years, including

some road work that is poised to start next year,” Hall said. The money will help fast-track the state’s economic growth and improve

quality of life for residents McMaster said. “Everywhere you look, South Carolina is growing — families and businesses are moving here and more people are visiting every day,” he said. “We must have the infrastructure necessary to support that growth, and this investment would be a major step in that direction.” April Allen, S.C. Manufacturers Alliance board chair, said Interstate 26 offers critical infrastructure for the state’s import and export of goods and services. “To maintain and growing our business to meet the demand of our customers, we must have the ability to move our raw materials, our finished products both domestically and internationally,” Allen said. Shawn Godwin, S.C. Trucking Association board chair and CEO and owner of Palmetto Corp. said I-26 provides a vital transportation artery for businesses across the state. “I-26 is truly the most important South Carolina-centric interstate corridor within our state, having enabled the development of growth in international and domestic economy like no other route in the state,” he said. CRBJ

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

Business Expo Kickoff Luncheon October 21, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. Charleston Area Convention Center North Charleston Join us for this multi-tiered luncheon event, including a presentation of the Entrepreneur of the Year, an economic update from the CRDA and a Q&A panel discussion with the region’s mayors. After lunch, explore the North Charleston Business Expo and network with businesses from across the Lowcountry.

Ticket link: Early bird pricing ends September 24. Register today!

Presented By:

Sponsored By:

In Focus

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LISTS: IT Services and Networking Companies, Page 14

High tech, high pay South Carolina’s average annual wage of $46,230 for all jobs comes in well below even the lowest-paid information technology professional. Below we have the top-10 highest paid jobs in IT for the state.

Highest paid in IT

The S.C. Cybersecurity Summit took place Sept. 1 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Guests learned about cybersecurity practices and how to obtain the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. (Photo/S.C. Department of Commerce)

Department of Defense grant to fortify SC cybersecurity By Alexandria Ng


n a move toward bringing defense manufacturers up to modern cybersecurity standards, the Department of Defense has awarded S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce a second round of grant money. This $775,829 will go to companies contracted by the Department of Defense to meet specific requirements that will keep businesses eligible for these contracts. “Having the policies and procedures and measures around cybersecurity and protecting confidential and classified information is critically important, no matter what industry you’re in,” said Nina Staggers, deputy assistant executive director of workforce development of the Department of Employment and Workforce. “And I think that we’re seeing that more and more internationally as these attacks continue to happen.” As part of the Department of Defense’s new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification model, companies part of the defense industrial base will be assessed according to various cybersecurity standards and protocols. Requirements vary at different levels of the certification, but when implemented, it will reduce risk against specific sets of cyber threats. At the base level, a company must be

able to demonstrate basic cyber hygiene practices, such as using antivirus software or ensuring that employees change their passwords, Staggers said. Though the Department of Defense has yet to establish an overseeing body to complete these assessments, the grant money will be used to prepare companies for when that happens. The goal is to get companies to reach at least a level three out of five in terms of requirements they must meet on the certification scale. According to Staggers, Department of Defense requirements are expected to be applied in a phased rollout over the course of fiscal year 2021 through fiscal year 2025. As for the recently acquired funds for South Carolina, they will be facilitated through the S.C. Cyber Assistance Program, in partnership with the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the S.C. Department of Commerce. The program aims to educate South Carolina’s defense manufacturing community about cyber threats and provide technical support that puts them in compliance with defense standards. This second round of funding will serve 31 businesses. Each one will receive a maximum of $22,000 from the lump sum, in addition to $3,000 that they invest themselves. “The $3,000 engagement fee is kind of the skin in the game, so to speak,” Stag-

gers said. “It’s ensuring that the company has some personal stake in or personal investment into creating the policies and procedures that are going to ultimately be a part of how it protects itself against cyber-attacks.” This follows a first round of grant money that wrapped up in July, which served 27 companies. According to a study released by the S.C. Military Base Task Force and the University of South Carolina, the annual economic impact of the military community on the state is $24.1 billion, translating to 181,847 jobs and $9.9 billion in labor income for South Carolinians. When the impact of the state’s defense industries is this great, even the smallest of security threats can be costly, both in time and money, Staggers said. “We’re seeing nationally and internationally, just an increase in cyber-attacks, and specifically with the inclusion of smart technology,” Staggers said. “Because a lot of that is computerized, you are now at an increased risk for cyber-attacks.” Overall in South Carolina, there are 752 defense firms fulfilling $2.1 billion in contracts. The state is also home to eight major military installations and numerous other facilities supporting 62,520 Department of Defense personnel of all See CYBERSECURITY, Page 12


Annual salary

IS manager


Hardware engineer


Network architect


Software developer


Database administrator


Systems analyst


Computer programmer


Website designer


Technical writer


Graphic designer


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Digital Corridor wage survey

The Charleston Digital Corridor provides space, mentorship and resources for early- and medium-stage companies in the Charleston area. The organization provides an annual comparative snapshot of wages for high-tech companies in the area.


Average wage across S.C. as of May 2020.


Charleston region’s average annual wage as of May 2020.


Average annual wage for workers employed with Charleston Digital Corridor companies as of October 2020. Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Charleston Digital Corridor


Education and Workforce Development



September 20 - October 3, 2021

Mount Pleasant welcomes international coding program for kids By Rob Lyle


new business has expanded into the Lowcountry to help children between the ages of 5 and 14 learn the value of computer coding through a video game-based curriculum. Code Ninjas Mount Pleasant opened its doors in June, and parents have been busy since signing their children up for the limited-capacity STEM-focused camps and Roblox and Minecraft clubs. The Mount Pleasant business, part of a national franchise, is owned by information technology professional Kevin Fay, who has had a passion for computers as far back as he can remember. His technology career has led him to consulting, software, government, telecommunications and financial services — and now Code Ninjas. Introducing the company’s science, technology, engineering and math curriculum to the Lowcountry felt like a no-brainer next step for him. “Growing up, I was always the one tinkering with electronics,” Fay said. “At the time, there wasn’t a place like Code Ninjas, so I had to make up a lot of stuff on my own in my imagination.” The Code Ninjas franchise was founded in 2016 by David Graham, a software developer and father of two in Houston. Through the program, Graham sought to help children develop STEM and problem-solving skills, critical thinking and creativity by guiding them through building their own video games. The company has since grown into an international business with hundreds of locations across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. South Carolina alone is home to three other locations, including Greenville, Lexington and Tega Cay. Following his love of technology, Fay studied software engineering at Virginia Tech and credits the college for teaching him the value of computer coding. The school also opened his eyes to the opportunities available in the field. “For me, it was that curiosity and passion that led to my professional career, and that opened the doors for so many things for me personally and professionally,” he said. Now Fay is sharing those opportunities with Lowcountry students.


branches of service, with $2.6 billion in payroll. To further support efforts to ramp up cybersecurity priorities for defense manufacturers in the state, the S.C. Department of Commerce hosted the S.C. Cybersecurity Summit on Sept. 1 for companies with a current contract under the Department of Defense.

Code Ninjas Mount Pleasant, located in the Belle Hall Shopping Center, offers coding classes for children ages 5 to 14. (Photo/Rob Lyle)

“The idea is that by the time they get to black belt, these children will have everything that they need to plan, design, develop and publish a custom game to an app store.” Kevin Fay Owner, Code Ninjas Mount Pleasant

At Code Ninjas, young students learn to program using JavaScript, Lua, Python and C# — four common coding languages with a variety of applications. Children eventually have the potential to build their own worlds in games like Minecraft and Roblox, but the same processes can be applied to create interactive websites, mobile applications and even artificial intelligence. “The possibilities are endless” Fay said.

“Anything in software is a possibility, but another strong focus is in engineering. We have summer camps where we do 3D printing, robotics and drone programming.” The learning center’s core program, Create, mirrors the framework of a karate class, Fay said. Children enroll in the program starting at age 7, and they receive colored wristbands for each level they advance through as they work their way

This day-long event that brought in more than 100 participants took place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Guests heard from some of the nation’s top cybersecurity experts and learned about obtaining the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. “One of the things that we heard from all the speakers that we learned over the course of the year is that these attacks are not going away,” Staggers said. “It’s not

going to stop — if anything, they’re going to become more prevalent, and the cost to business and industry is going to increase — just as ransoms are getting larger and larger in value.” Staggers said the first step in shoring up protection is awareness, followed by implementation of practices, as well as the necessary funding and resources to keep practices in place. “That’s why this funding and this pro-

up from white to black belt. “The idea is that by the time they get to black belt, these children will have everything that they need to plan, design, develop and publish a custom game to an app store,” Fay said. Three months in, the owner has already hired six staff members for Code Ninjas workshop program, with the intent to hire two more. “Code Ninjas is about the kids. It’s giving them that place that I didn’t have growing up,” Fay said. “Now they have a center where they can learn in a safe, energetic and friendly atmosphere with like-minded peers, where they have all the technology at their fingertips, and where they can take on that superpower of coding that is a catalyst for their futures.” CRBJ

Reach Rob Lyle at 843-743-6783. gram is so critical to our state,” she said. “We know that these companies need these measures in place to protect their economic viability. The ransoms are so high now that a small company may be put of business by a cyber-attack, so it’s important that we’re making them aware that this is a real threat, no matter what size you are.” CRBJ

Reach Alexandria Ng at 843-849-3124.


September 20 - October 3, 2021 13

Embracing digital tools key to small business success during pandemic By Steve McDaniel


nnovation often rises from need, and nowhere was that better illustrated than in the way small businesses learned to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. As well-established business models became suddenly obsolete, and customer behavior pivoted almost overnight, many small companies found themselves at a crossroads of crisis. COVID-19 case numbers surged, schools and offices closed, unemployment skyrocketed, and people hunkered down at home. Companies that rely on walk-in traffic and large crowds freely assembling suddenly had none. Traditional revenue streams dried up, and small business owners faced the dire prospect of permanently shutting their doors. While that reality did play out for many, others learned new ways to keep money coming in, employees working and bottom lines not bottoming out. Some of those lessons learned here in South Carolina were discussed in a recent webinar hosted by Charleston-based Connected Commerce Council, a nonprofit that specializes in connecting small businesses with digital tools and resources. The panel included small business owners, Gov. Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and other economic stake-

holders from across the state. McMaster emphasized public-private collaboration as a key to keeping the economy on a forward trajectory. He pointed to the collaborative space at the University of South Carolina, where researchers and students work hand-inhand with staff of IBM’s data analytics team. Other large corporations such as Samsung, Yaskawa Electric Corp. and Siemens are co-located there. “We can take advantage of this network of collaboration and cooperation that we have in our state,” he said. “Primarily through our small businesses working to find better ways to do things, to be more efficient, more profitable, to help more people with their careers.” Staying aggressive while seeking the right path through the pandemic worked for Harold Hughes, founder of Bandwagon. The Greenville-based startup helps the entertainment industry connect with attendees through data analytics using blockchain technology. “We said, ‘If we’re going to go out of business, let’s go out swinging,’ ” Hughes said. “So we decided to be really aggressive.” Bandwagon acquired IdealSeat, a small-scale ticket platform, to create a sort of competition to EventBrite, a well-known, global ticket platform used by many large and small event creators. Launched during the pandemic when

events were still largely postponed, Bandwagon and IdealSeat have experienced a 212% growth in revenue as event venues have once again begun staging live performances, Hughes said. Mimi Striplin, founder and owner of The Tiny Tassel, a jewelry, clothing and accessory retailer in Charleston, saw those traditional revenue streams abruptly stop and knew her team had to reevaluate their marketing strategies. While online sales and marketing and reaching established and potential customers through social media isn’t new, it became a lifeline for small business during the pandemic, especially during the lockdowns of spring and summer 2020 when in-store shopping wasn’t possible. “Being able to use all those digital tools like email marketing, finding different ways to reach our customers through social media, that really connected us with our core customers and allowed us to grow our customer base quite a bit,” Striplin said. Part of the equation for many small businesses during the pandemic was support in the form of federal emergency financial aid and state-level partnerships. Lt. Gov. Evette, a small business founder and owner prior to being elected, remarked about the importance of those partnerships. “We brought in private businesses, local government, state government, federal gov-

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Our Giving magazine is a special opportunity to support philanthropy in the Lowcountry. The articles tell the heartwarming story of the community’s generosity. The winners of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Lowcountry Chapter Philanthropy Awards are also featured, with bonus distribution at their National Philanthropy Day luncheon. Your advertising dollars enable the Business Journal to donate advertising space to Lowcountry charitable organizations in a section called “Nonprofit Spotlights.” Show your support of your favorite nonprofit in Giving, the magazine of philanthropy!

ernment, hospital associations, education, manufacturing. We wanted everybody at the table to tell us what we could do to help them,” she said. “We took all of those suggestions and came up with plans that got our state really moving again. It was public-private partnerships that did that.” Accelerate SC was the platform created in response to the needs expressed in meetings with small business owners and others. It was designed as an online access point to federal financial aid, COVID-19 news and policies, and other resources and data to help citizens, local officials and business owners make informed decisions during the pandemic. Carl Blackstone, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the need to focus on communities outside of the high-growth areas of the state in terms of expanding digital access and infrastructure. “What we have to figure out over the next 10 years, if we’re going to see success, it can’t be just along the coast or Greenville or urban areas of Columbia. We’ve got to permeate those corridors outside the urban marketplace if we really want to develop South Carolina,” he said. “There are selling points to the rural parts of South Carolina, now that remote working is in. It’s an opportunity for us to think differently, but we’ve got to invest in infrastructure and education.”

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September 20 - October 3, 2021

IT Services & Networking Companies Ranked by No. of Employees in the Charleston Area Company

Phone / Website / Email

Top Local Official(s) / Year Founded


Service Contracts?

Blackbaud 65 Fairchild St. Charleston, SC 29492


Mike Gianoni 1981



Cloud software company

Comcast Business 4400 Belle Oaks Drive North Charleston, SC 29405


Gary Toal 1963



Data networking, SD Wan, unified messaging

Charleston County Public Library 4355 Bridgeview Drive North Charleston, SC 29405


Angela Craig 1931



Public library offering free access to enriching materials for borrowing, computer and wi-fi access for borrowing and use, programs and training, and more

Home Telecom 579 Stoney Landing Road Moncks Corner, SC 29461


William Helmly 1904



High-speed internet, app-based video, voice, security and home automation

Verizon Wireless 4854 Ohear Ave. Charleston, SC 29406


Tara Kutzli 2000



VoIP, networking, security, hosting, email, data

The Office People 5601 Rivers Ave. North Charleston, SC 29406


Sean P. Mummert 2004



Business equipment, information technology, digital signage, copiers and printers, document storage, office furniture, commercial displays, interactive displays, workplace interior design, space planning, audio visual integration

Cantey Tech Consulting 2702 Azalea Drive North Charleston, SC 29405


Willis Cantey 2007



IT support, security, consulting and strategy

Segra 5900 Core Ave., Suite 300 North Charleston, SC 29406


Timothy Biltz, Grey Humphrey, Michael Brewerton 1984



Ethernet, MPLS, dark fiber, data center services, IP and managed services, voice and cloud solutions

eGroup 482 Wando Park Blvd. Mount Pleasant, SC 29464


Michael Carter, Ben Gaddy, Jason Webster 1999



Data center architecture; storage, networking, computing, hyper-convergence, security application services; cloud services; managed services

Saulisbury Business Machines 7632 Southrail Road North Charleston, SC 29420


Dale D. Saulisbury 1968



Sales and service of office equipment and print management; MFP (printers copiers) interactive whiteboards shredders folders etc.; Canon, Ricoh, Kyocera, HP, Lexmark Brother

Stasmayer Inc. 2420 Mall Drive, Suite 201 North Charleston, SC 29406


David Stasaitis, Richard Krenmayer 2003



Managed services, network design and implementation, specializing in medical and law firm networks and software solutions

Technology Solutions of Charleston Inc. 4973 Rivers Ave. North Charleston, SC 29406


Rachel Shivers Crunk 2000



IP video surveillance systems, network security, VPNs, wireless, e-business, computer hardware and network integration; temperature and facial recognition

Responza LLC 29 Gamecock Ave., Suite 201 Charleston, SC 29407


Lance Becker 2005



Enterprise-grade IT support for small and midsize businesses; network and application issues and minimizing outages

ROK Technologies 1 Carriage Lane, Suite B201 Charleston, SC 29407


Alex Coleman, Carey Jenkins 1997



Team of certified professionals; deploying and managing cloud-based GIS solutions; AWS, Microsoft and Esri partners

WOW Business 4506 Dorchester Road North Charleston, SC 29405


Jamison Cary 1999



High-speed internet, dedicated internet, voice and cable TV services across the company's own fiber network, speeds up to 1 gigabit, analog voice line, VoIP, PRI and SIP, and bulk video for hotels

DataSpring Inc. 3506 W. Montague Ave., Suite 101 North Charleston, SC 29418


John Fraysher 1995



Technology systems, servers, hardware and software, accounting and financial software, IT support services, disaster recovery, managed services, websites, software development, ecommerce, business IT consulting, data backup, Microsoft Gold Partner

CNC - Computer & Network Consultants 1611 Cullowhee Drive Mount Pleasant, SC 29464


Darrell Hearne 1993



IT, AI, cloud, cybersecurity, computers, networks, tech services, peripherals, hardware, software, web design and hosting, apps, PCI-SSL, SEO-SEM, POS Point of Sale, security systems, alarms, video surveillance, security equipment and consulting

Teleco Charleston 1070 St. Andrews Blvd. Charleston, SC 29407


Nancy Diserio-Jones, Michael Jones 1983



Fiber optics networking, structured cabling systems, wireless networks, data networks, video networks and VoIP

Complete EDI Solutions Virtual Isle of Palms, SC 29451


Bobby Jones 2010



EDI, B2B integration, B2B e-commerce

Barricade Cyber Solutions 255 Farmington Road Summerville, SC 29486


Eric Taylor 2012



Cyber security specialist; assisting businesses in recovery and preventing ransomware attacks

Carolina Custom Electric 1155 Pleasant Oaks Drive Mount Pleasant, SC 29464


Kellie D. Privette, W. David Privette 2018



Residential electrical company serving the Lowcountry; electrical needs in-home

DartPoints 8480 Palmetto Commerce Parkway Ladson, SC 29456


Mike Stokes 2012



Cloud, data center colocation and managed IT services, including disaster recovery, network and security services, server monitoring and management, data storage, backup and Microsoft Office 365 services

eLifespaces 1808 Meeting Street Road Charleston, SC 29405


Fred Fabian, Dixon Horres, Austin Fabian 2001



Technology contractors, licensed and insured for installation of systems for access control, fire and security, audio-visual, electrical and data networks for three decades

McLeod Information Systems LLC 1060 E. Montague Ave. North Charleston, SC 29405


Debbie McLeod, Rodney McLeod 2016



Cyber security consulting, virtual CISO, CMMC assessments

Because of space constraints, sometimes only the top-ranked companies are published in the print edition. Although every effort is made to ensure accuracy, errors sometimes occur. Email additions or corrections to


Researched by Paige Wills


September 20 - October 3, 2021 15

IT Services & Networking Companies Ranked by No. of Employees in the Charleston Area Company

Phone / Website / Email

Top Local Official(s) / Year Founded

CMIT Solutions of Charleston 295 Seven Farms Drive, Suite C-127 Charleston, SC 29492


Amy Justis 2013



Managed IT support, cybersecurity consulting, disaster recovery and business continuity planning, business IT consulting, network design and management, compliance consulting, cloud computing

Creative Solutions SC LLC 2290 Technical Parkway, Suite C North Charleston, SC 29406


Keith Kelly, Kyle Nicholson, Leslie Kelly 2007



Technology; installation and support of business communications systems, including telephones, access control, security cameras

Knowlogix LLC 1235 Boonehill Road, Suite 2 Summerville, SC 29483


Chris Nuss, Trae Dantzler, Matt DePaulis 2015



VoIP, Voice, SIP, HSI, DIA, call center, cloud, SD-WAN, managed IT services, security, UCaaS, networking, mobility, automation, cabling, recovery and backup, circuit monitoring, colocation, IoT, digital signage, fiber, wifi, CCTV, access control

Software Projects Consulting Inc. 1550 Bacons Bridge Road Summerville, SC 29485


Frank Muehlenkamp 2000



Consulting, innovation, integration and education for SAP software

Charleston Telecommunication Consulting Inc. P.O. Box 1087 Charleston, SC 29457


Peter J. Dieppe 1994



VoIP; telephone systems; hospitality; inside and outside CAT5e and CAT6 voice and data cabling; coaxial TV cabling; fiber optics; paging systems; headsets; consulting

NetGalaxy Studios 1124 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., Suite 4 Charleston, SC 29407


Alan Thompson, Kym Swanger 2010



Mobile app development, website development, social media marketing

The Computer Guyz 1068 Clements Ferry Road Charleston, SC 29492


Jud Leggett 2011



IT consulting for business and residential clients, full service and sales for technology related projects

CompuZone of Charleston 7685 Northwoods Blvd., Suite 8E North Charleston, SC 29406


Regina M. Soriano 1997



Custom-built computer systems, retail sales and service, networking, on-site services, virus removals, data recovery, full service center for all laptop and desktop diagnostics, troubleshooting and repair

Reason One 997 Morrison Drive, Suite 200 Charleston, SC 29403


Ben Cash, Stacey Bailey 2000



Full service digital agency; web design and development, digital marketing, brand development and content strategy

Kalson Media Group 8887 Old University Blvd., Suite 219 North Charleston, SC 29406


Laura Carson 2000



Web design, search engine optimization, social media management, web hosting, digital marketing, branding, PR and marketing

NetTec NSI LLC 460 King St., Suite 200 Charleston, SC 29403


Joe Rainero 1995



Azure and Windows virtual desktop, cybersecurity, remote desktop services, Microsoft Azure and cloud services, Office 365, managed IT services, remote desktop services, help desk, compliance audits

Trident Communications Inc. 9433 U.S. Highway 78, Suite A3 Ladson, SC 29456


Beth Smith, Kevin E. Smith 1994



On-premises and hosted phone systems; voice (carrier) and internet services; paging, sound systems; network structure design and integration; cable infrastructure and Wi-Fi networks; Cat5e, 6, 6A, 7, fiber optic installation; network certification

Bridge Network Systems 4500 Leeds Ave., Suite 231W North Charleston, SC 29405


Wren Taylor 2014



Professional IT support; managed services and consulting, services include remote monitoring, desktop and network security, backup, disaster recovery, structured wiring and cabling

Charleston Data Service 2138 Dorchester Road North Charleston, SC 29405


Brian Williams 1990



On-site computer repair, consulting, integration, remote computer repair, networking, network wiring, VoIP, GPS tracking, employee tracking

Eagle Eye IT 112 Deer Path Trail Summerville, SC 29486


Kevin T. Kramer 2012



Managed IT services, VOIP, networks, ISP, wi-fi, business continuity and disaster recovery, comanaged IT, help desk, on-site service, cyber security, unified communications, IP camera systems, building access control, hardware and software sales

TeamLogic IT of Charleston SC 215 E. Bay St. Charleston, SC 29401


Denise L. Kaufman 2005



Cybersecurity managed services, all cloud services and VDI, business continuity disaster recovery plans, cloud-based phone systems, all IT assessments, migrations, data backup, internet

Unifying Technologies 201 Sigma Drive, Suite 300 Summerville, SC 29486


William J. Howarth, Stuart N. Moser 2015



Small to midsize businesses, IT support and services, managed IT, IT consulting, cloud services, consulting services

Colophon New Media LLC 39 Barre St. Charleston, SC 29401


James Eastman 2003



Website design, development, hosting, maintenance, marketing

Cross Industries LLC 1317 N. Main St., Suite M151 Summerville, SC 29483


Sean M. Marvin 2011



Managed services and security, VOIP, data backup and recovery, infrastructure cabling and fiber, wireless solutions, door access and camera systems

CyndrTec 1311 Warrick Lane Mount Pleasant, SC 29464


Cliff Toner, Matt Hoffman 2014



Data backup, business continuity and disaster recovery, VOIP, installation and maintenance of voice and data networks, computer hardware repair

Velocity Works 3570 Sisseton Lane Mount Pleasant, SC 29466


J. Turco 2018



Software development, technical staffing, cyber security, artificial intelligence, cloud management

InfoArch LLC 997 Morrison Drive Charleston, SC 29403


Farhad Nowroozyani, Roya Nowroozyani, Mona Nowroozyani 2002



White label services, customer support, scalable software architecture, cost-effective turn key solutions, web application integration, custom developed reports and dashboards, reporting features and dashboard

Blue River Systems Group LLC 2705 Rush Haven Drive Mount Pleasant, SC 29466


Dave Muirhead 2005



Business and technology strategy; custom software development; development leadership

VWP Computer Services 1532 Poinsettia Road Charleston, SC 29407


Vasco Pickett 2000



Computer repair, virus and spyware removal, wired and wireless networks, upgrades, consultations


Service Contracts?

Because of space constraints, sometimes only the top-ranked companies are published in the print edition. Although every effort is made to ensure accuracy, errors sometimes occur. Email additions or corrections to


Researched by Paige Wills

September 20 - October 3, 2021


Join us for this monthly webcast featuring America’s top business minds and thought leaders.


Go to:



The founder and former CEO of the Dollar Shave Club was a pioneer in the direct-to-consumer sector and oversaw explosive growth before selling his men’s grooming company for $1 billion to consumer product giant Unilever. His comedic and offbeat commercials went viral, earning him respect as one of the most innovative marketers in business.


September 20 - October 3, 2021 17




September 20 - October 3, 2021




ccess to capital. Those three words have always represented the lifeblood of small businesses in South Carolina and across the U.S. Nothing became more important during the first phase of the pandemic than cash flow. Our reporting on the Paycheck Protection Program rollout and the extraordinary role that bankers of all sizes played in ensuring that small- and medium-sized businesses in the Palmetto State stayed operational led the editorial team at SC Biz News to launch our Power List project with banking and financial sector professionals. In the following pages, you’re going to see the people we picked from across South Carolina as the key power players in the banking sector. These individuals represent small clients as well as billions in assets and investment capital.


One question we’re sure to get asked is how did we select these individuals? Our editorial team across the state consulted with businesses and trade associations and looked at data points to assemble this list. The key ingredient to picking the Top 5 for our Power List: Banking Professionals is a commitment to the business community and an understanding that access to capital, regardless of circumstance, drives the economy and culture of South Carolina. All of these bankers are extraordinary, and we felt the Top 5 distinguished themselves as economic ambassadors for our state and their sector. This is a list of eternal optimists who sit across from small business owners and entrepreneurs, showing them the options they have and a path to achieve their goals for their businesses, families and communities. Please join me in congratulating these individuals in print and online.














urrently CEO and director of First Community Bank, which he helped found in 1995, Mike Crapps has led the company through four banks and two lines of business acquisitions. First Community Bank is now the fourth-largest bank in South Carolina and the largest headquartered in Columbia, with 21 offices, more than $1.5 billion in assets and three major lines of business. The bank’s focus has always been on serving local businesses, organizations and professional practices. First Community Bank serves three primary markets in the Midlands and Upstate of South Carolina and the Augusta region, handling three lines of business, commercial and retail banking, residential mortgage loans and financial planning/investment advisory. Crapps has served in a variety of leadership roles, including on the boards of the S.C. Bankers Association, Business Develpment Corp. and Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Past community leadership roles include serving on the boards of the

Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Saluda Shoals Park Foundation, American Cancer Society, Second Century Society and Columbia Clemson Club. Crapps currently serves on the Clemson University Foundation board of directors, Clemson University IPTAY board of directors, Midlands Business Leadership Group and Business Development Corp. He has been recognized for his achievements throughout his career, from being named 1997’s Young Banker of the Year and one of the 50 Most Influential in the Midlands multiple years. He has also received the American Cancer Society’s St. George National Award in 2003. In addition, First Community Bank has been recognized multiple times as Best Bank, Best Mortgage Lender, a Best Place to Work in South Carolina and a best SBA lender. Crapps earned a bachelor’s in economics from Clemson University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina. He is a graduate of the Louisiana State University Banking School of the South.

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avid E. Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Brothers Bank in Mullins since 1993, leads by example — in his bank, in the Pee Dee, and in the state’s banking industry. Having been in banking since 1981, his career illustrates the advantages of, and need for, the local hometown bank. This was especially exemplified by his innovative leadership with the federal Paycheck Protection Program during the pandemic. By encouraging staff and loan officers to actively seek local area businesses that were unable to get answers or assistance in applying for these loans with their own financial institutions, Anderson’s approach resulted in many business being able to operate successfully during a time when many others were shutting down. “We originated more than $92 million in Phase I and more than $45 million in Phase II loans,” Anderson said. “This obviously kept local retailers from having to lay off any staff and helped sustain the economy until they could begin operating fully.” Midyear 2021 S.C. Bank Performance Report showed Anderson Brothers Bank as No. 1 for Return On Equity and No. 1 in Net Interest Income. Anderson says his philosophy is to hire the best in a field and then empower them to use their talents without interference. Or, to quote his grandfather, bank founder E.L. Anderson, “The secret to success is to hire proper management and keep them.” Anderson is a 1979 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he earned his Bachelor of Finance and Economics. He attended the S.C. Bankers School in1983; Graduate School of Banking of the South in 1986 and College for Financial Planning in 1986. He served as vice president of Anderson Brothers Bank from 1981 to 1993 and has served as president and CEO from 1993 to present. He has been director of Anderson Brothers Bank since 1981 and served as director of Anderson State Bank from 1986 to 2000, when it merged with Anderson Brothers Bank.

RE ACHING YOUR BANKER SHOULDN’ T BE A RE ACH. We know what it’s like to put heart and soul into the success of your venture. That’s why we focus on partnering with local business owners and professionals. And being a true partner means unrivaled accessibility and sophisticated financial solutions delivered with a customer-first attitude.

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ith more than 30 years of banking, fiduciary and investment services experience, Sharon W. Bryant is First Citizens Bank’s S.C. Regional Executive Vice President, responsible for retail, business and commercial banking in South Carolina, Northeast Georgia, Augusta and Savannah. Bryant first joined the company in 1999 as executive vice president and director of human resources. She served as executive vice president and division executive from 2001-2010. In 2010, she assumed the dual roles of regional executive vice president for Central South Carolina and director of the Bank’s Wealth Advisory Group — a division with more than $2.7 billion in assets under management — while continuing to serve as president of First Citizens Securities. In 2012, she was named South Carolina banking executive prior to being named South Carolina regional executive vice president in 2014. Bryant also has served in many leadership roles outside of banking. Currently, she chairs the Central Carolina Community Foundation, is vice chair of City Center Partnership and serves on the boards of the Palmetto Business Forum, Business Development Corp., Riverbanks Society, S.C. State Museum Commission and the Palmetto Club. Past service includes the boards of Home Works, Midlands Business Leadership Group, Greater Columbia and S.C. State Chambers of Commerce, S.C. Bankers Association, S.C. Arts Foundation, Midlands Technical College Foundation and S.C. Student Loan Corporation, to name a few. Bryant earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of the South at Sewanee and is a licensed securities representative and principal. She is a recipient of the Girl Scouts of America’s Women of Distinction award, the YWCA’s Tribute to Women in Industry award, a winner of the Chamber of Commerce’s Athena award, a 1995 graduate of Leadership Columbia, a founding member of Women in Philanthropy. Bryant is also a Junior League sustainer, a recipient of First Citizens Chairman’s Circle Award and the Junior League of the Midlands Lifetime Achievement Award and, most recently, a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto.

Forever strong. Forever First. ®

Choose a bank you can count on to help you look after your money. And your future. There’s one essential rule about banking: Money needs to be protected, nurtured and grown. Because looking after your money is looking after your future. At First Citizens Bank, we believe in creating smart, steady and stable growth. For our company. And for the customers who count on us to stay by their side through the years – and generations – to come. First Citizens Bank. Forever First.

Member FDIC

September 20 - October 3, 2021

Congratulations to Senior Vice President and Marketing Director, Eric Wall for being named to SC Biz’s financial services Power List, recognizing the most influential bankers throughout South Carolina. Eric’s commitment to the Bank of Travelers Rest family and his community is second to none. Congrats, Eric. Well deserved! 21





September 20 - October 3, 2021



ric Wall’s approach to marketing is a blend of creative thinking backed by strong analytical data. He keeps a finger on the pulse of the community and works to match the right ideas to help further connect the bank to the customer, the customer to the community and the community to the bank. Wall is a banker known for his ability to connect organizations within the community and for his focus on ensuring those in the financial services industry operate as good neighbors within their communities. Whether it’s connecting nonprofits with mutually beneficial relationships or helping fellow bankers invest their passion and skill in civic groups, Wall is constantly working to forge partnerships. Nowhere can his work be better seen than in his careerlong commitment to Mental Health America. Through meager years, he solicited financial support to ensure the agency could continue to meet the needs of its clients, many of whom have chronic mental health issues. He is a champion for the organization, specifically for its work to provide housing, financial assistance and representation for some of the community’s most vulnerable populations. Wall describes his efforts as, “Whether you find yourself needing situational mental support or living with a debilitating mental illness, you deserve an ear to listen and an agency that meets you where you need us.” Wall has earned a variety of certifications, including Certified Credit Union Executive, an intensive three-year program. He also has completed ABA’s Bank Marketing School and is preparing to test to become a Certified Financial Marketing



Professional. Wall strives to increase financial literacy within the community, including in schools, community groups and at local events. His efforts put a face on the Bank of Travelers Rest brand, and he has a can-do attitude that is summarized by one of his favorite sayings: “I may not have the answer, but I’ll stick with you until we both get what you need.”

. Wayne Wicker serves as chairman of the board and CEO of South Atlantic Bancshares Inc., and South Atlantic Bank. He is a veteran banker with more than 30 years of experience in Myrtle Beach and other South Carolina markets. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from The Citadel and has completed The Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University and the S.C. Bankers School at the University of South Carolina. Wicker serves on a variety of state and local boards, including his recent election as chairman of the S.C. Bankers Association. In 2018, he was appointed by the governor to serve as a board member of the S.C. Board of Financial Institutions. He currently serves on the membership committee of the American Bankers Association. In addition to his professional service, Wicker devotes his time and expertise to a number of state and local civic organizations. He serves on the boards of the S.C. Young Bankers Association, the Myrtle Beach Area and North Myrtle Beach Chambers of Commerce, and is a member of the City of Myrtle Beach Recreation Advisory Committee. Wicker is a Gulf War veteran and member of the S.C. Air National Guard.

September 20 - October 3, 2021






Pinnacle Financial Partners banker with more than 35 years of experience in the Charleston market, Mary Garcia’s responsibility as regional president of Pinnacle Financial Partners is to strategically grow the firm and brand in the South Carolina Coastal market. Her career began in 1986 as a commercial bankerwith First Federal of S.C. In 1994, she went to work for SouthTrust Bank as a Commercial Banking Team Leader, followed by CresCom Bank, where she served as senior lender. Garcia joined Pinnacle (BNC Bancorp.) in 2012 as city executive for the Charleston Market and became S.C. Coastal Market regional president in May 2019. 23

TD Bank

urrently TD Bank South Carolina Market President David Lominack earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Presbyterian College and is a graduate of the Stonier National Graduate School of Banking and the American Bankers Association’s Commercial Lending School. With more than 24 years of banking experience, he has served in a number of roles, including branch manager, commercial loan officer, private banking and regional retail banking executive. Lominack became market president for the Upstate and Midlands regions in 2011 with the acquisition of Carolina First by TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®.


S.C. Federal Credit Union


cott Woods is the president and CEO of S.C. Federal Credit Union and has been in this role since 2004. Previously, Woods was S.C. Federal’s CFO. Throughout his career, he has served as CFO of SRP Federal Credit Union, CFO of S.C. Telco Federal Credit Union and as a senior financial institution auditor with KPMG CPAs. Woods received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Charleston and an MBA in finance from Auburn University. He is a graduate of the Southeast Regional Credit Union Management School and the Credit Union National Association Financial Management School. Woods holds certificates as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor and Chartered Global Management Accountant.

ART SEAVER Southern First


1986 graduate of Clemson University with a degree in financial management, Art Seaver’s career started with C&S Bank in 1986 and also included an executive role with Greenville National Bank. Seaver started Southern First Bank in 2000 by raising $11.5 million in initial capital. Today, the $2.7 billion bank operates in eight Southeastern markets with a market capitalization of more than $400 million. The company ranks in the top 10 of all banks in the country in terms of valuation appreciation (increase) over the past 10 years. Seaver serves on the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the Phillis Wheatley Community Center in Greenville. He is a past member of the board of the St. Francis Foundation, past board chair for the S.C. Bankers Association and the past chair of the United Way of Greenville County Board of Trustees. He also has worked with many community organizations.



SC Biz News has confirmed what we’ve known since the early 2000s — Scott Woods tops the list of influential leaders in banking and finance. Under Scott’s leadership, South Carolina Federal Credit Union has grown to more than 165,000 members, exceeded $2.3 billion in assets, moved into three new markets, and so much more. He is passionate about helping people achieve financial wellness and bringing the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” to life.

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Scott Woods President & CEO




h o m a s Bouchette is president and COO for The Citizens Bank in Florence, a role he assumed in 2019 after serving as executive vice president and chief banking officer since 2015. During his 35-year career, he has risen from a lending officer with Pee Dee Farm Credit Bank, to various roles with SCN/Wachovia and The Citizens Bank. In 2000, Bouchette led the creation of SunBank and Sun Bancshares in Murrells Inlet, where he served as president and CEO, and director until 2005, when the bank was sold to SCBT. He then became regional president and executive vice president for SCBT from 2005 to 2010, and S.C. president and executive vice president for BNC Bank from 2010 to 2015.

September 20 - October 3, 2021


United Community Bank


ynn Harton earned a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and began his career at BB&T, serving in various roles as the company expanded across the Southeast. Following 20 years there, Harton held various C-level roles at Union Planters in Memphis, Tenn., Regions Bank in Birmingham, Ala., TSFG in Greenville, and TD Bank in Cherry Hill, N.J. He joined United Community Banks in 2012 and has helped the company expand from 105 locations and $6.8 billion in assets to 160 locations with $17.8 billion in assets at the end of 2020 (pro-forma $22.5 billion in assets with pending acquisitions). The company’s performance has improved significantly, and United has been named to Forbes list of America’s Best Performing 100 Banks for eight consecutive years.



eonard “Len” Hutchison III joined FNB in 2019, bringing with him nearly 40 years of financial services experience serving consumers, businesses and communities in the Charleston area and South Carolina. Hutchison leads the development and execution of FNB’s Corporate Banking strategy throughout its markets in South Carolina. He also oversees the integration of FNB’s cross-functional business model in the region. A lifelong resident of South Carolina, Hutchison received a Bachelor of Science in industrial management from Clemson University and an MBA from The Citadel.

urrently executive vice p r e s i d e nt , director of commercial banking and strategic initiatives for Countybank, James Fowler Jr. has served in a variety of important roles in banking and in the community, serving as president, president-elect, treasurer and member of legislative committee of the Independent Bankers of South Carolina. A graduate of Wofford College with a Bachelor of Arts in economics, he attended the North Carolina School of Banking at UNC Chapel Hill and the Campbell University Trust and Investment School. He holds a Wealth Management Specialist Certification and is a S.C. Licensed Insurance Agent. His leadership has resulted in increased and improved community development, stakeholder opportunities, and educational pathways that promote community and economic development.



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#1 in Customer Satisfaction

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#1 in Customer Satisfaction with Consumer Banking in the Southeast, 7 out of the last 8 years, and Most Trusted Consumer Bank Learn more at

Award-winning service starts at the top. Congratulations to our Chairman and CEO, Lynn Harton, for being recognized as one of the 30 most influential bankers in South Carolina.

Member FDIC. © United Community Bank 2021. For J.D. Power 2021 award information, visit




ustin Hawkins is the region bank president leading Wells Fargo consumer banking operations across South Carolina. Through his role, he leads a team of 870 employees in 94 bank branches. Wells Fargo Bank holds the No. 1 market share position in South Carolina at $19.5 billion. An 18-year company veteran, Hawkins previously served as the area president of the Upstate market, and prior to that role, he held multiple leadership positions within Wells Fargo, including financial center manager, service leader, district manager and regional sales and marketing manager for South Carolina, supporting both consumer and business banking.


Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union


ith 40 years in the forefront of the South Carolina credit union movement, Nicholas Wodogaza now serves as president and CEO of Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union. He has helped develop the organization from a $100 million Columbia Teachers Credit Union to a $1.2 billion credit union serving more than 100,000 consumers in 14 offices throughout Columbia. He is the current vice chairman of the Carolinas Credit Union League Board of Directors. Wodogaza also serves on the Advisory Panel for Credit Union Brokerage Services of Cuna Mutual Group. A graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance, he is a Certified League Executive and a Credit Union National Association Credit Union Development Educator.

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September 20 - October 3, 2021

JAMES A. BENNETT First Citizens


ames Bennett is currently Firs Citizens Bank’s Mid-South Area Executive, which serves the Columbia, Camden, Aiken and Augusta markets. In his 37-year career, the last 27 of which have been with First Citizens, Bennett has served in a number of important roles in the banking industry and the greater community. Named Young Banker of the Year by the S.C. Banker’s Association in 1998, he has also served that organization as a board member and as chairman. He serves on the board of a variety of organizations, including Prisma Health, Claflin College, Dominion Energy, Midlands Business Leadership Group and Columbia Urban League, to name a few. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and a graduate of the S.C. Banking School.

KIM WILKERSON Bank of America


im Wilkerson is South Carolina president for Bank of America and South Carolina Market executive for Bank of America Private Bank, serving as the bank’s enterprise leader and providing business, civic and philanthropic leadership across the state. Her many community leadership roles include Palmetto Business Forum, Leadership SC Advisory Board and the Federal Legislative Committee of the S.C. Bankers Association. She is the first woman to serve as chair for Clemson University’s board of trustees and is the first woman to be named a lifetime trustee. She is the incoming chair of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, a past chair of the Columbia Chamber and is a member of Women in Philanthropy. A 1979 graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in financial management, she has a Six Sigma Greenbelt and is a NASD Registered Principal with Series 7, 24, 63 and 65 securities licenses.

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Congratulations A vibrant community depends on its members. Bank of America recognizes the 2021 Power Players in Banking, including South Carolina President Kim Wilkerson. Thank you SC Biz News for honoring Kim as one of the 30 most influential bankers in South Carolina. Visit us at

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September 20 - October 3, 2021

red Green has served as president and CEO of the S.C. Bankers Association since 2012. Prior to joining SCBA, he enjoyed a 33-year career within the South Carolina banking industry, starting with a role at Citizens & Southern National Bank. In 1991, Green joined the National Bank of South Carolina as executive vice president, and while there, he later became president, CEO and chairman. In 2003, after NBSC was acquired by Synovus, he moved to Georgia to serve as president, COO and vice chairman for the fivestate bank holding company. Green, now a Columbia resident, previously held the role of director of the Federal Reserve Bank and served on its Federal Advisory Council for the 5th and 6th District Banks.

Truist Financial Corp. hen he f i r s t entered the banking industry in 1975, Mike Brenan started out as a management trainee. In 1988, he became president and CEO of Bank One, Portsmouth. Six years later, he was named chairman, president and CEO of MainStreet Financial Corp. In 1998, BB&T Corp. acquired MainStreet and Brenan has served as regional president in South Carolina since 1999. He was later named regional president for the S.C. region of Truist Financial Corp. in 2019. In almost five decades of banking, Brenan has led teams through several mergers, including the most recent BB&T and SunTrust merger, creating Truist, the sixth largest bank in the U.S.. He has served with many community organizations and is currently the Governor’s appointee to the S.C. State Board of Education.



huck Garnett joined NBSC in 1993 as vice president, senior commercial lender. Following Synovus’ acquisition of NBSC in 1995, he was promoted to senior vice president and upstate regional executive. This role this was expanded to multi-region executive. In 2003, Garnett was promoted to president and CEO of NBSC until the bank rebranded to Synovus in 2018. He currently serves as S.C. Division CEO. Prior to joining NBSC/Synovus, Garnett held various management positions with C&S National Bank of South Carolina. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of South Carolina and an MBA from the University of Puget Sound. He is a graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Banking. Garnett has served with many organizations and is currently chairman of the USC Business Partnership Foundation. He is on the boards of the Midlands Business Leadership Group and SC Economics, and is a member of the Palmetto Business Forum.

Chuck Garnett Division CEO

Congratulations! We applaud Chuck Garnett for being named as one of the Power Players in the Banking Industry for 2021. Being recognized as one of the 30 most influential bankers in South Carolina is quite an honor, but it comes as little surprise to those who know him. His professional accomplishments are certainly worthy of recognition, and we’re proud to have Chuck as part of our Synovus team. 1-888-SYNOVUS | Synovus Bank, Member FDIC.

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Starling Chevrolet hits fundraising milestone for MUSC Children’s Hospital Starling Chevrolet recently hit a fundraising milestone by achieving 45% of its “Drive to 55” initiative in support of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. To celebrate this achievement, Starling Chevrolet has donated two customized Chevrolet Power Wheels toy vehicles for patients to enjoy while receiving treatment during their hospital stay in Charleston.

The Now Massage expands to Charleston for next location

The Now Massage announced plans for its first South Carolina location in Charleston. The new boutique will be located at 1421 Shucker Circle, suite 103-105, and is expected to open this winter.

U.S. Navy awards NCI prime position on SeaPort-NxG contract

NCI Information Systems Inc. announced it has won a prime position on the U.S. Navy’s SeaPort Next Generation contract. This multiple award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract vehicle has a base period of two-and-ahalf years and an ordering period of five years, with a remaining ceiling value of $7.5 billion.

Pakistani style restaurant opens in Mount Pleasant Towne Centre

A new Pakistani Canteen style restaurant has opened in the Mount Pleasant Towne Centre at 1333 Theater Drive. Malika serves Pakistani street food with dishes curated by Chef Maryam Ghaznavi, who co-owns Malika, as well as Ma’am Saab in Charleston. Malika is open 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m Sunday.

Trident Tech launching new podcasting courses

Trident Technical College’s Film, Media and Visual Arts department is offering a new series of podcasting courses beginning this month. Bill West, a veteran broadcaster with Cumulus Media Charleston will serve as the instructor. Participants do not have to be TTC students to apply for these noncredit workforce training courses.

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce joins Mercedes-Benz Members Program

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce is joining the Mercedes-Benz Members Program and partnering with Baker Motor Co. to offer its members an opportunity to save money when purchasing fleet vans. Chamber members can now get fleet pricing on any new Mercedes-Benz van regardless of how many they need.

LifeForce Housing First helps homeless population of North Charleston

Newly created Charleston-based nonprofit, LifeForce Housing First, is starting its mission in North Charleston. The organization’s purpose is to raise funds to develop permanent housing solutions for the ever-growing population of homeless citizens in the state. The initial campaign will be to solicit contributions from the

business community. A tax-deductible gift of $2,000 sponsors a room at the facility to accommodate a single person with a private room, twin-size bed, a small kitchenette, comfortable seating and a television set.

Brookgreen Gardens awarded grant to improve member services

Brookgreen Gardens has been awarded an $8,000 grant from S.C. Humanities that will fund a new digital membership process. The S.C. Humanities Growth Grant is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The grant will support capacity building, staff training, systems updating, equipment and supplies.

Metal Trades Inc. secures vessel overhaul contract

Metal Trades Inc. has been awarded a contract with U.S. Army TACOM for the Modular Warping Tug, On-Condition Cycled Maintenance and Service Life Extension Program. The company received vessels out of Fort Eustis, which will be worked at Metal Trades’ facility on Yonges Island just south of Charleston. The award is immediate and will go through the second quarter of next year. Metal Trades Inc. has serviced the U.S. Army Watercraft for more than a quarter of a century.

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BANKING Truist has hired Charles Dew as a commercial banking relationship manager on its Lowcountry commercial team. Dew attended Presbyterian College and Dew has been based in Charleston throughout his banking career, most recently covering the state of South Carolina for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Group. First Reliance Bank has hired Seth DuRoss as a human resources manager. DuRoss will focus on recruiting and retaining talent for the company’s branches in North and South Carolina.

CONSTRUCTION Cullum has promoted Jose Monteiro to superintendent and Chris Stephens to assistant superintendent. Monteiro previously spent eight years as the supervisor of service and maintenance conservation at SENAI Co. Stephens began his construction career in residential plumbing while still in high school. He joined Cullum in 2012 as a pipefitting helper and quickly achieved a foreman’s role.



ENGINEERING Hussey Gay Bell has hired Gregory H. Tedder as business development manager for South Carolina and Britton Corbin as a senior civil engineer. Tedder will be Tedder based in the firm’s Charleston office and will be responsible for client cultivation throughout the state. He graduated with a degree in civil engineering from The Citadel and spent the first 26 years of his career at Santee Cooper. He currently serves on the SCEDA Conference See PEOPLE, Page 30


September 20 - October 3, 2021

People in the News PEOPLE, from Page 29

Target your market in an upcoming issue of the Charleston Regional Business Journal


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Planning Committee and is a charter member of Charleston Leaders. Corbin earned a Master of Science in civil engineering from Clemson and a Bachelor Corbin of Science from The Citadel. He has experience designing and managing projects for Charleston Water System, Berkeley County Water and Sanitation, Charleston International Airport and the S.C. Ports Authority.

NONPROFIT Water Mission has appointed Steven Kerr as CFO. Kerr has supported Water Mission’s work to end the global water crisis for the last 16 years through volunteering and giving. He has more than 30 years of


financial experience, previously working as CFO at Equiscript, where he continues to serve as a board member and secretary-treasurer. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in business administration from Rhodes College. He is replacing former Water Mission CFO, Bernie Drackwicz, who retired and continues to serve in a consulting role.

LAW Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s Sterling Moose has been selected to participate in the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Leadership Charleston Moose Class of 2022. Moose practices corporate and nonprofit tax law. She earned her Master of Laws degree in taxation from the New York University School of Law. She is a member of the University of S.C. School of Law Young Alumni Council and is co-chair of the S.C. Bar Young Lawyers Division Membership Committee.

Travel + Leisure magazine once again names Charleston top city for tourism


Staff Report

harleston has once again been named the top city in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure. This is the ninth year the Holy City earned the honor. Charleston also was crowned No. 18 among the magazine’s 25 Best Cities in the World, joining the likes of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Florence, Italy; and Kyoto, Japan. Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston, said the achievements are “tremendous.” “This recognition from the readers of one of the industry’s most highly-respected publications strengthens the region’s legacy as a premier destination and is evidence of our ability to remain relevant and to constantly provide a high-quality visitor experience,” she said. From January through May, Travel + Leisure polled readers, asking them to reflect on their favorite travel experiences over the last three years. Readers touted Charleston as a friendly city with its colorful homes, cobblestone streets and “charming architecture and powerhouse culinary scene.” “Charleston is such a historic treasure with beauty at every corner,” another reader said. “Also heaven for foodies. King Street has excellent shops, bars, and

“The competition in our industry will be more intense than ever as more destinations fully reopen post-pandemic.” Helen Hill CEO of Explore Charleston

restaurants and is great for nightlife.” While Charleston topped the list of 15 U.S. cities, Savannah, a reader-dubbed “the jewel of the South,” was close behind at No. 3. Asheville closed out the list at No. 15, acknowledged for its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the city’s food and beer scene. “As we continue our recovery efforts and strive to safely welcome visitors back to the area, these awards for the destination provide incredible exposure and an opportunity to reinforce to potential visitors the attributes that make the region so unique,” Hill said. “The competition in our industry will be more intense than ever as more destinations fully reopen post-pandemic.” CRBJ



What I wish someone had told me about pitching investors


arly in my career, I was working with a young, talented faculty member at the University of Michigan on the commercialization of one of his innovations. We thought we had everything figured out. The technical path for developing his technology, the capital required to get it there, the expertise required MATT to translate the BELL technology, and the strategic partner who would be desperate for our idea. We set an agreed upon date to present to the company, put our deck together, and pitched them an idea on which they couldn’t possibly pass. We failed spectacularly. Many years, and a few hundred pitches, later, I look back on that first attempt and recognize the mistakes and presumptions that I see many founding entrepreneurs make even today. Pitching your company is a skill, and it requires training, coaching, and practice. As I look back on that first pitch, here are few things that my more-experienced self would tell that researcher if I could do it all over again.

Know yourself and your idea

The deeper your understanding of the idea, the ways it can be commercialized, the impact it will have, and why your targeted customer set will care about what you are doing, the better you will be at explaining it to others. Too many founders focus upon their strengths, usually either technical- or business-focused, and only can explain part of the business concept. Understanding how the idea works, what it will take to validate that it works, how it is differentiated from competing solutions, how you will get the market to adopt to the idea, and what the value of that impact upon the market will be are all critical aspects of your plan that learned businesspeople will want to know. Understand what you do know, study what you don’t, and find people to help you where your knowledge and skills are lacking.

Keep it simple

Your new business idea may be complex, require a lot of technical know-how, and has a unique business model that takes time to explain. But keep in mind, at the beginning, no one really wants to


Know your audience

Most top entrepreneurs probably have between two to five different pitches for their business ideas. When you are pitching an idea to an audience, one size does not fit all. understand each element of your plan. Most early-stage investors are probably looking at dozens of such plans a week. So, keep it simple. Put it in terms to which they can quickly and easily relate. Define the problem you’re going to solve and how it will make the world better. Go through the description of the business model in simple terms, and let the listener guide you on where they want to have a deeper understanding. Whether you are developing your one-minute elevator pitch or 30-minute investor pitch, keep refining it, practice on others, and ask yourself, “Is this really needed for the first discussion?”

Most top entrepreneurs probably have between two to five different pitches for their business ideas. When you are pitching an idea to an audience, one size does not fit all. Research your audience, understand their backgrounds and their areas of interest. Know what to avoid and what to emphasize. Have a strategy before even walking into the room. Tailoring your message to your audience and being prepared for the type of questions that they will be asking will make a huge difference in refining your pitching skill set.

Listen to your audience

A key concept for all high-level founders is “I pitch to learn.” In the early days of your business, find the top people in your professional field and pitch to them. Prepare yourself to pitch to leading venture capitalists, scientific leaders and business leaders. Plan for it, and do it often. Not only will the style of your pitch get better, but it will become innate as your knowledge deepens. The most important part of the pitch is the discussion after the pitch. Make the next pitch better with the knowledge you have gained from the last one. Map out a strategy for who to pitch

to and in what order. Make the most important pitches the last ones.

Enjoy the ride

Finally, try to enjoy the experience. I know from experience that raising capital can be a difficult process, complete with a great deal of rejection. However, if you approach the rejection as a chance to learn and you attack the process with purpose, enthusiasm, and energy, you will find it to have been an exhilarating experience by the time it’s over. Especially when you get to that first “yes.” CRBJ

Matt Bell is director of SC Launch and executive director of SC Launch Inc. Bell also provides mentorship to early stage companies and facilitates grant funding for eligible companies. SC Launch Inc. is a nonprofit corporate affiliage of the S.C. Research Authority, which is a public, nonprofit corporation established by the General Assembly to fuel South Carolina’s knowledge economy.

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