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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Hurricane Relief

Nov 03, 2022 09:12AM ● By David Dykes

Governor Requests Disaster Declaration in Wake of Hurricane Ian

Gov. Henry McMaster requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration to assist state and local recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian.

This request comes after extensive damage assessments conducted by local officials, recovery staff with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and FEMA.

These assessments determined 17 homes were destroyed, 232 homes experienced major damage, and 82 homes experienced minor damage due to Ian. Additionally, ongoing assessments have determined the storm cost state and local agencies more than $25 million.

The declaration, if granted by the White House, would provide FEMA Individual Assistance Program help to residents affected by the storm in Charleston, Georgetown and Horry counties.

State and local government agencies, in addition to eligible nonprofit organizations, in Berkeley, Charleston, Clarendon, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper and Williamsburg counties would also qualify for reimbursement of certain, storm-related costs through the FEMA Public Assistance Program.

The Individual Assistance Program, if activated for South Carolina, would provide direct financial assistance to residents who incurred uninsured damages to their property as a result of the storm. FEMA Individual Assistance may also provide for other needs on a case-by-case basis.

The Public Assistance Program reimburses applicants for the unexpected, extraordinary costs of recovering from a major disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency pays 75 percent of this aid, and the division of the remaining 25 percent will be determined at a later date.

If approved, the governor’s request may also make available disaster relief programs through Small Business Administration, along with FEMA Hazard Mitigation Program grants to help lessen the impact of future disasters.

Voya Financial to Acquire Benefitfocus in $570 Million Deal

By David Dykes


Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading health, wealth and investment company, and Charleston-based Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: BNFT), an industry-leading cloud-based benefits administration technology company that serves employers, health plans and brokers, announced Nov. 1, 2022, that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement for Voya to acquire Benefitfocus.

Under the terms of the agreement, Voya will acquire all outstanding shares of Benefitfocus common stock for $10.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $570 million, inclusive of Benefitfocus debt and outstanding preferred shares.

Benefitfocus serves the leading brokerage and consulting firms in the health and benefits industry and, through its employer and health plan customers, touches more than 25 million lives on its platform. 

Combined with its own existing workplace customers, Voya will now serve approximately 38 million individuals or roughly one in 10 Americans following completion of the acquisition.

“Our acquisition of Benefitfocus is an exciting opportunity to accelerate our workplace-centered strategy and increase our capacity to meet the growing demand for comprehensive benefits and savings solutions at the workplace,” said Heather Lavallee, president and CEO-elect of Voya Financial. 

“Benefitfocus’ exceptional talent, strong capabilities, and extensive reach across the benefits industry will expand Voya’s ability to deliver innovative solutions for employers and health plans, and help improve the financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing of their employees and members. At the same time, Voya’s technology resources, digital capabilities, and operational expertise will add tremendous value to Benefitfocus as it seeks to accelerate its growth and delivery of world-class services to more clients and partners.”

“We are excited to become part of Voya – bringing Benefitfocus’ portfolio of innovative solutions and services to support the health and wellbeing of more customers through the creation of an end-to-end continuum of offerings across health, wealth and investment,” said Matt Levin, president and CEO, Benefitfocus.

“This transaction delivers significant and immediate value for our shareholders, broader opportunities for our associates, and strengthens our go-to-market offering with Voya’s platform of workplace-centered services and solutions.”

Officials said Benefitfocus will operate as a distinct business under Voya’s ownership, with continuity in the existing Benefitfocus management team and a reaffirmed commitment to Benefitfocus’ broker, adviser, and carrier relationships.

In addition to its significant strategic benefits, officials said the transaction is expected to be immediately accretive, on a cash basis, to Voya’s adjusted operating earnings per share relative to buybacks and before any future revenue synergies are considered.

The transaction — which represents a purchase price premium of approximately 49 percent over Benefitfocus’ closing stock price as of Oct. 31, 2022 — was unanimously approved by Benefitfocus’ board of directors, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023, and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Benefitfocus’ shareholders.

EPC Power Bringing 150 Jobs to Greenville County

EPC Power, a leading producer of utility-scale power conversion products, announced plans to establish operations in Greenville County. The company’s $5 million investment will create 150 jobs.

EPC Power manufactures American-made smart inverters that are uniquely suited for power conversion applications in stand-alone energy storage, solar energy storage and data center backup power.

The company’s inverters, powered by advanced software, enable the buildout of battery storage required to support the growth of renewable energy generation and work with electrical grids to increase resilience, reliability, safety and security.

Located at 360 Old Laurens Road, Suite 800, in Mauldin, EPC Power’s new facility is the company’s first East Coast manufacturing and engineering operation and will accommodate additional production capacity due to increased demand.

Operations are expected to begin this month.

“EPC Power is very excited to expand our operations in Greenville County,” said EPC Power CEO Bill Graham. “The skilled workforce and excellent supplier base will enable EPC Power to supply American-made inverters for use domestically and around the world.”

Designers Chosen for Arts Center Honoring Chadwick Boseman

Howard University has chosen Washington D.C.-based KGD and national architecture firm Moody Nolan to serve as design partners for the future Center for Fine Arts and Communications, a new state-of-the-art academic facility that will house the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. 

“For the first time since 1984, Howard is constructing new academic buildings. These projects represent the University’s evolving and innovative academic offerings,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, president of Howard University.

“The approach to housing more than one discipline under one roof is to encourage greater breadth and depth of exposures, and to create inroads to strengthen the intersections between various fields of study.” 

Boseman, a native of Anderson, S.C., was the Oscar-nominated star of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and played the title character in the blockbuster “Black Panther” film. He graduated from Howard University in 2000. Boseman died of cancer in 2020.

In addition to the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, the Center for Fine Arts & Communications will also be home to the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, Howard University’s television and radio stations, WHUR/WHUT.

This partnership between the KGD and Moody Nolan teams stems from the firms’ shared values for innovation, diversity and inspiring design, as well as a mutual commitment to creating resilient and beautiful places that positively contribute to the community and society. 

“We are honored to serve the community of Howard University with such a distinguished history and place in our academic culture,” said Manoj Dalaya, FAIA, principal and co-president at KGD.

“The KGD | Moody Nolan team is excited to work with a world-leading institution to tell its story, to shape its physical context, and connect with the young scholars and academic community with a next-generation Center for Fine Arts and Communications.”

Phase One of the Center for Fine Arts and Communications is expected to be completed by July 2025, opening to students in the fall 2025 semester. 

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