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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Highest Civilian Honor

Nov 18, 2022 07:12PM ● By David Dykes

Order of the Palmetto awarded to Mable Owens Clarke

Pictured (left to right) Richard W. Riley, Mable Owens Clarke, Chandra E. Dillard, David H. Wilkins (Complete PR photo) 

The woman who has led the campaign to save a historic Black church in Pickens County was awarded the Order of the Palmetto on 11/17/2022.

"Having been born and raised in rural Pickens County on land purchased by my ancestors who had lived as slaves, it is humbling and amazing that my home state would recognize me with such an honor as the Order of the Palmetto,” said Mable Owens Clarke.

“My work to serve and protect Soapstone Church has been a labor of love and honor to my parents and our God.  I'm almost speechless—that's saying something for a woman who is rarely without words."

Former Gov. and Secretary of Education Dick Riley, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada and former S.C. House Speaker David Wilkins, along with State Rep. Chandra Dillard, presented the award to Clarke at the Furman University Younts Center.

Clarke is the sixth-generation steward and matriarch of Soapstone Baptist Church. In 1999, after her mother died, Lula Mae made her promise never to let the historically Black church in the Liberia community of Pickens County close.

In the past few months, groups including the South Carolina Conservation BankUpstate Forever, and the Upstate Land Conservation Fund, created a conservation easement that ensures the property will never be used for developments such as residential subdivisions or commercial operations.

The Order of the Palmetto is the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina to South Carolinians who demonstrate extraordinary lifetime achievement, service, and contributions of national or statewide significance. 

MiddleGround Capital Announces Acquisition of SixAxis

MiddleGround Capital, a private equity firm that makes control investments in North American middle market B2B industrial and specialty distribution companies, announced the acquisition of SixAxis, LLC, a market-leading provider of highly engineered, compliance-driven safety equipment solutions across diverse end markets.

Terms weren’t disclosed.

Headquartered in Andrews, S.C., SixAxis' patent-protected suite of customizable and modular solutions are purpose-built to address companies’ safety and productivity challenges.

Since its founding in 2002, SixAxis has ensured that all designed and manufactured safety and access solutions are compliant with relevant OSHA, ADA and IBC regulations.

The company’s products, offered under the brand families SafeRack, ErectAStep and Upside Innovations, include stairway and platform systems, fall protection and bulk loading solutions.

SixAxis products are also all customizable to meet customer requirements within facilities across a range of end markets, including food and beverage, bulk chemical, commercial / modular buildings, energy transportation, and general industrial.

With two manufacturing locations and four stocking/distribution centers supporting over 1,900 active customers, company officials say SixAxis helps establish and maintain worker safety conditions for companies throughout the industrial landscape.

Coupled with MiddleGround Capital’s operational expertise, SixAxis will continue to pursue a multi-faceted growth plan across end markets, products and customers, according to company officials.

Piper Sandler acted as exclusive financial advisor to SixAxis in its sale to MiddleGround Capital.

MiddleGround Capital, based in Lexington, Ky., has over $2 billion of assets under management.

PulteGroup Announces Expansion of Innovative Construction Group Operations Into SC

PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE: PHM) announced the unveiling of its subsidiary Innovative Construction Group’s second off-site solutions manufacturing operations in Florence, S.C.

Focused on single-family and multi-family wood-framed construction, company officials said the facility will expand ICG’s production and distribution capabilities to meet growing demand in the Southeast.

“This facility increases the scope of ICG’s manufactured framing solutions to serve new home construction in South Carolina, including PulteGroup’s communities in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head, Rock Hill and Columbia,” said PulteGroup President and CEO Ryan Marshall.

Company officials said the Florence operation integrates cutting-edge technology, automation and intellectual property exclusive to ICG to deliver a comprehensive range of framing solutions.

Designed to enhance production efficiency and build quality, ICG provides design services, wall panels, roof trusses and floor systems, and on-site installation to provide a fully integrated shell construction process, the officials said.

PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE: PHM), based in Atlanta, Ga., is one of America’s largest homebuilding companies with operations in more than 40 markets throughout the country.

Its brand portfolio includes Centex, Pulte Homes, Del Webb, DiVosta Homes, American West and John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods.

City of Columbia Accepting Nominations for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Keeper Scholarship Awards

The City of Columbia is accepting nominations for the 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Keeper Scholarship Awards.

The awards recognize exemplary displays of committed service to the tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

City officials say the ideals of social responsibility, political empowerment, diversity, racial harmony, nonviolence, and unselfish service must be demonstrated voluntarily by the nominee in support of his or her community and fellow citizens.

The nominee must be age 18 or younger and enrolled in an elementary, middle or high school with a minimum 2.0 grade point average.

Applications are available online for download or at the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, 1111 Recreation Drive, Columbia, SC 29201.

Applications must be returned by the following methods:

By mail to the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, Attn: Kevin Crawford II, 1111 Recreation Drive, Columbia, SC 29201. Applications must be postmarked by Friday, Dec. 9, 2022.

Submit completed application as a PDF file to [email protected]

For more information, contact Kevin B. Crawford II at 803-545-0235 or [email protected] or visit

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