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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Latest Economic Outlook

Dec 01, 2022 02:10PM ● By David Dykes


Key SC Indicator Rises

The South Carolina Leading Index (SCLI) rose in October to a value (following revisions) of 102.57, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Commerce officials said SCLI metrics were mostly up in October. Unemployment claims were 2.3 percent higher than in September.

The number of issued housing permits rose 13.5 percent month-over-month while valuation for the permits rose 5.2 percent.

Average weekly manufacturing hours were up 0.5 percent. The Dow Jones Composite Average was up 11.9 percent.

The Conference Board's national Leading Economic Index decreased in October, following revisions, to 114.9. Commerce officials said The Conference Board noted that, after eight consecutive months of decline, the economy may be in recession.

According to Commerce officials, South Carolina’s total non-seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment rose by 12,000 net jobs to 2,255,700 in October, which was 0.5 percent higher than September numbers and 5.0 percent higher than one year ago.

Sectors reporting net job gains for the month included Government (4,200); Professional and Business Services (4,000); Educational and Health Services (3,600); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (3,200); Construction (600); and Finance (200).

Net job losses were reported in the Leisure and Hospitality (-2,700); Other Services (-900); Manufacturing (-100); and Information (-100). Natural Resources and Mining had no net change month-over-month.

Compared to one year ago, the state economy added 94,800 net nonfarm jobs.

The average number of initial reported claims for unemployment insurance in the state increased in October. The average for the month was 1,988 weekly initial claims, up 2.3 percent month-over-month.

In October, the number of building permits issued in South Carolina for new residential construction rose 13.5 percent to 3,637. The figure was down 14.9 percent from one year ago.

Valuation for the permits rose 5.2 percent month-over-month and was 10.1 percent lower than one year ago.

Total closings were down 13.0 percent compared to September, while the median sales price was down 1.4 percent. Total closings fell across the six MSAs, with Greenville reporting the steepest decline (-16.0 percent). Median sales price fell in five of the MSAs, with Spartanburg reporting the only increase at 0.8 percent.

Lockheed Martin’s First Block 70 F-16 Aircraft Completed in Greenville

The first Block 70 F-16 has been built and painted at Lockheed Martin’s new production line in Greenville, S.C., according to the industry trade website Defense One.

Greg Ulmer, the executive vice president of the company’s Aeronautics business area, wrote on LinkedIn that workers completed the Final Assembly & Checkout (FACO) and paint phases of the fighter jet at the Lockheed Martin production facility in Greenville.

“The F-16 team has worked hard for this moment, and I am proud of all that they have accomplished in supporting our mission of strengthening global security,” Ulmer said.

Defense One, which delivers news and analysis on topics and trends that define the future of U.S. defense and international security, said that last year the U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed a contract to build Block-70 F-16s for Bahrain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Taiwan.

Domtar Announces CEO Transition Plan

Domtar Corporation, whose principal executive office is in Fort Mill, S.C., announced that President and CEO John Williams’ retirement date will be June 30, 2023.

Company officials said Williams has planned to leave the company after 14 years in his leadership role; however, he will continue as a part-time advisor regarding strategic growth opportunities.

Additionally, the officials said Steve Henry, senior vice president of packaging, has been appointed executive vice president (EVP) and chief operating officer (COO) effective immediately.

As EVP and COO, Henry will lead the pulp, paper and packaging operations and commercial functions at Domtar, while Williams will continue to lead all corporate functions until his retirement.

Williams has served as Domtar’s president and CEO since 2009. During his tenure, he redefined the company as a fiber innovator, growing in markets like pulp, engineered materials, thermal paper and containerboard while exploring absorbent hygiene end uses and biomaterials.

He was named CEO of the Year by RISI in 2010, Executive Papermaker of the Year by PaperAge magazine in 2012 and PIMA Executive of the Year in 2019. Williams served on the board of directors of American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and the Paper + Packaging Board as both member and chairperson. He also serves on the boards of Owens Corning and Form Technologies.

Throughout his 27-year career in the forest products and paper industry, Henry has held a variety of mill and corporate positions at Georgia-Pacific, Weyerhaeuser and International Paper before joining Domtar in 2011.

Henry served as mill manager in multiple locations during his career, being named TAPPI/PIMA Mill Manager of the Year in 2016.

His most recent assignment has been to lead Domtar’s entry into the packaging business, building the business structure needed to produce and sell containerboard with a winning customer value proposition.

A $350 million capital project to convert Domtar’s Kingsport, Tenn., paper mill to produce 600,000 tons of 100 percent recycled containerboard is expected to start up by the end of the year.

Domtar is part of the Paper Excellence group of companies.

Carolina Refractories, Inc. Expanding Operations in Horry County

Carolina Refractories, Inc., a manufacturer of monolithic refractories, announced plans to expand its operations in Horry County.

The company’s $3.7 million investment will create 38 jobs over the next five years, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Founded in 1986, Carolina Refractories is a leading supplier of monolithic refractories, which consist of unshaped material that is resistant to decomposition by extreme temperatures, across the United States and around the world.

The company manufactures and supplies refractory products, serving the steel, aluminum, cement, foundry, incineration, power and paper industries.

Located at Ascott Valley Industrial Park in Conway, Carolina Refractories, Inc.’s expansion will include the construction of a new 30,000-square-foot facility, which will include state-of-the-art monolithic refractory manufacturing equipment and a new precast shape division to manufacture precast refractory shapes, Commerce officials said.

The expansion is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2023. Those interested in joining Carolina Refractories should go to SC Works.

The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project.

The council also awarded a $250,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to Horry County to assist with the costs of site preparation and building construction.

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