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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Inflation Worries

Mar 13, 2024 12:27PM ● By Donna Walker

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index Dips in February

The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index fell to the lowest level since May 2023 during February.


Wells Fargo Senior Economist Charlie Dougherty and economic analyst Patrick Barley said firms reported seeing improvements in terms of labor availability, while a lower share of firms raised selling prices during the month.


They said expectations for real sales and better credit conditions also notched improvements during the month.


On balance, however, most other components slipped, notably hiring and capex plans, Dougherty and Barley said.


What's more, they said the share of small businesses reporting inflation as the single most important operational problem rose during the month, overtaking labor quality at the top of the list.


They added:


* The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell to 89.4 in February. Although confidence has shown signs of improvement at various times, the headline index has mostly bounced around at a level well below the long-term historical average over the past two years


*The lack of meaningful improvement largely reflects ongoing challenges dealing with higher costs for materials, labor and financing. The share of small businesses reporting inflation as the single most important operational problem continues to be elevated and turned up further in February.


Although inflation appears to be subsiding on trend, small businesses still appear to be having difficulties balancing the sharp rise in prices over past several years with slowing sales and uncertain future demand.


* Expectations for real sales notched an improvement during the month, however the subindex is still very depressed relative to recent periods of economic expansion. Lower earnings expectations coincides with a generally dim outlook for the economy.


The share of firms expecting the economy to improve over the next six months, which has trended slightly higher over the past year, edged lower in February and is still close to its recent low point.


* Small firms have seen some improvements recently. For example, labor availability for small firms looks to be getting better. During February, the share of businesses reporting labor quality as a top problem fell to the lowest share since April 2020.


Difficult-to-fill job openings also declined.


* Labor cost pressures appear to be easing as a result. The share of firms raising compensation, both currently and expecting to in the near future, both dipped during the month.


* On the other hand, hiring intentions for small firms sunk to a low not seen since May 2020 during the throes of the pandemic. The drop suggests the labor market may start to lose momentum over the coming months.


* The share of firms which are currently raising prices continues to decline and is now at the lowest reading since January 2021.


Encouragingly, the share expecting to raise prices, which spurted higher over the past several months, pulled back slightly during February.

Group 1 Automotive Acquires Modern Classic Motors in Hilton Head, South Carolina

Group 1 Automotive, Inc. (NYSE: GPI), a Fortune 300 automotive retailer with 202 dealerships in the U.S. and U.K., announced the acquisition of Modern Classic Motors in Hilton Head, South Carolina.


The acquisition includes three franchises: Mercedes-Benz, Sprinter and Honda in Beaufort County.  


The acquisition expands Group 1's relationship with Mercedes-Benz to 17 franchises in the U.S. and U.K. and with Honda to 13 franchises in the U.S. 


The dealerships are expected to generate $140 million in annual revenues.  


Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.


Group 1's President and CEO Daryl Kenningham said, "We are delighted to grow our relationship with Mercedes-Benz and Honda while adding scale to our successful Hilton Head operations with these highly desirable brands."  


Group 1 has now acquired an estimated $1 billion of annual revenues in 2024, which follows $1.1 billion of acquired revenues in 2023.


Group 1 owns and operates 202 automotive dealerships, 265 franchises, and 43 collision centers in the United States and the United Kingdom that offer 35 brands of automobiles.


Through its dealerships and omni-channel platform, the company sells new and used cars and light trucks; arranges related vehicle financing; sells service and insurance contracts; provides automotive maintenance and repair services; and sells vehicle parts.

Invitation-Only Golf Club Featuring Championship Course Under Development Near Simpsonville

An experienced team with more than a century of combined success crafting and marketing golf courses is creating an invitation-only private golf club near Simpsonville, South Carolina, that officials say is destined to redefine exclusivity and the playing experience for golf enthusiasts.


Nestled on 290 acres with rolling meadows, lakes, and hardwoods bordered by the Reedy River, SC 418, and Fork Shoals Road, Kawonu Golf Club pays homage to its historical roots as a hunting preserve with a name derived from the Cherokee word for duck.


Led by Scott Ferrell, who has a background managing all aspects of the global golf course design business at the Gary Player Group, officials say the enclave is set to challenge golfers of all skill levels with its championship 18-hole course, clubhouse, top-tier practice facilities, and four-bedroom cabins.


 Renowned golf course architect Andrew Green is shaping Kawonu's course.


“I have spent time on this beautiful site and have no doubt that we can not only create a fantastic golf course, but also an exclusive club experience. My intent is to design 18 holes of golf that no one has ever played,” said Green, who has worked on renovations of Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio; Indian Creek Country Club in Miami; Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York; and Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, among others.


He also is charged with renovating Atlanta’s prestigious East Lake Golf Club for the 2024 TOUR Championship.


Devoid of residential developments or extraneous amenities like pools, tennis courts or fitness facilities, officials say Kawonu Golf Club focuses solely on golf amid a backdrop of natural splendor.


Construction is anticipated to begin later this year or early next year, with an expected opening in spring 2027 if not sooner.


Kawonu stands as Greenville's first private club debut in over three decades.


Officials say the selectively curated group of local and national members will be capped to keep down the number of rounds of golf played.

ShalomFest Coming Back After Four-Year Hiatus

Returning for its 12th year following a four-year hiatus, the Upstate SC Jewish Festival event will be happening April 7.


ShalomFest will feature choir performances, Israeli dancing demonstrations, exhibits on Israel, Jewish history and customs, a mock Jewish wedding, and presentations on Judaism and inter-faith topics. Traditional food, pastries, drinks, and gift items will be available for purchase. 


The event will be held at the Temple of Israel, 400 Spring Forest Road in Greenville, South Carolina, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to all interested people and groups. Admission is free.


Temple of Israel first presented ShalomFest in 2009 and continued through 2019, with thousands attending annually. Learn more at The Greenville Jewish Festival is an event partner.


“We are so excited to be part of ShalomFest and having it back this year,” said Courtney Tessler, CEO of the Greenville Jewish Federation. “We hope to see the greater community turn up to experience and celebrate Jewish culture here in the Upstate.”


With a rich philanthropy and community-building history, the Federation works to support educational programs, social services, cultural events, and advocacy efforts that promote Jewish values, heritage, and unity.  


To learn more about the Greenville Jewish Federation's initiatives and upcoming programs, go to

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