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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Regional Economic Snapshot

Mar 26, 2024 09:48AM ● By Donna Walker

SC Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly

Payroll employment in South Carolina increased by 4,400 jobs (0.2 percent) in February, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.


The unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.1 percent.


"South Carolina added 4,400 jobs in February, a continuation of many months of steady job growth. The labor force in South Carolina continued its upward trend as well and is now 4.5 percent higher than in February 2020," said Laura Ullrich, a senior regional economist at the Charlotte branch of the Richmond Fed.


Previously, Ullrich was associate dean for undergraduate programs and a professor of economics at Winthrop University.


Additionally for South Carolina:

* The trade, transportation and utilities sector had the largest increase in jobs month-over-month (2,000 jobs), followed by the leisure and hospitality sector (1,500 jobs). Government (1,300 jobs), education and health services (1,100 jobs), and manufacturing (500 jobs) each saw additional jobs added in February.


Job declines occurred in professional and business services (2,700 jobs) and financial activities (200 jobs).


* On a year-over-year basis, payroll employment in South Carolina increased by 67,600 jobs (3.0 percent), on net.


Since February 2020, financial activities and education and health services have been the fastest-growing sectors, adding 15.4 percent and 12.2 percent more jobs respectively.


*The unemployment rate in South Carolina was up from 3.0 percent on a year-over-year basis.


Among housing market conditions:

* Residential permitting activity decreased 17.9 percent in South Carolina from October to November but was up 5.1 percent from its level a year ago.


* According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, home values in South Carolina appreciated 8.6 percent from the third quarter of 2022 to the third quarter of 2023.

Duke Energy Progress Looks to Add Solar Power in Eastern South Carolina

Duke Energy Progress has requested approval by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) to build and own a 76-megawatt utility-scale solar power facility adjacent to the existing Robinson Nuclear Plant site in both Chesterfield and Darlington counties.


"Making smart investments in South Carolina's energy future is a priority for Duke Energy – one that focuses on delivering reliable, affordable service every day to the customers and communities we serve, and on transitioning to cleaner energy options and a lower carbon future," said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy's South Carolina state president.


Callahan added, "The proposed Robinson Solar Center is part of the thousands of megawatts of solar that will help us do that."


If approved, construction is expected to begin on the approximate 345-acre existing site in 2026 with the facility targeting full operation in 2027.


Duke Energy officials said the facility will provide fuel-free power to meet the growing needs of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.


For more information on the project, go to


From population growth to the expansion of manufacturing and other major economic development wins, South Carolina is booming, Duke Energy officials noted.


They also noted that, according to the Census Bureau, the Palmetto State had the fastest growing population in the nation in 2023, largely due to the tremendous impact of the state's economic prosperity.


Transitioning to cleaner energy sources like solar, while also meeting growing energy needs, requires a diverse mix of resources like the Robinson Solar Center to ensure continued and future reliability, the officials said.


"We are using an 'all-of-the-above' approach that incorporates renewables like solar, next-generation and existing nuclear, natural gas and hydroelectric sources," Callahan said.


Callahan also said, "This diverse mix will help Duke Energy meet customer expectations for cleaner energy while also reliably powering communities across the state."


For more than 50 years, Robinson Nuclear Plant has played a critical role in powering communities in the Pee Dee region and continues to be an essential part of the company's current and future diverse energy mix, Duke Energy officials said.

Converse Receives $1M to Support Adult Learners, Veteran Services

Converse University will revitalize its long-standing program for adult learners and enhance its veteran services, all thanks to a partnership with Spartanburg Academic Movement’s newest philanthropic endeavor, Movement 2030.


As one of 30 business, university, and nonprofit partners included in Movement 2030, Converse has been entrusted with more than $1 million in philanthropic funds, including a direct award from the Spartanburg Academic Movement and a sub-award from OneSpartanburg. 


“With these funds,” Converse President Boone Hopkins, Ph.D. said, “Converse will focus on advancing economic mobility and career readiness by increasing adult re-engagement and degree completion and expanding services and support to veterans – all helping Spartanburg be a community where everyone thrives.”


Spartanburg leaders launched Movement 2030 to dramatically improve social and economic mobility for young people and families in Spartanburg. 


Movement 2030 is a community-wide initiative by Spartanburg County for Spartanburg County that brings together local foundations and nonprofits, educational and faith-based institutions, businesses, and philanthropists.


Officials said the initiative is streamlining critical resources and existing efforts around school readiness, postsecondary attainment, and place-based programs in under-invested communities.


The investment will support Converse University with the following goals:

* Boost marketing to increase enrollment and expand support for the Converse II program for nontraditional, adult undergraduate students.

* Hire an admissions counselor focusing on nontraditional students, which includes supporting degree completion for working adult/nontraditional students

* Expand veteran services to assess credit for prior learning and to support retention, academic success and career counseling

* Develop strategies to support male recruitment and retention efforts and increase male student programming at Converse

* Partner with United Way of the Piedmont to welcome a Community Resource Coordinator to the Converse University campus.


Officials said the funds will support Converse’s goal of equipping students to become transformational, adaptable, and responsive leaders.


The officials added Converse’s contributions to local economic growth are evident through programs such as:

* Development of a BA in Healthcare Administration and a new BA in Data Science, based on local workforce needs;

* More than 20 undergraduate and graduate education programs – including the Master of Arts in Teaching programs; and

* The Doctorate in Professional Leadership, the Masters in Management in Professional Leadership, and a new Masters in Management in Community Advocacy.


Converse, founded in 1889 by citizens of Spartanburg, South Carolina, encompasses the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Business and Data Science, the School of the Arts, The Graduate School, and the Converse College for Women.


Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) is a nonprofit organization working to improve economic mobility, anchored in building equity and academic achievement across Spartanburg County.


Led by SAM, Movement 2030 is coordinating critical resources and existing efforts among over 30 local foundations and nonprofits, educational- and faith-based institutions, and businesses to create the conditions for children and families to succeed in life, no matter where they are born and raised.

Milliken & Company Achieves ISO 27001 Certification

Diversified global manufacturer Milliken & Company, based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, recently completed the ISO 27001:2022 (ISO/IEC 27001) certification process for information security management systems (ISMS) as part of the company's commitment to data privacy and security.


The ISO 27001 certification provides third-party verification of Milliken's ability to apply risk management processes to preserve data confidentiality, integrity and availability.


"ISO 27001 benchmarks our efforts against leading industry practices and signals to our stakeholders that we are committed to the highest levels of data security," said Milliken Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Information Officer David Smart.


Smart added, "Milliken is known for innovation and manufacturing excellence, and this certification affirms that our data practices demonstrate that same spirit of continuous improvement."


Company officials said the ISO 27001 program promotes a holistic approach to information security that supports risk management, cyber-resilience and operational excellence.


The officials said the standard requires an organization to implement comprehensive policies, procedures and controls that oversee all aspects of information security, such as risk assessment, access control, encryption, incident response and auditing.


Schellman, the independent ANAB- and UKAS-accredited certification body, completed comprehensive audits of Milliken's organizational and technological controls over several months.


For Milliken, ISO 27001 certification not only validates ongoing efforts to safeguard customer and supplier data, but audits also extend to internal processes that secure sensitive associate and company data, company officials said.


A highly protected Milliken ISMS helps mitigate threats that lead to data leaks and supply chain interruptions, among other cybersecurity attacks, the officials said.


The scope of Milliken's ISO 27001 certification includes activities that protect Milliken's manufacturing of chemical, floor covering, textile, and healthcare products, as well as Performance Solutions by Milliken services.

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