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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Economic Trend

May 15, 2024 08:38AM ● By Donna Walker

Small Business Optimism Turns Up

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose slightly in April to 89.7, ending a three-month streak of declines, according to Wells Fargo economists Charlie Dougherty, Jackie Benson and Patrick Barley.


Although modest, the upturn was driven by higher expectations for sales and easing cost pressures, the economists said.


They said inflation is still a challenge, but a drop in the share of businesses raising prices is a welcome sign that price pressures for small firms aren’t intensifying.


Plans to hire, to increase capital spending and to build inventory also improved slightly.


Despite the headline edging higher, the economists said continued low readings on the underlying components of the index suggest a more moderate pace of economic growth is on the horizon.


Twenty-two percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in their business, down three points from March but still the number one problem for small business owners.


“Cost pressures remain the top issue for small business owners, including historically high levels of owners raising compensation to keep and attract employees,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist.


Dunkelberg added, “Overall, small business owners remain historically very pessimistic as they continue to navigate these challenges. Owners are dealing with a rising level of uncertainty but will continue to do what they do best – serve their customers.”


Eleven percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem, up one point from March and two points below the highest reading of 13 percent reached in December 2021.


Nineteen percent said that labor quality was their top business problem, remaining behind inflation as the number one issue.


Four percent of owners reported that financing was their top business problem in April. A net 21 percent of owners reported paying a higher rate on their most recent loan, up four points from March.

Strong Net Absorption Keeps Occupancy High in Columbia

Columbia experienced delivery of 1,246 units in the first quarter of 2024, according to 24Q1 multifamily report from Colliers, the largest full-service commercial real estate firm in South Carolina.


The absorption of 513 units kept the decrease in occupancy minimal from 91.97 percent to 91.27 percent, Colliers said.


It added the wave of deliveries drastically reduced the construction pipeline to 1,095 units but the average monthly asking rent still increased to $1,205 per unit.


Colliers said development remains focused in downtown Columbia, but absorption was the highest in East Columbia and Hopkins markets.


Colliers said the Columbia market remains attractive for students, residents and developers, creating optimism that absorption, occupancy and average rental rates will continue to increase with the availability of new product.

United Airlines Adds Nonstop flights to Washington D.C., Starting in September

United Airlines announced plans to offer new, nonstop service from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) to Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, VA.


United will offer three daily nonstop flights beginning Sept. 26, 2024.


Flights will be on Embraer 145 aircraft operated by CommuteAir, doing business as United Express, as indicated on the United Airlines reservations page.


Tickets are available now and can be purchased at


“We applaud United’s continued investment in Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and the Upstate South Carolina region. In addition to being a critical link to our nation’s capital, Washington-Dulles is a valuable access point for international passengers traveling to and from GSP and major destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East,"  said David Edwards, president and CEO of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District.


He added, "We welcome the resumption of service on this very important route for our region,”


United successfully served the GSP to Washington-Dulles route for many years before discontinuing the service in 2022 due to the impact of the global pandemic.


With the resumption of this route, United will offer daily nonstop service to five destinations including flights to Chicago/O’Hare, Denver, Houston and New York/Newark.


The announcement marks the 10th new route to be introduced at GSP in 2024.


When the new flight starts in September, GSP’s seven airlines will offer nonstop service to 27 destinations; the most destinations served in the airport’s 62-year history.


GSP also is a hub for air cargo, including flights regularly flown to and from Europe, Mexico, Asia, and points across the United States. 


In 2023, GSP was recognized as the Best Airport in North America in the 2-5 million passenger category by its customers and Airports Council International.


Each year GSP contributes over a $4 billion economic impact to the regional economy and is responsible for nearly 20,000 jobs.

Greenville Women Giving Announces 2024 Awards

Greenville Women Giving announced awards of $503,555 to six local nonprofit organizations in Greenville County at an event on May 14, 2024.


The organization has awarded more than $8.5 million to 92 organizations since its inception in 2006.


This year’s six grantees were chosen from an applicant pool of 54, and the recipients were selected by a vote of the Greenville Women Giving (GWG) membership.


“Greenville Women Giving is thrilled to be able to make a positive impact on these extremely worthy organizations,” said GWG Co-Chair Jane Pannier said. “The sheer volume of grant applications this year tells us our community’s needs are growing. Through the collective giving of our 500+ members, we can initiate lasting change for the good of our community. The more members we have to contribute, the greater our impact can be.”


GWG grants are awarded to organizations that serve Greenville County, and focus on five areas: arts, education, environment, health, and human services. The award amounts range from $50,000 to $100,000.


The grants are funded by the contributions of GWG members.


The recipients for the 2024 grants are:


Arts: South Carolina Children’s Theatre receives $76,430 to purchase assistive technology for individuals with sensory sensitivities. The grant will allow for the purchase of two live-feed cameras and viewing screens for both theater spaces, side tab curtains, and microphones, allowing patrons, regardless of their abilities, to enjoy the productions.


Education: Nicholtown Child and Family Collaborative receives $100,000 over two years to help fund staff salaries, program supplies, and participant meals for individuals in the Nurturing Parentings Skills and Parent Café program. The program provides free, family-based education and training for adults who have experienced child abuse and neglect or who are at high risk for repeating the cycle of abuse and neglect with their own children.


Environment: Loaves & Fishes receives $100,000 over two years to help cover the operating costs of four refrigerated trucks that deliver donated perishable produce to organizations in Greenville County providing nutritious meals to individuals who would otherwise go unfed. Loaves & Fishes allows the food to be used by people who need it, while also preventing the produce from ending up in a landfill, producing methane gas and chemical leakage into the groundwater. The funding also will allow Loaves & Fishes to expand its routes and feed more people.


Health: The Period Project receives $80,000 to distribute 12,100 period packs in Greenville County for one year. The period packs will improve the menstrual health of women and girls who have no or limited access to monthly menstrual products. The packs also include health cards so that the recipients can document their menstrual cycle information to discuss with their health care provider.


Human services: Generations Group Home receives $50,000 to update the 32-year-old kitchen of its nationally accredited residential and psychiatric treatment facility for young boys who are victims of sexual abuse. The updated kitchen will allow the organization to store frozen food donations and purchased items and to properly sanitize kitchen utensils.


Human services: Greenville Homeless Alliance receives $97,125 to construct two tiny homes designed by Fine Arts Center architecture students, built by Soteria prison re-entry program participants, and rented to Soteria program graduates. This is the pilot phase of a program that would create a mixed-income neighborhood with up to 30 tiny homes for individuals re-entering society after incarceration, as well as people emerging from chronic homelessness. GWG officials said it is thought to be the first program of its kind in the nation.

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