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Clemson’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing names founding director

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Mark Johnson. Photo provided by Clemson University.

A former government official with more than a decade of research experience will lead Clemson University’s effort to become a statewide hub for advanced manufacturing.

The university has named Dr. Mark Johnson as the founding director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Thomas F. Hash ’69 SmartState Endowed Chair in Sustainable Development.

Johnson previously served as associate professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University.

“With Dr. Johnson, Clemson is gaining a leader with experience, talent, and vision,” said Robert Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Clemson, in a statement. “We are confident that he is the best person to lead us into the future as we build the programs that will take advanced manufacturing to the next level not only in the state but around the world.”

Clemson announced the creation of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing last December. The center is envisioned as a “one-stop shop” for the university’s research and education programs in advanced manufacturing, according to Johnson.

Among the goals of the center is to help develop new technology that will give manufacturers a competitive edge, making them more profitable, while helping create more manufacturing jobs, he said. “We are going to make sure all the resources of Clemson are available to the manufacturing community.”

Johnson and other university officials are working with industry leaders to develop the center’s programs, including the Vehicle Assembly Center in Greenville.

The 4,000-square-foot research and development space, which is part of the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and located at Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation, will enable faculty, students, and local companies to collaborate in learning and developing advanced manufacturing techniques and technologies, including robotics.

“There will be individual jobs that will be replaced by robots, but we’ll have a lot more jobs as a result,” Johnson said. “It’s not just people building the robots. We’ll have jobs you haven’t even thought of yet. When the steam engine replaced the water wheel and the horse cart, yes, some people who were tending the horses lost their jobs. They could have never envisioned people running CNC mills, but that’s a direct outcome of technological advancement.”

Johnson added that he plans to use his experience as a former government official, entrepreneur, and university professor to act as a conduit that connects manufacturers, faculty, students, and other resources.

As director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Johnson oversaw a program aimed at making the United States more competitive through the support of research and development of new technologies, according to a news release.

The program also focused on building partnerships with the private sector to ensure technologies get out of the lab and into manufacturing, the release said.

During his tenure with the AMO, Johnson managed more than $250 million annually, supporting universities, national laboratories, companies, and nonprofits.

Prior to that, Johnson had the longest-serving tenure as director in the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, where he managed more than $150 million in research projects from 2010 to mid-2013. He joined North Carolina State University in November 2017.

Johnson, who has a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, has also been an entrepreneur in the startup phase of three semiconductor companies that ultimately had successful exits at QED, EPI Systems and Nitronex.

Johnson’s primary role at Clemson will be to serve as the Thomas F. Hash ’69 SmartState Endowed Chair in Sustainable Development. Hash created the endowment in 2010, two years after he retired from Bechtel Corp. as a senior executive.

“Dr. Johnson has the vision, knowledge, and experience to promote sustainable development in South Carolina and around the world,” Hash said. “He is uniquely positioned to bring together various stakeholders to address the complex issues surrounding sustainability of our natural resources.”

For more information, visit clemson.edu.

Nelson Mullins to merge with Florida-based Broad and Cassel

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Pictured from left to right: Tim Madden, Dick Riley and David Wilkins, co-founders of the Nelson Mullins office in Greenville. Photo by Will Crooks.

Columbia-based law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, which has an office in Greenville, is merging with Broad and Cassel, a Florida-based law firm.

The merger, which is set to take effect Aug. 1, will produce a “super-regional” law firm with a significant presence along the Eastern seaboard, according to a news release.

The new firm, which will be known as Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel in Florida, will have 725 lawyers operating in 25 offices in 11 states and Washington, D.C., the release said. It is expected to have a combined revenue of more than $500 million.

Jim Lehman will continue to serve as the managing partner of the combined firm, with David Brown becoming a voting member of the firm’s executive committee.

“Our goal is always to provide comprehensive solutions to our clients, and this combination will benefit clients of both firms with added capabilities, enhanced practices and a broader geographical reach,” Lehman said in a statement.

Lehman said the combined firm would “have leading national practice groups in corporate and litigation in areas such as real estate, health care, pharmaceuticals, and the automobile industry.” In addition, specialty practice areas will include white collar, trusts and estates, public finance, construction, and affordable housing tax credits.

Founded in 1897, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough is one of the oldest law firms in South Carolina. The firm currently employs more than 575 lawyers in 11 offices along the Eastern seaboard. It opened its Greenville office in 1987.

Broad and Cassel currently has 150 attorneys in 10 offices across the state of Florida, according to the release. It was founded in 1946.

“As Florida has grown over the past several decades to become the third largest state in the country, Broad and Cassel has grown with it to serve our clients,” said Chairman C. David Brown II in a statement.

“Many of our clients seek regional and national legal counsel outside Florida so this combination with Nelson Mullins positions us to offer them expanded services geographically and through additional practice areas.  By joining together with Nelson Mullins – a firm that shares our culture, values, and vision – we will be able to address client needs into the future,” he added.

For more information, visit nelsonmullins.com.

Worst-case scenarios in cyberwarfare

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Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

By Belton Zeigler, partner, Womble Bond Dickinson

Previous articles have focused on solutions to corporate cybercrime. But what would a catastrophic societywide cyber-issue look like, one that involves cyberwarfare?

Cybercrime is about greed stealing money and defrauding the vulnerable. Cyberwarfare is about military power: confusing, disrupting, and destroying opponents’ assets.

Consider three cyberwarfare examples.

1. At 11:08 a.m. Aug. 15, 2012, a virus planted by Iranian cyber-operatives came to life and permanently destroyed hard drives on more than 30,000 computers and servers owned by the Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco. For months thereafter, Aramco had to conduct its massive global operations without email or electronic records at one point, giving away gasoline and diesel fuel to domestic suppliers because the company had no way to charge them.

In the end, Aramco bought up all hard drive production it could find globally and chartered cargo jets to fly in pallets of hard drives from the Far East to replace the hardware. Full systems restoration took five months. But the data and records not backed up elsewhere were gone forever.

2. On Dec. 31, 2015, Russian cyber-operatives used stolen credentials to shut down much of the Ukrainian electric grid, blacking out service to about 225,000 customers. After disconnecting Ukrainian electric generators and substations, Russian malware programs destroyed the computers and communication systems that the Ukrainian operators needed to use to restore service. Russian malware also flooded utility customer service centers with calls, effectively shutting them down. Other malware destroyed the emergency battery systems meant to allow telephone utilities to stay online during the blackout.

Fortunately, Ukraine’s “outdated” electrical infrastructure allowed manual switching of the power grid in the field, which is what workers did, using radios and cell phones to communicate with central control centers. But the utilities’ sophisticated electrical control systems were ruined and had to be replaced.

3. In 2017, a Russian cyberwarfare attack targeted Ukrainian state-owned businesses, ministries, banks, and infrastructure companies. The malware used was self-spreading, jumping past the targets to destroy or damage the computer systems of international companies like FedEx, DHL, Maersk, and Merck. These companies lost thousands of computers and servers along with any data on them that was not also stored elsewhere. During the first week after the attack, the damage to global businesses was estimated to exceed $5 billion.

From these cyberwarfare examples, we can glean three principles.

  • Even in the limited instances of recent cyberwarfare, malware has shown a nasty habit of spilling beyond intended targets and damaging businesses that thought they were on the sidelines.
  • None of us is ever far from the battle lines. The internet itself provides no checkpoints, border guards, passports, or ports of entry apart from those that we impose ourselves. Every internet-connected computer or router sits on the front lines of global cyberwarfare, what is effectively an undefended international border unless we make it otherwise through the firewalls and perimeter defenses we maintain.
  • It is the nature of cyberwarfare that invasions precede hostilities. The principal weapons for waging cyberwar have to be built in advance within the opponent’s territory, by breaching the opponent’s computer systems and infecting them with malware for future use.

So cyberwarfare units do not wait for the start of conflict to begin their activities. They are breaching computer systems and installing malware in their opponents’ territory every day.

That is what is behind the FBI’s recent notice asking citizens to reset routers in homes and businesses. A Russian cyber-campaign had infected as many as 500,000 personal and business internet routers worldwide. The malware installed on these routers allows operatives to steal passwords and data, to take control of the devices for their own use, or to destroy those devices on command. Resetting the infected routers wipes the malware out of active memory, causing stored malware programs to send messages back to command and control servers seeking a reload. The FBI has identified the servers and seized their internet domains. Now when the infected routers call for fresh malware, it is the FBI that receives the message.

Today, cyberwarfare is part of the strategy, doctrine, and capabilities of militaries around the world. Billions of dollars are being spent, quietly but purposefully, to strengthen U.S. utility, communications, and financial systems, and other critical infrastructure against cyber-threats. But our personal and business computers are equally on the front lines and as accessible to cyberwarfare teams in Russia, Iran, North Korea, or China as we allow them to be. Beyond financial self-protection, there are now purely patriotic reasons to maintain strong internet security, use strong passwords, change them regularly, install software security patches, and take the other steps needed to prevent our computers and routers from being controlled by those who mean to do us harm.

Belton Zeigler, a partner with Womble Bond Dickinson, has a practice focusing on the energy and natural resources sector, as well as cybersecurity. Connect with Belton at linkedin.com/in/beltonzeigler. The author gratefully acknowledges the insights of Allen O’Rourke, co-leader of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Privacy and Cybersecurity Team. Connect with Allen at linkedin.com/in/allenorourke.

Global ideas to help build local mobility

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By Dean Hybl, executive director, Ten at the Top

While increased traffic congestion around our primary transportation corridors and lack of access to transportation for some Upstate employees have become growing concerns in our region in recent years, the reality is that other regions around the globe have been dealing with similar challenges for decades.

I was fortunate to be among a number of Upstate leaders who participated in the recent Movin’On Mobility Summit hosted by Michelin in Montreal.

Billed as the World Summit on Sustainable Mobility, more than 4,000 people from around the globe participated in the conference with the goal of bringing global, smart, sustainable, and multimodal mobility to life.

It is perhaps natural to think that other places have all the answers and that we are behind when it comes to addressing our transportation and mobility challenges in the Upstate. However, while there are communities with amazing, cutting-edge programs, one of my takeaways from the conference was that no place has all the answers. In fact, regions around the world are scrambling to figure out how to connect local transportation needs with dramatic innovations in technology and a desire to improve sustainability and mitigate harm to the environment.

While the theme of the conference was innovation and technology, many speakers spent as much time talking about the importance of creating a community culture to enable success. Building a vision and then collaborative partnerships with everyone who can play a role, even though many of those players may be competitors, was an underlying theme from presenters.

“Collaboration between the public and private sector is the key to the future,” Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard said in the conference opening.

Adam Blinick, the director of public policy and communications for Uber Canada, said that “you need a vision of where you want to go first. Technology shouldn’t be the end.”

He added, “A joint vision is not a technical challenge, it is a collaborative challenge. You have to bring together all the transportation modes that play a role in mobility and work together to accelerate the trends we are already seeing.”

Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada, moderated a panel about creating an inclusive transformation and said that “collaboration is becoming increasingly important in helping meet our mobility needs.”

Given that Upstate stakeholders have spent much of the past year working to develop a transportation vision, actionable strategies, and a framework for continuing to build collaborative partnerships through the Connecting Our Future program, you can certainly say that the Movin’On conference affirmed that approach.

However, it is also clear that we cannot stop with simply creating a regional mobility vision. For the Upstate to tangibly address our growing challenges, we must take the next step and continue building the partnerships and “community will” needed to turn vision into action.

Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of MaaS Global in Helsinki, talked about creating a dream for people that goes beyond simply owning a vehicle, but gives them aspirations about how having multiple mobility choices can positively affect their lives. He also said that to create sustainability, you have to focus not just on projects, but on enabling the market that will then allow for the cultivation of projects.

In an Upstate region where 94 percent of residents use a personal vehicle to get to work and our investment in public transportation is near the bottom of most rankings, our solutions are going to be different than in some other parts of the country and world. Yet, if we can cast a compelling vision for how multiple mobility solutions can positively affect the quality of life for all of us, over time we can create a future that enables greater mobility.

What we must do in the Upstate is continue to grow a coalition of partners and stakeholders who are committed to supporting and prioritizing the solutions needed to improve how we move people and goods across the Upstate. As was said multiple times by speakers at the conference, there is no “silver bullet” to fix transportation and mobility in a community, and having the right partners at the table to enable change will be crucial.

I invite you to join us for the unveiling of the regional vision and actionable strategies and the start of the discussion on “next steps” on Aug. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the TD Convention Center. This event is open to the public, and you can register to attend at www.connectingourfutureupstatesc.org.

Takeaway: Why a company culture of caring breeds success

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By Amanda Long, senior account director, Hughes Agency

Event: Endeavor’s Collaborators & Cocktails monthly professional development series
Where: Endeavor, a coworking community for creatives in the ONE Building
Who Was There: 80+ creative industry and corporate marketing professionals
Presenter: Tim Cox, director of creative services, Publix Super Markets

Publix, the country’s largest associate-owned grocery store, has always known what it stands for. Its tagline, “Where shopping is a pleasure,” hasn’t changed in its 88-year existence. Nor has the brand experience, which consistently ranks high for both associates and customers, regardless of how times have changed. While Publix is in the business to sell products, its focus is helping people create experiences. This permeates into everything they do, including marketing with commercials that trigger emotional responses in customers. Publix “gets life.”

Publix’s culture also has not changed, even 22 years after the death of founder George Jenkins. At Endeavor’s Collaborators & Cocktails, its director of creative services, Tim Cox, shared why the principles that Jenkins established years ago are the reason behind the company’s continued success.

Work for someone (or something) you believe in

Jenkins was a visionary. He was very people-focused, knowing that if he took care of his associates, they would take care of Publix’s customers. When Jenkins died, Cox and his team ensured that they documented what culturally made the company so successful, commemorating the lessons he instilled, ones that are still a guiding light today:

  • Be there
  • Giving is the only way to get
  • Invest in others
  • Respect the dignity of the individual
  • The customer is queen (and king)
  • Prepare for opportunity
  • Do the right thing

In their research, they uncovered a report from 1962 where Jenkins projected Publix’s future would include ordering groceries from a telephone with a color TV-like screen. Even so, Jenkins knew that the future was still very simple: Nothing would replace stellar customer service. “When we look ahead, we are also glancing back to make sure nothing we do, no new device we employ, no new design we conceive, departs from our original principle which is to make Publix in every way possible the market where shopping is a pleasure,” Cox said.

With the rise of e-commerce, brands are becoming faceless. Being disciplined about immersing their associates in its values is the differentiator for Publix. After showing TV spots that left the audience in tears, Cox said, “It’s important to understand how to connect emotionally with your customers. When you do, they become raving fans, and they will talk about your brand more than you do. Good brand work is still where the magic is.”

Hire great people

Hiring people with the right skills is important, but it is critical to hire someone who is a right fit for the brand’s culture. “Big egos don’t work, and I learned a long time ago to find people who are better than me,” Cox said. One of Jenkins’ mantras that is still used today, which any company can embrace, is “Publix will be a little bit better place to work, or not quite as good, because of you.”

Take good care of your people

“A culture that cares about their people recruits and retains the best talent,” Cox said. The accomplishment he is most proud of? Of the 82 people on his in-house creative team, 73 have been there more than 10 years, and of those, several for more than 25. “When I look back, the highlights are the people. The work is important, but don’t overlook the people.”

Cox disputes the saying that leadership is lonely. “Not if you bring people along with you,” he said. Cox also said he seeks to find and promote leaders. “Leaders have willing followers; they care for their people and demonstrate servant leadership.”

That servant leadership is something that Jenkins possessed and instilled in those who are leading the company today. When asked later in his life what he thought he would be worth if he hadn’t given away so much, Jenkins replied, “Probably nothing.”

Prepare for opportunities

Be prepared for opportunities, even when you can’t see what’s coming. Most people prepare for opportunities they see, but when an opportunity comes up they weren’t expecting, they aren’t ready to capitalize on it. “It never ends,” Cox said. “I don’t know what the next chapter is, but you better prepare so you are ready.”

Endeavor, a creative, collaborative coworking community, presents a monthly professional development speaker series called Collaborators & Cocktails, where marketing chiefs from brands including Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton, and Nike share their marketing strategies.

Takeaway: High Spirits Hospitality CEO talks building and growing startups

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Tammy Johnson, right, CEO of High Spirits Hospitality, speaks at the Facebook Community Boost’s #shemeansbusiness event. Photo provided

By Emily Dyer, associate, Complete PR

What: Facebook Community Boost’s #shemeansbusiness
When/Where: May 29 at the Greenville ONE Center

Who Was There: Tammy Johnson, CEO of High Sprits Hospitality, and about 75 Greenville businesspeople attending through Facebook Community Boost

To Tammy Johnson, success means simply having a good day. Whether that be planning the annual Tacos n’ Tequila Fiesta or throwing a thrilling trivia night at Topside Pool Club, the young entrepreneur has had a lot of good days. The journey to a blossoming business has had a few bumps in the road, but that has never stopped Johnson from pushing the limits.

Spending the summers at her aunt’s gift shop in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Johnson caught the entrepreneur bug at a young age. Gaining opportunities to order merchandise, hire staff, and learn a thing or two about bookkeeping was enough to hook Johnson on the idea of one day opening her own business. Shortly after her aunt sold the shop, Johnson started traveling around the country working various jobs in the hospitality business eventually landing in Greenville at a local catering company working as the marketing and catering sales manager in 2010.

“I was learning the ins and outs of the restaurant and catering business, and was loving the job and loving Greenville. However, one day things took a turn. A client was asking for an alcohol permit for an upcoming event. I asked our CEO if that was OK, but the CEO denied the permit because the company wasn’t making enough money in bar catering sales and told me to find a local bartending company. The event was set to happen in three weeks and I was striking out on trying to find the right bar catering service in Greenville because there really wasn’t one. I started thinking back to that dream of opening my own business. That became Liquid Catering.”

Getting Started in Business

Unsure of what the future held for her first startup, Johnson kept her position at the local catering company and pulled in a lot of late nights and more than 90 hours per week. However, once word spread about this newfound bartending catering service, the calls started coming in and didn’t stop. With major clients such as Greenville Health System and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Johnson decided to leave her job and make her sole focus Liquid Catering.

“Like any new startup business, there were a few roadblocks and tough years. I powered through by literally working out of my garage. I wondered what my neighbors thought when they saw hundreds of empty glass bottles in my recycling every Monday. It was fun as I learned what I needed to.” 

Growing to a New Level

In the spring of 2012, Liquid Catering had finally taken off and gained a home base at a renovated warehouse on Broad Street.

With the business finding its footing in Greenville, Johnson started to seek out more opportunities around the community. She came across The Old Cigar Warehouse and had a gut feeling that this was exactly what she needed to expand her business. Opening the event space in February 2013, The Old Cigar Warehouse is now home to corporate events, weddings, and the annual Tacos n’ Tequila Fiesta.

“I was actually trying to book the site for a euphoria event. The owner called back and said he was having some issues getting the site going. We grabbed brunch one day. He showed me his concepts and then we drove to the site. It was pretty much a vacant shell, but the potential was there. He saw it, and he trusted me with taking this building and turning it into something amazing.”

However, Johnson soon realized that with big events come a few headaches, one being finding the right security company.

Johnson got the entrepreneur itch again after dealing with countless security companies that were deemed “flaky” and rude to guests. She decided it was time to take matters into her own hands. With the help of a retired police officer in her leadership class, Bravo1 Protection was created in 2014. The security company has since had the opportunity to work major events around the Upstate such as Fall for Greenville and euphoria.

Just within the past year, Johnson has also added High Spirits Events and Topside Pool Club to her ever-growing list of successful startups. With so many companies under her belt, Johnson knew it was time to upgrade spaces at a much bigger office on McDaniel Avenue, where the company’s home base is today.

“Someone once asked me how I ‘fall forward.’ I had to ponder this for a second but realized that every time I was knocked down and didn’t think I was going to make it, I took a step back and was completely honest with myself. I never sweat the small stuff and I keep moving forward.”

On the Move: June 8, 2018

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ELECTED
Elliott Goldsmith

Has been elected to the board of directors of Bank of Travelers Rest. Goldsmith has served on the advisory board at the bank’s North Pleasantburg location since 2014. Goldsmith is a franchise owner for the Firehouse Subs chain. His franchise includes seven locations throughout the Upstate. Goldsmith attended Christ Church Episcopal School and Wofford College.

HIRED
Blake Whitaker

Has joined Pinnacle Financial Partners as office leader for the firm’s location on Laurens Road. Whitaker has more than 25 years of financial services experience and previously worked at Capital Bank. Whitaker earned his degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

HIRED
Lauren Starks

Has joined Nachman Norwood & Parrott as senior wealth planner. Starks brings 12 years of experience in the wealth management industry. She comes from Smith & Howard Wealth Management in Atlanta. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Georgia and earned a certificate in personal finance planning at UGA’s Terry College of Business.

HIRED
Katie M. Brown

Has joined Nexsen Pruet as an associate. Brown will focus her practice on employment-related issues. Brown earned her undergraduate degree from Wofford College and attended the University of South Carolina School of Law.

APPOINTED
Alan Benson

Has been named vice president for student development and discipleship at Bob Jones University. Benson has 25 years of pastoral experience as a youth pastor and senior pastor in Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois. Benson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bible at Bob Jones University in 1992 and a Master of Divinity from Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary in 2011. He is a Doctor of Ministry candidate at BJU Seminary.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

SC Launch Inc. has announced the appointment of Dr. Patrick Springhard and Stephen Wiggins to the SC Launch board of directors. Dr. Springhart is the vice president for institutional innovation at Greenville Health System. Wiggins is retired after 37 years with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina as executive vice president and chief information officer.

SERVICES

OneDigital Health and Benefits, the nation’s largest employee benefits-only company, has merged with Susan E. Crocker Human Resources Consulting Inc. in Greenville.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Doug Campbell recently created RDS Communication LLC to help coach soft skills for professionals. The company focuses on skills like public speaking and communication skills.

Addressing health care needs in retirement

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By Rob DeHollander, managing principal, DeHollander & Janse Financial Group

In my career, I’ve worked with a lot of families and business owners over the years. The typical cycle of wealth creation involves growth, preservation, and eventual distribution of assets as a financial legacy. I’ll address the legacy step in a future column. This month, I’d like to address the preservation step, particularly as it relates to health care. This is often one of the hardest and most often overlooked financial planning steps for many clients. There is an emotional bias against this area of planning, especially for successful individuals. Who wants to think about the idea that someday they may experience diminished physical or cognitive ability? It can be a hard conversation, but it is a critical one to have with your loved ones.

Moving beyond fear
Most of us are aware that life expectancies are on the rise. However, we avoid thinking about getting older, getting sick, and having to pay for health care for a prolonged period. Medicare and Medigap premiums, deductibles, and copayments alone can consume a significant portion of your income. And long-term care expenses can quickly drain even a large nest egg.

Here are four questions to help get the process started:

What were your parents’ health care experiences like?
Before you begin wrestling with your own goals and concerns, think about your family’s experience:

  • How old were your grandparents when they died? What illnesses were common among other family members of their generation? You may remember that your grandmother was very forgetful, but you likely don’t remember a diagnosis of dementia.
  • Does longevity run in your family? Are your and your spouse’s parents still alive? Are they in good health, or are they declining physically or mentally?
  • What were some lessons learned from your grandparents’ and parents’ final years? For example, did an uncle or aunt — or brother or sister — take on caregiving? How did the caregiver feel about that?

How and where do you want to live?          
Next, consider how you want to age and how you want to use your assets for your care:

  • Have you thought about long-term care and what it would cost?
  • What resources do you have for funding health care?
  • Have you thought about assisted living? If so, what type of assisted living or continuing care residence would offer you the lifestyle you want?
  • If assisted living doesn’t appeal to you, have you considered selling your house and downsizing to a smaller and easier-to-maintain living space, such as a condominium?
  • Will you rely on your children to be your caregivers? One child may be willing to be your caregiver, but has he or she considered how those duties will impact his or her employment and finances?
  • Would you consider relocating to another part of the U.S.? Perhaps your children live in different states, but one of them is more than willing to serve as your future caregiver. Would you be willing to leave established friendships and activities to move where this son or daughter lives?

Whom do you trust?
Over time, most people experience some cognitive decline. Senior fraud has reached epidemic levels and can be devastating. Whom do you trust to manage your assets and carry out your financial plan if you are no longer able to?

After answering this key question, you’ll want to consider several related and equally important issues:

  • Do you have basic estate planning documents, including a last will and testament, power of attorney (POA), and health care POA? If you do have these documents, how old are they? Do they need to be revised?
  • When do you want your general durable POA to take effect — immediately or only years from today after you lose capacity?
  • Do you have a revocable trust? If so, was it drafted and executed before the federal portability and increased exemption amounts became effective?
  • Are the beneficiary designations on your assets correct and up to date? Remember: Those designations — not the terms of your will — determine the distribution of your assets.

What’s your family dynamic?
Finally, ask your children and heirs whether they will be able to put aside any long-standing differences and follow through with your wishes. This can be the most difficult question to answer objectively. Your children may not react well to the subject of your lifetime health care needs. Even though it’s a hard conversation, it’s one worth having. Your heirs will thank you for proactively planning and making these tough decisions clearer and easier when the time comes.

Robert DeHollander is a managing partner and co-founder of the DeHollander & Janse Financial Group in Greenville.

Duke Energy grant supports workforce training in Cherokee County

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Shown from left: Henry C. Giles, Jr., president, SCC; Kim Phillips, human resources director, Hamrick Mills, Inc.; Daryl Smith, director of the SCC Cherokee County Campus; Dr. Quincie Moore, superintendent, Cherokee County School District; Rick Jiran, vice president for Community Relations, Duke Energy; Grant Burns, chair, SCC Foundation and with AFL International; and Trudy Hood, human resources manager, Ply Gem. Photo provided.

The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Spartanburg Community College Foundation to help high school seniors and individuals pursuing a GED through Cherokee County Adult Education achieve training and gain employment.

About 22 percent of Cherokee County’s population over the age of 25 has no high school diploma or GED, according to a news release.

The grant will help fund a partnership between the Cherokee County School District, the Cherokee County Adult Education program, and Spartanburg Community College to identify students to participate in the Operation Workforce Training program.

“We hear from commercial and industrial customers all the time about the shortage of skilled individuals for positions in general industry in the Upstate,” said Rick Jiran, vice president for community relations for Duke Energy. “It is critical to support programs like this that build a pipeline of qualified workers for the businesses that call our region home.”

Students enrolled in the Operation Workforce Training program will receive 65 hours of training. The program is designed to train 25 students starting this summer with the goal of placing 25 program participants in full-time employment or enrolling in additional educational opportunities by March 2019, the release said.

“This is one of those programs where students can build their path,” said Dr. Quincie Moore, superintendent of Cherokee County School District. “They can begin with training and employment and pursue their degree once they have career experience. It can be a real game changer for them.”

To ensure that students are learning skills that translate into jobs in the regional economy, the program partners with two local employers, Hamrick Mills and Ply Gem.

Both companies will provide plant tours for program participants, as well as formally interviewing and hiring those who successfully complete the program.

“At Ply Gem, we focus our recruiting efforts in Cherokee County; therefore, we want our citizens to have every opportunity available to make them successful when they begin employment with us. This is what the program and grant can accomplish,” said Trudy Hood, human resources manager at Ply Gem.

Kim Phillips, human resources director at Hamrick Mills Inc., added, “This program will give us young, bright, and eager applicants for consideration. Having access to these potential employees has been extremely helpful.”

Cherokee County industries interested in participating as Operation Workforce Training employers, or students interested in the program, should contact SCC’s Daryl Smith at 864-206-2702 or smithd@sccsc.edu.

Santee Cooper approves $3.6M in loans for Laurens County industrial parks

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Photo provided.

The Laurens County Development Corp. has been awarded a $3.25 million loan from Santee Cooper to construct a 75,000-square-foot industrial building.

The building will be located within Hunter Industrial Park at the intersection of Interstate 385 and U.S. Highway 221 in Laurens, according to a news release.

The park is owned by the Laurens Commission of Public Works, a municipally owned utility that provides the park with power, natural gas, and water service.

A primary source of LCPW’s electricity is the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, which receives a portion of its power needs from Santee Cooper.

LCPW has previously invested $2.5 million into this park through land purchase, construction of roadways, and water, and wastewater improvements.

The city of Clinton has also received a $385,500 grant from Santee Cooper for road improvements at the Clinton 26 Commerce Park.

The grant represents 50 percent of the project’s cost, with matching funds coming from the Clinton Development Corp. and the Laurens County Development Corp., according to a news release. It will allow the park’s roadway to be extended 975 feet, which will open up an additional 90 acres of property for industrial development.

Operating in its sixth year, Santee Cooper’s Economic Development Loan Program acts as a resource for localities served by Santee Cooper and the state’s electric cooperatives or municipal customers to help those localities build spec buildings and other infrastructure attracting new industry.

More than $80 million has been loaned through the program, according to a news release. Sigmatex in Orangeburg County, Wyman-Gordon in Dillon County, and Coca-Cola Consolidated in Jasper County are among the companies located in buildings these loans helped finance.

“Promoting economic development is an integral part of Santee Cooper’s mission,” said Pamela Williams, Santee Cooper’s senior vice president of corporate services, in a statement. “Our economic development programs have helped South Carolina attract major manufacturers to the state, growing the job market for our residents and boosting the economy. We believe we can help Laurens County continue to build on that record.”

For more information, visit www.santeecooper.com.

Local electrical apparatus company bought by Ohio Transmission Corporation

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Crimson Electric Inc., headquartered in Duncan, has been acquired by Ohio Transmission Corporation, the company announced on June 6. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, OTC is an industrial service provider and distributor.

Owned by Charles and Debbie Wilson, Crimson Electric specializes in the repair and testing of AC/DC motors, servo motors, pumps, and gear reducers. The company has been providing electrical apparatus service since 1954.

“Crimson Electric’s service focus provides a great opportunity to expand OTC’s geographic and product areas to better serve all of our customers,” said Phil Derrow, president and CEO of OTC. “We have wanted to include electric motor repair in our product portfolio for many years and are excited to be able to do so with such a great company that has a long history of providing top-notch service to help their customers achieve success.”

Crimson Electric will continue to be operated by current local management under the same name with the owners staying through the transition of ownership.

The acquisition of Crimson Electric will include it becoming a division of OTP Industrial Solutions, which provides technical sales and service for industrial automation, motion control, fluid power, pumps, spray finishing, sealant and adhesive application, and power transmission systems and products.

“As part of the OTP family, Crimson Electric will offer more resources, products, and services to our customers,” Charles Wilson said. “Our team, which is staying on, brings a wealth of knowledge to the motor repair industry by reducing interruption of operations for our customers, reducing downtime, and providing value-added services and products.”

After acquiring Crimson Electric, OTC now has 35 locations throughout the South, Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast regions, along with 14 service shops with an existing workforce of more than 900 employees.

“Our customers continue to look to us for full-service solutions, and Crimson Electric can take care of everything from electrical apparatus repair to machine work, and they have an extensive product inventory of motors, parts, gear reducers, and controls,” said Rob Webb, president of OTP Industrial Products.

Westone nears completion; tenants aim for June to August openings

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Westone tenants will begin to open at the end of June, barring unforeseen delays. Will Crooks/Upstate Business Journal

Seven of the eight available spaces at the nearly completed Westone development at 109 W. Stone Ave. are leased, and the new brewery, restaurants, and retail locations will begin opening by the end of June, barring unforeseen delays.

Developers Pete Brett and Michael Fletcher released initial plans for the former home to Battery and Electric Company in fall 2016, and now construction on the combined 18,000-square-foot buildings is nearly complete.

The L-shaped redevelopment includes on the far left the new family restaurant concept World Piece by Coffee Underground owner Dana Lowie. Next to it is the second location of Lowie’s long-time basement-level coffee shop that has become a downtown Greenville staple and success story, weathering the ups and downs of the downtown market over the last 23 years.

Combined, the two spaces are about 4,000 square feet and will share seating but have separate kitchens. Lowie says target opening date is Aug. 1.

In the center 2,300-square-foot space of the strip facing Stone Avenue is Moe’s Original Bar B Que, one of the dozens of franchise locations around the country, but the first Upstate location. Franchisees John Wood and Sam Ragland say they are shooting for a late June opening.

In the corner parcel, Liability Brewing Co. occupies 3,426 square feet of brewery space with 1,200 square feet of outdoor patio. With the tanks recently installed, brewer C.J. Golobish and owner Terry Horner say they also are planning on a June opening.

The leg of the development running perpendicular to Stone Avenue still has one approximately 1,500-square-foot vacant space remaining closest to the brewery. The other three tenants are, in order from furthest from the road to nearest, V’s Barbershop, the first South Carolina franchise location of the traditional barbershop concept that even offers shoe-shines; Cache & Co., a home goods retail store; and a 9Round Fitness.

The development has about 60 parking spaces on-site with additional street parking nearby on Wilton Street. A few businesses across Stone will likely open up their parking lots to Westone customers on nights and weekends, Brett and Fletcher say.

Report: Local startups created 261 jobs, raised over $22.8M in new capital in 2017

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The Upstate’s startup scene continues to grow.

A new report shows the 102 companies supported by NEXT in Greenville and across the Upstate region created 261 new full-time jobs in South Carolina last year. NEXT is the economic development program launched by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

“Momentum for NEXT and the high-impact ventures we support continued to build in 2017 as we experienced significant growth on numerous fronts,” said founder and CEO John Moore.

In addition to the increased job creation, the payrolls of entrepreneurial ventures at NEXT grew significantly in 2017 with the average salary reported at $69,443, or 1.6 percent higher than the average salary in Greenville County. That amounts to an annual payroll of $52.3 million.

NEXT companies also continue to attract significant investments, raising $22,888,944 million in new capital during 2017 alone, according to the report. In total, companies at NEXT have raised about $169.6 million since the program’s launch.

Additional highlights from the report:

  • NEXT companies occupied more than 599,000 square feet of leased and owned real estate across the Upstate in 2017.
  • Venture Pitch, a conference held in downtown Greenville, welcomed 225 attendees from across the Southeast in 2017. The conference, which aims to connect startups with venture capitalists and angel investors, includes live pitches and panels.
  • Seventeen companies participated in the NEXT Venture Mentoring Service, which was launched in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015 to provide unbiased, conflict-free advice to startups.

The Upstate Business Journal recently sat down with Moore to discuss the history and goals of NEXT and what the future might hold for the economic development program. The following transcription has been edited for brevity and clarity.

How would you describe the role of NEXT in the Upstate business community? 

The role of NEXT is to build the entrepreneur ecosystem and support the high-impact ventures in it. Think of us as the “center of gravity” for innovative entrepreneurs and their companies in the Greenville/Upstate area. We champion the cause of innovative entrepreneurs and work collaboratively with all types of organizations and individuals to build a better community for high-growth startups as a means for significantly improving the economic vitality of our area today and in the future. … At NEXT, we work hard each and every day to help entrepreneurs launch and scale their innovation-based businesses here. We do this to further strengthen and diversify our economy by growing our own globally impactful headquarter companies. So, at our core, we’re an economic development organization. In fact, we’re a subsidiary of the Greenville Chamber where we were born in 2006 as a part-time economic development program. Since our founding, the number of high-growth startups has risen steadily in the area and NEXT has grown accordingly. We’re funded by the local business community through the chamber’s Accelerate initiative, which I helped launch in 2009, plus direct investments by the city of Greenville and Greenville County as well as grants, membership dues, and event income.

What are some services that NEXT provides for member companies? 

We support entrepreneurs and their ventures two ways: by building the supporting ecosystem and by providing ongoing services and programming. On the ecosystem side, we work to fill the gaps in the community’s startup support infrastructure and are guided by the two Ecosystem Summits we’ve held through the years where over 50 entrepreneurs and community leaders came together to debate and prioritize ecosystem projects for NEXT going forward. These projects focus on needs like facilities, access to capital, talent, and more and often take years to plan and implement. We spend the majority of our time and resources providing direct services and programs to entrepreneurs on a daily basis. The first service our founding entrepreneurs asked for in 2006 remains core to NEXT today, and that is to be on-call for ad hoc requests for assistance. We sometimes refer to this as our Concierge Service where we handle all types of support requests from our entrepreneurs such as strategic introductions, PR assistance, talent recruiting assistance, and more. In a typical year, we’ll address over 250 such requests, which we call the “blocking and tackling” of NEXT.

Can you give some examples of the projects NEXT has spearheaded? 

The first ecosystem project we tackled was the formation of a local angel investor network. This was the first gap identified by our founding entrepreneurs, and we sought training on launching such an effort and then began incubating what we now know as the Upstate Carolina Angel Network or UCAN. Under Matt Dunbar’s leadership and that of his board, UCAN has been a resounding success for over a decade now and has recently launched a larger angel network across S.C. and N.C. called Venture South. Our second project was to create an entrepreneur facility where innovative new ventures could locate and thrive together. With help from the city of Greenville staff, we pitched the idea of a “NEXT Neighborhood” to our entrepreneurs and then to the local developer community, resulting in Bob Hughes and Hughes Development partnering with us in 2009 to open the award-winning NEXT Innovation Center on Church Street. That facility continues to thrive as the largest startup space in the state today, and its success was the catalyst for the launch of our second location, NEXT on Main, in downtown Greenville in 2015, also in partnership with Hughes, and our third location, NEXT Manufacturing, on Birnie Street on the west side of downtown Greenville, in partnership with Dennis Braasch and his firm IPI Group.  All three locations are at or near capacity today and serving well as the hubs of entrepreneurship in our area.

What is your background – did you start out in economic development? 

I’m a Greenville County native who studied accounting at Clemson University. Upon graduating Clemson, I moved to Charlotte to start work in banking and accounting, which I did for five years. I was given a marketing project by the bank where I was working, and my eyes were opened. I realized I’m a marketer at heart and so I pivoted and saved up money for graduate school, moving with my newlywed wife, Lucynda, and our dog to Minneapolis to pursue an MBA from the University of Minnesota. From there I went on to serve in brand management positions with Kimberly-Clark and The Coca-Cola Co. at their respective headquarters in Wisconsin and Georgia before returning to Greenville to launch a startup with friends from Minnesota. Looking back on my roles at large companies, I realize that I was what we now call an “intrapreneur” as I gently but methodically challenged the status quo from my various positions in order to produce greater results. I guess that’s what happened when I agreed to work at my hometown Chamber of Commerce for one year to help the then-struggling organization set up a small business program. Less than 18 months later, I found myself as the interim president for several months, during which time we created a foundation on which innovative new efforts like NEXT could form.

When did you begin working with the Greenville Chamber? 

Following the tragedy of 9/11 and economic downdraft that came after, I found myself wrapping operations of our business, Smoothie Zone, and researching possible brand-marketing positions in the region. As I searched for connections to send my resume to at Michelin, Dunlop Sports, and other brands here locally, I invited my college roommate, Jody Bryson, to lunch as he was the VP of public policy at the chamber at that time and knew everyone in town. Toward the end of our discussion, he asked me if I would consider working at the chamber, as they were looking for someone to restart their small-business efforts there. I remember thinking that I didn’t even know what a Chamber of Commerce was or did, though I’m proud to say my business was a chamber member at the time. Little did I know where that conversation would lead and that I would stray far from my brand-marketing career path to the most rewarding and challenging chapter of my working life to date.

What projects are next for NEXT? What are the most pressing needs?

Based on the priorities coming out of our Ecosystem Summit last year, NEXT is working on several strategic projects. First, we are currently developing greater virtual and physical incubation support for early-stage startups. Through a grant we were just awarded from the S.C. Department of Commerce and support from the local community, we’re looking to implement a virtual incubator online later this summer and a structured, entrepreneur training/incubation series in the fall. The other top priority requiring our attention is the need to market this area to targeted talent pools such as software programmers and to better aggregate the number of innovative companies here and their job/internship openings. We’ve been studying best practices for implementing such a marketing program and will be meeting with possible sponsors over the summer.

For more information, visit nextsc.org.

J.McLaughlin apparel retailer to take over former Ten Thousand Villages space

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rendering by Larson Retail Studio

Classic American apparel retailer J.McLaughlin, which was established in 1977 in Manhattan and now has more than 100 stores in more than 20 states, will be the next tenant at 207 N. Main St., downtown Greenville.

The 2,225-square-foot space was formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages before it closed nearly a year ago.

Philip Whisnant of RealServ Property Advisors represented the landlord in the transaction. Dick O’Connell of NewGate Retail Advisors (NY) LLC represented J.McLaughlin.

Former Office Depot location to redevelop into body shop

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Vacant for more than three years, the former Office Depot building in Greer will be revived at last. While the building must be significantly renovated, John Harris Body Shops is expected to bring life to the location late this year.

“Re-adapting the 21,000-square-foot building is a win-win for Greer and John Harris Body Shops,” said John Parker of Broadstreet Partners. “Any time you can bring an abandoned building back to life, it dramatically helps the community.”

John Harris Body Shops hired the team of Parker and Ryan Koop of Broadstreet Partners, headquartered in Greenville, to help select an Upstate site.

Headquartered in Columbia, the body shop expansion with its first Upstate location will include more than 20 full-time positions that will be sourced locally.

“We are excited to serve the community of Greer very soon,” said Zachary Taylor, CEO of John Harris Body Shops.

John Harris Body Shops has been family-owned for more than 40 years with locations in South Carolina and Georgia.

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