The Greenville, SC Chamber's Blog

Welcome to the Greenville Chamber's blog. Here you will be able to find Chamber news and happenings as it happens. Comments and responses to our postings are encouraged. Please, get connected with us, so that we can get connected with you (other social media links can be found below to the right). For more information on the Chamber, please visit us at www.greenvillechamber.org or give us a call at 864-242-1050.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Congrats to the September SBOM















Congratulations to PLUS INC Business Solutions for being recognized as the Greenville Chamber's Small Business of the Month for September 2009.

Each month the Greenville Chamber recognizes a local small business for its accomplishments by honoring it with the Small Business of the Month Award. To view a complete listing of all 2009 Small Business of the Month award winners, visit www.greenvillechamber.org/newsletters/SBOTM.htm. There, you will also find a link to register an organization for this prestigious award.



For more information on this program, contact Claudia Wise at 864-239-3728.



About PLUS INC Business Solutions
PLUS INC Business Solutions is proud to have served the Upstate of South Carolina since 1958. Plus Inc was founded by Herb Carson and originally sold typewriters and adding machines (hence the business name which is derived from the plus key on an adding machine). Over half a century has passed, and today Plus Inc specializes in the latest technology such as Konica Minolta and Ricoh digital copiers, multifunction systems, document management, fax machines, business computers, printers and networks. Services offered include troubleshooting and repair of office machines, consultation, hardware upgrades and virus protection, troubleshooting and repairing business computers and network servers and configuring Windows-based networks.


Today, David Carson, President of Plus Inc, strives to continue the tradition of customer service that his father instilled in him when he first started working for the company in 1974. After his father’s death in 1995, David and his two brothers took ownership of the company, and today the company is owned and managed by a partnership of five who are all active employees in the company. Plus Inc’s owners love what they do and are very committed to remaining locally owned and involved in the community. Plus currently has 28 employees.

Plus Inc is an Authorized Dealer for Konica Minolta and Ricoh products and has won many manufacturers awards over the years for outstanding sales and service performance. Plus Inc is an authorized Microsoft Partner and a reseller of Nexlink computer systems and servers. They are authorized resellers of Toshiba and HP notebook computers through their distribution relationships with Ingram Micro and Synnex. Recently, they partnered with another local company to provide their customers with a remote backup and recovery service.

As a local company, Plus Inc understands that community is extremely important and encourages its employees to get involved in their local community, organizations, and churches through volunteer work and donations. Last Christmas, Plus Inc allocated $100 for each employee to donate to a local non-profit organization or church. Plus Inc also provides business services and equipment at a donated or reduced rate on a regular basis to non-profit organizations and churches. Community involvement includes volunteer work or donations for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Taylors Free Medical Clinic, Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs, Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, local schools, and various food preparation and serving in soup kitchens for multiple churches. Plus Inc also has an internal recycling program as well as a recycling program for customers for toner cartridges and trade-in equipment.

Continuing its dedication to customer satisfaction, Plus Inc is having an open house on October 14 to assist their customers and prospective customers in gaining knowledge about document solutions that can help increase productivity and improve workflow. Workshops will be held to demonstrate scanning solutions, document workflow solutions, electronic account tracking and PDF file conversions. The latest technology from Konica Minolta and Ricoh will also be demonstrated. Please visit their website at http://www.plusinc.net/ for further details.Plus Inc’s focus is on having a professional and family-oriented environment for its employees so that everyone can enjoy their job and love what they do. Plus Inc is proud of the customer service they provide and of the recurring recognition by their customers for satisfaction. You will often hear the owners reminding their team members about having a sense of urgency by stating “Plus Inc is EMS for technology!”

Monday, August 31, 2009

UPSTATE CHAMBER COALITION LAUNCHED - Coalition Formed to Unify Upstate's Voice of Business

The Greenville Chamber today is pleased to announce that it has joined the newly formed Upstate Chamber Coalition. The Upstate Chamber Coalition is an alliance of ten chambers of commerce in the Upstate, which joined forces to better unify its message of the needs of the Upstate to its Upstate legislators and to the entire General Assembly - needs that must be met that will create better jobs, lower the unemployment rate, and raise the Upstate's per capita income. The ten Chambers consist of over 8,000 member-businesses and over 200,000 employees.

"We are excited to join with other chambers to better have our voices heard by more legislators throughout the state," said Chamber President Ben Haskew. "Though we have a responsive and effective delegation here in Greenville County, it is important to increase our effectiveness by pulling in other delegations to fight for more and better jobs, as well as a brighter future for businesses and their employees here in the Upstate and throughout South Carolina."

The Coalition is a contractually bound group of Chambers that are served by lobbyists John DeWorken and Sunnie Harmon. Chambers included in the Coalition are Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer, Anderson, Greenwood, Cherokee, Laurens, Clemson, Walhalla, and Westminster. Besides advocating on behalf of these Chambers through the Upstate Chamber Coalition, DeWorken and Harmon will lead the development of each Chamber's legislative agenda, their grassroots and grasstops programs, and other public policy-related initiatives.

"The Coastal area is largely driven by tourism; the Midlands is driven by government and businesses; the Upstate's economy is driven by business. Knowing that, our needs are unique from other parts of the state," said Upstate Chamber Coalition Lobbyist John DeWorken. "The Upstate Chamber Coalition will be a vehicle by which the Chambers can unify and voice its needs better."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Congrats to The Graphic Cow - July SBOM


The Greenville Chamber announced today that The Graphic Cow is the Chamber’s July 2009 Small Business of the Month.

Each month the Greenville Chamber recognizes a local small business for its accomplishments by honoring it with the Small Business of the Month Award. To view a complete listing of all 2009 Small Business of the Month award winners, visit www.greenvillechamber.org/newsletters/SBOTM.htm. There, you will also find a link to register an organization for this prestigious award.

For more information on this program, contact Claudia Wise at 864-239-3728.

About The Graphic Cow:
The Graphic Cow designs and produces custom screen-printed and embroidered apparel such as t-shirts, polos and caps. Typical customers are collegiate student organizations, companies, schools, churches, non-profit organizations and many others. The Company was founded in 1994 and has enjoyed revenue growth in each of the past 15 years. The total number of employees working in Greenville and Liberty has increased by over 40 percent in the past 2 years to 40 total employees. The Graphic Cow’s success is simple to explain: They make it simple for their customers. By providing innovative services such as Cow Tagging and T-Banker, The Graphic Cow has changed the way people buy custom apparel.

When customers choose to have their shirts “Cow Tagged,” each shirt is delivered folded, bagged, and labeled with each individual customer’s name and size. This makes distribution of shirts after delivery much easier. Organizations that take advantage of “T-Banker” are able to focus on the fun aspects of the work, like choosing designs, since The Graphic Cow’s software collects all size and order information, then collects payment from each individual customer through PayPal. These services eliminate countless hours of collecting information, payments, processing, and distribution.

Need shirts in a hurry? The Graphic Cow also boasts of industry best lead times, which comes standard with competitive pricing and truly extraordinary customer service.

CEO David Carter explains that “Enhancing the customer experience is our top priority. Our company culture is built around that concept.”

While the commitment to the customer is impressive, the commitment to the community should be recognized as well. The Graphic Cow has made financial and in-kind contributions to 9 different local non-profit organizations in the past 12 months, and employees are encouraged to make an impact. A great example of this community spirit was on display on June 11, at Flour Field, when Andy Coyne, director of corporate sales, broke the World Record for most t-shirts worn at one time by a human being (the new record is 229). The Guinness Book of World Records sanctioned the successful attempt, and all the proceeds were split between The Ronald McDonald House and the Greenville Chapter of The Special Olympics.

For more information on The Graphic Cow, visit http://www.thegraphiccowcompany.com/ or call 800-472-3269.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chamber's 2010 Legislative Survey


By Sunnie Harmon
Sometimes it is hard for one to realize what an impact a business owner or an employee can have on the state legislature, but when a constituent calls his legislator, that phone call makes a difference. Though each member of the General Assembly is aware of who your public policy team represents, it truly hits home when they hear from you, the “real people,” working day in and day out to be successful.
Over 90% of the Chamber’s membership is made up of small businesses. Many large businesses and corporations have in-house lobbyists to act as their voice at the SC State House. Small businesses are not afforded that luxury. That is where your public policy team comes in. We can act as your voice at the SC State House.
Now is the time we begin shaping our 2010 Legislative Agenda. Please complete our legislative survey by visiting the link below. Because the Chamber membership is made up of predominantly small businesses, it is those businesses that determine what issues the Chamber addresses.
CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE GREENVILLE CHAMBER'S LEGISLATIVE SURVEY TO ASSIST THE CHAMBER IN CREATING A MEMBERSHIP DRIVEN LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR 2010.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Congrats to the June Small Business of the Month - CanvasOne.com



The Greenville Chamber announced CanvasOne.com as the June 2009 Small Business of the Month.

Each month the Greenville Chamber recognizes a local small business for its accomplishments by honoring it with the Small Business of the Month Award. To view a complete listing of all 2009 Small Business of the Month award winners, visit www.greenvillechamber.org/newsletters/SBOTM.htm. To nominate an organization for this award, click here. For more information on this program, contact Claudia Wise at 864-239-3728.

About CanvasOne.com
Intrigued by the notion of creating original, ready-to-hang artwork from personal photos, drawings, and memorabilia, Betsy launched CanvasOne.com in March of 2006. A booth at the 2006 HBA Southern Home Show proved to be an excellent starting point for CanvasOne.com . Soon afterwards, CanvasOne was chosen to produce canvases depicting signature shots of the Cliffs Golf Courses, as well as pop art canvases of celebrities for the BMW Charity Golf Tournament. Also in 2006, CanvasOne collaborated with British artists, Wyllie-O’Hagen, to produce “The Hope that Surrounds Us”, a canvas celebrating ovarian cancer survivors, in support of the South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

Artist, Greg Joens, has been with the company since its inception. Greg creates original pencil drawings from photography, pop art, digital paintings, restorations, collage-art, colorizations and also commissions original religious art for churches. Greg’s commemorative canvas of Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, was recently chosen by the Fuller Center in Atlanta, Georgia to celebrate Mr. Fuller’s life’s work. Greg’s art on canvas has been presented to former President Jimmy Carter, Jack Black, Gary Player, and the most recent 2009 GROW conference keynote speaker, Stephanie Shaeffer.

Over the past three years, CanvasOne has expanded to create unique partnerships with other companies in the Upstate, offering turn-key art solutions to their clients. For example, Pazdan-Smith Group architects called on CanvasOne to produce fine-art giclée canvases from the works of Greenville photographer and conservationist, Tommy Wyche; Mr. Wyche’s photography is featured in the new IMA Associates Building. Additionally, CanvasOne partners with Food Equipment Company providing original and affordable artwork to the restaurant industry. The Village at Pelham Hospital and The Cascades feature canvases from local, fine-art photographers, Kevin Silvey and Lynn Pilewski. Providing secure installation of canvases and guaranteeing their quality, has contributed to CanvasOne’s reputation as not only a strong local business, but one that enjoys a wide range of both national and international clients.

A philanthropic mindset has led Betsy to ensure that CanvasOne returns a portion of its profits to the community. To that end, CanvasOne has donated canvas to support the American Cancer Society, Bridges From Augusta, The Greenville Humane Society and numerous other area charities. CanvasOne has also donated canvas portraits to families of pre-mature babies, in association with Indigo Skye Photography.

An active member of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Betsy participated in the 2009 GROW Conference. She is an active member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church and currently serves on the legislative committee of United Methodist Women. She also serves on the Board of Wade Hampton High School’s PTSA as the head of the newly-formed Business Partner’s Program. She volunteers with the Wade Hampton High School Cross Country Team, the Greenville Fine Arts Center Drama Program, Paris Elementary PTA, as well as several other organizations. These organizations benefit not only from Betsy’s time and energy, but also have been recipients of donated CanvasOne artwork used in fundraising campaigns.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MERGE RECOGNIZED AS MAY 2009 SMALL BUSINESS OF THE MONTH


The Greenville Chamber announced today that Merge was recognized last month during the Chamber’s Board of Directors meeting as the May 2009 Small Business of the Month.

Each month the Greenville Chamber recognizes a local small business for its accomplishments by honoring it with the Small Business of the Month Award. To view a complete listing of all 2009 Small Business of the Month award winners, visit www.greenvillechamber.org/newsletters/SBOTM.htm. For more information on this program, contact Claudia Wise at 864-239-3728.
About Merge:
Since founding Merge in 2002, Adam Landrum has focused on building the leading digital strategy firm in the southeast by providing digital marketing and strategy services for established, mid-sized companies.

In 2007 Merge moved from Atlanta to Greenville. A 1996 graduate of Clemson University, Adam knew the Upstate would also be a great place for him and his wife Shely to raise their four children. That decision turned out to be a great move not only for the Landrum family, but for Merge as the company continued to experience great success and progress thanks to the wealth of resources and potential the Upstate offers mid-sized businesses.

Because of Merge’s commitment to excellence, the company has experienced tremendous growth both in revenue and in staff. Since Merge’s 2002 launch, revenue has increased by more than 50% each year. Merge has created eight new jobs for the local economy since relocating to Greenville.

The Merge team has worked on a variety of projects with a client list that includes T&S Brass, Furman Co, Oobe, and Table 301. With each project, Merge commits to creating not only a great functioning and well-designed website, but an online presence that aligns clients’ web objectives with their business objectives in order to reach their business goals.

Merge’s good fortune has allowed the company to give back to the community through volunteer work with a variety of organizations including Hands on Greenville, The Rotary “Read to Me” Program, Holiday Lights, Meals on Wheels, The Frazee Dream Center, The Greenville Chamber of Commerce and PULSE. Merge has also provided free and discounted web services for non-profit organizations.

In the future Merge will continue to serve the community and grow its business in Greenville. Future plans include adding as many as fifteen more positions within five years while striving to be the leading digital strategy firm in the southeast.

About the Greenville Chamber:
The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: Leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050, or visit http://www.greenvillechamber.org/.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

David Chamberlain, Ambassador of the Month


Each month the Greenville Chamber highlights one of its ambassadors as the Ambassador of the Month. David Chamberlain was recognized in April 2009.
David was born in Maryville, TN. He attended UTK and majored in agriculture. He has 28 years of sales marketing and management experience in the fields of agriculture financial services and food services. In November of 2002 he started Integrity Business Solutions and after buying out his partner, he is now the sole owner. David has coached baseball at the Mauldin Recreation Department for the last 8 years and serves on the advisory board of the Greenville office of Easter Seals. David attends Disciples Unites Methodist Church where he sings in the choir.
Congrats David!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Legislative Update

While the Legislature is in session, the Greenville Chamber sends out a Legislative Update each week to those members interested. Not receiving the updates, but interested? Contact Sunnie Harmon or John DeWorken at 864-242-1050 or by e-mail (sharmon@greenvillechamber.org or jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org).

Below is this week's update from Columbia:

Point of Sale Passes out of Committee
A bill that changes the way in which homes are assessed passed out of a Senate Finance subcommittee this week. Currently and as a result of Act 388 (Property Tax Bill that passed in 2006), homes are assessed when they are sold or when they go through major renovations, which is called “point of sale.” The bill would provide that homes’ assessment at the point of sale could not increase more than 15 percent over its last assessment. The property will then be reassessed every five years and would only be able to increase their value on the books by 15 percent over that five-year period. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

General Assembly to Adjourn Early
Because of budget restraints to the operations of both the House and Senate, the General Assembly will adjourn early this year by two weeks. The last day of session, called sine die, will be May 21. The House and Senate are expected to return the third week of June to take up Governor vetoes.

Anti-Employee Free Choice Passes Major Hurdle
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston), passed out a bill sponsored by Rep. Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville) that would constitutionally guarantee the rights of South Carolina workers a secret ballot vote when voting for or against unionizing at the workplace. Current law provides for secret ballot votes, but a federal bill called the Employee Free Choice Act, that is moving through Congress, which would strip the rights of a secret ballot vote for workers. The bill now goes to the full Senate for its consideration. The bill must receive a two-thirds majority to pass since it amends the state’s constitution.

House to Take Up Port Restructuring Bill Next Week
When the House Returns next week, it will take up a bill that will restructure the SC Ports Authority Board. The bill provides that the Governor would no longer be able to remove Ports Board members without cause. It also extends Board members’ tenure to five years.

House Takes Break this Week
The Senate was the only chamber in session this week, as the House, trying to save operating dollars, took this week off. They will return next week, before both chambers adjourn May 21.

Cigarette Tax Amended in Senate Finance
The Senate, was unable to agree on how the revenue generated from a cigarette tax increase should be spent. Senate Democrats would like for part or all of the monies go towards Medicaid, so the Federal government’s three-to-one match would be guaranteed to South Carolina. Most Republican Senators like the House’s plan to use the money to offer premium assistance to small employers and their employees. Since the majority agrees in implementing the tax, Senator Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) proposed an amendment Thursday that would increase South Carolina’s lowest in the nation cigarette tad by 50-cents. The revenue would be placed in a Health Care Trust fund for one year at which time, House and Senate members would be given the opportunity to repeal, increase or decrease the tax. After a year they would also have a chance to vote on how the tax money should be spent. The House has vowed to refuse any Senate amendments to the Speaker’s legislation. The Speaker of the House has already expressed his distaste with the Senate’s version. The Senate is set to debate H. 3584 on the floor next week.

Budget Expected to be Sent to Governor’s Desk Next Week
It is the will of House and Senate leaders to send the budget to Governor Sanford’s desk by the close of next week. Leaders in both bodies are trying to compromise on a few provisions before approving it. If they are unable to reach an agreement, a conference committee will be assembled.

For more information visit http://www.scstatehouse.gov/.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

GREENVILLE CONTINUES TO OFFER AN AFFORDABLE QUALITY OF LIFE ACCORDING TO ACCRA COST OF LIVING SURVEY

The Greenville Chamber announced today that among the 309 urban areas that participated in the first quarter 2009 ACCRA Cost of Living Index, the after-tax cost for a professional/managerial standard of living in Greenville, SC was at 89.2 percent of the national average. The national cost of living ranged from more than twice the national average in New York (Manhattan), NY to just over 17 percent below the national average in Pryor Creek, OK.

The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is published quarterly by C2ER (Council for Community and Economic Research) and measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures, for professional and managerial households in the top income quintile. It is based on more than 90,000 prices covering almost 60 different items for which prices are collected quarterly by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or university applied economic centers in each participating urban area. Small differences should not be interpreted as showing a measurable difference.

The composite index is based on six components - housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. The indices - relative to the US average of 100 - for the components in Greenville were:

Composite 89.2Grocery Items 104.5Housing 73.0Utilities 84.7Transportation 89.7Health Care 99.0Miscellaneous 97.8

"This continues to show that Greenville is well-positioned to compete for talent from across the country and world by providing an unsurpassed quality of life at a reasonable cost," said Hank Hyatt, vice president of economic development at the Greenville Chamber. "The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is widely used by economic developers, real estate professionals and others to objectively gauge cost differentials. We are not surprised to see these results and are glad to know that others will see these as well."

For additional information on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index results, contact Hank Hyatt at either hhyatt@greenvillechamber.org or 864-239-3714. To subscribe to the quarterly ACCRA Cost of Living Index or for information on the COLI Web Calculator or the COLI Historical Index, go to www.coli.org.

The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: Leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050, or visit www.greenvillechamber.org.

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GREENVILLE CHAMBER ANNOUNCES ITS PREMIER SMALL BUSINESS EVENT

The Greenville Chamber announced today that its premier small business event, Grow Expo ‘09, presented by Business Black Box, Carolina First Center and Entercom Upstate, will be held during the 2009 National Small Business Week, on May 19, 2009, from 11:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Carolina First Center, located at One Exposition Dr. in Greenville.

Grow Expo ‘09 will provide networking and learning, in addition to an opportunity for area businesses to showcase to vendors, clients and talent in the exhibitor hall.
Regional networking will be provided as four Upstate chambers have partnered with the Greenville Chamber for this event (Fountain Inn, Mauldin, Simpsonville and Greer).

“The Greenville Chamber is striving To build one of the premier business communities in the world,” said Chamber Chairman Tim Justice of Rescom Construction. “In order to do so, we must Lead through Collaboration, which means working together not only with our members and the Greenville business community, but with all the Chambers throughout our region to provide our community the best resources available.”

In addition to networking, starting at 12:00 p.m., Grow Expo ‘09 will provide attendees with a variety of learning opportunities to grow business.

“GROW Expo ’09 is designed for attendees to grow their thinking, their relationships and their influence,” commented Brenda Laakso, vice president of entrepreneurship and small business with the Greenville Chamber. “By providing best practice forums, this event will take attendees and businesses to the next level—ranging from CEOs of emerging businesses, fast-growth technology entrepreneurs, women business executives, human resource leaders, non-profit directors, sales professionals, and young professionals.”

From 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Grow Expo will feature the keynote speaker, Stefanie Schaeffer, winner of NBC’s 2007 The Apprentice to Donald Trump.

Throughout the day, over 100 Upstate businesses will showcase their businesses through the Grow Expo Exhibitor Hall. In addition to these businesses, a small business resource center will also be available.

“One of the most exciting parts of the 2009 Grow Expo is the opportunity for our local small businesses to showcase their products or services,” said Steve Bailey of Merus Refreshment Services, and the 2009 SBA Small Business Person of the Year for South Carolina. “As a Grow Expo exhibitor, your company will experience maximum exposure to the event participants, with the potential for tremendous impact on your business.”
Admission is free to those business leaders who register in advance. To register, visit the events page at www.greenvillechamber.org. For more information, contact Ginger McKenzie at 864-239-3708 or gmckenzie@greenvillechamber.org.

Click here to view the day's agenda.

The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: Leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050, or visit www.greenvillechamber.org.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

HAYNSWORTH SINKLER BOYD & GREENVILLE CHAMBER HONOR FLUOR CORPORATION

Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. will recognize Fluor Corporation with its 7th annual International Economic Development Award at the Greenville Chamber's International Event Luncheon on Wednesday, May 20, 11:30 a.m., at the Greenville Marriott. This will be the Chamber's 17th annual event honoring the many international companies in the Greater Greenville area that have contributed to the region’s successful growth and development.

“Each year Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd presents our International Economic Development Award to an organization that has played a major role in international business development in the Upstate region of South Carolina,” said Anne S. Ellefson, managing director of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd PA. “This is Fluor’s 75th year in South Carolina, and we are delighted to honor a company whose second largest global office is in Greenville. Our community and state greatly value and benefit from Fluor’s world-class accomplishment and economic diversification.”

For 75 years, Fluor has been providing engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance and project management services to diverse multinational clients. Fluor has 60 global offices that serve clients in a variety of industries. It consists of five business groups, three of which are headquartered in Greenville, offering its employees many career opportunities and challenges within different market segments. Greenville is Fluor’s second largest global office, and it employs more than 2,500 professionals in the Upstate.

Annette Allen, general manager of Fluor’s Greenville office, will accept the award from Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s Managing Director Anne S. Ellefson and Greenville Mayor Knox H. White, also a shareholder at the law firm. Previous recipients include South Carolina State Ports Authority, South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (former Donaldson Industrial Center), Greenville Technical College, BMW Manufacturing Co., Michelin North America, and the Upstate Alliance.

“The Upstate’s international companies are not only important to the region for the jobs they create, but for the cultural opportunities they bring to the community as well,” said Chamber President and CEO Ben Haskew. “The Chamber hosts this annual event to say thanks to all of the Upstate international companies - for the impact they have on Greenville’s economy and its citizens.”

In 2009, Fluor marks its 75-year anniversary of doing business in South Carolina. Since its inception, the company has had a long history of community involvement, beginning with Charlie Daniel and Buck Mickel. Over the last few years, Fluor’s direct contributions include $100,000 to the Kroc Center in 2006; $100,000 to the Children’s Museum in 2007; $2,000,000 to Clemson University in 2007; and $180,000 to the Miracle Hill Rosewood Renewal Center in 2008.

Also in 2008, Fluor employees, with matching funds from the Fluor Foundation, contributed more than $1 million to United Way in Greenville County. This contribution marks the first time an amount of this size has been raised by any Upstate company in a single year.

As another testament to Fluor’s commitment to the Upstate, the company partnered with the Greenville Drive in 2008 to sponsor the renaming of West End Field to Fluor Field.

Furthermore, Fluor’s community impact goes beyond monetary donations. Over the past 13 years, Fluor employees have volunteered more than 22,000 hours to build 14 houses through Habitat for Humanity® and provided 1,400 backpacks with school supplies for the Backpack for Basics program. In 2008, 165 of its employees volunteered for Hands on Greenville; 200 employees delivered meals for Meals on Wheels; and 1,547 of its 3,400 Upstate employees volunteered 13,554 hours on community projects.

At the May 20th appreciation lunch at the Greenville Marriott (located at 1 Parkway East), registration will begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by the program and lunch at 12:00 p.m. Cost per individual ticket is $35 for Chamber members or $50 for non-Chamber members. International companies, defined as those owned by a parent located outside the United States, will receive two (2) complimentary tickets.

To register, visit the events calendar at http://www.greenvillechamber.org/. For more information, contact Darlene Parker, at the Greenville Chamber, 864-239-3706.

About Fluor Corporation
Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) designs, builds and maintains many of the world's most challenging and complex projects. Through its global network of offices on six continents, the company provides comprehensive capabilities and world-class expertise in the fields of engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and project management. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Fluor had revenues of $22.3 billion in 2008 and in 2009 is ranked 114 on the FORTUNE 500 list. For more information visit http://www.fluor.com/.

About Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd
Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. provides business, litigation, financial legal services, and government relations services to national and international clients. The law firm represents numerous international companies from more than 20 countries. With a history dating back more than 100 years, it is one of the largest law firms in the Carolinas with more than 140 attorneys with offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence, and Greenville, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. Visit http://www.hsblawfirm.com/ for further information.

About the Greenville Chamber
The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: Leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050, or visit http://www.greenvillechamber.org/.

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Spartanburg & Greenville Chambers Meet & Strengthen Relationship

On Thursday, April 30, the Greenville Chamber Board of Directors and senior staff traveled to Spartanburg, SC for a tour and joint meeting with the Spartanburg Chamber Board.

Spartanburg Chamber Chairman John Stockwell, Chancellor of USC Upstate, gave an overview of the USC Upstate Campus and Spartanburg Mayor Bill Barnet joined the bus tour and talked about the City's growth and opportunities.

Following the city tour, the two Boards met at the Chapman Cultural Center and exchanged information on programs and ways to work together. All agreed this was a great way to strengthen relationships and pledged to continue these meetings in the future.

More photos of the day's events are located to the right.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Legislative Update

While the Legislature is in session, the Greenville Chamber sends out a Legislative Update each week to those members interested. Not receiving the updates, but interested? Contact Sunnie Harmon or John DeWorken at 864-242-1050 or by e-mail (sharmon@greenvillechamber.org or jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org).

Below is this week's update from Columbia:

Chambers, Upstate Republicans, and House Dems Push Through Tax Reform
Many say that politics make strange bedfellows. This couldn’t be truer than in the last two weeks fighting for tax reform in the SC House of Representatives. With the advocacy fight being led by the Upstate Chamber Coalition, the SC Chamber of Commerce, the NFIB, and the Farm Bureau, Upstate Republicans, known for being more conservative than many other Republicans around the state, got into bed with House Democrats to pass a bill that was largely opposed to by many members in House leadership positions. The House passed a bill that will establish a comprehensive tax reform study committee. The bill will go to the Senate for its concurrence vote (Senate bill 12 was originally passed by the Senate before going to the House).

The bill sets up a study committee to look at the entire tax code and to come up with recommendations to the General Assembly by March 2010. One hiccup in the bill is a provision that says the commission may not repeal Act 388. Fortunately for the business community and proponents of tax reform, that provision will not inhibit the tax commission from looking at the entire tax code.

It should be underscored that without the Upstate Republicans uniting with House Democrats, this bill would not have passed the House. Though the bill was opposed to by Democrats on second reading, the real key vote was a tabling motion last week that sent a clear message from Upstate Republicans and House Democrats to House leadership that the business community is demanding its General Assembly to look at the state’s tax system.

Because there are differences with the House and Senate versions, the bill is expected to go to conference committee. There is less than a month left in the session to get this bill to the Governor’s desk.

Employment Security Commission Reform Killed
A bill that would put the Employment Security Commission under the Governor’s control has died for the year. Currently, a Commission, appointed by the Governor, oversees the Employment Security Commission fund and its operations. Under this new bill sponsored by Rep. Kenny Bingham (R-Lexington), the Commission members would not oversee the fund and would only be responsible for the operations of the Employment Security Commission. Furthermore, the Governor would appoint a cabinet head to run the fund.

The House voted narrowly to send the bill back to committee. With less than a month left, the bill has no chance of passing this session and will have to wait until January to be considered again.

The Commissioners have largely been criticized by many members of the General Assembly and many leaders in the business community for running up a multi million dollar deficit – a deficit that will be made up by the businesses.

House Furloughs Next Week, Adjourns May 21st
The House is running out of money – literally. State agencies are not the only entities going through budget cuts. The House is close to running out of money to operate its staff and pay House members. Because of the budget crunch, the House will furlough next week and will adjourn for the year on May 21. The Senate is expected to stay in session until June 4th. The House is expected to return the week of June 16th to take up Governor vetoes.

Port Restructuring Debate Continues
Though a bill that tweaks the Ports Board makeup was considered this week, the House adjourned debate on it until it returns in a week. The bill would essentially take away the Governor’s right to remove any Port board member for any reason. With this new bill, the Governor, who appoints all of the board members, would only be able to remove board members for mal or misfeasance. Other changes in the bill would extend the board to seven year terms and would charge the board to look for opportunities in public private partnerships. Already passed through the Senate, the House will take this bill up when it returns.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Call to Action: Comprehensive Tax Reform

ATTENTION CHAMBER MEMBERS:

The Chamber needs your help. Call one or many of the following SC House members before Tuesday, April 28. Please urge them to pass Comprehensive Tax Reform (A study committee established to look at the whole tax system – property, sales, income), which is Senate Bill 12.

This vote is up on Tuesday and is vital to the well being of the Upstate economy. The following is a list of Upstate legislators who voted to support comprehensive tax reform in the past.

Please call one or many now.

Paul Agnew (864) 366-8348
Karl Allen (864) 235-9049
Rita Allison (803) 737-1929
Eric Bedingfield (864) 230-7044
Derham Cole (864) 591-2030
Chandra Dillard (864) 294-2503
Jeff Duncan (864) 833-7700
Mike Forrester (864) 592-6204
Dan Hamilton (864) 527-7685
Keith Kelly (864) 582-3770
Lanny Littlejohn (864) 706-5565
Joey Millwood (864) 384-5885
Harold Mitchell (864) 583-2712
Dennis Moss (864) 761-6353
Wendy Nanney (864) 269-4690
Steve Parker (864) 978-0195
Rex Rice (864) 616-5657
Tommy Stringer (864) 877-9511
Michael Thompson (864) 222-1753
Mark Willis (864) 369-2000
Bill Wylie (864) 419-3698

Questions? Email John DeWorken at jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org or Sunnie Harmon at sharmon@greenvillechamber.org

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Congrats to the March 2009 Ambasssador of the Month


Congrats to Bridget Stalvey, the Greenville Chamber's Ambassador of the Month for March 2009.
About Bridget Stalvey
Bridget Stalvey’s educational background includes a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality and Tourism Management from College of Charleston. While at the College of Charleston she became a recipient of the 2003 South Carolina Tourism Student Award presented by Governor Sanford and founded the Club of Hospitality and Tourism. As an eight-year veteran of the hospitality industry, she has specialized in the management of multiple food and beverage outlets, corporate catering events, and corporate sales. In February of 2008, Bridget was selected as the 2007 Sales Person of the Year for Hawthorn Suites. Bridget was also the recipient of the 2007 Ambassador of the Year for the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Presently, Bridget is a sales manager for the Hyatt Regency Greenville.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Congrats to the April 2009 Small Business of the Month!


This morning, during the Greenville Chamber's Board of Directors meeting, HR Experts On Demand, a division of JMV Management Services, LLC, was recognized as the April 2009 Small Business of the Month.

About HR Experts On Demand:
JMV Management Services was founded in March 2006 by Jill M. Vales. Over the years the firm has added four part-time employees who enjoy flexible hours, telecommuting privileges, paid time off and paid holidays. All professionals have achieved national certifications in their fields. The firm is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau and is an investor in the Greenville Area Development Corporation. It was awarded a Campaign Premier Award for First Time Campaign by the United Way of Greenville County in 2008.

Prior to starting JMV Management, Jill was Vice President of Human Resources at ScanSource. She has over 25 years of senior level finance, accounting and human resources management experience. Jill moved to Greenville seven years ago from Boca Raton, Florida, with no job, and is a self-described “poster child” for Greenville. She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and is a licensed Florida CPA. She has been quoted and featured in several local Greenville publications.

JMV Management provides HR and finance and accounting management and consulting services through its HR Experts On Demand and CFO Services On Demand operating divisions. The HR Experts On Demand division offers a customizable HR Director On CallSM program as well as consulting services in the areas of legal compliance, recruiting and selection, employee relations, performance management and compensation management. The CFO Services On Demand division provides part-time CFO and Controller services.

Clients are typically small businesses with 15 to 100 employees, in virtually any industry, as well as nonprofit organizations. Representative clients include Godshall Staffing, South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center, N&H Enterprises, Trendset, Deltex Medical, Rescom Construction, The Puckett Group, United Way of Greenville County, American Leprosy Missions, Meals on Wheels of Greenville, Pleasant Valley Connection and Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina. The firm provides services to nonprofit organizations at a 10% discount.

Active in the Greenville Chamber, Jill currently serves on the Board of Governors and the Small Business Council and is chair of the Small Business Owner’s Forum Steering Committee. She has served as Chair of the Sales Roundtable Steering Committee and the HR Leadership Forum Steering Committee. She has been a frequent presenter at meetings of the Nonprofit Alliance. JMV Management and HR Experts On Demand have sponsored many Chamber events and programs including all March 2009 Small Business programs, the 2008 CEO Summit, and the inaugural Small Business Insider newsletter. HR Experts On Demand is an exhibitor at the May 2009 Grow Conference and was also an exhibitor at the inaugural Grow Conference in 2007.

Jill also serves on the boards of the Greenville County Workforce Investment Board, The Rotary Club of Greenville, Centre Stage Theatre-SC and Dining for Women. She is on the Steering Committee for an Employment Support Group at her church. She is a member and former board member of the Greenville Professional Women’s Forum. She is a member of the Greenville and national chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management. Jill and the firm are involved in the SC Association of Nonprofit Organization’s April 2009 Annual Conference in Spartanburg as planner, sponsor, presenter and exhibitor. The firm is also a member of Greer and Spartanburg Chambers of Commerce.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Legislative Update

While the Legislature is in session, the Greenville Chamber sends out a Legislative Update each week to those members interested. Not receiving the updates, but interested? Contact Sunnie Harmon or John DeWorken at 864-242-1050 or by e-mail (sharmon@greenvillechamber.org or jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org).

Below is last week's update from Columbia:

House Passes 50-Cent Cigarette Tax Increase
Thursday, the SC House of Representatives passed a 50-cent cigarette tax increase by a vote of 97-22. Representative Gary Simrill (R-York) proposed an amendment that would decrease the tax from a 50-cent increase to a 30-cent increase. Simrill and other supporters of his amendment were trying to protect the border counties’ convenience store business by keeping South Carolina’s tax below Georgia and North Carolina’s. After the amendments failure, the 50-cent increase passed with flying colors. Revenue generated is estimated to be approximately $150M. Seventy percent will go towards premium assistance for small businesses, 20 percent will be put aside for high risk individuals who currently cannot obtain health insurance and the remainder will fund smoking cessation programs and the Department of Agriculture’s marketing efforts. Speaker Harrell’s bill will be debated in Senate Finance before moving to the Senate floor.

Debate Adjourned on Comprehensive Tax Reform
The SC House heard the business community’s cry for true comprehensive tax reform loud and clear this week. Thanks to all of you who sent e-mails and made phone calls to House members in support of comprehensive tax reform last week. A watered down tax reform bill that would look solely at sales tax exemptions was supposed to be up for debate Wednesday or Thursday of last week. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell requested that the House adjourn debate on the bill until the House returns from a two-week furlough. During this time House leaders are going to work on a compromise that will satisfy both the House and the business community. Please continue to make phone calls to your House members and urge them to take a holistic approach to tax reform.

Point of Sale Eliminated
After a lengthy debate, the House passed a piece of legislation Thursday that eliminates the point of sale assessment. Reassessment of property will take place every five years just as it did prior to the passage of Act 388 in 2006. The SC Realtors have been working to get this bill passed the entire year and stressed that its passage is vital to the real estate climate and to South Carolina’s economy. House bill 3272 will now move to the Senate for debate.

Port Restructuring Bill Passes out of House Subcommittee
A House Judiciary Subcommittee took up Senate Bill 351, a SC State Port Authority restructuring bill that is intended to add stability to the port. The subcommittee amended the Senate’s bill to give more power to the governor. Under the House’s amended version, the governor will have the power to remove board members for any reason he deems fit. S. 351 will warrant a lengthy debate after it passes out of full committee following the House furlough.

Speaker Introduces SC Entrepreneurial Success Fund Act

This entrepreneur friendly bill will incentive private investors to invest into a seed capital fund. The fund manager will then invest in select South Carolina pre-start up and start-up high-impact companies. H. 3870’s goal is to grow SC grown headquarters and to increase the state’s per capita income. Investors will receive a tax credit equal to 30 percent of their investments into the seed capital fund. The bill was referred to a House Ways & Means subcommittee Thursday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Comprehensive Tax Reform Up for Vote

A Comprehensive Tax Reform bill that studies just sales tax revenue passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee last week. That bill could be up for a vote TODAY!!

Please call one of the following Upstate House members ASAP TODAY to tell them that we need true comprehensive tax reform, studying income, sales, and property tax revenues and to support any amendments to H. 3415 or S. 12 that support a comprehensive study with one comprehensive report!

Please call one or more of the following:

William R. "Bill" Whitmire [R] (803) 734-3068
William E. "Bill" Sandifer III [R] (803) 734-3015
B. R. Skelton [R] (803) 734-3036
David R. Hiott [R] (803) 734-3323
Phillip D. "Phil" Owens [R] (803) 734-3053
W. Brian White [R] (803) 734-3113
Michael W. "Mike" Gambrell [R] (803) 734-2947
Don C. Bowen [R] (803) 734-3038
Michael D. Thompson [R] (803) 734-3014
Daniel T. "Dan" Cooper [R] (803) 734-3144
Paul L. Agnew [D] (803) 734-2993
J. Anne Parks [D] (803) 734-3069
Lewis E. "Gene" Pinson [R] (803) 734-2821
Michael A. Pitts [R] (803) 734-2830
Jeff D. Duncan [R] (803) 734-3022
Mark N. Willis [R] (803) 212-6882
Harry F. Cato [R] (803) 734-2701
Tommy M. Stringer [R] (803) 212-6881
Dwight A. Loftis [R] (803) 734-3101
Daniel P. "Dan" Hamilton [R] (803) 212-6795
William T. "Bill" Wylie [R] (803) 212-6883
Wendy K. Nanney (Mrs. Timothy Lee) [R] (803) 212-6877
Chandra E. Dillard [D] (803) 212-6791
Bruce W. Bannister [R] (803) 734-3009
Karl B. Allen [D] (803) 734-3006
Rex F. Rice [R] (803) 734-3035
Garry R. Smith [R] (803) 734-3045
Eric M. Bedingfield [R] (803) 734-2962
Dennis C. Moss [D] (803) 734-3073
Harold Mitchell, Jr. [D] (803) 734-6638
J. Derham Cole, Jr. [R] (803) 212-6790
Lanny F. Littlejohn [R] (803) 734-3141
P. Michael "Mike" Forrester [R] (803) 212-6792
R. Keith Kelly [R] (803) 734-3008
Merita A. "Rita" Allison (Mrs. William Ronald) [R] (2002) (803) 212-6788
Steve A. Parker [R] (803) 212-6878
Joseph B. "Joey" Millwood [R] (803) 212-6876

For more information contact Sunnie Harmon at 864-337-1584.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Congrats to Rick Lenz!

Congratulations to the Greenville Chamber's Ambassador of the Month, Rick Lenz.

Rick is the owner of FASTSIGNS of Greenville. Prior to purchasing FASTSIGNS, Rick spent twenty-five years honing his customer service skills in various positions with some of the top companies in their respective fields. His past employment includes management positions with Marriott Hotels, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Rick had spent eighteen months looking for the right opportunity for a FASTSIGNS center when the Greenville store became available. One visit to Greenville and he was sold.

Rick feels that both Greenville and FASTSIGNS have a great potential for growth. He has spent the last year and a half reorganizing and expanding the capabilities of his FASTSIGNS center. “We have rededicated ourselves to top notch customer service and providing a variety of superior products” said Rick.

Rick looks forward to making FASTSIGNS the premier sign company in Greenville, getting more involved in the community and to spending many years here in Greenville with his wife and two children.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Greenville Chamber Releases First Update to the Greater Greenville Economic Scorecard

The Greenville Chamber announced today, during its first quarter Advantage Greenville Luncheon, the results of the first update to the Greater Greenville Economic Scorecard.

“The results of the Scorecard demonstrate that much work remains to be done to achieve the Chamber’s vision of creating a premiere business community,” said Advantage Greenville Chair Irv Welling of Elliott Davis. “But the first step is complete. We’ve identified our challenges, and will continue to tackle those issues most pertinent to the Upstate.”

“A number of peer communities were identified through a statistical methodology created by Clemson University researchers,” said Greenville Chamber Vice President, of Economic Development Hank Hyatt. “By including these cities in our Scorecard, Greenville's leadership can get a feel for how we are advancing in creating a world-class community vis-avis these other communities. We cannot afford to remain satisfied with our past success. These other communities are moving ahead at a fast clip. The Scorecard helps us remain focused on doing what matters most."

Critical Findings Include:

· Education is the most important driver for creating higher levels of prosperity.
· Greenville has made strides in almost all areas of the Scorecard, but has not improved enough to improve our rankings vis-à-vis other communities.
· All of the Scorecard communities are actively seeking ways of improving their own prosperity. The target we seek is not static. Greenville must continue to look for new ways of enhancing those factors identified as drivers of per capita income.

To view the complete 2009 Economic Scorecard, visit www.greenvillechamber.org/pdfscorecard.pdf. For more information, contact Chamber Vice President of Economic Development Hank Hyatt by email at hhyatt@greenvillechamber.org or by phone at 864-239-3714.

About the Economic Scorecard
In 2007, the Greenville Chamber's Advantage Greenville program asked a team of distinguished, nationally prominent researchers at Clemson University to create an econometric model that would assist Advantage Greenville in bringing the attention of local and state leaders to activities that would have the greatest benefit for Upstate citizens. The Economic Scorecard model is based on a statistical analysis of objective data from select peer communities. The Greater Greenville Economic Scorecard provides a framework to facilitate discussion among community leaders regarding issues that are critical to building one of the premier business communities in the world.

About Advantage Greenville
The role of Advantage Greenville is to champion the Greenville Chamber’s drive to build one of the premier business communities in the world by growing, informing, connecting and engaging our members in the strategic initiatives and activities of the Chamber. For more information on Advantage Greenville, visit www.greenvillechamber.org/chamber/advantage.aspx.

About the Greenville Chamber
The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: Leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050, or visit http://www.greenvillechamber.org/.

Legislative Update

While the Legislature is in session, the Greenville Chamber sends out a Legislative Update each week to those members interested. Not receiving the updates, but interested? Contact Sunnie Harmon or John DeWorken at 864-242-1050 or by e-mail (sharmon@greenvillechamber.org or jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org).

Below is last week's update from Columbia:

Point of Sale Assessment Eliminated
The Full House Ways & Means Committee passed out H. 3272 with a favorable report Thursday afternoon. H. 3272 eliminates the point of sale assessment and applies a 15% increase cap on reassessments. Before being amended the bill included a retroactive provision that would require counties to reimburse property owners for the inflated taxes paid 2006 to 2008. Representative Annette Young (R-Charleston) offered an amendment to this provision deleting the retroactivity to save counties from suffering through another loss in revenue. The amendment was adopted with a vote of 14-11. Those legislators opposed to the amendment were worried of the effects it would have on taxpayers, who bought homes from 2006 to 2008. It now moves to the House floor for debate.

Watered Down Comprehensive Tax Reform Passes Ways & Means
Movement of a truly comprehensive tax reform study commission came to a halt Thursday during a House Ways and Means committee meeting. The Tax Realignment Commission created in Senate Bill 12 would look at sales tax exemptions, property tax, income tax and fees, fines and forfeitures. That commission was charged with recommending to the General Assembly what changes needed to be made to South Carolina’s tax structure to make the state more competitive in attracting businesses and residents. The Upstate Chamber Coalition supported the TRAC bill in its form leaving the Senate. House leadership wishes for the commission to look solely at sales tax exemptions and then at a separate time study the remaining components of the current tax code. The Upstate’s Representatives Rex Rice (R-Pickens) and Dwight Loftis (R-Greenville) voiced their concerns during the meeting of such a piecemeal approach to studying the state’s tax structure. Please call your House delegation members and urge them to speak up on the House floor when Senate Bill 12 and House Bill 3415 are debated and promote comprehensive tax commission, one with a holistic approach.


Speaker’s Cigarette Tax Bill Moves to House Floor
A 50-cent cigarette tax increase was sent out of Ways and Means with a favorable report. The tax is estimated to generate approximately $150 million for the state. The bulk of this revenue would provide premium assistance to employers with low-income employees, as well as to high-risk individuals. It is estimated that about 17,000 would benefit from the passage of this legislation. An amendment was proposed during the committee to lower the tax to 30-cents in an effort to keep South Carolina’s tax below Georgia and North Carolina’s failed with a vote of 14-10. Many border counties are concerned that convenience store revenues will decrease greatly if SC’s tax on cigarettes is greater than its neighbors. H. 3584 is sure to attract a lengthy debate on the House floor.

LCI Committee Hearings Held on Red Tape Regulations
Labor, Commerce, and Industry Chairman Bill Sandifer (R-Oconee) along with his committee members heard testimony Wednesday and Thursday from business owners regarding red tape regulations and procedures hindering their competitiveness. A myriad of concerns were voiced including DHEC regulations and business license fees. Sandifer and his subcommittee intend to gather all information heard this week and draft legislation to be introduced next week. The subcommittee’s intent is to improve the business climate in South Carolina by eliminating unnecessary, burdensome and redundant state and local government regulations and policies.

Bedingfield Scores Large Victory for Business Community

The business community is one step closer to protecting workers’ rights to a secret ballot in union elections thanks largely to Representative Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville) who lead the fight in the SC House in passing H. 3305 with a vote of 88-25. H. 3305 is a constitutional amendment that would guarantee a worker’s right to a secret ballot in the event of a union election. Since this legislation does amend the constitution, a two-thirds majority is required for passage. South Carolina, along with 39 other states is moving this legislation through its General Assembly. The bill moves to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee for discussion before moving to the floor for debate. Thirty-one votes will be needed for passage in the Senate. If both bodies pass it, it will be up to the citizens of South Carolina to vote for a referendum in November 2010 to amend the constitution.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

State House Breaking News: Workers Rights Bill Passes House

A bill sponsored by Representative Eric Bedingfield that guarantees workers rights to a secret ballot when voting for unionization passed the House today. This bill (3305) is a constitutional amendment that provides that when employees votes whether to unionize or not they would be guaranteed secret ballot voting. The bill passed with 88 votes supporting the bill, well above the two-thirds needed to pass a consitutional amendment.

This bill not only guarantees workers rights, but also combats the Federal Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that eliminates secret ballot voting and provides forced contractual mediation on employers. The Federal version of the bill was introduced in the US House and US Senate last week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act Update

Today, Sen. Arlen Specter announced that he would oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, and vote against the bill as well as a cloture motion. This is a major development as Sen. Specter was the only Republican to vote in favor of cloture in 2007. Many supporters of EFCA have argued that they would have the necessary votes this year by assuming all Democrats would support cloture, that Al Franken would become the next Senator from Minnesota, and that Sen. Specter would again support cloture. This announcement means that supporters must find another way to get to 60 votes.

This announcement does not mean that the battle over EFCA is over. One of the many decisions that EFCA supporters need to make is whether they will try to find some other way to pass EFCA this year, whether they will instead try to elect more EFCA supporters in 2010, or whether they will instead push some other alternative bill (indeed, Sen. Specter left the door open to potentially supporting EFCA in the future should the economy improve and no amendments were made to the NLRA).

Your help has been critical in getting us to this point and we will continue to call upon you and we strive to ensure that EFCA and similar legislation is taken off the table for good.

Needless to say, other bills (such as the RESPECT Act related to supervisory status) that would ease organizing are out there or may be introduced that we must also be prepared for.

GREENVILLE CHAMBER ANNOUNCES ITS APRIL 2009 EVENTS

*THE FOLLOWING RELEASE WAS SENT TO THE MEDIA ON 3/24:

(GREENVILLE, SC) The Greenville Chamber announces its upcoming events for April 2009:

Small Business Owners' Forum
Firing on all Cylinders!
Wednesday, April 1 at 12:00 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
Small business owners are invited to attend the Chamber's monthly Small Business Owners' Forum, which will feature an interactive forum on "people issues" -- from gaining maximum productivity from every employee to understanding generational differences.

Regional Business After Hours
Don't be "Foolish," Do Business in the Upstate!
Wednesday, April 1 at 5:30 p.m.
Greenville Drive Stadium, 945 S. Main St.
In addition to regional networking, this event will kick off a $1,000,000 Good News Radio Campaign featuring businesses “doing great things” in the Upstate.

Political Symposium
Making A Difference: Politics & Public Service
Friday, April 3 at 8:00 a.m.
BMW Zentrum, 1400 Highway 101 S
This program will unravel the mystery of public service and is designed for those interested in participating in public service and/or running for office.

PULSE Social Event
Tuesday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m.
Rick Erwin’s, 648 S. Main St.
PULSE Socials provide an opportunity for young professionals to network. Attendees will be offered a special three-course menu, offered exclusively to PULSE members.

Non-Profit Alliance
Managing People In Difficult Times
Tuesday, April 7 at 12:00 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
Jill Vales, president and owner of HR Experts On Demand, will lead a discussion on managing people during economic downturn.

BWIA Networking
Delivering a Strong Message
Wednesday, April 8 at 7:30 a.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 851 Congaree Rd.
Business Women In Action (BWIA) will present this networking event to assist Upstate businesswomen deliver a quick and strong elevator speech.

Manufacturers’ Group
Wednesday, April 8 at 12:30 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
Open to senior leadership of Chamber-member firms, who manage production operations, the group discusses best practices in manufacturing (participation by invitation only)

Eastside Area Council
Thursday, April 9 at 11:30 a.m.
Hilton Greenville, 45 W. Orchard Park Dr.
Howell Clyborne, vice president of Strategic Initiatives & Governmental Affairs at Greenville Hospital System and member of the SC Board of Economic Advisors will address how the BEA works with the Legislature and Executive Branch in Columbia.

Business Before Hours
Tuesday, April 14 at 7:30 a.m.
Commerce Club, One Liberty Square
A monthly breakfast event for Chamber members who want to network and make business contacts but don’t have time after hours

Sales Roundtable
Wednesday, April 15 at 12:00 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
Mel Friessen of Dale Carnegie Training of S.C. will present best practices for sales professionals.

FMLA Workshop
Complex, Challenging, and Changing
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thornblade Club, 1275 Thornblade Blvd.
This one day intensive workshop is designed for HR and benefits professionals.

The Six Essential Questions for Ethical Excellence (and the Answers too!)
Monday, April 20 at 7:45 a.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
Advancing the conversation from theory to action, the Chamber Foundation’s third ethics seminar will feature author David Gill, who will examine the six essential questions that must be answered to create an ethical environment in any organization.

Salute to Quality
Tuesday, April 21 at 4:15 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
Salute to Quality is a showcase gallery of Carolina First Center for Excellence partner schools' Quality work. Partner educators will display Continuous Quality Improvement work of their students, including student created mission statements, learning and behavior goals, data notebooks, and problem solving tools.

Business After Hours
Tuesday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m.
Zen, 924 S. Main St.
Mix and mingle with Chamber friends after hours.

Kuder Connect 2 Business for South Carolina…
…Businesses
at 2:30 p.m.
… Educators at 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 23 (times listed above)
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
C2B helps students and adults discover extended learning and career opportunities directly from local employers, while allowing business and industry to connect with their future workforce.

Member Orientation
Thursday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
New members and new employees of existing members are invited to come learn about the Chamber's four lines of business, how to track referrals and much more.

Red State / Blue State: Obama’s First 100 Days
Wednesday, April 29 at 3:30 p.m.
Greenville Chamber, 24 Cleveland St.
The nationally recognized Elon University Poll will provide a revealing glimpse at how South Carolinians differ in their views of the early days of the new presidency as compared to their neighbors in North Carolina. Open only to the Chamber Board of Governors, Advantage Greenville members and selected guests.
For more information or to register for these or any Chamber events, visit the events page at www.greenvillechamber.org.

The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050, or visit www.greenvillechamber.org.
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UPSTATE CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE TO HOST REGIONAL EVENT

*THE FOLLOWING RELEASE WAS SENT TO THE MEDIA ON 3/23:

Don’t be “Foolish,” Do Business in the Upstate!

(GREENVILLE, SC) The Greenville Chamber today announced that it will host its first annual Regional Business After Hours in partnership with the following chambers: Anderson, Clemson, Easley, Fountain Inn, Greer, Greenwood, Laurens, Mauldin, Oconee, Simpsonville, Spartanburg, Walhalla, Westminster, and the South Carolina Hispanic Chamber. It will be held on Wednesday, April 1, from 5:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at Fluor Field – home of the Greenville Drive, located at 945 S. Main Street in Greenville. Due to the event date being April Fools’ Day, its motto is Don’t be ‘Foolish,’ Do Business in the Upstate!

Virginia College is the sponsor of this first-ever Regional Business After Hours that will provide a great networking opportunity with exciting music by the renowned Swingin’ Medallions. The event will also serve as a kick-off to a $1,000,000 radio campaign featuring area businesses doing “great things” in the Upstate. Eleven radio stations (listed below) have joined forces and donated 14,000 commercials to showcase the “good news” of the Upstate through the end of the year.

Attendees will discover how their good news can be promoted throughout the evening’s activities. The radio stations and every Chamber plus select organizations will have booths and displays to share their news and happenings. The event is free and open to everyone in the Upstate community. Concession stands will be available for refreshments.

"Considering the constant national news barrage that often misleads folks in our region about the state of our own economy, we thought this event and kick-off would be a great way to put positive local and regional news back on the radio,” said Greenville Chamber President and CEO Ben Haskew. “I encourage the community to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to learn about the ‘great things’ we’re doing in the Upstate!”

For more information, visit online at http://www.greenvillechamber.org/ or contact Andrea Powell, Director of Corporate Development, at apowell@greenvillechamber.org.

Radio Station Sponsors
1. 92.5 WESC-FM Country Clear Channel
2. 93.3 WTPT-FM Alternative Rock Entercom
3. 93.7 WFBC-FM CHR/Pop Entercom
4. 96.7 WBZT-FM Christian Contemporary Clear Channel
5. 98.1 WHZT-FM Rhythmic Contemporary COX
6. 98.9 WSPA-FM A/C Entercom
7. 100.5 WSSL-FM Country Clear Channel
8. 101.1 WROQ-FM Classic Rock Entercom
9. 102.5 WMYI-FM A/C Clear Channel
10. 106.3 WGVC-FM News/Talk Entercom
11. 107.3 WJMZ-FM Adult Urban Contemporary Cox

About the Greenville Chamber of Commerce
The Greenville Chamber is the largest business organization in the Upstate, serving more than 2,200 members. The Chamber's mission is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by: Leading through collaboration, building community prosperity, being the voice of business, and enhancing quality of life. For more information on the Greenville Chamber, call 864-242-1050 or visit http://www.greenvillechamber.org/.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Week's Legislative Update

While the Legislature is in session, the Greenville Chamber sends out a Legislative Update each week to those members interested. Not receiving the updates, but interested? Contact Sunnie Harmon or John DeWorken at 864-242-1050 or by e-mail (sharmon@greenvillechamber.org or jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org).

Below is last week's update from Columbia:

Slow Week in Columbia
The SC House of Representatives enacted one of its furlough weeks March 17-19, while the SC Senate met for one day in the Senate Chambers before implementing perfunctory days on Wednesday and Thursday. During perfunctory days, the Senate does not meet in the Senate chambers to debate legislation. They do, however, continue committee meetings. This week Senate Finance subcommittees met in preparation for drafting the Senate’s version of the budget.

Anti-EFCA Concurrent Resolution Passed out of Subcommittee
House Bill 3222 passed out of a Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Subcommittee Wednesday with a favorable report. Upstate Senators Bryant (R-Anderson), Bright (R-Spartanburg) and Nicholson (D-Greenwood) are commended for their positive comments regarding the bill. H. 3222, which passed the SC House of Representatives, is a concurrent resolution asking the South Carolina congressional delegation to oppose any legislation that would remove South Carolina workers’ rights to a secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to unionize. H. 3222 is part of South Carolina’s efforts to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which has been introduced in both the US House and US Senate. The Upstate Chamber Coalition, along with the SC State Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, has been active in the fight against EFCA. The bill will now move to the full Senate LCI committee for discussion.

More Budget Cuts
The South Carolina Budget and Control Board announced another $100 million cut in the budget. K-12 will feel the greatest cut of approximately $45 million in funding. The House passed its budget last week, so it will be up to the Senate Finance Committee to work with the newly reduced budget. SC Lawmakers are trying to determine how much of the budget gap can be filled by the Federal Stimulus money.

EFCA Constitutional Amendment up for Debate on House Floor
House Bill 3305 introduced by Representative Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville), is set for debate on the House floor on Wednesday, March 25. The bill would amend South Carolina’s constitution to guarantee a worker’s right to a secret ballot in a union election. Since the legislation amends the constitution, a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate will have to pass H. 3305. Once passed, it will be up to the citizens of South Carolina to vote for a referendum in the 2010 election. Currently, H. 3305 has 75 co-sponsors.

Seed Capital Legislation to be introduced by the Speaker
Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) has committed to act as the primary sponsor of the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s Seed Capital legislation. This bill will create a seed capital fund manager who would invest in South Carolina pre-start up and start-up high impact companies. Those who invest a minimum of $100,00 in the fund will receive a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the total investment. South Carolina currently has a program called SC LAUNCH!, which can invest up to $200,000 in pre-startup and startup companies in addition to venture capitalists who invest $1million or more in already established companies. The intent of the Seed Capital bill is to fill this investment gap and to encourage entrepreneurs and promote the establishment of SC grown high-impact businesses and headquarters. Upstate Chamber Coalition lobbyists are signing up co-sponsors before the Speaker introduces the bill in coming weeks.

For more legislative information, visit www.scstatehouse.net.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Congrats to the March Small Business of the Month!

This morning, during the Greenville Chamber's Board of Directors meeting, Carolina Safety Consultants were recognized as the March 2009 Small Business of the Month.

A big thanks goes to this month's Small Business of the Month sponsors: HR Experts On Demand and QBS.




About Carolina Safety Consultants (CSC):
Carolina Safety Consultants (CSC) provides environmental, health and safety training and consulting services to small-to-mid-sized companies throughout the Carolinas. A significant percentage of CSC’s client base represents general business and industry, as well as certain types of government entities (e.g., counties and municipalities). In addition, CSC has specialized expertise in the construction, light manufacturing and healthcare sectors. David J. De Vita, president and founder, has a well-rounded career in safety training, consulting and implementation that spans nearly 20 years. His professional credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree in Health & Safety Management from Clemson University (1990). De Vita’s personal knowledge and experience provides insight into applicable regulatory standards and interpretations, and assists management in providing a safe workplace — thereby positioning them for a competitive advantage in their respective industries. “We are proud to offer a service that has the potential to make a real difference in the operations of the company or organization that hires us,” notes De Vita.

Prior to establishing Carolina Safety Consultants in 2004, David De Vita held strategic roles with two of the Southeast’s most reputable insurance companies as well as the Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC). He has worked extensively with many of the region’s leading general and specialty contractors in addition to healthcare, manufacturing and health/spa club organizations. De Vita currently serves as an adjunct instructor at Clemson University and develops safety-related curriculum for higher-education institutions and businesses.

Last Week's Legislative Update

While the Legislature is in session, the Greenville Chamber sends out a Legislative Update each week to those members interested. Not receiving the updates, but interested? Contact Sunnie Harmon or John DeWorken at 864-242-1050 or by e-mail (sharmon@greenvillechamber.org or jdeworken@greenvillechamber.org).

Below is last week's update from Columbia:

House Finishes Budget
In the old days, that usually means before Operation Lost Trust and before cameras were placed in the chambers of the Senate and House, the budget debates ran into the late hours of the night, accompanied by brown bagged bottles being shared throughout the chambers. What was in those brown bags usually spiced up members’ Coca-Colas. Though those days are over, the House did run extraordinarily late Wednesday. At 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, the House finished this year’s budget. In a sign of the times, it is a significantly scaled down version of last year’s budget. It will now go into the hands of the Senate for its consideration.

Tort Reform Possibly to be Considered in Summer
With only ten weeks in the legislative session, Senate leadership is considering to debate the merits of tort reform into the summer and fall months, instead of trying to pass a bill this year that would be significantly watered down. In consideration is placing reasonable caps on non-economic damages and punitive damages. Four years ago, the first part of the tort reform package was passed, which included provisions to deal with venue, joint and severability, and medical malpractice caps.

Senate Subcommittee to Take Up EFCA
A Senate Labor Commerce and Industry Subcommittee will consider a bill to call on the US Congress to kill the Employee Free Choice Act, which is a bill that was introduced this week in the US House and US Senate that will eliminate secret ballot voting when workers vote whether to unionize and would provide mandatory arbitration measures when workers unionize.

Local Option Tourism Development Fee Act Passes Subcommittee
A bill that would allow a county to increase its sales tax by a penny passed a Senate Finance subcommittee this week, chaired by Senator Billy O’Dell (R-Greenwood). The bill provides that any county that collects at least $14 million in accommodations tax for the preceding year, would be able to increase its sales tax by a penny, which could be used for tourism-related initiatives and advertising. Horry County is the only county that qualifies for this bill.

Senate Budget Subcommittee Hearings Begin
The Senate Finance Committee was in full force this week, conducting hearings from constituents and agencies. The Senate Finance Committee will receive the budget from the House this week, which passed it Wednesday.

House, Senate to Furlough Next Week
After working long hours on the budget, the House will take next week off, leaving only the Senate to fill the State House, which it will only on Tuesday for a full day session. Other than that, the Senate Finance Committee will be conducting hearings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chamber CFCE Partner School, Bell's Crossing, Receives Recognition

Bell's Crossing, a partner school of the Greenville Chamber Foundation's premier program, Carolina First Center for Excellence, was recognized for being one of the best schools in the state.

As a CFCE partner school, Bell's Crossing incorporates Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) strategies in classrooms. CQI is a data driven system developed for the business world and adapted by CFCE staff for education.

Click here to read an article published on the front page of The Greenville News on March 15, 2009, about Bell's Crossing and its recent recognition.

Click here to view a complete list of CFCE partner schools. If you don't see your child's school on that list, contact your school's administrator today and encourage them to become a partner school of the Greenville Chamber's Carolina First Center for Excellence program!

Schools or anyone interested in learning more about this program are asked to visit us on the web (click here), or contact one of our staff -- listed below.

Photos and Examples of CQI at Bell's Crossing:


Pictured to the LEFT: An example of a 2nd grade classroom's mission & vision. Each class' mission and vision is created by the students, along with the guidance of their teacher. The mission and vision statements will guide the participation in learning throughout the school year.

Pictured to the RIGHT: A "Top Quality Student," as defined by the students in the classroom. This "tool" shows how the students define a "Quality Student," using their own words and voice, not their teacher's.

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