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 or give us a call at 864-242-1050.

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 ( or

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


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 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

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



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 For more information, contact Ginger McKenzie at 864-239-3708 or

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


Monday, May 4, 2009


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 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

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 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


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 ( or

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.