S.C. Senate Approves Cybersecurity Bill

The South Carolina Senate has tentatively approved a bill meant to increase the oversight of public agencies' computer systems.

Since last fall's massive breach at the Department of Revenue, the Senate voted unanimously Thursday on the measure centralizing responsibility of cybersecurity.

It would mean the governor could negotiate up to 10 years of identity theft protection for residents through the state's bid process.

Under the $12 million, one-year contract Gov. Nikki Haley negotiated last fall, Experian monitors customers' credit for new accounts and provides after-the-fact alerts. The bill encourages future contracts to cover other types of fraud. 

People who prove they've been victimized by the hacking could be reimbursed by the state. However, experts say a direct connection is impossible to prove.

The bill requires another vote before heading to the House.


S.C. Chili Cook-Off Championship Saturday

Dozens of cooks from across the country are tuning their forks and getting ready for Saturday's S.C. Chili Cook-off Championship presented by MSW Security. Professional chili and salsa winners will head on to world-level competition sanctioned by the International Chili Society. Local amateur cooks can also submit their best chili and salsa recipes for a shot at the People's Choice Award. The professional competition is bringing cooks from as far as Seymour, Indiana, where Julie and Jim Nester, both award-winning cooks, live. They will all be among the more than two dozen competitors trying to oust last year's S.C. state champ Allen Querubin of Marion.

Mike Freedman is coming from "up north" in Connecticut to act as chief judge for the event. He will join a full fleet of area judges. "We are looking for great spring weather and a lot of really good cooking, as well as fun, live music and what will be a great Saturday outing for families," said Jim Bright, one of the event organizers.

In addition to chili and salsa, the event will feature live music from Jack Roper and the Weatherman, Another BS Session and the Sidetrack bands, along with children's rides with an all-day pass from SpaceWalk of Anderson for $10, drink sales benefiting the Boys Home of the South, arts, crafts and much more. Food will include everything from chili and salsa to baked goods and southern staples like boiled peanuts. Belton woodworker Gene Jameson will be on hand with his souvenir cook-off knives for sale. Also being sold are T-shirts designed by Belton student Sloane Darby.

Belton's American Legion Post is moving its monthly $5 per plate breakfast to downtown for this Saturday only. It will be held in the BasicLife building on the square from 8 to 10 a.m.

The cook-off will benefit three nonprofit organizations - Belton Area Museum Association, Belton Center for the Arts and the Belton Interfaith Ministerial Association. The event actually begins on Friday with a cooks-only dinner in Anderson. On Saturday, the downtown area will be closed to through traffic from 7 a.m. to about 6 p.m. The event opens to the public at 9 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. on the WebbCraft stage. Jack Roper and the Weatherman Band performs at 10:30 a.m., with Honea Path-based Another BS Session band in concert at 12:45 p.m. Side Track plays at 2 p.m., with the awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m.

The tasting event will cost $5 and the donation of one canned good with the food going directly to the Belton Interfaith Ministerial Association for its food pantry. The $5 wrist band will give buyers a chance to sample the competitors' entries. For more information visit here.


Metal Fabricator to Bring 146 Jobs, $5.8 M Investment

SMF Inc., a full-service metal fabrication company, today announced that it will establish its new production facility in Anderson County. The $5.8 million investment is expected to generate 146 new jobs over the next five years. The average wage of $16 per hour, with an annual payroll of $4.5 million. 

Burris Nelson, Director Anderson County Economic Development, right, listens as Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns thanks those who helped make the SMF announcement possible.“Our company continues to expand and we look forward to beginning our operations at our new site in Anderson County. South Carolina provides an excellent location for us, a great business environment and the workforce talent we need. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials as we’ve moved forward with our plans,” said Brian Brown, president of SMF Inc.

"Everybody who works for Anderson County should get credit for the announcements this week," said Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns. Burns said that the companies coming to Anderson had met with every single person with whom they would need to work prior to committing to coming to Anderson. 

SMF Inc. will locate a new manufacturing plant in an existing building at 131 Harvester Court in Anderson County. The company will provide a range of metal fabrication services, including torch and laser cutting, sawing, forming, machining, welding, painting and assembly. The plant is expected to begin operations in early July.

“It’s exciting to see more companies like SMF Inc. decide to put roots down in South Carolina. We understand what businesses need in order to do well, and more companies are choosing to bring job-creating investments to the Palmetto State. We celebrate SMF’s decision to invest $5.8 million and create 146 new jobs in Anderson County,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. The move also marks the family-owned SMF's first business venture outside of Illinois.

"It has been a wonderful week we are having in Anderson County as related to jobs (announcements)," said Anderson County Council Chairman Francis Crowder. "And Tuesday night we have another inducement agreement which would bring 70 more jobs."

Burris Nelson, Director Anderson County Economic Development, called economic recruitment a team sport, and joined members of county council in thanking those involved in the effort, including county employees, Tri-County Technical College (which was more than once tagged vital to the efforts), Innovate Anderson, the legislative delegation and others.

Since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $8 billion in capital investment and more than 21,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.

“Manufacturing continues to be a key part of our economy. South Carolinians know how to make things, and make them well. When a manufacturer like SMF Inc. decides to call the Palmetto State home, it adds to our manufacturing renaissance and creates jobs that help make the surrounding communities sustainable,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

“SMF’s choice to join the Anderson County business community is proof of our growing success to attract a quality company; one which garners 95 percent of its business as a Tier One supplier to original equipment manufacturers - Fortune 500 clients. We are proud to welcome SMF to our community and pledge our continuing efforts toward a successful future for both SMF and Anderson County,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Francis Crowder.

The company will begin hiring for the new positions in June. Anyone interested in job opportunities with the company should contact SC Works Anderson office at that time. Nelson said SMF will pay $46,000 in property taxes the first year of operation.

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits.

For more information about SMF Inc., please visit the company’s website at www.smf-inc.com.


AU to Host President's Gala Event April 19

Anderson University will host the sixth annual President's Gala Event, April 19 n the Henderson Auditorium of The Rainey Fine Arts Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by President and Mrs. Evans Whitaker, the event will featiure singers, dancers and instrumentalists, as well as a variety of top performers from the AU College of Visual and Performing Arts.

“The 2013 President's Gala aims to deliver all this and more with a wide variety of student performances, from the Anderson University Orchestra to inspiring solo dancers, singers and instrumentalist, says David Larson, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.  “Along with established ensembles, students from across the Music and Theatre Departments have stepped up with polished renditions of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Soul Man, Blues in the Night and They Can't Take That Away From Me.” Featured ensembles include The Jazz Ensemble, The Brass Quintet, the piano ensemble - Noteworthy, the Guitar Ensemble and the AU Choir. Musical Theatre numbers will include Join the Circus from AU's award-winning production of Barnum, and Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat, from Guys and Dolls.  The 2013 Gala will also feature two special numbers from the famous Electric Light Orchestra - Mr. Blue Sky and Rock Aria. The performance will culminate in a stirring rendition of Impossible Dream, from The Man of LaMancha, featuring the AU Symphony, University Choir and Soloists.

Admission is free, and the public is invited.  Call 864-231-2080 for tickets or 231-2125 for more information.


YMCA to Host Youth, Adult Triathlons

The Anderson Area YMCA will host a a pair of triathlons at the end of April. The Youth Triathlon will be held April 27 and the Adult Triathlon April 28. 

Volunteers are needed for both events. For more information on the events or volunteering, contact Julie Radnor Usherwood at 864-716-6271


AnMed Signs Support Pact with Guard/Reserve Employees

AnMed Health's CEO John Miller demonstrated support for military service members by signing an Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Statement of Support. Miller was joined by AnMed Health Vice President of Communications Michael Cunningham, SGT George Case (SC National Guard Employment Advisor) Melissa Garrison (Assistant Employment Advisor for the Upstate) and Angela Stringer (Upstate ESGR Ambassador & Anderson County PIO). 

 “As Anderson County's largest employer, AnMed Health employs many men and women who serve in the Guard and Reserve,” said CEO John Miller. “By signing this statement of support, we show our appreciation for their service to our country, as well as our ongoing commitment to support them here at home as they do so.“  The ESGR Statement of Support is confirmation that a company recognizes, honors and enforces the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA).  It not only shows their desire to follow the letter of the law, but also demonstrates their willingness to embrace the heart of USERRA, with an appreciation for the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce.

Most importantly, it is a company’s pledge to stand proudly with its Guard and Reserve employees, who continue to answer their nation’s call to defend our way of life, recognizing their personal sacrifices are essential to the strength of our nation.  The ESGR Statement of Support confirms AnMed Health’s willingness to join other companies across the nation in support. For more information about ESGR Outreach Programs, or ESGR volunteer opportunities, please call 1-800-336-4590 or visit www.ESGR.mil.


Clemson Glee Clubs Concert April 23

Clemson University's Women’s and Men’s glees will present their spring concert at 8 p.m. April 23, at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.

The Women’s Glee, under the direction of Justin Durham, will perform a variety of pieces from the 20th century, including two motets by French composers Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé. They also will perform American music by Alice Parker and Eric Whitacre and James McCray’s “Jubilant Song,” a piece set to the poetry of Walt Whitman. It will feature Paul Buyer as guest percussionist.

The Men’s Glee, under the direction of Jared Daugherty, is presenting a program highlighting the presence of faith, hope and love throughout time with pieces ranging from the late 16th century to the 20th century. “Come Again” by John Dowland, the earliest piece performed, will feature a guitar accompaniment to mirror the flavor of the time period.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and are available for purchase online at www.clemson.edu/Brooks and through the Box Office at 864-656-7787 from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.


Affordable Care Act "Complex, Confusing" Say Dem Leaders

Complex. Complicated. Confusing. Beyond comprehension. Two prominent Democrats used these words this week to describe the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."

One of those Democrats, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), was one of the key architects of the law. The other, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is in charge of implementing the law.

"I believe that the Affordable Care Act is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress. Tax reform obviously has been huge too, but up to this point it is just beyond comprehension," Rockefeller said Tuesday at a Senate Finance confirmation hearing, according to The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard.

Rockefeller also warned Marilyn Tavenner, who has been appointed to serve as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, that the ACA is "so complicated and if it isn't done right the first time, it will just simply get worse."

Sebelius was speaking at a Monday forum hosted by the Harvard School of Public Health and Reuters.

When asked about the challenges of implementing the ACA, Sebelius said, "I think that, probably, no one fully anticipated, when you have a law that phases in over time, how much confusion that creates for a lot of people." 

Sebelius also expressed disappointment in the fact that there are some who continue to believe that the ACA is a bad law and do not want it to be implemented. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the law and Barack Obama was re-elected, she expected the law's opponents to begin supporting it.

"The politics has been relentless and continuous. ... There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July and then once an election occured there would be the sense that, this is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work. And yet, we find ourselves still having, sort of, state by state political battles. And, again, creating what I think is a lot of confusion," she complained.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/democrats-now-admit-obamacare-is-complicated-confusing-93694/#6pCGPAKj8LxsYkhP.99 


Sheheen Announces Bid for Governor

South Carolina state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) announced Wednesday that he is “taking steps” to launch a 2014 gubernatorial campaign, likely pitting the Democratic lawmaker against current Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

Sheheen announced his bid in an email to supporters and took the opportunity to blast the Haley administration’s record, calling it “failed and dysfunctional," Columbia Patch reports.

“Our state deserves better than the failed and dysfunctional government it has received from our current politicians,” Sheheen wrote. “Now, we need leaders.”

Sheheen -- the only Democrat thus far to jump in the 2014 South Carolina race for governor -- ran a close but unsuccessful bid against Haley in 2010, losing by a 4-point margin. However, citing South Carolina’s high unemployment rate and the state’s recent data hacking debacle, Sheheen said he believes he's in a strong position to win in 2014.

“Three years ago, we came so very close to changing South Carolina for the better,” Sheheen wrote in the email. “Now we can finish the job together.”

Tim Pearson, chief political adviser to Haley, responded to Sheheen’s announcement Wednesday, brushing off any potential threat the Democratic lawmaker may pose if Haley decides to seek reelection.

Full Story Here


CNN: S.C. Democrats Attack Wrong Sanford

It could have been a crucial piece of opposition research: The South Carolina Democratic Party accused Mark Sanford, who criticized his rival for taking union contributions, of receiving campaign cash from labor groups himself during a past run for Congress.

Only problem? They had the wrong Sanford.

The dust-up began Tuesday morning with the news Boeing was expanding its footprint in the Palmetto State, investing $1 billion and creating 2,000 jobs over the next eight years.

Previously, labor groups had filed a complaint with the federal government, trying to stop Boeing from building airliners in South Carolina. The union said the decision to put the new plant in South Carolina was a move by Boeing to retaliate against a strike by company workers in Washington state.

The union later reached an agreement that allowed Boeing to open the South Carolina plant, resulting in the announcement Tuesday the firm was investing in the state.

Elizabeth Colbert Bush, the Democrat running for South Carolina's open House seat, praised Boeing's move, but the Sanford campaign was quick to highlight that Colbert Bush accepted contributions from unions that opposed Boeing's plant in North Charleston.

That's when the problems began for the South Carolina Democrats. The party accused Sanford in a press release of accepting union contributions in his 1998 and 2000 House re-election campaigns. The statement carried the screaming headline, "Colossal Hypocrite Mark Sanford Takes Union Contributions."

"Just when you thought Mark Sanford's strained relationship with the truth couldn't get any worse, we learn that he's criticizing Elizabeth Colbert Busch for something he's done," said SCDP Chairman Dick Harpootlian in a statement. "Mark owes Elizabeth an apology for this ugly attack."

But the "Sanford" they located with contributions from unions turned out to be the wrong politician – the contributions were actually made to a "Sanford Bishop for Congress."

The mistake was called out by Sanford's campaign, who asked for an apology from the South Carolina's Democrats' chairman.

Ultimately, the Democrats owned up to the mistake.

"We learned this evening that the information posted on OpenSecrets.org and used in this release is incorrect," spokeswoman Kristin Sosanie wrote. "We relied on an independent organization used by many journalism organizations and it's disappointing and unfortunate that the source appears to be in error. We apologize for any confusion that this error has caused."

OpenSecrets.org, also known as the Center for Responsive Politics, obtains its data directly from the Federal Election Commission.

"While we often catch errors and correct them for the public, in this case we didn't," said Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director. "The FEC, in the case of these contributions, had coded Democrat Sanford Bishop as Republican Mark Sanford. We pointed this out to the agency yesterday and have been assured that it is being fixed."


Atlantic: Quick Trip, Others Prove Ethical Business Works

The average American cashier makes $20,230 a year, a salary that in a single-earner household would leave a family of four living under the poverty line. But if he works the cash registers at QuikTrip, it's an entirely different story. The convenience-store and gas-station chain offers entry-level employees an annual salary of around $40,000, plus benefits. Those high wages didn't stop QuikTrip from prospering in a hostile economic climate. While other low-cost retailers spent the recession laying off staff and shuttering stores, QuikTrip expanded to its current 645 locations across 11 states.

Many employers believe that one of the best ways to raise their profit margin is to cut labor costs. But companies like QuikTrip, the grocery-store chain Trader Joe's, and Costco Wholesale are proving that the decision to offer low wages is a choice, not an economic necessity. All three are low-cost retailers, a sector that is traditionally known for relying on part-time, low-paid employees. Yet these companies have all found that the act of valuing workers can pay off in the form of increased sales and productivity.

"Retailers start with this philosophy of seeing employees as a cost to be minimized," says Zeynep Ton of MIT's Sloan School of Management. That can lead businesses into a vicious cycle. Underinvestment in workers can result in operational problems in stores, which decrease sales. And low sales often lead companies to slash labor costs even further. Middle-income jobs have declined recently as a share of total employment, as many employers have turned full-time jobs into part-time positions with no benefits and unpredictable schedules. 

QuikTrip, Trader Joe's, and Costco operate on a different model, Ton says. "They start with the mentality of seeing employees as assets to be maximized," she says. As a result, their stores boast better operational efficiency and customer service, and those result in better sales. QuikTrip sales per labor hour are two-thirds higher than the average convenience-store chain, Ton found, and sales per square foot are over 50 percent higher. 

Entry-level hires at QuikTrip are trained for two full weeks before they start work, and they learn everything from how to order merchandise to how to clean the bathroom. Most store managers are promoted from within, giving employees a reason to do well. "They can see that if you work hard, if you're smart, the opportunity to grow within the company is very, very good," says company spokesman Mike Thornbrugh.

The approach seems like common sense. Keeping shelves stocked and helping customers find merchandise are key to maximizing sales, and it takes human judgment and people skills to execute those tasks effectively. To see what happens when workers are devalued, look no further than Borders or Circuit City. Both big-box retailers saw sales plummet after staff cutbacks, and both ultimately went bankrupt.

As global competition increases and cheap, convenient commerce finds a natural home online, the most successful companies may be those that focus on delivering a better customer experience. Ton's research on QuikTrip and other low-cost retailers--now a Harvard Business School case--is applicable across a variety of industries, she says. Toyota's production system, for example, gives all employees--including workers on the assembly lines--a voice in improving products.

But for a publicly traded company under pressure to show quarterly earnings, it's tempting to show quick profits by cutting labor costs. The bad economy has also made workers willing to take lower-paid positions rather than join the ranks of the unemployed. New employer-sponsored health insurance requirements under the Affordable Care Act are only going to give employers an additional incentive to shift workers to a part-time schedule. 

There are also trade-offs to investing in employees. Businesses that spend more on their workers have to cut costs elsewhere. Trader Joe's streamlines operations by offering a limited number of products and very few sale promotions. Costco stocks products on pallets, as a warehouse would. And the QuikTrip model requires investors to have the fortitude to accept possible short-term drops in profits. "You have to take a loss for a little bit," says Maureen Conway, executive director of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute. "You have to pay above market. You have to change how you do business."

At the upper echelons of the American workforce, salaries have soared. Companies are accustomed to thinking of their highest-level employees as "talent," and fighting to hire and reward people who will help grow the company. Now Trader Joe's and QuikTrip are proving that lower-level employees can be assets whose skills improve the bottom-line as well.


Regulatory Task Force Holds First Meeting Thursday

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s newly established Regulatory Review Task Force will hold their first meeting Thursday at 4:00 PM in the Edgar Brown Building Room 252 on the Statehouse Grounds. The Regulatory Review Task Force was created by Executive Order 2013-02.  Its mission is to develop a report that evaluates South Carolina’s current regulatory burdens on all sizes and types of businesses in South Carolina, which will be submitted to Gov. Haley by November 15, 2013


Private Religious Schools Outperform Public, Charter Schools

Private religious schools perform better than public schools, and public charter schools performed no better than regular public schools, according to a new study by William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University at Long Beach and senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton.

Jeynes spoke Monday with The Christian Post about the study. He found that religious, mostly Christian, school students were a full year ahead of students who attend public and charter schools.

The results of his research were recently published in vol. 87, issue 3 of the Peabody Journal of Education in an article titled, "A Meta-Analysis on the Effects and Contributions of Public, Public Charter, and Religious Schools on Student Outcomes," and were presented last month in a speech for Notre Dame University faculty.

Jeynes used a research method called a "meta-analysis," which utilizes very large data sets by combining the data from many different studies. Most of the studies used test scores to measure student performance, but there were some other measures, such as grade point average and teacher ratings, as well.

The research uses four different models to show how the outcomes might change using different control variables. Some might argue, for instance, that students at religious schools do better because their parents are more involved in their education, not because the schools are better. Jeynes, therefore, controlled for this "selection effect." Religious schools still perform better, though, even when controlling for parental involvement.

Religious school principals, though, have told Jeynes that they believe parental involvement should not be controlled for because parental involvement is something that is highly emphasized at religious schools. Indeed, some religious schools require parents to sign a consent acknowledging the involvement that is expected of them.

Read full story at http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-religious-schools-perform-better-than-public-charter-schools-93597/#zv8rjyHwc5MCreiW.99