With a recently released report showing the percentage of U.S.-consumed fruits and vegetables that are imported rising rapidly in recent years while production has been near stagnant or declining, a South Carolina peach farmer was in Washington, D.C., last week to champion for comprehensive immigration reform.
Chalmers Carr of Titan Farms in Ridge Spring told media outlets that comprehensive immigration reform is needed to increase productivity so that it can keep up with demand.
“Right now, the agriculture industry is the most dependent on foreign labor as any industry in the country,” he said on a conference call. “Out of the estimated 1.2 million workers, it’s roughly believed that 70 percent of those are not legally employable in the country. You have a need of future flow of workers through a guest worker program. There is where immigration comes forward, where you need border security, new employment verification standards, and those must go hand in hand.”
Carr said he’s been using the federal H2A program, which allows for foreign workers to legally work on farms on a limited or seasonal basis, for the past 16 years, but that many year-round farms can’t participate because of the time limitations.
“If we don’t figure out a system to get labor to come and work on our farms, our domestic prod of fruits and vegetables will move offshore,” he continued, “and that will bring up questions of food security and food safety in this country.”
Columbia Chamber Taps New CEO
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce's new CEO and president starts work on Monday after a search that lasted almost three months, the organization announced late last week. Carl Blackstone, a government relations advisor with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, a Columbia area law firm, was chosen from a pool of several dozen applicants.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and serve this thriving community,” said Blackstone in a press release. “I am excited about the opportunity ahead to make the region more competitive and help align businesses with the resources they need to grow and expand, ultimately bringing new jobs into our community.”
Blackstone's most recent job required him to work closely with both the state legislature and governor's office. Prior to that, he served as senior legislative advisor to former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
Blackstone is replacing former CEO and President Ike McCleese, who passed away unexpectedly in late October only a few weeks after announcing his retirement. McCleese had been with the Chamber since 1994.
EngenuitySC names New Executive Director
EngenuitySC, a local nonprofit specializing in development of the knowledge economy, named a new executive director last week. Meghan Hughes, who previously served in the role of senior project manager for the group, will be taking over for former Executive Director George Hutton.
In a press release, the organization said that “Hughes will oversee EngenuitySC’s ongoing economic development initiatives, including Ignite! and Science Cafe. She will also continue to oversee initiatives focused on clean and alternative energy (NuHub), sustainable planning and development of land (Urban Land Institute), and education and development of local K-12 talent (Richland STEM).”
"This is an incredible opportunity to lead a talented team and work with our dedicated Board to make the Midlands a more prosperous place to live," said Hughes. "I believe in the competitiveness mission of EngenuitySC and the power of our collaborative partnerships. Together, we are going to accomplish big things.”
S.C. Among Top States in Deploying Small Business Funds
Since 2010, South Carolina has used $16.5 million to support small businesses since 2010, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The funds were allocated as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a national program aimed at strengthening state lending to small businesses and small manufacturers.
Since the program was instituted over three years ago, South Carolina has deployed roughly 92 percent of the nearly $18 million it received as part of the initiative. Locally, the S.C. Jobs Economic Development Authority has been directly responsible for distributing the funds.
Columbia’s Largest Sidewalk Sale
Shop local this tax free weekend! Devine Street and Five Points are teaming up for a massive sidewalk sale featuring great in-store specials from all your favorite retailers and a Saturday art stroll. Read more hereand here!
Tax-Free Weekend at Best Mattress
With big savings from July 31st-August 2nd, you can afford handcrafted quality. Free bed frame and pillows on any Full, Queen, or King set $599 and above! Click for locations and hours.
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
New Downtown Dessert and Coffee Bar!
Tony’s Italian Eatery has teamed up with Southern Charm Sweets to bring you the highest quality dessert selection in the downtown area. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2. Find us on Facebook!
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage is offering 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
Concord Park From the $150’s. Off 12th St. Extension. 803.419.2227. mungo.com
Click here for more real estate.
ST. ANDREWS COMMONS APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Close to everywhere YOU WANT TO BE! 1200 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
WATERFORD APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Prime location, and plenty of space. Live large at Waterford Apartments. Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 1340 Longcreek Dr., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
GABLE HILL APARTMENTS 1, 2 & 3 BR’s available with many amenities. Surround yourself with Southern comforts at Gable Hill Apartments! Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 310 Ross Rd, Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
Donate Plasma Today & Be Somebody’s Hero For Life. You could earn up to $400 a month! Program and fees vary per location. Contact your local center today. 803-736-5888. Click here for more info