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.
Surreal Innovation Salon Now Open
Columbia’s newest total care spa is now taking appointments and offering $10 off services $25 or more for first time clients. Location, hours, and more info here.
This Week @ Social
Edward Shouse performs Friday the 21st, and on Saturday Absolut Vodka presents A Night in Sweden, with specialty Absolut drinks and live music by Christian Slick. Follow us!
Now Hiring in the Vista!
Hickory Tavern is opening mid-December and looking for bartenders, servers, hosts and kitchen staff. Apply in person: Click for details!
Going someplace cool this weekend?
Let The Backpacker help you go lightweight, comfortable and in style! Patagonia, Prana, Merrell, The North Face and more! Click for location, hours and more info.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
A Re-Imagined Christmas Carol at Trustus
Watch as five actors perform all the characters of Charles Dickens’ classic story and create a live musical score in a production that had audiences and critics raving last year. Get your tickets here!
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season:
WE’LL HELP YOU CREATE YOUR WISHLIST FOR YOUR NEW HOME! Choose from 11 communities & over 30 home designs. Personalize your home at our Selections Gallery. Our Customer Service Team gives you peace of mind in your new home. Got land? We can build Your Home Your Way on Your Land. 803-917-5583 3300. Sunset Blvd. West Columbia 29169 Click here for more info