February 1, 2015

Governor says keeping business recruiting edge trumps any revenue lost to tax cuts

Gov. Nikki Haley defended her plan on Wednesday

Gov. Nikki Haley defended her plan on Wednesday

Gov. Nikki Haley continued her push Wednesday for a tax swap to pay for badly-needed road repairs in South Carolina, saying the business recruiting advantage it gives South Carolina should ease any concerns about lost tax revenue.

The governor defended her plan that would raise South Carolina’s 16 cents per-gallon gas tax to 26 cents in exchange for dropping the state’s top income tax level from 7 percent to 5 percent. Haley said North Carolina has made a similar decrease last year, dropping its top income tax rate to 5.75 percent. The governor said that gives the Tarheel State a competitive edge in recruiting new companies.

“They said they were coming after us. And kudos to them, they did,” she told reporters in a press conference outside her office. “It was their way of saying ‘Game on.’ This is our way of saying ‘Bring it on.'”

Haley’s plan will face a tough sell in the General Assembly. Democrats note budget analysts’ predictions that the state would miss out on more than $1 billion in annual tax revenue by the time the plan took full effect. Powerful Senate budget chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said the lost tax revenue would likely mean cuts elsewhere in the budget.

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Rite Aid to build distribution center in Spartanburg County, creating nearly 600 jobs

The national pharmacy chain Rite Aid Corporation announced plans to build a 900,000 square-foot distribution center in Spartanburg County.

The new distribution center will employ nearly 600 people after it becomes fully operational next year. The company said the center will support the inventory and fulfillment needs of approximately 1,000 Rite Aid stores in the southeastern U.S. The $90 million Spartanburg center will be Rite Aid’s first new distribution facility in 15 years.

“Rite Aid’s decision to build a new distribution center in Spartanburg County is a tremendous reason to celebrate,” Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement. “This $90 million investment that will create hundreds of jobs in the Upstate will make a real difference in the local community. We welcome Rite Aid to the South Carolina family and look forward to watching them succeed here for many years to come.”

Rite Aid had announced plans to consolidate three existing centers into a single facility after a comprehensive review of its supply chain and logistics network last year. The existing centers located in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Poca W.Va., will be combined into the Spartanburg center, as part of the company’s efforts to improve operating efficiency.

“Spartanburg is an ideal location for our new distribution center,” John Standley, Rite Aid chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “We thank the state of South Carolina for their cooperation and support during our site selection process and we look forward to breaking ground on our new facility which will help us to further optimize our supply chain and better serve our stores and customers across the Southeast.”

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project. Additionally, the South Carolina Power Team, in conjunction with Broad River Electric Cooperative, committed a $550,000 grant for infrastructure in support of the project.

Added South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, “Having such a successful, nationally recognized company, like Rite Aid, select South Carolina for a major distribution operation is a testament to the business-friendly reputation our state has earned. Congratulations to Rite Aid and Spartanburg County on this exciting news.”

Rite Aid is working with Spartanburg real estate development firm Johnson Development Associates on the project. Information on employment opportunities at Rite Aid’s new facility in Spartanburg will be made available in the second half of 2015. Currently, Rite Aid employs nearly 1,400 and operates 95 stores in South Carolina.

Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) is one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains with nearly 4,600 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia and fiscal 2014 annual revenues of $25.5 billion. Information about Rite Aid, including corporate background and press releases, is available through the company’s website at www.riteaid.com.

SC unemployment rate declines, record workforce cited

South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in December, as South Carolina’s record-high labor force continued growing at the same time the number of those with jobs also increased.

December’s jobless rate of 6.5 percent was a decrease from 6.7 in November, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). January reversed what had been a slowly rising rate since last summer.

The estimated number of South Carolinians working increased by more than 7,200 last month, according to SCDEW. Meanwhile, the state’s labor force increased by nearly 4,500 in that same span at the same time the number of unemployed workers fell by almost 2,800. The net result was both South Carolina’s largest workforce and total labor force ever recorded.

“While we are happy to see unemployment numbers coming down, we are going to continue focusing on those out of work,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. “Our new workforce training initiatives are going to expand opportunity in every part of South Carolina and keep our state on the move.”

However, the Palmetto State’s 6.5 percent rate is still ninth-highest in the country, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It trails North Carolina’s 5.5 percent unemployment, but is lower than Georgia’s 6.9 percent.

When seasonally adjusted, the largest net increases among job sectors came in Professional and Business Services, as well as the Construction industry. The worst declines came in Leisure and Hospitality, as well as information services. Among cities, the Charleston metropolitan area reported a net 3,800 new jobs when seasonally adjusted. The Columbia area reported a loss of 3,100. Marion County’s unemployment rate remains the state’s highest at 11.9 percent, while Saluda County was the lowest at 5 percent.

The unemployment rate in December 2013 was just a tick higher at 6.6 percent.

Bose Corporation to cut Midlands plant, costing 300 jobs

untitledBose Corporation announced Thursday it will be closing its facilities in Blythewood as the Massachussetts-based company said it will consolidate its manufacturing and streamline its global supply chain.

The company said it will also close a plant in Carrickmacross, Ireland as part of that plan.

“Our rapid global growth requires us to keep pace with our customers, dealers, distributors, resellers and stores, and serve them as efficiently as possible,” Bryan Fontaine, executive vice president of global operations and corporate development engineering, said in a statement. “But these are still difficult decisions because they impact our very capable teams in South Carolina and Ireland. We thank all of them for their dedication, and we thank the communities of Columbia and Carrickmacross for their years of support.”

Bose said it will continue operations at its Blythewood plant until September, while the Ireland operations will end in April. During that time, both workforces will be reduced and work will transfer to other Bose facilities in Arizona and Mexico. None of the plant’s roughly 300 employees will be transferred.

The Blythewood facility opened in 1996 and houses a North American distribution/repair center. It also does sub- and final assembly for some headsets, as well as remanufacturing for the region. Impacted employees have been informed, and all employees who lose their jobs based on these actions will receive outplacement services and severance support.

The Carrickmacross, Ireland facility opened in 1978 and currently has approximately 140 Bose employees. It provides final assembly for select home theater systems and Wave® radios for the European market, and some remanufacturing for the region. Operations will transfer to Bose facilities in Malaysia and Mexico.

Bose had already laid off 200 employees at the plant in 2012. At that time, the company said it wanted to restructure to meet its overseas demand more efficiently.

A call to a Bose spokeswoman was not immediately returned on Thursday.


Large mortgage bank moving headquarters to South Carolina

Movement MortgageOne of the nation’s largest purchase mortgage banks, Movement Mortgage, LLC, announced Thursday it will establish its new headquarters in Lancaster County. The move is part of a $22 million investment, which the company says will create more than 650 new jobs.

A new 104,000 square-foot building will house the company’s headquarters in Indian Land. It will be located at Bailes Ridge Business Park on S.C. Highway 160. According to a press release by the SC Department of Commerce, the project is expected to be finished by March 2016. Job development credits related to the project were approved by the Coordinating Council for Economic Development. The company could get up to $53 million in incentives from the state, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Movement Mortgage, which employs over 1,600 workers, is moving their headquarters from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Movement Mortgage Co-Founder and CEO Casey Crawford said that Lancaster County is a place to expand the business.

“As Movement Mortgage works toward our goal of financing ten percent of new home loans in the United States in the next ten years, we need national headquarters that give us room to grow while maintaining the high levels of employee care, customer service and community investment that define us,” Crawford said. “Lancaster County, South Carolina, provides that room to grow, and we look forward to calling the region home.”

Governor Nikki Haley said the company’s new headquarters in Lancaster County is good for South Carolina. “It’s a great day in South Carolina when we can welcome a company like Movement Mortgage to our state,” she said. “Their decision to create 650 new jobs in Lancaster County will make a significant difference in the local community and is a reason to celebrate in every part of South Carolina.”

Hiring for most of the new employees is likely to begin immediately, according to the press release.

Jeremy Urso contributed to this report