August 20, 2014

USC economist: Aerospace industry’s $17B impact ripples through SC economy

AerospaceA new report says the aerospace industry in South Carolina has a total economic impact of $17 billion. University of South Carolina research economist Joey Von Nessen said the aerospace industry has been a major supporter of economic growth in the state over the past decade, producing thousands of jobs throughout the state.

While the report notes Boeing has the most employees of any aerospace company in South Carolina, Von Nessen said you can’t point to Boeing’s arrival in North Charleston as a benchmark. “It’s not just Boeing,” he said during Tuesday’s inaugural South Carolina Aerospace Industry Day in Columbia. “It’s a network of firms that has risen in South Carolina over the last decade which supports over 100,000 jobs when you look at all the private sector jobs that come from aerospace and aviation, military aviation, as well as all the economic ripple effects that arise from that as well.”

Von Nessen said a major portion of the jobs associated with aerospace are military-based, which he cautions could adversely affect aerospace employment numbers in the state that if a military air bases is targeted during the next round of base closings or downsizing. Most of the military employment is located at Joint Base Charleston, Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and McEntire Joint National Guard Base near Columbia.

Von Nessen said over the past decade more aerospace industry related companies have located to South Carolina and that has a created a substantial economic cluster that fosters growth.

“So a new firm coming in spends money with local suppliers and those suppliers spend money with their suppliers, and so on,” he said. “And because all those firms are in South Carolina, that’s additional economic activity. If we did not have that supply chain, that initial firm would be buying from suppliers out of state and we would be losing all those ripple effects.”

Von Nessen said there are 466 civilian companies employing more than 17,000 people across the state and major portion of these enterprises are small business firms.

“One of the surprising results that came out of the study was the fact that about 75 percent of the private sector firms in aerospace in South Carolina, meaning they have five or fewer employees, and their needs are very different from the large manufacturers, so it’s important to take both into consideration.”

Not surprisingly, the single largest company is Boeing, which employs about 6,500 in North Charleston.

Von Nessen said the industry has put new demands on education in the state to prepare the workforce for the future jobs being created by the industry. He cites the development of McNair Center at USC as one important initiative.

“Helping to sustain that growth going forward those workforce needs are critically important and that’s part of the mission of McNair, and part of the reason Aerospace Industry Day is happening is to discuss strategies more generally of how to sustain growth and workforce development going forward.”


DHEC committee upholds revoking of birth center’s license


Two DHEC staffers monitor a conference call during Monday’s meeting

An Upstate birthing center’s appeal on the revocation of its license to operate was denied by a state public health committee Monday.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Request for Final Review Committee voted 2-to-1 by conference call not to forward the appeal by Carolina Birth Center.

Carolina Birth Center had asked the DHEC Board to review an order by agency staffers to revoke its license on July 14. In its appeal, Carolina Birth Center accused DHEC of harassing its staff and singling out the Simpsonville natural birth clinic.

DHEC has become more strict in its regulation of midwives and alternative birthing centers after two infants died in separate incidents at a Fort Mill clinic last year.

[Read more...]

Eight SC hospitals affected by cyber-attack

Chester General Hospital, one of 8 hospitals in SC affected by the attack (Image: Chester General)

Chester General Hospital, one of 8 hospitals in SC affected by the attack (Image: Chester General)

Patients at eight hospitals in South Carolina may have been the victims of a large cyber-attack earlier this year.

The eight medical centers are all part of Community Health Systems — a Tennessee-based company that operates more than 200 hospitals nationwide. Officials said Monday that no medical or credit card records were taken in the attack which may have happened in April and June, but the hackers did make off with names, addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers.

The affected hospitals in South Carolina are Mary Black Health System in Spartanburg, Carolinas Hospital System in Florence and Marion, Chester Regional Medical Center, Chesterfield General Hospital, Marlboro Park Hospital in Bennettsville, Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville, and Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster.

The company said anyone who was either treated at or referred to those hospitals in the last five years is affected. In all, the company believes 4 million patients had sensitive information compromised.

“We take very seriously the security and confidentiality of private patient information and we sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience to patients,” the company said in a statement. “Though we have no reason to believe that this data would ever be used, all affected patients are being notified by letter and offered free identity theft protection.

Community Health Systems said that cybersecurity experts it hired have determined the hackers were based in China and used high-end, sophisticated malware to launch the attacks.

Crews remove “cobwebs” growing in pool with spent nuclear fuel at SRS

Image provided by SRNS shows the spent fuel racks before and after vacuuming

Image provided by SRNS shows the spent fuel racks before and after vacuuming

Workers at the Savannah River Site say they have now removed a mysterious “cobweb-like” bacteria whose appearance has perplexed researchers at the former nuclear weapons complex since its discovery three years ago.

In 2011, employees working at the site near Aiken were surprised to find the white, string-like growth in a large pool at the L Disassembly Basin which is used to store spent nuclear fuel assemblies.

Scientists at both facilities determined that the “cobwebs” were made up of a broad variety of bacteria along with a few other types of microbes that were able to survive despite the radiation and lack of carbon in the pools. Researchers say they have spent the past two years monitoring the “cobwebs” for growth patterns and changes.

[Read more...]

Two SLED agents cleared in shooting of murder suspect

A prosecutor has cleared two State Law Enforcement Division agents of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of a murder suspect outside a St. George hotel last month.

The July 22 incident occurred after investigators caught up to 37-year-old Vamond Elmore, who was wanted for murder in Norwalk, Connecticut, at a hotel near Interstate 95 in Dorchester County. A spokesman with the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said at the time that about 20 deputies, SLED agents, and U.S. Marshals were on the scene. The spokesman said the SLED agents opened fire after Elmore came out of a hotel room and pointed a pistol at one of the agents.

In a letter to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office released Monday, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said the two agents acted in accordance with the law, noting that Elmore had a lengthy and violent criminal history. He said the two SLED agents had identified themselves as law enforcement

“(The SLED agents) acted with the good faith belief that Elmore posed a significant risk of injury or death to themselves as well as other officers and citizens in the area,” Pascoe wrote. He added the two men had identified themselves as law enforcement shortly before Elmore pointed the weapon at them.

Normally SLED investigates officer-involved shootings in South Carolina, but the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office was handling the case to avoid a conflict of interest.

“The one thing this incident does establish is the danger law enforcement officers face every day,” Pascoe wrote, adding that his office now considers the matter closed.