Thomas Sumter Academy wins SCISA Science Fair

Thomas Sumter Academy wins SCISA Science Fair

Thomas Sumter Academy continues to lead the way in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) by winning the South Carolina Independent School Association Science Fair. TSA students competed against 133 students from 37 schools. TSA was represented by seven students in elementary, middle and high school categories. TSA freshman Jack Dennis won two awards for his innovative project on aquaponics. He was the overall winner for the Senior Division and the Senior Environmental Division. Tenth-grader Lizzie Silvester won first place in the Senior Behavior Division for her project on memorization. Additionally, ninth-grader Logan Scruggs won third place in the Senior Biological Division for her project on natural fertilizers. The TSA team was led by Mrs. Beverly Weatherford.

For more information about Thomas Sumter Academy’s STEAM program or academics, visit

Credit: The Sumter Item

Business Development Corporation Closes South Carolina’s First Rural Modernization Program Loan

Business Development Corporation Closes South Carolina’s First Rural Modernization Program Loan

Loan Helps Carolina Metal Finishing Create 20 New Jobs in Bishopville, SC

Business Development Corporation of South Carolina (BDC) and South State Bank have assisted Carolina Metal Finishing in securing a Rural Modernization Program Loan to add an additional manufacturing line within their Bishopville, SC facility. The loan, which will provide an expansion of manufacturing capacity and create 20 new jobs, was used to purchase paint coating equipment which is essential to plant operations.

An affiliate of Paramount Metal Finishing in Linden, N.J., Carolina Metal Finishing supplies contract services for metal parts cleaning, assembly, industrial painting and powder coating. The Bishopville facility has been in operation since 2006 and currently employs 24 associates.

Carolina Metal Finishing is very excited on the progress we’ve made toward the expansion of our manufacturing facility in the Bishopville, S.C. area. The Rural Modernization Loan program has been instrumental in the process allowing us to purchase new equipment and to create new jobs in Lee County. We are grateful for the assistance and ability to work along with the teams from BDC, South State Bank, SC Department of Commerce, Lee County Council and the LINK Economic Development Alliance to ensure a successful expansion process.” -John Gibart, Plant Manager for Carolina Metal Finishing.

“Team South Carolina is always excited to celebrate the continued success of existing industry, especially in one of our rural communities. We congratulate Carolina Metal Finishing and look forward to watching them continue to thrive within our borders.” –Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

“We are excited to begin offering this important loan program for businesses located in counties that are experiencing challenging economies. This financing project with Carolina Metal Finishing is a great example of public-private partnerships working well to improve the local and state economies,” -Peter Shand, President of BDC in Columbia

“South State Bank is proud to be the largest bank headquartered in South Carolina. For 85 years, we’ve been serving customer and communities like Lee County by staying true to our values of relationship banking and commitment to customers.” -Phillip McCorkle- Senior Vice President, South State Bank

“We are pleased to be the very first County to utilize the Rural Modernization Loan Program. Carolina Metal Finishing has been longstanding in our community for more than a decade and we look forward to the continued success of the company. “–Lee County Council Chairman Travis Windham

“We have always been confident in our community and our ability to develop quality people and grow successful businesses. Lee County being the first recipient of the Rural Modernization Program Loan reinforces and enhances that assurance. We are excited about the expansion of Carolina Metal Finishing and the jobs it will create for our region.”–TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Chairman Gordon Eckley

The Rural Modernization Loan Program is a joint effort between the State Department of Commerce, Palmetto State Growth Fund, Business Development Corporation, and an eligible county. Currently five (5) counties are eligible to participate: Allendale, Bamberg, Lee, Marlboro, and Williamsburg. The program is designed to assist manufacturers in those counties to become more competitive and create jobs.

About BDC
Since 1958, Business Development Corporation (BDC) has been financing small businesses in South Carolina, creating new jobs for the citizens of the Palmetto State. BDC and its associate company, Certified Development Corporation
(CDC), have approved more than 2,745 loans on projects in excess of $1.7 billion, providing leadership in economic development lending and job creation in South Carolina. To learn more about BDC, visit or call 803.798.4064.

Sumter is a finalist for civic engagement annual award

Sumter is a finalist for civic engagement annual award

National Civic League names All-America Cities each year


It is described as the Nobel Prize, the Superbowl, the Oscars for civic engagement awards bestowed upon communities, and Sumter is one of 20 finalists for it.

The National Civic League has been recognizing cities since 1949 with the All-America City Award, this year focusing on projects that demonstrate inclusive decision-making processes to “create healthier communities for all, particularly populations experiencing poorer health outcomes.”

Mayor Joe McElveen said on Tuesday at Sumter City Council’s regular meeting, where city officials surprised him and council members with the finalist standing, that the city has tried for it at least twice before and had not been selected.

“This is a win for our city and sends a message that what we’ve been working for for years as a community, and not just as a city but a whole community, has been paying off,” he said.

City of Sumter Communications and Tourism Director Shelley Kile said NCL officials have said this is an “extremely competitive year.” Finalists, 10 of whom will win, range from San Antonio, Texas, the seventh-largest city in the nation, to Gothenburg, Nebraska, a city of only 3,500.

Credit: The Sumter Item

Continental Tire the Americas to Produce ContiSeal™ and ContiSilent™ Tires in the U.S.

Continental Tire the Americas to Produce ContiSeal™ and ContiSilent™ Tires in the U.S.

• Production scheduled to begin at Continental’s Sumter, South Carolina facility in May 2020
• 50 new jobs will be added by 2020 to support production in Sumter

Sumter, SC, April 4, 2019 – Continental recently broke ground in Sumter, South Carolina with the addition of a new building to its approximately 2 million-square-foot tire manufacturing facility to produce ContiSeal™ and ContiSilent™ tires. Producing these tires in the U.S. will increase the supply of tires on hand and reduce the turnaround time from order to delivery to our customers across the region.
“Currently only two Continental plants in Europe produce ContiSeal™ and ContiSilent™ tires,” said Ahmed Boualam, Sumter plant manager. “This announcement celebrates Continental’s trust in the Sumter facility to continue delivering quality products to our customers. I am very excited to add these lines to our production portfolio in Sumter and look forward to ramp-up early next year.”
Continental broke ground on the new building in March 2019 and will begin the installation of equipment in September 2019. Production of the high technology tires are on target for May 2020. Along with this monetary investment, the Sumter plant will also be investing in people by providing more than 50 new jobs by 2020 to support with tire production.
“With the ability to produce ContiSeal™ and ContiSilent™ tires in the U.S., we are able to expand our portfolio in the Americas to support the demand for new mobility solutions,” said Juan Botero, vice president of key account management for Original Equipment Passenger and Light Truck Tires for Continental Tire the Americas. “We have listened to the needs of our customers and are excited to offer products and solutions designed to ensure a quieter and more comfortable ride, which undoubtedly will become increasingly important as we see more electrification and autonomous vehicles in the market.”

ContiSeal™ is a technology developed by Continental designed to seal a damaged tire tread. In case of penetration by foreign objects such as nails, there is no need for immediate roadside tire changes, and holes remain sealed even if the puncturing object becomes dislodged.
ContiSilent™ is a tire noise-reducing technology developed by Continental. It is designed to reduce interior noise on all road surfaces. ContiSilent™ tires are equipped with an inner tire absorber, a polyurethane foam, attached to the inner surface of the tread area with an adhesive. Regardless of the temperature, the structure of the foam stays intact.
Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2018, Continental generated preliminary sales of around €44.4 billion and currently employs around 244,000 people in 60 countries and markets.

Press Contact
Kathryn Blackwell
Vice President Communications & Marketing
Continental, North America
Phone: +1 248-393-6593

A different kind of signing day for Sumter students

A different kind of signing day for Sumter students


9 high school seniors starting apprenticeships at Sumter’s Continental Tire

Friday was “Signing Day” for nine high school seniors in Sumter School District. These soon-to-be graduates won’t be lacing up their shoes for your favorite college football or basketball team. Instead, they are signing on as apprentices with Sumter County’s largest private-sector employer, Continental Tire.

The Sumter County Career and Technology Center on McCrays Mill Road played host to the signing ceremony, and two Continental representatives were on hand to extend the seniors their apprenticeship offer letters, company caps and T-shirts.

The youth apprenticeship program is a partnership between the tire manufacturer, Central Carolina Technical College and the district’s career and technology center, according to Brian Rauschenbach, economic development project manager with the Sumter Development Board.

The program targets high school seniors with the goal of moving them directly into employment with Continental and potentially a career with the international company, he said.

In the program model, students take the center’s Introduction to Manufacturing course in the fall semester of their senior year. Then, based upon teacher recommendations and a face-to-face interview process with Continental, students can be selected in the spring to work part time at the tire facility after school – and be paid – while finishing their high school diploma.

On the job site, each apprentice is mentored by a trainer and receives proper training in the work fundamentals. If all goes well, they can work full time during their spring break and in the summer with the potential to then move into full-time employment, said Shirrie Miller, director of the career and technology center.

If the students stay on with Continental and later want to pursue higher education, there are tuition-reimbursement opportunities via Continental with two-year colleges and four-year universities.

Rauschenbach said the workforce model for area high school students is one of several offered between local employers, the school district and CCTC.

“This model is one of many that offers students exposure to these careers and to get a jumpstart on a wonderful career opportunity,” Rauschenbach said. “Students then can become economically independent with a livable wage, eventually buy a house, buy a car and pursue higher education with little to no debt.”

He added this is the third year for the youth apprenticeship program but the first time it’s had a formal signing ceremony.

Sumter High School seniors Cameron Williams and Spencer Scarborough, both in their first year at the career and technology center, were all smiles after the signing ceremony and said they never thought they would have an opportunity like this.

Scarborough said he wasn’t always a great student in school but that his dad motivated him in recent years to start thinking about his future – and his grades improved.

He said his eyes are now set on Continental for a career.

“I would like to pursue more into manufacturing and work my way up in the company,” Scarborough said. “I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”

He and Crestwood High School senior Christopher McCauley also wanted to thank William Dyson, the center’s Introduction to Manufacturing teacher, for pushing them to strive for more.

Miller, the career and technology center director, said the day showcased that the center offers students a “competitive advantage” because it can provide them the necessary skills to venture into the job market and find employment.

She said she also wanted to thank Continental and other local businesses and industries for their support.

“These opportunities allow our students to go out into the job market and be successful,” Miller said. “It’s prudent that we have the support of business and industry to do exactly what we are doing here today. Sometimes, you have to grow your own. If you want to have a pool of employees to choose from, you have to be a piece of that puzzle, as well.”

Credit: The Sumter Item

Sumter Career and Technology Center becomes part of TransformSC network

Sumter Career and Technology Center becomes part of TransformSC network


The Sumter Career and Technology Center has made steps forward in recent years, and it hopes a new collaboration with a statewide education innovation group will help it continue to grow and develop.

Shirrie Miller, director of Sumter School District’s career and technology center, spoke Wednesday on the center officially becoming part of the TransformSC network last month.

The network of schools focuses on building a 21st-century workforce by transforming South Carolina’s public education system to prepare more graduates for careers, college and citizenship. Utilizing innovation in schools’ curriculum and collaboration with business leaders are key elements of that process, according to TransformSC.

Miller said joining the network will allow the center to look at innovative schools from across the state and view their curriculums and programs to potentially implement at the center.

“This is another part of developing students who are career and college-ready,” Miller said. “By joining the network, we will be able to stay abreast of innovative ideas to ensure we’re providing the necessary support and opportunities for our students.”

She said her ultimate goal is to help the center’s students and help the local economy by providing a skilled workforce to business and industry.

The Sumter center currently has an enrollment of about 290 students, Miller said, from the district’s three feeder high schools. It has 14 programs of study across various industry sectors, including manufacturing/engineering, health sciences, welding, automotive technology, culinary arts and fire and safety management.

A total of 69 public schools in the state are part of the network. Bates Middle School in Sumter County is also a TransformSC member.

Credit: The Sumter Item

Interactive Sumter expo for middle-schoolers highlights manufacturing technology and potential jobs

Interactive Sumter expo for middle-schoolers highlights manufacturing technology and potential jobs

Eighth-graders across Sumter School District middle schools had the chance to learn about the advanced technology used in the manufacturing industry at the third-annual Manufacturers and Technology Expo.

Organized by Sumter Economic Development, The LINK Economic Development Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the event featured a full day of hands-on, interactive STEM activities, displays and showcases at multiple Central Carolina Technical College campuses in Sumter that showed students how manufacturing jobs they can eventually get right here in Sumter use curriculum they’re already learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

According to the Department of Commerce, South Carolina, once focused on textile mill and apparel jobs, now is focused on its diversified industry of manufacturers, including leading the nation in the export of sales of tires and passenger vehicles. Over the last 10 years, the Palmetto State has averaged manufacturing employment growth of more than 18 percent, which ranks second in the Southeast.

Credit: The Sumter Item

3rd Annual Technology Expo Planned for Students in Sumter County

3rd Annual Technology Expo Planned for Students in Sumter County

March 26, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact: Erika Williams


3rd Annual Technology Expo Planned for Students in Sumter County

(Sumter, SC)— Sumter Economic Development (SED), TheLINK Economic Development Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Commerce are hosting the 3rd Annual Manufacturers and Technology Expo for 8th grade students in Sumter County on Friday, March 29th from 9am-2pm on multiple campuses of Central Carolina Technical College. The purpose of the expo is to allow students to be EXPO‘SED’ to the advanced technology used in today’s manufacturing. “The importance of introducing students early and often to the advanced technology used in today’s manufacturing is critical to the success of our region”, commented Jay Schwedler, CEO of Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Alliance, “We are positioning ourselves to respond to the demands of employers with our talent standing at-the-ready. Manufacturing offers good jobs, with good pay– we are dedicated to changing the mindset of not only the traditional manufacturing environment, but also the thought of what is considered the pathway to success.”

Eighth graders were a logical choice to attend this technology Expo. “Based on state education requirements, 8th grade students choose a career cluster as they approach high school., stated Brenda Golden, Regional Workforce Advisor for the SC Department of Commerce. “Having the expo highlights manufacturing and technology as a career path, allowing students to make informed decisions.”

There is a full day of interactive Technology and STEM related activities planned for the students including industry displays and a tour of technology at both the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Training Center (853 Broad Street) and the Industrial Technology Building (506 N. Guignard Drive- Bldg 400). Educational partners for the event are the Sumter School District and Central Carolina Technical College. NBSC/Synovous Bank is the presenting event sponsor.

Florence Concrete Products, Inc. Expand Sumter Operations

Florence Concrete Products, Inc. Expand Sumter Operations

For Immediate Release
Contact: Erika D. Williams
March 27, 2019

Florence Concrete Products, Inc. Expand Sumter Operations

(Sumter, SC) Florence Concrete Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer of precast concrete is expanding its Sumter, SC manufacturing facility. The $4.2 Million investment will create 80 new jobs allowing for increased production, fabrication, delivery, and installation of their products within South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia.

“We appreciate the support of Sumter Economic Development, Sumter County, and the City of Sumter for all the help they have provided as we make our expansion plans a reality.” –Sherry Jones, President of Florence Concrete Products, Inc.
Florence Concrete has operated for more than 50 years, currently having just over 100 employees. “We are thrilled about the growth plans for Florence Concrete Products, Inc. in Sumter and are positioned to ensure a seamless expansion process. We value our manufacturers and the economic impact they bring to our community.” –Jay Schwedler, President and CEO Sumter Economic Development.

“Continued investment from industrial manufacturers is foundational for economic success,” commented State Representative Murrell Smith. “Our state as well as Sumter County is well-known for its unwavering support and ability to drive growth that is mutually beneficial for both our businesses and citizens.”

“Sumter County Council is always excited when one of our local industries experience growth. The expansions are proof of our pro-business climate and showcases that Sumter has the talent to fill the jobs of today and the future. We are happy to celebrate this expansion announcement with Florence Concrete Products, Inc. and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.” –James T. McCain Jr., Chairman of Sumter County Council

“Team Sumter congratulates Florence Concrete Products upon its expansion announcement. We appreciate their investment which shows confidence in our community and its future. Our priority is increasing the quality of life for our citizens through the creation of new jobs and increased income.” –Joe McElveen, Mayor, City of Sumter

Fast Facts:

• Florence Concrete Products, Inc. is expanding its Sumter, SC Operations
• The expansion will bring $4.2 million total investment and create 80 new jobs
• The expansion allows for increased production, fabrication, delivery, and installation of their products within South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia