King Machine Selects Sumter County for Expansion Project

King Machine Selects Sumter County for Expansion Project

SUMTER, S.C., March 1, 2021 — Through the combined efforts of TheLINK Economic Development Alliance, Sumter Economic Development, The City of Sumter, Sumter County, Continental Tire, Thompson Turner Construction, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, King Machine plans to invest $2.6 million and create 30 new jobs over the next several years.  King Machine will occupy the newly constructed Sumter speculative building.

Founded in 1951, King Machine is a leading provider and manufacturer of new tire molds and tire components for the original equipment and replacement markets.  The company also provides mold services, warehousing, repair, and refurbishment as well as consultative technical services to support tire operations.  Launching operations in Sumter, SC in February 2014, focused on providing support for Continental Tire, King Machine has been growing their business model and successes since.

Located at 1160 North Wise Drive Sumter, SC in the Black River Industrial Park, the custom finished 50,000 Sq. Ft. Sumter’s speculative building will provide King Machine the needed space to expand their service capabilities.

The expansion is expected to be completed by 2024. Individuals interested in joining the King Machine team should visit the company’s careers webpage.


“King Machine is excited to continue growing in Sumter, SC.  The support received from the Sumter community and Continental Tire, along with the support and expertise provided by Thompson Turner Construction has solidified our decision to continue investing and creating jobs in Sumter, SC”. – King Machine CEO Mike Wells

“South Carolina is a global leader in the tire industry, and it’s great to see that trend continue with this expansion by King Machine. These new jobs will make a positive impact within the Sumter community, and we look forward to seeing them grow and succeed in our state.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“We’re always excited to see an existing company grow its presence in our state. Congratulations to King Machine on this latest expansion and the creation of 30 new jobs in Sumter County.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

“The expansion of King Machine in Sumter County speaks volumes not only about the growth trajectory of the company, but also the support and leadership that we have here.  Our goal is to surround businesses with valued stakeholders and a qualified workforce as a foundation for operational excellence. “-Chairman, Sumter County Council James T. McCain Jr.

“We are quite pleased to learn of the growth and expansion of King Machine in Sumter and look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship. The jobs and investment that accompany this expansion further cements Sumter as a great place to live, work and do business.” –Sumter Mayor David Merchant

“Indeed, we are delighted that King Machine chose us for their expansion. Choosing Sumter guarantees a dedicated team of enthusiasts that consistently assess and explore new ways of unearthing the very best talent and leading-edge methods to keep businesses out front and our community growing.” –Chairman, Sumter Development Board Greg A. Thompson

“This region is positioned for greatness as evidenced by the recent announcement of the expansion of King Machine in Sumter. We work diligently to provide industries the necessary backing to realize our fullest potential and their ultimate success.” – Chairman, TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Gordon Eckley

5 Fast Facts about King Machine:

  • King Machine is expanding operations in Sumter County.
  • The more than $2.6 million investment will create 30 new jobs.
  • King Machine is a tire mold manufacturer.
  • Located in the Black River Industrial Park in Sumter, S.C.
  • Individuals interested in joining the King Machine team should visit the company’s careers webpage.



Shaw AFB invites local manufacturing companies for a base tour and a F-16 demonstration

Shaw AFB invites local manufacturing companies for a base tour and a F-16 demonstration

We are grateful for the strong relationship that exists between Shaw AFB and Sumter area manufacturers.  After leaders from Shaw AFB toured local manufacturing companies such as Continental Tire, BD, and Pilgrim’s, Shaw AFB extended the invite to our manufacturing leaders for a base-wide familiarization tour and F-16 demonstration from the Viper Demo Team. As we work to highlight and connect the careers available both in the military and in manufacturing, we are creating better alignment for military spouses, veterans, and transitioning service members as they seek employment. Our local manufacturers offer excellent opportunities, and our military spouses, veterans, and transitioning service members possess the skills needed to fill these jobs. Everything you need is HERE!

Virtual Career Fair for Shaw Air Force Base and the SC Military Community

Virtual Career Fair for Shaw Air Force Base and the SC Military Community

January 27, 2021
Contact: James Richter
Phone: 803.528.1288

(Columbia, SC) – Today, SC Future Makers, a workforce initiative of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA), announced that it will host a virtual career fair with Shaw Air Force Base and the South Carolina military community on Friday, February 5, 2021.

In partnership with the Sumter Economic Development Board, the SC Department of Veterans Affairs, The Boeing Company, and Hiring Our Heroes, this virtual career fair is for South Carolina employers who are looking to hire veterans, transitioning military personnel, and military spouses. The virtual career fair will utilize a mobile platform called Ping by Tallo, a matchmaking system for job seekers and employers. Ping by Tallo uses a customized algorithm to not only match but also prioritize applicants based on the needs of the company. Companies can review matches, view resumes, and contact job seekers both during and after the February 5th event.

Individuals who are a part of the South Carolina military community can learn what to expect using Ping, see a running list of participating employers, and register at

“Workforce development is key to the future of the South Carolina manufacturing and the business community,” said John Wall, General Counsel and Vice President of Government Relations for the SCMA. “As a veteran, I know firsthand how important it is for transitioning service members to learn about the wonderful career opportunities that exist when leaving the military. This collaborative effort with our partners will allow service members, veterans, and military spouses to connect with the countless employments opportunities that exist in South Carolina and will establish a framework to be emulated at other military bases around our great state.”

Through funding from SC Future Makers and a generous donation from The Boeing Company, this event is free to employers and members of the South Carolina military community. Since 2009, The Boeing Company has invested over $4 million in support of veterans programs throughout South Carolina.

“Boeing has a long history of supporting veterans during and after their time of service,” said Lane Ballard, Boeing South Carolina Site leader. “Through this partnership with the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance and SC Future Makers, we are honored to help veterans and military spouses transition into successful civilian careers, which in turn creates lasting opportunities for them and their families and strengthens our overall community.”

South Carolina Secretary of Veterans Affairs, William F. Grimsley, praised the mission of the event.

“South Carolina has a rich history of being a military-friendly state, and there are tremendous career opportunities throughout our state for individuals who are veterans or are a part of the military community. Our Veteran, military member and family population provide a ready resource of highly trained, skilled, educated, motivated and dedicated people to stay in South Carolina as valued and contributing employees. This event and many more like them in the coming months are a wonderful chance to show off our State, its people, and our strong business community.”

Sumter area leaders also echoed the importance of engaging transitioning military personnel, veterans, and military spouses.

“As a Sumter native I am proud this Virtual Career Fair will be held in conjunction with Shaw Air Force Base,” said South Carolina Representative Murrell Smith. “There are so many talented Airmen and ARCENT Soldiers transitioning from the military at Shaw – both the military members themselves and their spouses. It is more important now than ever that we tap into this talent to meet South Carolina’s employers’ needs. If we can attract the talent we have in our men and women in uniform and their families to work for our South Carolina companies, I am even more hopeful for the future of our economy and our state.”

“We have such an abundance of talent at Shaw Air Force Base, but it can sometimes be challenging for military spouses and service members who are transitioning into the workforce to match up with the right employment opportunity for them, “said South Carolina Senator Thomas McElveen. “It is important to continue seeking and finding avenues to connect these veterans and military families with the great job openings in the Sumter area and across our State. I thank and commend the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, the Sumter Economic Development Board, and SC Future Makers for their proactive, innovative, and collaborative approach to connecting the local community, Shaw Air Force Base, and the business community by hosting what will be a very productive event in Sumter.”

“The Sumter Development Board is the region’s galvanizing force to recruit new companies while helping our existing businesses thrive,” said Greg Thompson, Sumter Development Board Chairman. “A key component for company success is the ability to find, hire and retain highly-skilled employees. Together with our allies, we are thrilled to launch this replicable and reoccurring event designed to help Shaw AFB’s highly-skilled transitioning military members, veterans, and their families find great career opportunities while assisting our region’s and state’s world-class companies find the talent they need to remain competitive and successful now and in the future.”

“The City of Sumter is grateful for Shaw AFB’s many positive impacts on the Sumter community, and we are especially thankful for the great people that serve our nation right here in Sumter, SC,” said David Merchant, Mayor of Sumter. “Any opportunity to support our nation’s servicemembers and families is indeed a win-win for Sumter and the state of SC.”

“Sumter County is very proud of our longstanding relationship with Shaw AFB,” said James T. McCain Jr. Sumter County Council Chairman. “As we continue to find new ways to strengthen partnerships with our military and business community, programs like this are truly game-changers in helping our companies and military community establish connections for excellent career opportunities.”


About SC Future Makers
SC Future Makers is an initiative of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance that connects emerging talent with opportunities in advanced manufacturing and other industries throughout South Carolina. Since its debut in 2016, SC Future Makers has worked with more than 100,000 students and more than 200 South Carolina high schools. Given this success with the education community, SC Future Makers saw an additional opportunity to build connections with the large talent pool of veterans and the military community across South Carolina.

Shaw AFB Wing Commander and Command Chief at Pilgrim’s, Continental & BD

Shaw AFB Wing Commander and Command Chief at Pilgrim’s, Continental & BD

Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Alliance facilitated a series of Sumter based manufacturing familiarization tours with the leadership from Shaw Air Force Base.  Thanks to Pilgrim’s, BD, and Continental Tire for showcasing what you do.  The Airmen and Soldiers at Shaw Air Force Base possess the skills needed in today’s workplace.  These partnerships are instrumental in highlighting the great career opportunities available in our region for transitioning military members.  HERE, our labor force is strong and prepared.

Company’s $84 million investment will create 164 new jobs

Company’s $84 million investment will create 164 new jobs

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Santa Cruz Nutritionals (SCN), a subsidiary of Santa Cruz Healthcare, today announced plans to expand operations in Sumter County. The $84 million investment will create 164 new jobs.

Established in 1968, SCN is a leading manufacturer of enhanced confectionery delivery systems. The company uses research and science to develop gummy vitamins such as calcium, fiber and other supplements for the functional food and nutraceutical markets. Additionally, the company produces a wide range of products for a number of branded industrial and retail partners.

Located at 2720 Southgate Drive in Sumter, SCN’s expansion includes a 24,000-square-foot packaging and employee facility as well as a 120,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center.

The expansion is expected to be completed by December 2024. Individuals interested in joining the SCN team should click here.

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to the project.


“We are excited to partner with the state of South Carolina, Sumter County and Sumter Economic Development in building and creating the world-class standard for Vitamin, Mineral, Supplement (VMS) gummy manufacturing facilities. This investment serves to grow our capacity to deliver enjoyable health and wellness nutritional supplements. More importantly, it serves our broader mission to holistically improve lives through the innovative products we produce and the growth opportunities they present both for our partners and local community.” -Santa Cruz Healthcare CEO Carlyn Solomon

“Congratulations to SCN for making the commitment to better serve its customers by expanding its operations in Sumter County and creating 164 new jobs for South Carolinians. I look forward to watching this company continue to flourish for many years to come.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“When a business decides to expand in South Carolina, it speaks volumes not only about our business climate, but also about our workforce. SCN’s decision to invest $84 million and create 164 new jobs is a huge win for Sumter County, and I am excited to see what the future has in store for this great company.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

“Indeed, this is an exciting opportunity for Sumter County and demonstrates our ability to attract and grow national and international businesses in our area. We are committed to the continued support of Santa Cruz as they strengthen our economy and our industrial landscape.” -Sumter County Council Chairman James McCain

“It is so good to see the increased growth in manufacturing in Sumter. It’s always great when our businesses and our people thrive. Santa Cruz’s expansion will bring new jobs, fortify our job outlook and further solidify Sumter as a great place to do business.” -Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen

“A strong industrial sector speaks to the strength of your community and economy. We are overjoyed that Santa Cruz Nutritionals recognizes our capability to provide the workforce and support needed to bolster a company of its magnitude and look forward to their continued growth and community engagement.” -Sumter Economic Development Chairman Greg A. Thompson

“This region continues to develop strong national and international ties by showcasing its ability to host and provide companies with the essential ingredients for its success. That, coupled with a durable workforce and dedicated leadership, catapults TheLINK region as we recruit and expand industries. We are delighted by Santa Cruz Nutritionals’ expansion announcement.” -TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Chairman Gordon Eckley


  • Santa Cruz Nutritionals (SCN) is expanding operations in Sumter County.
  • The $84 million investment will create 164 new jobs.
  • SCN is a manufacturer of enhanced confectionery delivery systems.
  • Located at 2720 Southgate Drive in Sumter, S.C.
  • Individuals interested in joining the SCN team should click here.



More than $14.9 million investment will create 25 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. (Nova), a chemical manufacturing company, today announced plans to expand operations in Sumter County. The more than $14.9 million investment will create 25 new jobs.

Founded in 1991, Nova is a leading producer of high-purity solvents. The company’s high-value solvent Recovery and Return program helps companies reduce costs, increase supply certainty and improve sustainability initiatives. Additionally, through its Recovery and Return program, chemicals are recovered that would traditionally be sent to waste disposal, reducing environmental impact and allowing better risk mitigation of raw material supply.

Expanding to the Pocotaligo East Industrial Site in Sumter, located within an Opportunity Zone, Nova’s expansion will increase the company’s manufacturing operations.

The expansion is expected to be completed by 2024. Individuals interested in joining the Nova team should visit for more information.

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project. A $300,000 Set-Aside grant was also awarded to Sumter County to assist with the costs of site preparation and infrastructure improvements.


“Nova began considering options in four states including South Carolina. All sites were located within Opportunity Zones which will provide significant tax benefits which will be reinvested back into the business. The Sumter, S.C. site was selected due to the proximity of the existing production facility to utilize and expand the outstanding Sumter community workforce we currently enjoy. The proximity also allows for better collaboration between sites. The financial incentives offered by the local and state governments were very competitive as well as the favorable corporate tax structure.” -Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. Chairman of the Board Jon Michael Clumpner

“While we work every day to bring new companies to South Carolina, it is always exciting to see one of our existing businesses expand. We celebrate Nova’s $14.9 million investment in Sumter and the 25 new jobs the company will create.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“South Carolina has a history in chemical production, and today’s announcement shows that this sector continues to thrive in our state. Nova’s decision to expand in Sumter County is another indication our business-friendly climate is helping companies grow.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

“It is always exciting to publicize and acknowledge the growth of a company in our county that has been an exceptional leader and partner in not only their line of business, but also in community cooperation and support. Increasingly, in the company’s time in Sumter, they have proven their desire to provide excellence in service to corporate customers and support to the well-being of our region.” -Sumter County Council Chair Jim McCain

“During my time as mayor, one of our top priorities has been to continually strengthen our existing industrial and technology sector and build upon our business partnerships. This expansion provides further evidence that our efforts have not been futile but rather fruitful. We are elated that Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. will be growing their operations and providing new high-tech jobs for our citizens.” -Sumter Mayor Joseph McElveen

“As we continue the work to strengthen our region with a robust lineup of industries, we are more than pleased to know that Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. recognizes those efforts and has decided to expand their current operations to meet the business demands of their existing and potential customers right here. We are committed to helping secure their current and future business success.” -TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Chair Gordon Eckley

“For more than a decade, Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. has provided superior service to Fortune 500 companies from around the globe from their Sumter operations facility. That, coupled with their announcement of an expansion, speaks volumes about the quality of work and workers that transpire in this region. We have long pursued and will continue to seek solutions to match world-class employers with exceptional employees that meet and exceed their expectations in order to respond to business needs. We are thrilled that Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. is growing and also for our community which will benefit greatly from this investment and job creation.” -Sumter Economic Development Board Chair Greg A. Thompson


• Nova Molecular Technologies, Inc. (Nova) is expanding operations in Sumter County.
• The more than $14.9 million investment will create 25 new jobs.
• Nova is a chemical manufacturing company.
• Expanding to the Pocotaligo East Industrial Site in Sumter, S.C.
• Individuals interested in joining the Nova team should visit for more information.

eSTEAM Road Show

eSTEAM Road Show

Due to the current health concerns related to Covid-19, as an alternative to what would have been the 3rd year of the eSTEAM Sumter Festival, TheLINK Economic Development Alliance hosted the eSTEAM Road Show. While the eSTEAM Sumter Festival focuses on advancements in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics), many people are not aware that it was also created to celebrate National Manufacturing Day, which is always the first Friday of October. National Manufacturing Day celebrates and acknowledges manufacturing along with advancements in the industrial sector. Manufacturing continues to be one of the leading sectors of the economy in the Sumter region, South Carolina and nationally where the average wage for a manufacturing job is $54,000.

In an effort to build awareness of the significance of modern manufacturing, and with the eSTEAM Sumter Festival having been cancelled, TheLINK Economic Development Alliance seized on an innovative way to interact directly with those members of our community who make modern manufacturing happen on a daily basis. During the week of September 28th-October 2nd, TheLINK Crew and STEAMER, the festival mascot, hit the road in a florescent yellow convertible to meet and greet manufacturers in Sumter and Lee Counties for the eSTEAM Road Show. Along for the ride, the team brought games related to both STEAM and community awareness trivia and offered similar contests through a variety of social media platforms. The eSTEAM Road Show visited several businesses in both Lee and Sumter counties along with the Pee Dee Math, Science, and Technology Academy in Bishopville where they met with parents, kids and community members ready to spin the wheel for an opportunity to win prizes or complete physical challenges with Steamer. As a unique way of saying “Thanks for Making Us Cool” the eSTEAM Road Show provided ice cream treats to employees of some of the local manufacturers. “Providing our manufacturers with ice cream is a very small token of our appreciation for the big job they do for our community”, commented Brian Rauschenbach, Project and Existing Industry Manager for TheLINK Economic Development Alliance, “Although the connection isn’t always made, industrial development ultimately leads to commercial development. Retail and restaurants follow a strong industrial portfolio.”

As TheLINK looks to host the eSTEAM Sumter Festival again next year, the hope is that this year’s eSTEAM Road Show has continued to foster a greater understanding that Boosting Your eSTEAM shows not only the significance of Manufacturing but also how STEAM curriculum continues to support and to enable our manufacturers successful right HERE.

BD Sumter hosted US Senator Lindsey Graham.

BD Sumter hosted US Senator Lindsey Graham.

August 26, 2020 – BD Sumter hosted US Senator Lindsey Graham. Senator Graham praised BD for their active involvement in manufacturing medical devices made in the USA. Additionally Senator Graham recognized the efforts of the City of Sumter, Sumter County, Central Carolina Technical College, and the Sumter Economic Development team for creating a world class environment for manufactures to locate and thrive for the long term, as well as praising the solid and educated workforce to keep Sumter’s manufacturers running with excellence.

2020 eSTEAM Sumter Festival Cancelled

2020 eSTEAM Sumter Festival Cancelled

For Immediate Release Contact: Erika D. Williams 803-464-8880
2020 eSTEAM Sumter Festival Cancelled
Out of an abundance of caution for the public safety of our children, community and businesses, the eSTEAM Sumter Festival originally slated for October 3, 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID 19 world-wide pandemic. In what would have been the festival’s 3rd year, eSTEAM Sumter is designed to highlight the many advances and opportunities that exist in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. Organizers were looking to draw a crowd of more than 7,500 students, parents and organizations. The festival is held in celebration of National Manufacturing Day which is the first Friday in October annually. Since its inception in 2018, the event has drawn thousands of attendees from Sumter and surrounding counties. Although a full festival is not scheduled, TheLINK Alliance and eSTEAM Sumter will continue to support STEAM initiatives and promote contests through its social media platforms.

Further event details are located at or facebook/eSTEAMsumter.


Sumter’s eSTEAM Festival wins Excellence on Main Street Award

Sumter’s eSTEAM Festival wins Excellence on Main Street Award

Main Street South Carolina recognized Sumter’s eSTEAM Festival with the Excellence on Main Street Award. This award recognizes the top project from among the winners in the five categories of the annual Main Street Inspiration Awards.

The eSTEAM Sumter Festival in downtown Sumter celebrated a program that brought together pre-K and K-12 schools as well as universities and tech schools to promote STEAM, also known as science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The eSTEAM program began when efforts to stage job fairs and manufacturing expos showed to the city that many students and parents did not grasp the range of available career opportunities in Sumter. As a result, city staff sought out businesses and organizations to plan the eSTEAM Sumter umbrella program.

The program highlighted career paths and aimed to increase the talent pipeline. In doing so, it sought to dispute the idea that success requires at least a four-year degree. By creating more buy-in from a wider range of audiences in the community, eSTEAM sought to contribute to Sumter’s broader economic development efforts, from expanding workforce development through the local technical college to infrastructure investments undertaken to attract and retain employers.

Funding came from workforce development organizations like the Regional Economic Development Alliance, Sumter Chamber of Commerce, the SC Department of Commerce Workforce Division and the city. The city and the Downtown Sumter program were also involved in every step of the process from planning to logistical support during the festival.

The initial 2018 eSTEAM Sumter event brought together more than 3,000 participants, 16 partnering organizations and 63 exhibitors for special activities encompassing an entire city block. The 2019 event grew to more than 6,000 participants, 17 organizations and 68 exhibitors, taking up two blocks.

“The City of Sumter and Downtown Sumter have done it again. They have used public-private partnerships to bring even more educational opportunities to kids in their city,” said Jenny Boulware, Main Street SC manager.

Main Street SC is a program of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. It empowers residents, business owners and local officials with the knowledge, skills, tools and organizational structure necessary to revitalize their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts into vibrant centers of commerce and community.

Main Street SC follows the National Main Street’s Four Point Approach — economic vitality, design, promotion and organization. Each year, Main Street South Carolina recognizes members’ achievements and successes in downtown revitalization. For more information, visit the Municipal Association’s website at

‘Giving back’ to Sumter in the pandemic: Paint company Sumter Coatings produces hand sanitizer for community, customers

‘Giving back’ to Sumter in the pandemic: Paint company Sumter Coatings produces hand sanitizer for community, customers


All our coronavirus coverage is free to the public. It’s the right thing to do as a public service to our community. If you find this article helpful or informative and want to support our continued coverage, please subscribe or support us with a tax-deductible donation.

To find all our coronavirus coverage, including helpful local resources and website links, click here.

Around Sumter Coatings manufacturing plant, there is a slogan: “Anybody can sell paint. We sell quality and service.” Amid the pandemic, the company on U.S. 15 South stepped in to meet a need in the community.

Sumter Coatings President and CEO Barry Reynolds and two members of his management team sat down Friday to discuss how the midsized chemical paint manufacturer started producing hand sanitizer in the spring when there was a product shortage at the onset of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Reynolds described thinking late one night in March about the shortage of hand sanitizer in the country with the start of the virus’ spread and the fact that his operation is a chemical manufacturer. The question became: “How can we get into manufacturing hand sanitizer, not on a major scale, but at least enough to support our community?”

After a few phone calls and discussion with legal counsel for the American Coatings Association, Reynolds was able to get a relatively simple FDA-approved formula. The next step for Sumter Coatings was getting a temporary exemption from the FDA to produce the hand sanitizer as long as the company produced it to the agency’s exact specifications, according to Reynolds and company Vice President Randy White.

With many of the raw materials for the finished goods already on hand including plastic gallon containers, shipping cartons and in-house label printing capabilities, the company’s purchasing department bought the necessary ingredients, and manufacturing began.

“It wasn’t a difficult startup to get into making hand sanitizer because we had all the raw materials,” Reynolds said. “Just getting the approval of the formula was the big thing.”

The FDA-approved formula is about 80% denatured alcohol, or ethanol, distilled water, hydrogen peroxide and glycerol.

Sumter Coatings produced the hand sanitizer in 238-gallon containers, or totes, used regularly in its production cycles. During about eight weeks in April and May, the company produced a little more than 2,000 gallons of the sanitizer, Reynolds said, in addition to its regular coatings business.

Given the simple formula, Sumter Coatings could produce a 238-gallon batch size in one to 1.5 days, he added. The batch translated to 238 plastic 1-gallon jugs for packaging, sale and distribution.

After putting the product on the company’s Facebook page, community members became interested because of hand sanitizer’s short supply at the time. Shaw Air Force Base purchased the largest volume – 200 gallons. Local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and several churches also ordered jugs.

Reynolds structured it so that charitable organizations, such as the local United Way, received the sanitizer for free. Nonprofit groups basically got it at cost, and for-profit outfits were charged a reasonable price, he said.

Sumter Coatings also provided it to many of its customers across the country, especially in New York and New Jersey, where there was a big need. Each company employee also got a free gallon jug, White said.

Some people even walked in off the street to get gallon containers.

Since then, regular hand sanitizer makers have ramped up their production, and there is plenty in the U.S. supply chain. Therefore, Sumter Coatings has stopped production.

The company still has one full 238-gallon tote container of it on the production floor that could be distributed right way if demand picks back up, plant manager Kevin Sweeney said. Reynolds added his company could also start producing it again if there is a need.

“I am from Sumter, and we have a lot of ties to the Sumter community as a company,” he said. “We’re in the nature of giving back to the community. That’s why we went down this road with the hand sanitizer. We stepped in to meet a need and provide a service for our community.”

Credit: The Sumter Item

Sumter County companies weathering COVID-19 with help from Small Business Association, County Economic Development Team

Sumter County companies weathering COVID-19 with help from Small Business Association, County Economic Development Team

Written by Brantley Strickland, SCCED

As the economic ramifications of a worldwide health crisis loomed, economic development officials throughout the state were preparing to protect their most precious commodity: existing industries.

And things are no different in Sumter County, where local manufacturers have managed to navigate COVID-19 with a little help from their friends near and far.

“We’ve tried to help in any way we can, and we know better than anyone that companies are getting flooded with information about COVID-19,” said Brian Rauschenbach, SCCED, Project Manager for Sumter Economic Development. “Some of the things we’ve been trying to do throughout this pandemic is to protect our companies by relaying the most relevant information possible, while being a connector and problem solver.”

Some of the most pertinent information companies have found use for include news on the federal government’s recently-launched the Paycheck Protection Program.

Administered through the Small Business Administration, PPP loans were designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The loans, which carry a 1 percent interest rate, are forgivable if the applicants meet certain benchmarks. Among the criteria, all employees must be kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
As an indirect result, economic developers like Rauschenbach have been thrust into the position of information conduit for companies looking to utilize the funding to help weather the economic ramifications of COVID-19. The SBA estimates 61 percent of all small business (500 employees or smaller) have applied for PPP funding.

“We are hearing a good success rate for approval, depending on the financial institution they choose to use,” Rauschenbach said. “You have to remember the program was rolled out very quickly which caused some delays. Companies have applied with financial institutions both locally and nationally, including QuickBooks. We have several that have applied and been approved that have already received funding.”

Rauschenbach also mentioned the Department of Commerce’s COVID-19 response microsite as a critical resource for Sumter County companies.

“I think Commerce has done a great job with their webpage,” he said. “It’s been a great central hub for information that we can direct companies to.”

Although some companies have reported furloughs and reductions in orders because of the recent economic climate, the long-term outlook continues to trend upward.

“As difficult as this has been for our companies, both large and small, they have done very well during this trying time,” Rauschenbach said. “We’re very fortunate to have a solid manufacturing base, and we’re ready to move forward. Times like these show the importance of a having great relationships with employers and having a strong business retention and expansion program in place. Once a company locates to our region, they are part of our family and we want them to thrive, no matter the situation.”

For more information on Sumter Economic Development, visit Rauschenbach is also on Linkedin at:

COVID-19 Community Outreach

COVID-19 Community Outreach

The safety, health and well-being of our community is of the utmost importance during this especially challenging time. We all play an important role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and hopefully limiting the impact on local and regional business functions.

In response to the COVID-19, we have compiled a list of resources for our local businesses and their employees. Please check the following pages for resources:

SC Department of Commerce, through their COVID-19 Business Resource Center, has compiled helpful resources regarding business and health updates. Be sure to use this information and check back often for the most current updates:

SC Emergency Management Division information for companies: The Emergency Management Division (EMD), has helpful measures that companies may want to consider and be proactive with should the state go on lockdown. View these two links and

We’ll continue to provide information and updates as it becomes available.

Sumter Original Brewery Establishing Operations In Sumter County

Sumter Original Brewery Establishing Operations In Sumter County

$6.5 million investment will create 20 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sumter Original Brewery, a local craft brewery, today announced plans to establish operations in Sumter County. The company’s $6.5 million investment will create 20 new jobs.

The first-of-its-kind in the county, Sumter Original Brewery will brew beers using the centuries-old Germanic tradition of step mashing – coaxing out subtle nuances by enzymatic activity.

Located at 2 South Main Street in Sumter, Sumter Original Brewery’s 30,000-square-foot facility will have a 15-barrel brewing system that will brew a diverse selection on craft beers including an IPA, stout, sour, pale ale, light beer and more.

Operations are expected to be online by mid-March. Individuals interested in joining the Sumter Original Brewery team should visit


“We are excited to bring Sumter’s first brewery to downtown Sumter and continue the revitalization efforts of this historic area. We want to create a convergence of world-class beer, along with the great food and atmosphere of downtown for the people of Sumter and surrounding areas. Thank you to everyone that has supported and contributed to this project over the past twelve years.” –Sumter Original Brewery Owner and Operator Gray Shuler

“All around South Carolina, businesses of all types are thriving, and today’s announcement by Sumter Original Brewery is a testament to that. We congratulate this company and look forward to watching them impact the community for years to come.” –Gov. Henry McMaster

“South Carolina’s craft brewing industry continues to grow, making a name for itself locally, regionally and nationally. We welcome Sumter Original Brewery to Sumter County and are excited about the impact these 20 new jobs will make in the community.” –Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

“The opening of Sumter Original Brewery will take Sumter’s revitalization to the next level, as a vibrant downtown benefits everyone. It will complement everything that has been done and encourage even more investment. I believe our downtown success instills pride in all our citizens.” –City of Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen

“Sumter Original Brewery will be an economic anchor as we highly anticipate an uptick in young adults eating and exploring downtown as a result.” –Sumter County Council Chair James McCain

“It is really exciting to witness the great response by the community to Sumter Original Brewery. We believe this investment will have a longstanding impact on our local economy and helps to cement downtown Sumter as a dynamic place to do business.” –Sumter Economic Development Chair Greg A. Thompson


• Sumter Original Brewery is establishing operations in Sumter County.
• $6.5 million investment will create 20 new jobs.
• Sumter Original Brewery is a local, craft brewery.
• Located at 2 South Main Street in Sumter, S.C.
• Individuals interested in joining the Sumter Original Brewery team should visit



Thursday, December 19, 2019
More than $14 million investment to create 57 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Jemison Metals, a leading supplier of carbon flat-rolled products, today announced plans to expand operations in Sumter County. The more than $14 million investment is expected to create 57 new jobs.

Since establishing operations in Sumter, S.C. in February 2001, Jemison Metals has focused on vertical integration to allow for more control over its supply chain. This expansion will include a new product line that will increase service capabilities to provide additional downstream manufacturing and fabrication for the company’s customers and end users.

Jemison Metals’ existing operations are located at 1255 Northgate Drive in the Live Oak Industrial Park in Sumter, S.C., and the new product line will occupy 70,000 square feet of a building located at 2630 Highway 15 South, in the same industrial park.

The expansion is expected to be complete in 2023. Individuals interested in joining the Jemison Metals team can apply directly at 1255 Northgate Drive in Sumter, S.C.


“Jemison Metals is thrilled about our opportunity for business growth, further investment and creation of new jobs in Sumter, S.C. The hard work, dedication and support by Team Sumter during this process was a key factor in our decision to grow our operation in the community.” –Jemison Metals President and COO Craig Mathiason

“We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the growth of Jemison Metals in Sumter County. The company’s decision to continue investing in South Carolina is a huge win for the local community and our state’s manufacturing industry.” –Gov. Henry McMaster

“South Carolina businesses continue to excel, thanks to the dedication displayed by our world-class workforce. Jemison Metals’ additional investment in Sumter County is a testament to the reputation the community has built, and I look forward to seeing all this company will achieve in the years to come.” –Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

“We are always elated when companies in Sumter County grow and expand. It demonstrates that we have all the necessary components for businesses to not only locate here, but also to thrive.” –Sumter County Council Chair James McCain

“It is indeed exciting to know that Jemison Metals will be expanding its Sumter operations. It is always our goal to create a climate that stimulates growth, development and progress for our businesses and our citizens.” -Mayor of Sumter Joseph McElveen

“Jemison Metals’ Sumter County expansion is yet another illustration of how committed we are to developing successful businesses and growing our economy. There’s something uniquely special about this community and it’s always great when our industries recognize this distinction as well.” –Sumter Economic Development Chair Greg Thompson


• Jemison Metals is expanding operations in Sumter County.
• The more than $14 million investment is creating 57 new jobs.
• The company is a leading supplier of carbon flat-rolled products.
• The expansion includes a new product line that will be located at 2630 Highway 15 South in Sumter, S.C.
• Individuals interested in joining the Jemison Metals team can apply directly at 1255 Northgate Drive in Sumter, S.C.

Sumter Featured in Where to Retire Magazine

Sumter Featured in Where to Retire Magazine


Sumter Featured in Where to Retire Magazine

Houston, TX (Dec. 11, 2019) – Sumter, SC, has been selected as a top retirement destination by Where to Retire, the only magazine in America geared toward helping people with retirement relocation decisions. Sumter is profiled in a feature titled “8 Tax-Friendly Towns” in the January/February 2020 issue, available nationwide now.
Where to Retire Editor Annette Fuller said many retirees seek out a budget-friendly town that still offers charming attractions and amenities. “While the cost of living is low, these communities provide a high quality of life,” Fuller said. “A popular spot for veterans, thanks to an Air Force base, Sumter, SC, has friendly locals, according to our interviewed retiree, and myriad cultural and outdoor options, like a 1,000-acre state park.”
Retirement Relocation Trends
According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 700,000 Americans relocate to new towns in retirement each year. Generally, these relocating retirees are healthier, better educated and more affluent than those who choose to not relocate, and they bring significant economic benefits to their new states and hometowns.
Florida continues to reign as the No. 1 destination for retirement relocation, followed by Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina. The most popular region is the Southeast, claiming eight of the 17 states showing increases in total net retiree migration. This research and the latest census data is detailed in Where to Retire’s four-part series on retirement relocation. Order these back issues online.
About Where to Retire
As the authority on retirement relocation since 1992, Where to Retire has covered hundreds of the best retirement regions, towns and master-planned communities. The magazine is published six times a year and has a national circulation of 200,000. The July/August issue also includes the magazine’s most popular feature story — the 11th edition of the “50 Best Master-Planned Communities in the U.S.” (View a complete list of the 50 Best online.) Where to Retire editors recently released the sixth edition of the book “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire.”
Request a free trial issue at
8 Tax-Friendly Towns: Anacortes, WA; Boulder City, NV; Nacogdoches, TX; Robertson County, TN; Smyrna, GA; Sumter, SC; West Feliciana Parish, LA; Winter Garden, FL.
For more information or interview requests, please contact Kathryn Worrall at

SKF expanding Sumter County operations $26 million investment to create 10 new jobs

SKF expanding Sumter County operations $26 million investment to create 10 new jobs

SKF expanding Sumter County operations
$26 million investment to create 10 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. – SKF, a global leader in bearing manufacturing, today announced plans to expand its Sumter County operations. The company’s $26 million investment is projected to create 10 new jobs.
SKF manufactures bearings of all sizes and serves applications and markets, including military, medical, semi-conductor and the standard catalogue business.
Operating in two facilities located at 925 Corporate Circle and 840 Corporate Circle in Sumter, S.C., the company’s world-class manufacturing, industry 4.0 orientation activities and increased demand are leading to a new line design and installation of state-of-the-art equipment and handling systems.
The expansion is expected to be completed by December of 2020. Individuals interested in joining the SKF team should visit
“SKF is proud to have a home here in Sumter. We are committed to world-class manufacturing and providing a world of reliable rotation through a talented and engaged workforce. We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of local government and community officials in establishing a business-centric environment where SKF can feel confident in investing in our facility and creating valued jobs. We look forward to the continued success of our SKF Sumter manufacturing team as they advance the world of next-generation bearing manufacturing.” –SKF Sumter Director of Operations Marcus Jakob
“We work hard every day to recruit new companies to South Carolina, but it’s even more exciting to see one of our existing businesses expand. When a company like SKF grows its operations, it sends a message to other businesses that South Carolina is a place where they can thrive. We celebrate SKF’s decision to invest $26 million and create 10 new jobs in Sumter County.” –Gov. Henry McMaster
“SKF is a valued part of the South Carolina business community, and it’s great to see them continue to grow within our borders. We look forward to seeing this company prosper for years to come.” –Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“Then Kaydon, now SKF; one thing that has not changed is this company’s high reputation and delivery of service. We are grateful for SKF’s continued investment in our community and our people of Sumter County.” –Sumter County Council Chair James McCain
“We are always thrilled to announce company expansions in Sumter, as it highlights our ability to produce quality products and superior talent that promote growth and vitality for our industrial partners and our community.” –Sumter Mayor Joseph McElveen
“We are fortunate to have companies that are true partners who are not only committed to the growth of their business, but also to the well-being of our citizens and neighbors. Our task is to continuously regenerate the talent needed to deliver outstanding results for our partners bearing all confidence in our ability to perform.” –Sumter Economic Development Chair Greg Thompson

 SKF is expanding operations in Sumter County.
 $26 million investment to create 10 new jobs.
 SKF is a global leader in bearing manufacturing.
 Located at 925 Corporate Circle and 840 Corporate Circle in Sumter, S.C.
 Individuals interested in joining the SKF team should visit

About S.C. Department of Commerce
As South Carolina’s leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing business grow. S.C. Commerce has recruited world-class companies to South Carolina such as BMW, Boeing, Continental, Giti Tire, LPL Financial Holdings, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Samsung, Toray and Volvo Cars and also supports startups, small and existing business, innovation and rural development initiatives. S.C. Commerce partners with the S.C. Technical College System via readySC to support workforce training and recruiting, and with the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, which provides worker training and employment opportunities within the state. With a strong international footprint, the Palmetto State was among the top in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment on a per capita basis in 2018 – extending its streak of top five finishes since 2011. Additionally, the state has won the Gold or Silver Shovel Award from Area Development magazine every year since 2011; and, in 2017, the state was recognized as Business Facilities’ State of the Year. For more information, visit

Alex Clark, CMP
Director of Marketing & Communications South Carolina Department of Commerce (803) 737-1998

Sumter’s Bates Middle School earns national STEM certification

Sumter’s Bates Middle School earns national STEM certification

Four years ago, Bates Middle School offered the same handful of electives – physical education, band, art and keyboarding – that you could find in a school a generation ago.

As Principal Ayesha Hunter describes it, by now tapping into the skills and talents of its teachers and using community partners, the Sumter School District school offers 40 electives with a focus on 21st-century skills.

For all that hard work, a leading educational certification group recognized Bates last week as a nationally certified STEM-accredited school. It’s the second district school to earn the national accreditation for its curriculum focus on science, technology, engineering and math – Alice Drive Middle is the other.

Hunter and her STEM faculty team sat down and discussed the four-year journey on Wednesday.

To be nationally recognized with the certification, schools have to show evidence they are meeting 11 STEM standards across categories for students, teachers/administrators and experiences.
Hunter and teachers said transitioning from a traditional school to a STEM school involves a “mindset change.”

There’s a general change in teaching style, where the teacher becomes more of a facilitator, students are given goals, and the class is more student-led. Students generally sit in groups to increase collaboration and work on projects involving problem-solving.

Examples of some of the electives include digital multimedia, AutoCAD/robotics, financial literacy, character education, Advancement Via Individual Determination and biomedicine.

Those electives result in “authentic experiences” for students who often can’t be successful in a traditional classroom setting, according to eighth-grade science teacher Tiffany Green.

“When students are working on projects, they are not going to sit isolated from each other,” Green said. “They are going to be working in groups and collaborating.”

She said, given technology advances, students often work on laptops, and teachers across different subjects can work collaboratively on the same shared documents.

Partnerships with professors and teachers from Central Carolina Technical College, USC Sumter and the district’s Sumter Career and Technology Center have helped transform the learning environment, Hunter and team members said.

In Angina Montgomery’s digital multimedia class, middle schoolers were creating animation with Google Classroom slides.

Seventh-grader Kevin Gordon had 91 slides with characters from a Dragon Ball Z battle. He said TV shows and movies got him interested in animation.

In Jermaine White’s AutoCAD/introduction to robotics class, sixth-graders were making spheres and creating blueprints of 3-D models.

Dominique Wilson, a second-year CCTC student majoring in engineering design technology, was helping lead the class.

Dalton Williams, 11, said when he grows up he thinks he would like to make robots.

“Robots are really powerful in everyday life because they can do things most humans can’t do,” Williams said. “They can be stronger than humans or even sometimes smarter if you program them correctly.”

Williams said he might want to become a Navy SEAL and invent naval weapons.

“I am pretty sure,” he said, “they are using a lot of robots now.”

Credit: The Sumter Item

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council

CONTACT: Erika Williams
October 18, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – TheLINK Economic Development Alliance won a silver award for its eSTEAM Sumter Festival, a project in the category of special event of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 15 during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held October 13 – October 16, in Indianapolis, IN.

“This award is a big win for our community as it acknowledges what can be accomplished when we work together collaboratively. The eSTEAM Sumter Festival recognition from IEDC showcases that we’re a world-class region with world-class people capable of meeting the needs of both new and expanding business and industry. This festival highlights many of our competitive advantages”, said Erika Williams with TheLINK Economic Development Alliance.

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. 34 award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 400 submissions from 12 countries.

Lee and Sumter counties joined together in 2014 forming TheLINK, the regional economic development organization charged with fostering job creation and increased earnings. Strengthening our talent pipeline is critical to this process as we showcase the region’s assets for business recruitment and business success.

“The recipients of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day”, said 2019 IEDC Board Chair, Tracye McDaniel. “We’re honored to recognize more than 100 communities for their excellent work, which forges new opportunities for our profession. We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2020 awards program.”
About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at


Recover. Return. Grow.: NOVA Molecular Technologies Inc. marks 5 years in Sumter

Recover. Return. Grow.: NOVA Molecular Technologies Inc. marks 5 years in Sumter

NOVA Molecular Technologies Inc. gets the sticky out.

NOVA’s high-value solvent recovery and return program is like lighter fluid to tape residue. The Sumter-based manufacturing company takes solvent, messy, hazardous, waste that companies have used to make their products, and sends it through fractional distillation columns that clean it. They extract the waste and get the material back to its original form, if not cleaner.

The result is a material that can be returned to the customer for reuse. It’s a cycle that is both better for the customer’s bottom line – they’re not paying to either burn or dispose of the waste – and better for the environment in a world where industries are increasingly aware of their carbon footprint.

Imagine if, instead of simply cleaning up a mess left behind, lighter fluid returned Duct tape to its original form.

Imagine that, instead of simply being durable residue, the sticky left behind was flammable and highly hazardous in a situation gone wrong.

Imagine how, instead of being used to hold and seal items around the house and shop, Duct tape and its residue was critical to make insulin, contact lenses and other pharmaceutical, agricultural, biotechnical products?

“There’s nobody else doing this. People will take waste material and do something with it; they’ll take it up the value line, take it to become something you can put into a paint thinner, but they won’t take it to where they can return it back to its original form,” said Greg Hoffman, vice president of operations for NOVA. “That last segment is the real science, the real art of the business.”

NOVA launched 30 years ago in Houston, Texas, but four years after expanding to Sumter, the 40-employee company sold its original plant to focus its efforts on Magnolia Street. Now, its five-year anniversary in Sumter that will commence next week closely coincides with today’s National Manufacturing Day.

Those efforts are more complicated than it is difficult to get Duct tape residue off without lighter fluid.

A lot goes into running a chemical plant. It deals daily with high-hazard solvents that must be managed without being able to see the material. Safety systems must be followed, permits adhered to, training ready to be employed.

“If you don’t maintain a pump correctly in a flammable environment, you have a problem,” Hoffman said.

Quality control in the labs, lab technicians to keep it running, chemical and mechanical engineers all must have technical training and expertise to keep the plant running smoothly. Even maintenance employees have technical certifications.

“The primary products we deal with are exceptionally difficult to purify, and it’s severely capital-intensive,” said Chris Adams, vice president of sales.

To put it simply, the work they do – purifying material used by the medical and pharmaceutical industry to a point where it’s good enough quality to be reused by the medical and pharmaceutical industry – is hard.

“When you’re talking about biomedical, if they don’t produce drugs and get them to market, people’s health is at risk,” Adams said. “They’re very concerned with making sure that material is flowing back to them.”

What they do is complicated, but for Mike Clumpner, the decision to put all of NOVA’s eggs in Sumter’s basket was not.

After its “boom times with the textile industry,” Sumter went through a period of downturns, the owner of NOVA said. Coming out of that now, he said, Sumter is “forward-thinking and aggressive.”

“They have people here with a work ethic and who like to work, like to be responsible citizens, and you don’t get that everywhere,” Clumpner said.

He said there may be “spots” of growth and opportunity for manufacturing companies to land, but “this is a prime spot.”

He took those customers downtown for dinner, where he said Sidebar, which serves barbecue and offers a wide selection of bourbon, stood out to one of the women there who was from Dallas.

What they do may be complicated, but the lifestyle in Sumter attracted one of NOVA’s premier process engineers to stick around.

Chris Carano graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State last year and moved to Sumter for the job at NOVA. Already, he’s involved in a church and has leadership positions. He participates with Sumter Economic Development, which helps foster relationships between businesses and the community. He recently bought a house.

“It’s crazy. In my first year here, I’ve done more things than people probably have done in 10 years elsewhere,” he said. “I’ve been able to do what I’ve wanted to do because it’s available here.”

What he does is complicated, but NOVA’s leadership is pushing him to charge forward. Longtime industry employees had to work a decade before being tasked with some of the projects Carano has completed.

Usually, Carano said, he’d be looking over someone’s shoulder for years at a larger corporation. At NOVA, he is provided with resources and tasked with meaningful projects. He designed and built a new distillation column that was completed a couple weeks ago.

What NOVA does is complicated, but its impact is easy to see, even if the gunk in the pipes isn’t.

Carano is spending his Saturday at the second-annual eSTEAM Festival, a free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on South Main Street in downtown Sumter that is geared toward kids of all ages, featuring hands-on activities highlighting dozens of local companies and their connection to science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Carano built a mini distillation column. His replica is clear so kids can see what’s inside and how it will appear to get cleaner from chamber to chamber.

Just as NOVA purifies solvent to recycle back to companies, maybe Carano will continue the cycle of finding that next generation to push forward.

Credit: The Sumter Item

Sumter building to attract new industry, officials say

Sumter building to attract new industry, officials say

SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — State, county and city officials are among a group of people working to bring new industry to Sumter.

A new spec building is a part of their vision for growth. It will be 50,000 sq. ft. (expandable to 100,000 sq. ft.) and located in the Black River Industrial Park.

Once built, the vacant space will be a location for a company to open up in town.

“We’ve had buildings developed in this manner in the past and they’ve all been occupied, … put people to work and created some new tax revenue for the community,” Jay Schwedler, President and CEO of the Sumter Economic Development Board, TheLINK and the Sumter Smarter Growth Initiative said. “The number one priority for us is to make sure that we are creating bountiful, good paying jobs.”

This will be the fifth building of its kind in the county, according to Schwedler, who says they expect to break-ground on the project in the next two to three weeks.

“We’re just really excited to get this thing underway,” Schwedler said. “We anticipate that a development, end user could come in and retrofit the facility in a matter of a couple months and have their product to market within six-months-time.”

It is possible that the space will be filled with a business in the advanced manufacturing arena, but they have not yet confirmed a particular buyer.

Credit: WLTX 19

Local Economic Development Professionals Earn Prestigious Certification

Local Economic Development Professionals Earn Prestigious Certification

Brian Rauschenbach and Eliza Buxton of Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Economic Development Alliance have both earned the prestigious title of SC Certified Economic Developer (SCCED). Brian and Eliza were two out of only 10 professionals throughout SC that were selected for the SC Economic Developers’ Association’s Advanced Symposium which covered topics such as negotiations, product and infrastructure development, site due diligence, deal structuring, incentives, marketing and communication strategies, and other topics relevant to the economic development profession. Each session throughout the robust year-long program involved graded exams followed by a final case study which had to be analyzed and presented before a group of certified economic development professionals. Brian and Eliza join Jay Schwedler as SC Certified Economic Developers within Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Economic Development Alliance.

Recent Lee County High School graduate is named tech champion

Recent Lee County High School graduate is named tech champion

Lavern Harry, a 2019 Lee Central High School graduate, was recently named the 2019 Technology Champion for the Santee-Lynches Region.

He earned the honor for his academic and community service endeavors.

As the winner, Harry received $500 to be used toward post-graduate expenses and a South Carolina Department of Education Office of Career & Technology certificate.

Harry also attended the Education and Business Summit, a Career and Technology Education state conference hosted by the Office of Career and Technology Education at SCDE in Greenville held June 24-27.

EBS is designed to provide learning opportunities in the area of Career and Technology Education, expand practices for use in the classroom or in administrative roles, create plans to groom South Carolina students for college and career readiness and help participants to develop stronger CATE courses and programs.

Credit: The Sumter Item

SC Ports Graduates 25 Port Ambassadors

SC Ports Graduates 25 Port Ambassadors

CHARLESTON, SC – JUNE 19, 2019 – South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) recognizes 25 delegates for completing the 2018-2019 Port Ambassador Program, which provides participants a deep understanding of the connection between the Port of Charleston and South Carolina’s thriving business community.

The 10-month Port Ambassador Program immerses participants in port operations through educational sessions and tours of oceanside terminals, inland ports, cruise vessels and manufacturing operations around the state, showing firsthand the Port’s $53 billion annual economic impact on the state.

The program also shows ambassadors how the maritime, transportation, port and manufacturing sectors intersect and spur economic development in South Carolina.

“This program introduced us to the bigger picture, which is that 1 in 11 jobs in South Carolina is tied to the Port,” Port Ambassador Tiffany Santagati said.

The ambassadors celebrated their graduation June 6 aboard the new homeported Carnival Sunshine in Charleston Harbor.

Santagati, executive senior vice president of talent and culture at Southern First Bank in Greenville, said the ambassadors program gave her insight into the Port’s statewide operations, emphasizing how many S.C. industries depend on the Port of Charleston to thrive.

“I have lived in South Carolina my entire life, and until I participated in the Port Ambassador Program, I did not fully understand the impact the Port makes on employment and the movement of goods throughout the state,” Santagati said. “It was fascinating to see how it is all connected.”

Port Ambassador Alex Fournil, owner and principal of Vista Insurance Group in Columbia, said the group’s visit to BMW Manufacturing Co. and Inland Port Greer stands out as an example of the Port of Charleston’s vital role in moving goods throughout the state to global markets.

“Hearing directly from BMW how important it is to have Inland Port Greer and how it gives them a competitive advantage was really amazing,” Fournil said.

The Port Ambassador Program also creates a networking opportunity for ambassadors; participants live throughout South Carolina and come from a variety of industries and backgrounds.

“The Port Ambassador Program engages a diverse group of South Carolina leaders to learn from experts in the maritime industry and port-dependent businesses. It gives them an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Port’s critical role in the state,” said Jordi Yarborough, SCPA’s senior vice president of external affairs. “Ambassadors also build relationships and create strong connections with other professionals they might not otherwise meet.”

SCPA launched the Port Ambassador Program in 2016 to increase public awareness and understanding of SCPA’s strategic plan and foster support for the Port’s key statewide activities.

The Port Ambassador Class of 2019:
Ann Angermeier, Upstate Workforce Board, Spartanburg
John Brand III, Stifel Financial Corp., Florence
Van Cato, Office of Senator Lindsey Graham, Greenville
Andrew Cook, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Hilton Head Island
Christine Crawford, D&G Management, North Augusta
Johnny Cribb, Berkeley County, Moncks Corner
Suzanne Dickerson, SC Council on Competitiveness, Columbia
Alexander Fournil, Vista Insurance Group, Columbia
Jamey Goldin, Nelson Mullins, Columbia
Sara Hazzard, SC Manufacturers Alliance, Columbia
Angie Leidinger, Clemson University, Columbia
Thomas Lorenzo, Domtar, Fort Mill
Bill McCarthy, Charleston Gate Co., Charleston
Sunny Philips, SC Chamber of Commerce, Columbia,
Tony Pope, State Farm Insurance, Summerville
Buddy Pough, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg
Brian Rauschenbach, Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Alliance, Sumter
Anne Smith Reid, Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired – Charleston, Charleston
Tiffany Santagati, Southern First Bank, Greenville
Mark Schmidt, Intermodal Container Logistics – NA, Decatur, Ga.
Steve Sydow, Charleston
Tom Trouche, ServisFirst Bank, Charleston
Marlon Walters, Bank of America, Elgin
Tom Winslow, Goldfinch Winslow Attorneys at Law, Murrells Inlet
Jason Zacher, Upstate Chamber Coalition, Greenville

Participants are selected from nominations by the Review and Oversight Commission on the State Ports Authority, the SCPA Board of Directors and Senior Management Team. Each program is limited to 25 ambassadors.

About South Carolina Ports Authority
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 187,200 statewide jobs and generate nearly $53 billion annual economic activity. SCPA is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet, and the Port is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. For more information on SCPA, please visit

Credit: SC Ports Authority



The 9th Air Force commander, who leads eight wings and three direct reporting units through its Shaw Air Force Base headquarters, is set to retire next month, but he won’t be going far.

Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist said Monday after giving a keynote address at the Sumter County Veterans Association Memorial Day ceremony that he and his wife, Kay, have picked Sumter as their home in retirement.

Zobrist will retire from the U.S. Air Force after 33 years in the military, during which time he has held staff positions at the Air Staff, Air Combat Command, U.S. Forces Japan and 9th Air Force, has commanded two fighter wings and is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours, according to his Air Force biography.

He said he first experienced Sumter in August 1992 when his assignment as an assistant weapons officer for the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron was relocated to Shaw Air Force Base after Hurricane Andrew destroyed Homestead Air Force Base in south Florida. He was then assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron as chief of weapons and aide to the commander of the 9th Air Force at Shaw.

“I came here with my wife, we didn’t have kids yet, and two dogs … and the welcome we received here in Sumter was amazing. We have some friends who are still in the area who took care of us at the time,” Zobrist said. “And when we came back, it was my next assignment, but I hadn’t realized the transformation that had occurred in both the city and the county and how well the county and the city work together. So, when it came time to make a decision on where to go, it was actually a pretty easy decision when we realized we could just stay put here.”

[Fourth Friday Concerts in Sumter]

As commander of the 9th Air Force, Zobrist is in change of ensuring the operational readiness of more than 400 aircraft and 29,000 active duty and civilian members. Since he took the reins in May 2016, the 9th Air Force has become a deployable, operational-level Joint Task Force, providing the Department of Defense with an “air-centric capability to task during crisis operations.”

He earned his commission in 1986 as a distinguished graduate of the University of Southern California’s ROTC program. In 1987, he was a distinguished graduate from Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and was assigned to fly the F-16. He has since flown the F-16 at five operational bases in the U.S. and Europe.

His combat experience includes Operation Deliberate Force over Bosnia, where he served as mission commander of NATO’s first mission of the operation. He also deployed as the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom and as the deputy director of the Air Component Coordination Element, Combined Joint Task Force-82 and vice commander of the 455th Expeditionary Wing in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Before his current assignment at Shaw, he served as deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command and deputy commander of Combined Force Air Component, where he was responsible for the command and control of air operations in a 20-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia to include Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

Zobrist was promoted to major general in May 2014.

He said his wife likes to play tennis at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center and that they both enjoy activities available in and around Sumter.

He said the amenities are great, but the people are the main reason they are choosing to stay.

A car was recently stalled on U.S. 378 in Sumter with a bumper having fallen off. His wife suggested they stop and help.

“By the time we had turned around and came back, 30 seconds max, two other cars and a policeman had already pulled over to help. When you see a car that has stopped, regardless of the background of the individual, other Sumterites stop and try to help. So it’s that kind of community spirit. It’s uncommon patriotism,” he said, referring to Sumter’s slogan, “but it’s uncommon friendship. It’s a great community that we are really looking forward to being a part of.”

He said his retirement date and change of command will be June 13 and that his replacement is coming from a direct conflict as deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against ISIS, but that he is no stranger to the South, having been wing commander at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.

Credit: The Sumter Item

Eaton’s employee Nyaaisjah Samuel shares her story

Eaton’s employee Nyaaisjah Samuel shares her story

Nyaaisjah Samuel is a social butterfly, mom of an active 3-year old — and a switchboard technician at Eaton.

“My job is to identify parts that are compatible with the switchboard structure,” she said. “I reference electrical drawings for amperage and the type of material being used.”

Preparing her for this role was a degree in engineering graphics technology, though she was initially drawn to the Associate of Science with an eye toward architectural engineering. “I really like to design things and see them come together; that’s what really grabbed my attention about the engineering field.”

She enjoys the position and utilizes just about everything she learned while in school. For example, she became proficient in several software programs to include Solidworks, AutoCAD and Investor that are used regularly at Eaton.

That interest, combined with her degree, have propelled her to a successful job at Eaten for 10 months and counting. Her favorite part? Despite having a technical background, she says it’s the people and their down-to-earth attitude who bring her work contentment.

“I like the people and the fact that I get to use all the skills that I learned in school and apply to my technician role. I even get to teach others the stuff I know.”
Nyaaisjah’s future is bright at Eaton, and demonstrates the strength of our workforce pipeline and our ability to connect talent with opportunity.

Lee Central Middle STEAM Launch

Lee Central Middle STEAM Launch

TheLINK Economic Development Alliance in Partnership with The South Carolina Department of Commerce- Workforce Division, held a STEAM Launch at Lee Central Middle School Today to introduce STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concepts to the students in preparation for the STEM Lab that will be launched next year at the school. There were 15 exhibitors with interactive displays showcasing STEAM/STEM related items. All students in grades 6-8 participate in the three-hour event which was held in the gymnasium.

Also, Lee Central High School held a press conference at the middle school today – during the STEAM launch to announce the Drone Certification Program that they are hosting this summer. They have 40 slots for students to register for drone licensure. Lee Central is one of fewer than 10 school districts in the state to participate.

Alice Drive Elementary School students display STEM inventions

Alice Drive Elementary School students display STEM inventions


The Alice Drive Elementary School cafeteria didn’t look much like a cafeteria on Monday night but more like a science lab.

That’s because the school was holding its STEM-inspired Invention Convention, where students displayed projects they made with a science, technology, engineering and math focus. But, these weren’t just any contraptions.

“They had the opportunity this year to invent an actual prototype that would solve a problem,” ADES fifth- grade math and science teacher Kim Johnston said. “And, we told the students to think of something personal, and so it’s just an awesome event for their family and friends to come out and kind of see what they’ve been working on and put their hearts into.”

Johnston said she is glad students could invent something that intrigued them and that the project helped develop their problem-solving skills.

“As a teacher, that’s what it’s all about,” she said. “I want my students to learn, but I want them to love learning. I want them to enjoy it, and I want them to take that learning to the next level.”

Projects included a charm bracelet to help remember chores, a mesh bag to prevent the loss of socks when washing them, a trash basket that had another trash bag instantly ready when you removed the old one and a duck extractor, which was invented by fifth-graders Jenkins Andrews and Joseph Chapman.

“Our problem was picking up ducks when you shoot them in the duck hole,” Andrews said. “Well, we couldn’t get them if they went so deep, and it would just be wasted, and we don’t want that. So what we invented was an RC boat with a net on front; it drives out, and when you get to it (the duck), you gas it (the boat) and it goes down, lifts up under the duck, and once you do that, you can drive it back, and there’s no more wasted ducks.”

Chapman said he thinks they have a better solution to retrieving dead ducks as opposed to using dogs.

“The only solution that people have made so far is using dogs,” he said. “But the thing is, when you have dogs, the vet (and) food (are) real expensive, and I’d rather have a dog just to hang out with instead of having to train him. Dogs can get sassy when you’re trying to train them, and then they don’t want to be trained.”

Andrews said the whole experience was worthwhile.

“(What I liked was) working together and inventing something that we really needed,” he said, “and being able to use it and seeing all that we’ve done. It’s just knowing that you made it.”

Chapman said making the duck extractor was rewarding.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “The (most) fun part is seeing it work because you have all the processes and all the paperwork and everything you have to do. And then the best part is just getting the sigh of relief of seeing it come back to you.”

Credit: The Sumter Item

‘Gummy expert’ buys Sumter’s Mount Franklin

‘Gummy expert’ buys Sumter’s Mount Franklin


The way a corporate executive described it Wednesday, “there’s a little more science to getting those vitamins in there than meets the eye.”

Jill Pergande, chief human resources officer with top-volume gummy producer Santa Cruz Nutritionals, was referencing her company’s recent acquisition of Mount Franklin Nutritionals’ multi-vitamin gummy facility at 2720 Southgate Drive in Live Oak Industrial Park.

California-based Santa Cruz Nutritionals acquired the 100,000-square-foot plant in February after Mount Franklin — a confectionery company out of El Paso, Texas — decided to pull out of the vitamins, minerals and supplements industry market.

Pergande said Mount Franklin’s effort to venture into the growing VMS market in 2017 is common for candy companies that eventually run into difficulties in the market.

While consumer demand for confectionery items, such as jellybeans, has plummeted, demand for gummy vitamins and supplements is soaring, she said.

What separates Santa Cruz from most other gummy contract manufacturers to large brands is its experience and history in the market, according to Pergande.

In 1997, company scientists in research and development created the first-ever multivitamin gummy to hit the market, and Santa Cruz is considered an industry leader in gummy innovation and also taste, according to industry sources. It’s sometimes referred to as “the gummy expert” in the industry.

“With our research and development base and the years of experience that we have,” Pergande said, “we’ve been able to put things together in a way that allows us to have more supplements in the gummy.”

In acquiring the local facility, Santa Cruz retained all 49 Mount Franklin employees, including Plant Manager Michael Barrett, and the manufacturing equipment.

At its four other facilities in the U.S. and Canada, Santa Cruz was already producing millions of gummies a day. Sumter is now its fifth facility, and the manufacturer is looking to ramp up quickly here.

Barrett and Pergande said the plant is looking to add 35 production-level positions for a second shift during the next month and will continue to hire management staff, as well. Open production jobs are available for packagers, machine operators, maintenance technicians and more.

The plan is to bring on an additional 30 workers for a third shift this fall, they said. Then, the facility will operate 24 hours a day, five days a week.

Barrett and Pergande said applicants with Food and Drug Administration experience is helpful but not a necessity. Workers with manufacturing experience is also ideal, but the company has said it will invest in the right people who have the proper skill sets.

Credit: The Sumter Item