NEW YORK -- South Carolina ranks fourth among the 50 states for having the best business climate, according to a new survey of U.S. corporate executives.

Texas ranked No. 1. Florida and Georgia claimed the second and third spots respectively, and North Carolina took the fifth spot.

Conducted by Development Counsellors International every three years, the “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” survey has tracked trends in economic development since its inception in 1996. For the first time, the survey also includes findings about how the current political climate affects business perceptions. A majority of the executives surveyed, 57 percent, reported that the Trump presidency hasn’t impacted their investment plans and 33 percent were more likely to explore domestic expansion.

South Carolina ranked No. 4 with 16 percent of respondents naming it the best state for business, maintaining its ranking from the 2014 survey. Thirty percent of respondents rated the state as the “Best in Class State Economic Development Organization,” making it second overall.

Riley promoted at Reagan airport

Gwinette Riley, an Orangeburg native, has been promoted to deputy assistant federal security director of screening at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

She is the daughter of Juliette Isaac and the granddaughter of the late Leon and Nettie Isaac of Cope.

S.C. State partner in manufacturing initiative

The Palmetto State is rapidly becoming the destination of choice for some of the world’s largest manufacturers, and the University of South Carolina is working to make it home to cutting-edge advanced manufacturing research and workforce development.

USC will lead a group of 10 higher education institutions in South Carolina, including South Carolina State University, committed to building the state’s existing industries while attracting new ones. The project, announced Sept. 19) is part of a five-year, $20 million National Science Foundation grant called Materials Assembly and Design Excellence in South Carolina, or MADE in SC.

Together, the MADE in SC consortium will engage in advanced materials research and development, create a pipeline of highly trained workers to enter South Carolina’s advanced manufacturing industry and increase the capacity for economic growth and vitality in the state. As part of its focus, the effort also will expand workforce diversity through programming aimed at increasing underrepresented faculty hires as well as graduate and undergraduate students pursuing advanced materials research at all participating institutions.

Realtors conference draws 400

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina Realtors’ 2017 annual conference and expo, Realtor Revolution at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville, drew more than 400 residential and commercial Realtors from across the state.

The SCR board of directors met at the conference and approved the association's new strategic plan. The board also installed new leaders including 2017 incoming SCR President Laura Derrick. Derrick is a Realtor at Coldwell Banker United in Columbia. Also, Morris Lyles of the Central Carolina Association of Realtors is the new secretary.

David Kent, The Real Buyer’s Agent, Charleston, was named 2017 S.C. Realtor of the Year.

Grant offers export assistance

COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Department of Commerce has been awarded a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration for the sixth year.

In total, the SBA is awarding $18 million to 44 states in this year's round of STEP grants, which are designed to support and encourage small business export success. South Carolina was awarded its full requested amount of $340,600.

SCE&G recognized for solar programs

CAYCE -- SCE&G was recognized by the South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance for leadership and success in developing solar energy programs. The SCCEBA presented its 2017 Outstanding Achievement and Leadership Award to SCE&G representatives at the S.C. Clean Energy Summit in Columbia.

SCCEBA, a nonprofit coalition of clean energy advocates and stakeholders, presents the award annually in recognition of an organization or individual’s significant contributions to developing South Carolina’s clean energy economy. SCCEBA cited SCE&G’s overall success with implementing its solar programs in accordance with the state’s Distributed Energy Resource Program Act of 2014 (Act 236) and the utility’s efforts to embrace solar energy as a part of its electric generation portfolio as reasons for the award.

Examples of SCE&G’s solar energy implementation efforts have included developing easy-to-understand consumer solar programs, providing consumer friendly information on its website and other communication channels and efficiently managing the interconnection process.

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