Small business centers open in rural S.C.

Rural communities in South Carolina are receiving new consulting centers from the South Carolina Small Business Development Centers.

In partnership with the S.C. Department of Commerce, the SC SBDC is focusing on rural development through the opening of new centers in rural areas where the business population was deemed to be underserved. Each center will support the needs of existing businesses, as well as assisting entrepreneurs considering opening a new venture.

“It is important that we serve all of our constituents,” said SBDC State Director Michele Abraham. “The businesses in rural parts of our state are just as important to us as the ones located in more urban areas.”

The first center to be opened was in Allendale, followed by one in Union, Cheraw and then Georgetown. Consultants are reaching out into the communities and establishing relationships that will bring attention to the services their center provides. While each of the new centers are open on a part-time basis for now, if demand for services and local support is strong enough it is possible a fulltime center could open in these locations in the future.

“Small business is important to South Carolina’s overall economy, particularly in rural areas,” said Chuck Bundy, Deputy Director for Small Business and Existing Industry at South Carolina Department of Commerce. “The SC SBDC is a flexible network that is able to touch the more remote parts of our state in a meaningful way.”

Contact for any of the SC SBDCs around the state can be found on the locations tab on the top menu at SCSBDC.com.

SRS salt waste processing milestone

AIKEN – The Savannah River Site has reached another significant milestone by processing 5 million gallons of salt waste through its Interim Salt Disposition Process.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s liquid waste contractor is Savannah River Remediation, which operates the salt waste processing facilities, as well as the other SRS facilities that disposition radioactive liquid waste. SRR’s contract also calls for operationally closing waste tanks.

The salt waste processing milestone was reached in February, when the 5-millionth gallon was processed through the Actinide Removal Process and Modular Caustic Side Solvent Extraction Unit. The ARP and MCU work as an integrated system to remove nearly all of the radioactive isotopes from the salt waste portion of the SRS’s radioactive waste in storage tanks. ARP/MCU began radioactive operations in April 2008.

The radioactive isotopes removed by ARP/MCU are primarily cesium, strontium and actinides. These isotopes are transferred to the Defense Waste Processing Facility, where it is blended with a borosilicate frit and melted to form a molten glass mixture that is poured in stainless steel canisters, which are stored at SRS awaiting permanent storage.

The remaining decontaminated salt solution from salt waste processing is transferred to the Saltstone facilities for disposition.

Achieving this milestone continues to prove the effectiveness of salt waste processing at SRS, according to Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River Acting Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition.

Vehicle complaints take top spot in 2014

COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs received 3,908 complaints from Jan 1, 2014- Dec 31, 2014, saving consumers nearly $1 million in the form of credits, refunds, and adjustments.

The No. 1 complaint category in 2014 was vehicles, totaling 16 percent (642) of SCDCA’s total complaints. Rounding out the top five are utilities at 15 percent (572), debt collection at 10 percent (410), credit at 6 percent (225), and finance at 5 percent (214).

The top five consumer refunds were also related to vehicles: (1) Truck replaced after a defect was identified, $40,358; (2) Vehicle was replaced due to recurring mechanical issue, $37,590; (3) Vehicle was replaced due to recurring engine misfire, $33,000; (4) Vehicle was traded in due to structural defect, $32,000; (5) Vehicle financing problem, $29,000.

“SCDCA staff continues to do a phenomenal job in resolving disputes for S.C. taxpayers,” said Carri Grube Lybarker, department administrator. “Our new complaint system has helped to take the provision of these mediation services to the next level.”

In January 2014, SCDCA launched its new online complaint system, making great strides in efficiency. Since implementing the system, the adoption rate has reached 60 percent and the average time it takes to resolve a complaint has dropped dramatically from 45-55 days to 20-25. One of the first complaints submitted through the online system was resolved within a matter of hours.

Over the past three years, SCDCA has fielded more than 14,500 complaints and saved consumers $3,344,000 through complaint mediation. To file a complaint, visit consumer.sc.gov and click FILE A COMPLAINT. Consumers should also take advantage of the Public Information tool by researching complaints against businesses.

Belk offers way to support nonprofits

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Thousands of participating charities across Belk’s 16-state footprint benefit from Belk’s semi-annual charity sales.

Belk’s spring charity sale of the year will take place Saturday, May 2, from 6 a.m.-10 a.m. in all Belk stores. The four-hour, in-store shopping event is a fundraising tool for participating organizations that sell $5 tickets to their supporters. It’s also an opportunity for customers to give back to local nonprofits while taking advantage of special in-store discounts on purchases during the event.

On the morning of the Belk Charity Sale, the first 100 customers to arrive at each store will receive a Belk gift card ranging in value from $5 to $100, and a chance to win one of three $1,000 Belk gift cards being awarded companywide. All customers will also receive $5 back on their first purchase. Also, participating charities and schools will be registered to win one of three $1,000 donations from Belk in a companywide drawing.

Previous charity sales supported thousands of nonprofits such as the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Special Olympics, Teens Do Care, Literacy Council, United Way, Girl Talk International, North Carolina Zoo Society, American Red Cross, animal rescue organizations, local school athletic and scholastic organizations and numerous local churches.

Kids can be models at Belk Kidfest

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Belk hosts its bi-annual Kidfest in-store event Saturday, March 28, from noon-3 p.m. at all locations. The event includes runway fashion shows featuring local children as models wearing Belk’s latest fashion trends and styles for kids. Other activities and entertainment will include refreshments, music, games, face painting, balloons and prizes, depending on location.

Parents and legal guardians interested in having their children ages 4-12 participate as models in the KidFest fashion show in their community should contact the local Belk store now to register and obtain more information. Participating kids will receive 15 percent off any purchase in the children’s department. Customers can save up to 40 percent off the entire stock of kids apparel during the event, excluding designer collections.

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