April 2017 Partner of the Month: CPR, Cellular Phone Repair


CPR logo

Operating from offices and repair facilities in both Lexington and Columbia, CPR, Cellular Phone Repair, strives to provide outstanding customer service to everyone who walks through their doors.  Owner Steve Doyle has been active in both community and Chamber affairs.  CPR is involved in many key Chamber organizations that help give direction to our region.  These groups include the Military Affairs Group, the Chamber Issues Forum, and the Chamber Diplomats Group.

Whether posting hot deals to the Chamber’s website, attending a ribbon cutting for a new partner, or participating in Diplomats meetings, Steve and CPR can be counted on to be in the front ranks and in a leadership position.

The Columbia Chamber is honored to present CPR as the April 2017 Partner of the Month.

To learn more about CPR, visit their website.

For more information about the Columbia Chamber Partner of the Month, or to nominate a current Chamber Partner, please visit our website.


LC17: Criminal Justice Day

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017 is a group of 58 emerging and existing leaders in the region, who are dedicated to bettering themselves and their community. The 10-month skills-building program provides an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness, while challenging the candidates to step
out of their comfort zones and become involved in Columbia.

The Leadership Columbia Advisory Board, an alumni-based committee, organizes nine full-day class days, an orientation and a two-day retreat for the class. These class days focus on timely topics in our region ranging from economic development to criminal justice.

On Tuesday, March 14, current LC17 candidate Caroline Tracy wrote a post detailing her experience during the class’ Criminal Justice Day:

Our class members met at the Richland County Government Office for our Criminal Justice themed day of discussion and debate.  After our eight hours in the classroom with our expert panel speakers, my takeaways are: first, mental health is a crucial factor that directly correlates with crime, and second, we, as a community, need to be doing more to aid in the rehabilitation and restoration of those convicted of crime.

Caroline Tracy HeadshotOur first discussion with Dr. Leon Geter of Benedict College served as a brief overview of criminology and the criminal justice system. There are five major goals of the criminal justice system – deterrence, incapacitation, retribution, rehabilitation and restoration. All components of our criminal justice system – police, courts and corrections – must be working in sync to ensure these goals are met. The overarching theme throughout the day was that even though our system isn’t perfect it’s working pretty well. While it’s important that our system is functioning for those who pose a serious to threat society, the most important question posed was “What is happening in our jails and prisons to rehabilitate inmates?”  Because 95% of inmates have a sentence that will allow them to return home, we should be investing time and resources into rehabilitation, restoration and exit programs as well as seeking opportunities to assimilate those in our corrections facility into society instead of alienating them.

Next, we had the opportunity to hear from Sergeant McDaniels and a representative from the crime scene unit of Richland County Sherriff’s Department. They were able to explain details of cases, physical evidence collection, flaws of the system as well as strengths of the system. One of the strengths that our system has developed is the use of technology. The acceptance of DNA evidence in court has not only ruled out innocent victims, but has also exonerated 112 inmates on death row. In our ever advancing world we are exposed to the positive and negative aspects of using technology, but this was a win in particular for our judicial branches and departments. Future technological developments that will impact the system include the normalcy of “smart systems” in homes, such as the Amazon device named Alexa, which have the capabilities to provide details on records and accounts of incidents. To see and hear of the impact that cell phones and DNA have had on our justice system left many of us wondering how these conversations will look in five to ten years with the continual advancement of technology.

We then heard from Jack Swerling and Barney Giese regarding the prosecution of crime. Jay Richardson, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, shared with us the most emotional and applicable example you might be able to think of. He walked us through the prosecution of Dylann Roof, who is responsible for the Emmanuel AME massacre. This was not the only difficulty subject covered; we spent the remainder of the afternoon talking about sex trafficking in Richland County. Although these subjects are not commonly accepted and endorsed in everyday conversation, it is of the utmost importance to bring awareness to these issues as they are happening right here, inside the walls of our own community.  These conversations were hard. But it must be done. With such an array of talented professionals sharing their knowledge and experiences with us you would think that either these issues don’t exist or that they might be too far gone and there is no hope. One of the main objectives in the development of individuals in our Leadership Columbia class is to bring exposure and awareness to current and familiar issues right here in the Midlands. This was one of my motivating factors to join Leadership Columbia, and it is the charge that I will leave you with today. Captain Heidi Jackson summed it up perfectly, sharing her mantra from Alice Hoffman: “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.”

How can we stop the cycle of crime, which is significantly influenced by poverty and addiction?  We, as a community, need to get involved. Don’t be scared of the dangerous, different and also messiness of what might be a lifestyle out of your comfort zone. Get involved with mentoring at young ages through organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, which can have a profound impact on our youth, their upbringing and their insight to other lifestyles and family dynamics. Spend some time with the inmates at CIU Prison Initiative and assist in other restorative programs. Invest in re-entry programs for inmates entering back into society. Work to promote mental health awareness and make this a common conversation in our community, not one that brings on an air of derogatory judgments. Be aware of your surroundings, as crime, abuse and neglect can be occurring right down your street, and report any findings to local law enforcement. Educate yourself on the presence of sex trafficking in the Midlands – South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force Annual Report 2016. The opportunities are endless – you just have to determine where you want to start.

Crime, all aspects of it, is related to the involvement and impact made by the community. The mental state behind a person is influenced in the very formative years by our community. The punishment and future of those convicted of crimes rests on the officials and laws that are in place by our community. The punishment, alienation and lack of opportunities thereafter is demanded by our community, and outside of that, our society as a whole.  The common thread that I see here, and that was further evidenced in our discussions, is that within our criminal justice system is the desperate need for strong societal and communal support. We must work together with our youth to prevent crime. We must work together with our offenders for retribution. And we must work together for future opportunities with rehabilitated inmates who offer the same and if not more experience and educational credentials than others in our workforce, but are not given the chance to prove themselves. We must work together, in unison, and with respect for the officials who are protecting us each day. After our discussions, it is evident that multiple agencies, non-profits and law enforcement divisions are working together for the greater good of our society. But where are we, the community?  What is our part in this process?

Justice is served. But is it really served when keeping a father away from his family?  Is it really served with fines, jail time and denial of employment?   Justice is defined as “a concern for peace and genuine respect for people.”  Are we doing that for all parts of our population in Richland and Lexington Counties and throughout the Midlands?  Whether the population is young, old, black, white, convicted, non-convicted – we need to come together out of love, respect and genuine concern for each other so that our community, our village, can raise the future generation, deter them from crime, help them to recognize other paths and opportunities, and ultimately show them the endless opportunities they can have on our society outside of a jail cell.

March 2017 Partner of the Month: Red Shirt Guys Roofing

Formerly Wade Culler Roofing, The Red Shirt Guys Roofing company has been serving more than 3,000 satisfied clients across the Southeast for over a decade. Commonly known as a residential roofing contractor, The Red Shirt Guys also have a division for commercial and industrial roofing.Red Shirt Guys logo.png

A Veteran owned company, The Red Shirt Guys work hard to support the military community. Recently, they presented a $5,000 check to Homes for our Troops to help build a specially adapted home for injured Army Veteran SGT Robert Barber of Chapin, South Carolina.

Echoing this commitment to the community and the military, The Red Shirt Guys consistently utilize local vendors and suppliers. Even when doing business in Charleston, or North Carolina, all of their supplies comes from right here in Columbia.

In addition to any manufacturer warranty, they offer a lifetime workmanship on the product installed. This means come hail or high-water, The Red Shirt Guys stick by their work.

The Columbia Chamber is honored to present The Red Shirt Guys Roofing as the March 2017 Partner of the Month.

To learn more about The Red Shirt Guys Roofing, visit their website.

For more information about the Columbia Chamber Partner of the Month, or to nominate a current Chamber Partner, please visit our website.

LC17: Health & Human Services Day

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017 is a group of 58 emerging and existing leaders in the region, who are dedicated to bettering themselves and their community. The 10-month skills-building program provides an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness, while challenging the candidates to step unspecifiedout of their comfort zones and become involved in Columbia.

The Leadership Columbia Advisory Board, an alumni-based committee, organizes nine full-day class days, an orientation and a two-day retreat for the class. These class days focus on timely topics in our region ranging from economic development to criminal justice.

On Tuesday, January 10, current LC17 candidate Mee Jean Sasine wrote a post detailing her experience during the class’ Health and Human Services Day:


It’s what beats to keep us alive. It’s what Shane Falco had that The Replacements needed to play football. It’s the central or innermost part of something. It’s the theme of Valentine’s Day. And this Valentine’s Day was a perfect day for our class to have our Health & Human Services Day in Palmetto Health Baptist’s auditorium.

In the morning, we continued our leadership development training with University of South Carolina (USC) professor Kirk Randazzo, who spoke about keeping people in a group motivated. A timely topic considering we’re about halfway through our Leadership Columbia program and in the middle of our class project. Also “timely” in that he said time is precious and for a group to be successful, we cannot waste time. There was never a truer statement for a working professional, wife and mom of three young children. My kids are my motivation and heart for why I’m in this program. I want to learn everything that’s great about Columbia and help promote it to make it the best city that we all know it is.

Next, we heard from Judy Baskins, Chief Clinical Integration and Ambulatory Services Officer at Palmetto Health. “Healthcare is a rapidly changing dynamic.” Isn’t that the truth? It’s the heart of my career. I’ve been in the health insurance industry for over 15 years and can say there’s always something new to learn!  I was eager to hear what she and the rest of our speakers had to say from the provider’s perspective as I’ve experienced it through various other sides of healthcare.

There have been different shifts through the history of healthcare and Judy spoke on the continuing trend of Population Health.  According to Palmetto Health, Population Health is the set of processes, activities, interventions, and attitudes delivered by a highly aligned and integrated group of providers to improve overall health outcomes for a defined population of individuals choosing to utilize our health care system under a sustainable economic model.  In other words, physicians and facilities working towards value based and managed care rather than fee for service care. Providers rethinking the “care team” of the quality of care that patients and caregivers are getting. She also went through a history of Palmetto Health SeniorCare PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a “virtual nursing home without walls.” Population Health and PACE are just two of the different ways healthcare is evolving.  Did you know that Palmetto Health has an app where a nurse practitioner will respond to you after you check off your symptoms on the app? New updates and advances in technology are also transforming the way things are done in this field. We were able to see this first hand with our next speaker and activity.

We took a look “Behind the Curtain” of Palmetto Health’s Simulation Lab with Scott Newell, Simulation Specialist. Scott paralleled the resuscitation simulation training of medics to pilot and aviation training due to his experience in both fields. We tend to fully put our trust in people who provide us medical care as we do in pilots flying an airplane. In 2009, 251,454 deaths were identified as iatrogenic (relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment) and that was the 3rd leading cause of death!  Thankfully, there have been advancements in simulation trainings and true simulation where goals in behavior change must be met in the cognitive, psycho-motor and affective areas. Seven classmates participated in a training simulation with “Stan,” the interactive simulation mannequin who was experiencing cardiac arrest by providing CPR, medication and using a defibrillator.  Their goal was to successfully participate in the simulated scenario in 90 seconds. Even in a simulation environment, talk about hearts beating fast and I’m not talking about just Stan’s!  I can happily say my classmates accomplished their goal and the class celebrated in a class picture with Stan.

Holly Hayes, President of Iron Sharpens Iron Consulting Group, LLC spoke to us about discovering our own personal health story. Did you know that your zip code is the most important number for determining your health status? It’s not your age, genetic code or BMI? We participated in an activity to determine what kinds of experiences and values call us to dive deeper in understanding health and how it affects our community. From that activity, we could develop our own personal health story, one that comes from the heart. She encouraged us to listen to a lot of different health stories

In the heart of the afternoon, our last speaking session was a panel discussion regarding challenges, opportunities and the future of healthcare with Freddie Strange, Jr., Executive Director of the Free Medical Clinic, Rozalynn Goodwin, Vice President of Engagement at the SC Hospital Association and Tripp Jennings, Chief Informatics Officer at Palmetto Health. The panel discussed problems facing this industry, their thoughts on what the role the government should play regarding regulation, the opportunities and technology in healthcare and the future of health care. All agreed that this industry is a moving target and that tough decisions will have to be made. Tripp Jennings encouraged our class to continue to be leaders. He said we don’t have to forfeit our right to have an opinion, but we must be responsible and listen to all sides to come up with a solution.

To complete our class day, we participated in several hands-on activities at Transitions where we planted flowerbeds, organized the kitchen pantry and cleaned windows for the residents. We were able to use our class time to give our heart back to our community. It was a humbling way to end our health and human services day. Side note: they are constantly in need of interview-appropriate attire for their residents so please consider this as you do your spring cleaning.


It’s what Columbia has and one of the many reasons I love living here. There’s so much to love about the city and the community always seems to come together, even in the toughest times. Case in point: the catastrophic “1000 year flood” of 2015. As said by one of my classmates, “While our community was in the most literal sense of the words, water marked, we were not broken. In the weeks and months following, our community showed the defining characteristics of what makes the Midlands unique – our strength, unity and passion. And together, we rose above the waters.”


It’s what all my classmates I’ve gotten to know in this wonderful program have. It’s what drives the theme of our class project. Our class, The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017, will showcase the spirit of coming together after the 2015 flood. With administrative support from local non-profit partners, One Columbia and Engenuity SC, we will revitalize the entrance of the Lincoln Street tunnel – making it pedestrian friendly, beautifying it with new landscaping, historical signage and local artwork, and positioning it as the Vista Greenway connector. Our heart is called Watermarked. Please check out WatermarkedSC.com and follow our journey.

February 2017 Partner of the Month: Columbia Fireflies

In their inaugural season, the Columbia Fireflies baseball team knocked it out of the park. The Columbia Fireflies are the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. The Fireflies play games across the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, including against in-state rivals Charleston and Greenville.

The team partnered with the city of Columbia and Hughes Development to construct Spirit Communications Park, a multi-use outdoor sports and entertainment venue at the center of the Commons at Bull Street development. During baseball season, the Columbia Fireflies provided employment opportunities for 751 local workers and utilized a wide variety of local contractors.2205_columbia__fireflies-primary-2016

They were recently voted the # 1 Ballpark Experience in the South Atlantic League by Stadium Journey Magazine — noting not only its excellent design and emphasis on the fan experience, but also its potential to create economic activity in the area. The team recently announced that the 2017 South Atlantic League All-Star Game would be played at Spirit Communications Park. The game – which takes place on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – will be the first SAL All-Star game in Columbia since 1992

Since joining the Chamber in 2015, the Fireflies staff has covered all of the bases at the Chamber including the SchmoozaPalooza Networking Expo, Military Affairs Committee meetings, Partner Relations Committee meetings, and other chamber networking events. The Fireflies have also attended and sponsored the Chamber’s Annual Gala.

Their staff has demonstrated local leadership on a multitude of community organization boards, including the Columbia Urban League, North Columbia Business Association, Boys & Girls Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and incoming board member of Columbia Capital Rotary to name a few. Two of the top executives for the Columbia Fireflies are also adjunct professors at the University of South Carolina.

The Fireflies have used their home of Spirit Communications Park to host a multitude of events including the Cornbread Festival, Midlands Gives, Toys for Tots distribution, Red Cross Blood Drives, and much more. Before moving into the ballpark, the Fireflies used their location in the Vista as a drop off locations for flood victims to aid the United Way.

The Fireflies also partner with over 70 non-profits during the baseball season to feature these organizations at each home games and let them showcase themselves in front of a new audience. The Fireflies staff is involved around the community individually, but the staff also worked collectively to log 68 hours of service during the Salvation Army’s bell-ringing season. The Fireflies also worked closely with 3 other South Carolina baseball teams to raise over $50,000 for flood relief.

The Columbia Chamber is honored to present the Columbia Fireflies as the February 2017 Partner of the Month.

To learn more about the Columbia Fireflies, visit their website.

For more information about the Columbia Chamber Partner of the Month, or to nominate a current Chamber Partner, please visit our website.

LC17: Economic Development

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017 is a group of 58 emerging and existing leaders in the region, who are dedicated to bettering themselves and their community. The 10-month skills-building program provides an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness, while challenging the candidates to step out of their comfort zones and become involved in Columbia.

The Leadership Columbia Advisory Board, an alumni-based committee, organizes nine full-day class days, an orientation and a two-day retreat for the class. These class days focus on timely topics in our region ranging from economic development to criminal justice.bob-evans-headshot

On Tuesday, January 10, current LC17 candidate Bob Evans wrote a post detailing his experience during the class’ Economic Development Day:

“Take good notes, because you have to write a blog about this.”

That was my mantra last Tuesday, as our Leadership Columbia class descended on the Amazon facility out in West Columbia. This month’s class day was “Economic Development,” the process by which a community improves the socio-economic quality of life for its citizens.

I came in with a basic understanding, but I left with boundless reasons why the Midlands – and South Carolina – means good business.

Like I said, our day began at the Amazon distribution center – a sprawling, 1.3 million-square-foot facility. We were instructed to leave our cell phones in our cars and I learned we were one of only a handful of groups permitted to tour the building in a given year.

Kind of reminds you of a certain fantastical chocolate factory, right?

No golden ticket necessary.

Our guides led us through every section of their workspace at the brisk pace of 2 steps per second (company policy). Having once worked at a similar center for the Home Shopping Network, I was familiar with the overall workflow, but absolutely blown away by the scope. One employee mentioned that, in a given shift, approximately 400 people might be working in a section, but you might only see one or two. Such is the nature of a job where you’re spread out in a space equal to, like, 15 football fields.

We heard from two thought leaders that morning. Kiosha Boyles, president of Digitize Marketing, spoke about building our brand and claiming our name. “Your personal brand is your professional reputation. Take control of it and ensure it reflects who you are.” This is near and dear to me, since I share my name with a well-known restaurant. It can be hard to be heard among the crowds of content online, but by emphasizing our authenticity and positive traits, she encouraged us to infuse our personality into our professional presence. Next, Ford Graham of the SC Department of Commerce noted that Charleston has the fastest growing major US port, and that South Carolina attracts the second-most international companies to our state. We’re also number one in production of lawn mowers – did you know that the Husqvarna Group’s SC workforce is 80% female?

Who run the world? Girls.

We left the Amazon facility just before noon, and after furiously texting, tweeting, and replying to emails, we reconvened at the downtown offices of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. to continue our discussions of economic development in the Midlands.

Our class heard from impactful people throughout the day, each of them making the case for business growth in South Carolina, and all of them throwing out more morsels of information than gobstoppers on an assembly line. Mercifully, they were also intelligent, engaging speakers who are passionate about the Midlands, so it was easy to find common ground.

Will Johnson of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, had the distinct pleasure of explaining property taxes, millage rates, SSRCs/FILOTs (‘special source revenue credits’ and ‘fees in lieu of taxes’) and all of the thrilling nuances of the tax code.

After the initial shell shock wore off, I learned a lot: Columbia’s property taxes are high because we have a lot of untaxed land owned by churches, nonprofits, and the government. High rates can be a barrier when encouraging companies to choose the Midlands, but tax incentives allow us to be more competitive.

The rest of the speakers for the day all came back to several key points:

  • SC offers state-funded, comprehensive workforce training for companies that meet certain employment/profit thresholds
  • Columbia is good for business, though our current incentives are geared towards manufacturing
  • USC is doing its part to draw the technology industry through its incubator and key partnerships with IBM and Boeing
  • Economic development is a team sport, and there are lots of groups who need to work together to attract business

We as individuals can help by pushing to repair and maintain our infrastructure, by presenting a unified, positive voice for the Midlands, and realizing that though growth is slow, we need to be prepared for it. Columbia is one of the most connected cities in the Southeast in terms of interstate access; we can capitalize on that.

For my classmates in Leadership Columbia, I’d like to challenge us to use everything we’ve learned about the Midlands so far – education, arts and culture, political systems – and everything we will learn to make an effective case for the culture and community that we have here. It’s up to us to make connections. Our class project is rooted in the idea that Columbia is stronger together through any adversity. Let’s do everything we can to make our city succeed.

And I definitely have a newfound appreciation for online shopping.

Bob Evans, Leadership Columbia Class of 2017

January 2017 Partner of the Month: Nilson Van & Storage

When Nilson Van and Storage opened over 75 years ago, they wanted to provide clients with superb, professional moving services to help relieve the stress of relocating. Their commitment to quality customer service has helped them grow to eight locations, over 140 employees, and countless satisfied clients.nilson-logo

Back in 1938, members of the Nilson family began in South Carolina with two trucks and $500 of startup money. Through focusing on quality customer service and from the dedicated hard work of their employees over the years, they have expanded their reach quite a bit since then. They are thankful to have extended the Nilson “family” throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and even, the world. They remain true to the core values that led them to success, and continue to offer the same high quality service as they did on day one.

On the ten-year anniversary of their Partnership with the Columbia Chamber, they are being recognized for their support and participation over the years. They have played in the Chamber’s Annual Golf Tournament each year and sponsored the event many times. The Nilson staff has joined us at countless Coffee Connections and Partner Engagement events to network and build connections with other Chamber Partners. They also participated in SchmoozaPalooza, the Chamber’s annual B2B networking expo.

Nilson Van specializes in moving, whether it’s for individuals, businesses, or members of the military, and continue to build on their years of experience. So, whatever the move and however far, they will treat you right and get the best job done.

For every step of the moving process, count on their team of friendly experts to help you achieve a smooth transition. If you need assistance packing, moving, or storing your possessions, they have programs and professionals in place ready to go to work for you.

You can expect an excellent experience when working with them, whether you’re planning a residential or commercial move. The trained professional movers at Nilson Van, accurate price quotes, and extensive resources allow them to better serve clients and their unique needs.

No matter what type of move you’re making or where you’re going, their network of moving professionals is committed to helping you every step of the way.

The Columbia Chamber is honored to present Nilson Van and Storage as the January 2017 Partner of the Month.

To learn more about Nilson Van and Storage, visit their website.

For more information about the Columbia Chamber Partner of the Month, or to nominate a current Chamber Partner, please visit our website.

LC17: Education Day

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017 is a group of 58 emerging and existing leaders in the region, who are dedicated to bettering themselves and their community. The 10-month skills-building program provides an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness, while challenging the candidates to step out of their comfort zones and become involved in Columbia.

The Leadership Columbia Advisory Board, an alumni-based committee, organizes nine full-day class days, an orientation and a two-day retreat for the class. These class days focus on timely topics in our region ranging from economic development to criminal justice.

On Tuesday, December 13, the LC17 class had Education Day, below is a post by current candidate, Stephanie Frazier:

“Practice active listening. That was my self-imposed assignment as I entered the doors of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority House on USC’s campus on December 13. It was Education Day for Leadership Columbia, and I was committed to digesting the thoughts and opinions of my classmates and presenters. As a higher education stephanie-fraizeradministrator, conversations about college readiness, access and equity, advisement, teacher training, and accountability are far from foreign. Still, it is always exciting to learn from and listen to others outside of the microcosm that I navigate daily. I applied to Leadership Columbia in an effort to expand my professional network and explore the many changes taking place in my hometown. More importantly, I am seeking additional ways to proactively connect higher education with business and industry. Every class session has introduced new partnership opportunities, prompted self-reflection, and offered substantive information on initiatives taking place across the Midlands. Education Day was no exception.

The Superintendent for the SC Public Charter School District spoke zealously about closing achievement gaps among SC students and placing emphasis on college as an access point to networks and power. In order to cultivate college-ready students, teachers must embrace innovation, demand high expectations, and adopt the belief that each student has an inherent ability to be great. I believe that this is a solid framework for success, conceptually. Yet, presentations throughout the day highlighted challenges that threaten this framework inside and outside of the classroom. The Deans of Education at USC and Benedict talked extensively about teacher preparation programs, as well as the continuous shortage of teachers, and the need for teachers to do more with less.

Despite the challenges presented, I remember that even the thinnest pancake has two sides. There are, indeed, some wonderful educators across the Midlands who would seemingly do their jobs without pay. This was evident by the presentation from the SC Teacher of the Year. Her presence was a reminder of that sometimes you must leave your environment in order to more effectively enact change. We certainly need teachers like Jennifer Wise in the classroom on a daily basis. However, voices like hers are critical to discussions about policy development, research, and funding. Even simpler, voices like hers are critical to informing novices about education in general. Amidst animated stories about her students, blackberries, fractals, and mutual exclusiveness, Mrs. Wise provided our class with information about many pertinent initiatives including Teacher Cadet, Read to Succeed, and the Francis Marion University Center on Poverty.

Also critical is the importance of educational partnerships, particularly as we prepare students to be successful after high school graduation. The Executive Director of Housing at USC affirmed the need for collaboration if we want to efficiently meet the needs of today’s students. In my opinion, that includes creating stronger educational pathways for students – from high school to two-year, to four-year. My heart skipped a beat when one of the guidance counselor panelists indicated that the majority of her students started their postsecondary careers at Midlands Technical College. [Steps on soap box] Across our 16 technical colleges, we educate nearly 60% of all undergraduate students in South Carolina. Approximately 11,000 K-12 students took at least one dual enrollment course during this past academic year. Furthermore, we have hundreds of youth apprentices at businesses across the Midlands and state. Transfer agreements exist with many institutions including USC, Clemson, Benedict, Claflin, Columbia College, and the Medical University of South Carolina. I could go on, but, I’ll stop there [Steps off soap box]. My point is that there is great work being done to make higher education accessible and affordable for our students. My heart belongs to the SC Technical College System, but I’ve learned that there’s room at the table for everyone.

In essence, Education Day presented fruitful discussion about this multi-faceted concept called education. The class left with many questions, and a better understanding of some of the challenges facing educators at all levels. We also left assured that there are a lot of good things happening in our state, and across the Midlands. As an educator, I took this as a challenge to continue practicing active listening and to lessen the disconnect among all stakeholders. I suspect that my classmates took this as an opportunity to become even more inquisitive – to explore avenues for learning and public involvement through school improvement councils and school boards, or volunteering with educational organization. Kudos to the planning committee on a job well done.

Final Grade: “A” :)”

Stephanie Frazier, Leadership Columbia Class of 2017

December 2016 Partner of the Month: Salvation Army of the Midlands

Partners of the Columbia Chamber since 2011, The Salvation Army established a corps in Columbia, SC, in 1906 and has been serving people living in extreme poverty in the Midlands for more than 100 years. The Salvation Army, an international movement, works to ensure that human needs are met without discrimination.

Social Services programs provided by The Salvation Army focus on those living in the most extreme poverty in the Midlands. They work daily with those who are homeless and offer several homeless prevention initiatives. From serving daily meals to providing Christmas toys to families in need, The Salvation Army reaches out to those in our community who need assistance.


The Salvation Army was a first responder during last year’s historic flooding and continues to be a key part of the recovery and restoration of the Midlands. Initially, officers, staff, and volunteers served 55,788 hot meals and 51,663 cold drinks to people all across devastated areas. They prayed with people who lost nearly everything. They provided clean up kits and other resources to aid in efforts to rebuild lives. And perhaps most importantly, they instilled hope and let people know that they were not alone. The response began locally, but Salvation Army units from outside the Midlands area quickly arrived on the scene to assist in the relief efforts.

This July, The Salvation Army of the Midlands provided a free summer camping experience to 52 local children, ages 6-12, at Camp Walter Johnson in Denton, North Carolina. The children attended the 5-day program developed to be a positive environment for children to grow, learn and be encouraged while striving to meet spiritual, social, recreational and educational needs. Since 1974, Camp Walter Johnson has impacted the lives of over 55,000 children throughout North and South Carolina.

The Leveraging Literacy Free Afterschool Reading Program recently wrapped up for the year with an exciting ceremony at The Salvation Army where 25 students received certificates of completion, books from Richland Library, and sneakers from Innersole. The program meets every weekday when school is in session with a focus on vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension to increase student success.

This year, The Salvation Army of the Midlands…

  • Helped serve 217,836 meals to the homeless
  • Helped 3,102 families receive emergency basic needs assistance including rent, utility, water, food boxes
  • Helped issue 953 clothing vouchers
  • Helped distribute 1,905 hygiene kits
  • Helped 3,833 children receive new gifts for Christmas
  • Helped 1,724 families receive Christmas assistance
  • Helped distribute 1,724 boxes of food to families at Christmas
  • Helped 232 children receive new, well-fitting clothes, shoes, and school supplies through the Clothes for Kids program
  • Helped 593 children and youth enjoy Salvation Army camp

Major Roger Coulson, an officer of the Salvation Army, is a regular attendee of the Chamber’s Issues Committee meetings, and a long-time proponent of a thriving Midlands. The Columbia Chamber would like to take the time to thank the staff and volunteers of The Salvation Army of the Midlands for their continued support of our community.

The Columbia Chamber is honored to present The Salvation Army of the Midlands as the December 2016 Partner of the Month.

To learn more about The Salvation Army of the Midlands, visit their website.

For more information about the Columbia Chamber Partner of the Month, or to nominate a current Chamber Partner, please visit our website.