Chamber Chat | May 8

Potential infrastructure plan
On Thursday, after failing to set an infrastructure funding bill for debate last week, 18 senators stood together, during a press conference led by Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (Cherokee) to release their proposal. The Columbia Chamber is pleased with the plan and the leadership from the Senate. Please contact your Senator and ask them to support infrastructure reform.  You can find more information on the S.C. Chamber of Commerce’s website.

Celebrating Small Business
This week, the Chamber, the City, and the County hosted Small Business Week. Hundreds of small businesses across the greater Columbia area came out to learn important keys to creating and sustaining a successful small business. As this week comes to a close we at the Chamber want to thank our small business partners and look forward to our continued relationships.

Congratulations to Brookdale Columbia on their ribbon cutting Tuesday! Check out their new facility on Springtree Drive.

LCAA Leadership Summit
Join the Leadership Columbia Alumni Association (LCAA) at its 18th Annual Leadership Summit featuring luncheon keynote speaker Governor Nikki Haley.  Presented by Adams and Reese LLP, this half-day conference will feature informative and interactive panel discussions.  You can find more information here.

Golf Tournament was a “Hole in One!”
Thursday, the Columbia Chamber and over 200 partners gathered at Fort Jackson Golf Course to celebrate #30YearsofGolf. It was a beautiful day and a good time had by all…even those who came in came in “Dead Ass Last!”

Leadership Columbia Applications Due Friday!
Are you one of Columbia’s up-and-coming leaders?  Then apply for the Leadership Columbia Class of 2016! Leadership Columbia offers emerging and existing community leaders a unique opportunity to be part of a group that is moving Columbia forward. The application deadline is Friday, May 15. Don’t wait until the last minute. Apply today!

Know any outstanding community leaders?
Nominations are now open for the Military Advocate, Small & Minority Business Advocate and the Young Professional of the Year. This awards will be giving out at the 113th Annual Gala, set for September 24.  Apply now!

Midlands Gives
On Tuesday, May 5, COR  participated in the second annual Midlands Gives, a 24-hour online giving presented by the Central Carolina Community Foundation. Thanks to everyone’s contributions, the organization was able to raise over $10,000!

Save the Date:

5/12 IT Council Luncheon | 5/12 LCAA 18th Annual Leadership Summit

Midday Connections | EngenuitySC’s Meghan Hughes

Midday ConnectionsThe Columbia Chamber is excited to announce our next Midday Connections event. The keynote speaker will be Meghan Hughes, Executive Director of EngenuitySC. This event will take place at Stone River on November 20, 2014 at 11:30 AM.

MeghanHughes_071414_0197_0Meghan Hughes will discuss the results of EngenuitySC’s newly released 2014 Competitiveness Report, the economic future of the Midlands and the role innovation will play in moving our region forward. The 2014 Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report was published in October 2014 and measures the Columbia MSA’s success on the five key indicators of a competitive community: talent, entrepreneurial and business environment, innovation, industry clusters and livability.

Released in October 2014, the 2014 Competitiveness Report has already garnered much attention, including articles from The State (“Report ranks Columbia’s competitiveness” Oct. 22, 2014)  and Cola Daily (“EngenuitySC report: Midlands poised to be ‘economically competitive’ in Southeast” Oct. 27, 2014).

Formerly called Business@Midday, Midday Connections provide partners of the Columbia Chamber the opportunity to dine with fellow partners in an informal setting and hear from timely and relevant speakers. Midday Connection is a fun and rewarding way to meet people from different industries and highlight your business.

This event is open to the public. Please register here:

Event address:
Stone River
121 Alexander Rd.
West Columbia, SC 29169
Time: 11:30 AM – 1 PM

2014 Palmetto Pillar Awards

PPA-2014-LogoThe IT Council, a program of the Columbia Chamber, is pleased to announce the winners and finalists for its 2014 Palmetto Pillar Awards. The nominees were recognized at an Aug. 21 awards banquet at the Columbia Marriott. The banquet was presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

The Palmetto Pillar Awards program, started in 1998, praises the area’s top leaders in technology innovation.  The annual awards banquet and reception continue the collaboration of the Columbia Chamber, IT Council and IT-oLogy as they increase IT presence throughout the Columbia Region.

2014 Palmetto Pillar Awards recipients:

Sponsored by Adams & Reese
Donna Teuber | Richland County School District 2

Sponsored by Palmetto GBA
Brenda Oliver | City of Columbia 

Sponsored by Willoughby & Hoefer
JJ Shepherd

Sponsored by Colonial Life
Palmetto GBA | Scott Burkholder

Sponsored by Internetwork Engineering, Cisco & EMC
Palmetto GBA


About the IT Council
The IT Council is a partnership-based advocacy IT organization in the greater Columbia region. In that capacity, we reach out to, acknowledge and embrace all who are involved in the IT community. Our programs are designed to create awareness, to provide professional development and networking opportunities and to recognize the achievement of those in the IT community.

Leadership Columbia Celebrates Class of 2014 Graduation

LC14 GraduationOn June 10, the Chamber honored the Leadership Columbia Class of 2013-2014 during a banquet and graduation ceremony held at the Palmetto Club.  The ceremony marked the culmination of a 10 month journey for the Leadership Columbia graduates.  In addition to participating in monthly class days that focused on topics ranging from economic development to education, the graduates dedicated their time, talent, and resources to the completion of their class project at The Hearth Center for Eating Disorders (“The Hearth”). Over a four month period, the class renovated a 2 bedroom/1 bathroom cottage and planted a healing garden on the grounds of The Hearth. The 58 class members contributed over 1,100 volunteer hours and secured in-kind donations valued at over $100,000 from generous community partners.

In his keynote address, Chamber President & CEO Carl Blackstone challenged the Leadership Columbia graduates to leave their community even better than they found it.  LC Advisory Board Chair Brooke Bailey and Chair-Elect Nick Haigler presented each class member with a graduation certificate and a pin to commemorate their induction into the Extraordinary Leaders of the Midlands (“ELM”) Society.  Membership in the ELM Society is an honor bestowed only upon graduates of Leadership Columbia.

To conclude the program, the graduates added a little levity to the ceremony by awarding over 20 superlatives to their fellow classmates.  The superlative categories included “Best Hair,” “Best, Laugh,” “Most Likely to Appear in a Reality TV Show,” and “Most Likely to Run for Political Office.”  From the cheers and laughter of the graduates, it was apparent that each had a truly unforgettable Leadership Columbia experience.

To view photos from the Graduation, check out Facebook.

Former Gamecock to Throw First Pitch on Chamber Military Appreciation Night

gilmoreFormer Gamecock, Stephon Gilmore, will be throwing the first pitch at the Blowfish game on Saturday night. There will also be a Fan Appreciation Signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Gilmore will be signing Gamecock and Buffalo Bills memorabilia located at 228 Knox Abbott Dr, Cayce, SC 29033.

The Columbia Blowfish vs. Forest City Owls game will be paying tribute to Ike McLeese, our friend, leader, baseball enthusiast, community and military advocate. The game will also be saluting our soldiers for their service protecting our freedom.

5:00 PM | Troops Arrive
6:00 PM | Public Gates Open
6:10 PM | “Play Catch”
6:50 PM | Color Guard
7:00 PM | Ceremonial First Pitch
7:05 PM | Game Time
Post Game Fireworks (sponsored by: Wells Fargo)

Free admission to all military ID holders
general admission: $6

239th Birthday Salute to the Army

US Army Recruits Oath on Enlistment
Military Hero Recognition
Cutting to the Military Birthday Cake
Music by Eric Horner
For more information, click here.

Small Business Week Press Conference Agenda | May 13

SBW-FB-BannerGreater Columbia Chamber of Commerce
National Small Business Week
Tuesday | May 13, 2014 | 2:00 P.M.

Lee Catoe, VP Community Affairs/Special Assistant to the CEO, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce (GCCC)
Introduction of Regional Vice President, TD Bank (presenting sponsor)

Karen S. Smith, Regional Vice President for the Midlands, TD Bank

Introduction of GCCC President/CEO
Lee Catoe, GCCC

Carl Blackstone, President/CEO GCCC
Introduction of the GCCC Board of Directors Chairman

The Importance of Small Business
Holt Chetwood, Chairman, Board of Directors, GCCC

Presentation of Proclamation
Mayor Steve Benjamin, City of Columbia

Introduction of Small and Minority Business Advisory Council
Lee Catoe, GCCC

Tom Felder, Chairman, Small & Minority Business Advisory Council

Norman Jackson, Chairman, Richland County Council

Recognition/Closing Remarks
Lee Catoe, GCCC


Issues Committee Meeting Agenda | May 6

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Palmetto Room, Chamber of Commerce
930 Richland Street, Columbia, 29202

Welcome & Introductions:
Ted Creech
Director – External Affairs, AT&T South Carolina
Chairman, Chamber Issues Committee

SC Legislative Agenda Update:
Katie Schanz, Legislative Counsel, SC Chamber of Commerce

Transportation Penny Update:
Rob Perry, Director, Transportation Penny, Richland County

Downtown Update:
Matt Kennell, President & CEO, City Center Partnership
Eli Ott, Director of Operations, City Center Partnership

Discussion and Adjourn:
Ted Creech

For information about the meeting, check out:
Richland County Transportation Penny
City Center Partnership

Chamber Hosts Celebration of Columbia’s Newest Leaders

Cola Comes Together 078With new executives heading up a range of important organizations, there’s a changing of the guard throughout the Columbia region. The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce honored nine of the new leaders last night.

The event, emceed by Tyler Ryan, WACH Fox, included remarks by Mayor Steve Benjamin and Holt Chetwood, Columbia Chamber.

The Chamber introduced the following:

  • Allison Aldridge | General Manager, WACH Fox
  • Carl Blackstone | Pres/CEO, Columbia Chamber
  • Sara Borton | Publisher, The State
  • Bill Ellen | Pres/CEO, Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports Tourism
  • General Brad Becker | Commanding General, Fort Jackson
  • Command Sergeant Major John Hain | Fort Jackson
  • Colonel Dan Beatty | Chief of Staff, Fort Jackson
  • Chief Skip Holbrook | Chief of Police, Columbia Police Dept
  • Meghan Hughes | Executive Director, EngenuitySC

Entertainment for the event included Johnathan Jones, Saxophonist/ Musician.

“I am honored to lead the Greater Columbia Chamber and represent the voice of business in our community. Columbia has a rich history and a vibrant future. Working together we have an incredible opportunity to build on our foundation while continuing to keep job creation, economic development and regional cooperation top-of-mind. I am excited to work with local leaders as we continue to achieve world class status.”
-Carl Blackstone | Columbia Chamber

Check out our Facebook to view photos from the event, click here!

Education Rocks Honors South Carolina Teachers of the Year

ed rocks panoramaThe Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce is pleased to honor the Teachers of the Year from 11 South Carolina school districts. The award winners were recognized at a March 6 banquet at the Columbia Conference Center called Education Rocks! The banquet was presented by Midlands Education and Business Alliance (MEBA) and Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union.

For a full list of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Award winners, click here.

Each spring the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce partners with the Midlands Education and Business Alliance (MEBA) to host the annual Education Rocks! event recognizing the Teachers of the Year from 11 South Carolina school districts. The Midlands Business and Education Alliance works to connect students, parents, educators and employers to education and career opportunities in the Midlands.

If you’d like to learn more about Education Rocks! click here.

To become a member or to learn more about the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, visit

Connect with us on Facebook and  Twitter.

SchmoozaPalooza! Recap

schmooza 047On February 20th the Chamber hosted its first ever SchmoozaPalooza! A business networking expo. SC State Fair hosted the event in their Moore Building and served as one of the event’s major sponsors. Additional sponsors included BlueCross BlueShield of SC, Dupre Catering & Events, and NBSC.  Over 90 businesses and organizations served as vendors and were represented at the event. SchmoozaPalooza was open to the public and we had close to 100 people come browse vendor tables, collect swag, and enjoy cocktails & hors d’oeuvres. Tyler Ryan of WACH FOX served as emcee for the event and gave away door prizes from participating companies including gift cards, wine, and coolers. Combined with Business After Hours, the event was a great success and we loved seeing our members networking and growing their businesses. schmooza 124

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