Analysis shows Columbians like to walk
Columbia is the second ranking community of its size in the U.S. where residents walk to work, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by Governing Magazine. The survey found that among cities of 100,000 population, some 20.7 percent of Columbia workers under the age of 25 make their way to work on foot. Only Cambridge, Massachusetts, ranks higher with 24.5 percent who walk to work. Both cities are home to major universities which Governing helps boost the totals.
New USC housing, office planned
Holder Properties of Atlanta wants to build a $94.6 million apartment complex and a $25 million office building in the University of South Carolina’s Innovista research campus. USC would lease the land to Holder, which will construct and take most of the profit generated from the project which still needs final City of Columbia and state regulatory approvals. Demand for student housing has grown in recent years. Less than a third of the school’s 24,000 undergraduate students live on campus.
Complaint hotline now on the web
The S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs (consumer.sc.gov) is operating a new online consumer complaint system. Consumers can submit complaints, and businesses can respond to those complaints, both electronically. The system also functions as a public information tool, allowing consumers, media, and other interested parties to search complaints on businesses of interest. The web-based application was built at no cost to taxpayers through a partnership between the agency and South Carolina Interactive, a Columbia-based subsidiary of e-government firm NIC.
Rehab business relocates
Physical Rehabilitation Group (physicalrehabgroup.com) relocated its Columbia office from 1919 Blanding Street downtown to 13 Professional Park Drive in the Northeast Columbia area. The Columbia-based company has eight offices across the state, offering full-service physical rehabilitation clinics specializing in that specializes in chronic pain, general orthopaedic, headache, neck pain, neurological rehabilitation, post-surgical, spine, and sports therapy.
SCE&G opens new downtown office
S.C. Electric & Gas Co. opened a new business office at 1213 Flora Street off Assembly Street near the State Fairgrounds and the Capital City Stadium. The new office will be larger than the utility’s now closed downtown location at 1400 Lady Street Security will remain on site at the Lady Street office to answer questions and provide directions to the new location.
Construction begun on new journalism school
Construction has begun on a new School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. Palmetto Construction Group of Charleston has the contract to renovate the former Health Sciences building at the corner of Greene and Sumter streets. The building will open for the fall semester of 2015.
Realtors say December home sales up
S.C. Realtors reports the number of homes sold in December rose 11 percent compared with December 2012, while for the full year, sales of homes jumped 17.9 percent from 2012. New listings in the state increased 5.5 percent in December to 5,493. Pending sales were up 1.2 percent to 3,486. Inventory levels shrank 4.6 percent to 44,045 units. Prices moved higher, as the median sales price increased 3.5 percent to $163,000.
New insureds poorer, older, more likely female
About 24,000 South Carolinians signed up for plans on the new Health Insurance Marketplace in the first three months, and they were older, poorer, and more likely to be female than the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Federal officials plan to continue outreach efforts to draw in more young people and more males. More young people, who generally are healthier, create an insurance pool that can keep prices lower for insurance companies and premiums lower for customers.
Sonoco dedicates new boilers
Global packaging company Sonoco dedicated the new biomass facility at its Hartsville plant, as part of a $100 million investment in the Darlington County compound. In 2011, Sonoco committed to a $75 million investment to replace two aging, coal-fired boilers and add the new biomass boiler. The new boiler primarily burns woody biomass from regional logging activity but can also run on natural gas.
Animal shelter campaign is a success
The Pets Inc. animal shelter will remain open after an October fundraising campaign produced $117,000 in contributions from 3,000 donors. The campaign brought out 600 new members who contribute at least $10 a month. To become stable, the organization needs another 350 to 400 members. Among Pets Inc. allies are the city of West Columbia, which allowed the shelter to place a notice in December water bills.
Help wanted ads decline
The number of online help wanted ads in South Carolina declined by 900 in December compared with the previous month’s total, according to the Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Data Series. In December, the number of ads totaled 63,800 compared with 64,700 in November, the board reported. However, the total number of ads in December climbed nearly 12 percent over the same month in 2012. The board calculated that in December there were nearly 2.4 unemployed workers for every job opening in the state compared with the national average of 2.11.
Fort Mill losing hundreds of jobs
Citigroup is closing its default mortgage service unit at Fort Mill, which could lead to the loss of up to half of its 850 workers. About 200 workers will be laid off during the first quarter of 2014. The company sold its mortgage servicing rights for about 64,000 Fannie Mae residential mortgage loans, with an outstanding balance of about $10 billion. Plans call for Fort Mill office to close by the end of year.
Teen birth rate at historic low
The number of teenagers giving birth in South Carolina dropped to a historic low the lowest rate in recorded history in 2012, according to new figures from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC said teen birth rate declined 7 percent from 2011 to 2012, representing 36.5 births for every 1,000 girls ages 15-19, which is the highest risk age group. That rate is still the 11th highest in the U.S. Richland and Lexington counties were among the seven counties with lowest numbers of teens giving birth.