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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Growth and Diversification

Jan 11, 2024 09:59AM ● By Donna Walker

Pacolet Milliken Acquires Piedmont Green Power to Grow its Sustainable Power, Infrastructure Portfolio

Greenville, South Carolina-based Pacolet Milliken, LLC, a sustainability-focused, family-owned investment firm, said it has acquired 100 percent of Piedmont Green Power from an affiliate of Atlantic Power & Utilities. 


Piedmont is a 55 MW biomass-fired power plant located in Barnesville, Georgia. 


Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed. Financing was provided by Manulife through its corporate finance team.


Piedmont utilizes approximately 600,000 tons of woody biomass feedstock annually, 100 percent of which is wood waste. Piedmont qualifies as a source of renewable power under federal and state standards and sells renewable energy credits on the open market. 


Piedmont achieved commercial operations in 2013 and sells power to Georgia Power under a long-term power purchase agreement.


"This transaction represents a major milestone in continuing the growth and diversification of Pacolet's Power & Infrastructure portfolio and meets both our financial and ESG goals. Piedmont will be an anchor, long-term asset and we look forward to working with our new employees, partners, and local regulatory authorities to continue Piedmont's success in the city of Barnesville and the state of Georgia," said William Crawford, Pacolet’s CEO.


Crawford added, "We believe that Piedmont is a market-leading biomass power plant in terms of safety, sustainability and operating efficiency, and we expect to maintain that reputation."


Pacolet is a family-owned investment firm that owns and manages a diverse set of power and infrastructure and real estate assets located across the United States.

Small Business Optimism Picks Up in December

Economic resilience appears to have improved small business optimism at the end of 2023, according to Wells Fargo economists.


They said the NFIB small business optimism index rose 1.3 points to 91.9 in December, tying with July for the highest reading of the year.


Improving credit conditions and sales outlooks were the main drivers of December’s relatively rosy print, while labor and inflation continued to weigh on overall optimism.


Economists Charlie Dougherty and Jackie Benson and economic analyst Patrick Barley said inflation overtook labor quality as the single most important problem facing small businesses in December.


That said, December's survey suggested some marginal improvement in price pressures.


Although there was no change in the prevalence of realized price hikes, the net percent of small business owners planning to raise prices dipped two points to 32 percent.


The economists also said:


* Improving credit conditions helped to boost sentiment in December. Small business owners reported the lowest prevalence of rising interest rates since July 2022 alongside slightly easier access to credit.


* As economic activity remains resilient, brightening sales outlooks also amplified optimism. Despite a negative reading, sales expectations improved significantly in December and recorded its best print since January 2022.


* Although hiring remains a challenge, labor quality retreated to the second most pressing problem for small businesses as the job market finds better balance. In December, this normalization stemmed from downward trending labor demand as opposed to improving labor supply.


* The net percent of owners planning to add payrolls dropped two points to 16 percent, continuing the stalling trend in labor demand that was pervasive in the last six months of 2023. At the same time, 40 percent of small business owners reported difficulty filling their job openings, a reading that remains elevated above pre-pandemic normals.


* The net percent of firms raising compensation continues to move sideways as labor demand comes off the boil, remaining unchanged at 36 percent for the last five months. Plans to raise compensation remained elevated but dipped slightly in December to 29 percent on net.

Capital Concrete Co. Grows SC footprint With New Operation in Fairfield County

 Capital Concrete Co., a construction materials supplier, announced it is growing its South Carolina footprint with a new operation in Fairfield County.


The company’s $8.25 million investment will create 17 jobs, according to Gov. Henry McMaster’s office.


Founded in 2006, Capital Concrete Co. has four existing South Carolina locations providing ready-mix concrete products for all project types. 


The new plant, at 355 Commerce Blvd. in Ridgeway, will be the company’s fifth location, giving it closer proximity to customers in Fairfield County.


Operations will be online in the third quarter of 2024.


Those interested in joining the Capital Concrete Co. team should go to the company’s careers page.

Former Lieutenant Governor André Bauer Joins Broadstreet as Senior Advisor

 Broadstreet, Inc., a Greenville, South Carolina-based private equity firm, added former lieutenant governor and state of South Carolina legislator, André Bauer, as senior advisor to its team.


Officials said that in this role, Bauer will leverage his multifaceted background to assist Broadstreet in expanding its presence in the Carolinas, including with the assistance of developing, planning and expanding large real estate projects that Broadstreet is pursuing.


"We are thrilled to welcome André to the Broadstreet team," said Joseph Baldassarra, Broadstreet’s president. "As we continue to expand our investment portfolio, his insights and expertise will be instrumental in driving our success."


A native South Carolinian, Bauer was lieutenant governor from 2003 to 2011, becoming the nation's youngest independently elected statewide lieutenant governor.


In that capacity, he presided over the S.C. Senate and ruled out of order on more than $2 billion in tax increases.


Additionally, Bauer was a state senator for District 18 from 1999 to 2003 and a state representative for District 87 from 1996 to 1999.


Through those elected capacities, he has traveled to more than 30 countries, meeting with leaders around the world to promote business and trade in South Carolina.


He also served as a CNN political correspondent, providing commentary on national and state politics.


"I'm excited to join Broadstreet," said Bauer. "I look forward to working closely with the great team they have assembled to source impactful deals and provide counsel that drives Broadstreet's continued growth."


Beyond his political career, Bauer has been an influential figure in real estate development since 1989.


He founded Bunk Aviation, LLC, a company specializing in restoring historic Charleston homes while preserving their original integrity. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.


Broadstreet has achieved approximately $3 billion in transactions and more than 600 people are employed in the businesses in which Broadstreet is the lead equity provider.


Broadstreet also is the equity provider for the largest land infrastructure developer in the Carolinas with more than 40 projects that cover an anticipated 30,000 home sites to be delivered throughout North and South Carolina.


The firm's significant development business has allowed expansion to ancillary real-estate based opportunities that include home development, land banking, and hotel/lodging. 

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