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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Grand Opening

Apr 19, 2024 08:59AM ● By Donna Walker

United Community Holds New Bank Headquarters Ribbon Cutting

(Photo courtesy of United Community)


United Community Chairman and CEO Lynn Harton and Gov. Henry McMaster joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, April 18, 2024, marking the culmination of a signification milestone: completion of the new 118,000-square-foot United Community headquarters, a $65 million investment in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.


The seven-story space will house more than 300 bank employees, be one of the first in the state to adhere to the WELL Building Standard and include a state-of-the-art branch location.


Scores of local business people and guests attended the ceremony, including Greenville Mayor Knox White and former South Carolina Speaker David Wilkins, who later became U.S. ambassador to Canada and is a director at United Community.   


Harton said that as the bank has grown throughout the Southeast, “we needed to bring banking talent in,” and South Carolina and Greenville, in particular, are “a great place to attract people.”


The corporate office for United Community Banks, Inc. (NASDAQ: UCBI), the financial holding company for United Community, remains in Blairsville, Georgia.


“It’s a big deal,” McMaster said of the new bank headquarters. “It’s another sign of the growth and the confidence that companies have in South Carolina.”

Master Steel, LLC Expanding Jasper County Operations

 Master Steel, LLC, a structural steel fabrication and erection company, said it is expanding its operations in Jasper County.


The company’s $10 million investment will create 14 jobs, according to Gov. Henry McMaster’s office.


With over 15 years in business, Master Steel specializes in structural and miscellaneous steel fabrication. The company’s projects range from erecting large facilities to installing steel stairs in residential homes.

The two-phased expansion includes a new fabrication shop, a 10-ton outside girder crane and new robotic machinery at the company’s facility located at 9769 Speedway Blvd. in Hardeeville.

Operations are already online. Those interested in joining Master Steel should go to the company’s website.

The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development awarded a $50,000 Set-Aside grant to Jasper County to assist with the costs of real property improvements.

OneSpartanburg, Truist Financial Partner to Offer Truist Leadership Institute Emerging Leaders Certification Program to High-Schoolers

OneSpartanburg, Inc. and Truist Financial Corporation have partnered to offer the first-of-its-kind Truist Leadership Institute Emerging Leaders Certification program to local high school students.


The first cohort to earn the certification was at Viking Early College, a partnership between Spartanburg School District 7 and Spartanburg Community College.


Truist Leadership Institute also offers its Emerging Leaders Certification to college students across the region, and the program will come to Spartanburg County in the fall of 2024.


"We are providing opportunities for both high school and college students to get a certification that is attractive to employers as they're looking for internships or to start careers," said Taylor Dement, director of Talent Solutions at OneSpartanburg, Inc.


Truist Leadership Institute Emerging Leader Certification (ELC) for high school students is rooted in psychology and focuses on foundational self-awareness needed to grow leadership capabilities.


The program allows students to explore their strengths, opportunities, and behaviors as they begin to shape their leadership journey.


Truist Leadership Institute is proud to partner with OneSpartanburg, Inc. to provide leadership development programming for high-school and undergrad/graduate students. Our purpose is to inspire and build better lives and communities through leadership development,” said Madison Hester, Truist Leadership Institute Senior Leadership Development instructor.


Hester added, “As we believe that who you are is a reflection of how you lead, our immersive programming creates a unique experience for each student. These high-potential students develop an understanding of their strengths and opportunities, enhance their leadership capacities, and define who they want to be as leaders.”


Upon completion of the ELC program, students earn a Truist-authorized certification for their resumes and LinkedIn profiles; a high-value add for anyone looking to differentiate themselves, according to Dement.


In all, the ELC program for high-schoolers totals three hours of content, meaning it can be integrated into existing programs like Junior Leadership Spartanburg, Dement said.

Turning Pages SC Honors Jerry Bellune with Lifetime Member Award for 25 Years of Literacy Work

Turning Pages SC, a nonprofit literacy council that teaches adults to read for free, honored Jerry Bellune's quarter-century commitment to literacy in central South Carolina. 


Officials said the Lifetime Member Award, the council's highest honor, reflects the culmination of Bellune's lifelong contribution to the publishing world, steadfast dedication to adult literacy, and unwavering investment in the organization itself.


The recognition, last awarded in 2004 to former board chair Bruce Donatelli of Lexington, underscores Bellune's lasting legacy, the officials said.


Reflecting on his journey, Bellune, 88, said, "As a newspaper publisher, I once gave very little thought to adult illiteracy. That is, until I learned that a hard-working colleague could not read. He was afraid he would be fired once we knew. But we looked for a group to help him. That's how I found Turning Pages. I was sad to realize adults who can't read have to get their news on radio and TV. They could not get it from us, even though we published a great educational tool."


A nationally recognized journalist and published author who founded the Lexington County Chronicle in 1992, Bellune has been a champion of Turning Pages SC since it was known as the Greater Columbia Literacy Council.


Officials said his work as a volunteer, board member, event planner, and fundraiser the past two and a half decades have been instrumental in advancing the group's literacy initiatives.


Lisa Cole, executive director of Turning Pages SC, expressed heartfelt appreciation for Bellune's involvement, stating, "Jerry's passion for literacy is truly inspiring. His wisdom, encouragement, and unwavering support have been invaluable to our organization and to me personally."

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