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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: A Governmental Change

Jul 02, 2024 09:01AM ● By Donna Walker

(Photo by 123RF)

South Carolina Department of Agriculture Now in Charge of Restaurant Inspections, Milk Safety, More Duties

As of July 1, 2024, many food safety duties that were part of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are now handled by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA).


The change is a result of legislation passed in May 2023 that eliminated DHEC and divided its programs among existing and new agencies.


The new Retail Food Safety department regulates restaurant kitchens, grocery store delis, caterers, school cafeterias, some convenience stores, and certain other establishments that prepare food for on-site consumption.


Milk Safety regulates fluid milk and grade “A” milk products such as yogurt.

SCDA’s Laboratory Services department has taken over the Milk Lab and will be responsible for testing fluid milk samples and some milk products.


Businesses that were regulated by the former DHEC Manufactured Foods program – including ice, soft drinks, bottled water, frozen desserts, butter and cheese – are now regulated by SCDA’s existing Food Safety program, which oversees food manufacturing at the wholesale level.


The programs are part of SCDA’s Consumer Protection Division, which regulates many agricultural, food, and consumer-related services in South Carolina, including weights and measuring devices (including fuel pumps and grocery scales), animal and pet food, seeds, and produce farming.


Consumers will soon begin to see new SCDA-branded letter grade decals on Retail Food Establishment windows. The public can access the SC Food Grades system through the SCDA website or using the QR code on the decal to read inspection reports and view letter grades for Retail Food Establishments. 


While retail food safety officers will be based in the regions where they work, all administration has been centralized at SCDA’s State Farmers Market Campus.

DHEC’s regional offices will no longer be accepting payments or providing services relating to Retail Food Safety.


Go to SCDA’s website,, for further resources and information.


On July 1, 2024, DHEC became two separate agencies — the South Carolina Department of Environmental Services (SCDES) and the South Carolina Department of Public Health (DPH).

Clemson Trustees Approve Fifth Consecutive In-State Tuition Freeze For 2024-2025

Clemson University’s Board of Trustees met June 27, 2024, to approve recommendations from the administration on tuition and fees for the 2024-2025 academic year and for the fifth consecutive year, will freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates.


“On behalf of the entire Board, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Governor Henry McMaster and the entire South Carolina General Assembly for their incredible commitment to Clemson University,” said Board Chair Kim Wilkerson.


Wilkerson added, “Their continued commitment allows us to help meet the needs of our students, continue meeting the vision of our founder, Thomas Green Clemson, and look toward the future as we elevate Clemson University to new heights.”


The Board also approved a 3.5 percent increase in out-of-state tuition, only the second increase for non-resident students in the past five years. Over the same period, the consumer price index has increased 23 percent and the higher education price index has risen by 16 percent.


“Through approving tuition rates for the next academic year, our Board continues to demonstrate their dedication to keeping a Clemson education affordable for our students,” said Clemson University President Jim Clements.


He added, “We are also incredibly thankful for the continued support of Governor McMaster and the General Assembly, as their investment into our University allows us to continue fulfilling our land-grant mission and to make a significant difference across the state of South Carolina and beyond.”


The Board also approved housing and dining rates posted in January. These fees are adjusted annually to cover costs associated with inflation, to increase services and to fund planned repairs and renovations.


Key Information

* Clemson remains committed to affordability and a strong return on investment for students.

* 99 percent of first-time, in-state students receive state scholarships.

* 76 percent of undergraduate students receive some type of financial assistance, including state, federal and University awards.

* 82 percent of entering first-year students received some type of financial aid in 2022-2023.

* Named a Best Value College by U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, Money, Best Value Schools and Niche. 

* A majority of Clemson’s graduates (54 percent) have no debt compared to the state (40 percent) and national (48 percent) averages.

* This marks the fifth consecutive year Clemson has frozen tuition for in-state students.

* The support of the General Assembly through increased tuition mitigation funding has allowed Clemson to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for 2024-2025.

Karen Riordan Resigns As Myrtle Beach Chamber President, CEO  

Karen Riordan, who has served the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB since 2018, has decided to step down to pursue new opportunities and spend more time with her family effective June 28, 2024, Chamber officials announced.


Said Riordan: “It has been a great honor to serve as President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and CVB. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together and grateful for the support of our members, staff, board and community."


Riordan added, "While I look forward to new challenges ahead, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and CVB will always hold a special place in my heart.”


Said John Rutenberg, chair of the Chamber board of directors: “Karen’s vision for our chamber, CVB and community have been transformative for the Grand Strand’s business community by continuing to foster the area as a thriving destination. We are thankful for her service, and we wish her the very best in any of her future endeavors.”


Chamber officials said that during her tenure, Riordan has been instrumental in the local business environment, including economic growth and promoting Myrtle Beach as a premier destination for tourism.


That includes, the officials said, leading the Chamber and CVB through milestones such as launching community enhancement efforts like the Partnership Grand Strand foundation and Keep Myrtle Beach Beautiful, rebranding the Chamber and Visit Myrtle Beach highlighted by the successful “You Belong at the Beach” campaign, and participating in notable events such as the Myrtle Beach Bowl and the PGA TOUR’s Myrtle Beach Classic.


The Chamber’s board of directors will soon begin the search for a new president and CEO.


Interim leadership plans will be announced in the coming days to ensure a smooth transition, Chamber officials said.

Energy Efficient Home Improvements Could Help Reduce Energy Bills, Taxes

Homeowners who make improvements like replacing old doors and windows, installing solar panels or upgrading a hot water heater may qualify for home energy tax credits, according to the Internal Revenue Service.


Who can claim the credits
Taxpayers making improvements to their principal, or in some cases, secondary residence may be eligible for these credits. In some cases, renters may also be able to claim specific costs.


Landlords can't use these credits for improvements made to any homes they rent out. See Form 5695 instructions for more information.


According to IRS officials, there are two tax credits to help offset costs of making energy efficient improvements.


Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit
Taxpayers can claim the Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit only for improvements, additions or renovations to an existing home. It doesn't apply to newly constructed homes. Qualifying costs may include:


* Exterior doors, windows, skylights and insulation materials.

* Central air conditioners, water heaters, furnaces, boilers and heat pumps.

* Biomass stoves and boilers.

* Home energy audits.


The amount of the credit taxpayers can take is a percentage of the total improvement expenses in the year of installation:

* 2023 through 2032: 30 percent, up to a maximum of $1,200 annually.

* Biomass stoves and boilers have a separate annual credit limit of $2,000 annually with no lifetime limit.


Residential Clean Energy Credit
IRS officials say taxpayers can also claim the Residential Clean Energy Credit for qualifying costs for either an existing home or a newly constructed home. Qualifying costs may include:

* Solar, wind and geothermal power generation equipment.

* Solar water heaters.

* Fuel cells.

* Battery storage.


The amount of the credit taxpayers can take is a percentage of the total improvement expenses in the year of installation:

* 2022 - 2032: 30 percent, no annual maximum or lifetime limit.

* 2033: 26 percent, no annual maximum or lifetime limit.

* 2034: 22 percent, no annual maximum or lifetime limit.


To claim these credits, taxpayers should file Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, with their tax return.


IRS officials say taxpayers should know what these credits can do for them and be careful of exaggerated claims from companies trying to get their business.

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