Plus, a new bar is coming to Main Street
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Columbia Business 101
State House-9690.jpg
A view down Main Street from the state house steps. | Photo by COLAtoday
More than 460,000 people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Columbia metro area’s $48 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the Capital City’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Columbia Business 101 — your guide to our region’s five key industries and major employers.

Note: When we say Columbia metro area, that refers to the Central SC Region that includes Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Richland counties.

The key industries

Five key industries represent ~55% of the Columbia metro area’s economy, based on data from Central SC. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Health care and social assistance | 14%

Prisma Health Midlands + Lexington Medical Center together employ over 21,000 individuals. The services in these industries are delivered by trained professionals and include establishments providing medical care, health care, and social assistance.

Retail trade | 12%

Under that retail bracket of employers, Wal-mart came out on top, employing almost 6,000 people. Amazon followed, employing over 2,500, and Samsung + UPS, both employing 1300-1400 people.

Manufacturing | 10%

Manufacturing in the Midlands comes in many different forms, but at the top of the list are Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Kraft Heinz, Michelin, and Samsung. Local players such as Trane, which makes metal products + machinery, and Westinghouse Electric Company, also carry a significant employment presence.

Accommodation and Food Services | 9%

Fun fact: According to the latest tourism data from Experience Columbia, visitation increased from 15.1 million in 2021 to 15.8 million in 2022 and visitor spending increased 12% over the previous year to $1.7 billion.

Of the $1.7 billion spent in Columbia, food + beverage spending accounted for $487 million — that’s 29% of each visitor’s budget.

The top food and beverage employers in the Midlands region are Dak Americas LLC, a company that creates plastic materials and resins, Mark Anthony Brewing, a brewer and producer of hard seltzers, and Devro Inc., a company that creates edible casings for meat packaging.

Public administration | 8%

The Public Administration sector consists of establishments of federal, state, and local government agencies that oversee and manage public programs. In total, the state of SC employs over 30,000 in the Midlands, the top two being the SC Department of Corrections and the SC Department of Social Services.

Click the button below to read through the major players, top employers, open jobs, and more.
City Guide presented by AllSouth Federal Credit Union.
Test your business knowledge: Which company employs the most people globally?

A. Amazon
B. McDonald’s
C. Walmart
D. Starbucks
Tuesday, Sept. 19
  • Beginner Calligraphy Class | Tuesday, Sept. 19 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Graduate Hotel Columbia, SC, 1619 Pendleton St., Columbia | $65 | In this workshop, you’ll be learning an introduction to modern calligraphy with a pointed dip pen and ink.
  • The Nature of Fall with Rudy Mancke | Tuesday, Sept. 19 | 12-1 p.m. | McKissick Museum, 816 Bull St., Columbia | Free | Join USC’s Naturalist-in-Residence for an in-depth look into the natural changes that accompany the autumnal equinox.
Thursday, Sept. 21
  • The ART of Real Estate’s Karma Keg Social | Thursday, Sept. 21 | 4:30-7 p.m. | Craft and Draft, 2706 Devine St., Columbia | Free | Show up, make a donation, enjoy free beer, and celebrate the community by supporting a local nonprofit.
  • Concert in the Gardens | Thursday, Sept. 21 | 5-7 p.m. | Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, 1615 Blanding St., Columbia | $20 | Bring your own blanket or chairs, and pack a picnic if you’d like.
  • Design/Development Review Commission (D/DRC) Meeting | Thursday, Sept. 21 | 4 p.m. | City Hall, Council Chambers, 1737 Main St., 3rd Floor, Columbia | Free | Visit the Design/Development Review Commission page for this week’s agenda for Columbia’s upcoming projects.
Friday, Sept. 22
  • Columbia Job Fair | Friday, Sept. 22 | 11 a.m.-2 p.m. | Virtual Job Fair, Columbia | Free | Connect and interview with top employers at this virtual job fair.
Saturday, Sept. 23
  • USC Gamecocks vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs| Saturday, Sept. 23 | 7:30 p.m. | Williams-Brice Stadium, 1174 George Rogers Blvd., Columbia | $75-$130 | Head to Willy B. and watch the Gamecocks take on Mississippi State at home.
Wednesday, Oct. 11
  • South Carolina State Fair | Wednesday, Oct. 11-Sunday, Oct. 22 | Times vary | SC State Fair Grounds, 1200 Rosewood Dr., Columbia | $10-$15 | Mark your calendars for the SC State Fair — purchase tickets by Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Circle K stores or on the State Fair website.*
Click here to have your event featured.
Real Estate
Check out these newly-renovated Northeast apartments
A furnished living room in the Heron Lake community.
This quiet community is conveniently located near the Village at Sandhill shopping center and downtown Columbia. | Photo provided by Lincoln Property Company
Ready to lake it easy? Enter: Heron Lake, a peaceful apartment community just ~20 minutes from downtown Columbia.

Heron Lake offers spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom floorplans with features like:
  • Quartz countertops
  • Modern cabinetry
  • Plank flooring
  • Smart home technology
  • Roomy balconies + patios
  • Walk-in closets
  • And more
Residents can also enjoy community amenities, including:
  • A resort-style swimming pool with a sundeck
  • Detached garages
  • Complimentary bicycle storage
  • An Internet Cafe + more
News Notes
  • Richland County is progressing on a multimillion-dollar plan to repurpose Columbia Place Mall for government offices, including a family services center. They are considering issuing $70 million in bonds to fund the project. The move is in response to legal requirements to provide office space for several state agencies. (The State)
  • The Donut Guy is expanding with a new location in the Village at Sandhill (430-6 Town Center Pl.) The business began at local markets, later operated as a food truck, and opened its first brick-and-mortar on Lincoln Street. The Donut Guy will host a grand opening on Sept. 23 + 24. (The Post and Courier)
Coming Soon
  • Prohibition, a 1920s-themed bar + restaurant based in Charleston, is opening a location at 1556 Main St. in October. The new location mirrors the Charleston venue with an expanded kitchen and an Italian pizza oven. It’ll plan for a full-service bar, live music stage, and private event space. (The Post and Courier)
  • Sterlite Technologies — a Fiber optic cable manufacturing company — launched its $56 million manufacturing facility, “The Palmetto Plant,” in Lugoff. The plant focuses on sustainability, is 168,000 sqft, and employs over 150 people. (Cola Daily)
  • “Therapalooza: The Greatest Show in the Southeast” will take place on Friday, Sept. 22, and supports The Therapy Place, aiding special-needs children + their families. The event features live music, food, and tickets will benefit Therapy Place programs. (Cola Daily)
  • USC’s women’s basketball is hoping to sell 16,000 season tickets for the 2023-24 season through the “16 for 16" campaign, celebrating Coach Dawn Staley’s 16th season. They’ve introduced a “Community Supporter” program, allowing ticket purchases to be a form of donation. (Gamecocks Online)
  • Calling all real estate agents. Want your home listing featured for free? We are looking to highlight homes for sale in the Midlands area that are $300k or under. Tell us about your listing and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
last week we asked “Have you ever used ChatGPT? If yes, how did you use it?” and here’s what you said:
Cola Skyline

This Cola-esc skyline was created using AI technology. | Image by Craiyon

“I plan on trying it out soon. I have seen some ways that it can help with resumes and interview preparation.” — Crystal V.

“I liked Chat GPT because I work in an elementary school and I use it to draft emails and other written materials. After I get a response, I can ask for the same response on different reading levels.” — Kierra J.

“I found it useful in giving me good writing points and discussion for proposals for work. Helped me think of topics I most likely would not have thought of otherwise.” — Lisa B.

“Ok but Bing AI is better.” — Denny Y.

“It is a wonderful tool to start writing in business, marketing, public relations, meal planning, etc.” — Marie H.

“I love it!” — Cari F.

“I liked it because it helped me formulate several outlines for an upcoming documentary I’m working on.” — Rhonda L.
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The Wrap
Samantha Robertson in a white shirt and grey vest Today’s edition by:
From the editor
Heads up Gamecock fans — USC will face off against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m., as announced by the SEC. This rivalry game follows the Gamecocks’ surprise victory over the Vols last year. Let’s see if we can repeat last year’s win, this time in TN.
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