News briefs for December 15th-21st

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Farm Bureau recognizes Beaufort County’s program

At its recent annual meeting, the South Carolina Farm Bureau recognized Beaufort County as having one of the top Farm Bureau women’s programs in the state.

Additionally, Abigail Hansen, daughter of Scott and Laura Hansen of Beaufort County, won top honors in the SC Farm Bureau Talent Contest Junior 1 Division at the meeting.

The South Carolina Farm Bureau is a grassroots, nonprofit organization celebrating and supporting family farmers, locally grown food, and rural lands through legislative advocacy, education and community outreach.

Visit scfb.org.

SC economy expected to stay strong in 2017

Steady economic gains are expected for South Carolina in 2017 despite the political uncertainty that comes with a new governor and U.S. president.

The gains build on positive growth across most of the Palmetto State’s industries and regions, according to University of South Carolina economists at the Darla Moore School of Business.

Doug Woodward, director of research, and Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist, presented their 2017 forecast Dec. 8 to more than 150 of the state’s business and community leaders at the 36th Annual Economic Outlook Conference (EOC).

They reported that the state is poised to build on its existing momentum and to continue generating new jobs and rising incomes for South Carolinians.

They expect job creation — the single best predictor of economic performance — to grow 2.6 percent in 2017.

“South Carolina’s economy is growing at a healthy pace,” said Von Nessen. “And we expect the state to continue to build on this momentum in 2017.”

He said that South Carolina’s economy also is in the midst of a “paradigm shift,” which will bring new challenges for the state in 2017.

“For the last several years our rate of economic growth has been accelerating, but in 2016 it leveled off and is now growing at a constant rate,” Von Nessen said. “In addition, the labor market has strengthened considerably. Our unemployment rate has dropped to 4.7 percent. And although this is good news for workers, it also means that employers are now struggling to find qualified employees to fill new positions. Going forward, if we want to achieve a higher rate of economic growth, this skills gap will have to be addressed.”

The economists said two industry sectors led the broad-based growth in 2016.

The manufacturing sector and the professional and business services sector were the fastest growing industries this year, having driven high-wage job creation throughout the state and supporting high rates of consumer spending.

They also identified the construction sector as a bright spot.

The economists anticipate the size of the labor force to continue to grow in 2017 as job opportunities continue to rise, which implies marginal decreases in the unemployment rate over the next year.

The Moore School forecast outlines an unemployment rate over the next 12 months that will drop slightly from its current rate of 4.7 percent to approximately 4.5 percent. However, total personal income is shown to grow at 4.8 percent in 2017 – a rate comparable to its growth rate in 2016.

Committed to Excellence helps underprivileged young men

Fifty male students will be met by 50 male leaders of the Beaufort community for a day of mentorship and $50 shopping sprees at Walmart Supercenter.

The “50, 50, 50” Christmas Event is led by Caleb Brown, founder of Committed to Excellence (C2E), a program that provides mentorship and guidance for underprivileged young men.

“During the holiday season, we see depression in adolescents surge. Part of this is because so many of our youth, especially our males, feel alone and forgotten during this time of year,” said Brown. “This event allows them to feel a sense of joy and belonging, which are essential to their lives.”

The group of young men was nominated by schools, churches, civic groups or parents.

Included in the group of mentors will be local pastors, business owners, members of outreach organizations and political figures.

This is the second annual event led by Brown. The first event was held in December 2015 and served young men from the Extra Mile Club, Tabernacle Baptist Church, local middle and high schools and even one student who traveled from Charleston to benefit from the event.

“Last year’s event ran exceedingly well,” Brown said. “Some of the adults expected the boys to head straight to the video games. It was a joy to watch them shop for necessities and gifts for their parents first.”

The group will gather at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, near the entrance of the Walmart Supercenter in Beaufort.

Visit www.WeAreC2E.com or www.BlessingHandsUSA.com.

Public hearing will be held on multi-site monument

Over the past month more than 150 citizens, historians, preservationists and local organizations and businesses have written letters of support to the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior in favor of a Reconstruction Era monument in Beaufort County. There is also a petition asking President Obama to establish the multi-site project.

Now, a public hearing will be held on the issue from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15..

The public hearing was called by Congressman Jim Clyburn and will be held at Brick Church on Martin Luther King Drive on St. Helena Island.

To learn more or to sign the petition, visit www.change.org and search for “Beaufort Reconstruction Era monument.”