A good place to do business

krupon@thestate.com June 24, 2012 

  • A closer look Top 5 private employers • Palmetto Health, a consortium of hospitals and health clinics, employs 9,000 people. • BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, an insurance and technology services provider, has nearly 6,500 workers. Lexington Medical Center is a hospital system with smaller community campuses that is expanding this year. It had 5,200 workers last year. • SCANA is an electricity and natural gas provider for the Midlands and other parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. It had more than 3,200 employees last year but is building two nuclear power plants that will create hundreds more jobs. • Michelin North America makes passenger tires and massive commercial tires at plants in Lexington County. Expansions announced in the past year will bring total workers at those plants to 2,200.

Work is an essential part of who we are. It’s where we spend most of the day and often builds relationships that extend beyond the boundaries of a job.

Work provides us with money to live, but beyond that, is an outlet for using our talents to contribute to society, whether we are building a tire, crafting a law or training for combat.

Workers in the Midlands do all of those things — and much more.

Lawmakers gather in Columbia from throughout the state to shape how we live. Many go home to practice law, run a business or even work the soil.

University professors help shape minds at colleges large and small.

Soldiers train here, at Fort Jackson, to go to war to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all U.S. citizens.

Folks punch the clock at manufacturing plants and distribution centers, building tires, fishing rods and nuclear power plants and filling orders for retailers from Target to Amazon.com.

And a rich insurance/technology sector has workers processing 1 billion insurance claims a year and managing massive data centers in the Midlands.

To be sure, the Great Recession wiped out jobs. Still, Lexington and Richland counties typically have the state’s lowest unemployment rates.

And jobs are returning, with the state landing commitments in the past year from major companies like tire makers Continental, Bridgestone and Michelin, who plan to invest, combined, more than a billions dollars and hire thousands of workers.

Entrepreneurs who started their own companies after losing a job are building up their businesses. Retailers are opening new stores. And hospitals are expanding.

It adds up to making the Columbia area a strong, dynamic and innovative place to work.

Kristy Eppley Rupon is assistant business editor at The State.

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