SC Commerce executive to lead Midlands team see more
An economic development professional with more than two decades of experience is the new president and CEO of the Central SC Alliance.
Nelson Lindsay, the S.C. Department of Commerce’s director of global business development since 2015, began his new role this month.
A state-certified economic developer, Lindsay has also served as director of economic development for Richland and Kershaw counties. At the state commerce department, he supervised all project management activity and new industry recruitment.
“Being a native of the central S.C. region and being associated with the CSCA for over twenty years, I am excited to work with our counties and city on the region’s future,” Lindsay said in a news release from Central SC Alliance. “I believe the best is yet to come, and I look forward to being a part of that growth.”
Central SC Alliance Chair Keller Kissam, who led a selection panel in the search for a new CEO, said Lindsay’s vision made him the best candidate for the job.
“It will be exciting to see Mr. Lindsay’s vision for the CSCA put into action, and the impact it will have on helping build upon the legacy of the region and this organization,” Kissam said.
The Central SC Alliance has provided economic development services from research and marketing to business recruitment and development for 27 years to its eight member counties — Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Richland and Orangeburg — as well as the city of Columbia.
USC earns $400,000 grant see more
The U.S. Economic Development Administration today announced the 50 organizations that will share in grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development as part of the Build to Scale program. The 2021 awardees will leverage an additional $40 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. SSTI has been a proponent of the Build to Scale program, which had not received any federal appropriations prior to the creation of SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council.
The 50 organizations hail from 26 states and include venture development organizations, state agencies, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations. The FY 2021 Build to Scale program was comprised of two competitions –– the Venture Challenge, which leverages regional strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship, and the Capital Challenge, which increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs.
The full list of recipients is available here, and SSTI is happy to recognize a number of members among the winners, including:
2021 Venture Challenge Grant Recipients:
- Arizona Commerce Authority, Phoenix, Arizona, $750,000
- Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $657,622
- Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri, $1.5 million
- FuzeHub, Albany, New York, $753,546
- Launch New York, Buffalo, New York, $750,000
- Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, $1.5 million
- Rev1 Ventures, Columbus, Ohio, $1.4 million
2021 Capital Challenge Grant Recipients:
- TechTown Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, $400,000
- University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, $400,000
Start Central is the Central SC Region’s go-to resource for connecting workers with opportunities see more
Compliments of Midlands Biz
The Central SC Alliance (CSCA) unveiled a new tool to connect skilled workers and local employers. Start Central is a comprehensive website where individuals from inside and outside the Central SC Region can search for job opportunities, access resources on training programs to boost their skills, and learn about the benefits of living in the Region.
“It’s been a project of passion over the past year for our team to bring this website to life. We saw a gap in how the Central SC Region was fairing in the highly competitive market of skilled talent attraction and retention. This new site provides job seekers an opportunity to bridge that gap by obtaining the careers in our Region that they’ve been dreaming of and enhancing their appeal to employers by upgrading their skill sets. It’s also another way we can support our local existing industries in drawing in skilled talent,” says Tracy McMillin, Central SC Alliance Interim President and CEO.
The website spans a range of topics aimed at helping both locals and non-natives explore the potential available to them in the heart of South Carolina. Major features include:
- Regional-focused jobs and internships searches
- Upskilling resources for students and existing workers of targeted industries
- Startup aid for tech companies and entrepreneurs
- Resources for Military members and Veterans
- Ambassador testimonials
- News about regional jobs and training
The site also highlights the livability of the Region with profiles on the Region’s nine communities, details on local entertainment and attractions, links to charitable and volunteering opportunities, and an interactive cost of living calculator.
“We want visitors to take away a little piece of what we love about the Central SC Region and use that information to decide that this is the destination for them. Some people may think of the coast or mountains when you first ask them about South Carolina – but this area has an underrated allure,” McMillin explains. “We are surrounded by natural beauty with many of our communities interwoven with watery and wooded retreats right outside their doors. The cost of living makes it possible to not just work for a living but to enjoy the money you earn. And we have some of the world’s best-known brand names creating career opportunities in nearly every field.”
Access to an available and skilled workforce is a constant need of companies. Spanning eight counties – Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg and Richland – and the state’s capital city of Columbia, the Central SC Region is home to popular brands like Amazon, Samsung, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), Capgemini, BlueCross BlueShield of SC, and Target. Over recent years, the Region has become a hub for startups and entrepreneurs such as Zverse, Vän Robotics, Cognito Forms, Proof Alcohol Ice Cream, guHRoo, and more. These operations along with more than 1,000 other facilities employ more than a quarter million workers; and as their facilities grow, so does the importance of access to workers with supporting talents and skills.
Matt Vaadi, CEO of the Columbia-area HR software and solutions company guHRoo (formerly ERG Payroll), has found success in accessing talent for his company through diligence and dedication to the extensive network of local resources.
“The talent pool in Central SC and the surrounding area is deeper than people realize,” he explains. “Between the universities, the large technology companies, and the people relocating to the area, you can find exactly what you are looking for if you put in the work. We focus most of our recruiting efforts on hiring local talent and upskilling where necessary because we believe in the local talent density.”
Collaborative partnerships with businesses in the Region, and those with technical training facilities, colleges and universities, governing bodies, and more, have become an indispensable action-driven network in economic development growth opportunities. These connections played an important role throughout the creation of Start Central.
“This site has kicked off so many new connections and collaborative opportunities, and we are excited to see what else lies ahead and how we can grow and change together to amplify the mission of this Region,” says McMillin.
To see what Start Central has to offer and to start exploring the benefits of the Central SC Region, visit startcentralsc.org.
About Start Central & the Central South Carolina Alliance
Start Central is an initiative of the Central SC Alliance (CSCA) to support existing industries of the Central SC Region in their need to recruit and retain skilled talent. Connect with Start Central on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Located in the heart of South Carolina, the Central SC Alliance (CSCA) is a full-service professional economic development alliance focused on cultivating economic advancement and enrichment in the communities of the Central SC Region. Founded in 1994 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit partnership, the CSCA is the Region’s lead economic development alliance representing eight member counties and the state’s capital city – Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland counties and the City of Columbia.
Researchers awarded $120,000 grant see more
SC INBRE is pleased to announce that a team of South Carolina biomedical researchers has received an NIH NIGMS collaboration award. This goal of this one-year funding opportunity is to encourage collaborations between IDeA programs investigators while providing students a broad continuum of research opportunities. The team of Dr. Austin Shull from Presbyterian College and Dr. Antonis Kourtidis from the Medical University of South Carolina were awarded approx. $120,000 for their project. Dr. Shull is a current recipient of an SC INBRE Developmental Research Project Program (DRP) award; Dr. Kourtidis is a member of CDLD [Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Digestive and Liver Disease]. This is the third consecutive year NIH NIGMS has offered collaborative awards and the third consecutive team from South Carolina to have received one.
As described in the project proposal, “Loss of epithelial integrity is common in cancer. However, mechanistic understanding of how compromised epithelial architecture promotes aberrant cell behavior, is still incomplete.” The collaboration team will be investigating a novel functional interaction between the adherens junctions, which are guardians of epithelial integrity, with ribonucleoprotein complexes, which has the potential to significantly advance their knowledge in the field. “Collectively, the experimental approach will aide in making considerable strides for understanding the downstream intracellular consequences that induce a mesenchymal-like cancer cell state when disrupting the adherens complex via PLEKHA7 suppression.”
Said the collaborators, “Since meeting at an SC INBRE Symposium in Columbia, SC in 2020, we have been in communication about initiating a collaborative research project between our labs which will advance our mutual interests in investigating the molecular consequences in disrupting cell-cell junction in epithelial cells that contribute to cancer progression. This collaborative project will support the long-term trajectory of our labs by leveraging our different research backgrounds and combining our technical expertise to address fundamental gaps in the field’s current knowledge about the molecular changes that take place during disruption of cell junctions. In addition, the findings from this project will serve as critical pilot data for a larger follow-up proposal to support this collaborative work.”
Presbyterian College undergrads will perform the vast majority of experiments and data analysis. Dr. Shull has a strong track record of mentoring undergrads with many students being leading presenters of their personal work at national meetings (ex: American Association for Cancer Research). Shull is fully committed to continuing his mentorship of undergrads and advancing their exposure to novel techniques, growing research areas, and quality experts within their respective fields through this collaborative project. For the first Aim of this project (COBRE Investigator-led efforts – Examine increased mRNA translation activity in PLEKHA7-depleted epithelial cells), Presbyterian College undergrads (along with Shull) will travel to MUSC to perform experiments under the training and guidance of Dr. Kourtidis. The students will be able to leverage the expertise of the MUSC Cell Models Core in developing gene-edited cell lines pertinent for the proposal. For the second Aim (INBRE investigator-led efforts – Determine the DNA methylation changes caused by translocation of PIWIL2 from the adherens junctions to the nucleus), Presbyterian College undergrads will perform experiments at Presbyterian College under the guidance of Shull with samples received from MUSC.
Nephron went looking for a way to automate syringe-filling for small batch manufacturing, found more see more
t’s no secret that working long hours in a cleanroom environment can be grueling. The bunny suits can get sweltering and the hours doing monotonous tasks can drag. On top of that, staffing cleanroom techs for an around-the-clock operation can be a major challenge for pharma companies.
With the hope of overcoming these issues, South Carolina-based Nephron Pharmaceuticals recently went looking for a way to automate syringe-filling for small batch manufacturing and turned to the brainpower nearby.
Within the University of South Carolina, the Office of Innovation, Partnerships, and Economic Engagement (OIPEE) provides a way for companies to engage with students and faculty to solve vexing industry problems.
“The university can bring a client in, and we’ll create a solution for that client with advanced manufacturing,” Bill Kirkland, executive director of OIPEE, explains.
For Nephron, that solution was robotics. After striking up a partnership, students and researchers from UofSC eventually innovated a new automated syringe-filling system that utilizes flexible, high-speed robots provided by Yaskawa Motoman and processing power developed by Siemens. According to Kirkland, the system’s robotic arm that works under a single hood is part of what makes it unique. It was also designed specifically for small-batch operations, and importantly for Nephron, the new technology will help eliminate manufacturing downtime.
“We have a workforce issue in that we have lots of trained sterile pharma techs, but expecting them to show up every shift 24/7 is challenging,” Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron, says. “So, for example, if someone calls in sick, this allows us to do many steps using robotics, and it keeps us from having to shut down.”
Although there are other robotic syringe-filling solutions on the market, Kennedy says she has never seen a system as small and nimble as the one built by UofSC.
“It operates underneath a flow hood in a cleanroom and that’s important because we are working with injectables,” Kennedy says. “And it’s compact and can move from one cleanroom to another.”
After the technology was developed, the system was installed in a Nephron facility earlier this year, where Kennedy says the company is perfecting the tech and it is being commercially validated. Once they find the manufacturing “sweet spot” and it wins regulatory approval, the companies plan to license and commercialize the technology. Ultimately, the plan is to target biopharma facilities and hospitals in need of small-batch manufacturing solutions.
“By virtue of its previous relationships with Yaskawa and Siemens, UofSC faculty and OIPEE pitched this solution to Nephron, who agreed to bear some of the initial cost of setting up the research facility in the McNAIR [Aerospace] Center,” Kirkland said in a statement this spring. “All three companies, as well as the university, will benefit greatly from the introduction of this system into the commercial space.”
In addition to being a boon for the Nephron, the collaboration also showcased how industry partnerships can be a stepping stone for engineering and manufacturing students — including those who were not considering a career in pharma before. According to Kirkland, one of the students involved in the collaboration went on to score a job at Siemens, and another did the same at Nephron.
“Partnerships like this one are a win for patients, employees and students, not to mention for companies like ours, that continue to grow and expand our capacity to help others,” Kennedy said in a statement this spring.
University of South Carolina initiative saving lives see more
A gentle hum can be heard from a lab in the depths of the University of South Carolina's life sciences building. Take a peek inside, and you'll find something unusual.
Thousands of tubes of the spit belonging to the university's students, faculty, staff and Columbia residents.
Almost a year ago, the school's colon cancer lab changed course from its usual area of study and started analyzing how it could help as COVID-19 ravaged the world, killing hundreds of thousands across the country and shutting down campuses.
USC professors had a breakthrough when they started studying saliva there, said biomedical sciences professor Phillip Buckhaults.
They ended up creating what looks like a blue cocktail — and it exposes the COVID-19 genome in our saliva.
"We figured out a way to photocopy bits of the COVID genome," Buckhaults said. "It's like a liquid photocopier."
It's proven to be more efficient than nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing. There's no uncomfortable nasal swab involved. Materials for nasal-swab testing are often limited. And these saliva results come quicker. Those who get tested on USC's campus typically receive results within 24 hours.
When the saliva testing first began on campus, scientists were pipetting saliva samples with the "photocopier" liquid to see the COVID-19 genome appeared in the DNA when the saliva was "photocopied" several times.
Because it was done solely by hand, they were able to test only several dozen samples a day.
"The demand was more than we could keep up with," Buckhaults said.
So he sent an email pleading with USC president Harris Pastides for a liquid-handling robot that's able to do the pipetting automatically, saving a lot of time.
Pastides then got South Carolina-based Nephron Pharmaceuticals owner Lou Kennedy to write Buckhault a $14,000 check to buy one of the robots.
"Within two weeks, we went from a junkie, underutilized, decrepit lab space to really state-of-the-art," said laboratory director and professor Carolyn Banister.
Buckhaults also credited former USC president Bob Caslen for removing roadblocks to get more machines and a bigger lab — speeding up the process to speed up the process, so to speak.
Caslen worked with the state government and university officials to get thousands of dollars for lab equipment and borrowed testing machines from nearby labs, Buckhaults said.
"He saved a lot of lives in the Midlands by pouring resources into (Banister) and that lab and getting this test running," Buckhaults said.
Now, the lab is testing about 2,000 samples a day and returning samples within 24 hours, and its reach is beyond the Midlands. Quick-turnaround testing allows people to identify themselves as COVID-19-positive earlier and isolate themselves, reducing the spread of the virus and saving lives.
The testing technology has expanded across the state. USC satellite campuses, including Upstate and Union, as well as Clemson, Winthrop, the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College are able to use the saliva tests created at the USC lab.
The testing is able to recognize different variants of COVID-19 as well.
Rhythmlink International honored as a Best Places to Work in South Carolina for tenth consecutive yearTen years in a row for life sciences firm Rhythmlink see more
For the tenth consecutive year Rhythmlink has been awarded a spot on the “Best Places to Work in South Carolina” list in the Small Employer category, honored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. This year Rhythmlink placed 13 out 20 total companies in this category, earning a spot on a final list of the 81 most innovative and top-notch employers across the state.
“Rhythmlink takes pride in achieving this honor for the tenth consecutive year,” said Shawn Regan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer for Rhythmlink International, LLC. “We could not achieve our mission of improving patient care or uphold our values and culture without the significant contribution of our employees, and this honor helps us know we remain on the right track for making that possible,” said Regan.
Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in South Carolina. The first part consisted of evaluating each company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Several questions on the survey dealt with how Rhythmlink has responded to challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it has affected the workplace.
Joe Straczek, Chief Financial Officer for Rhythmlink, believes that despite the challenges, Rhythmlink employees remained focused and dedicated to their work. “As a health care company, our employees know the value of their work in our industry, and believe they have an opportunity to make a difference,” said Straczek. “One of the things that makes our culture special is a willingness and ability to adapt to changes and struggles, while always keeping the customer top of mind.”
Ranked companies were recognized at an annual reception and awards dinner at the Columbia Convention Center on August 4, 2021.
Rhythmlink International is a medical device manufacturer specializing in devices that help connect patients to machines to record or elicit physiologic information. Rhythmlink designs, manufactures, and distributes a variety of medical devices for intraoperative neuromonitoring, electroencephalography, evoked potentials, polysomnography, long-term epilepsy monitoring and critical care units. Founded by neurodiagnostic technologists and engineers in 2002, Rhythmlink enhances patient care worldwide by transforming medical device technology that links patients to equipment. Rhythmlink also offers custom packaging, custom products, private labeling, and contract manufacturing services.
Ford named to Icons list in Columbia, SC see more
Twenty-four community leaders, from a hospital CEO leading the charge against COVID-19 to a public servant helping fight homelessness, have been honored as 2021 Columbia Regional Business Report Icons & Phenoms.
For the third year, the Business Report is honoring a pair of groups making an impact on the area business scene: Icons, the respected pillars who have established standards of business and civic excellence; and Phenoms, the motivated go-getters who are getting things done in new and exciting ways.
Honorees represent industries ranging from finance and law to nonprofits and engineering and will be recognized at an Aug. 25 luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia. Tickets are still available, so come help celebrate your friends and colleagues. And don't forget to congratulate them online using the hashtag #crbriconsphenoms.
Award recipients, nominated by Business Report readers and selected by a panel of judges, will be recognized at an online event Aug. 5. A profile of each honoree will be published in the July 20 print edition of the Business Report.
The 2021 Columbia Regional Business Report Icons & Phenoms are:
- Tod Augsburger, president and CEO, Lexington Medical Center
- John Barnes, co-founder and CEO, Pendleton Street Business Advisors
- Linda Bell, S.C. state epidemiologist and director of DHEC's Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
- Sara Fawcett, president and CEO, United Way of the Midlands
- Erin Ford, interim CEO, SCBIO
- Cheryl Holland, president of Abacus Planning Group
- Dominik Mjartan, president and CEO, Optus Bank
- Mary Louise Resch, director of Philanthropy, Central S.C. Habitat for Humanity
- Pat Smith, agency director, Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School
- Byron Snellgrove, city of Cayce director of public safety
- Joe Taylor, owner, Park and Washington
- Ram'on Wideman, owner/president and CEO of Anointed Business Solutions LLC
- Phill Blair, owner, The Whig/WECO Bottle & Biergarten
- Lyndey Bryant, business litigation attorney, Adams and Reese LLP
- Ryan Coleman, director of economic development for the city of Columbia
- Joseph Dickey, managing partner, Dickey Law Group
- Tracy Hegler, city manager, city of Cayce
- Ashley Hunter, CEO, MPA Strategies
- Amanda Loveday, COO, NP Strategy
- Shayla Merritt, senior marketing coordinator, SSOE | Stevens & Wilkinson
- Travis McNeal, executive director, Oliver Gospel Mission
- Katie Oliver, CFO, DartPoints LLC
- Josh Rabon, managing partner, Civil Engineering of Columbia
- Tommy Volz, Eastern U.S. sponsorship marketing manager, Wells Fargo
RiteDose growing capacity see more
The RiteDose Corp. is implementing engineering innovations to its Columbia production lines that the company says will increase production capacity by as much as 25%.
RiteDose, born from the inventors of Blow-Fill-Seal technology, is a leading BFS Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization. The innovations will allow the company to meet increasing demand for its products, which include sterile drugs for inhalation and ophthalmology, and to bring new product lines for pharmaceutical companies to market faster, according to a news release.
“Our engineers have made significant changes in our production methodology and processes that will allow us to increase production capacity by up to 200 million units per year — substantially beyond standard industry outputs,” RiteDose CEO Jody Chastain said in the release. “This latest innovation pushes our BFS capacity to more than 2 billion units annually.”
The innovations are part of a $20 million capital avoidance strategy that RiteDose said will create more flexibility in its production capacity and capability.
RiteDose has been a leading CDMO in the BFS arena since the late 1990s when the company, then known as Holopack International, received FDA approval to manufacture and distribute drug products. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company expanded to include a new 503B Outsourcing Facility to supply sterile injectable products to health care facilities nationwide.
“RiteDose has been an invaluable partner in developing robust manufacturing processes and successfully scaling up manufacturing to support our pipeline of innovative drugs,” Vijay Sabesan of pharmaceutical developer Theravance Biopharma said. “In addition to the extensive expertise in BFS manufacturing, we greatly value their flexibility and collaborative approach.”
BFS is an aseptic fill-finish technology that uses a low-density polyethene processed in a five-step operation. Medical-grade, molten plastic resin is extruded through a nozzle and blown with sterile air to form a tube called a parison, which is then blow-molded into a container shape. The containers are filled with a formulation and sealed, then processed for leak detection, packaging and distribution.
MUSC completes purchase of hospitals see more
Providence Health is no more in the Capital City.
The hospital, originally founded by the Catholic Sister of Charity, is now state-owned MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center, following the finalization of its purchase by MUSC Health University Medical Center.
With the $75 million purchase South Carolina’s second-largest hospital system added Providence’s downtown and northeast facilities to its fleet of care centers around the state, as well as the former KershawHealth hospital in Camden — now known as MUSC Health Kershaw Medical Center — and the emergency room in Fairfield County — now known as MUSC Health Fairfield Emergency and Imaging.
The hospitals were previously owned by Tennessee-based for-profit LifePoint Health.
All of LifePoint’s existing 2,000 employees were offered to remain on staff under the new ownership, said MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley said.
The deal takes MUSC to more than 2,000 beds and 19,000 employees across the state.
Buying Providence Health is the latest in MUSC’s major expansion outside of its Charleston base where it had been contained for nearly 200 years before it branched outside the area for the first time with the acquisition of four community hospitals in 2019. The public, nonprofit health system receives financial support out of the state budget.
The deal comes months after Prisma Health, the state’s largest health care system terminated its own agreement to purchase LifePoint’s facilities. Prisma, which operates three major hospitals in Columbia, abandoned its efforts April 9 after it was plagued for more than a year by legal and regulatory challenges.
Had the purchase been finalized, it would have taken the Columbia area down to two hospital systems — Prisma and Lexington Medical Center. And it would have made the state’s largest system even larger.
USC earns award of excellence see more
In recognition of their dedication and innovations in overcoming the challenges of delivering the experiential curriculum during the past year, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Experiential Education Section has bestowed the Award for Excellence in Experiential Education upon the faculty and staff of experiential offices at the colleges and schools of pharmacy, including the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
The Experiential Education team of Jennifer Baker, director of experiential programs; Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential programs; Kathryn Kenard, student service program coordinator; and Nancy Blaisdell, administrative assistant, received certificates of recognition from the AACP during a presentation by Julie Sease, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.
The AACP Experiential Education Section Award of Excellence in Experiential Education is normally presented each year to an individual, but this year, the organization chose to recognize programs across the country.
When the University closed in March 2020, the Office of Experiential Education for the College of Pharmacy mobilized to a virtual unit overnight as there could be no pause in operations to keep students progressing through the Pharm.D. curriculum. With the status of hundreds of rotations changing on what seemed like an hourly basis during the spring and summer of 2020, Baker and Maxwell navigated rotation rescheduling while Kenard and Blaisdell tirelessly worked through site onboarding requirements to efficiently move students on and off rotation without missing a beat.
“Through the hard work and commitment of our preceptors and practice sites, we were able to successfully graduate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on time,” says Baker. “Our team was dedicated to our students even while serving on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. While our experiences were not unique, as everyone’s worlds were turned upside down during the pandemic, I can confidently say that our students and College are blessed with the best preceptors and faculty.
“We are so grateful for the unwavering support from College administration and for this recognition by the AACP Experiential Education Section. It was incredible to see the collaboration that occurred within our profession at the local, state and national level to support all pharmacy students.”
Lou Kennedy and Nephron Team step up for SC again see more
Glove Plant Will Shore Up Domestic Supply Chain, Reduce American Dependence on Foreign Sources of Medical-Grade Gloves & Create New Jobs
WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. – During a celebration attended by strategic partners, business leaders and public officials, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation CEO Lou Kennedy and Governor Henry McMaster today announced the opening of Nephron Nitrile, a plant that will produce American-made, medical-grade nitrile gloves.
The announcement is the latest Nephron expansion on the sprawling company campus located at Saxe-Gotha Industrial Park in Lexington County.
Nephron Nitrile – which will be headquartered in more than 400,000 square feet of space in the Kennedy Innovation Complex – represents an investment of more than $100 million in the Midlands. The plant will generate 250 jobs for the area.
“This is a historic day for our company, and, we believe, for South Carolina,” said Kennedy. “Over the course of the last year, we have poured every bit of creativity, energy and resources we have at our disposal into doing our part, as a proud Made-in-America manufacturer, to respond to an unprecedented crisis. Nephron Nitrile is the latest part of our ongoing effort to make South Carolina the nationwide example for effectively responding to America’s needs, this time by shoring up the domestic supply chain.”
Kennedy and the governor, along with the entire Nephron team, have made reducing the American dependence on foreign sources of critical health care-related items, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving medications, a top priority. Kennedy joined the governor in April when he announced an executive order to safeguard South Carolina from supply chain disruptions, such as those caused by countries like China, experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic by working to manufacture even more essential, life-saving products in South Carolina.
Now, just months later, Kennedy and her team at Nephron are stepping up once again. In doing the work on the front end of the announcement to secure partnerships with trusted companies to provide raw materials, machinery and technology, Nephron is in position to make a significant difference in bolstering the PPE supply chain by early 2022.
“It is critical that South Carolina lead the charge in bringing the production of life-saving medications and supplies back home to the United States,” said Governor McMaster. “After last year’s supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I announced a new initiative aimed at expanding recruitment efforts of pharmaceutical and medical supply manufacturers in the Palmetto State. Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s continued investment in South Carolina and our people will go a long way toward creating much-needed independence in this industry. This great company continues to show that we have the talent and the ability to do anything we put our minds to, right here in South Carolina.”
Last July, Kennedy announced an investment of $215 million for Lexington County, bringing 380 new full-time jobs to the area by 2024, and adding new office, warehouse and vaccine production space. This announcement included the establishment of the Kennedy Innovation Complex, home of Nephron Nitrile, and these projects are ahead of schedule. Since re-locating company headquarters to Lexington County from Orlando, Nephron has invested more than a half billion dollars in the region, creating almost 2,000 full and part time jobs.
“Lexington County is beyond excited to say congratulations again to Nephron Pharmaceuticals,” said Lexington County Council Chairman M. Todd Cullum. “The county is enthusiastic about this announcement as much or more than the company’s original announcement to locate in Lexington County. Their investment in hard assets and jobs is second to none in South Carolina. Nephron’s partnership with Lexington County has been tremendous in helping to improve the quality of life in our county and the region. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this extraordinary company.”
A West Columbia, S.C.-based company, Nephron develops and produces safe, affordable generic inhalation solutions and suspension products. The company also operates an industry-leading 503B Outsourcing Facility division which produces pre-filled sterile syringes, luer-lock vials, IV bottles and IV bags for hospitals across America, in an effort to alleviate drug shortage needs. Nephron launched a CLIA-certified diagnostics lab last year where it tests people for COVID-19 and administers vaccinations.
For more information regarding Nephron Nitrile, including orders and partnerships, please email: NephronNitrile@nephronpharm.com.
Columbia, SC company aims for growth see more
Compliments of SCBIZ News and Columbia Business Report
Columbia-based Rhino Medical Supply has been named the exclusive distributor of Deltapine cotton medical scrubs in an initiative created to drive demand for U.S.-grown cotton and revitalize an end-to-end U.S. supply chain.
The Field to Closet partnership with Nashville-based Jernigan Global, a consultancy for the cotton supply chain and textile industry, was created in 2019 to create awareness among producers, ginners, millers and retailers of advancements in U.S. upland cotton, specifically Deltapine Select varieties. Rhino will distribute the initiative’s 100% cotton scrubs made with Georgia-grown cotton through the initiative’s Cotton Project.
“We are thrilled to announce an alliance with Rhino Medical Supply as the distributor of our cotton scrubs,” Ed Jernigan, founder and CEO of Field to Closet, said in an online article by Cotton Grower magazine published Tuesday. “Rhino Medical’s focus on sustainable, environmentally friendly, and biodegradable products, along with their emphasis on philanthropy and diversity initiatives, pairs perfectly with our scrubs program. It is truly a perfect union of businesses with similar visions.”
The Cotton Project has also established a Farmer GiveBack program to ensure the grower shares in financial profits of goods sold.
“Rhino Medical Supply seeks companies and products that align with our corporate citizenship commitments, including giving back to others, using renewable resources, and encouraging inclusion,” Rhino CEO Lance Brown said. “Our organization is proud to work with Field to Closet and America Knits to distribute these 100% Deltapine cotton medical scrubs.”
The medical scrubs are treated with PROTX2 AV technology, a metal-free, medical grade anti-viral, anti-bacteria and anti-odor treatment that kills viruses and bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the article. Brown called the technology a “game changer” for the U.S. medical industry in its fight to prevent another pandemic outbreak.
“We are thrilled to partner with Field and Closet to introduce the first OR scrubs powered by PROTX2 AV technology,” Giancarlo Beevis, president and CEO of Intelligent Fabric Technologies North America, said. “This is a key step in breaking the chain of infection and provides healthcare professionals with a new line of defense in infection prevention.”
To launch the initiative, 15 rural Georgia hospitals will receive the scrubs at no cost this summer.
“Partnering with Rhino Medical Supply means our scrubs will be available to hospitals and other health care facilities from coast-to-coast,” said Steve Hawkins, president of America Knits. “This partnership matches perfectly with our focus on providing prosperity for rural, smaller communities and creating quality, environmentally sustainable products in the United States.”
Succeeds Dr. Stephen Cutler, who was named USC Interim Provost see more
Julie Sease has been selected as the interim dean of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, effective July 1. She succeeds Stephen Cutler, who was announced as South Carolina’s interim provost.
In her new role, Sease hopes to provide support and stability to the college’s faculty, staff, students and alumni through authentic, selfless leadership. Her priorities include ensuring the faculty’s research and teaching excellence is recognized, continuing the college’s unmatched learning opportunities for students — like those that the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center provides. She also plans to continue the college's commitment to service, like its robust saliva-based COVID-19 testing.
“We have great things happening in the College of Pharmacy, we have excitement for the future, and we have good people to grow with,” Sease says. “My job is to support the great work that’s already being done and to do what I can to provide support and to let our people do what they are here to do.”
Sease received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of South Carolina in 2003. After completing her residency, she returned to UofSC as a clinical assistant professor for five years. She then went to Presbyterian College, where she became the associate dean for academic affairs, before coming back to the university as a clinical professor and senior associate dean in 2019.
“We have awesome, and I cannot stress this enough, awesome people here at the college in terms of teaching, scholarship, research and service,” Sease says. “Our people care about our students, and they teach our students well. Our people care about their profession, and they serve their profession well. Our people care about one another and that makes for good collegial relationships and a good family feel that our students and faculty want to be involved in. And it’s my job to help make sure that our people continue to feel supported and have opportunities to continue doing great things.”
Cutler says he knows Sease will provide the college the stability it needs as he transitions to his new role.
“Dr. Sease has been an integral member of our college’s family for many years,” he says. “She has proven herself to be an impactful leader who truly cares about the well being of the college and everyone associated with it, including the students, staff, faculty and alumni. The College of Pharmacy is in great hands, and I know that the growth it has experienced in recent years will only continue with her at the helm.”
Hospitals are currently part of LifePoint Health see more
During the June meeting, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees voted to purchase Providence Health and KershawHealth, which are currently part of LifePoint Health. The acquisition will include three community hospitals, a freestanding emergency department (FSED) and affiliated physician practice locations serving communities in the Midlands.
Providence Health serves Columbia, S.C., and the surrounding region, with two full-service hospitals and a freestanding emergency room. KershawHealth is a full-service medical center located in Camden, S.C., which has been an affiliate of MUSC Health since 2015.
“This is an exciting day for MUSC and for the state as we continue to develop our network with the acquisition of these health care facilities and establish a larger footprint in rural and underserved counties,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we understand that we have a responsibility to enable better access to complex, high-end care while working to facilitate the best-quality local care possible. This acquisition will broaden our ability to serve greater numbers of patients, families and communities and that is a reason to celebrate,” Cole stated.
“MUSC has tremendous potential to meet the growing needs of patients and families around our state. That is why we are excited about today’s announcement. As the only comprehensive health sciences facility in the state, with an unmatched record of patient care and meaningful research, MUSC has the unique capacity to improve health outcomes for those it serves,” said James Lemon, D.M.D., chairman of the MUSC board.
“We are excited about the prospect of joining MUSC Health,” said Terry Gunn, market chief executive officer of Providence Health and KershawHealth. “Our objective is and has always been positioning our facilities for success so that we can fulfill our purpose of delivering high-quality care close to home. Aligning Providence and Kershaw with a preeminent regional academic health system will benefit our employees, providers and community, giving us new opportunities to change what’s possible in health care for our region.”
“This acquisition has the potential to be transformative for the Midlands and state,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “Our team looks forward to welcoming the patients, families and employees of Providence Health and KershawHealth to the MUSC Health network. We cannot wait to move forward, connecting our education, research and comprehensive health care mission to the three hospitals in Columbia and Camden as well as the freestanding emergency department in Winnsboro and the affiliated practice locations across the Midlands.”
MUSC Health anticipates hiring all active employees in good standing at compensation levels generally consistent with current rates and fair market value. MUSC team members will meet with the administrators at each of the facilities to determine staffing and needs, with the intent to make operations as efficient and successful as possible, maximizing value to patients, families and their respective communities.
“MUSC Health has existing relationships with several of these facilities through our longstanding affiliate network,” Cawley explained. “Incorporating them into our regional hospital network is another step toward fulfilling MUSC’s charge: to provide the right care in the right place at the right time to every patient and family that we encounter. This acquisition supports these efforts by increasing the reach of our network, enhancing our ability to deliver the highest- quality care at maximum efficiency as well as greater value for more communities statewide. We are excited to be fully integrated now with KershawHealth and will continue to work with our present partners and affiliates in the Midlands region to increase health care access and improve health outcomes.”
Terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed. The transaction can only be finalized after review and approval by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, which provides fiscal oversight for the state and meets the public sector needs by delivering quality, cost-effective insurance, procurement and engineering services. In addition, other customary regulatory reviews must also be completed.
The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/leadership/board/index.html.
About The Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 325 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.4 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
About Providence Health
Providence Health is one of the top-rated health systems in Columbia, SC. In total, Providence employs more than 1,800 dedicated staff. Founded in 1938 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Providence is known statewide for outstanding clinical quality and compassionate care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services awarded Providence Health a 4-star rating. The Providence open heart surgery program has consistently ranked in the top 15 percent of open heart programs in the nation. Both orthopedics and cardiac services have received the South Carolina BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center designation. For more information, visit YourProvidenceHealth.com.
Founded in 1913 as Camden Hospital, KershawHealth is a full-service healthcare system proudly serving its community members in Kershaw County. KershawHealth is a 119-bed medical center and a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit. KershawHealth employs more than 700 dedicated staff. For more information, visit www.KershawHealth.org.
About LifePoint Health
LifePoint Health is a leading healthcare company dedicated to Making Communities Healthier®. Through its subsidiaries, it provides quality inpatient, outpatient and post-acute services close to home. LifePoint owns and operates community hospitals, regional health systems, physician practices, outpatient centers and post-acute facilities across the country. More information about the company can be found at www.LifePointHealth.net.