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Life sciences sees workforce growth as key challenge in South Carolina

  • sam patrick posted an article
    16 projects funded with generosity of Prisma Health team see more

    The Health Sciences Center at Prisma Health has awarded Clemson University researchers 16 grants that range from projects on cancer treatments to the use of exoskeletons for health care providers.

    The seed funding supports the mission of the center, a collaborative effort between Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, Furman University and Prisma Health to foster cooperative research.

    Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, associate vice president of health research at Clemson University and chief science officer at Prisma Health, hopes that these projects will inform best practices within health care research and influence positive change within the health care system.

    “This year’s submissions were phenomenal, and we look forward to seeing the results from these 16 funded projects. Having clinicians and academic researchers involved in these projects ensures that the research has the best chance of creating transformation in health care and health outcomes,” Sherrill said. “Since this program began seven years ago, several projects have received large federal funding and results have been implemented at Prisma Health, helping improve the care of their patients.” 

    Click here to read complete details about the one-year grant projects, including the names of Clemson and Prisma Health researchers.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Life sciences was key for the state during COVID see more

    Compliments of Upstate Business Journal & Jennifer Oladipo

    Here’s what I was imagining at the end of January: You, now, breathing easier as omicron retreats into the realm of memory, no worrisome COVID variant in sight. We’re looking at each other going, “Wow, two years, can you believe it’s over?”

    And, we’re thinking about all the folks who helped get us through. With SCBIO’s annual conference scheduled for February 22-24, I started thinking again about all the homegrown life science organizations making a direct impact on the pandemic and our experiences of it. SCBIO, the state’s life science trade organization, has an impressive list of these at

    South Carolina has shown up in everything from testing (Abbott, Clemson University, Hoowaki) to treatment (Alcami) to remote care (ChartSpan) and protection (Humimic Medical, ZVerse). And then some. Years of background efforts were suddenly big news.

    Seeing life sciences become consistent headline fodder has been a real trip. It reminds me of how business news leaped from back sections to front pages in the early 2000s, when mega-scandals rocked Enron, Tyco, WorldCom and others. Biz news got sexy. It was a permanent change. 

    I hope the boosted attention to life sciences is permanent, too. Yes, to celebrate, but also to stay educated about how the world works. I wonder how the past two years would have looked if we’d started out with a broader, realistic understanding of all the parts and pieces it would take to get to the other side.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    South Carolina Company Offers Free Personalized Support to Purchasers see more

    Charleston-based health innovation company KOR Medical --which produces unique cannabinoid products designed to support physical and mental wellness through expert engineering coupled with an individualized approach -- launches its initial consumer product line of CBD, CBN and CBG product offerings across the United States today.

    To celebrate its nationwide launch, KOR is offering up to 30% off the valued price of its KOR System Bundle – a curated collection of Health, Sleep, Calm and Relief sprays, strips, and transdermal cream. The special can be purchased 24/7 online at by using discount code LAUNCHDEAL at checkout. Shipping is included on each KOR System bundle, and consumers can also order KOR products individually.

    Aligning biology with science, KOR’s long-awaited and third-party tested Health, Sleep, Calm and Relief products include sprays, strips and transdermal cream which use a combination of various cannabinoids and advanced delivery techniques developed over years of research, analytics and testing to help consumers feel better both mentally and physically.

    Citing the mental and physical strain on American consumers of the last two years, KOR Medical products utilize the transformative power of cannabinoids to support mental and physical wellness by delivering the right amount for the right individual at the right time. Consumers across America are embracing cannabinoids given their potential as an alternative solution.

    KOR Medical has partnered with Leaf411™ to provide free, personalized support to customers, who can speak directly with a cannabis-trained registered nurse on cannabinoid use and applications.

    KOR Medical’s sublingual sprays, sublingual strips, and transdermal cream are formulated for targeted relief and quick onset. All sublingual products are nano emulsified to accelerate absorption rate within the body.

    All KOR Medical cannabinoid-based product offerings are manufactured in FDA-registered facilities and third-party lab-verified and represent the highest standards of science, innovation, patient experience, compliance, and customer service.

    The cannabis flower has a rich history of usage in the neuropathic industry dating back thousands of years, and produces over 100 cannabinoids including CBN, CBG and CBD – each a key component is KOR Medical products, and with unique benefits and effects. Today, medical researchers are continuing to explore if these molecules can impact anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, anti-inflammatory diseases, seizures, and such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

    Visit KOR Medical at

  • sam patrick posted an article
    SC comes out on top as life sciences, automotive manufacturing industries continue rapid growth see more

    Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory, economic incentives, and real estate services firm, utilizes a variety of innovative tools and analyses to help its clients evaluate locations for manufacturing investment. To ensure manufacturers are choosing the best location for operational success, their site selection process should employ a top-down approach that applies a series of analyses and filters until the most competitive option(s) are identified. If executed correctly, the entire process and the critical inputs that influenced filtering will be clearly documented.

    Ranking the most competitive states for manufacturing

    As a demonstration of this type of inclusive approach, Site Selection Group used its proprietary GeoCision® analysis to provide a scoring of all 50 states based on weighted site selection variables that measure primary considerations for manufacturers (In real practice, this type of analysis would be done at more granular geographies). While these factors are not comprehensive, they represent those often utilized in industrial projects.

    Although location criteria are unique to each specific project’s needs, there are standard site selection drivers that typically drive most manufacturing location decisions. A company’s ability to hire and retain a qualified workforce, as well as its ability to receive and ship goods in a cost-effective and timely manner, are typically the most influential factors that drive final site selection decisions.

    However, the business environment, regulatory climate, utilities, infrastructure, real estate, and economic incentives play an important role in the process. Since no location scores the best in each of these categories, the optimal location for a project is one that has no critical deficiencies. Those factors and weightings used for this exercise are shown in the table below.

    Category Weighting Summary
    Labor Scalability 5.00% Measures the volume of the workforce to ensure companies can scale their workforce
    Target Skill Sets 25.00% Assesses industry and occupation presence to confirm the availability of targeted skill sets
    Labor Demand 20.00% Analyzes the pressures other employers place on the employment market
    Operating Costs 30.00% Quantifies the operating costs such as utilities, taxes, real estate, labor, etc.
    Organized Labor 10.00% Assesses the threat posed by organized labor
    Accessibility 10.00% Analyzes the population base with a one-day drive time of the site and distance to major ports


    Regions vary in competitiveness

    Site Selection Group mapped and listed the 2021 results in the dashboard below. A score of 100% in any one category represents the national average. While no one state or region is a perfect fit for every project or specific industrial sector, there are a couple of clear trends.

    For starters, we see some of the “usual suspects” rise to the top – states that tend to rank well in manufacturing and business competitiveness rankings. Those include southeastern states such as South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama and western states including Utah and Idaho. The inclusion of these western markets near the top of the list is a key difference between these results and those seen in previous years. In addition, many states show clear trade-offs between labor quality and cost, something companies will need to consider in their long-term strategy.

    View map and listing/scoring details by clicking here.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Stephanie Yarbrough and Womble Bond Dickinson hosted the SC Economic Development Summit see more

    Job creation is one of the primary goals of economic development, but a “full employment” economy creates workforce challenges. Those challenges were discussed in numerous ways at the South Carolina Economic Development Summit. 

    The June 14 event, hosted on Daniel Island by Womble Bond Dickinson, consisted of panel discussions, presentations and roundtables covering topics from real estate to life sciences to workplace culture. Regardless of the topic, however, much of the discussion circled back to how businesses can attract and retain talented workers.  WBD is a Premier Partner of SCBIO, South Carolina's life sciences organization.  WBD Partner and SCBIO Vice Chair Stephanie Yarbrough hosted the program. 

    “Workforce is a big issue,” said John DeWorken of WBD Lobby, a governmental relations arm of Womble Bond Dickinson. “I would contend that in talking with business and industry, that it’s the No. 1 issue.”

    During a real estate roundtable, Hagood Morrison II of Bridge Commercial talked about how workforce retention needs are impacting commercial development.

    “There are a number of new amenity types,” he said.

    Morrison is seeing employers install everything from pingpong tables to meditation rooms.

    “We are fully employed,” he said. South Carolina’s March unemployment rate of 3.4% is below the national rate. “So how do we keep those folks?”

    Meanwhile, a roundtable on the future of work talked about how workplaces – including manufacturing spaces – are changing to accommodate collaboration.

    “We don’t work anymore with an individual focus,” said Stephanie Yarbrough, a partner in WBD’s Charleston office. “We work as teams and we work better in diverse teams.”

    That discussion also turned toward amenities, Yarbrough said. She said a young professional raised the point that while providing snacks and cool offices for workers is great, college loan debts are such that many would “work in a broom closet” if it meant getting paid better salaries.

    “It was very eye-opening,” Yarbrough said. “It goes to your values. It was a good, open dialog.”

    Regarding values, Brad Little discussed the challenges of balancing culture and scale at a growing business. A former Facebook employee, Little leads the consumer solutions business for Charleston-based Blackbaud Inc.

    “There’s a lot of new energy coming into organizations all the time,” he said. “Encourage everyone to be heard. Genuinely listen to other people’s points of view.”

    Little said at Facebook there is a culture of colleagues constantly providing each other with constructive criticism. On its face, it might seem uncomfortable.

    “It became a lot easier because it was happening so often,” Little said of his own experience. “And it was great because everyone was getting better.”

    He said a willingness to take risks allowed Facebook workers to learn from mistakes while bringing team members closer together.

    Mark Fava, chief counsel for Boeing’s North Charleston facility, said it was a “huge risk” for the aircraft manufacturer to decide to come to South Carolina a decade ago. Since then, the company has invested $2 billion while growing to 7,000 workers, but Fava said Boeing is still only using about half of its 884-acre site.

    During his presentation, Fava also pointed out Boeing’s robust employee benefits that ranges from paid parental leave to charitable gift matching.

    A discussion of the life sciences industry also looked at workforce from several angles. Developer Mack Reese is managing partner of Gateway Ventures, which is behind Charleston’s WestEdge, a 50-acre, 1-million-square-foot project that combines live/work/play elements attractive to companies such as life sciences startups.

    “How people work is changing,” he said. “Office buildings need to change.”

    Sam Konduros, president and chief executive of SCBIO, said talent is a huge factor in that industry’s future growth. He said the state’s three research universities – Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and University of South Carolina, as well as the Greenwood Genetic Center – are key sources of talent.

    “We’re not just a state that makes things now,” Konduros said. “We’re a place that innovates.”

    Fellow panelist Hank Jibaja of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. said his company found an innovative way to source talent. Faced with fluctuating production demands, a Facebook post turned into a program by which local teachers come to Nephron for occasional weekend work at $21 per hour.

    “Today we have 650 teachers on our roster,” he said.

    Looking ahead, DeWorken said there is a bill in the General Assembly that would provide scholarships for students who gain diplomas or certificates in careers where there is a critical workforce need.

    “You might have a student that says they’d love to have their CDL, but can’t afford it,” he said. Truck driving is one of many industries where there is perceived to be a shortage of workers and it could be one of the jobs included in the scholarship program.

    The summit is an annual event hosted by WBD. The firm’s 1,000 lawyers represent more than 250 publicly traded companies. It has 27 offices across the United States and United Kingdom, including Charleston, Columbia and Greenville.

    CourtesySouth Carolina CEO