June 4, 2004
Economic experts and business and political leaders will gather today to look for answers to why the Columbia area is losing so many jobs.
The Columbia Regional Job Summit will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the State Museum.
Open to the public, the summit is being co-sponsored by the city and USC. Mayor Bob Coble and USC president Andrew Sorensen invited about 150 business and community leaders.
Richland and Lexington counties have lost jobs four years in a row. Of the 18,100 jobs lost in South Carolina since 1999, 12,300 were in the Columbia metro area. While the metro area continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, that rate has been inching up since 1998. The rate was 4.1 percent in April, compare with 6.8 percent statewide.
The summit will feature a look at the area’s current economic picture from USC research economist Donald Schunck. State and federal officials will discuss the statistics from their perspectives.
A roundtable discussion of local businesspeople will focus on the employers’ perspective. On the panel will be Peter Brown of Colite International, Trip Gregory of Palmetto Health, Deepal Eliatamby of Alliance Consulting Engineers, Nathaniel Spells of Construction Dynamics, Rick Wade of Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Diane Sumpter of DESA.
Another panel discussion will be held on local, regional and state initiatives.
Mayor Bob Coble will lead a planning discussion on what steps are being taken to improve the jobs picture and what else needs to be done.
An open discussion will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.