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Charleston Business

The Business Narrative: Business Optimism Going Up

Aug 10, 2022 09:56AM ● By Donna Walker

Small Business Optimism Index Sees Rise in July

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index rose for the first time since December of last year, inching up 0.4 points in July to 89.9. 

According to Wells Fargo, the increase in the overall index results from a slight moderation in some of the aspects of the business environment that deteriorated sharply during the first half of the year.

Even with the improvement, the Small Business Optimism index has remained below its 48-year average of 98 for six straight months. Only four of the survey's 10 components rose in July, while six declined.

A nine-point rise in the share of firms expecting economic conditions to improve broke a six-month skid, but remains well into negative territory at -52 percent. The series remains at a historically low level and suggests most business owners remain cautious about the economic outlook.

Inflation remains the top concern for business owners, followed by the continued difficulty in finding qualified workers. Business owners are also concerned that, with the economy slowing, they will have a more difficult time passing along their higher costs to their customers.

The proportion of firms reporting they raised prices in the past three months fell four points in July, but remains relatively high at 65 percent. This series topped out at 72 percent in March. The proportion raising compensation was unchanged at 48 percent, a level that is in line with other recent reports on compensation and wages.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index edged 0.4 points higher in July to 89.9. The rise marked the first improvement in the index since December and reflects some relief from what had been a relentless rise in energy prices.

While small business optimism edged higher, business owners continue to express a great deal of concern about the economic environment. Only four of the index's ten component increased, while six declined. The index also remained below its 48-year average of 98 for the sixth consecutive month.

The proportion of business owners expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose nine points to -52 percent.

July's increase comes off a record-low level hit the prior month. Inflation repeatedly came in above expectations throughout the first half of the year, which meant the Fed would have to raise interest rates more aggressively.

The latest survey shows that 37 percent of business owners believe inflation is the single most important problem in operating their business. This is up three points from June, and the highest share citing inflation concerns since Q4-1979.

The share of business owners looking to hire workers over the next three months ticked up one percentage point to 20 percent in July.

Hiring plans in 2022 have been roughly even with pre-pandemic levels, hovering around the 20 percent mark. The slight uptick in hiring plans was at odds with the  July nonfarm employment report, which saw payrolls surge by 528,000 jobs.

Milliken Acquires Frontier Yarn Plant in North Carolina

Milliken & Company, a diversified global manufacturer innovating in the textile, chemical, floor covering, and healthcare industries, recently acquired one of the Frontier yarn plants in Mayodan, N.C., from Gildan.

This plant acquisition expands Milliken’s open-end yarn production for its protective fabrics, workwear, government and defense, industrial, and napery textile business units.

“Investing in this plant enhances the agility of Milliken’s Textile Business and shores up our supply chain in the U.S. to benefit our customers,” said Halsey Cook, president and CEO.

“Guided by integrity and excellence in all we do, this move bolsters our supply chains to enhance customer service.”

The Frontier Spinning Plant #3, which will be renamed the Two Rivers Plant as a nod to its dedicated team and the community it serves, will become a spinning hub for Milliken. Multiple Milliken textile plants throughout the Southeast will source their yarn needs from the Two Rivers Plant.

“Adding this plant to the Milliken manufacturing footprint helps us meet current production needs and offers additional capacity for future growth,” says Kevin Brown, senior vice president of global operations for Milliken’s Textile Business.

“The expansion helps us create a resilient supply chain that offers consistency and surety for both our product lines and customers.”

Spartanburg Company Receives Grant From Jobber

Jobber, a provider of home service operations management software, announced the recipients of its $150,000 Jobber Grants program.

Twenty-five entrepreneurs were selected from thousands of applications and rewarded with funds ranging from $2,500 to $15,000 USD to help grow and amplify the community impact of their home service businesses.

The top grant of $15,000 was given to Shane Fast, founder of Renew Painting located in Spartanburg.

The company, which provides an array of painting and staining services, focuses on giving a diverse group of employees including women, minorities, and individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds, valuable experience in skilled work while providing fair living wages and profit-sharing.

Fast also donates 10 percent of all profits to nonprofit organizations in his community.

“I spent many years in the inner city near St. Louis where I saw a lot of poverty and watched people really struggle to overcome obstacles,” Fast said.

“The experience molded me to love people more deeply, recognize the position they're coming from, and inspired me to give back to my community as much as I can. Jobber created an opportunity for us to ramp up our plans to provide meaningful employment to more people and equip existing staff in various ways, an investment that will also relieve some of the stress and pressures that come with juggling family life with rapidly scaling a business.”

SeamonWhiteside Helps to Build New Landscape at Camp Happy Days

SeamonWhiteside (SW+), a full-service site design firm throughout the Carolinas, recently donated services and volunteer efforts to design and build a new landscape at Camp Happy Days’ Corporate Office, at 933 Dupont Road in Charleston.

Camp Happy Days is a 501(c)(3) charity that supports and encourages children diagnosed with cancer and their families by providing cost-free year-round programs, special events, and access to crisis resources.

SeamonWhiteside donated its design services to revamp the exterior of Camp Happy Day’s corporate office, which is located in an old warehouse building.

They worked closely with the team to create a conceptual landscape plan for the front entry area. The firm then formed a team of 15 employees that volunteered their time to install the landscape over the course of two days. 

“As a firm, it was our honor to donate our time, effort, and expertise to help a great cause in our community. This was a special project to us. We wanted every aspect to be perfect and the finished project to be a place of joy and encouragement,” says Russ Seamon, president of SeamonWhiteside.

“We don’t normally install landscaping, but this project was close to our hearts at SeamonWhiteside, and we had incredible employees who were eager to spend their time bringing the project to life. We hope this will bring a smile to the faces of the children and their parents for years to come.”

Camp Happy Day’s goal is to improve the physical, emotional, and psychological health of the entire family facing pediatric cancer.

SeamonWhiteside worked with partner LS3P Associates on the project and together formed volunteer teams to install the landscape.  

Currently, SeamonWhiteside is working with Camp Happy Days to design the rear exterior area, consisting of an open-air patio, a large play area, a butterfly garden, and walkways. The exterior space is expected to be completed within the next six months.

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