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Charleston Business

The Business Narrative: Travel With Caution

Feb 06, 2024 09:33AM ● By Donna Walker

Tips for South Carolinians Considering a Trip to The Bahamas

A popular vacation destination for South Carolina travelers is under a State Department travel advisory. 


Officials are telling Americans to “exercise increased caution” when visiting the Bahamas because of a rise in crime.  


According to the U.S. State Department, the majority of crime occurs on New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands.


In Nassau, practice increased vigilance in the “Over the Hill” area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population, officials said.


Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas, the officials said.


And they urge vigilance when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies don’t have a presence.   


The officials added activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, aren't consistently regulated. Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications, according to State Department officials. 


The officials also said always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities. 


Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred, the officials said.


Due to the safety concerns, U.S. government personnel aren’t permitted to use independently operated jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.   


Officials also said never swim alone, regardless of your age or level of swimming skills.


And they said to be mindful of sharks when swimming and engaging in water activities, as there have been recent fatal and non-fatal incidents involving sharks. 


According to State Department officials, if you decide to travel to The Bahamas:  


* Do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is.  

* Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.  

* Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.  

* Prepare a contingency plan for emergency and medical situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.  

* Go to the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.


According to data from InsureMyTrip, the Bahamas is the second most popular destination for Americans, and the top destination for South Carolinians.


As a travel insurance comparison site, InsureMyTrip officials remind policyholders that canceling a trip because the destination was upgraded to a Level 2 advisory isn’t a covered reason.


That means, the officials said, if you no longer want to travel to the Bahamas because you’re afraid of the increased crime there, you will not be reimbursed for the money already paid toward the trip. 


That’s unless, the officials said, you added the optional Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit. They said CFAR gives the most flexibility to cancel a trip for something other than a covered reason – like fear or unwillingness to travel.


If you meet the qualification requirements, and cancel at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure, you may be reimbursed 50 percent – 75 percent of your total, prepaid, non-refundable trip costs, the officials said.   

South Carolina Charities Appoints Bob Stegner to Board President, Announces Judson Conwell as Director of Corporate Partnerships, Assistant Tournament Director

South Carolina Charities, Inc. (SCCI), the nonprofit foundation of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX, announced the appointment of Bob Stegner to board president and Judson Conwell to director of corporate partnerships and assistant tournament director.


Stegner previously served as vice president of the SCCI board of directors. He brings more than 30 years of business and community leadership experience to his role.


Currently senior vice president, marketing, North America for TD SYNNEX, Stegner is responsible for marketing in the United States and Canada and is a founding board member of TD SYNNEX Share the Magic.


Since its inception in 2011, TD SYNNEX Share the Magic has raised more than $25 million for children and families in need and expanded from South Carolina to Canada, Colorado, Illinois and the California Bay Area. 


Stegner was inducted into the CompTIA Hall of Fame in 2020 in recognition of his impact on the IT industry and was most recently inducted into the Greenville Business Magazine Hall of Fame in January. 


Conwell joins SCCI from Johnson Development Associates and previously spent five years with the BMW Charity Pro-Am where he held several roles including director of sales.


In his new role as director of corporate partnerships and assistant tournament director, Conwell will manage local, regional, and national partnerships while assisting with the management of the tournament.


“The BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX continues to be a highly anticipated annual event in the Upstate by serving as a vehicle for community and business engagement, attracting visitors to our region and most importantly, raising funds to support many of our community’s most critical needs,” said Stegner.


He added, “I am humbled to serve the Upstate in this new capacity and look forward to working alongside the board and tournament staff to deliver a first-class event this June. We are also very pleased to welcome Judson back to the team.”


Additional board changes for 2024 include BMW Manufacturing Manager of Government and Community Relations Max Metcalf being promoted to vice president and Elliott Davis Chairman Emeritus Irv Welling being named treasurer. Andy Cajka, Frank Davis, Sheldon Early, Sky Foster, Todd Horne and Davis Sezna will continue to serve as board directors.


“I look forward to the impact Bob will make as board president of SCCI as well as the growth we will see having Judson return to the tournament team,” said Michael McGovern, tournament director. “As we transition to new board leadership, I would also like to thank SCCI’s former board president, Bob Nitto, for his unwavering commitment and leadership.”


The 2024 BMW Charity Pro-Am will be held June 3-9 at Thornblade Club and The Carolina Country Club.


Featured charities of the tournament include Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute; Meyer Center for Special Children; Mobile Meals of Spartanburg; Neighborhood Cancer Connection, formerly the Cancer Society of Greenville; and Roper Mountain Science Center.


For more information, go to

Columbia Empowerment Zone to Announce Bluff/Atlas Road Improvement Project

The Columbia Empowerment Zone, Inc. (CEZ) alongside partners and elected officials from the state, county and city, will hold a press conference Feb. 8, 2024, at 1 p.m. to announce the Bluff/Atlas Road Improvement Project. 


Officials said the proposed development is on a corridor that has a history of disinvestment and residents lack access to fresh rood and health care.


The development of the site will serve as a catalyst for community activity and as a gateway to Congaree National Forest, the officials said.


Furthermore, they said the new phased development will eliminate blight, enhance the Bluff/Atlas Road area and improve a main corridor into the city of Columbia. 


The development will include a market place that provides opportunities for entrepreneurs in the food service and artisan industry; farmers market; event venue; and green space. 


Officials said partnership opportunities have been created to develop a federally qualified health center and government services facility.


The health center will provide multiple health care services and the government services facility with serve the community.  


The improvement project will be announced at 3650 Bluff Rd. Columbia, SC 29209.

Dashboard Deals: 38,304 Business Deals Take Place Each Morning on I-26 through Charleston, Study Reveals

As they navigate through the relentless ebb and flow of traffic, many commuters engage in various activities to pass the time: some tap out rhythms on the steering wheel, others immerse themselves in the latest podcasts or radio broadcasts, and there are those who gaze vacantly into the distance, an expression of resignation etched on their faces.


Yet, amidst this daily grind, a significant portion of these travelers are transforming their gridlock frustrations into opportunities for productivity.


A new study has revealed the sheer number of business deals taking place during rush hours across the nation’s busiest routes. 


This was uncovered through a detailed survey conducted by LawLinq, which queried 3,000 commuters about their working habits during rush hours.


The findings are telling— many acknowledge that their workday begins not upon arrival at the office, but amidst the standstill of traffic.


It was able to pinpoint the top 150 rush hour routes where, it appears, the most business deals are taking place while in America's most congested corridors.


Unsurprisingly, California and Florida rush hour routes dominated. 


The top 10:



I-10, Los Angeles: 111,720 working behind the wheel.
Out of all the busiest rush hour routes in the U.S., more business is taking place on LA’s I-10 than anywhere else. This key east-west corridor experiences heavy congestion as it serves as a major commuting route for the dense populations of the Greater Los Angeles area, including connecting downtown to the densely populated Westside.


It appears that the I-10 in Los Angeles isn't just a freeway; it's the city's unofficial boardroom on wheels. This is how the savvy Angeleno turns the great parking lot known as the I-10 into the most productive place since Silicon Valley's coffee shops. After all, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere—just a few hours later than you planned.



US 101, Los Angeles: 102,144
Another LA route placed second in the nation overall. Traffic is heavily impacted due to its route through several key business and entertainment districts in the city, compounded by frequent on and off-ramp traffic in the San Fernando Valley. Drivers here aren’t just steering wheels; they’re steering negotiations, mergers, and the occasional online shopping spree.


LA’s 101 is where the traffic is bumper-to-bumper, but so are the opportunities.



I-95 in Miami-Dade County: 100,320
This route experiences severe congestion due to being a major route for commuters in the densely populated Miami metro area, coupled with heavy tourist traffic.


The savvy Miamian knows that every minute crawling along I-95 is a chance to multitask by closing some deals. Here, the slow lane is the new fast track to success.



I-405, Los Angeles: 95,760
The I-405 in Los Angeles, affectionately known as 'The 405,' is one of the most congested freeways in the U.S. It suffers from heavy traffic due to its central role in L.A.'s sprawling geography, connecting the San Fernando Valley to the Los Angeles International Airport and beyond.


It's on this highway that Hollywood writers find their muse somewhere between a billboard and a bumper sticker. The 405 is LA's melting pot of ambition, where you can witness a display of multitasking: one hand on the wheel, the other flipping through a pitch deck, all while perfecting the art of the strategic coffee sip to avoid pothole spills. For many, the 405 'rush hour' is just a cute term for 'time to hustle.' 



I-5, Los Angeles: 92,568
As a primary north-south artery through the heart of California, the I-5 sees heavy congestion in L.A. due to high commuter and freight traffic. As the sun casts glares off laptops and tablets, the I-5 transforms into a freeway of opportunity.


It’s where screenplays are written in the heads of hopefuls, and where entrepreneurs pitch to clients over hands-free devices. It's also the only place where 'speeding' means getting through your to-do list, not your commute.



SR 91, Southern California: 89,376
State Route 91, or the infamous 91 freeway in Southern California, is where time stretches out like the endless summer sky. This stretch experiences heavy congestion as it serves as a main commuter route between the Inland Empire and Orange County.


Here, savvy SoCal commuters don't just drive; they thrive, turning their car into a makeshift office. It's a freeway where every traffic jam is a networking event and every overpass, a chance to mull over that new podcast idea. 



I-45 in Houston: 87,780
The highest place non Cali/Floridian route, The I-45 in Houston is known for congestion as it serves as a critical link between downtown Houston, the residential suburbs, and Galveston, with heavy daily commuter traffic.


Amidst morning rush hours, you'll find oil tycoons trading stocks on their dash-mounted tablets, tech wunderkinds coding the next space-age software, and maybe even a cowboy hat-clad lawyer wrangling a contract or two. 



I-75 in the Miami metropolitan area: 83,600
The I-75 faces heavy traffic as it serves as a key north-south route for both local commuters in the western suburbs and long-distance travelers. Miami's movers and shakers, however, don't just sit back and soak in the sun; they turn their vehicles into vessels of venture.


In this mobile melting pot, you'll find entrepreneurs launching startups from the backseat, and realtors sealing waterfront property deals on speakerphone.



SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) in Miami: 83,600
The SR 826, or the Palmetto Expressway, is known for congestion due to its crucial role in connecting western suburbs to downtown Miami and the Miami Beach areas.


Drivers here dodge potholes and plot graphs, deal with mergers and missed exits, all the while sipping on Cuban coffee to keep the business buzz going. 



I-80, San Francisco Bay Area: 82,992
Rounding up the top 10 came the I-80. This freeway experiences heavy congestion as it serves as a main artery into San Francisco, including traffic to and from the Bay Bridge.


Here, every Prius and Tesla is a think tank on wheels, and the air is thick with the scent of ambition. The I-80 is less of a highway and more of a rolling TED Talk, with every vehicle a stage for ideas worth spreading, albeit at 10 mph.


South Carolina had three rush hour routes included in the top 150 for business deals done behind the wheel:



I-26 through Charleston: 38,304 working behind the wheel.

I-26, as it approaches Charleston, particularly around the I-526 interchange and into downtown, turns into a bustling corridor of productivity amidst its congestion. Serving as a main route for commuters, the interstate sees a variety of professionals – from the tech sector to healthcare – utilizing their commute time effectively.


Amid the heavy traffic during peak hours, they engage in virtual meetings, strategize their workdays, and listen to industry-specific podcasts, effectively turning their vehicles into mobile offices. 



I-85 through Greenville: 35,112

I-85 through Greenville, a major route in the Upstate region, becomes more than just a congested highway; it's a hub of connectivity. Experiencing heavy traffic due to the area's growing population and a mix of local and regional travel, the interstate is frequented by professionals from diverse fields.


This highway mirrors the dynamic and fast-paced lifestyle of Greenville, showcasing how commuting time is seamlessly integrated into the rhythm of professional life.



I-77 in Columbia: 31,920

I-77 running through Columbia, especially congested during peak commuting times, serves as a vital artery for the city's workforce. As a key route for local commuters and a connector to other major highways, the road sees a multitude of professionals leveraging their commute.


They engage in strategic planning, participate in virtual meetings, and catch up on sector-specific podcasts, using their journey to maintain productivity and stay connected with their professional circles. 


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