In This Edition: Charleston is among top cities for rise in telecommuting thanks to warm weather, affordability … In search of builders and facing lagging construction times, S.C. construction industry turns to workforce development … Charleston City Council approves new rules to curtail construction of large hotels … Richland County simplifies tax payments with QR codes … Phones in Midlands to soon dial in to new 839 area code

Home is Where the Work is: Charleston is Among Top Cities for Rise in Telecommuting

An analysis of Census Bureau data of 100 metro areas by the Post and Courier shows Charleston is the third-largest city were working from home has risen, behind New Orleans and Palm Bay, Fla. About 5% of the Holy City’s labor force telecommutes, and their job descriptions span many varieties of employment: they might work for local companies or out-of-state businesses, be self-employed, or have joined a startup with no fixed office. Companies are finding they have to offer flexibility to recruit high-demand talent in a competitive job market. “(Workers are) choosing where they want to live, and then they’re figuring out where they want to work,” said Claire Gibbons, marketing and communications director of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. But some workers desire to work remotely so much they would be willing to take an 8% pay cut to do so, according to a 2017 Harvard and Princeton study. (Post and Courier)

In Search of Builders, S.C. Construction Industry Turns to Workforce Development

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce reports that demand is high and growing stronger in the Midlands for carpenters, and construction laborers and managers. While worker shortages are not considered to be a crisis, some contractors are adjusting anticipated completion dates and the Carolinas Associated General Contractors is promoting a Build Your Career program of education ambassadors for workforce development.  An executive with Great Southern Homes said what used to be a 90- to 120-day project now can take double that time to complete because they have half the manpower working on those jobs. Also, when competing for workers when state unemployment is dipping to 3.2%, construction firms are recruiting against employers such as manufacturers who offer indoor work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook website, construction laborer employment is expected to grow 11% by 2028 compared to a decade earlier. Moore School economist Joey Von Nessen concluded in a study that South Carolina’s housing industry supports more than 281,000 jobs and pays $10.2 billion for labor. (Columbia Regional Business Report)

Charleston Approves New Rules to Curtail Construction of Large Hotels

Charleston City Council unanimously approved the final version of its long negotiated and revised ordinance for new hotel development. Updated rules in the final draft, which had input for a task force that included the mayor, neighborhood associations, preservation groups and the tourism industry, includes restrictions on new hotel sites to prevent pushing out existing residences, retailers and office space; maximum room counts of 250; new rules for hotels meeting spaces; and a fee for new construction that would be earmarked to create affordable housing. Tightened rules for new rooftop bars are still pending review. (Post and Courier)

Richland County Simplifies Tax Payments with QR Codes

As of November, all Richland County tax notices will include a QR code for easy access to tax payments via smartphone. Richland County’s business systems division started developing QR codes for tax payments in 2013, with vehicle tax notices being an early category, and now personal, property, business tax and real estate assessments join the mix. The county projects that 2,400 taxpayers will use the QR technology in 2019, up from 1,500 since 2016, and the county has collected more than $3 million using the system through July. (Columbia Regional Business Report)

Phones in Midlands to Soon Dial in to New 839 Area Code

The 803 area code is no longer big enough for central South Carolina phone numbers. The 839 area code will be assigned to new phone customers beginning in May for coverage zones within the area from Chester to Allendale and Aiken to Rock Hill. Also, 10-digit dialing with become mandatory for calls within the same area code. South Carolina will now have five area codes, joining 843/854 in the Lowcountry and 864 in the Upstate. (The State)

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

“Charleston is very much a lifestyle city, and not as much a business city. A lot of these folks are able to move down here with Northeast salaries, but yet have the Charleston cost of living.”

Liz Guthridge, a remote-working, self-employed coach and consultant, on the migration trend of American workers moving away from colder climates