1st Annual OPE Summit

Gov. Nikki R. Haley at the 1st Annual OPE Summit (February 25, 2015).

Gov. Nikki R. Haley at the 1st Annual OPE Summit (February 25, 2015).

February 25 was truly a great day in South Carolina, as Gov. Nikki Haley often says.

Along with several key program partners and around 200 invited guests, she joined us at Sysco Columbia for the 1st Annual OPE Summit to celebrate one year of unprecedented collaborative success in serving South Carolina’s military job seekers and the civilian employers who hire them.

The governor and DEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton spoke about how, thanks in part to Operation Palmetto Employment, South Carolina’s Veterans unemployment rate has dropped for the second straight year. Adjutant General Bob Livingston discussed the benefits not only to Service Members and their families, but gains to the state’s economy and workforce. Veterans Mike Marsden and John Warren (Navy and Marines, respectively) shared compelling messages with job seekers and hiring managers.


1st Annual OPE Summit at Sysco Columbia.

“Everyone in this room has the same goal — we want South Carolina to be the most military friendly state in the nation,” Gov. Haley said. “OPE paves the way for this achievement while maintaining our state’s reputation as a top destination for businesses to invest and expand.”

Played at the Summit, this video features OPE partners such as SC Works and readySC, and employers including Verizon Wireless and Starbucks. From a variety of sources, it demonstrates the progress and potential of this important statewide initiative.

The highlight of the day was recognizing 16 certified Palmetto Military Employers (PMEs) who have pledged to report, actively recruit and retain military hires in the coming year.

OPE Summit - PME Employers (Feb 2015)

16 Palmetto Military Employers recognized at the 1st Annual OPE Summit.

Company representatives received a framed certificate signed by Gov. Haley, Director Stanton and Adjutant General Livingston. A PME credentialing event is scheduled in the Upstate on March 10, with tentative April dates to be confirmed in the Lowcountry and Pee Dee regions.

Thanks to all who had a part in this special event, and to those who have partnered with us during this first year. As OPE continues to take shape, we look forward to connecting with many more.


February Events and Feedback Opportunities

US SC flagsIt’s the start of a new month, and we’re a little over three weeks away from two major events in Columbia that will impact South Carolina’s military community and those who support them.

First up on February 25: The First Annual Operation Palmetto Employment Summit, where we look forward to educating employers, industry leaders and workforce development personnel on the true value of military hires. We’ll also recognize the first batch of certified Palmetto Military Employers — 17 to date! Stay tuned for reports from this invitation-only event.

Then on Thursday, February 26: The Columbia Chamber hosts a Save Our Fort Community Listening Session at Shandon Baptist Church on Forest Drive. If you’re in the Columbia area, please make plans to attend. Read more in this report from ColaDaily.com.

Last but certainly not least:How are we doing? If you’ve had any connection to OPE Employment Services since we launched this statewide initiative (a year ago this month!), we want to hear from you! Please click through to complete a brief online survey as applicable — there are unique surveys for job seekers, employers and military leadership. Thanks in advance, and we look forward to connecting with you soon!