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Home > Events > Community > Leaders from Richland Library, City of Cayce, First Community Bank, NiA Theatre and Arts Community to Speak at EngenuitySC’s Ignite! Celebration, Nov. 16, 2016

Leaders from Richland Library, City of Cayce, First Community Bank, NiA Theatre and Arts Community to Speak at EngenuitySC’s Ignite! Celebration, Nov. 16, 2016

Unfinished Second Floor of New First Base Building at BullStreet to Serve as Venue

Nov. 1, 2016 (COLUMBIA, S.C.): EngenuitySC will gather some of the most influential voices in the Midlands on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, 5-8 p.m. at Ignite! 2016, the Midlands’ annual hot-ticket celebration of economic competitiveness.

Mayor Elise Partin of Cayce, Richland Library’s Melanie Huggins, Mike Crapps of First Community Bank, Darion McCloud of NiA Theatre Company and acclaimed artist Michaela Pilar Brown will converge to give short, dynamic TED-style talks to more than 300 ticketholders in the Midlands business community on the unfinished second floor of the brand new First Base Building at BullStreet (2142 Boyce Street, Columbia, SC 29201), adjacent to Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies.

Tickets to Ignite! are $55, available online at http://www.engenuitysc.com/ignite.

Attendees enjoy open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres and networking; a streamlined program of keynote talks by three sets of local thought leaders and video presentations by three $5,000 Ignite! Ideas Contest entrepreneurial finalists; followed by live voting for the winner of the competition and awarding of the prize funds, presented by Nephron Pharmaceuticals.

The evening will be hosted by EngenuitySC board founding co-chairs Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, S.C.; Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina; and emcee Mary King.

About the EngenuitySC Ignite! 2016 Speakers:


Melanie Huggins, executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, S.C., and Elise Partin, Mayor of the City of Cayce, S.C., will team up to present a keynote on their experiences becoming leaders in the Midlands.

In her time at Richland Library, Melanie Huggins has introduced a new focus for strategic planning that involves all staff, rebranded the library system based on customer feedback, received over $1 million in grants, and helped usher Richland Library into the national spotlight, making it one of the top 15 libraries in the country and a 2016 finalist for the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal. A vocal advocate for service design and design thinking, she continues to lead the implementation of a 10-year capital plan that includes expansion and renovation of all locations based on the changing roles of libraries. Huggins is an active member of the American Library Association and was named the 2012 South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association. She served on the Urban Libraries Council Executive Board from 2012-2016, was selected for South Carolina’s Liberty Fellow Class of 2017, serves on the City Center Partnership Board and is the Director-at-Large for the Public Library Association.

Mayor Elise Partin has been recognized for her focus on economic development, her fostering of open communication, and her efforts to promote regionalism and ethics reform while protecting taxpayer dollars. She serves on the Executive Board of the Municipal Association of South Carolina and on the Board of the Central Midlands Council of Governments; the Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Commission of Lexington County; the Lexington County Development Corporation; and the River Alliance. Partin was named as one of the “Top Women of Influence” by Southeast Small Business Magazine in 2014 and was selected to attend the 2016 Mayors’ Institute for City Design. She is actively working to create an arts hospitality corridor along State Street in Cayce and recently confirmed a plan to replace all of Cayce’s water lines in 2017. Under her leadership, Cayce has been recognized in the top 10 most tax-friendly places to retire in S.C. and as the number one city in S.C. for recent graduates and millennials.


Mike Crapps, founder, president and CEO of First Community Bank, will speak about protecting company culture and southern manners in a modern business world. Under Crapps’ leadership, First Community Bank has experienced significant growth, despite fluctuations in the economy, with $915 in total assets and 16 banking offices. An avid activist in the Midlands community, Crapps serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte Brand Board of Directors and is a member of the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors and the Midlands Business Leadership Group. In the past, he has served as chairman of the Navigating from Good to Great Foundation Board, the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, the Saluda Shoals Park Foundation, and the South Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society.


Michaela Pilar Brown and Darion McCloud, Columbia-based creative entrepreneurs, will co-present a talk about starting important conversations through the language of art. Both local artists have committed their lives to making statements on larger issues via artistic expression, and have both been critically acclaimed locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

A multidisciplinary visual artist who also employs photography, installation and performance art, Michaela Pilar Brown has exhibited her work across the Southeast, in Washington, D.C. and beyond, and has been featured in Art Basel Miami, ARTFIELDS in Lake City, S.C. and the Columbia Museum of Art. She studied at Howard University and has completed several artist-in-residencies, including at Sedona Arts Center in Az., Kunstlerwerkgemeinschaft in Germany and McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, N.C. Brown recently launched “Mike Brown Contemporary,” a mobile pop-up exhibition specializing in bringing contemporary art to public spaces. Brown serves as a facilitator with Artists U, a grassroots nonprofit built to provide artists with open-source materials for professional development and strategic planning.

Darion McCloud is an actor, director, storyteller, educator and arts advocate, serving as the founder and creative director of NiA Theatre Company; creator of Story Squad (a children’s literacy theatrical troupe); company member of Trustus Theatre and S.C. Shakespeare Company; Vice President of the Friends of African American Art Affiliate of Columbia Museum of Art and a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow. A formally trained visual artist, McCloud later relocated his talents to performance art, now holding more than 15 performing arts credits; eight directing roles and four storytelling acknowledgements. He was recently recognized with a Literacy Leaders Award from the USC School of Library and Information Science and the South Carolina State Library.

Ignite! Sponsors

The sponsor of the Ignite! 2016 Ideas Contest, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a global leader in manufacturing generic respiratory medications utilizing blow-fill-seal technology. Nephron Pharmaceuticals recently moved its headquarters to West Columbia, S.C., right outside of owner and CEO Lou Kennedy’s hometown of Lexington.

Additional Ignite! 2016 Anchor Sponsors include BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, sponsor of the evening’s networking hour. Competitiveness Sponsors are SCRA, the University of South Carolina Office of Economic Engagement and Midlands Technical College. Collaboration Sponsors are First Community Bank; Mashburn Construction; the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism; Ogletree Deakins; SCE&G; LLE Construction; Nelson Mullins; Lower Richland High School; Hopkins Middle School and Southeast Middle School.

To learn more about Ignite!, visit http://www.engenuitysc.com/ignite and follow the #IgniteCAE hashtag and @EngenuitySC on Twitter and Facebook: www.facebook.com/engenuitysc.

About EngenuitySC

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., EngenuitySC is an economic development nonprofit focused on enhancing our region’s competitiveness and prosperity. In partnership with business, government, education and community leaders, EngenuitySC specializes in regional collaboration and project management; the activation of local industry clusters; and regional research, analysis and marketing. For more information, visit http://www.engenuitysc.com.

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