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SC Chamber names Howard Coker Business Leader of the Year

SC Chamber names Howard Coker Business Leader of the Year

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce has announced the honorees for the 2021 Business Leader of the Year, Public Servant of the Year, and the Sgt. William Jasper Freedom Award.

Howard Coker, president and CEO of Sonoco, has been named the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year.

Congressman James Clyburn, representing South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, and majority whip, was named Public Servant of the Year.

The Sgt. William Jasper Freedom Award will go to Brigadier General Milford H. Beagle Jr., U.S. Army.

The South Carolina Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year is chosen based on leadership in South Carolina and the embodiment of personal success. Other criteria include a business record based on ethical conduct and corporate responsibility, public service, contributions to the preservation of South Carolina’s government and commitment to creating a positive business climate to improve the state’s economy.

The South Carolina Chamber’s Public Servant of the Year award recognizes an individual who has served, or currently serves, as a key official in state government and has contributed to the overall well-being and health of the state as a whole.

The SC Chamber’s Sgt. William Jasper Freedom award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the freedom of South Carolina and the nation.

 “Our list of 2021 award winners exemplifies the diverse, exceptionally strong group of leaders we have here in South Carolina,” said Bob Morgan, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “Congressman Clyburn needs no introduction – his contributions to our state throughout his long career in Washington are almost unparalleled.

“He has fought tirelessly for South Carolina and I can think of no one better to receive our Public Servant of the Year award.

"Howard Coker, in his role as CEO of Sonoco, heads the largest publicly traded company headquartered in South Carolina. Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Coker led the company through a massive expansion of the Hartsville, S.C., facility. This is expected to make Sonoco the largest and lowest-cost producer of recycled paperboard in the world. We are thrilled to recognize him as this year’s Business Leader of the Year.

“General Beagle, a native South Carolinian and graduate of South Carolina State University, has served as the commanding general of Fort Jackson, the nation’s largest military basic training base, since 2018. He is now preparing for his next assignment – leading the 10th Mountain Division (Light) at Fort Drum in New York. Our state has long had a prominent military presence and General Beagle is a fantastic choice for this year’s Sgt. William Jasper Freedom Award.

"We look forward to honoring all of our winners at this year’s Annual Summit in Kiawah.”

The 2021 award winners will be honored at the 42nd South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Annual Summit at The Sanctuary at Kiawah on Nov. 1-3.

About the SC Chamber: The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is the state’s leading voice for business with a vision to make South Carolina’s economy the most vibrant in the United States, creating opportunity and prosperity for all. A statewide organization that fights for pro-job and business policies at the state and federal level, it strives to promote free enterprise; define and advocate for the business agenda; convene, connect, and educate businesses; and partner with key allies. Our member insights shape the policies we write and the agenda we promote at the Statehouse. Learn more at


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