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NEWSMAKERS December 26, 2016 | | Vol. 22, No. 27

THE YEAR IN NEWS The moments, photos, news and data that defined the Charleston business community in 2016.



LOWCOUNTRY NEWSROOM Managing Editor - Andy Owens • 843.849.3142 Senior Copy Editor - Beverly Barfield • 843.849.3115 Staff Writer - Liz Segrist • 843.849.3119 Staff Writer - Ashley Heffernan • 843.849.3144 Editorial Assistant - Steve McDaniel • 843.843.3123 Research Specialist - Melissa Verzaal • 843.849.3104 Associate Editor, Special Projects - Jenny Peterson • 843.849.3145 Senior Graphic Designer - Jane Mattingly • 843.849.3118 Graphic Designer - Andrew Sprague • 843.849.3128 Assistant Graphic Designer - Emily Matesi • 843.849.3124 Assistant Graphic Designer - Jessica Stout • 843.849.3113 MIDLANDS NEWSROOM Associate Publisher - Licia Jackson • 803.726.7546 Editor - Chuck Crumbo • 803.726.7542


f you’re anxious to put 2016 into your rearview, we understand the sentiment. But before you drain the bathwater and throw Baby New Year into Andy Owens, 2017, we’re here Managing Editor with a reminder that a lot of the things that made 2016 so contentious also made it one of the more memorable years on record. For example, we had a full year of John Tecklenburg as the mayor of Charleston, which set the tone for how the city plans to develop in the post-Riley era. We explored technology, such as drones, podcasting and robotics. We also challenged our ability to build

wide-body jets and high-end automobiles for companies including Boeing, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Add in a mix of hospitality and tourism, construction, development and social issues, and you can see how this edition of Newsmakers characterizes the Charleston business community over the past 12 months. Our team of writers, page designers, photographers and editors pored over piles of papers and gigabytes of pixelated screens to find the right mix of engaging content that also tells you the stories of the year. Over the course of 12 months, we debated, sometimes heatedly, what would be chosen. We made changes as the news moments changed and as stories developed. But the goal remained the same: Give our readers a scannable product that engages their minds, entertains

their hearts and reminds them what a special place the Charleston region continues to be. The publication you are holding is what made the cut. Inside each page of the 2016 edition of Newsmakers, you will find two stories from the print and digital editions of the Charleston Regional Business Journal. We’ve included a larger story with art and graphics that tackles a big issue or event, then we include a secondary story called Other Newsmakers to give you a second bite at the news of our community. You can start in the front. You can start in the back. You can dive into the middle. Each page is self-contained and gives you a treat to nibble on while you nibble your holiday cookies. Just think of it as our 48-page gift to as 2016 draws to a close. Enjoy!

Research Specialist - Patrice Mack • 803.726.7544


UPSTATE NEWSROOM Editor - Matthew Clark • 864.235.5677, ext. 107 Staff Writer - Teresa Cutlip • 864.235.5677, ext. 103 LOWCOUNTRY ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Senior Account Executive - Sue Gordon • 843.849.3111 Senior Account Executive - Robert Reilly • 843.849.3107 Account Executive - Sara Cox • 843.849.3109 Account Executive - Bennett Parks • 843.849.3126


t is our pleasure to introduce NewsMakers 2016, a collection of the Lowcountry’s most impactful individuals and headlines of the past year. For over 20 years, Choate Construction Company has lived, worked, and played in the great state of South Carolina. From the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center in North Charleston to the exciting Cen-

tral Island Square mixed-use development under construction on Daniel Island, Choate has offered

the best of both worlds: an experienced, technologically advanced local office with financial strength and resources of a top Southeast general contractor. Choate is proud to provide the gold standard in construction management services across the tri-county and honored to call Charleston our home. Reputation is Everything.

South Carolina’s Media Engine for Economic Growth President and Group Publisher - Grady Johnson • 843.849.3103 Vice President of Sales - Steve Fields • 843.849.3110


Creative Director - Ryan Wilcox • 843.849.3117 Event Manager - Kathy Allen • 864.235.5677 ext. 110 Audience Development & IT Manager - Kim McManus • 843.849.3116 Accounting Manager - Vickie Deadmon • 803.726.7541 CUSTOM MEDIA DIVISION Director of Business Development - Mark Wright • 843.849.3143 Business Development Executive - Elizabeth Hodges • 843.849.3105

Charleston Regional Business Journal (USPS 0018-822) is published biweekly, 27 times per year, including one special issue in January, by SC Biz News. P.O. Box 446, Charleston, SC 29402. Periodicals postage paid at Charleston, SC. Mailing address: 1439 Stuart Engals Blvd., Suite 200 Mount Pleasant, SC 29464. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Charleston Regional Business Journal, P.O. Box 446, Charleston, SC 29402

Annual subscribers receive 27 issues of the Business Journal including The Book of Lists and Newsmakers, plus four special supplements: Profiles in Business, Event Planning Guide, Market Facts, and Giving. One year (27 issues) for $49.95; two years (54 issues) for $84.95; three years (81 issues) for $ 119.95. Subscribe, renew, change your address or pay your invoice by credit card online at or call 843-849-3116.

SC Business Publications LLC

A portfolio company of Virginia Capital Partners LLC Frederick L. Russell Jr., Chairman

The entire contents of this newspaper are copyright by SC Business Publications LLC with all rights reserved. Any reproduction or use of the content within this publication without permission is prohibited. SCBIZ and South Carolina’s Media Engine for Economic Growth are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


From the 1.11.16 Issue

Companies using podcasts as communication tool By Ashley Heffernan


n 2015, President Barack Obama, with Secret Service agents in tow, visited the garage where WTF with Marc Maron is recorded to speak into a microphone about his mother’s core values. The year before, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about the importance of never taking “no” for an answer while recording an episode on Nerdist Podcast, and Marilyn Manson discussed his views on the Bible during The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast. Interested listeners downloaded or streamed those podcasts, along with countless others, to their smartphones, tablets and computers. “I think it’s a real equal-opportunity medium because all you need is a phone that records, a computer that you can edit on, and you can use any Rich Conte (left) hosts The Tech Life, an interview-style podcast that features Charleston-area technology free, downloadable software. Mac, PC workers. He said the podcast averages between 2,000 and 3,000 downloads per episode. Steven Cardi— it doesn’t matter,” said Laura Smith, nal (right) co-hosts the Mod Love Radio podcast and is a podcast consultant. (Photos/Ashley Heffernan) the Hearst visiting professor of journalism at the University of South Carolina. on-the-job accident; who worry about moneymaking model for podcasts, Some companies are entering the the lengthy rehabilitation process after though. “You can make a lot of money off of podcasting scene as a way to reach and a knee injury; and who are in need of a laugh while stopped on Interstate 26. YouTube. But we don’t know yet how keep customers. Several have launched in the to make money off of podcasting in There are now podcasts for listeners who want to get compensation after an Charleston region. There’s not a clear that same way,” Smith said. cr bj

otherNEWSMAKERS Charleston’s growing technology scene, the trend of more employees working remotely, and startups’ need for flexible, cheaper leases has spurred more co-working spaces to open in the Lowcountry. In co-working spaces, workers rent a desk for a day or a month and share office amenities. The Charleston Digital Corridor’s Flagships, Lowcountry Local First’s Local Works, InnoLabs, Launch Pad Charleston and The Harbor Entrepreneur Center are among area co-working spaces, and Charleston-based Vaga works as the “Airbnb for office space.”

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MassageBook runs out of InnoLabs Charleston, a co-working space in Mount Pleasant that opened earlier this year. (Photo/Emily Matesi)

A decade of streaming T

he New Oxford American Dictionary proclaimed “podcast” its word of the year in 2005. At the time, Apple’s iPod and iTunes were both still fairly new, and podcasts — a word derived by combining “broadcast” and “iPod” — were taking off. The medium’s growth was particularly boosted when This American Life became a downloadable podcast and its spinoff show, Serial, launched, becoming the first podcast to reach 5 million downloads or streams in iTunes history. “We’re seeing it by the big boys, and we’re also seeing it by just everyday, average Janes and Joes who are wanting to record something,” said Laura Smith, the Hearst visiting professor of journalism at the University of South Carolina. The percentage of Americans who listen to at least one podcast per month increased from 9% to 17% between 2008 and 2015, and about one-third of the country has listened to a podcast, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Smith predicts podcasting’s popularity will continue to grow as smartphone use increases and more vehicles are sold with Internet connectivity, which would make it easier for users to download episodes. “I think it’s a lot of people who are just disenfranchised from corporate radio, who are a little tired of the lack of thoughtful content and diversity on their for-profit radio stations around the radio,” Smith said. “They’re hungry for interesting stuff to listen to.”


From the 2.8.16 Issue

Tecklenburg focuses on quality of life By Liz Segrist


n his first State of the City address, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg focused on initiatives to improve quality of life for residents. Tecklenburg presented a plan — which he called “practical and comprehensive” — that focuses on improving transportation, job opportunities, affordable housing, citywide livability, city services and neighborhood revitalization projects. Tecklenburg said his plan “will help us ensure Charleston is not just the best city in

America to visit, but also the best city in America to live, work, worship and raise a family.”

Additionally, the mayor said he supports more pathways, striping and signage for cyclists.

He said affordability is a major issue in the city.

Transportation and public transit

Economy, jobs

The city will focus on drainage projects to help alleviate flooding during heavy rains and high tides, he said. Funding is in place for several existing drainage projects, and the city is in the early planning stages of drainage projects for several areas in West Ashley. Tecklenburg said he wants to revitalize parts of West Ashley into mini-hubs of pedestrian-friendly retail and office spaces. Tecklenburg said he supports the Lowcountry Low Line, a project that aims to convert an abandoned Norfolk Southern rail line underneath Interstate 26 into a linear park in downtown Charleston. He also wants to strike a development balance on the peninsula to promote growth without damaging the historic character of the city. He said finding more affordable commercial spaces for local arts organizations is also a priority.

Tecklenburg strongly urged legislators and residents to support the extension of Interstate 526. He stressed that the infrastructure project will help alleviate traffic congestion and act as a business recruitment tool. Tecklenburg also said he supports the development of a bus rapid transit system from Summerville to Charleston. He said he is in favor of creating park-and-ride lots outside of downtown to help ease parking issues.

Tecklenburg said he wants to recruit companies to relocate to the city and to support existing industry. He said he will work with the school district to create more opportunities for the city’s youth, such as mentoring, after-school and recreation programs, and summer jobs for teenagers, particularly those from low-income areas. He said he hopes to expand partnerships with private employers to ensure training and jobs are available for residents. “Without real economic opportunity, the quality of life we want for all of our citizens will be out of reach for many of them,” Tecklenburg said.

Affordable housing

As home values and rental rates rise, the mayor said he wants to work with the city’s Housing Authority and the private sector to provide incentives for workforce and affordable housing.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg (Photo/Liz Segrist)

otherNEWSMAKERS Jesse and Andrea Freiwald, a Midwestern couple who moved to South Carolina about two years ago, now own the Lowcountry’s only domestic winery. Irvin-House Vineyards, a muscadine grape winery on Wadmalaw Island, was put on the market by Ann and Jim Irvin last year. The Freiwalds purchased the land, home, winery and merchandise for about $1.5 million. Firefly Distillery, which leases space on the property, was not part of the deal. They changed the names of the Irvins’ five labels and renamed the winery Deep Water Vineyard. Photo/Andrew Sprague

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Citywide livability

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From the 2.22.16 Issue

Drone tech outpacing regulations; market expanding in Lowcountry By Liz Segrist


n summer 2015, a private Cessna C-150 and an F-16 fighter jet collided midair in Moncks Corner — leaving numerous emergency responders scrambling to find survivors and debris. Summerville-based SkyView Aerial Solutions used their drones to narrow the massive search area. The company, founded in 2014 by Derek Brayton, Tom Fernandez, Tom Lucey and Andrew McKitrick, provided aerial shots of land and water to help map out areas for searchers to focus on. “Instead of search and rescue divers going out blindly in the rice fields, we were able to show them definitively

where items were,” McKitrick said. “We ended up saving them approximately three days of work.” Search and rescue missions are one of several applications that commercial drone operators are capitalizing on in South Carolina. Niche drone businesses have launched in recent years as drone technology improves and costs decline. Drones used by companies and hobbyists — officially known as unmanned aerial systems — are essentially tiny planes equipped with cameras and controlled by a pilot via a handheld device on

A wreck at Interstate 26 and U.S. Highway 321 near Columbia. (Photo/SkyView Aerial Solutions)


Photo/Liz Segrist

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the ground below. Jeff Nickles, owner of Charleston-based Drone Cam Aerial Photography, launched his drone company in 2012. Some of the highlights since include footage of an $8 million house on Kiawah Island and traffic jams for former Charleston mayoral candidate Ginny Deerin’s campaign commercials. “It’s turned from being a toy machine to one that can make money,” Nickles said. Utility, oil and gas inspectors, police departments and border patrol agents use drones to survey their areas.

Farmers use them to identify and treat struggling crops. News media and film makers can capture footage for reporting and movies. Colleges use drones to teach students. Drones bring new opportunities while creating privacy concerns, safety issues and regulatory confusion for the Federal Aviation Administration. “The technology outpaced the regulation, and now they (FAA) are playing catch-up,” Nickles said. “It’s one thing to fly in your yard or a soccer field, but to charge money and fly in public spaces — that’s what they want to control and regulate, and they should.” cr bj

A Cessna C-150 crashed in Moncks Corner in July 2015 after colliding with an F-16 jet midair. (Photo/SkyView Aerial Solutions)

One of the largest, most-talked-of and most-sought-after commercial spaces along Upper King Street — the former Morris Sokol furniture store — sold for $22.5 million. Vanderking LLC, a Charleston-based investment and development firm, and Greenwich, Conn.-based Wexford Capital partnered to buy the building through a joint venture called Vanderking 510 LLC. The purchase includes the two-story, 50,000-square-foot former furniture store and 0.57 acres of vacant land between Reid and Woolfe streets. The development plans for 510 King St. are undecided at this point.


From the 3.7.16 Issue

Charleston Restaurant Week: Risk or reward? By Ashley Heffernan

The cost to participate


anuary and September are notoriously slow months for many Charleston restaurants. Diners are still hungover in January from the plethora of food from the winter holidays, and tourists have essentially abandoned the chilly city streets. By September, families have spent most of their spare cash on summer vacations and are returning to the routine of having dinner at home. “There’s nothing worse than being in a slow restaurant,” Chris Stewart, owner and executive chef of The Glass Onion in West Ashley, said. “You want morale to be high. You want your employees to be happy to be at work. They want a job to do. They want to come to work and work.” To fill those tables, some Lowcountry restaurants participate in the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association’s Charleston Restaurant Week, held twice a year during those sluggish months. Participating restaurants offer discounted, prix fixe menus during the event, which lasts about a week and a half. “If you don’t join, you’re definitely empty because the clientele is somewhere else,” said Nico Romo, who was culinary executive chef for Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, which owns Fish Restaurant in downtown Charleston. He left the company in mid-2016 and was replaced by executive chef David Schuttenberg. “I don’t want to say as a restaurant you’re


Nico Romo, who was executive culinary chef for Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, slices vegetables in the Fish Restaurant kitchen. Romo left the company in mid-2016. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

forced to join, but ... for us it’s really important.” During the January installment, 135 restaurants participated, which is about 78% of the restaurant association’s membership. Feelings among those in the restaurant industry vary, though, when it comes to the value of joining. “The only people who really like it are the owners who aren’t operators, and they see they’re a little busier than they probably were the year before,” Stewart said. He said The Glass Onion has never participated and never will.

Romo, though, said Fish’s $30 or $40 options usually save diners $10 to $15 off their bill. He said food costs are typically 30%, so the restaurant is making only $3 to $5 less per table during restaurant week. That loss, he said, is gained in the long run by securing future customers. “If we can get a college kid to come with his girlfriend in their 20s, and they get to save themselves $10, $20, $30 to be able to eat dinner with us, well, that college kid is going to leave college,” Romo said. “He’s going to have a real job and be a grown-up down the road. That, I think, is a great piece of marketing.” cr bj

otherNEWSMAKERS The Medical University of South Carolina became the second hospital, behind only Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio, to host a grand rounds session on Figure 1, a mobile application that allows users around the world to view and share medical cases. During his Figure 1 virtual grand rounds session, Dr. Satish Nadig posted photos taken inside the operating room during one of his kidney transplants involving Kristy Hokett. Within the first five minutes, 35 comments and questions were posted.

10 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

Just before donating a kidney, Kristy Hokett had “Give Life” tattooed on her knuckles. (Photo/ Brennan Wesley)

estaurants must be members of the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association to participate in Charleston Restaurant Week. Association membership costs $300 annually for eateries with more than 100 seats and $200 annually for those with 99 seats or fewer. To participate in restaurant week, restaurants must pay an additional $300 and provide $250 worth of gift certificates or gift cards. “Memberships vary in this business. It could be a lot more. It’s not a high figure,” Kathy Britzius, executive director of the association, said. It’s unclear exactly where the gift cards end up. Spokeswoman Skelly Stevens said they are required for “year-round marketing efforts of the association.” “We are able to keep the restaurant week dues down due to this and also help promote the individual restaurants,” Stevens said in an emailed statement, explaining that The Post and Courier newspaper and radio stations extend a lower advertising rate to the association with the trade of the gift cards.


From the 3.21.16 Issue

Companies adapt to recruit, retain millennials By Liz Segrist


illennials are one of the fastest-growing generations in the workforce, and companies are looking for ways to recruit and retain them, according to Charleston-based recruiters. Millennials are defined by the Pew Research Center as the generation born between 1981 and 1996, meaning adult millennials are now between 19 and 34 years old. They were the first generation to have smartphones available before adulthood. Text messaging is often their preferred form of communication, and social media was part of many millennials’ high school experience. Employees and recruiters said millennials often seek flexible hours and a micromanagement-free environment. They said millennials need to feel passionate about their work. They want to be challenged and valued for it. “I think at the highest level, what’s

attractive to me is a place where I can be myself,” said Jared Hellman, an optimization account manager at Blue Acorn and a millennial. “I grew up watching both of my parents compartmentalize their lives so that they were one person at home and one person at the workplace. A lot of us are looking for a place where we don’t have to suppress our playful side at work. We want to be ourselves.” Millennials are sometimes characterized as lazy or entitled. They also are seen as efficient and tech-savvy, recruiters said. Keyana Cordano works with mostly millennial-aged students as the


employee relations and career development director for the College of Charleston’s MBA program. She said the students she works with often need to hone their verbal and written communication skills when applying for jobs, because “so many of them are used to texting and doing shorthand for everything.” Some of the millennials also need a push to take the initiative to pursue opportunities. Margaret Pilarski of the marketing

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The state’s tourism chief said shootings at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the historic flooding that followed could have devastated the industry. But the way residents reacted — many showing forgiveness, generosity and support in the wake of disaster — made rebounding much easier, according to Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Statewide hotel occupancy rates, revenue per available room, admissions tax collections and revenue for state parks were all up in 2015 compared with 2014. Photo/Provided

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firm SeaChange Consulting — and also a millennial — said her generation is willing to work long hours, but not in a nine-to-five, desk-only environment when technology enables working remotely and after hours. Cristy Jamison, a millennial and account manager with Touchpoint Communications, said a collaborative office culture that fosters growth was crucial during her job hunt. She said millennials want the chance to move up in their careers and make an impact. Peggy Frazier, Blackbaud’s vice president of global talent acquisition, said companies need to give millennials opportunities to lead and grow within their roles and also give them a voice within the company to keep them beyond the typical three-year mark. Millennials want a job that helps them make a difference, and one that has “a meaning bigger than themselves,” Frazier said.

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From the 4.4.16 Issue

Lucrative incentives helped lure Volvo to S.C. By Liz Segrist


o recruit Volvo Car USA, South Carolina promised a three-year sponsorship and naming rights to a tennis tournament, up to $400,000 for temporary office space in Summerville, up to $40,000 for a brand store in downtown Charleston and a 12-month product display at Charleston International Airport, according to documents obtained from the state Commerce Department through a Freedom of Information Act request. Those perks are in addition to about $200 million in state-provided incentives designated mostly for infrastructure projects, including site prep and a new interchange on Interstate 26 to serve the Volvo plant. The combined incentives were used to entice the Sweden-based automaker to choose Berkeley County for its future U.S. manufacturing site amid intense

competition among other contenders, including Georgia. Volvo has promised to invest more than $600 million and create at least 2,000 jobs. The automotive campus is expected to bring additional suppliers and have a ripple effect on the region’s economy. The site is currently under construction in the Camp Hall Commerce Park near Ridgeville. Company leaders said the site’s proximity to the Port of Charleston; a staterun workforce training program; a large tract of land on which it can build; and collaboration among state agencies during the recruitment process were among the reasons for choosing South Carolina for its site. Incentives also played a role. S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said the state will spend tax dollars on infrastructure projects surrounding

otherNEWSMAKERS Ashley Brooks and Annaliese Hughes, College of Charleston alumnae and selfdescribed “crazy cat ladies,” are opening Pounce Cat Cafe and Wine Bar in downtown Charleston in late December. Customers make a one-hour reservation for $15. After checking in, they pick up beverages and snacks made offsite. The customers then take their snacks into another room that houses 15 to 20 cats, all of which are provided by the Charleston Animal Society and ready for adoption.

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new sites if the work might bring in future jobs or companies. Most of the non-infrastructure incentives were not funded by the state; rather, they were paid for by Lowcountry agencies working in conjunction with Commerce officials. Hitt said it is typical for Commerce to work with businesses and agencies in the respective communities to fund some additional perks to persuade a company to locate in South Carolina — such as the future brand store on the peninsula or the office space in Nexton. One of the largest incentives came from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism when it offered Volvo a three-year title sponsorship of the largest women-only tournament in professional tennis, now the Volvo Car Open, which takes place on Daniel Island every spring.

Ashley Brooks (left) and Annaliese Hughes own Pounce Cat Cafe and Wine Bar. (Photo/Kathy Allen)

In the days leading up to the tournament last spring, fundraising for the sponsorship was ongoing. Companies and agencies across the state were asked to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 to fund both Volvo’s tournament sponsorship and the Palmetto Club, which Hitt said is essentially “an event inside of an event” at the Volvo Car Open. The amount of money needed to cover the sponsorship was not disclosed. Hitt said no taxpayer dollars or incentive funds were used for the sponsorship. Fundraising is expected to occur each year for the event, according to event planners. “This is the largest rural project that we’ve ever encountered as a state. ... “It will be a remarkable project in part of the state that often doesn’t get the chance to have something with this much impact,” Hitt said. cr bj


From the 4.18.16 Issue

Charleston eliminates Tent City encampment By Ashley Heffernan

(Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

Left: Tent City residents prepare to move to a transitional housing center in North Charleston. Center: Brown grass remains after a tent was removed from the Tent City encampment off Meeting Street. The person who had been living there moved to permanent or transitional housing. Right: Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen talks to Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, as people move from Tent City to the transitional center. (Photos/Ashley Heffernan)


or nearly five months, Laurie lived outside. The 54-year-old woman from North Dakota, who did not want her last name published, said she slept in tents in downtown Charleston, all the while trying to save up money for an apartment, food and trips to a nearby swimming pool to take a bath. “It’s those little things in life that you

take for granted until you live in a tent,” she said. Laurie, who said she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and lives off disability checks, packed her belongings on April 4 and left her tent under the Interstate 26 overpass off Meeting Street. She boarded a bus and rode to North Charleston, where the city of Charleston operates a temporary transitional hous-

ing center for “Tent City” residents. “It’s a whole new, changed life,” Laurie said while waiting for the bus to arrive. Emotions were mixed for the roughly 30 people who transitioned from Tent City to the housing center. “Some people are really glad to have the help, and some people have other places to go to, and then there are a

couple people that don’t want to go,” said the Rev. Rob Dewey, senior chaplain at Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, who was there to comfort and assure those who were worried about leaving their tents. “Anytime we have a transition in our lives, it’s hard — whether we lose a grandparent or lose a house or lose a relationship,” he said. In early 2016, more than 100 individuals were living in the encampment known as Tent City. Charleston leaders announced a plan in February to remove homeless people from that area, which is owned by the S.C. Department of Transportation, by early April. There were still about 40 people living in the encampment at the beginning of the month, so the city partnered with Charleston County to use the work camp facility on Leeds Avenue in North Charleston as temporary housing for those individuals. “This facility is pretty much set up for what we need. We’ve got an opportunity to separate males and females. We’ve got all the shower facilities. We’ve got open space that we can utilize. We’ve got an area that we can store personal items,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said. “So this facility is, in fact, set up for what we need.” Mullen said the facility was not being used, and the county agreed to lease the space to the city for 60 days at a cost of $1. The city also paid for utilities, upkeep and maintenance while it’s using the facility. At the housing center, residents received three meals a day, a bed and a bag of supplies that includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, wash cloth, soap, hand sanitizer, shampoo, socks and snacks. They received help finding permanent housing, referrals for employment, noncriminal legal services and relocation services. cr bj

otherNEWSMAKERS White buildings that once housed thousands of U.S. Navy sailors in North Charleston have been vacant for decades. Nearby, bulldozers push dirt, a sign that the state’s longtime plan to bring rail lines onto the former Navy base to serve a future port terminal is now becoming reality. Work has started on the terminal and on Palmetto Railways’ 100-acre cargo rail yard. North Charleston also has plans for the land, such as renovating old housing into event spaces and building mixed-use developments. The city plans to renovate a few of the former officers’ homes and sell the remaining ones. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

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From the 5.2.16 Issue

Bennett Hospitality planning ‘grand, seaside resort’ By Ashley Heffernan

A plan for Patriots Annex shows hotels, office buildings, retail spaces, restaurants, parking garages, apartments, a new Patriots Point facility and an amphitheater. (Rendering/ Bennett Hospitality)

Preliminary conceptual master plan. (Rendering/Bennett Hospitality)


ome of the Lowcountry’s only remaining vacant land overlooking the Charleston Harbor is set to be transformed into a massive, mixed-use development that’s being compared to the Del Coronado in San Diego. Patriots Point Development Authority approved a 99-year land lease with Charleston-based real estate company Bennett Hospitality Inc. in April. The project, which has been under negotiation for more than a year, must still be approved by the Joint Bond Review Committee, State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the town of Mount Pleasant. “To me, it’s one of the great sites in

the world. It’s 60 acres overlooking Charleston Harbor, one of the great harbors of the world, overlooking Patriots Point and everything it means to America and to South Carolina,” said Michael Bennett, owner of Bennett Hospitality. “This is truly, I think, one of the great opportunities, I believe, in the country.” Patriots Point Development Authority oversees the stewardship of about 350 acres of state-owned property in Mount Pleasant on the Charleston Harbor. Parcels are already leased for Patriots Point Golf Links, the College of Charleston’s athletic complex and the future Medal of Honor Museum, as well as hotels and a restaurant.


Bennett, who will pay Patriots Point a percentage of revenue earned from the venture, plans to develop 61.75 acres of property directly in front of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown’s entrance. Ray Chandler, chairman of the development authority, said revenue from the lease will pay for the maintenance of the Yorktown and adjacent USS Laffey. “We will have 350,000 or 400,000 visitors to this place, and it will no longer be an exhibit,” he said. “It will be a destination, and that has been the dream of our committee.” The preliminary conceptual master plan for Patriots Annex shows three hotels, four office buildings, nine retail

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Boeing South Carolina announced plans in April to cut an undisclosed number of engineering positions through a voluntary layoff program — a first for the company’s North Charleston Dreamliner site. Boeing said 200 engineers received the voluntary layoff offer but declined to share how many accepted. The layoff announcement followed news from the Boeing Co. of plans to eliminate 4,000 jobs across its commercial airplane business in 2016 amid fierce industry competition. Aerospace analysts do not expect future layoffs to hit the North Charleston Dreamliner campus as hard as other Boeing sites. Boeing S.C. employs around 8,000 workers. Photo/Liz Segrist

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spaces, three restaurants, two parking garages wrapped with apartments, various parking lots, a new Patriots Point facility and an amphitheater. A pedestrian-only main street would be built in the center of the parcel to connect the first hotel to a lawn that would be used for musical events. Parking and apartments would be built along the exterior. On the parcel’s outer edges, offices and other hotels would be added. “We may decide we want more hotel rooms and less office buildings. Those things will be decided as we go and are allowed for us in our lease,” Bennett said.


From the 5.16.16 Issue

Tech sector wants more startups to launch and exit By Liz Segrist

Jefferson Graham (from left) of USA Today moderates a panel at Dig South with Kristen Fergason, marketing vice president at BoomTown; Echovate CEO Matt Gough; Will Jamieson, chief marketing officer at; and Stacy Shelley, marketing vice president of PhishLabs. (Photo/Adam Chandler Photography)


fter emigrating from India, Paul Singh became a bricklayer in Ashburn, Va., a formerly small town of 8,000 people outside of Washington, D.C. The town’s inexpensive, available land attracted the founders of AOL to build their company there in the ’90s. Within a year, the company attracted 6,000 tech employees and built huge offices. The city now has 43,000 residents and 8 million square feet of data centers. “Ashburn pretty much went from ‘nothing Ashburn’ to something that’s still called ‘Cashburn,’ ” said Singh, an investor and former partner of the firm 500 Startups, during the Dig South conference in downtown Charleston. “The point is that one company changed the face of that town. ... I think now every city has

its own AOL.” Strength is in numbers when cultivating a successful tech scene, Singh said. Charleston needs more companies to start, scale and sometimes fail. That process will inevitably yield bigger companies that will hire thousands of people, get acquired for millions of dollars, or attract more investors or skilled workers to the region, he said. John Osborne, co-founder of The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, launched a 14-week startup boot camp, the Harbor Accelerator, and a six-month mentorship program for later-stage companies, Propel, with that thesis in mind. Additionally, the city’s Charleston Digital Corridor runs two co-working spaces on the peninsula with the hopes of nurturing more scalable startups in Charleston.


20 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

Paul Singh (left), an investor, and Stanfield Gray, the founder of Dig South, said more startups need to scale and get acquired for the Charleston tech sector to flourish. (Photo/Adam Chandler Photography)

The Lowcountry’s burgeoning tech sector has now had five exits of over $50 million in Blackbaud, Benefitfocus, Automated Trading Desk, Sparc and PureCars. Most recently were Sparc’s buyout by Booz Allen Hamilton and Raycom Media’s purchase of PureCars. In the past five years, the region has attracted over $100 million in venture capital for companies like PeopleMatter, Zubie and PhishLabs. The tech scene is gaining traction, but it lacks the volume in companies growing, getting funded or being acquired, compared with other tech hubs, such as Boston or Austin, Texas. “It just takes time to run through a couple of those exits,” said Matt Gough, CEO of Echovate, a Charleston-based software company that matches candidates with jobs. “You’re going to go from

five exits over $50 million to 25 exits over $50 million and that will continue to grow and grow and grow. ... It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.” Dig South founder Stanfield Gray said he wants the conference to continue boosting the Charleston tech sector on a national scale to attract more investment, company headquarters and skilled workers to the region. “I think as long as the people who have had success in Charleston keep reinvesting in the city and new startups coming in, I think in five years we’ll actually deserve the name Silicon Harbor,” said Will Jamieson, chief marketing officer of Charleston-based live-streaming video app. “It won’t be self-imposed but something that’s actually deserved and recognized nationwide.” cr bj

A Seattle-based nonprofit plans to invest $2 million in a manufacturing facility in Dorchester County where blind people will do product assembly and light machining work for the aerospace sector. The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc. plans to create 20 jobs, according to the S.C. Commerce Department.  The nonprofit bought a 24,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Summerville. The company, founded in 1918, has 13 locations on the West Coast. Its mission is to increase opportunities and independence for people who are blind, deaf-blind or blind with other disabilities, according to its website.


From the 5.30.16 Issue

Farm store brings fresh produce back to Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood By Ashley Heffernan


he last time the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood in North Charleston had a bona fide grocery store was in 2005. Since Winn-Dixie in the Shipwatch Square shopping center closed its doors more than a decade ago, residents of the mostly black, low-income community have had to travel — typically by bus — to find healthy food options or resort to prepackaged meals and snacks sold in the nearby convenience and dollar stores. “Grocery stores are not here because they don’t make money here. They don’t make margins off of food. It’s the nonfood items where they make their profits. If the community doesn’t have the income to buy the nonfood items, then they’re not going to make any money here,” Germaine Jenkins said. Jenkins, a 45-year-old gardening expert, decided that if a national grocer isn’t willing to plant

roots in the community, she would take the initiative. She started Fresh Future Farm about a year and a half ago. The 0.81-acre lot at 2008 Success St. was once a grasscovered playground for a now-closed school. North Charleston leases the space to the nonprofit for free. The lot grows chemical-free tomatoes, Swiss chard, carrots, spring onions, bananas, turnips, spinach, basil, mint, garlic and blueberries, among other crops. Jenkins, along with five part-timers and a slew of volunteers, plants and harvests the crops by hand. On May 3, Jenkins opened a small store on the corner of the farm’s property so residents of Chicora-Cherokee could once again buy produce in their own neighborhood. In addition to stocking the shelves with fruits and vegetables grown just outside, the store sells nuts, beans, snacks, dairy products and household goods that Jenkins buys in bulk. “I can roll over here, grab my carrots that are picked out of the backyard and get my potatoes and green beans,” said Rebecca Rushton, president of the ChicoraCherokee Neighborhood Associa-

The Fresh Future Farm neighborhood grocery store sells locally grown produce, as well as snacks, dairy products and other goods. (Photos/Ashley Heffernan)

tion. “It’s awesome.” Jenkins said she sets the prices to be competitive with the nearby Family Dollar — instead of the more steeply priced convenience stores — and accepts electronic benefits transfers, a government program that helps low-income families pay for food.

About 30% of the store’s customers use EBT, according to Jenkins, who plans to offer educational farm tours and workshops on farming techniques. She also wants to add an incubator kitchen so that produce can be baked, frozen and packaged. cr bj

Germain Jenkins started Fresh Future Farm and a small grocery store. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

otherNEWSMAKERS Blackbaud plans to invest $154 million to build a tech campus on Daniel Island and create 300 jobs over the next five years. The tech firm has outgrown its existing Daniel Island site. Blackbaud President and CEO Mike Gianoni called it “a generational investment” for the 35-year-old tech firm, which makes software to support nonprofits. “We are doubling down on our commitment to the Charleston area,” he said. “We look forward to the next 30 years.”

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The new Blackbaud campus will have two buildings, a parking garage and green space. (Rendering/Provided)


From the 6.13.16 Issue

I-526 funding off again, on again By Liz Segrist


A plan that has been in the works for more than a decade to extend Interstate 526 onto Johns and James islands has been given another deadline extension from the state board in charge of the project funding. (Photo/File)


he S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank voted 4-1 in May to strip away the $420 million set aside for the Interstate 526 extension project, effectively killing the highly controversial, decade-long plan. Escalating costs and ongoing disagreements among stakeholders have stalled the plan to extend the highway eight miles from West Ashley through Johns Island and over to James Island. It originally was estimated to cost $420 million, and state money has been set aside for it. The price tag grew over the past decade to around $725 million, and Charleston County was responsible for coming up with the difference. Infrastructure bank board Chairman Vince Graham said the county failed to meet several extension deadlines to

come up with a viable funding plan. Dissenting board members said the project funding was wasting away for more than a decade as other projects went unfunded. The bank’s May vote to unwind the project meant the $420 million would go back into the bank’s fund for other projects to pull from. The county had until the next board meeting to determine how to unwind the project funding. Board meetings were delayed until December, in part because of Hurricane Matthew. Since the May vote, several proposals have been brought forward by city and county leaders in the hopes of reviving the project. Proposals have included using funds from a future, unplanned toll road and using money from the half-cent sales tax referendum to pay for rail projects



24 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

in exchange for funding the 526 project. The sales tax proposal was later dropped. Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg spoke at the December board meeting, requesting more time to come up with a plan. The infrastructure bank board voted 7-0 to give the county yet another deadline extension. Graham said the next board meeting will likely be in March, giving the county three months. Some bank board members have said the project has changed too significantly over the past decade. They have urged the county to find another solution to help alleviate congestion issues on Johns Island and reapply for funds then. Charleston County has threatened

to sue the state bank if funding is not allocated to the project, saying the $420 million has been promised to the county. The county has already invested $117 million for roadwork in preparation for the interstate extension. The state infrastructure bank board will reconsider the project at its next meeting, Graham said. “We are giving them the benefit of the doubt,” Graham said. “This project has been going on for a long time. ... It is distracting for all concerned.” In an emailed statement, Tecklenburg said, “I’d like to personally thank the members of the board for doing their part today to bring this critical transportation project back to life. ... Completing the Mark Clark is absolutely essential to our whole region.” cr bj

An Ohio-based real estate company planning a $1 billion mixed-use project in downtown Charleston says the development will be a “relief valve” for the peninsula. North American Properties has signed a contract to buy an undeveloped tract on Charleston’s upper peninsula known as Laurel Island. It sits near Romney Street and Morrison Drive, north of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and across from Drum Island along Town Creek. Lorelei, the project’s name, is expected to include Class A office space, retail, restaurants, hotels, meeting space, an entertainment venue, parking facilities and boat access.


From the 6.27.16 Issue

Patriots Point launches students into orbit By Ashley Heffernan

and hiskle into their seats and put on science buc then me beca 8 llo Apo 8, 196 n December tory lessons and Oculus Rift headsets that each include the first crewed flight to leave is aimed at those sung smartphone. Sam a n, moo the it orb and ity Earth’s grav in first grade and The virtual reality headsets take . circling it 10 times on Christmas Eve above. s. ode epis participants through three After six days in space, Apollo 8 Tammy Tayem syst r is a tour of the sola first The and here osp atm th’s re-entered Ear s of lor, who teachr in which they fly around the ring landed in the Pacific Ocean nea ry es first grade at neta rpla and experience inte rn Satu oastr e thre the for ting Hawaii. Wai they Westview Prin travel. In the second episode, School nauts to arrive was the USS Yorktow ng mary ersi trav learn about gravity while Creek, se Goo CV-10, an aircraft carrier that was in by up p a an asteroid belt. And they wra 100 teachers from across of one later decommissioned and is now was they re whe nding on Planet X, h-la cras nt in Mou in t Poin iots Patr museum at the state who tested the technology the undiscovered planet. roam Pleasant. early June. The program, which groups must “The Apollo 8 crew stood onboard She said her grade’s science stanin d ude in advance, is incl dule sche a to deck t fligh n’s tow include the moon, sky, sun and the USS York for overnight camping and dards cost the ski, bow Gry h Keit said ” d, lities of space. cheering crow extra $10 per person for day- qua an is on. cati edu of ctor dire t’s “I can see this being done for first Patriots Poin p visitors. grou t Poin iots Patr visit who Students e from the perspective of n the road, Grybowski sees the grad Dow ps grou ping cam ht rnig Armstrong and being in day and ove program and later iterations Neil ent curr l Nei , sion mis that ut abo n the moon with him, takcan now lear g used in classrooms to engage on bein ohist the and lk nwa moo Armstrong’s ing those steps with him, -savvy learners. tech with ual virt new a ugh thro t ing the rover and all ry of space fligh is program will teach kids that driv “Th A : 3-D ce “Spa ed call e things reality program re of space travel is not just of thos futu the ” X. et Journey to Plan that we show dependent upon new technology, but The 45-minute program, which them videos of,” loexp of it is driven by the spir ead inst udincl d, buil to ,000 $80 cost roughly of Taylor said. “It’s ration and innovation within all ing about $10,000 worth of equipone thing to see a the that bowski said, adding Gry ” us, ter thea a de insi e plac o of it, but to be in ment, takes um is based on fourth-grade vide icul curr ants icip Part n. ktow Yor onboard the it is an experience.” ts ligh high that o vide rt watch a sho space exploration milestones. They


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otherNEWSMAKERS Joan Robinson-Berry, a 30-year Boeing employee, became site leader for Boeing South Carolina this summer, replacing Beverly Wyse, who assumed a different role with the company. Robinson-Berry focuses on Boeing’s overall Lowcountry footprint, while 787 operations are now managed out of Everett, Wash. Mark Jenks, the head of the 787 program, runs Dreamliner production in both states. Boeing S.C. General Manager Joan Robinson-Berry (from left), Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey, former Boeing S.C. leader Beverly Wyse and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey gather to announce the leadership change at Boeing. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

26 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

Above: Teachers from across South Carolina test the new “Space 3-D: A Journey to Planet X” virtual reality program onboard the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. Below: The Yorktown is also home to an Apollo 8 simulator. (Photos/Ashley Heffernan)


From the 8.8.16 Issue

Mercedes-Benz digs into $500M plant expansion By Liz Segrist


e are going to write automoto ensure a smooth production ramptive history today in North up, Mornhinweg said. Charleston,” Volker MornThe company declined to share hinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, the wages it plans to pay production said as the company broke ground on workers. Frank Klein, head of operthe automaker’s new campus this sumations for Mercedes-Benz Vans, said mer. wages are comparable to other comFueled by rising van sales in the U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (from left); Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt; Michael Balke, incoming CEO panies in the area. He said a competiU.S. market and a desire to streamline of Mercedes-Benz Vans; Gov. Nikki Haley; and Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, tive wage is needed to attract the best its supply chain, the company plans to break ground at the automaker’s $500 million campus in North Charleston. (Photo/Liz Segrist) people. invest $500 million into building an Competition for skilled production automotive manufacturing campus near its existing avoid a 25% tax accrued when importing fully pro- workers is likely to intensify in the coming years as plant in Ladson. duced cars into the United States. Boeing S.C. expands its campus and Volvo Cars and Company officials said they wanted to shift the “This is still a huge burden for us,” Mornhinweg Mercedes-Benz Vans open new automotive plants in 10-year-old, Lowcountry operation from a van reas- said. “The logistics process is a nightmare. Let me tell the Lowcountry. sembly site to a full-scale production facility. you. It’s a huge amount of money. ... We expect furThe first S.C.-made Mercedes van is expected to Currently, Mercedes vans are assembled in plants ther growth in the U.S., so enhancing local produc- roll off the production lines by the end of the decade. in Spain and Germany, then partially disassembled, tion in the U.S. is only logical.” Company officials declined to disclose a specific year packed into shipping containers and sent to the Port Once the new facility opens, an estimated 1,300 or any production rates, citing competitive reasons. of Charleston in pieces — the body in one container employees will be hired to build next-generation Klein said the massive expansion will include and most of the remaining parts, such as the drive- Sprinter vans from start to finish and reassemble robotics and paint automation to speed production train and headlights, in the other. Metris vans for U.S. and Canadian customers. of the vans. The containers are then trucked to the Mercedes Hiring and training has started for administration “Today, we are here to break the ground for a new facility, where around 100 production employees employees. The company will accept applications for plant so that we finally have the opportunity to build reassemble the vehicles. production jobs in mid-2017. Employees in Germany the Sprinter from scratch here in the U.S. in this new The complex supply chain, known as a semi- will visit the Lowcountry site to train new workers, production facility,” said Michael Balke, incoming knocked-down process, has helped the company and some new hires will go to Germany for training CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vans. cr bj


Photo/Liz Segrist

The S.C. State Ports Authority launched its Advanced Gate System at Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant this summer to speed cargo check-ins. The system replaces manual truck inspections with computers and requires drivers to enter a gate code upon arriving. The system’s initial launch resulted in major congestion. Truck drivers reported waiting in traffic for several hours to enter the Wando terminal after the software launched, but the system has since stabilized. The software system will launch at the North Charleston Terminal in 2017.

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From the 8.22.16 Issue

James Island family fosters, falls in love with Vietnam veteran By Ashley Heffernan


Bruce (second from right) and Lacresha Cromwell (left), along with their children Christian, Jasmine and Ashlyn, are fostering Harry Vaughan (right), a 76-year-old Vietnam veteran who couldn’t afford rent in an assisted-living facility. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

Harry Vaughan enjoys watching television with the Cromwell family — especially Western films with 10-year-old Ashlyn Cromwell — and fishing with Bruce Cromwell. (Photos/Ashley Heffernan)


ing for a nursing facility and no family nearby, Vaughan was destined to remain at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston long-term. His future changed, though, when his social worker referred him to Natasha Simeon-Major, who runs the medical foster home program at the Charleston VA. She quickly went to work finding a local family who would be willing to take Vaughan into their home and provide him with the care he needs. “He has remarkably improved since I first saw him,” Simeon-Major said. “When I first saw him, he couldn’t remember a lot of things. He thought he was still at Agape when he was in the hospital. To come here and see him able to recall a lot of things is really amazing.”

Veteran fostering

Vaughan moved in with Bruce and Lacresha Cromwell and their three children in June. He has his own room in their five-bedroom home on James Island and has become a beloved member of the family. When the children walk through the door from school, the first thing they do is find Vaughan to give him a hug and tell him they love him. Lacresha Cromwell, a licensed practical nurse who worked for 12 years at the Charleston VA, said her children already treat Vaughan like they would a grandfather. They tuck him into bed each night, and they sneak ice cream, candy bars and peanuts to Vaughan, who has gained about five pounds since moving in with the family. “I didn’t know we were going to fall in love with him so (much) and the kids would,” she said. “We thought we’d be taking care of somebody, but he’s just one of us now.” cr bj

When Erin Nathanson graduated from the College of Charleston in 2007, her bachelor’s degree in arts management focused heavily on the nonprofit sector, public administration and performing arts. What the degree didn’t prepare her for, though, was her future as a business owner. Nine years after she graduated, the arts management program is being revamped. Arts entrepreneurship is being added to the undergraduate curriculum; a database of the state’s arts businesses is in the works; and a graduate degree is being developed. Nathanson opened The Southern contemporary art gallery in 2016 in downtown Charleston with her husband. Photos/Ashley Heffernan

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arry Vaughan joined the military because it was his “brother duty.” The 76-year-old, who grew up in Virginia, entered the Army in 1959 to be near his older brother. Two years in and “tired of walking,” he left the Army and joined the Navy to take care of his younger brother. They both served on the USS Valley Forge aircraft carrier, and Vaughan went on to spend a year sweeping rivers in Vietnam for mines. After 22 years in the Navy, Vaughan transitioned to a career as a fence builder in North Charleston. But when his memory started failing and doctors diagnosed dementia in him, Vaughan moved into Agape Senior, an assisted living facility in North Charleston. As of 2014, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported nearly 130,000 Vietnam veterans were living in South Carolina, bringing in a median personal income of $34,436. About 62% of those veterans were between the ages of 65 and 74, while 9% were 75 or older. Long-term-care costs can quickly eat into a veteran’s income. Nursing home costs can range from $6,235 to $6,965 per month, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, while assisted living facilities charge an average of $3,293 per month. Vaughan was hospitalized in May for a urinary tract infection, and he didn’t return to Agape Senior after recovering, because he was unable to pay the bill. With no way of pay-


From the 9.5.16 Issue

Businesses drawing youth to STEM fields By Ciapha Dennis

Middle-school boys learn about science, technology, engineering and math careers at a Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic camp. (Photos/Ciapha Dennis)


n an early afternoon in July, a group of middle school boys at Charleston Southern University watched as two instructors performed the “disappearing cup” project, by pouring acetone on top of a white Styrofoam cup. The liquid solvent dissolved the cup into a milky, liquid substance. Across the hall, at another workstation, students were presented with dozens of toothpicks and marshmallows. The challenge: Build the tallest marshmallow structure in a limited amount of time. The stations were designed to teach

basic chemical and mechanical engineering principles, such as the strongest shapes for designing buildings. “Triangles are better,” said Jeroid Simmons, a rising eighth-grader who wants to pursue architecture as a career. The stations were part of a My Brother’s Keeper camp spearheaded by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, a defense contracting agency that handles the information technology needs of the Navy and other military departments. My Brother’s Keeper started as a national initiative when President Barack Obama challenged cities and

otherNEWSMAKERS At the age of 14, George Stinney Jr. was executed in the electric chair after being convicted of the murder of two young white girls in 1944. The jury in Clarendon County deliberated on his fate for 10 minutes. Seven decades later, in 2014, Circuit Judge Carmen T. Mullen vacated Stinney’s conviction, writing in his order that it is a “truly unfortunate episode in our history.” Charleston School of Law students and a Georgetown law firm are attempting to take the case further.

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communities to address opportunity gaps for young black males in 2014. The effort was designed to increase their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, fields where black people are significantly underrepresented. In February, 20 cities nationwide participated in nearly 50 events for the first My Brother’s Keeper National Week at the Labs, allowing youth from local neighborhoods to tour laboratories, talk with engineers and play with robots. SPAWAR participated as one of the sites. Anisha Scott, who works at SPAWAR

George Stinney Jr. was executed in the electric chair on June 16, 1944, after he was convicted of the murder of two young white girls in Clarendon County. Stinney was 14 years old. (Photo/ S.C. Department of Archives & History)

and helped plan the My Brother’s Keeper camp at CSU, said that event sparked a desire for SPAWAR and other organizations to take the initiative further. Scott said SPAWAR contacted Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg’s office and found there was not an active My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Charleston. Scott and others attended the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., in April. There, Scott said the Office of Naval Research heard of SPAWAR’s lab day and offered funding to implement a My Brother’s Keeper camp. cr bj


From the 9.19.16 Issue

Study: MUSC accounts for 12% of Charleston area’s economy By Ashley Heffernan

MUSC’s three arms, the medical center, physicians group and university, make a combined annual economic impact of $3.8 billion on the tri-county area, according to an economic impact study. (Photo/ Ashley Heffernan)


he three arms of the Medical University of South Carolina have a combined annual economic impact of $3.8 billion on the tri-county area — nearly 12% of the metro area’s $33 billion economy — according to an economic impact study. More than 13,400 workers are employed by the MUSC enterprise, which comprises the medical center, physicians group and university. An additional 14,000 jobs are supported by MUSC in other sectors, including vendors, contractors and other businesses that provide goods and ser-

vices for MUSC employees — restaurants where faculty members buy lunch, for example. The nearly 28,000 jobs equate to about one in every 12 jobs in the Charleston region, and they add more than $1.8 billion in income to the local economy, the study said. It’s been 13 years since MUSC funded an economic impact study. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development required an economic impact evaluation as part of the application for a loan to build the $385 million MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospi-

otherNEWSMAKERS The state failed to distribute $90 million owed to cities and counties as part of the Local Government Fund for fiscal year 2017. City and county leaders say the funding shortfalls impede their ability to hire more employees and save for projects. The fund is set up so that the state collects tax revenues from municipalities and then sends money back to those communities to help pay for services. The state has not paid the full amount owed since the recession.

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tal and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. “It also sort of precipitated conversations internally to say we need to refresh this,” MUSC President Dr. David Cole said. “It’s appropriate because we’ve grown, as has Charleston. Honestly, I think my bias is that the impact in many dimensions beyond merely, if you will, delivering health is underappreciated from a business perspective. So that was the genesis.” MUSC paid the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Business Research about $5,000 to study its employment and operational

spending within Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Spending and employment outside of the tri-county areas, as well as all student and visitor spending, was not included in the study, which covered July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. Cole said that the university has just shy of 20,000 alumni working as health care providers in the state and that many were excluded from the study. “That’s about two-thirds of all of our alumni,” he said. “How do you measure that impact? You can’t. But I can tell you it’s huge.” cr bj


From the 10.3.16 Issue

Robotics on the rise in manufacturing facilities By Liz Segrist

Boeing South Carolina integrated a new robot into its Dreamliner production in North Charleston earlier this year. The Quadbot has four spinning arms that can affix thousands of fasteners to airplane parts faster than humans or previous machines. (Photo/Kim McManus)

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otherNEWSMAKERS The city of North Charleston requested proposals to redevelop the 17.96-acre former Shipwatch Square property at 3655 and 3685 Rivers Ave., at the corner of McMillan Avenue. Greenville-based Appian Investments I LLC, an investment pool made up of NAI Earle Furman employees, submitted the only proposal. It plans to buy the land for $3.325 million and build retail, office and multifamily residential units, as well as a grocery store of at least 25,000 square feet.

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Background photo/Volvo Cars


obots will play a big role in the production of Volvo Cars’ first-ever S60 sedans once the automaker’s $600 million manufacturing campus is up and running in 2018. Welding, body work, assembly work and paint processes will all involve automation. The automaker expects to have at least 280 robots at the Berkeley County site, although that number will fluctuate with production rates, according to Christer Wikstrom, the head of manufacturing engineering at Volvo Car Group in Sweden. Wikstrom said any part of the production process that can be dangerous for workers — when they are working under a car, for example — is an opportunity to integrate robots. “Automation eliminates very heavy work for operators,” Wikstrom said. “It’s good from a quality point of view, a volume point of view and an ergonomic point of view.” Larry Sweet, associate director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, said more industries are integrating robotics into their processes. He said companies also are increasing the number of robots they have in their facilities. Boeing South Carolina has seen productivity gains with a new robot it integrated into its 787 Dreamliner production line earlier this year. The Quadbot sits inside the aft-body facility. Its four robotic arms swivel quickly, drilling holes and placing 2,800 fasteners on a rear section of the 787 jet. The robot shaves several days off of the process. Mercedes-Benz Vans also plans to use more robotics in its $500 million manufacturing campus currently under construction in North Charleston. Mercedes’ robots will be tasked with lifting the bodies of the vans and taking them from the paint shop to the assembly line, where interior parts can be added. Wikstrom of Volvo said workers are still needed in the production process, particularly highly skilled workers. Maintenance technicians and operators make sure the robots, parts and computerized sequences are correct as they come down the line, while the robots handle much of the manual labor. “Automation will never fully replace all of the operators on a line,” Wikstrom said. “We are always dependent on skilled operators and maintenance around everything. ... The more automation you put into your process, the more complex it becomes. So we need to get the correct skills in maintenance (workers) and operators to operate the automation.”


From the 10.17.16 Issue

Winded after Matthew By Ashley Heffernan U.S. Air Force civil engineers with the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron repair power lines that were damaged by Hurricane Matthew on Joint Base Charleston. (Photo/Senior Airman Nicholas Byers)

Falling trees during Hurricane Matthew caused property damage to many homes across the Lowcountry, including this home in Legend Oaks in Summerville. (Photo/Mark Wright)

Interstate 26 East to Charleston was closed in advance of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo/Andrew Sprague)

Boats piled up next to the marina at Palmetto Bay on Hilton Head Island following Hurricane Matthew. (Photo/Second Lt. David Wallach, Civil Air Patrol, S.C. Wing)


uring the morning hours of Oct. 8, Hurricane Matthew made its way up the S.C. coast, reaching the Lowcountry as a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds around 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its impact on the Palmetto State was a far cry from what was felt in Haiti, where the hurricane hit days earlier as a Category 4 with 145 mph maximum sustained winds, causing hundreds of deaths and massive property damage. The storm’s destruction in the Caribbean islands caused panic throughout states in its path along the East Coast.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley ordered hundreds of thousands of coastal residents to evacuate days before the hurricane arrived, reversing the eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia to make the mass exodus easier. Windows were boarded up, schools and businesses shut down and more than 50 shelters opened. During the course of the storm, emergency officials responded to more than 3,600 calls across the state; about 1,450 of those involved traffic collisions, Haley said. Four fatalities were reported in South


Photo/University of California Berkeley

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Carolina — two in Florence County, one in Dillon County and one in Richland County — as a result of the hurricane. Across the Lowcountry, homeowners found broken limbs strewn about their neighborhoods and trees and power lines downed. Some trees crashed into homes and fencing collapsed, but no one in the region was seriously injured. A week after the hurricane came ashore, 131 roads and 25 bridges still remained closed across the state, mostly in the northeastern part of the state to the east of Interstate 95. At one point, more than 800,000 customers were without electricity across

the state, the governor said. The S.C. Forestry Commission estimates that the hurricane caused about $205 million in damage to the state’s timber resources. Forester Gene Kodama said that’s only abou 1% of the state’s total timber value. “While we are dealing with challenges, we are moving forward, and so we want everybody to understand that every day gets a little bit better,” Haley said during a news conference after the hurricane. “Even though the challenges change, this entire team is in front of the challenge and continuing to do the work.” cr bj

Don’t call it an uber tuber — sweet potatoes are roots, after all — but there’s a patented potato growing beneath the soil in North Charleston that’s good for making chips and could be used as an alternative energy source. CX-1 might not be the sort of brand name that gets you excited about the awesome power of sweet potatoes, but that’s what this ugly root has been named in a patent filed by Janice Ryan-Bohac, a horticulturist at Carolina Advanced Renewable Energy LLC in North Charleston. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent for what it calls a mutant sweet potato to Ryan-Bohac.


From the 10.31.16 Issue

$200M redesign of CHS reveals modern airport By Liz Segrist Charleston International Airport has undergone a massive renovation over the past four years. The upgrade added five gates, a larger security checkpoint, new space for rental car companies, nine restaurants, seven shops and more than 2,000 places to plug in smartphones and laptops. (Photos/ Liz Segrist)


harleston International Airport’s look is no longer stuck in the 1980s. The formerly dark interior, old carpet and brown tile floors that clacked loudly as suitcases rolled across them pegged the terminal to its decade of construction. A $200 million renovation replaced that outdated style with modern, bright designs and new furniture equipped with outlets. Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass walls allow sunlight to stream in and give passengers a front-row view of the jets taking off and arriving. The security checkpoint has been consolidated from two locations to one, and more lanes have been added. Paul Campbell, CEO of Charleston County Aviation Authority, said an

expansion was needed to handle passenger growth at the airport. He said the Charleston airport often makes the first and last impression on business travelers and tourists, and it should be an impactful gateway for the region. The 31-year-old building required major updates to its technology infrastructure, heating and cooling systems and baggage claim. Nine new

restaurants and seven new retail shops were built. Officials said the biggest hurdle the project had to overcome was rebuilding the terminal on the existing footprint while keeping the airport functional — and accommodating more passengers each year. Passenger growth for the airport has averaged about 3% annually since 1985, but it

otherNEWSMAKERS Many farmers markets are sponsored by government, as is the case in Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Summerville. They value farmers markets as channels for local growers and artisans and as gathering spots that develop community, link rural and urban populations, and draw tourists. The new West Ashley entry is open for four hours on a weekday, and it’s more likely to appeal to parents who pick up their children at school and stop to grab vegetables for dinner. Photos/Kim McManus

40 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

has jumped nearly 70% since 2010, hitting 3.4 million passengers in 2015. Four million passengers are expected to come through next year. “We were tearing down and rebuilding this airport while having 15,000 people a day. ... It was a real challenge to expand and rebuild the existing terminal at the same time,” Campbell said. cr bj


From the 11.14.16 Issue

American College of the Building Arts finishes trolley barn renovation By Ashley Heffernan

The newly renovated trolley barn site now includes large spaces for American College of the Building Arts students to learn and practice wood, iron and trowel trades. Bottom right: Joe Whisonant, a junior studying forged architectural iron, works on a piece of metal in the college’s new facility. Middle: A computer lab sits off the library on the third floor. (Photos/ Ashley Heffernan)


or years, students attending the American College of the Building Arts went to jail when it was time to go to class. The college owned the Old City Jail on Magazine Street, a place in downtown Charleston that once imprisoned runaway slaves, pirates and murderers. During the day, students used the space to learn about architectural stone, masonry and plastering, among other building arts. At night, the jail was the site of tours featuring legends about ghosts still roaming the grounds. “Many of our current students found the old jail to be charming and full of character,” said Theodore Landsmark,

vice president of academic affairs at the college. “But we’re also aware that some prospective students showed up, took a look at the facility and said, ‘I’m not going to go to school in a jail.’” Student recruitment efforts should be simpler for the college now that it has moved to a newly renovated building that was formerly a trolley barn. The college purchased the vacant, 24,000-square-foot building at 649 Meeting St. from the city of Charleston in late 2014. The rundown building, known as the “trolley barn,” was built in 1897 as a garage for public transportation trolleys. Two other buildings were later

added to the nearly 2-acre site. When Charleston upgraded from trolleys to buses in 1938, the barn became a depot and maintenance shop, according to research from the college. It was essentially abandoned in the 1980s and sat vacant for 30 years before the college began renovating it last year. “The roof was in a total state of disrepair. In fact, in some places, there was no roof,” said college President Colby Broadwater III, also a retired Army lieutenant general. “Some of the walls were supported by 2-by-8 pieces of timber that the state historic preservation office funded after Hurricane Hugo and subsequent decay of this building.”

otherNEWSMAKERS Folly Beach City Council passed two ordinances designed to keep plastic bags and foam containers out of the ocean. As of Oct. 18, single-use plastic bags, balloons and all plates, bowls, cups, containers, lids, trays, coolers, ice chests and similar items that are made of plastic foam are no longer allowed on Folly Beach. Beginning Jan. 1, businesses on Folly Beach will no longer be allowed to sell or provide those items, except for balloons. Photo/Ashley Heffernan

42 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

It had very few windows left intact and needed remediation from both asbestos and lead. “The building was basically open to the elements and, even from time to time, had vagrants living in here,” Broadwater said. The college renovated the building over the course of a year and a half for $5 million, transforming it from a one-story, open barnlike structure to a three-story college totaling nearly 40,000 square feet. Architect William Monroe III of WGM Design Inc. designed the new facility, and Hitt Contracting Inc. oversaw the construction. cr bj


From the 11.28.16 Issue

Judge puts hold on federal overtime rule By Liz Segrist


ays before a change to federal labor laws was set to go into effect, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction to halt the rule, which would have made millions of salaried workers eligible for overtime pay as of Dec 1. The new federally mandated overtime rule more than doubles the salary threshold for time-and-a-half pay, meaning salaried workers making less than $47,476 a year must be paid overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The law would mean nearly 70,000 more S.C. workers will be due overtime pay when work-

ing extra hours, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Under the new rule, some employees would have to track their hours and limit themselves to 40-hour workweeks; others would be getting paid overtime for the first time — depending on how their employer handled the new rule. The Obama administration pushed for the controversial overtime rule to protect employees against working extra hours without earning additional money. The Labor Department crafted the regulation over the past two years. Nationwide, 4.2 million workers were set to qualify for overtime as of Dec. 1. More than 50 business organizations and 21 states, including South Carolina, filed for an emergency injunction to stop the rule change from going into effect.

otherNEWSMAKERS Pro- and anti-union advertisements and smear campaigns are intensifying as tensions rise over whether Boeing South Carolina’s Dreamliner operations will become unionized. Mike Evans, lead S.C. organizer for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the union is inching toward another election. This is the union’s second election attempt at Boeing Co.’s Lowcountry operations. The IAM says unionization would increase workers’ wages, while Boeing says it would erode collaboration.

44 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

Anti-union buttons were in Boeing South Carolina’s executive offices in 2015. Boeing leaders continue to urge workers to vote “no” if the Machinists union garners enough support to hold another election in North Charleston. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

On Nov. 22, U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, who serves in the Eastern District of Texas, granted a nationwide emergency injunction, stating that implementation of the rule could cause harm to employees and employers if the rule is put into place and later overturned. The judge focused his ruling on how labor law defines executive, administrative and professional workers. The Labor Department asserts those workers should be defined by their job role and salary level. The states assert that those workers should be defined by job role only and not subject to overtime rules. Subsequent rulings or efforts to overturn the injunction are possible, depending on the Labor Department and Obama’s response. cr bj


From the 12.12.16 Issue

First 787-10 hits production milestone at Boeing S.C. By Liz Segrist

Boeing S.C. workers position the midbody section (left) of the first 787-10 Dreamliner in the company’s final assembly plant in North Charleston. The aftbody section (above) of the first 787-10 moves into the final assembly plant at the Boeing Co.’s North Charleston operation. (Photos/Andy Owens)


hawn Felder ran wires in the first-ever 787-10 Dreamliner built at Boeing South Carolina. “I can sum up working on the dash-10 in two words: absolutely amazing,” Felder, a mechanical technician, said. Hundreds of Boeing South Carolina workers walked behind the massive sections of the first 787-10 as it rolled across the North Charleston campus and into the final assembly building for further work. Some workers chanted “Mid!” and others chanted “Aft!” — correlating to which part of the plane they produced throughout the fall — as the pieces entered the final assembly building. Workers cheered as the gap closed between the two parts of the aircraft. The work to conjoin the aft body, which is the rear of the plane, and the midbody, which is the larger, middle section, with the front fuselage and the wings began in December.


The 787-10 is the first Boeing jet to be solely produced and assembled in North Charleston. Once assembled, the jet will undergo months of test flights at the company’s testing center in Seattle. It will be painted at Boeing S.C.’s new, 400,000-square-foot paint hangar, which opened in December. Planes are currently flown to suppliers across the country for painting. The first flight is scheduled for 2017 and the first 787-10 customer delivery is on track for 2018, said Darrel Larson, director of 787-10 build integration at Boeing S.C. Boeing currently has 154 orders for the newest and longest Dreamliner from nine customers globally. Singapore Airlines will be the first to receive a 787-10 delivery. “To introduce a brand-new airplane in Charleston that’s going to be assembled in Charleston and painted in Charleston ... It’s a watershed day for the company, the site and the region,” Larson said.

New Roper St. Francis CEO and President Lorraine Lutton introduces herself to employees during her first week on the job. (Photo/Shane Ellis, Roper St. Francis)

46 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

cr bj

Boeing S.C. site leader Joan Robinson-Berry talks to workers and executives gathered on the floor of the final assembly plant to celebrate the beginning of final assembly for the first 787-10. (Photos/Andy Owens)

Lorraine Lutton, who was most recently the president of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla., became the president and CEO of Roper St. Francis in Charleston on Nov. 14. She said she will focus on finding ways to make primary care physicians and nurse practitioners more accessible to patients in the rapidly growing Lowcountry. Increasing access could involve building more office space; but smaller, easier steps — such as changing processes to improve the availability of appointments — will likely be taken first, she said. Lutton is the first female leader of the 150-year-old, nonprofit Roper St. Francis hospital system.

Charleston Regional Business Journal's Newsmakers 2016  

Newsmakers offers a look at the most important business-to-business news for 2016 in the Lowcountry.

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