Charleston Regional Business Journal - February 6, 2023

Page 1

Japanese ‘flying car’ maker to land HQ in Beaufort County

Is a future with flying cars finally around the corner? A Japanese company believes it enough to establish U.S. headquarters in Beaufort. Page 7

INSIDE Upfront 2 SC Biz News Briefs 3 In Focus: Life Science Companies 19 At Work 20 Business Digest 20 People in the News 21 Viewpoint 23 Darby placed in new portfolio Private investment firm purchases apartment. complex. Page 11 Ripples of health 10 hospitals account for $73 billion in gross patient revenue. Page 2 Life sciences go to front burner SCBIO conference organizers expect big turnout. Page 14 Downtown hideaway Speakeasy-inspired lounge finds a home in Westside. Page 4 VOLUME 29 NUMBER 2 ■ CHARLESTONBUSINESS.COM FEBRUARY 6-FEBRUARY 19, 2023 ■ $2.25 Part of the network Eye Test A Focus on promising research Page 13
Investing in luxury Summerville boat maker expanding facilities to build $5M yacht. Page 6

Health care’s economic ripple effect

Hospital beds across SC regions

The Upstate, Midlands and Lowcountry provide more than 65% of the staffed hospital beds across South Carolina, an analysis of annual federal data shows.

Sources: American Hospital Directory, annual Medicare Cost Report of nonfederal, short-term, acute care hospitals as of September 2022

Top 10 grossing hospitals in SC

The following hospital systems posted the highest gross per-patient annual revenue based on federal data reported by the hospitals as of Sept. 27, 2022.

Ten hospitals across South Carolina bring in the largest percentage of the more than $73 billion in gross patient revenue, according to the latest federal data and an analysis by the American Hospital Directory.

South Carolina has 67 hospitals operating as acute care facilities, blanketing urban and more rural areas of the state, data from each hospital’s Medicare Cost Report show. Each non-federal, short-term care acute hospital is required to file the report each year. The latest data was published in September.

Ten of those 67 hospitals grossed more than $43 billion annually, according to the latest data, which is nearly 59% of the total patient revenue collected for the year.

Medical University Hospital in Charleston brought in the most patient revenue at nearly $6.3 billion, followed by Trident Hospital in North Charleston and Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia. Overall, South Carolina’s hospitals provide 11,239 sta ed beds to care for residents and visitors of the Palmetto State. As of September, 2.53 million patient days were recorded in South Carolina acute care facilities for the Medicare Cost Report.

Sources: American Hospital Directory, annual Medicare Cost Report of non-federal, shortterm, acute care hospitals as of September 2022.

“The future of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and vehicle industries is here, and South Carolina is proud to welcome SkyDrive, an industry innovator, to our rapidly growing aerospace cluster.”
— S.C. Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III
BRIEFS | FACTS | STATEWIDE NEWS | BEST ADVICE Hospital Location Revenue Medical University Hospital Charleston $6.2 billion Trident Medical Center North Charleston $5.3 billion Lexington Medical Center West Columbia $5.3 billion Prisma Health Greenville Greenville $5.2 billion Spartanburg Medical Center Spartanburg $4.1 billion Grand Strand Regional Myrtle Beach $3.8 billion McLeod Regional Medical Center Florence $3.7
Prisma Health Richland Columbia
AnMed Medical
$3.6 billion
Francis Downtown
$3.4 billion
$2.6 billion

SC Biz News Briefs

Riverbanks Zoo sets opening date for aquarium, conservation center

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia will open the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center on Thursday, March 2. Through the support of the Boyd Foundation, the multi-million-dollar renovations will transform the heart of the zoo into a state-of-the-art animal care facility, according to a news release.

“It is a deep honor to support Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and their mission of conservation and education, said the Foundation’s Susan F. Boyd. “The new Center will transport visitors through a variety of habitats, show the impact of conservation efforts and encourage simple actions to protect our ecosystems and wildlife. It’s important for us to understand our critical roles in conservation and how we can all do our part.

Guests at the Aquarium will be able to explore habitats such as temperate and tropical forests and deserts and wind their way from land to sea in an immersive journey. The highly anticipated aquarium project took four years from concept to completion.

The Aquarium will feature conservation labs that will showcase conservation work visitors could previously only experience on behind-the-scenes tours. The Coral Lab will feature the role Riverbanks plays in protecting coral reefs, showcasing colonies of corals that were rescued off the coast of Florida near Key West in partnership with the federal government, local governments and other zoological institutions, according to the release.

In the Terrestrial Lab, guests can view endangered reptiles and amphibians from around the globe. The space will also highlight Riverbanks’ work supporting populations of geckos from around the world and collaborative projects protecting South Carolina’s endangered wildlife.

The Conservation Center will house a new desert biome highlighting arid habitats of the Western hemisphere, especially the desert Southwest. It will feature a variety of desert dwellers including tortoises, rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, thick-billed parrots and burrowing owls. Guests will ahave floor-to-ceiling views of reptiles, including the alligator snapping turtle, cottonmouth, bushmaster and green anaconda.

With publications in Charleston, Columbia and the Upstate, as well as a statewide magazine, SC Biz News covers the pulse of business across South Carolina. Above are excerpts from our other publications. 3 February 6-February 19, 2023
COLUMBIA Columbia Regional Business Report B Island economist said during an annual that the national economy continues things that I’m looking at. There’s sorts the thing slopes upward. But then the Fed INSIDE Textile growth industry trend with Proposed building Economist: Expect ‘inevitable’ recession by 2024 The story behind this bank’s $50M Greenville HQ relocation W welcoming vibe, great amenities that The new headquarters under constanding customer service and culture, meet their hopes and dreams. Any time would move headquarters in February “United Community Bank’s relocation of
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The new aquarium and reptile conservation center will open March 2 in Columbia. (Rendering/Provided)

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Downtown Charleston restaurant expands with speakeasy-style lounge

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In the January 16-29 edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal, in a story that appeared on Page 6 titled "Office space, event space slated for Old County Jail," the workplace of Jonathan Oakman, vice president of development with Landmark Enterprises, was incorrect.

Harold’s Cabin, a locally owned “camping meets craft cocktails” spot in the Westside Neighborhood of downtown Charleston, has reinvented its upstairs space.

The Pickled Beat, which opened Jan. 17, is a speakeasy-esque lounge area featuring moody tones, a reimagined floor plan, updated food and beverage menus and more, according to a Harold’s Cabin news release.

The upstairs space that housed a popular Halloween & Christmas Holiday Bar in 2022 has taken on a more funky persona in the new year, the release stated. Deep purple and green velvet sofas create conversation corners, deco-patterned window treatments and playful artwork line the walls, and soft, mid-century modern light fixtures make up the gathering space, the release stated.

“We were inspired by our guests who made 2022 such a memorable year to create an intimate escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Charleston,” John Schumacher, owner of Harold’s Cabin, said in the release. “It is our hope that the Pickled Beat will follow in the Cabin’s footsteps.”

A new food and beverage program will also be ushered in with the opening of the Pickled Beat, according to the release. Continuing the emphasis Harold’s Cabin has placed on locally sourced ingredients, executive chef Taylor Hodgkins and bar manager Michael DeNicola have focused on highlighting innovative craft cocktails and shared plates exclusive to the lounge which include seasonally rotating beet-inspired creations. Signature dishes and cocktails include Pickled Beet Carpaccio, a small plate featuring pickled and marinated beets, mushroom tonnato, and herb salad and Beetle Juice, a rye-based cocktail with amaro, black pepper, beet juice, and cherry juice.

“It’s remarkable how resilient our team is, especially after the 18-month closure due to the pandemic that extended well into 2022,” Drew Childers, partner of Harold’s Cabin, said in the release. “After an exceptional execution of our holiday pop-up, we brought the Pickled Beat idea to the team and their response was incredible. They’re going into this with the same enthusiasm and optimism as everything else we throw their way, so there is no doubt that with them backing us, that this will be a very successful 2023.” CRBJ

Reach Jason Thomas at 864-568-7570.

4 February 6-February 19, 2023 The entire contents of this newspaper are copyright by BridgeTower Media 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 O ice. BridgeTower Media Charleston Regional Business Journal (USPS 18822) is published twice a month except January and December which each only have one issue, and June which has one additional annual issue, 24 times per year by SC Biz News, 3265 North Carolina Ave., Suite 101, North Charleston, SC 29405. Periodicals postage paid at Charleston, SC. Mailing address: 3265 North Carolina Ave., Suite 101 North Charleston, SC 29405 POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: Subscription Services PO Box 1051 Williamsport, PA 17703-9940 SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION Annual subscribers receive 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 for $67.00 Two years for $97.00 Subscribe, renew and change your address online at or call 877-615-9536.
Harold's Cabin has opened a speakeasy-style lounge in its upstairs area. (Photo/Aleece Sophia Foodographs) South Carolina’s Media Engine for Economic Growth


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Summerville boat company plans new yacht, more hiring with plant expansion

ASummerville boat maker is making a $4.5 million investment in expanded facilities to house production for a new yacht model to be unveiled at a boat show in Miami later this month.

Scout Boats Inc. said in a news release the company will debut the new 67-LX series yacht at the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show Feb. 15-19, according to a news release. The sale price of the model will start around $5 million.

Alongside what it calls the largest boatbuilding endeavor the company has ever undertaken, Scout is also on target to hire 200 high-paid skilled labor jobs with benefits, the news release said.

The 67 LX Series, which the company says is one of the largest outboard-powered sportfishing yachts in the world, will encompass three models: the LXF Luxury Fish Model, LXS Luxury Cruiser Model and LXS Luxury Sport Model. All three are powered with five Mercury V-12 600-horsepower engines with a top speed of 60 miles per hour, a high-cruise speed of 40 miles per hour and a range of about 500 miles, the company said in the news release.

“We want to continue to raise the industry bar for class, comfort and style,” Scout CEO and founder Steve Potts said in the news release. “Our dedicated team of designers and engineers, coupled with our partnership on this project with world-renown U.K.-based super yacht design studio Harrison Eidsgaard will no doubt prove this 67-foot project to be one for the ages.”

Scout’s current flagship model is the 530 LXF. The three new 670 LX Series models will outstretch the 530 by 14 feet in length, plus more amenities, the news

release said.

The 670 LX Series project — which has been internally referred to by Scout as “Project Everest” — began inception in 2021. The first 670 LXF model is scheduled to complete in the first quarter of 2024 with full production beginning in the second quarter, the release said.

“Our manufacturing processes are part of our innovative edge in the industry,” Potts said in the release. “Our epoxy infusion, carbon fiber/e-glass, Light RTM, 5-axis routers, CAD programs, 3-D printers, and all the other state-of-the-art processes, tools, equipment and training we have invested in making Scout

the absolute best boat in its class with a Class A finish and the best strength-toweight ratio. We’ve even developed our own in-house boiler system to post cure (heat) all our epoxy composite parts prior to de-molding, ensuring a consistent and thorough cure.”

Scout will add an additional 35,000square-foot plant to its existing four boatbuilding plants on a 36-acre campus, which already has 80,000 square feet of building space. The new construction project is expected to complete by summer 2024.

“Over the years, we’ve continually invested in our company and our dedicated team,” Potts said in the release.

“We’ve created one of the most sought-after work environments in the state by our culture and our family-driven philosophies. We currently employ 425 worldclass craftsmen and craftswomen, who utilize our 5S culture, the latest in composite methodologies, and supportive processes to collectively help produce the most incredible models on the water today for our customers.”

Scout currently builds luxury sportfishing center console, dual console, luxury crossover and inshore/bay boat models ranging from 17 feet to 53 feet. The company was founded in 1989. CRBJ Reach Ross Norton at

Charleston restaurant, social club changes ownership

Asocial club with a full-service restaurant and pool that bills itself as "more loose-tie than black-tie" has been acquired by a hospitality company.

The Mixson Club, located near Park Circle in North Charleston, is under new ownership.

Success Street Hospitality, a local firm based and operated in Charleston and owned by local resident Boris Van Dyck,

has acquired the club property, adjoining restaurant, and market, a Success Streets Hospitality news release stated. Van Dyck, who was one of the club's founding 50 members, recently sent a letter to the current members announcing the transition and the many improvements that are to come.

Success Street Hospitality has plans for a renovation and refresh of the club, fitness center, pool area, cabanas, full-service restaurant and the market/ café, the release stated. Members will be kept apprised of the forthcoming plans,

which will be put into place in stages throughout 2023.

The gym and pool will remain open with normal operational hours. In the interim, upgrades to the facility have already begun, according to the release.

“We want to bring life back to the club as it had when it first opened and I have always loved the space,” Van Dyck, owner of Success Street Hospitality, said in the release. “There will be significant changes to the club that should please new and existing members. We have exciting plans for the restaurant and market and

can’t wait to share those when the time is right.”

Van Dyck has spent most of his life in the hospitality industry as his family had restaurants in Belgium, the Caribbean and New York, the release stated. He moved to Charleston in 1994 to attend the College of Charleston and worked in the hospitality industry locally for over 20 years. He is the owner and founder of ICEBOX, a creative cocktail catering company, and EventHaus, a company specializing in custom, bespoke event rentals, according to the release. CRBJ

6 February 6-February 19, 2023
The new Scout Boats yacht will be 14 feet longer than the company’s largest boat currently under production. (Photo/Provided)

SkyDrive Inc., a Japanese electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft manufacturer headquartered in Toyota, Japan, has plans to enter the U.S. market and operate out of a home base in South Carolina, according to a Skydrive news release.

SkyDrive, which is developing a commercial “flying car,” has outlined its plan to develop an advanced air mobility ecosystem in South Carolina while focusing on building a variety of practical use cases originating from two of its key airports in cooperation with local and state government agencies, the release stated.

The company, which made the announcement Jan. 25 at the 2023 annual VFS eVTOL Symposium in Mesa, Ariz., plans to open an office in Beaufort County.

SkyDrive was first invited to South Carolina in July 2022 by the Beaufort County Economic Development Corp., according to the release. With the BCEDC’s support, it has been exploring market opportunities within the state and building a network of key stakeholders.

SkyDrive’s focus has been on working with South Carolina to study practical use cases originating from several of its major airports utilizing the Japanese manufacturer’s eVTOL aircraft, the SD-052, the release

sought-afstate by our philoso425 worldswomen, who in comsupportive produce the water luxury sportconsole, inshore/bay boat 53 feet. 1989. CRBJ


“The decision to make South Carolina our home base and our window into the U.S. market was an easy one considering that it is a significant player in both the commercial and military aviation industries, and it is home to more than 400 aerospace and aviation companies including Boeing and Lockheed Martin. I sincerely believe that the vast number of resources available in South Carolina will provide SkyDrive with a substantial platform that enables us to achieve our goals,” Tomohiro Fukuzawa SkyDrive’s founder and CEO,

said in the release.

As a result of this business development activity and the support of local and state government, SkyDrive has decided to form a business infrastructure within the state and to work with South Carolina in realizing an advanced air mobility ecosystem which will bring the state to the forefront in its ability to support the commercial oper-

our rapidly growing aerospace cluster,” S.C. Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III said in the release. SkyDrive’s advanced electric propulsion technology and sustainable transportation implications are the perfect fit for South Carolina’s business roster and the state’s growing business development goals. South Carolina extends a warm welcome to Sky-

6-February 19, 2023 7 February 6-February 19, 2023
Japanese ‘flying car’ maker HQ
land in Beaufort
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Images on the SkyDrive page show company leaders believe flying cars are not just for the distant future. (Image/SkyDrive)

Work begins on $48M North Charleston apartment development The Willow

Multi-family developer Monday Properties, in partnership with Glenmont Capital Management, has broken ground on The Willow in North Charleston.

The team purchased the site in November 2021 and secured $48 million in construction financing from Sandy Spring Bank, a Monday Properties news release stated. The 338-unit, Class A multifamily community is expected to deliver in late first quarter of 2024.

“Building on the success of Monday’s completed multifamily developments in the greater Charleston area — the Mason and the Hudson — we see tremendous opportunity to further expand our footprint in the region by delivering another first-class property that meets the market’s growing demand for accessible luxury,” said Frank Craighill, senior vice president of development at Monday Properties, in the release. “Charleston is home to one of the fastest growing and most dynamic economies in the southeast, and we are excited to deepen our presence in the area

with the development of The Willow.”

Located off Ashley Phosphate Road, one of North Charleston’s busiest retail corridors, residents will have an abundance of nearby retail, dining, and entertainment options, the release stated. The Willow, 7562 Plantation Road, is in close

proximity to Interstate 26, as well as major employers including Boeing, Daimler, and the Charleston International Airport.

The project is designed as a private residential community with a tranquil but modern feel, the release stated. Details include large wrap-around porches and

a resort-style amenity package including a zero-entry, saltwater pool, grilling cabana, pickleball court, outdoor fitness area and courtyards.

The property also includes a clubhouse with a 24-hour fitness center and yoga studio, a lounge and game room, and a covered patio overlooking the pool, as well as other indoor amenity spaces, including a variety of co-working and conference spaces and a community room, the release stated. The pet-friendly community will also feature a half-acre dog park for residents.

“The Charleston market, as well as the greater southeast, are part of our broader multifamily investment strategy, which involved doubling down in home markets like Stamford, Connecticut, and Alexandria, Virginia,” said Timothy Helmig, managing partner at Monday Properties, said in the release. “The postCOVID landscape further reinforced multifamily as a safe and high-demand investment. With key differentiators, like positive rent trends and transaction volume in Charleston, we feel confident in a successful lease up after the Willow’s delivery.” CRBJ

8 February 6-February 19, 2023
Residents of The Willow in North Charleston will have an abundance of nearby retail, dining, and entertainment options (Rendering/Monday Properties)

Duo behind famed New York City bar to open Charleston spot

Aspace next to Prohibition on King Street in downtown Charleston is being transformed into a new concept.

James Walsh, part of the team behind Prohibition, has partnered with Sean Muldoon and Jillian Vose, the duo behind New York’s famed Irish Bar The Dead Rabbit, to transform the space into Hazel and Apple, according to a news release.

Walsh will work with the New York duo to bring another spot for serious cocktails to the King Street corridor, this one at 549 King St. — most recently occupied by Bonny’s Hideaway, according to the release.

Bonny’s Hideaway was a tiki-inspired pop-up concept, opened in summer of 2022 as a limited-time concept by Jim McCourt, Walsh and the team behind the neighboring cocktail-forward restaurant, Prohibition, the release stated. After a successful six months, Bonny’s Hideaway finished its run by hosting Sippin’ Santa, the holiday pop-up bar, throughout the month of December.

“Prohibition continues to be King Street’s mainstay for sophisticated cocktails and elevated, locally inspired dishes. Our guests lean on Prohibition for a relaxed environment where they can

enjoy a good cocktail and thoughtful food,” Walsh said in the release. “I’m excited to partner with Sean and Jillian. They are both known worldwide for their creative genius in the industry.

Hazel and Apple will be a game changer to the 500 block on King Street and I’m very proud to be part of this Irish-inspired concept. Undoubtedly, it will be an innovative and creative, world class

establishment for Charleston.”

Work to renovate the space is underway. A post on Hazel and Apple’s website says the spot will open this spring. CRBJ

6-February 19, 2023 9 February 6-February 19, 2023
Hazel and Apple is expected to open this spring at 549 King St. in downtown Charleston. (Photo/Hazel and Apple)

Avery Research Center at CofC awarded $2M grant

The Mellon Foundation has awarded the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture a $2 million grant to support the collection and preservation of the Lowcountry’s social and cultural history.

“This grant is a true difference maker for the College’s Avery Research Center and our entire campus,” Andrew T. Hsu, president of the College of Charleston, said in a university news release. “The Mellon Foundation has an incredibly strong legacy of helping to build just communities, with their significant investments to enhance a dialogue of ideas and bolster imaginations. I am excited to see how this grant will accelerate and expand the important work of the Avery Research Center’s staff as well as its immediate impact on our greater community in Charleston.”

The funding, says Tamara T. Butler, executive director of the center, will allow it to explore and share rich cultural histories.

“This grant emphasizes our commitment to preserving and promoting the Avery Research Center’s histories,” she said in the news release. “We are overjoyed about the opportunity to tell stories about our 160-year-old evolution. I am grateful for this team of phenomenal scholars. This

grant is only possible because of dynamic faculty, supportive leadership and committed staff.”

Funding will allow the Avery Research Center to broaden the reach of their archival collections through training/professional development and community outreach. Desired outcomes include processing and digitizing selected historic manuscript and audiovisual collections from the

Avery Research Center for public use, and increased community engagement in the center’s archives and programming.

“Receiving this grant is significant as it denotes that the Mellon Foundation sees the value in preserving and promoting the histories of African American education in the Lowcountry,” Aaisha Haykal, Avery Research Center’s manager of archival services, said in the release. “Providing access to current-

ly unprocessed collections will help scholars, artists and educators explore the histories of spaces and places Black communities have used for a liberatory education. Furthermore, this grant will provide training opportunities for new professionals to gain experience in the cultural heritage profession.”

The center collects and preserves the history and culture of the African diaspora, especially in the Lowcountry. CRBJ

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10 February 6-February 19, 2023
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Operators say the grant will help the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture make its records more publicly accessible,. (Photo/Provided)
ursday, March 23, 2023 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 2023

New York firm acquires Charleston apartment development

Atlas Real Estate Partners, a multifamily-focused private investment and development firm with offices in New York and Miami, has completed the site acquisition for The Darby multifamily development in Charleston, according to a news release from the company.

The firm is partnering with FIDES Development on the project.

The transaction closed on Jan. 10, following a two-year contract period in which full entitlements and site plan approval were obtained for the project, the release stated. Financial details were not disclosed.

The Darby is a 331-unit Class A mid-rise multifamily Opportunity Zone development project located at 1590 Meeting Street Road in Charleston’s North-of-Morrison (“NoMo”) creative corridor, the release stated. The project will consist of a mix of studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms with two large southern-facing courtyards, an oversized pool and amenity deck, pickleball court, dog park, and 9,000 square-feet of indoor amenity space, including a co-working facility, the release stated.

“We feel The Darby is the perfect

fit for our existing Opportunity Zone development platform,” said Alex Foster, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Partners, in the release. “Not only is Charleston one of the top places in the United States to live, work and retire, NoMo has all the hallmarks of our previous developments in Nashville’s

WeHo neighborhood and we expect to see the same exponential growth.”

The Darby is Atlas’ third ground-up development deal in partnership with the FIDES Development team, the release stated. FIDES Development is an Atlanta-based real estate development firm with more than $5 billion in

combined real estate development and investment experience. The firm has an active development pipeline with more than 1,800 units across the Southeast in various stages of development.

"With apartment demand on the Charleston peninsula continuing to outpace other markets across the Southeast, and supply limited, a highly visible location such as this has strong tailwinds that don't show signs of stopping," said Heath Hans of FIDES Development in the release. "We're excited to partner with the group of professionals at Atlas Real Estate Partners.”

NoMohas become a social hub with a variety of dining, retail, and entertainment options with sleek new housing developments, drawing a younger demographic attracted to newer, modern spaces and strong accessibility, the release stated.

Since its formation in 2009, Atlas has closed over 50 acquisitions and development projects with a total capitalization of $1.5 billion spread over 10,000-plus residential units and 1.5 million square feet of commercial real estate, according to the release. To date, the firm has closed three single-asset multifamily Opportunity Zone Funds totaling over $250 million in capitalization. CRBJ

6-February 19, 2023 11 February 6-February 19, 2023 grant
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The Darby is a 331-unit Class A mid-rise multifamily Opportunity Zone development project located at 1590 Meeting Street Road in Charleston’s North-of-Morrison (“NoMo”) creative corridor. (Rendering/Provided)
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LISTS: Life Sciences Companies, Page 19

NEXT ISSUE’S FOCUS: Hospitality/Tourism

Charleston company working to unlock cure for certain eye diseases

Founders of a Charleston-based life sciences company hope to treat serious eye diseases and reverse visual impairment by fixing imbalances in the “power stations” found in all human cells.

Scientists at MitoChem Therapeutics have been working for more than a decade on developing compounds that could be used to treat eye diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease of the retina that eventually causes blindness in most people who have it. In the process, they also hope to develop treatments for other diseases in the long run.

MitoChem was first incorporated in 2011 as a spinoff of work being done at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. The founders were the late Craig Beeson, a medicinal chemist; Barb Rohrer, a neuroscientist and professor of ophthalmology at MUSC specializing in diseases of the retina; and Rich Schnellman, a pharmacologist who is currently dean of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

Beeson and Rohrer wanted to combine their expertise in neuroscience and chemistry with Rohrer’s specific research on mitochondria in a venture to battle diseases, particularly those of the eye, according to Michael Voevodsky, president and CEO of MitoChem.

To understand the work MitoChem is doing, you first need to take a trip back to high school biology class when the teacher explained the parts of the cell. Mitochondria (mitochondrion is the singular form) are organelles, small structures found in every cell that are surrounded by a membrane and have a specific function.

They are sometimes referred to as the “power stations” of the cell because their function is to take the products of aerobic respiration — breathing — and convert them into a substance called adenosine triphosphate, ATP for short, a source of chemical energy that enables a cell to perform its specific function.

To put it simply, respiration powers mitochondria to produce energy, in

much the same way that a fuel like gasoline enables an engine to work or a generator to produce electricity. The better the mitochondria are at producing energy, the better the cells perform their specific function.

When damage to the mitochondria occurs, however, the cells don’t perform their function as well. This damage can occur in a number of ways, including trauma, environmental factors, acute disease or — most common of all — through the natural degeneration in almost all cells’ function that occurs through the human aging process.

Rohrer’s research focused largely on degenerative diseases of the eye, ranging from age-related ones like macular degeneration and glaucoma to the relatively rare but destructive retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that often causes blindness.

“Rohrer recognized that a common denominator across all these diseases she was studying was a change in cell metabolism, in the function of the mitochondria,” Voevodsky said. “Cells see stress from aging, environmental exposure, disease and genetic mutations, and this affects the mitochondria and causes a metabolic crisis in the retina. Once this crisis is established, it’s the beginning of

the end. Rohrer and Beeson concluded that if you could stabilize metabolism and get the retina out of this crisis, then the cells would have a chance to survive.”

The founders got early funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Foundation Fighting Blindness to do research on the mitochondria/metabolism link. Years of research have resulted in a new class of small molecules designed to treat degeneration in the retina by protecting the structure and function of retinal mitochondria from stress caused by aging, genetic and environmental factors, according to information on the company’s website.

“We’ve been able to prove that there are compounds that we’ve developed that work in animal models that have the same type of diseases that we’re trying to treat in humans,” Voevodsky said. “We’ve found that the lead compound we’re working with not only protects photo receptors in the eye from disease but also has the potential to improve overall visual function.”

MitoChem in 2019 became a member of SC Launch, the investment affiliate of the South Carolina Research Authority, and received a $25,000 academic startup grant. In 2021, it became an SC

Launch Portfolio company and received a $200,000 investment.

Currently MitoChem is working on getting safety and toxicology tests on the compounds done in advance of meeting with officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin the process of getting preliminary approval to begin testing of the compounds on humans, Voevodsky said.

“We’re still a very long way from producing any medications from our research,” he said. “Drug development takes a long time, so we’re probably at least six or seven years away from having an approved drug come out of our work. But we’re excited and enthusiastic about the potential we see. Our whole goal is to really advance these compounds as quickly as we can.”

MitoChem has also applied for and received what is called an “orphan disease designation” from the FDA because of its’ compounds potential to help those with retinitis pigmentosa.

Orphan diseases are those that affect a small segment of the population, usually less than 200,000 people at a time. Large pharmaceutical companies don’t usually devote much research into drugs for disease affecting so small a population. By receiving the designation, Voevodsky said MitoChem will receive assistance from the FDA to jumpstart research to bring their compounds to market for retinitis pigmentosa patients.

Voevodsky said their compounds’ success in treating dysfunctional mitochondria in the eye would also have great potential for addressing other age-related and degenerative diseases that affect a host of other organ systems, ranging from diabetes and kidney disease to disorders of the neurological system like Alzheimer’s disease and ALS. Since all cells contain mitochondria, treatments that help slow down or repair dysfunction in one system potentially would be able to accomplish the same thing in others.

“All of these disorders have mitochondrial dysfunction that occurs early in the disease process and is really damaging to any body system that consumes a high amount of energy,” Voevodsky said. “If we’re right about what we’re doing in the eye — and we think we are — we’re confident about moving this thing forward. We think we have a chance to in the future help treat all of these other diseases as well.” CRBJ

Researchers say mitochondria hold a key to certain kinds of blindness. (Image/Provided) Voevodsky

SCBIO 2023 Life Sciences Conference organizers expect record gathering

Staff Report

The largest life sciences conference in Palmetto State history will convene Feb. 21-23 in Charleston to address how South Carolina and America will improve health care and health equity for all, life sciences industry officials have said.

Themed “Tomorrow Starts Here,” the two-day SCBIO 2023 event will feature national speaker sessions on Winning the War on Cancer, Made in SC: Innovation at Home, Transforming Healthcare Digitally, and Reshoring/Onshoring among over 20 sessions – all topics driving the state’s fastest growing industry: life sciences.

Life sciences is a $25.7 billion annual industry growing faster in South Carolina than in any other Southeastern state. Conference speakers include national pharma and medtech executives, economic developers, leaders from South Carolina’s research universities, health care executives, business and financial industry officials, national media and others. In all, more than 40 speakers will present a variety of topical choices to attendees at the conference.

The conference will feature an expanded exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry businesses, institutions of higher learning and essential support industry partners from across America, as well as presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2022 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year, according to a news release. Also to be honored will be industry Rising Star under 40 years of age.

SCBIO CEO James Chappell will deliver a “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while hundreds of attendees will take advantage of meetings, receptions and connection sessions.

Recent additions to the growing list of speakers include Shlomi Uziel of Israel's Quai.MD; Thomas Freund of Switzerland's SHL Medical; Gary Thompson of Abbott; David Koerner of US Performance Center; Matt Szuhaj of Deloitte/ San Francisco; Kendalle O'Connell of MassBio; and Ibraheem Badejo of Ethicon/Johnson and Johnson.

Full details are available online under Events at, and registration to attend the two-day conference is open. Registration and exhibiting are free or discounted to SCBIO investors, and the conference is open to interested members of the public.

“Life sciences is a key driver of South Carolina’s economy, and this conference’s growth is testament to the industry’s

surging impact, reach and rapidly rising economic significance in our state,” Mike Brenan, South Carolina regional president for Truist and the 2023 conference chair, said in the news release. “Already accounting for over 85,000 highly skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, life sciences have tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to showcase the top companies, leaders, research universities and support organizations from across our state and country at SCBIO 2023.”

The twp-day conference annually draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Already committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, R&D, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more.

SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 1,000 firms directly involved in the research, development and commercialization of innovative health care, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.

Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Nitrile, Nephron

Pharmaceuticals, Bristol Myers Squibb, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Rhythmlink, C-Safe, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.

As the official state affiliate of BIO,

PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include academic institutions, biotech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world. CRBJ

For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2023, visit www.

14 February 6-February 19, 2023 IN FOCUS: WORKFORCE/STAFFING
Jimmy Dascani of Arthrex speaks at last year’s conference and is on the agenda again for this month’s conference. (Photo/Provided) Attendees lean in to hear what speakers say at the 2022 conference. (Photo/Provided)

Researchers test wearable device as opioid solution

Staff Report

Amulti-year clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina and University of Texas Medical Branch will examine the use of a wearable device thought to stimulate nerves near the ear to change signals in the brain as a treatment for chronic pain and opioid tapering.

The trial, known as tANdem, is being funded by an $8.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and is designed to provide an understanding of the mechanistic, neurophysiological and antinociceptive effects of transcutaneous auricular neurostimulation (tAN), which has been shown to reduce pain and the symptoms of withdrawal.

“The opioid crisis has spawned untold deaths and chronic disabilities with a major impact on global health care,” Dr. Kathryn Cunningham, a translational pharmacologist and director of UTMB’s Center for Addiction Research said in a news release. “Our collaborative project will determine the efficacy of tAN to ease tapering of real-world patients from opioid management of chronic pain with reduced withdrawal symptoms. Importantly, neurostimulation therapy will provide a much needed and innovative treatment option over existing opioid

analgesics with high risk for misuse, opioid use disorder, and overdose.”

Amid the opioid epidemic, a treatment chasm has emerged, researchers say. Countless patients are being encouraged to avoid or discontinue opioid use for acute pain relief and chronic pain conditions for which opioids are a daily necessity. Providers must balance the need to reduce opioid harm while simultaneously managing a patient’s pain. Within this gap, non-opioid, non-pharmacological solutions could provide the much-needed answer, the universities said in the news release.

Neurostimulation devices targeting the cranial nerves have long been used for pain control. In particular, the stimulation of the vagus nerve and trigeminal nerve has demonstrated success as an analgesic in acute pain, post-surgical pain and chronic pain disorders.

Wearable tAN therapy, which combines VNS and TNS, has the potential to improve pain therapy significantly by providing a safe, effective and convenient means to facilitate both acute and longterm pain relief without the risks associated with opioids or other pain-relieving medications or the need for implantable devices used by many current neuromodulation treatments.

Spark Biomedical developed the Sparrow Therapy System — the first FDA-

cleared wearable, non-invasive tAN device for the treatment of opioid withdrawal. Use of the Sparrow device for pain management will be investigated in this trial, which will be a pioneering multi-site collaborative effort bringing together experts in pain, addiction, neurostimulation and neuroimaging.

The trial is led by principal investigators Denise Wilkes, UTMB professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine; David Houghton, UTMB assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Bashar Badran, MUSC assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; and Navid Khodaparast, Spark Biomedical co-founder and chief science officer. Co-investigators include Kathryn Cunningham, UTMB professor; Jeffrey Borkhardt, MUSC professor; and Melanie McWade, Spark director of clinical operations.

“Over the last 15 years of studying the development of opioid analgesia tolerance, I have found a higher degree of tolerance with high-dose opioids in animal models and have witnessed similar opioid tolerance and treatment dissatisfaction with high-dose opioids in my patients,” Wilkes, pain clinician and researcher at UTMB, said in the release. “My team and I have developed and published strategies to help to wean patients off high-

dose opioids and found huge changes in patients’ lives with dose reduction. We are interested in the management and treatment for a condition of trigeminal nerve derangement and trigeminal neuralgia and how this affects both emotional stability and chronic pain.

“I am excited to learn how this technology of trigeminal and vagus nerve stimulation can help chronic pain patients to control their opioid use and help them to navigate these times of the opioid crisis,” Wilkes said in the release.

Houghton, a clinical psychologist at UTMB, said the diverse team of investigators is key to this effort.

“An enormous number of pain patients are prescribed an opioid analgesic and require more effective ways to get off of these drugs while not facing terrible pain and withdrawal,” Houghton said in the release. “Auricular vagus and trigeminal stimulation could be an excellent remedy to this clinical problem; however, we need to better understand the mechanisms through which this type of neurostimulation ameliorates pain and withdrawal. To tackle this question, we have formed a diverse team of scientists and clinicians from academia and industry to conduct a series of translational studies that will significantly advance our under-


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standing of tAN’s underlying neurobiological effects. These projects will form a robust foundation of meaningful science that supports using tAN as a pain intervention, using tAN to help chronic pain patients to reduce their opioid use as well as maximizing patient responses to tAN.”

Badran, a neuroscientist and the director of the MUSC Neuro-X Lab, has high

hopes for the study.

“Accumulating data from our lab and others suggest that auricular vagal and trigeminal stimulation modalities activate the central and peripheral nervous systems,” Badran said in the release. “We live in a moment in history where wearable technologies have the potential to impact how we treat psychiatric and neurological disorders substantially. Opioid withdrawal and pain patients need better treatment

options. Ultimately, noninvasive wearable brain stimulation may emerge as a promising nonpharmacological therapy, if we understand and optimize how it works. We’re excited to be using the advanced neurostimulation and neuroimaging techniques developed in our lab to begin understanding the underlying mechanism of tAN more concretely.”

Spark’s Khodaparast, noted, “We believe our FDA-cleared tAN therapy

produces antinociceptive and opioid withdrawal mitigating effects. This study will use fMRI brain imaging in healthy and chronic pain participants to elucidate the mechanism of tAN further. Understanding the mechanism will enable future work to optimize dosing parameters, generate safer tapering protocols and ultimately improve pain treatment.”

The trial began in late 2022 and will run through fall 2027. CRBJ

Adventure park attraction coming to North Charleston

Urban Air Adventure Park, the largest indoor adventure park operator in the world, has signed a lease agreement to bring a new park to North Charleston.

The park, at 7800 Rivers Ave., is expected to officially open its doors sometime this month, according to an Urban Air news release.

Urban Air North Charleston will focus on customer service and a safe, affordable experience for all ages, seven days a week, the release stated. With more than 40,000 square feet of space, the new adventure park offers a full line-up of activities, such as the Spin/Flip Zone, VR-Spree, Laser Tag, Adventure Hub, Battle Beam, Dodgeball, Drop Zone and more.

“We know families are looking for ways to spend more time together and as the premier destination for family fun and adventure; we’re thrilled to bring our park experience to even more families in Charleston,” Urban Air CEO Jay Thomas said in the release. “Each park is equipped with unique and patented attractions, giving families a one-of-a-kind experience and allowing them to be active, soar to new heights, and reach new limits, all while having fun and making memories.”

Urban Air North Charleston will employ 60 local residents for its newest location, according to the release.

This year, Urban Air ranked as the No. 1 entertainment franchise in “Entrepreneur Magazine’s” Annual Franchise 500 list, according to the release. Founded in 2011, Urban Air has more than 330 locations open or under development. CRBJ

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Urban Air locations such as this one stretch across the country. (Photo/Provided)

Scientists identify obesity-causing enzyme

Staff Report

Clemson University researchers have identified an enzyme and its products in humans that reduce diet-induced obesity.

But hold off before rushing out to order that double cheeseburger, French fries and chocolate milkshake. The discovery likely doesn’t mean you can eat a high-fat diet without repercussions, William Baldwin, a professor and graduate program coordinator in the Clemson Department of Biological Sciences, said in a university news release.

“The biggest thing is that we’re not done with our diet once we eat it,” said Baldwin, whose lab is interested in the metabolism of fatty acids and the role CYP2B genes play in diet-induced obesity. CYP2B is part of a superfamily of enzymes. It is the only human detoxification CYP whose loss is associated with obesity.

Fat isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself, the researcher says.

It’s a source of energy, and some types of fat, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, flaxseed and walnuts, offer a wide range of health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL), often referred to as good cholesterol. They also may lower a person’s chance of developing heart and other diseases.

Omega-6 is another type of fat that is found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

When we eat polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, they get metabolized by CYP2B6 into specific oxylipins, the news release said. The oxylipins signal different receptors to tell the body what to do with the fats.

In the study, the researchers created model mice that had the human CYP2B6 gene. After feeding the mice a diet that was 60% fat, they found

the female mice with the gene had less diet-induced obesity than those without. Male mice with the human CYP2B6 gene had less diabetes and better glucose tolerance, but increased nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Jazmine Eccles, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences, said in the release.

“We believe the oxylipins signal the liver to take up the fats and get them out of your blood. That may be how we’re getting nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and improving some diabetes markers,” Eccles said. “Omega-6 fatty acids are the fat you get a lot of when you eat fried foods. They’re regarded as inflammatory. Your body is signaling to take up these fats, and you’re more apt to store fats instead of metabolizing them. If you eat a healthier diet with more Omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory, you’ll potentially accumulate less of those fats.”

Expanding knowledge about oxylipins could potentially lead to drugs that are metabolic activators and help reduce obesity, Eccles said. But any positives likely will come with a negative. If, for instance, a person comes from a family prone to fatty liver disease, they may not want to take something that increases signals to the liver to take up more fat. But for others, increasing those signals could clear out some of the fat from their bloodstream and reduce diabetes or cardiovascular disease, Baldwin said.

“I think there’s going to be lipids [fatty compounds] that are better than others. But I think, ultimately, we’re going to find that every one of the oxylipins we’re looking at will have two positives and one negative, or have two negatives and one positive,” Baldwin said in the release.

He continued, “I don’t think the perfect molecule is out there. I think the


perfect molecule is a healthy diet with reasonable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and exercise.”

A paper titled “Human CYP2B6 produces oxylipins from polyunsaturated fatty acids and reduces diet-induced obesity” published in December in the journal PLOS One outlines the study’s


Research reported in the paper was supported by several National Institutes of Health institutions, including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant R15ES017321 and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences P20GM121342. CRBJ

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Biology professor and graduate program coordinator William Baldwin oversees graduate work in Clemson’s biology program. (Photo/Clemson University) Jazmine Eccles, a Ph.D. student in the biology department, works with Baldwin. (Photo/Clemson University)

Biotech company to open $50M facility in Union County

ACalifornia-based biotech company is opening its first facility in South Carolina in Union County.

MycoWorks, which creates luxury-quality leather alternatives using the trademarked Fine Mycelium, has selected Stream Realty Partners, CH Realty Partners, and Gray to help develop its first full-scale production facility in the Upstate town of Union, according to a news release.

CH Realty Partners LLC, a Los Angeles-based developer — in conjunction with Ascendant Capital Partners, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm — will invest more than $50 million to expand and improve an existing warehouse at 260 Midway Drive, the release stated. The facility, which MycoWorks will lease with a long-term commitment, will accommodate 135,000 square feet for the company’s first full-scale Fine Mycelium production manufacturing facility

MycoWorks’ new facility will offer approximately 50,000 square feet of manufacturing space, the release stated. It will include controlled environments for mixing, filling, and sterilization; work cells for tending the product as it grows; and areas for product harvesting and finishing.

Within the existing footprint, the facility will utilize approximately 40,000

square feet for an Automated Storage Retrieval System in a highly controlled environment that will house trays of the product as it grows into sheets, the release stated. A two-story expansion of 35,000 square feet for offices will be built adjacent to the existing warehouse. The remaining footprint will be used for storage, utilities, and maintenance areas.

Stream’s National Program Management team will work with CH Realty Partners to manage all aspects of the delivery of the facility, from conceptual design through equipment installation and startup, the release stated. Stream Vice President Tom Porter, who specializes in manufacturing, will lead the proj-

ect. Stream is a national real estate services, development, and investment firm with a growing office in Charlotte that services the Carolinas.

“We’ve taken a deep dive to understand MycoWorks’ business needs and created a path forward that is critical to their success as an organization,” Porter said in the release. “Together, with our partners, we have developed a strategic approach to fast-track this project and help this unique, innovative client become the world’s first commercially scaled Fine Mycelium platform.”

Recognized as a leader in the manufacturing industry, Lexington, Ky.-based Gray will design and build the project,

according to the release.

“Gray is excited to play a pivotal role on such an innovative and technologically advanced project,” said Brian Jones, Gray president and CEO, in the release. “This unique facility is a chance not only to advance MycoWorks but also move the industry forward, and that’s an incredible opportunity.”

Additional exterior improvements will include a bulk unloading area for dry raw materials, storage tanks for liquid raw materials, an expanded parking lot, and a new employee entrance, according to the release. CRBJ

Reach Jason Thomas at 864-568-7570

Furman part of $8.5M effort to bring inclusivity to STEM

Staff Report

Furman University is part of a 15-school cohort that has been awarded $8.625 million by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute with an objective of creating a more inclusive environment for students pursuing fields in science, technology, engineering and math.

The initiative, the institute’s Inclusive Excellence 3, challenges U.S. colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably build their capacity for student belonging, especially for those who have been historically excluded from the sciences, according to a university news release

In total, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will invest $60 million over six years for IE3, spread over roughly 100 participating institutions. Furman will host the program coordinator for its Learning Community Cluster. Furman’s portion of the $8.625 million awarded to the cluster is $931,600, the university said in the news release.

To achieve its goal, Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded 104 institutions, divided into seven clusters, which will tackle one of three challenges: How to make the content

of the introductory science experience more inclusive; how to evaluate effective inclusive teaching, and then reward faculty accordingly in terms of promotion and tenure; how to create genuine partnerships between twoand four-year colleges and universities so that transfer students have a more inclusive experience.

Furman’s 15-member Learning

Community Cluster will focus on content of the introductory science experience. Specifically, the cluster will implement three coordinated projects: facilitate faculty training in the core values of equity, social justice and inclusive pedagogy; elevate the student voice, improve the student experience and situate students as agents of change through engagement and leadership;

and engage faculty, staff and students in the process of making sustainable changes to curricular offerings within introductory courses.

“This project will transform the student experience in STEM at Furman,” Alison Roark, associate professor of biology and program director, said in the release. “Our primary goals are to increase retention of students with historically disadvantaged identities, to cultivate a sense of belonging, and to facilitate student success in STEM.”

Lauren Jarocha, assistant professor of chemistry at Furman and curricular change project leader, said, “This grant gives us the opportunity to take a holistic look at our curriculum – the courses in our majors, the content of our classes, and the programming we offer to our students – across all our science and math departments.

“Intentionally incorporating diversity into introductory STEM courses helps students of all backgrounds succeed. I am excited to work with both our faculty and our students to develop and implement curricular changes that reflect our values as an institution and enhance the student experience,” Jarocha said in the release. CRBJ

18 February 6-February 19, 2023 IN FOCUS: WORKFORCE/STAFFING
Furman senior Lizbett Ocana examines a sample in biology lab. (Photo/Provided) MycoWorks will invest more than $50 million to expand and improve an existing warehouse at 260 Midway Drive in Union

Xequel Bio Inc. 1501 Belle Isle Ave., Suite 220 Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Aquatic Analytics

1180 Drop Off Drive, Suite 101 Summer ville, SC 29486

BioAbChem Inc.

1010 W. Boundar y St., Suite C Summer ville, SC 29485

Glycopath LLC 173 Ashley Ave. Suite BSB358 Charleston, SC 29425

Avancen MOD Corp

1156 Bowman Road, Suite 200 Mount Pleasant, SC 29464







bioscience, biotechnology development, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, research

Wes Brazell, Jerr y St. Peter 2007 6 Development, pharmaceutical, research

Samantha Miller 2013 5 Bioscience

Narender Nath 2009 3 Biotechnology

Danielle Scott Anand Mehta Richard Drake 2019 3 Biomedical

Ned Buffington, Bill Westin 2008 1 Biomedical, bioscience, biotechnology, research

Because of space constraints, sometimes only the top-ranked companies are published in the print edition. Although ever y effort is made to ensure accuracy, errors sometimes occur. Email additions or corrections to

Life sciences public-private economic development organization representing over 1,030 organizations across the state in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, digital health, research and testing, bio-ag, bio-science distribution and support

Clinical stage biopharmaceutical company whose technology was licensed from MUSC; transforming proprietar y aCT1 peptide technology platform to develop drugs that will revolutionize the way the body responds to injur y

Water testing laborator y for commercial, industrial and private clients

Supplies biological products; including FBS, recombinant and natural proteins and lab consumables; products for researchers in universities and institutes

Generating new applications utilizing MALDI MSI to study changes in the glycosylation of various disease states in order to introduce accurate simplified assays to improve patient care and treatment

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Business Digest At Work

Inman wins state planning award

The South Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association presented its Rural Outstanding Project Award to the city of Inman for its master-planning efforts. Mayor Cornelius Huff, city manager Joe Lanahan, city planner April Gibson, and master-planning partners Irene Dumas Tyson (Boudreaux) and Larry McGoogin (Toole Design Group) received the award and presented the downtown master plan at the annual association conference. The Inman downtown master plan documents the envisioned destination for downtown Inman. Boudreaux, Toole Design and Fred Delk tailored a master-planning approach to meet the city’s needs and resources. Since 2020 the city has revived and increased funding for the façade grant program, supported the opening of six new businesses downtown with more opening in 2022 and 2023, built new regional partnerships. It also hired a planning director to manage façades and the city’s growth and development, plus an additional streets staff to manage downtown beautification, extended downtown boundaries across the railroad tracks, and unified a community of longtime residents and newcomers with a collective vision.

Parker’s Kitchen opens new location

in West Ashley

Parker’s recently opened a new Parker’s Kitchen at 3570 Savannah Highway.

The store’s design features Southern vernacular architecture and a contemporary glass-front look with an expanded retail footprint, a layout optimized for higher operational efficiency, and a lime-washed brick exterior. Parker’s operates 29 locations in South Carolina and gives back to communities where stores are located through the company’s Fueling the Community program and the Parker’s Community Fund.

A wide range of Parker’s Kitchen items are prepared fresh onsite and are available seven days a week. The menu is crafted onsite using fresh ingredients, according to a news release.

AgentOwned Realty donates to cancer center to mark awareness

Each October, AgentOwned Realty puts out a pink piggy bank amid the Halloween decorations to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to encourage donations to support MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s breast cancer research, a cause dear to the company’s founders.

In 2022 AgentOwned Realty also gave the Hollings Cancer Center a portion of its proceeds from each property closing in October. Thanks to each of its agent-owners who had a closing in October, AgentOwned Realty donated $12,800 in support of breast cancer research. The donation was made in memory of Liza Loadholt Valero. AgentOwned selected the Hollings Cancer Center as the recipient of its donation because the funds go directly to breast cancer research.

SC Federal Insurance Solutions

acquires Arthurs Insurance

South Carolina Federal Credit Union’s wholly owned subsidiary, South Car-

olina Federal Insurance Solutions, has acquired the assets of Arthurs Insurance & Risk Management Services. Insurance Solutions offers home, auto, and business insurance to clients across the state, supporting South Carolina Federal’s commitment to providing members with comprehensive financial solutions. The acquisition enables Insurance Solutions to expand their presence in the Upstate, especially among business clients.

As part of this acquisition, Chris Arthurs joined Insurance Solutions as area manager for the Upstate and is continuing to assist his clients while serving South Carolina Federal members in Greenville and the surrounding areas.

to ingest and analyze publicly available information, in multiple languages, to uncover and map intentionally obscured foreign financial influence in international supply chains. Accrete’s continuously learning AI technology enables creation of templates from analytical workflows. Templates such as Argus for Threat Detection learn from sparse data and are configurable for such use cases as supply chain influence, social media intelligence, reverse engineering, and logistics disruption for both government and commercial customers. In addition to helping the DOD predict bad actors that may be intentionally obscuring identities to influence the supply chain, Argus has been helping the U.S. Air Force to reverse engineer binaries from microprocessor manuals to detect vulnerabilities in firmware.

New portal aims to streamline lending online for franchisees

Users can complete loan origination paperwork; upload documents; connect or communicate with financial partners; and manage the loan process. Loan Mantra’s fintech meets NIST v. 500 standards for storing financial records.

Accrete’s AI software, Argus, analyzes publicly available information to uncover and map intentionally obscured foreign financial influence in international supply chains.

Accrete wins multimillion dollar AI production contract from DOD

Accrete AI Government, a startup at the Charleston Tech Center, won a production contract for its Argus artificial intelligence product. From a field of 65 bids, Accrete was the sole awardee for a development other-transaction-agreement contract from the Defense Innovation Unit, initially to deliver Argus to a defense-intelligence-community customer.

The Department of Defense uses Argus

Loan Mantra has launched an online portal built on decision-tree logic to help franchise operators streamline the financing process for franchisees. Called Blue (for borrower-lender underwriting environment), the endto-end portal provides secure access to a variety of lenders and loan types through one bankable platform and meets meets NIST Cybersecurity Rev 5 requirements. A landing page sample called Blue Ocean Chicken offers a glimpse at how the system works. The portal is designed to give users an efficient way to gain well-vetted franchisee owners; a streamlined pre-approval process for a franchisee’s startup/business, leasehold, or equipment financing; a secure, bankable platform where franchisors/franchisees, lenders and partners can work together in real time; and the ability to white label an end-to-end platform to funnel multiple franchisee owners to multiple loan products.

Frampton completes industrial building, earns spot on best contractors list Frampton Construction Co. has completed construction of a 204,004-square-foot industrial building. The Class-A speculative facility, developed by Randolph Development, is the second heavy industrial building in the Portside Distribution Center. The first was completed in early 2021. In addition, Frampton Construction was recently named as one of the 2022 Best Contractors to Work for in Construction. The company ranked third among 17 companies in the country named to the list. The new building, located beside Interstate 26 in the Charleston Distribution Corridor, is suitable for a variety of end-users, including logistics companies, aerospace and automotive suppliers, defense contractors, light manufacturers and last-mile distributors. With a clear height of 32 feet, the rearload facility is constructed of concrete tilt-up wall panels. The building features 38 dock doors and four drivein doors, with 142 car parking spaces and 52 trailer parking spaces. Colliers



People in the News



Cullum Mechanical Construction has promoted Charlie Biddle to assistant project manager.

Biddle joined Cullum in 2021 after relocating from Delaware. He started his career as an intern with Eastern Shore Natural Gas. After three years gaining experience as a mechanical designer, he decided to move south. Biddle is finishing his construction management degree at the University of Southern Mississippi and pursuing his master’s degree.

While working at Cullum, Biddle earned his OSHA 10 and first-aid/CPR/ AED certifications.

Melvin C. Williams, vice president with Terracon, has been elected to serve on the Trident Technical College Foundation executive board.

The foundation advocates and raises funds for the college to support the region’s economy. It operates independently of the college as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.


Knowledge Capital Group has promoted David Jablonowski to senior consultant.

Since joining Knowledge Capital Group in April 2022, Jablonowski has helped drive key client engagements. In his new role as senior consultant, he is taking a leadership role on projects and helping the team deliver key strategic and operational optimization engagements.

New at Hussey Gay Bell are civil supervisor William “Bret” Godwin , and civil designer Joseph Gaul.

Godwin joins the firm with experience designing and managing industrial, commercial, residential, health care, public safety, transportation, and water and wastewater projects. He oversees design efforts for the firm’s civil projects in markets such as industrial, commercial, residential, education and government.

A registered professional engineer in South Carolina, Godwin has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University. In addition, he is a retired Naval officer with more than 21 years of active-duty service.

Gaul joins the firm with experience in reviewing design plans, local government regulations, and stormwater drainage simulations. He is responsible for the development of preliminary design reports, engineering calculations, technical reports, permitting, construction documents, and project specifications.

Gaul earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from Clemson University and has an engineer-in-training certification in South Carolina. He is also an S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control certified erosion-prevention and sediment-control inspector, a DHEC certified stormwater plan reviewer, and a certified post-construction best-management-practices inspector.

Jablonowski earned a Master of Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration from Pennsylvania State University.


Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s Bryan J. Kitz has been elected shareholder.

Kitz is a commercial real estate attorney who counsels clients on a broad range of transactional matters. He represents developers, investors and businesses in the financing, acquisition, development and disposition of various types of commercial real estate, including multifamily, office, retail, industrial and hospitality properties.

In addition, Kitz assists banks and other financial institutions in construction- and permanent-financing transactions, and negotiates complex loan documents on behalf of both borrowers and lenders.

Based in the firm’s Charleston office, Kitz serves on the board of directors for the Greater Charleston Chapter of the Risk Management Association and is a member of the Urban Land Institute. He is among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for Real Estate Law (2022–2023) and is a 2021 graduate of Leadership Charleston. Kitz earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and his juris doctor cum laude from Tulane University.

Charleston attorney Kelly Near is now a director with Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy.

Near defends clients in a wide variety of civil litigation matters involving toxic tort, premises liability, construction law, construction defect and personal injury. She works closely with national coordinating counsel team members managing asbestos and silica litigation for numerous companies and manufacturers throughout the United States.

A Clemson University graduate, Near earned her juris doctor at Charleston School of Law.


Dorchester Paws has brought in Burt Connelly, a Summerville native and College of Charleston graduate, as its new executive director. Dorchester Paws is the only open-admission shelter in Dorchester County.

Connolly’s career highlights include working in marketing and promotions in Charleston’s radio market (WEZL, Q104.5, Alice 100.5, and 102.5), working for the city of Hanahan as an athletic coordinator/program manager, working for local school districts as a teacher and staff member, and, most recently, working for the Dorchester County government, where he served as park operations manager and helped to get a new park system started.

In addition, Connolly served on the board for Lowcountry Youth Services and was a coach at Summerville High School. He currently serves on the board for the Summerville High Athletic Club.

The new chief financial officer for Lowcountry Food Bank is Denise Hines. In the role, Hines directs the nonprofit’s financial and accounting practices, including accounting, strategic budgeting, audit activities, regulatory compliance, grant financial activity, banking, payroll, benefits, IT and risk mitigation; she also serves as the primary contact with the board of directors’ treasurer.

Hines has more than 15 years of expertise in finance and operations. She formerly served as CFO and director of finance for The ARC of Greater Prince William/Insight, a nonprofit that supports individuals with developmental disabilities, and served as CFO for Wash-

ington State PTA.

Hines, who is working toward a Master of Science in Finance/Financial Management, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Taylor University. She is a member of Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society. The Lowcountry Food Bank serves the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina and distributed more than 40 million pounds of food in 2021.

Kara Moore, Lowcountry Food Bank’s director of child hunger programs, has been named to No Kid Hungry’s 2023 Out of School Time Meals Champion Cohort. Moore is one of 12 professionals named to this cohort, all of whom have been exemplary in their work to end hunger in their communities through the summer and afterschool meals programs.

Building on the work of a successful inaugural cohort, this group will work over the next year to raise awareness about the programs, provide their support and expertise to new program sponsors, and work together to develop and share promising practices to providers across the country.

The goal is to ensure no child goes without three healthy meals a day, 365 days a year.


Montrece Robinson has placed her license with AgentOwned Realty’s Summerville office. For more than seven years, Robinson has worked with youth throughout her community. Her nonprofit mentoring program, Pure Girls, encourages young girls to build on character, social and life skills.

Ashley Jackrel, a vice president in the Charleston office of Avison Young, has been recognized by the National Association of Realtors for exceptional service and contributions to the commercial real estate industry for 2022. She also was named vice chairperson for the NAR Commercial Committee for 2023. She will serve on the Commercial Real Estate Research Advisory Board and the Public Policy Coordinating and Commercial Federal Policy committees. 21 February 6-February 19, 2023
Biddle Godwin Gaul Jablonowski Kitz Near Hines Moore Robinson Jackrel

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International is the leasing agent for the property.

Thomas & Hutton provided site, civil, and landscape design for the 31-acre development; McMillan Pazdan Smith provided architectural design. The annual list of the Best Contractors to Work for in Construction — created by Concrete Contractor, Equipment Today, Asphalt Contractor and Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction, and the Best Companies Group — is the result of a national survey and awards program designed to identify and honor the best places of employment in construction.

Atlas Tech selected as DOD Skillbridge provider

Veteran-owned Atlas Tech is now an authorized provider of the Department of Defense Skillbridge Program, which gives service members work experience through industry training. Under the Skillbridge Program, Atlas Tech will host active-duty U.S. military members for skilled employment training for up to 120 days. Placement within Atlas Tech can be based on any open role, given appropriate experience, interest, availability and capacity to train. The program allows service members to add real-life experience to their resume, explore their career interests and help transition into the civilian workforce.

Zoetis research laboratory and office facility in Durham, N.C., included a 79,000-square-foot built-to-suit expansion. The project team completed this project within a 12-month schedule.

Trident Amateur Radio Club wins public service grant

The nonprofit Trident Amateur Radio Club received a club grant for $21,718 from the American Radio Relay League for tri-county emergency communications and youth educational outreach. Since 1973 the club has sought to help newly licensed and experienced amateurs participate in ham-related activities.

The grant project is being used to encourage community members, especially those who are underserved, to become active in amateur radio and to raise awareness of the benefits that ham radio brings, particularly in times of emergencies.

It also is being used to help attract and retain students in STEM-related disciplines by introducing amateur radio activities, principles, and operations. Finally, the project is designed to give teachers the knowledge to integrate amateur radio theory as it applies to the mathematical, scientific and technical concepts in the classroom.

30th Annual SC Assistive Technology Expo scheduled for Columbia

The South Carolina Assistive Technology Program is hosting the 30th Annual SC Assistive Technology Expo on March 7 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, in Columbia. The expo showcases the latest advancements in assistive technology and offers workshops to learn more about how this technology can be used at home, school and work.

During the event, which is free and open to the public, individuals with disabilities, parents and school and health professionals can visit exhibits and attend workshops related to assistive technology.

For advertising information, contact Ryan Downing at

Choate receives two awards for excellence in construction

Choate Construction Co. received two merit awards at the 2022 Excellence in Construction Awards, presented by the Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas.

The Credit One Stadium team earned a merit award in the renovation/restoration category for work on the 167,093-square-foot project. Using enough concrete to fill a tennis court 45-feet tall and installing more than 200 miles of wiring, the project team, alongside key stakeholders and skilled trade partners, modernized one of the most historic sporting venues in the region to offer an enhanced guest experience and attract world-class talent.

Recognized in the commercial $10 million to $25 million category, the

The S.C. Assistive Technology Program is a federally funded program that helps people with disabilities identify assistive technology that will improve their daily living, their ability to work and learn, and be a more independent part of the community.

New owners to leave Citadel Mall under management of JLL

Singerman Real Estate, based in Chicago, has assumed full ownership of Citadel Mall. JLL, which has managed the center since February 2017, is continuing as the mall’s management company. Beyond retail, Citadel Mall features the 126,000-square-foot Medical University of South Carolina West Ashley Medical Pavilion. This MUSC facility houses primary care and several specialty care clinics, including its new Breast Health Center. The mall property is also home to large-scale film production space.

22 February 6-February 19, 2023

Opinions diverge but experts know: Don’t fight the Fed

For years the financial markets were guided by the mantra, “Don’t Fight the Fed.” When investors think the economy and inflation will behave one way but the Fed sees something different, the Fed will eventually win. Today that divergence of opinion is as wide as ever. The markets believe that the peak in the funds rate is near and the Fed will begin to lower the funds rate in the second half of the year. The Fed says it does not plan to start easing until sometime in 2024. Who is right? In this case we think the Fed’s view of the economy and inflation is probably more accurate.

Using the fed funds rate futures contracts as a guide, investors believe that with two small 0.25% hikes in the funds rate by midyear, the economy will slow enough and inflation will subside with sufficient speed that the Fed will be in a position to cut the funds rate in the second half of the year.

For that to occur, the economy has to register very slow growth. Most economists anticipate GDP growth this year of about 1.0%. We concur. But the economy currently still has considerable momentum. Third quarter GDP growth was 3.2%. Fourth quarter appears to be solid at about 2.2%. GDP growth in 2023 should slip to the 1.0% mark but, thus far, the economy is showing few signs of a significant slowdown.

The real question is, what happens to the unemployment rate? The unemployment rate currently is 3.5%. The Fed believes the labor market is at full employment when the unemployment rate is 4.0%. At that point everybody who wants a job has one. The Fed also wants slower wage growth which is the key to reducing inflation. It wants the unemployment rate to climb to 4.5% or so to make that happen. With projected GDP growth of 1.0% the yearend unemployment rate should be about 4.0%. That is not conducive to reduced wage pressures and a significant slowdown in inflation. The Fed will need to push interest rates higher.

What about inflation? The overall inflation rate slowed in the second half of last year. The CPI reached a peak of 9.0% in June as the outbreak of war between Ukraine and Russia caused energy prices to soar. But as energy prices subsequently declined, the CPI slipped to 6.4%. That steady drop-off in inflation encour-

aged market participants that they were on the right track and that inflation might slow faster than the Fed was expecting. However, the slowdown was caused almost entirely by falling energy prices. The so-called “core” CPI, which excludes the volatile food and energy

categories, peaked at 6.7% in September and ended the year at 5.7%. Furthermore, in the final three months of the year the core CPI climbed at a modest 3.1% pace which further convinced the markets that the Fed tightening earlier in the year was working. But during that

period of time the core CPI got a lot of help from sharp declines in both used car prices and airfares. For the core rate to continue to slow, these two categories must fall further. It is not clear that is going to happen.

The most disquieting part of the core CPI is the shelter component, which rose 7.5% last year and in the final three months of the year climbed at an even faster pace. Because rents comprise onethird of the entire CPI index, it is hard to imagine how the overall CPI can fall to 2.0% any time soon when one-third of the index is rising at a 7.5% pace. If home prices continue to fall, rents will eventually slow -- but with a lag of roughly one year.

Putting all of this together, we expect the core CPI to rise 4.2% in 2023. Significant improvement in the core rate will not occur until very late in 2023.

The Fed plans to boost the funds rate to 5.1% in the first few months of this year. With a higher funds rate it believes GDP growth will slow to 0.5% for the year and the core inflation rate might subside to 3.5%. But if we are right that core inflation remains stubbornly high at 4.2% Fed officials will be disappointed. In that case it may raise the funds rate to 6.0% by the spring. The markets are not ready for that. CRBJ

6-February 19, 2023
Former Lehman Brothers economist Stephen Slifter can be reached at
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