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The week in review in the Charleston economy |

The week in review in the Charleston economy


Job cuts within Boeing have spread to the planemaker’s North Charleston operations. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Cutting back

Boeing Co. announced layoffs affecting fewer than 200 workers at its 787 Dreamliner campus and other local operations, the first involuntary separations at the North Charleston sites since the aerospace giant moved to the Lowcountry in 2009.

The job cuts are part of a company-wide effort to reduce costs in the commercial airplane division to better compete with rival Airbus. While thousands of Boeing workers in Washington state have lost their jobs since the cost-cutting program was announced in December, the layoffs had not affected North Charleston employees until now.

Boeing would not provide a specific number of layoffs, stating only that it will be “fewer than 200.” They affect a range of managers and salaried workers who will be offered varying severance packages and job placement programs.

The company also warned that more layoff notices could be coming to North Charleston.

Breaking ground


Roper St. Francis expects to open a new hospital in Berkeley County in late 2019. Provided

Work officially started on a full-service hospital in the Carnes Crossroads area, the first for fast-growing Berkeley County since a Moncks Corner medical center closed 42 years ago.

Roper St. Francis held a “Blessing of the Land” ceremony on the site of its latest expansion. Its $113 million, 50-bed hospital is being built on 90 acres, with a scheduled opening date of late 2019.

For most of a decade, Berkeley residents have watched as Roper and rival Trident Health sparred in court over their competing bids to open hospitals in the county. Both projects remained in legal limbo until 2015. Trident has not said whether it will build the project it had proposed for Moncks Corner.

Port projections

As the State Ports Authority prepares to set an annual record for containerized cargo, the maritime agency’s board of directors on Wednesday approved a budget that would set even higher marks during the coming fiscal year.

The SPA expects to finish fiscal 2017, which ends June 30, with a record 1.19 million cargo boxes moved to and from ships at the Port of Charleston. That would beat the previous annual record of 1.13 million set in fiscal 2005. Topping that, the agency’s board approved a budget for fiscal 2018 that projects 1.26 million containers — roughly 6 percent growth over this year’s total.

To accommodate that growth, the spending plan calls for a record $278.9 million in capital expenditures over the next 12 months — much of it on improvements to the port’s North Charleston and Wando Welch container terminals.

Private stock 

Charleston’s first startup bank in a decade is seeking to raise $22 million to $34 million from investors to launch its operations. Organizers of the proposed Beacon Community Bank disclosed the figure in a filing with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Between 2.2 million to 3.4 million shares of stock are expected to fetch $10 each in a private placement. Beacon also said its offices will be at 578 East Bay St. in downtown Charleston.

A group led by automobile dealer Tommy Baker, who was on the board of Mount Pleasant-based Southcoast Community Bank before its sale last year, is launching the new lender.

Chef shop

A big player in the food distribution business is looking to expand to restaurant-rich Charleston.

US Foods Inc. has submitted plans to the city’s Planning Department to expand its Chef’Store concept to 1510 Meeting St. Road. With a tagline of “Keeping Kitchens Cooking,” the company offers four other Chef’Store locations, including Columbia and Charlotte. The wholesale, cash-and-carry food and restaurant supply outlet stocks pantry staples, commercial kitchen equipment and items such as serving trays and skillets.

Chef’Store focuses on serving chefs, restaurant owners, operators of institutional kitchens such as churches or schools, and the general public. US Foods said the Charleston location is still in the discussion stages.

2 more years

The head of South Carolina’s busiest airport will stay at the helm for two more years, postponing retirement plans announced in 2016.

The Charleston County Aviation Authority voted unanimously Thursday to keep CEO Paul Campbell in charge of Charleston International and its two other airports.

He originally planned to retire by last December. The board requested he stay on month to month in the fall after a national search for a new CEO turned up no suitable candidates. The authority said it wants to keep Campbell to see through a realignment of the airport loop road and construction of a new parking garage.

Dixie deal

Plans for 50 hotel rooms in the former Dixie Furniture store in downtown Charleston got a green light from the city zoning board Tuesday. The furniture retailer closed its store at 529 King St. last month after 71 years on the peninsula. Connecticut-based 529 King Investors LLC recently bought the 24,000-square-foot property for $6.75 million. Plans presented to the city show retail space on the ground floor facing upper King Street, with hotel rooms on the second floor. A newer building behind the former showroom would be demolished and replaced with a four-story building with more hotel rooms, with parking access off Morris Street.

Tech upgrade 

Siemens Corp. is joining with the University of South Carolina to provide students access to an estimated $628 million worth of the latest technology. The in-kind grant involves computers, robotics and unlimited licensing on the software. Roughly a quarter will go toward creating a “digital factory innovation lab” in USC’s McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research. Most of the rest will be used throughout the university’s college of engineering and computing. Other departments, such as business, also are expected to benefit.

On the block

A bankrupt South Carolina vacation getaway is heading to the auction block, after a judge cleared the way for an auction of Melrose Resort on Daufuskie Island. Odeon Singapore Ltd., a lender that’s owed more than $27.5 million by the property owners, has set the minimum bid at $19 million. Competing offers of at least $19.25 million will be considered for a vacant inn, beach cottages, a golf course, tennis courts, an equestrian center and a marina.

The hope is that a sale of the property along Calibogue Sound can be approved Aug. 30. The owners are several firms affiliated with a Utah group that paid $13 million for Melrose in 2011. They filed for bankruptcy protection in March.

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