Monday, March 26, 2012

2 new nuclear reactors in state expected to get OK -By Meg Kinnard

COLUMBIA — Federal regulators are expected this week to approve a proposal to build two nuclear reactors at a site near Columbia.The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to vote Friday on the request by South Carolina Electric & Gas to build two, 1,100-megawatt reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, about 25 miles northwest of Columbia.The reactors will be jointly owned and operated with state-owned utility Santee Cooper. Officials expect the first reactor to generate power by 2016, and the second in 2019.The reactors would be only the second nuclear project to receive federal approval in a generation. Last month, the NRC voted to issue a permit to Atlanta-based Southern Co. to build and operate two new reactors at its Plant Vogtle site south of Augusta, Ga.

Cliffs gets loan to see it through bankruptcy By Anna Lee

Texas-based Carlile Development Group has made moves to bolster The Cliffs Communities, loaning $9.5 million to maintain club operations as it works through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.ClubCo, shorthand for the Cliffs Club & Hospitality Group, is a subsidiary of Cliffs Communities, whose members in 2010 loaned a combined $64 million to keep the network of golf courses and clubhouses operational.The 535 members, who paid amounts from $50,000 to $400,000 out of their own pockets, would be paid back without interest under terms of a deal with Carlile Group, lawyers said during a bankruptcy hearing in Columbia earlier this month.Since then, Carlile has partnered with SunTx Urbana, the primary lot and landowner of The Cliffs properties, and Arendale Holdings, a real estate and development company specializing in golf club operations, according to an announcement Friday.“Through this partnership with Urbana and Arendale, our team is better able to deliver a viable solution that overcomes current challenges while providing the long-term stability The Cliffs needs,” said founder Steve Carlile.That includes a new membership plan, expected to roll out April 13, and negotiations with other large landowners to consolidate sales objectives for the remaining Cliffs properties, where over 90 separate land deals, foreclosures and suits have yet to be resolved, according to Carlile’s website.“We feel strongly that this partnership delivers the unique capabilities needed to move The Cliffs forward quickly and professionally in a way that builds member confidence and positions the communities for future growth,” said Hugh Connerty of Arendale Holdings.The Carlile Group will also assume $1.4 million in mechanics liens, $1.1 million in taxes and $4.3 million in other bills while footing the expenses needed to finish a multimillion-dollar golf course at The Cliffs at Mountain Park, according to terms disclosed in bankruptcy court.And Carlile will provide $85 million under the proposed terms to purchase real estate, the sale of which would fuel The Cliffs’ operations, lawyers said at the hearing.Bill Rothschild, a Georgia lawyer representing The Carlile Group, told a judge then that his clients “are trying to bring some order out of chaos.”ClubCo could emerge from bankruptcy as early as June or as late as the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Carlile’s website.
Staff writer David Dykes contributed to this report.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Getaway Girl Casey Wall: Memorial Day Travel

DaytimePublished: March 21, 2012It is possible to escape with your loved ones this Memorial Day weekend because so many vacation deals are flying in. The Getaway Girl Casey Wall fills us in.AntiguaAntigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) is located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. Carlisle Bay, a family-friendly hotel, is uniquely nestled between the Caribbean Sea and tropical rainforest, on one of Antigua's 300+ beaches (one for every day of the year!). In addition to resort activities, guests can take in Antigua's rich history, explore the rainforest on hikes, cycle around the island, and enjoy limitless water sports.Carlisle Bay will run its first inclusive offer, the Super Chill Out promotion, over the holiday weekend; kids up to 15 to stay free with parents and teens and young adults 16-21 to stay in an additional Ocean Suite at 50 percent off rates. Additionally, guests who book more than 60 days in advance are eligible for an Early Booking Discount for a further 15 percent off rates. Double occupancy rates start at about $590 with the early booking discount applied. The offer includes accommodations, beverages, daily full breakfast, one three-course lunch and one three-course dinner at any of the hotel's three restaurants. Memorial Day guests also have access to the resort's activities (water sports, jungle hikes, spa and total beachfront relaxation) and the Cool Kids Club (only available during school holidays), with specialized activities geared toward different age groups.Greenville, SCIf you are looking for a off-the-beaten path destination that has tons to do during the Memorial Day weekend, check out Greenville, SC. There's USA Pro-Cycling, the Freedom Weekend Aloft (hot air balloon event), and the Greenville Scottish Games But aside from special events- there's always something exciting to do in Greenville- like catching The Greenville Drive, the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox whose field is a mini replica of Boston's Fenway Park, or take a ride on the free trolley up and down Main Street, and a leisurely stroll through the 40 acre park that is in the center of Downtown Greenville. A visit to the Michelin Retail Store is a must- the only retail store of its kind featuring Michelin-inspired products- everything from coffee mugs to Christmas ornaments, stuffed toys to golf balls- all with the signature Michelin Man himself. Another must? The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library (free) chronicles the life of one of America's greatest baseball legends in his childhood home.The Marriott Greenville- Memorial Day weekend special: stay two nights (at $99/night), you get the third free.The Phoenix Greenville's Inn's Pub & Putt Package ($119/night) includes: - Accommodations for one night- 9 holes of Golf at Crosswinds for two- $25 Gift Certificate to McKibbon's Pub- Full Southern breakfastSan Francisco, CAVisit San Francisco to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge! 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of this iconic bridge, and the Golden Gate Festival, which will take place Memorial Day weekend, is the center point of the Bridge's year-long 75th anniversary program. With the theme of "Bridging Us All," the free community event seeks to honor this amazing landmark in a way that reflects the ingenuity, inclusiveness and creativity of the entire San Francisco Bay Area. The festival will offer thousands of people the opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the Bridge, learn about its history, and be inspired through performances and exhibits. Cavallo Point Lodge, a luxury hotel with the most picturesque view of the bridge, will host a number of events surrounding the anniversary, including a birthday BBQ and an art exhibit. Other bridge anniversary events will take place throughout the Bay Area, focused around Memorial Day weekend. You can find more information about these at Myers, FLFt. Myers' Estero Island, located on Florida's Gulf Coast, is a perfect getaway vacation with warm tropical breezes, exquisite dining and accommodations. There's just something special about a Gulf-front island discovered by Spanish explorers and frequented by pirates that's retained its heritage and charm and abounds with modern conveniences. When it comes to activities, Estero Island has it all—be it shopping, dining, watersports, fishing or just relaxing on the beach.Via the "Sandals In The Sand" website, you can find information about the "Escape to Estero Island 1, 2, 3, Free!"(stay 3 nights; 4th night free) package for a relaxing getaway in one of Southwest Florida's favorite destinations overlooking the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This vacation package is the perfect match for couples and families who enjoy Florida's beaches on Fort Myers' Estero Island. This offer is available on include stays at all-suite resorts where you can enjoy private balconies, screened lanais, pet-friendly floors, picnic areas and private beaches. Bask in the sun during the Memorial Day weekend as you bask in the warm tropical breezes and dine al fresco over spectacular sunsets. Rates for the holiday weekend start at $900/week for a 2 bedroom unit that can sleep up to 6 people.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Disaster relief organization moving HQ to Greer By Angelia Davis

A non-profit organization that responds to major disasters has moved its headquarters from Florida to Greer.Disaster Relief and Disaster Training has opened in its new based on Johns Road, near Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.The organization moved there from Jacksonville because the Upstate “gives us a better range of deployment,” said Wayland Wiseman, the company’s chief operating officer and co-founder.“If you were to put a 500 mile circle around Jacksonville, half of it is in the ocean, so we wanted to be somewhere that was a little bit closer to the disasters that we’ve deployed to here recently,” Wiseman said.The organization, which was started in 2009, has been to disasters in Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington, Nashville, Jolpin, Missouri, and other areas.When they began looking for a place to relocate to, Greenville popped up in Forbes magazine as one of the top places to relocate a business, Wiseman said.The Upstate, he said, is very business friendly and the improvements made by the city of the Greenville have made the downtown an attractive area.Also, this particular part of South Carolina and the Southeast is among the least likely to have a major disaster, Wiseman said.“The last thing you want as a a disaster relief company is to put your headquarters in harm’s way, so it was a financial logistical and a safety decision to relocate here to Greenville,” he said.Six families located in the area with the company. There are seven staffers there and plans are to have 10.Funded primarily by local churches, individuals and corporations, Disaster Relief and Disaster Training manages volunteer efforts at disaster sites.“Any time you have a disaster, there are always people that need help and there are always people who want to help. What we do is marry the two together and we use the local church, typically, to do that,” he said.

Disaster relief organization moving HQ to Greer By Angelia Davis

A non-profit organization that responds to major disasters has moved its headquarters from Florida to Greer.Disaster Relief and Disaster Training has opened in its new based on Johns Road, near Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.The organization moved there from Jacksonville because the Upstate “gives us a better range of deployment,” said Wayland Wiseman, the company’s chief operating officer and co-founder.“If you were to put a 500 mile circle around Jacksonville, half of it is in the ocean, so we wanted to be somewhere that was a little bit closer to the disasters that we’ve deployed to here recently,” Wiseman said.The organization, which was started in 2009, has been to disasters in Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington, Nashville, Jolpin, Missouri, and other areas.When they began looking for a place to relocate to, Greenville popped up in Forbes magazine as one of the top places to relocate a business, Wiseman said.The Upstate, he said, is very business friendly and the improvements made by the city of the Greenville have made the downtown an attractive area.Also, this particular part of South Carolina and the Southeast is among the least likely to have a major disaster, Wiseman said.“The last thing you want as a a disaster relief company is to put your headquarters in harm’s way, so it was a financial logistical and a safety decision to relocate here to Greenville,” he said.Six families located in the area with the company. There are seven staffers there and plans are to have 10.Funded primarily by local churches, individuals and corporations, Disaster Relief and Disaster Training manages volunteer efforts at disaster sites.“Any time you have a disaster, there are always people that need help and there are always people who want to help. What we do is marry the two together and we use the local church, typically, to do that,” he said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Swamp Rabbit interactive map, app identifies useful trail information Monday, 19 March 2012 Written by James Richardson

GREENVILLE, S.C. – A new internet-based, interactive
map and mobile app of the Swamp Rabbit Trail gives walkers, runners, and
cyclists greater ease in finding everything from ATM's to bathrooms to parking
places along the popular 13.5 mile route that connects Travelers Rest to

Developed by the City of Greenville GIS Division with support from the City’s
Parks and Recreation Department and the Greenville County Recreation District,
the map's purpose is to aid everyone – from out-of-town visitors interested in
experiencing the Swamp Rabbit to regular trail users – by providing useful
trip-planning information.
The map's
contents include public parking locations, restrooms, trail caution areas,
points of interest, downtown ATM's and bike racks, water fountains, and nature
trails .
The map is
especially content-rich inside the City of Greenville, featuring photos, IPIX
360 degree images, and audio at select locations.
<< CLICK HERE to view the map.
Use on a
smartphone requires downloading a free mobile application to
convert the map functionality to view on a variety of mobile devices. For iPhone
and iPad devices, go to the itunes App Store and search for the ArcGIS
application and install it to your device. For Android devices go to the Google
Play Store and search for the ArcGIS application and install it on your
After you
have installed the application, open ArcGIS and use the search tool to find
"Swamp Rabbit." Select the map to immediately view or add to your favorites for
future reference. Activate the GPS functionality of your device to dynamically
reference your location on the map to determine trail system mile markers or
other amenities close by. Select a point of interest to listen to an audio

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Moseley family 'Heirloom' becomes a Brown Street attraction by Angelia Davis

As Ben Moseley watched his family’s company install one of its first public projects, the new archway structure for Brown Street in downtown Greenville, he had a revelation.Just as he and his brother, 29-year-old brother, James, were grooming their youngest brother, Travis, for work in the family’s Heirloom Stair & Iron Co,, his father had been grooming them to do likewise.“I don’t know if it was on purpose that we were being groomed, but we were always working with my father as little boys and during the summers in college,” said the 32-year-old who is the company’s operations manager. “None of us took that (summer) trip to Mexico. We always came home and worked. When people ask me, ‘How long have you worked for the company? I say all of my life.’”Allyn Moseley, founder and owner of Heirloom, a second-generation stair and iron manufacturer, said “The Fabric of Hope” archway structure, part of the city’s streetscape plan for Brown Street, is a fulfillment of having his sons join him in the company he started in the mid-1990s.“As a father it’s very rewarding for me to see my three boys be able to work together,” he said. “A lot of families are not able to do that, but these three guys kind of head things up. They all have people under them.”The family’s business, which includes maybe 11 employees, was started initially as “Heirloom Stairworks,” in 1994 when the elder Moseley moved to South Carolina from Shingle Springs California in search of “an ideal place place to raise his family.”Moseley used his college degree in architecture to build ornamental staircases, initially, in an old barn garage in Campobello.The iron became so popular that, “we decided to branch out,” Allyn Moseley said. “People saw that we could do ornamental iron work and their imaginations went wild and led to things like this,” he said, referring to the Brown Street archway.When Heirloom added its Iron Division in 2003, the company moved into a 5,000 square-foot building on State 11 and the name was changed to “Heirloom Stair and Iron.”

Allyn Moseley admits he “kind of forced” his sons to work with him in the shop when they were teenagers.“It was kind of difficult to get them out into the shop to help me,” he said. “They all went college and when they came back, I offered them jobs and they all said, ‘yes.”But the father-owned business they work for didn’t guarantee the Moseley brothers “a rise in the company.”Everybody at Heirloom Stair & Iron “starts at the bottom,” Allyn Moseley said. “Everybody does.”These days, Allyn Moseley does a lot of the engineering, while his middle son, James, is the head designer. As the operations manager, Ben Moseley is charged with sales. Travis Moseley, 25, is the company’s head fabricator.When the family blends their talents, including those of a brother-in-law John Gardner, “good things happen.” The Brown Street archway is one of their prime examples.Up until that project, most of the company’s work, ranging from spiral staircases, driveway gates, exterior railings, was admired in private residences throughout the Southeast.Stakeholders in the Brown Street corridor approached the city a few years ago requesting improvements there that would attract foot traffic and economic development in that area, said Andrew Meeker, the city’s senior landscape architect.The company learned that the city was seeking submissions and design ideas for the Brown Street streetscape project about a week before it was due, said Ben Moseley. Within a week, they were able to write the narrative and draw the designs for the project.“It was a convergence of all of our minds, all of our artistic expertise. That’s the way a lot of really inspiring pieces come together. And that’s the way most of us work best — under pressure,” he said.The company’s design was selected by the city’s Arts In Public Places Commission.Gardner said the structure’s two smoke stacks are modeled after those of Poe Mill on Greenville’s Westside.The two smoke stands continue to stand although the 100-year-old mill itself burned down in 2003. One of the stacks has vegetation growing out its top and that’s reflected in the Brown Street archway.
“Not only have they grown cold and useless, they’re nothing but a gigantic planter,” Gardner said. “But, there’s that hope that springs out of the top of the smoke stack, vegetation, living material. That’s almost miraculous that a seed would fall there and begin to grow.”The archway’s “Art Nouveau” style frame also features “ribbons of hope rising and waving from the stanchions, like the smoke that once billowed from the smokestacks they depict.”“We kind of branched out into the smoke that represents the hope of the future and the new Greenville that kind of rises from the ashes of the old textile industry,” Gardner said.Panels along the base of the stacks are woven pieces of metal that represent fabric to symbolize the fabric of the people of the Upstate and their courage and strength, Gardner said.The effort behind the Brown Street project is a signature that Heirloom works to stamp on all of its projects.“The story behind everything as far as this piece or a piece of furniture is as interesting or unique as the piece that we’re building,” he said.Meeker said although there is more work to be done on the streetscape project as a whole, businesses seem to be responding to what’s already there with re-investments. And, he said, the archway is catching peoples’ eyes.“That was one of the concepts for the gateway and archways is to try to attract people down the street. Oftentimes, Brown Street was kind of overlooked,” Meeker said.Since the Brown Street, has gotten several requests for other designs, Allyn Moseley said, including one the Greenville Parks Department.Since the Brown Street, has gotten several requests for other designs, Allyn Moseley said, including one the Greenville Parks Department.The company has expanded into custom furniture, light fixtures, and other accessories, with a company called Heirloom Hand-Forged Designs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

ZF Transmission hiring 75 permanent employees for new plant By Jenny Munro

ZF Transmissions is still building its new facility in Gray Court, and and it is still hiring to staff that plant and meet the demand for its transmissions - 75 full-time, permanent positions this time.Human Technologies Inc., which is handling the recruiting for ZF, is hosting a job fair Wednesday from 1-6 p.m. at the Embassy Suites on Verdae Boulevard in Greenville.ZF needs to add maintenance technicians, facility technicians, CNC machining team leaders, CNC machinists and CNC set-up technicians to its workforce to meet the demand for the product from the new plant.“The greater Greenville population has the skills and knowledge required to fill the world-class manufacturing jobs for our new transmission facility,” said Ludger Reckmann, chief executive officer of ZF Transmission.Interested candidates are unable to attend the job fair can e-mail a resume to or visit the HTI website at for more information.

Simpsonville importer builds coffee business with links to Brazil By Nathaniel Cary

A first step inside the glass front door of BRASC Coffee Importers in Simpsonville may startle the senses.Rather than the rich aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans, visitors are instead greeted with a scent reminiscent of fresh produce, as if stepping into a verdant garden.Ricardo Pereira, who started BRASC Coffee Importers in 2008 and is set to expand its operations soon, leads the way through a small office to a one-room warehouse and the source of the aroma — hundreds of 132-pound bags of green coffee beans stacked neatly on pallets.Each bag bears the markings of small Brazilian farms run by farmers Pereira knows personally. And those connections are what have allowed the coffee connoisseur and native of Brazil to carve out a niche business in the middle of a recession in the Upstate thousands of miles from home.Pereira’s tale offers a glimpse into the fabric of a shifting Upstate economy that entrepreneurs like him are weaving to create jobs for themselves where none previously existed.Importing coffee beans hadn’t always been at the top of Pereira’s list of planned occupations. He worked in purchasing and human resources in Brazil before he attended Bob Jones University where he graduated in 2006 with a degree in youth ministries.A friend in Greenville planted the idea to begin a coffee-import business. When Pereira was laid off from a local company when the economy soured in 2008, he took the radical step to shift careers and become his own boss.Though as a boy Pereira often had walked along mountain paths between trees filled with deep red coffee cherries in the mountain region of Alta Mogiana in southeast Brazil, he never considered that coffee would one day become his livelihood.He already had the connections, however. A cousin ran one farm. A friend from preschool ran another family farm. Still other small coffee farms surround the village where he was raised.From there it was just a matter of feet-to-the-pavement hard work. He traveled to Brazil to meet with farmers and to get a feel for how they farmed. He trained his palate to taste subtle differences between quality coffees and he made connections up and down the East Coast with coffee roasters who wanted only the best specialty coffees for their customers. The company name made sense on two levels. BRASC stands for Brazil to South Carolina, but it also stands for Brazil Specialty Coffee, he said.The path that the simple coffee beans trace across the international landscape shows the growing value of imports on South Carolina’s economy.Virtually all of BRASC’s coffee arrives through the Port of Charleston shipped in 20-foot containers that are then delivered locally. Pereira and an employee unload the coffee at a Greenville warehouse or at BRASC’s headquarters on an unassuming back street, in an equally unassuming red brick office building, in Simpsonville.Pereira then sells the high-quality specialty coffee to local coffee shops like Carolina Coffee Roasters, Liquid Highway and Leopard Forest as well as along the East Coast and to international markets, such as Taiwan and Italy.Though imports don’t gain the attention of exports and their local economic impact is much more difficult to trace, they do add value to the state’s economy, said Bobby Hitt, the South Carolina secretary of commerce.“South Carolina’s exports increased 21 percent in 2011 and are a solid measure of our trade health,” Hitt said. “And even though imports to South Carolina are more difficult to track, goods coming in and out of our ports means commerce for South Carolina’s businesses large and small.”Imports are tough to track because the state through which imported goods first enter the United States might not be their final destination and may instead reflect a storage or distribution center, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.Still, South Carolina ranked 16th nationally in 2011 in total imports, up from 19th in 2009 and 2010, according to the International Trade Administration, a branch of the U.S. Commerce Department.Brazil was the top exporter of agricultural products to South Carolina in 2010 and 2011, according to ITA.Brazilian exports through South Carolina have grown exponentially in the past three years from $12.3 million in 2009 to $47.5 million in 2010 and $122.3 million in 2011, according to ITA. Brazil is also the world’s top coffee-producing nation, with about 54 million bags produced annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Pereira was drawn into the coffee business because of the relationships and the opportunity to watch farmers in Brazil get paid well to produce high-quality coffee and to watch consumers here become acquainted with some of the world’s top java.“I want my coffee to have a unique taste,” Pereira said. “I don’t like to have a coffee that’s kind of boring, mellow, there’s not too much going on. I like coffee that has some character.”He focuses on smaller farms that practice sustainable or organic farming and he’s visited farms more than a dozen times, sometimes taking his customers along with him.While many farmers sold out to sugar cane growers, the few who remained through the coffee low-points in the 1980s and ’90s have dedicated themselves to the craft, he said. Most farm 30-50 acres total and produce smaller amounts of coffee but focus on its taste, he said.“They pay such attention to quality that the coffee knocks the socks off your feet because it’s so good,” he said.The farmers’ smiles radiate from 5-by-7 photos that hang in two rows on the wall of Pereira’s office.“This is my little hall of fame,” he said. “There are like 5,000 little guys like them producing coffee in the top of the mountains in this region in Brazil and they’re calling it the coffee Tuscany of Brazil.”He dips his hands into an open bag and lifts out the blonde-colored beans, letting them fall through his fingers as he speaks of the lengthy process farmers go through to bring the beans here.Coffee grows on trees. It starts as a green bud that flowers and produces a green cherry that ripens into a deep red cherry that’s ready to pick.Once picked, the cherries are sun-dried on mesh mats suspended off the ground.They are peeled and milled to remove layers of skin, pulp and parchment to reveal the beans, which can then be bagged and shipped.Most of the process is mechanized in Brazil, though picking must still be done by hand in some regions because machines can’t traverse the mountainside farms. Pereira deals in direct trade, a buzzword for specialty coffee importers that brings a transparency to the process, he said.He knows each farmer and visits the farms. He knows what the farmers make on the product and they know how much he sells it for in the United States.That direct-trade model is important to local coffee roasters like Ian Muller, owner of Carolina Coffee Roasters, who’s marketing his mugs of coffee to an upscale clientele that wants a higher quality than national chains can produce.Carolina Coffee Roasters, which is on The Parkway, Greer, has positioned itself with its relationships with BRASC and, in turn, coffee farmers, to appeal to the higher-end clientele, Muller said. He’s had long conversations with plantation owners who have visited Greenville to talk coffee, he said.“We have created a gestalt where we have to provide our customers with a connection to where those beans come from and how the process works,” he said. “We can trace the coffee footprint in a real way, not in a commercialized way. And it’s only because of our relationship with someone like Ricardo that allows us to do that.”The business model has proved beneficial to all parties. Pereira plans to double his warehouse space in the next two or three months. He travels constantly, this past week to New York City for a coffee convention. Next month, he’ll head to Portland, Ore., as an instructor at another convention.He’s learned along the way about both coffee and business and recommends to anyone looking to start their own business to first talk with a small-business lawyer and to hire a good accountant.In the past year he’s grown his business 40 percent and soon plans to hire more employees to handle some business aspects so he can keep the personal connections with customers.He’s passionate when he talks about the business, but he’s more passionate about the coffee itself.He’s been certified as a Q-grader, comparable to wine’s master sommelier, and now gets paid to sample coffees from roasters across the U.S. who desire his feedback.He talks about coffee’s complexity, the sweet, fruity taste of some with hints of strawberries or blueberries contrasted with the chocolate-cherry taste of another.“I like a coffee that has some fruity taste,” he said. “It’s like you just baked a blueberry muffin and you open it up and it has that smell that comes up, coffee naturally has that kind of flavor profile. You’re like, ‘Wow man! This is crazy!’ ”Like a good cup of coffee, Pereira opened a whole new aspect to life when he started BRASC, a shared relationship with people across the globe who have the same passion.“Coffee is the connector,” he said.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Madness for Real Estate and Mortgages by Dean Hartman on March 15, 2012

It’s the time of year when the so-called experts tell you how to fill out your brackets for college basketball. The frenzy has been coined March Madness. Well, in the mortgage industry, we are seeing a frenzy of headlines, offers of so-called expert advice, and an unusually high level of buzz around real estate and mortgages. Here are some of the things I keep hearing…“The bank bailout settlement is going to allow all the shadow inventory to come to market at lower prices, which is going to drive home prices even lower.” Likely true. How much and how fast prices fall will be determined by the speed at which lenders proceed with the foreclosures.“The bank bailout settlement means people will get large principal reductions in their loans, if they are underwater.” Some will, most won’t. In its settlement, Bank of America will exclude loans owned by FannieMae/FreddieMac. This agreement will probably be mirrored by others, and therefore, won’t help a good portion of the population.“The government has finally helped the homeowner who is underwater yet still maintained a good payment history.” Semi-true. If you have an FHA loan closed prior to June 2009, you are able to do a streamline IF rates make sense in June (too soon to tell). If you closed after June 2009, no such luck. On the conventional front, HARP 2.0 may offer some help to those who have had their loan held by FannieMae/FreddieMac as long as there was no private mortgage insurance. Not exactly all inclusive – but applaudable.“You need to put 20% down to get a mortgage these days.” I hear this crazy notion from people far too often. Besides the FHA insuring loans with as little as 3.5% down (on loans up to $729,250 in high cost areas), people often forget that veterans can still finance 100% of the purchase price, and that Private Mortgage Insurance Companies are still insuring loans with 5-10% down.“Costs associated with loans are going up.” Most definitely. The hike in the guarantee fees has already caused a 3/8 – 1/2 increase in conventional loans and will raise FHA loans by 10 basis points in April. The FHA is also changing its premium structure to increase the cost of the mortgage—regardless of where rates themselves are headed.“Rates will stay low through 2014.” While every indication from Ben Bernacke & friends is consistent in their rhetoric that rates will stay low, we have already seen some significant swings in rates based on market conditions (unemployment numbers, problems in Greece, and so on). Rates will likely stay low, but getting the best rate will still require staying on top of everything.Amongst the whirlwind of sound bites and headlines, there is some good news about real estate and mortgages. Never as rosy as it may sound, there is relief and opportunity for many if you can sort through the hyperbole and consult with a true professional to make sure you have all the facts.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things to Do in Greenville - Greenville Attractions - TripAdvisor

Traveler recommended attractionsReset the filters to see all attractions in Greenville1-20 of 2712 Sort 27 attractions byRatingNamemap directionsFalls Park on the Reedy #1 of 27 attractions in Greenville127 reviewsAttraction type Parks; WaterfallsDistance 0.2 miles from city center"Only US city with a waterfall in the city limits"Mar 13, 2012"A comfortable place to commune with nature..."Mar 12, 2012"Love love love to go!"Mar 12, 2012map directionsWest End Field #2 of 27 attractions in Greenville20 reviewsAttraction type Arenas/ Stadiums/ FieldsDistance 96.1 miles from city center"Fun for Everyone"Mar 7, 2012"Fun times in a small town"Mar 2, 2012"Little Fenway"Feb 27, 2012map directionsThe Peace Center #3 of 27 attractions in Greenville31 reviews This is the largest performing arts center in South Carolina. Attraction type Theaters; PerformancesDistance 0.0 miles from city center"Wonderful Acoustics"Mar 11, 2012"Surpise! Great shows in Greenville SC"Mar 1, 2012"Great Events"Feb 29, 2012map directionsThe Children's Museum of the Upstate #4 of 27 attractions in Greenville26 reviewsThe Children's Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, SC Museum Website The Children's Museum of the Upstate opened at the end of July 2009. It's great fun for children of all...more » Attraction type MuseumsDistance 0.5 miles from city center"Wonderful fun!!"Mar 9, 2012"Awesome for kids and adults"Mar 2, 2012"GREAT PLACE TO VISIT AND HAVE A PARTY!"Feb 29, 2012map directionsBob Jones University Museum & Gallery #5 of 27 attractions in Greenville19 reviewsAttraction type Museums; Educational Sites; Art GalleriesDistance 2.8 miles from city center"Excellent museum. Go on Sunday afternoon when..."Mar 1, 2012"Russian Icons"Feb 28, 2012"Polished Gem"Feb 27, 2012map directionsCaesars Head State Park #6 of 27 attractions in Greenville29 reviewsAttraction type State ParksDistance 21.8 miles from city center"Nice View, Bad Facilities"Feb 25, 2012"Get your hike on here!"Feb 22, 2012"Great place to hike and spend part of a day!"Feb 20, 2012Greenville Drive Baseball Field #7 of 27 attractions in Greenville9 reviewsAttraction type Arenas/ Stadiums/ Fields"Same as West End Field"Mar 2, 2012"can't wait to watch a game"Feb 24, 2012"Lucky to have a box seat!"Feb 20, 2012Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail #8 of 27 attractions in Greenville7 reviewsAttraction type Biking Trails"fantastic"Mar 5, 2012"great family friendly trail"Feb 28, 2012"Paradise for walkers"Feb 22, 2012map directionsWarehouse Theatre #9 of 27 attractions in Greenville4 reviews Owner description: The Warehouse Theatre is a professional theatre dedicated to theatre as a serious art form; to high-quality, diverse and challenging productions; to......more » Owner description: The Warehouse Theatre is a professional theatre dedicated to theatre as a serious art form; to high-quality, diverse and challenging productions; to the training of theatre professionals; to community outreach; and to student education.HISTORY: Established in 1973, The Warehouse Theatre is in its 38th continuous season of Intense, Intimate and Unexpected productions of live theatre. A cornerstone of Greenville's Historic West End District, this award winning converted textile warehouse, is the home of fifteen (sometimes more) productions a year, including our Mainstage and Extras Series, The Upstate Shakespeare Festival at Falls Park, Resident Theatre Companies, Actors in Education program, Improv and MORE!At The Warehouse you can see the sort of theatre you can't see anywhere else in South Carolina's Upstate region...from re-envisioned classics and intense plays everyone knows to some of the most cutting edge new works you can buy tickets to. You'll find the finest mix of emerging talents, local professionals and artists from around the country...all are at the top of their game, and we want you to see their work.« less Attraction type TheatersDistance 0.4 miles from city center"Very cool Theatre in the trendy West End."Feb 20, 2012"Intense, intimate and unexpected...and always..."Jan 30, 2012"GO SEE WILL RAGLAND!"Jan 5, 2012Upcountry History Museum #10 of 27 attractions in Greenville5 reviewsAttraction type Museums"Great history of Textile Industry, local culture"Feb 13, 2012"History, the good, the bad, the ugly"Feb 11, 2012"Fascinating Museum"Nov 9, 2011map directionsGreenville County Museum of Art #11 of 27 attractions in Greenville15 reviewsAttraction type Art MuseumsDistance 0.6 miles from city center"Spend a quiet afternoon here"Feb 22, 2012"Awesome!"Jan 31, 2012"Good collection of art!"Jan 5, 2012map directionsGreenville Zoo #12 of 27 attractions in Greenville59 reviewsAttraction type OtherDistance 0.8 miles from city center"Great place for a walk, people watch and enjoy..."Mar 13, 2012"Greenville Zoo"Mar 11, 2012"Super place to take kiddies"Mar 10, 2012map directionsBi-Lo Center #13 of 27 attractions in Greenville21 reviewsAttraction type Arenas/ Stadiums/ Fields; Civic CentersDistance 0.6 miles from city center"Fuel Savings Benefits"Feb 27, 2012"Huge auditorium; enjoy concerts and more here!"Feb 20, 2012"Large enough for venues"Feb 20, 2012Paris Mountain State Park #14 of 27 attractions in Greenville13 reviewsAttraction type Parks"Nature close to town"Mar 8, 2012"Love hiking on unseasonably warm winter days"Mar 2, 2012"Well Worth a Visit If You Like the Outdoors"Feb 22, 2012map directionsTD Convention Center #15 of 27 attractions in Greenville4 reviewsAttraction type Convention CentersDistance 2.8 miles from city center"SCRV show"Feb 27, 2012"Dog Show - July 2011"Jan 28, 2012"Now called the TD Center"Jan 25, 2012map directionsFrankie's Fun Park #16 of 27 attractions in Greenville13 reviews Fun Park with games, rides, putt putt, batting cages and a Johnny Rocket restaurant. Attraction type Game/ Entertainment Centers; Amusement/ Theme ParksDistance 6.3 miles from city center"Had a good time"Mar 2, 2012"Fun place for families!"Feb 20, 2012"Great place for kids but often crowded"Feb 19, 2012map directionsWest End #17 of 27 attractions in Greenville3 reviewsAttraction type NeighborhoodsDistance 0.3 miles from city center"West End"Feb 28, 2012"West End includes excellent little Shoeless Joe..."Aug 13, 2011"Beautiful Area"Mar 26, 2009Design with Wine #18 of 27 attractions in Greenville3 reviewsAttraction type Educational Sites"Fun Girl's Night Out"Mar 2, 2012"Great for a girls night out!"Feb 21, 2012"Unleash your Creativity!"Aug 4, 2011map directionsFurman University Golf Club #19 of 27 attractions in Greenville4 reviewsAttraction type Golf CoursesDistance 5.7 miles from city center"Challenging greens, long holes on the back 9"Feb 15, 2012"Old South Ambiance"Nov 18, 2011"Golf Outing"Nov 18, 2011map directionsKilgore Lewis House #20 of 27 attractions in Greenville1 reviewAttraction type Historic SitesDistance 0.7 miles from city center"Beautiful old home full of antiques"Feb 22, 20121-20 of 271

S.C. ranks No. 5 in region for economic development deals by The Staff GSA

South Carolina finished in the middle of the pack in the South Atlantic region for the number of new facilities and expansions announced in 2011, according to the March edition of Site Selection, a national publication that tracks economic development.North Carolina, which recorded 311 economic development announcements, ranked first in the South Atlantic. Virginia was No. 2 at 273, followed by Georgia, 234; and Florida, 163.South Carolina was ranked No. 5 with 110 announcements, followed by Maryland, 58; West Virginia, 40; Delaware, 10; and the District of Columbia, 2.Overall, the region had 1,201 announcements. The South Central region, which includes the states of Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arkansas, led the nation with 1,289 announcements. Coming to Spartanburg County, Bringing 100s of Jobs By: Graeme Moore

Update: December 8 at 9:10 a.m.
Spartanburg County Council finalized its incentive agreement with the online
retail giant which will bring an estimated 400 jobs to the
The council unanimously agreed Friday morning on the incentive package which
includes a six percent fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement which will give Amazon a
30-year tax break.
The deal also includes promises by the county to improve and widen John Dodd
Road where the facility will be built on a 96-acre piece of land.
Councilman David Britt said Amazon should make its official announcement in
the coming days, and he said he wouldn't be surprised to see construction
beginning in the next couple of weeks.
For more information on a career
at Amazon, click
Update: December 8 at
6:15 a.m.
Spartanburg County and Amazon have reached an agreement on incentives
clearing the way for hundreds of new jobs.
7 On Your Side's coverage partners at the Herald-Journal
report county council's economic recruitment and development committee met
Wednesday night.
The incentives include a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement which should last for
30 years.
Council members meet Friday morning to vote on a third reading of the
plan where more details could be released.
Amazon expects to create nearly 400 jobs by opening a $50 million dollar
distribution facility off John Dodd Road.
Update: December 5 at 6 p.m.
Spartanburg County Council Delays Final Vote on Amazon.
Spartanburg County Council delayed the third and final reading on a deal that
would bring a major online retailer warehouse to Spartanburg County.
The council was expected to give final reading to the incentive package for, which will include a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement for the
Councilman David Britt said all of the paperwork on both sides hit a snag
late last week, but he said that doesn't mean the deal is falling through.
"When you're dealing with a company that's making a 30-year committment, you
want to make sure all the I's are dotted and all the T's are crossed," Britt
The council plans to meet Thursday to try once again to finalize theincentive
Last week, council said Amazon is likely going to build a facility off John
Dodd Road, bringing an estimated 400 jobs and an initial investment of $50
Update: December 5th at 6 a.m.
Spartanburg County Council has a special meeting scheduled for 8:00 a.m.
Monday in order to finalize a deal with The company wants to build
a facility off John Dodd Road near Interstate 26. Amazon may hire up to 400
people under a $50 million dollar incentive deal. Once the county approves the
project incentives, construction and hiring are expected to quickly follow.
Update: November 28
Spartanburg County Council has called a special meeting for Monday to render
a third reading on the project.
The December 5 meeting at 8:00 a.m. will be held in council Chambers for the
proposal that has previously been called Project 300.
Reporting by Graeme Moore
The online retail giant will likely build a second South Carolina
facility in Spartanburg County, bringing hundreds of jobs to a county with a
nearly 11 percent unemployment rate, 7 On Your Side has confirmed.
County Councilman David Britt confirmed the identity of the secret company
which has been concealed under a code name of “Project 300” for months.
According to county documents, the deal would generate an initial investment
of around $50 million and bring an estimated 390 full-time jobs. In addition,
seasonal, temporary jobs would be plentiful during the holiday season, people
with knowledge of the deal said.
The facility would be located on a 240-acre piece of land on John Dodd Road
off Interstate 26 near Exel, a Wal-Mart distributing facility.
Negotiations with the company are still in the final stages, and an incentive
package being put together by county council still has to undergo a third
There is no final commitment from, Britt said, but he said the
deal is very close to being completed.
"Disclosure of the company name does not constitute a commitment" to build a
facility, Britt said during Monday night's council meeting because there are
still details to be worked out.
That third reading was expected at Monday’s council meeting, but Britt said
the pertinent documents were still being reviewed by lawyers on both sides, and
because of that, a third reading will be postponed for a few days.
Britt said the council will hold an emergency meeting within the next week to
finalize the incentive package which will include a fee-in-lieu of taxes
agreement with
On the chances Amazon will locate here, Britt said, "I'm not a betting man,
but I'd bet on this one."
Once the deal is completed -- which could happen as early as next Monday --
construction should begin in a relatively short amount of time.
Britt has said in the past that Amazon is not a company that

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Caterpillar to expand its Sumter facility by The Greenville News

Caterpillar plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Sumter and add 80 new jobs.The company said Wednesday that its $20 million expansion plan includes adding an additional 170,000 square feet to its Sumter facility.That plant currently produces small hydraulic cylinders. The additional capacity will bring allow for the the production of large hydraulic cylinders from the company's Joliet, Illinois.Once the expansion is completed, the Sumter facility will be the primary source for small and large hydraulic cylinders for North and South America, the company said. The new Sumer facility will enable the Joliet plant to focus on increasing production for other components currently produced in Joliet."This expansion is driven by growing demand for Cat products and will position our operations in both Sumter and Joliet to continue to grow and exceed customer needs as we drive toward Caterpillar's strategy and goals," said Hans Haefeli, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for the Advanced Components and Systems Division.Caterpillar anticipates adding the more than 80 jobs over a two-year period once the plant is fully operational and at full capacity."It's always great to see one of our existing businesses decide to grow its presence in South Carolina. Caterpillar is a world-class company, and we celebrate their decision to further invest in our state and create more than 80 new jobs in Sumter County," said Gov. Nikki Haley.Work on the expansion will begin immediately and is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2012. Hiring is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2012. Positions will be posted on the company's recruiting website ( as they become available.

BMW expects to sell a record number of cars this year by Jenny Munro

On the heels of a record 2011, BMW Groupis confident 2012 will be strong.“We are targeting new highs in sales volume and pre-tax earnings for 2012,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.He said the automotive segment is on course with its long-term profitability goals, assuming the global economy does not take a turn for the worse.“We are starting the new year with a full order book and a highly attractive model range,” he said. “The BMW Group plans to grow faster than the market as a whole in 2012 and expects to achieve new sales volume records.”An important driver will be the new BMW 3 Series, which launched its new sedan version in February. Other models will be launched in 2012, including the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe in June — the first four-door coupe in the company’s history — and the model revision of the group’s flagship, the BMW 7 Series, in July.The company’s X3 sports activity vehicle, launched in the United States in January 2011 and in Europe slightly earlier, also is a strong seller worldwide.That vehicle, the X5 SAV and the X6 sports activity vehicle are built at BMW’s Greer facility. The plant is beginning a $900 million expansion. It expects to add 300 new employees by the end of the year and will add a new model, the X4, to the product mix by the time the expansion is completed.Last year, BMW Manufacturing exported 73 percent of its production, reaching an export value of $7.4 billion through the Port of Charleston. That’s up from $4.7 billion in 2010, said Max Metcalf, plant spokesman.“The addition of the X3 had a lot to do with this,” he said.The BMW Group will continue its focus on the premium segment of the market, the company said.“Premium is and remains our business model and the basis for the BMW Group’s future success. In terms of innovation, design, sustainability and efficiency, our vehicles will continue to set standards in the premium segment”, Reithofer said.He predicts profitable growth will follow the launch of new products in all segments and by reaching new markets.“We are targeting a worldwide sales volume of more than two million vehicles in 2016 and hence significantly earlier than originally planned for 2020,” he said.Spending for new technologies and to expand the production network will increase in the coming years. Even so, the capital expenditure ratio will remain below 7 percent in the future. It was at 5.4 percent last year.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Clemson to move graduate program into Greenville's One complex - Rudolph Bell

Clemson University said Monday it would relocate its graduate business programs next to Falls Park in downtown Greenville to the One development under construction along Main Street.The university also said it’s evaluating what other graduate programs may be a good fit for downtown.Clemson said it would take 70,000 square feet at One to establish a permanent home for academic programs.The university said new student enrollment in its MBA program grew 15 percent after it moved the program two years ago into leased space in the former Bowater Inc. building next to Liberty Bridge.Clemson said its professional development programs have also grown substantially since moving to Greenville and should generate $400,000 in new revenue this year.“Having our business programs in downtown Greenville has been good for Clemson and good for Greenville,” Clemson President Jim Barker said.He said taking space at One “allows us to have a premium downtown location in a new facility that Clemson will own, and which can be specifically designed for our needs.”Clemson said the new downtown location would not have been possible without a gift from Greenville developer Bob Hughes, who is building the twin-tower One on an entire city block between Washington Street and Piazza Bergamo.Others that have announced plans to lease space at One are CertusBank, women’s fashion retailer Anthropologie and the Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd law firm.Plans call for the development to have nine- and 11-story office towers with ground-level retail space all around.Clemson spokeswoman Cathy Sams said the university’s real estate foundation would buy four floors of office space at One and 1,200 square feet on the ground level and lease it to the university.Clemson plans to begin a $6 million upfit of the space in 2013, Sams said.Joe Swann, a retired business executive from Greenville who is on the university’s board, said the new location is a “really wonderful thing for Clemson. It’s great for downtown Greenville as well.”

Hammonds plan 'hip,' casual restaurant on Greenville's Main Street by Angelia Davis

Mark and Larkin Hammond’s newest restaurant in downtown Greenville will be unlike anything that currently exists on Main Street.It will also be different from the other restaurants they own.The Hammonds own Larkin’s on the River in Greenville, Larkin’s on the Lake in North Carolina and Greenwood, and Larkin’s Carolina Grill in Columbus, N.C.In May, the Hammonds expect to open their newest concept in the former Hot Dog King space on Main Street in Greenville.Unlike the more upscale dining experience offered in Larkin’s on the River nearby at the Peace Center, the new restaurant will be “hip, cool, casual and a lower price point,” Mark Hammond said. And, it will be called, “Mark’s.”“We considered naming it Larkin’s on Main but we didn’t want people to think it was going to be the same. We wanted to make sure people knew it’s different.”Mark’s will offer a full bar and serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, Hammond said.“It will have a great wine list and be just a fun place to come in for lunch, to bring the group in for happy hour, and to have an enjoyable light dinner before a show,” he said.The Hammonds started their restaurants 13 years ago with the opening of Larkin’s on the Lake in North Carolina.It was during their visits to Greenville that they decided to open a restaurant here. That was before River Place existed, Hammond saidWhen River Place “came out of the ground,” new office buildings, apartments, condors and retail followed.“Even as more restaurants open, we keep getting busier,” Hammond said. “Now the growth just continues.”“We love the leadership of Greenville and where they’ve taken downtown, and we’re excited to be involved in the community so much that we see an opportunity to have another restaurant,” Hammond said.And, he said, they are excited that they’re going to be in a location that’s actually on Main Street.“We absolutely love this location (at the Peace Center) because it’s like dining in the park. It’s an oasis almost,” Hammond said. But “this (Mark’s) will be right on Main Street. It will be fun to have that pedestrian traffic.”The two Greenville restaurants, he said, “will be very different.”Two of the Hammonds‘ restaurants, including Larkin’s on the River, were operating restaurants that they acquired.Mark’s is one that the couple is starting from scratch, Hammond said.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bi-Lo moving corporate offices to Jacksonville - / HEIDI HEILBRUNN/Staff

Bi-Lo will move its corporate headquarters to Jacksonville, Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie officials said today.While both companies enjoy a strong heritage of support from their local communities, the Jacksonville -based infrastructure is best positioned to host the combined Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie support center, corporate office and distribution facilities, officials of the companies said.At the same time, the company plans to maintain a strong regional presence in Greenville both in distribution and local store support needs, the officials said.Bi-Lo also announced it has successfully completed its merger with Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. following approval of the transaction by Winn-Dixie shareholders on March 9. All Winn-Dixie stockholders will be eligible to receive $9.50 per share in cash for each share of common stock held, for a total purchase price of $560 million.As a result of the merger, Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie are now subsidiaries of the privately held parent company, Bi-Lo Holding, which is the ninth-largest supermarket chain in the United States with 688 grocery stores and 63,000 employees in eight states throughout the southeast. Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie will continue to operate under the same banners, the officials said.The company said it does not expect any store closures as a result of the combination.

Small businesses in Upstate growing more optimistic -By Jenny Munro

Owning a bakery was a long-standing dream for Dawn Stevenson, who opened Coffee To A Tea three years ago with her daughter, Aubrey Stevenson.Family members did research, talked with business and church advisers, took a state health department course and finally found a place in the art district of the West End that they could afford.It’s how small businesses are built and also how jobs are created, tiny ripples that gather strength in a new small-business economy driven by loyalty and dreams.And in that world, there are stirrings of optimism.The Stevensons operated the coffee house and bakery in the old Tucker Drugstore building for more than 18 months and then found their current location behind and beneath Smoke on the Water on Augusta Street.Along with Moody Black, they are having a poetry reading there on March 24 from 7-9 p.m.Business is picking up as the economy improves, they said, but costs are increasing at the same time.So far, they haven’t drawn salaries from a business that employs one full-time worker and three part-timers, Dawn Stevenson said.“People are finding out about us. It’s growing every day,” she said. “I really do believe it will happen.”Her business goal is to pull the bakery out and make it a separate business that provides specialty desserts in Greenville. That would require several employees. She also wants to keep the coffeehouse operating with full-time help so she and her daughter would not have to be there every day.“We are doing everything at God’s direction,” she said.Many small business owners say the economy is improving. They see customers returning to buy, and they are at least considering hiring more workers.An annual forecast by shows owners and managers of small- to mid-sized businesses are more confident about hiring and retaining their employees this year.Among those with up to 50 employees, 16 percent plan to add people, up from 14 percent last year. Twenty percent of larger companies, those with 250 or fewer employees, expect to add employees, up from 19 percent in 2011.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Report predicts 'significant' export growth for Upstate - By Angelia Davis

Greenville-Mauldin-Easley is one of the top metro areas in the nation that is likely to experience “significant” export growth in the next decade, according to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Jacksonville, Fla.The report, called “U.S. Metro Economies: Exports in the Next Decade,” not only explores metro exports but also looks at what’s going on now in exports across metros, Karl Kuykendall, an economist at IHS Global Insight, the company that authored the report, told“We took a look at the relative size of each export market by comparing it to the GMP (gross metro product) of each metro just to get a sense of how big of an impact the exports have on the local economy,” Kuykendall said.“We also looked at each metro’s largest trading partner and at the metro’s economic growth of the largest trading partner to try to get a sense of how fast the exports will grow over the next decade,” he said.Greenville ranks 29th in its list of the top 150 metro area with the potential for export growth, with machinery being 21.3 percent of the region’s exports, according to the report and Kuykendall. He said a large portion of those machinery exports are related to the GE Gas Turbine plant in Greenville.The U.S. export forecast for that sector is 75.7 percent growth from 2011 to 2020.Brian Reed, vice president of client services at CB Richard Ellis/The Furman Co., said what Colorado-based Global Insight had to say about Greenville is not surprising.He said most of the state’s top exports, based on dollar value, are based in the Upstate whether it’s BMW, GE, Michelin or Milliken.“That’s really one of the reasons we expect our market to kind of lead the national market in kind of bouncing back from this (downturn),” Reed said.Some of the Upstate’s dominance in that arena will change with Boeing in Charleston because that factory will produce a large volume of exports. Carleston ranks 80th on the IHS Global list, with Columbia at 102 and Spartanburg at 110.The Greenville area is the only one in the state that’s among 41 metros with the potential to achieve 70 percent or more growth between 2011-2020. Philadelphia, Houston, Indianapolis-Carmel, Chicago, and Davenport-Moline-Rockford are some of the other metro areas with that distinction, according to the report said.“Greenville depends on exports a lot for its local economy,” Kuykendall said. “As a percent of exports to GMP growth, it’s got one of the highest percentages out of all metro areas meaning that its economy is one of the heavily based economies on exports.”The metros most heavily involved with the fastest growing countries generally have a better looking outlook over the next decade, the report said.China is Greenville’s largest trading partner, and China will be one of the fastest growing countries over the next decade, Kuykendall said.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Winn-Dixie merger with Bi-Lo approved by WD shareholders - By Jenny Munro

Shareholders approved the merger of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie with Mauldin-based Bi-Lo at a special meeting today.Shareholders, the Winn-Dixie board of directors and company executives attended the meeting, said Eric Barnes, director of corporate communications for Winn-Dixie.The transaction is expected to be closed later today, he said.Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie announced the merger in December. The transaction will create a grocery organization of about 690 stores and 63,000 employees in eight states in the Southeast.The agreement was negotiated by a special committee of eight independent Winn-Dixie directors, advised by independent financial and legal advisers. That committee recommended it to the full board, which agreed and recommended that shareholders approve the transaction.Under terms of the agreement, Bi-Lo will acquire all outstanding shares of Winn-Dixie stock. Winn-Dixie shareholders will receive $9.50 in cash per share, a premimum of about 75 percent over the Dec. 16, 2011, closing price.“With no overlap in our markets, the combined company will have a perfect geographic fit that will create a stronger platform from which to provide our customers great products at a great value, while continuing to offer exceptional service,” Randall Onstead, chairman of Bi-Lo said in December.“Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie are both strong regional brands with similar heritages, compelling customer connections, and outstanding employees.”Peter Lynch, chairman, chief executive and president of Winn-Dixie, said then, “This transaction with Bi-Lo provides Winn-Dixie shareholders with a significant cash premium for their shares. We believe this transaction is in the best interests of our shareholders.Following completion of the merger, it is anticipated that the companies will continue to operate under the BI-LO and Winn-Dixie banners.The two grocery chains said in December they did not expect store closures as a result of the combination. The combined company’s executive management team structure and headquarters location will be decided as the companies move closer to finalizing the transaction; however, it is expected that the combined company will maintain a presence in both Greenville and Jacksonville.The companies announced earlier that Onstead will be president and CEO of the combined company. Lynch, head of Winn-Dixie, plans to leave the company after the merger is complete.Two class action lawsuits filed against the merger claim the share price is unfair, that SEC documents are misleading and that the board breached its fiduciary duty in approving the merger.

Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics announces new statewide engineering program by David Dykes

The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics has
announced a new program to cultivate the next generation of engineers and
technical leaders by offering high school students, in any South Carolina high
school, an accelerated path toward college engineering degrees.
Accelerate, South Carolina’s Engineering Launchpad, was announced at the
20th Annual Townes Award Dinner on Wednesday at the Columbia Marriott.
Organizers said the new initiative will accelerate completion of first-year
college engineering courses while in 10th, 11th and 12th grades. It will include
year-round, virtual instruction on high school campuses resulting in advanced
completion of college curriculum requirements, as well as hands-on, team-based
projects during weekends and summers, organizers said.
“GSSM is passionately committed to retaining talent in the Palmetto state,”
said Kim Bowman, CEO of the GSSM Foundation. “We’re committed to keeping our
best and brightest here and to developing innovative opportunities that make
that goal both seamless and attainable. We’re on a mission to reengineer
engineering education in South Carolina and to provide top-level support to our
four engineering colleges.” Accelerate partners include the South
Carolina Department of Education, Clemson University, the University of South
Carolina, The Citadel and South Carolina State. So far, private partners include
General Electric, SCANA and Sonoco Products Company, organizers said.
The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and
Mathematics is a two-year, public, residential high school in
Hartsville, specializing in the study of science, technology, engineering and
math, with an emphasis on economics and entrepreneurship.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

BMW Group reports its best year ever in 2011 - By Jenny Munro

BMW Group, which has a plant in Greer, S.C., reported Thursday that 2011 was its best year in the history of the company with sharply higher profits, revenues and sales volume.“We have achieved new sales volume, revenues and earnings highs and exceeded our targets,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW’s Board of Management. And he projected that sales in 2012 will continue to grow as more models are introduced.The company sold more than 1.6 million BMWs, Minis and Rolls-Rocyces to customers last year. That’s an increase of 14.2 percent from the 1.46 million sold in 2010.Sales benefited from a jump of 38 percent in the purchase of BMWs in China, reaching to 233,600 vehicles, and recovery of the U.S. market, where BMW sold 340,000 vehicles.Net profits for BMW Group climbed 51.3 percent to 4.9 billion euros, or $6.43 billion.Group revenues increased by 13.8 percent over the year to 68.8 billion euros.The company plans to proposed at the annual meeting that the dividend be increased to a new high of 2.30 euros a share of common stock, up one euro from last year. The dividend on preferred stock would go to 2.32 euros, up from 1.32 euros in 2011.