Aspiring entrepreneurs from across the state will show off their products and state their cases this week to win cash and advice on their start-up operations.
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce is once again holding its “Perfect Pitch” competition 2-6 p.m. Tuesday at the American Theatre in downtown Charleston. Ten finalists have been selected and will make their spiels before a panel of judges in a format similar to the popular TV show “Shark Tank.”
Two winners — one for one for a business concept and a second for an active early-stage business — will each win $2,500 in seed money and receive mentoring for a year to further develop their ideas.
In the running
With Charleston County Aviation Authority seeking women applicants for an upcoming open seat on what was an all-male board before Linda Page became Mount Pleasant’s mayor last week, a stalwart cheerleader for all things Charleston plans to toss her name in the mix.
Helen Hill, executive director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she will submit her name to the county’s legislative delegation. Local lawmakers nominate someone to fill an open seat, and then the governor signs off on it.
A seat being vacated in February is one held by House appointee Michael Stavrinakis, co-owner of the local Manny’s Mediterranean Grill chain. He’s stepping down because he has been appointed to the Medical University of South Carolina board, another lawmaker-appointed slot. His term ends in May.
Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage has been scouting around looking for female candidates, and Hill said she knows of other CVB officials around the country who serve on airport boards and thought it was time to get involved.
Hill’s group was also heavily involved in luring Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways to Charleston International.
Yorktown missing boat
Patriots Point says it needs more troops aboard the Yorktown, and only the skirt-wearing, cookie-peddling sort of troops will do.
The state-owned tourist attraction is launching a new marketing campaign to attract more Girl Scouts to its overnight camping program. Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops make up about 90 percent of the program’s attendance.
“There are about 4,000 girl scouts in this region, and if only five percent are visiting Patriots Point, we’re obviously missing the boat,” executive director Mac Burdette said.
The camping program brings in about 17 percent of Patriots Point’s revenue, Burdette said. The initiative to attract more Girl Scouts is part of goal to boost camping attendance to 25,000 visitors a year from 21,000.
“It’s like if you had any business. If you had a market you hadn’t touched yet, you reach out,” Burdette said.
Over the weekend, Patriots Point hosted 16 Girl Scout representatives to showcase the camping experience and its educational assets.
Grabbing the garb
American Promotional Products could see some extra business in the Lowcountry since recently acquiring the Chef Revival Apparel line from San Jamar Co. Terms were not disclosed.
APP supplies Lowcountry businesses such as Boeing and the Medical University of South Carolina with logo apparel, office supplies and other advertising products. Chef Revival specializes in restaurant industry uniforms such as chef’s pants and server aprons.
The retail concession at Charleston International Airport will stay in the same hands, but change is on the menu for the food-service contract.
A Charleston County Aviation Authority committee last week recommended that Hudson Group of New Jersey, a subsidiary of Swiss company Dufry AG, retain the contract for the airport’s newsstand and other retail spaces.
It also gave the nod to a bid by Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North Companies to become the next food service provider. SSP America of Lansdowne, Va., holds the current contract but it did not submit an offer, said Bill New, deputy director of airports.
Both contracts are for 10 years and start in January.
The full Aviation Authority will take up the concession deals at its board meeting Thursday.
A hotel chain with close ties to South Carolina is selling shares to the public again.
Extended Stay America, which was cofounded by Spartanburg native and onetime state legislator George Dean Johnson, returned to the IPO trough last week to raise money.
Founded in Florida in 1995, the company caters to long-term business travelers. It had an initial public offering in 1996, and in 2001 it moved its headquarters to Spartanburg.
Private equity giant Blackstone Group acquired Extended Stay from shareholders in May 2004. It sold the business in 2007 to the Lightstone Group for a $8 billion, a price that would land the chain in bankruptcy.
Blackstone checked in again in October 2010 when it and some partners plucked the company out of bankruptcy.
Extended Stay America raised about $566 million last week. Most of the money will go toward repaying debt.
The chain has 11 hotels in South Carolina, including three in North Charleston and one in Mount Pleasant. While it no longer calls Spartanburg home, its head office remains in the Southeast: in Charlotte.
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