Grapevine: Travel pros flock to Charleston for Conde Nast meeting

  • Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 12:01 a.m.
While this Lipitor tablet is being split in two, more than 50 U.S. lawsuits stemming from the drug's side effects are being consolidated at one legal venue: federal court in downtown Charleston.

In case anyone could forget, Charleston is still the tourism jewel for Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

The Holy City, which Conde Nast has dubbed the No. 1 travel destination in the Uni-ted States for the past three years, was chosen to play host to the publication's 10th annual Conde Nast Traveler Exchange, a three-day summit of about 150 travel experts from across the globe.

Top tourism professionals with cruise lines, resorts and other travel services are in Charleston until Tuesday to network and exchange insights on today's tourism market. Charleston Place is the site of the private event and is housing all of its attendees.

Many experts in town for the event plan to explore Kiawah Island and historic Charleston, according to a release from the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We are excited to welcome this elite group of travel experts to Conde Nast Traveler readers' No. 1 city in the U.S.," said Helen Hill, executive director of the CVB. "We have enjoyed the opportunity to network with other leading businesses and personalities in the travel industry to further promote and enhance awareness of our destina-tion."

Strategy session


West Ashley's retail climate is under the city of Charleston's microscope, and at least one group of Charleston social-media types is grate- ful.

Mayor Joe Riley, city planner Tim Keane and six Charleston City Council members will present plans for the "West Ashley Economic Development Strategy" this week at a Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce event.

The meeting, which will center on the revitalization of the ailing Citadel Mall and other retail centers, will be held at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at Jason's Deli at 975 Savannah Highway. Admission is $15 for chamber members and $25 for others.

On a related note, a Facebook group by the name of Support Citadel Mall's Revitalization was created in September by Scott Davis, a Charleston resident, to call attention to the enclosed shopping center's need for renovations and a better tenant lineup, according to the page's description.

The group has since gained nearly 5,000 members. And one posted an announcement of the chamber's event, say-ing, "This is a chance to learn and have our voices heard."

Getting some green


A local software firm that targets the construction business is first in the state to get funding from a nationally syndicated network of angel investors. Angel Capital Group's Charleston chapter, which began in May, said its members have made an undisclosed "sizable investment" in GreenWizard.

Founded by CEO Adam Berholz in 2007, Mount Pleasant-based GreenWizard targets building professionals seeking an official industry rating for using green construction methods.

Its one-stop online clearinghouse simplifies such tasks as product research, product comparison, specifications, quoting, purchase and documentation.

"Charleston's GreenWizard is a truly disruptive company, solving a huge problem in the construction marketplace, with a world-class team behind it," said Gavin McCulley, president of Angel Capital Group-Charleston. "We are thrilled to be along for the ride."

The local investor chapter said it has funded about 14 businesses, and it holds an "open pitch" forum at each of its meetings. It said it's in the process of providing financing to several unidentified local start-ups.

More information is available at the group's website, www.theangelcapitalgroup.com.

Lipitor litigation


The local federal court docket is getting a big dose of Lipitor.

A judicial panel last week picked Charleston as the legal venue for dozens of lawsuits that have been filed nationwide over Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering drug.

The complaints allege that Lipitor caused some women to develop type 2 diabetes.

In all, 56 cases from 12 states are being consolidated and assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel of Charleston.

Gergel is already familiar with the 14 lawsuits filed and pending in South Carolina.

By consolidating the cases in a single venue, the court can avoid duplication and inconsistent pretrial rulings, according to lawyers.

Among the lead attorneys in the Lipitor litigation is Blair Hahn, a partner with Mount Pleasant-based Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brickman.

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