Boeing Co. chief Jim McNerney already has earned degrees from Yale and Harvard.

Come this weekend, he can add another sheepskin to burnish his already impressive academic resume: from the University of South Carolina.

In this season of pomp and circumstance, the CEO of the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft will fly into Columbia later this week to deliver a commencement address.

McNerney, who's also chairman and president of Chicago-based Boeing, will likely provide a dose of wisdom and advice to newly minted graduates of USC's South Carolina Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. He'll also pick up an honorary doctorate in business administration.

Boeing has fortified its presence in Gamecock Country over the past five years. It now assembles the 787 Dreamliner at Charleston International Airport and by this fall will make engine inlet components for the 737 MAX at a plant under construction in Palmetto Commerce Park off Ladson Road in North Charleston.

Log roll

The State Ports Authority is bringing the lumber to collect a debt. The maritime agency is looking to sell nearly 1,500 logs sitting at its Veteran's Terminal in North Charleston, according to legal notices it has posted.

Most are from Southern yellow pines, and they range in length from 13 to 39 feet.

The SPA said it is taking cash-only bids on the wood to collect almost $39,000, not including storage fees, that it's owed from a company called American Log Handlers LLC.

The buyer will be responsible for transporting the wood from the terminal, according to the sale terms. Bids are due to the SPA today at 5 p.m.

Room Keys

A Charleston-based real estate investment firm has taken a shine to the Key West visitor market. Travelweekly.com reported that JL Woode Ltd. is replacing four aging hotels near the entrance to the island with brand new lodgings: a Fairfield Inn & Suites, a Hilton Garden Inn, a Hampton Inn and a boutique called The Gates.

The firm's so-called Keys Collection will have 519 rooms primarily catering "to the middle of the market," according to the report. The hotels are expected to open by July or August.

JL Woode has an office in the Seabreeze office building on Immigration Street and another in Chicago. It was formed in 2006 by former principals of Illinois-based Jupiter Realty Corp., which was an active buyer and seller of commercial real estate in the Charleston region about a decade ago. One of Jupiter's best-known past investments was the famous Cigar Factory, which recently changed hands for more than $24 million.

Meet the REIT

It's a fair bet DiamondRock Hospitality Co. got a good rate on the room it's renting for its upcoming annual meeting of shareholders.

The Bethesda, Md.-based real estate investment trust is staging the gathering at its only South Carolina property - the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel at 68 Wentworth St.

The stockholders meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday to elect board members and take up other routine corporate matters.

DiamondRock is a publicly traded REIT (rhymes with meet) that owns 25 hotels with more than 10,700 rooms.

It's the first time the New York Stock Exchange-listed hotel owner has held the annual meeting at the six-story, 166-room Renaissance. DiamondRock bought the lodging about four years ago for $39 million, or $235,000 per unit.

The full-service hotel opened in early 2001. Its amenities include an in-house restau- rant and seven meeting rooms.

Bluegrass-bound

Just ahead of this past weekend's Kentucky Derby, a North Charleston distillery that makes liquor quicker finalized plans to expand to the Bluegrass State.

Terressentia Corp. closed a deal Friday to buy the former 35-acre Charles Medley distillery in Owensboro, Ky., CEO Earl Hewlette said. It will invest $25 million and add 50 jobs to the area's economy with a spin-off firm called TerrePure.

The old distillery has been idle about 20 years, but a spiritmaking business has operated on the site since 1850, he said.

Owensboro is a city of about 60,000 people on the Ohio River in Daviess County in northwestern Kentucky.

Terressentia, which doesn't have any brands, creates spirits for retailers by purifying distilled alcohol in a few hours, eliminating oak-barrel aging for certain liquors and providing a smoother taste and less-pungent smell to finished products.

Hewlette said the company needs to raise about $23 million to pay for refurbishment of existing warehouses and other buildings. He projects that will take about four months. After that, reconstruction and restoration will take 12-18 months before bourbon can start being made.

Lots of depth

The ocean explorer credited with finding the Titanic wreckage will be recipient of the S.C. Aquarium Environmental Stewardship Award.

Robert Ballard will be recognized for his achievements and aquatic conservation efforts at the 8th annual S.C. Aquarium Conservation Gala at 7 p.m. Thursday at Liberty Square.

Ballard, National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, also discovered the remains of the original aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, which sank during the World War II Battle of Midway in 1942.

Ballard has published dozens of books and articles on marine life subjects.

Former recipients of the S.C. Aquarium's stewardship award include author Pat Conroy and media mogul Ted Turner.