Aircraft giant Boeing set to climb to the 100-year mark

Boeing Airplane Co. founder William Boeing.

Boeing can kick off the one-year countdown toward a major milestone this Wednesday.

The company that began in 1916 as Pacific Aero Products in the Seattle area will hit the ripe old age of 99 on July 15, leaving just 365 days until the big centennial.

The company takes its unusual but now ubiquitous name from William Edward Boeing, son of a German immigrant and wealthy mining engineer who renamed the business Boeing Airplane Co. about a year after it was formed. It took off by making 50 planes for the Navy in World War I. Afterward, Boeing began building commercial aircraft and other flying machines, and it never stopped.

Today, the company is one of just two major players worldwide that manufacture wide-body commercial airplanes. It assembles them exclusively in Washington state and at its 787 Dreamliner campus in North Charleston.

No word yet on what’s planned for the landmark anniversary celebration next summer, either locally or up in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s a fair bet it will be a high-flying affair.

“Not a lot of details ... to share now, but many more to come,” Boeing South Carolina spokesman Rob Gross said Friday.

A national retailer soon could be boosting business at the Port of Charleston — one dollar at a time.

A proposed Upstate regional distribution center believed to be for discount retailer Dollar Tree edged a step closer to reality last week when the state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a $1.5 million grant for the proposal. The project was not named in council documents but was referred to only as an economic development initiative in Cherokee County, where the $125 million warehouse would be built.

Publicly, the deal has been referred to by the code name “Project Evergreen” by state Commerce Department officials. Agency spokeswoman Allison Skipper declined last week to say whether Evergreen is Dollar Tree, which has a logo that resembles a green tree with a black numeral 1 for a trunk.

Last week’s council decision came on the heels of a $500,000 grant for the project awarded by the State Ports Authority, which operates Charleston’s public port system. That grant will be used for land acquisition for the center.

The SPA is helping to court the retailer because Dollar Tree is the nation’s 10th-largest importer, according to the Journal of Commerce.

Using Charleston’s waterfront also could make Dollar Tree eligible for up to $8 million per year in tax breaks through the state’s port volume increase credit program.

The 1.5-million-square-foot distribution center, to be built on a 214-acre site in Cowpens, just east of Spartanburg, would be Dollar Tree’s 11th and its largest. With its recent acquisition of the Family Dollar chain, Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree has about 13,600 stores nationwide with annual sales of more than $19 billion.

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

The top civilian official at one of the Charleston region’s biggest defense employers is switching jobs — and coasts.

Steve Dunn, executive director at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, has taken a job with the high-tech engineering unit’s headquarters in San Diego, where he will be chief management officer.

Dunn has been in his current job for about 18 months. He is expected to leave the Lowcountry for Southern California by the end of July.

A search for a replacement is planned. Dunn will be succeeded on an interim basis by Dave Monahan, director of operations.

SPAWAR’s “SSC Atlantic” arm is based on the Naval Weapons Station in Hanahan, where it occupies about 1.4 million square feet of space, according to its website. It provides hardware, software and information technology services, mainly for the Navy and Marine Corps.

The local unit has more than 3,600 employees and works with about 9,500 workers at private defense contractors.

Local nonprofits looking for a leg up have a chance to compete for some big bucks this fall.

Social Venture Partners Charleston, a local network of philanthropists partnered with the Coastal Community Foundation, is now taking applications for the second annual Fast Pitch competition, to be held at the American Theater at 466 King St. on Oct. 28.

Modeled on private-sector venture capital competitions, Fast Pitch helps nonprofits define their impact and communicate their vision. The program is designed to help launch new programs and initiatives for start-up, growth or established organizations.

Any 501c(3) nonprofit in the Charleston area can apply.

Eight participants will be selected to present.

Last year’s first-place winner, The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, picked up $20,000 and ongoing mentoring. The second-place winner, Fresh Future Farm, received $5,000.

Applications and eligibility requirements can be found at bit.ly/1HizCoc.

Completed applications must be sent to takiyah@Coastal CommunityFoundation.org by next Monday.

Even before Joe Sokol announced he will close the 94-year-old Morris Sokol Furniture business named after its founding father, speculation swirled about what will become of the retailer’s downtown Charleston location.

A few years back, there was talk the Ritz-Carlton Hotel was interested in the three-story property at King and Reid streets. Owner Joe Sokol called that a rumor. “I was never approached by anyone,” he said.

Talk now centers on the possibility of a grocery store. Sokol said he expects the site to remain retail, but beyond that he isn’t talking.

“No contract has been signed yet,” he said.

The building opened at about half its current size in 1929, eight years after Morris Sokol started peddling his wares on the streets in a cart. The 37,000-square-foot groundfloor showroom was expanded to its current size in 1957.