Grapevine: A Swedish scare in the chase for Volvo’s South Carolina plant

Gov. Nikki Haley says she tries to ignore what other states are doing to recruit industries that are also on the Palmetto State’s economic development radar.

But when another governor goes missing in action, a little panic sets in.

That’s what happened earlier this year when South Carolina and Georgia were locked in a high-stakes battle to woo Swedish automaker Volvo Cars and its first U.S. factory.

“Every state likes to think they have ears on the ground in the other state,” Haley told The Post and Courier this month. “I never put a lot of weight on that because my thing is, I don’t care what the opposition is doing. Let’s just be great at what we do.”

Unless another state’s governor is involved.

“When a governor goes, that is your major sales pitch,” Haley said. “We’re the ones who have to close it. We’re the ones who have to build that relationship. So when a governor goes, that’s when I get my back up.”

Haley remembers the weekend in January when Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal left the country without telling the public where he was going or why. Haley initially thought Deal was in Sweden, making a closing pitch to Volvo.

“There was that day when they couldn’t find Gov. Deal,” she said. “I texted (Commerce) Secretary Bobby Hitt and said, ‘Is he in Sweden? I need to know if he’s in Sweden’.

“I said, ‘Find him. I need to know where he is’,” Haley recalled. “He actually was chasing a different project at that time.”

It turned out Deal was in the United Kingdom, talking to officials with auto manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover Automotive about building a plant in the Peach State. South Carolina officials also have been in discussions with that carmaker.

Haley’s concerns proved to be unfounded — Volvo announced May 11 that it will build its $500 million car factory in Berkeley County — although she said she still keeps tabs on her neighboring counterpart.

“Wherever he goes, I have to make sure I know where he’s going and what he’s doing and make sure that we’ve already talked to them before he gets there,” she said.

Kiawah Island Real Estate closed $48.8 million in sales in April, making it the company’s best month in eight years, thanks in no small part to one very deep-pocketed homeowner.

Two inter-related sales accounted for about 58 percent of the volume.

The numbers got a big boost when a 9,777-square-foot oceanfront spread on 3 acres at 181 Bally Bunion Drive sold April 8 for $20.25 million, the most ever paid for a home on the seaside resort.

The buyer, 181 Bally Bunion Drive LLC, is associated with Philadelphia area resident Michael J. Angelakis, who is stepping down as vice chairman and chief financial officer of Comcast Corp. this summer to run a new venture fund with the cable and broadcasting giant.

Angelakis followed up that deal about a week later by selling a Kiawah home he had owned on Surfsong Road since 2010 for $7.9 million, county land records show. That 7,614-square-foot residence had been listed previously for $14.5 million.

The last time Kiawah Island Real Estate achieved a higher monthly closed volume was in June 2007, when sales approached $48.9 million on the resort island near Charleston.

All told, the real estate company reported 21 properties changing hands. The firm also saw $47.2 million in new contracts last month, its highest monthly sales volume for new contracts since March 2006, when it recorded $56 million.

“April was a stand-out month for us, and a good indicator that we’re going to see this positive sales trajectory continue,” Chris Drury, president and broker-in-charge, said in a statement.

Secretary of State John Kerry logs a lot of miles — more than 800,000 in two years — in a reconfigured Boeing 757 during his travels to visit foreign leaders around the world.

But last week, Kerry let slip that he’d rather be flying in a 787 Dreamliner.

During a stop at Boeing Co.’s Renton, Wash., plant to voice support for a trade partnership agreement, Kerry said that considering the amount of time he spends on an airplane, he’d be more comfortable in one of the 787s made at Boeing plants in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.

“I figured, since I was here, I’d just come out and ask: Don’t you think I ought to be able to trade up?” Kerry told a crowd at the Boeing factory. “I mean, don’t you have a spare Dreamliner parked somewhere around here? I promise I’ll show it off all over the world — free publicity, just think of it. It’s a win-win, as they say in China.”

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Three Charleston veterans are the first to pick up small business grants from SCORE Charleston.

The $1,000 grants went to Kenneth C. Ryan, a retired Navy captain who has launched an educational literacy company, KRyan Creative LLC, in Charleston; Cephus E. Simmons Sr., who served four years in the Navy as a hospital corpsman, is an assistant professor of radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina and owns SealCath, which he founded to commercialize a catheter he invented that he believes will change a colorectal procedure; and John Looby, a Marine who has overcome his injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq to start Delta Veteran Sales, a medical sales firm.

In addition to the cash, each winner will receive free QuickBooks training from Pathways Consulting Inc.

The money came from SCORE’s annual fundraising golf outing. The next money-raising tourney will be Oct. 5 at Charleston National in Mount Pleasant. SCORE provides free business mentoring and support to aspiring and established entrepreneurs.

The parent company of Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie and Harveys supermarkets has a new name.

Southeastern Grocers replaced Bi-Lo Holdings as the name of the company last week. The new corporate moniker is meant to encompass all three supermarket divisions without singling one out for the Jacksonville-based company.

Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie announced they were merging in late 2011. Bi-Lo was once headquartered in Mauldin, near Greenville, in the Upstate. Bi-Lo has several stores in the Charleston area.

The corporate name change does not affect the name of the stores.

It’s official. Eight years after lawmakers passed a bill adding two Charleston area legislators to the Charleston County Aviation Authority, Gov. Nikki Haley signed new legislation earlier this month that takes them off the board.

The immediate effect is that former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford no longer has a seat. She served as a stand-in appointed by Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, who refused to serve because he thought the original law was unconstitutional. The second seat was open because Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston, also declined to serve or appoint anyone for the same reason.

The other effect of the new law is that it makes moot a lawsuit sitting in the S.C. Court of Appeals that challenged the legality of the 2007 legislation.

The law also fixed some language from the overhaul of an aeronautics bill three years ago, when omitted wording inadvertently removed North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and two other legislative appointees from the board. Their service is now legal again.

The size of the Aviation Authority now goes from 13 to 11.