Grapevine: Subway adds some Charleston seasoning to new marketing pitch

Subway is stressing the local ownership of its sandwich shops.

Subway is trotting out a new marketing campaign featuring some local Lowcountry talent.

The sandwich chain is featuring two area franchise owners — Rhonda Kilgore of Goose Creek and Jay Patel of Charleston — in ads it is airing this month on TV and radio and in movie theaters and online. They are shown in non-speaking roles in the 32-second spot.

“People often think of Subway as a big company, but we are made up of locals living and working in the community. When you buy a sub, you’re buying from a local business,” said Patel, who has three stores in North Charleston.

Kilgore owns 10 Subway locations in Goose Creek, Ladson, Moncks Corner, North Charleston and Summerville.

“Like any small business owner, we work hard. It is good to be involved in my restaurant and my community, and we hope we can play a small part in our town’s success,” Kilgore said.

According to the Subway Development Corp. of South Carolina Inc., the Lowcountry is home to 35 franchisees who employ about 680 workers at 68 locations.

The sandwich giant had to revamp its marketing after authorities began investigating Jared Fogle, who had been the company’s high-profile spokesman. Fogle pleaded guilty in August to child pornography and prostitution charges and was sentenced to 15 years.

A seven-story hotel is set to make its debut this week near the base of the Ravenel Bridge in Mount Pleasant.

The 110-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott is scheduled to open Tuesday at 245 Magrath Darby Blvd.

Raines Hospitality Inc. is the manager of the property, which includes enough meeting space to hold a group of about 40. The owner is Gateway Mount Pleasant Hotel LLC.

The hotel is part of Landmark Enterprises’ Gateway project, which also will include a 62,500-square-foot office building between Johnnie Dodds and Coleman boulevards when completed. The Mount Pleasant company and Florence-based Springbridge Development began work on the hotel in early 2015.

Loren Nalewanski, global brand manager for SpringHill, said the “design provides a seamless blend of style and function at an affordable price, and our all-suite offering allows guests enough room to relax and reenergize.”

Bing Pan, head of research at the Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston, said in an email that the increase in the number of guest rooms in Mount Pleasant matches up with demand, according to percentages looking at 1994 to 2013.

The town saw an uptick in occupancy for the first quarter of this year, Pan noted.

“I see there is still potential for growth in hotel rooms in Mount Pleasant, but profit margins won’t (be) as high as before,” he said.

More speculative industrial space is coming to Summerville, with groundbreaking scheduled Tuesday for a 307,000-square-foot shell building at the Charleston Trade Center.

The Keith Corp. of Charlotte and Chicago-based investor Singerman Real Estate are building the $19 million project, which will be part of the 750-acre development along Interstate 26 in Berkeley County.

Alan Lewis, industrial development partner for The Keith Corp., said progress on a pair of infrastructure projects — one local, one global — led the company to invest in the trade center, which has access to the Port of Charleston.

“With the new Sheep Island Interchange under construction and the imminent completion of the Panama Canal expansion project, we feel the timing for the development of Charleston Trade Center is excellent,” Lewis said in a statement.

Groundbreaking was held last month for the Sheep Island project, which will connect Interstate 26 with Nexton Boulevard by the summer of 2018. The Panama Canal expansion is scheduled for completion in June, allowing larger containerships to visit East Coast ports like the one in Charleston.

About 1.7 million square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space came online in the Charleston region during the fourth quarter of 2015, the most recent statistics available, according to a new report by the commercial real estate firm CBRE. Most of that space has been speculative, meaning it was built before businesses committed to leasing it.

The report shows there are two major drivers in the Charleston area’s industrial market — international trade and advanced manufacturing.

The shell building at 200 Trade Center Parkway is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

One aspiring entrepreneur is going to walk away with $10,000 Wednesday at The Citadel.

The military college is hosting its annual Bulldog Business Bowl, and five teams are vying for the prize and free office space as they present full business plans for an array of products and services.

More than 25 teams entered the competition in October for the first of three rounds, when eight semi-finalists were chosen. In January, the eight were narrowed to five. Each finalist team was assigned a coach and provided with the opportunity to attend workshops on how to develop a full business plan.

“One of the teams walked in with an idea and will walk out ready to begin their business — that’s our intention,” said Patrick Manna, a Citadel business professor who founded the bowl.

The final round will run 9 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Wednesday in Bond Hall auditorium with the awards ceremony at 3:45 p.m. Both are free and open to the public. The finalists are Little Rock Pharmacy & Medicine Therapy Consultants, Traveler’s Point, Agricultural Clays, Campus Connect and SC Property Tax Relief.

In addition to the cash, the winning team will get one year of office space at the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Catalyst Center. The second-place team receives $5,000 with a year of office space.

The competition is open to members of the S.C. Corps of Cadets as well as The Citadel Graduate College’s evening undergraduate and graduate students.

The recently announced 550-worker Comcast customer support center is moving right along.

The developer of the building, KDC Charleston Investments One LP, already has acquired the land. It paid Weber USA Corp. almost $2.7 million for the 16 acres in a sale that closed April 5. Property records also show Dallas-based KDC borrowed $15.3 million under a two-year loan from a Texas bank to help finance the $21.4 million project.

The 80,000 square-foot “Center of Excellence” will be at 3450 Ingleside Blvd., near U.S. Interstate 26 and Highway 78. It will house Comcast customer service and technical support employees when fully operational later this year. The new hires will provide support for customers with the X1 entertainment operating system, high-speed Internet and digital telephone services.

Philadelphia-based Comcast will employ more than 800 workers in the Charleston region once the new office is fully staffed. In addition to this latest investment, the company opened a 5,000-square-foot Xfinity Customer Center in North Charleston in early 2015.

With the end in sight for the four-year redevelopment of Charleston International Airport, officials are now turning their attention to sprucing up the terminal with artwork and advertisement placement.

No date has been set for completion or for the rededication ceremony once the nearly $200 million project is completed this summer, but officials are looking at a two-day event, one public and one private.

According to Andrew Steever of Square Point Design, an exhibit design, consulting and installation firm in West Ashley working with airport officials, an early concept of the artwork displays shows: Sweetgrass baskets near the central entrance from the garage.

An overhead garden mural heading toward the parking deck.

Different modes of artwork wrapping around columns throughout the terminal.

Photographs over the Transportation Security Administration screening lanes.

Philip Simmons ironwork behind the central hall and display cases with other pieces.

In addition to static advertising displays at key points in the terminal, including jet bridges, charging station and columns, video screens will be used at the passenger-waiting areas near the gates, above the baggage claim carousels and other high-traffice areas, according to Martha Bratton, manager of advertising sales for Charleston County Aviation Authority.

“We want it to be a ‘Welcome to’ and a ‘Welcome home,’” Bratton said.

Airport CEO Paul Campbell believes the ad opportunities will support some of the other things the airport wants to do, including helping pay for the artwork displays, design and consulting.

“When people come to the airport, they are looking for information and ideas,” said Aviation Authority board member Margaret Seidler.

“We want to make sure our airport is unique, and we get the opportunity to brand ourselves,” said board member Helen Hill, who also heads up the region’s tourism efforts through the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.