U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham isn’t just supporting the Export-Import Bank, he’s helping to market it.
The Republican presidential hopeful from South Carolina recently told Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the bank, that the agency needs to produce a pocket-sized card that includes information promoting the bank’s importance. That way, Graham said, Hochberg would have the information at his fingertips whenever he was questioned about the need for the credit agency.
“The first time I met him, he said to me, ‘You need a pocket card,’ ” Hochberg said of his meeting with Graham. “I said, ‘I need what?’ And he said, ‘You need a pocket card.’ So I got a pocket card.”
Hochberg distributed copies of his pocket card to members of President Obama’s Export Council, an advisory committee on international trade issues, during a meeting last week.
Among the pocket card recipients was Jim McNerney, chairman of the council.
McNerney, also chairman and CEO of Boeing Co., doesn’t need any help to familiarize himself with the role of the Ex-Im Bank. During the 2014 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the bank made or guaranteed 22 loans for commercial airline sales Boeing made to 18 foreign countries, totaling nearly $7.4 billion. That figure represents more than one-third of the $20.5 billion in financing the bank approved last fiscal year.
The Ex-Im Bank provides loan guarantees, loans and insurance to help foreign companies buy U.S. goods when commercial lending isn’t available. Boeing, which makes its 787 Dreamliner jets in North Charleston and Everett, Wash., is the 81-year-old bank’s top customer.
Reauthorization of the bank expires at the end of this month and it isn’t certain that Congress will vote to keep it alive. Graham, however, is pushing for a vote. He notes the bank is crucial to many of South Carolina’s top manufacturers, including Boeing and General Electric’s 4,000-employee gas turbine plant in Greenville. Graham has said he wants to attach Ex-Im reauthorization to a highway funding measure that is planned for a July vote.
Rumors of Volvo’s production plans for its Berkeley County manufacturing plant were greatly exaggerated last week on an Internet blog devoted to automotive manufacturing.
In an apparent case of faulty deductive reasoning, a blogger took Lex Kerssemakers’ comment that Volvo “will select a model that will be in the highest demand in the United States” to mean the company will make its S60 sedan and XC60 crossover near Ridgeville.
After all, the blogger reasoned, those cars are Volvo’s most popular right now. If Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America, said the new plant will make Volvo’s highest-demand vehicles, it must mean those are the cars that will be produced.
Not so, said Volvo spokesman Jim Nichols.
“The blogger here was making a wild guess,” Nichols told The Post and Courier. “There has been nothing confirmed or decided. We aren’t being secretive with the models — we just don’t know what will be built there yet.”
Volvo announced last month that it will build its first U.S. manufacturing plant at a site near Ridgeville. The $500 million facility, which will begin construction later this year, will employ up to 4,000 people and produce its first cars in 2018.
Longtime Charleston restaurateur Dick Elliott continues to trim back.
A Columbia newspaper reported that his Charleston Cooks! is putting its Midlands location in Cross Hill Market on the chopping block. The Midlands kitchenware shop and cooking class venue is scheduled to close June 28. leaving him with the original site on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston and an Upstate outpost in Greenville.
“Closing the Charleston Cooks! store at Cross Hill was a difficult decision,” Elliott told the Free Times. “We have enjoyed being part of the Columbia business community and appreciate the support we have had.”
In late April, Elliott said he was keeping Charleston Cooks! while selling his Maverick Southern Kitchens restaurants — Slightly North of Broad, Old Village Post House and two High Cotton locations, in Charleston and Greenville — to the group that owns Halls Chophouse.
Florida-based Silver Airways, an expanding carrier that launched service in Charleston in the spring, had some more down-to-earth news to share recently.
The airline had planned to offer nonstop commercial flights from Birmingham to New Orleans and Jacksonville starting Tuesday.
But the regional carrier has put those plans on hold indefinitely and is offering refunds to customers who already booked flights.
In 2013, Birmingham lost service to both cities when Southwest Airlines dropped the two routes, citing low passenger counts.
A spokeswoman cited the same reason for scuttling the latest planned flights.
“Despite robust marketing efforts, this market is not able to support flying this route at this time,” Silver Airways spokeswoman Misty Pinson said. “We will continue to focus on our core markets in Florida, the Bahamas and Dulles as we concentrate on growing in a controlled and profitable manner.”
Pinson added no changes are planned for routes from Charleston International Airport to Orlando and Tampa “at this time.”