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Hotel, hospital growth has Charleston-area cleaning firm in expansion mode

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Ann Son Holy City Linen

Ann Son, owner of Holy City Linen, was named entrepreneur of the year by the Charleston Small Business Development Center in 2018. Her business this week announced a $12.4 million expansion that will create 254 jobs. File

A growing number of hotels and short-term rentals combined with a heightened awareness of hygiene due to COVID-19 has Holy City Linen expanding its commercial laundry service with a $12.4 million investment that will add a second location and create 254 jobs.

The new location at 1275 Remount Road in North Charleston will open this summer, joining a Mount Pleasant site that is operating at full capacity.

The 35,000-square-foot North Charleston site will be able to handle more than 20 million pounds of laundry annually.

"There has been tremendous response from different companies in the market that want to properly clean towels, napkins and beddings so they are hygienic," said Ann Son, owner of Holy City Linens.

She said she has also seen an increased need for laundry services from nursing homes, hospitals and medical centers.

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In addition, more companies are choosing to outsource laundry services to reduce costs and so staff can be reassigned to other tasks.

Son established the Mount Pleasant location in 2016. She grew up working in the family dry cleaning business with her parents, and her family members have owned and operated more than 40 laundry and cleaning businesses throughout the Carolinas. Over the years, Son said the business has moved toward more eco-friendly practices, including the use of sanitizing products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Son told American Laundry News that the smaller Mount Pleasant site will be converted to handle only food and beverage and party linen rentals. 

The Charleston Small Business Development Center helped Son obtain financing for the expansion, which comes at a time when many businesses are pausing growth plans.

"We're cautious, but if you look at this area even now there is a lot of business," Son said. "Charleston is still the No. 1 one tourist destination, and there are a lot of new hotels coming into the marketplace."

Elliott Summey, chairman of Charleston County Council, said "the investment Holy City Linen is making in our community is appreciated," adding the expansion is an example of the "business-friendly ecosystem" the county wants to foster.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

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