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Good afternoon. Ready to do some back-to-school shopping? S.C.'s annual Sales Tax Holiday starts tomorrow and lasts through midnight on Sunday. Even if you aren't prepping for the school year, this weekend is a good time to buy things like clothes and computers. View the full list of eligible items here.
THE ONE TO WATCH: SC parks bringing in record revenue
The South Carolina State Park Service generated a record amount of revenue for the second year in a row, pushing the state organization closer to its goal of becoming financially self-sufficient. S.C.'s 47 state parks brought in more than $34 million during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
S.C. Parks brought in record revenue in 2017-2018, too. The park system generated about $30.7 million, more than 11 percent more than the previous fiscal year.
About a decade ago, the park service was bringing in enough money to cover just about 73 percent of its expenses. In 2018, that climbed to 95 percent.
The largest share of this year's parks revenue, about 29 percent, came from camping, followed by admissions, which made up 26 percent. Retail sales made up another 18 percent, and cabin rentals brought in around around $3.4 million, or 10 percent of the year's revenue.
In his monthly report of tourism indicators, Duane Parrish, the director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, attributed the increases to the addition of new park facilities.
That includes new cabins at Dreher Island, a campground at Huntington Beach and a group facility at Keowee-Toxaway. Within the last year, St. Phillips Island, which was purchased by the state in late 2017, was opened for tours for the first time. The island has been incorporated into Hunting Island State Park.
The Hunting Island and Edisto Beach state parks were also open for the entire year, Parrish noted, and the state enjoyed mild weather during many of the key weekends and holidays.
More park improvement projects are on the way, too.
A park in the Upstate, Jones Gap State Park, is growing by 955 acres. The Nature Conservancy had purchased the land in the Blue Ridge wilderness for $3.7 million with plans to transfer it to the SCPRT.
The property, which increased the size of the park by about a quarter, isn't open to the public yet and likely won't be for about two years as the Park Service plans and develops amenities for it.
At Huntington Beach State Park, a renourishment project is starting in the fall, and a new nature center is under construction there. The rebuild is expected to cost $1.2 million and be completed by spring 2020. Exhibits in the center will include aquariums with live snakes and turtles and a tank where visitors can touch stingrays and other small sea creatures.
For the first time ever, the S.C. Park Service will also allow guests to bring their furry friends into its rental cabins, starting Jan. 1, 2020.
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OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS:
- The Club CHS, an 83-seat lounge at Charleston International, opened Wednesday. It's free for priority passengers and $40 a day for others.
- Nana's Uptown is serving seafood and cheesecake in North Charleston.
- Publix opened its 14th grocery store in the region in Cainhoy Plantation.
- Bi-Lo is closing another Charleston-area store, this time in Goose Creek.
- Fieldshop by Garden & Gun will host a pop-up shop today and Friday.
OTHER STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Hundreds of thousands of former SCE&G customers are expected to receive payouts totaling $60 million this month. (Post and Courier)
- In Columbia, businesses have moved into the growing North Main area so quickly that the real estate can't meet the demand. (Post and Courier)
- A local apprenticeship program that lets teens get paid work experience while earning free college credit is growing every year. (Post and Courier)
- Georgia and South Carolina committed an additional $1.29 million toward developing a port terminal on the Savannah River. (Associated Press)
- The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time in over a decade. The move is meant to extend the current economic expansion. (NPR)
SOUND SMART AT WORK:
Organizers behind a new museum project — which they hope to fund, build and open in the next four years — say that law makes Mount Pleasant the only place where a legitimate "National Medal of Honor Museum" can be built.
HIRES AND PROMOTIONS:
- Raquel Padgett has been named director of Lowcountry Local First's Good Enterprises initiative, which launches this fall. Padgett has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, public relations and consulting.
- Summerville Medical Center has a new CEO, Alec Grabowski. He was previously a director with United Health Service in Binghampton, N.Y.
- Cmdr. Jack A. Garcia has been named commanding officer of Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston. Garcia was the brig's executive officer.
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