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Good afternoon. Do you have plans after work today? Our first "Pints & Politics" event starts at 5:30 p.m. at Container Bar. Special guest Rep. Joe Cunningham will be there for a laid-back Q&A. To join us, RSVP. (It's free!)

THE ONE TO WATCH: A 'Beige' look at the region's economy

Periodically throughout the year, the Federal Reserve puts out its "Beige Book." That's the colloquial name for its "Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District." So, yes, even with a color as bland as "beige" in the title, the colloquial name is typically preferred. 

The report essentially takes the economic temperature of a region which, in South Carolina's case, is tied to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. That branch covers the Fifth District: the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and most of West Virginia.

The last report was largely positive, but mixed. Here are some highlights from the most recent report, which came out on Wednesday:

  • The Fifth District's economy has grown "moderately" since the last report.
  • Trucking companies in the region saw a slow start to the year, but demand seems to have picked up.
  • Retailers reported "sluggish" conditions and "softness" in apparel and auto sales.

Given the size of the region, only a handful of cities are name-checked in each edition. This time, Charleston and Greenville each had mentions, both related to challenges in the hotel industry

A Greenville hotel reported low revenues, noting an increased supply of hotel rooms and a softening in demand. A recently-opened Charleston hotel reported an "inability to find staff" had kept it from opening many of its rooms. 

These reports don't mention specific businesses, so it's not clear which hotel it's referencing. Several hotels with 100+ rooms have already opened in the Charleston area this year, including Hotel Bennett downtown (no hiring woes there, the hotel says), a Home2 Suites in West Ashley and a TownePlace Suites in North Charleston. With even more lodgings on the way — another hotel in West Ashley opens tomorrow — those staffing needs are top-of-mind. 

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OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS:

  • Hooked is open, serving seafood at the corner of Market and East Bay.
  • Chain Bahama Breeze plans to open a restaurant in North Charleston.
  • The Salty Dog Cafe will open a new location in Bohicket Marina this May. 
  • MESU will serve Mexican fare and sushi on King Street this summer. 
  • Kwei Fei's owners plan to start serving Mexican food at The Pour House
  • N.C.-based Rise Biscuits & Donuts has dropped plans for an S.C. shop. 
  • A new art gallery, Charleston Slate Works, opened in West Ashley

OTHER STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW: 

  • Lyft is strengthening background checks, soon after a college student in Columbia was killed after mistaking a car for her Uber. (Post and Courier)
  • Blackbaud Inc.'s former headquarters, one of the largest office buildings in the Lowcountry, recently sold for $35 million. (Post and Courier)
  • A 115-room hotel planned near City Market secured a key city approval. The project has some support from nearby residents. (Post and Courier
  • Several major publishers plan to produce special counsel Robert Mueller's report in book form. Copies are already selling on Amazon. (AP)
  • Do you still have some questions about the Boeing 737 Max crashes? This video explains how competition with Airbus could have played a role. (Vox)
Trident Tech aeronautical training center

A rendering shows the South Carolina Aeronautical Center that will be used to train students at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. Provided/LS3P Associates Ltd.

SOUND SMART AT WORK:

"Hey boss, did you know South Carolina's aerospace industry supports more than 100,000 jobs and generates $19 billion in annual economic impact?"

A new training site for the growing aerospace sector will be open in time for the fall semester. The $80 million facility at Trident Technical College will house programs in aircraft maintenance and assembly and advanced manufacturing.

HIRES AND PROMOTIONS:

  • Software firm in/PACT promoted Elena Pierce to chief executive officer. 
  • The senior project manager at SouthCon Building is Brandon Needham.
  • Noreen Marchant is now the director of operations at Charming Inns.  
  • The Charleston office of Colliers hired Mark Erickson as a vice president. 
  • Magnolia Plantation's marketing manager is now Brooke Swetenburg.

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Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.