Haley's first Cabinet picks have ties to Lowcountry

Gov-elect Nikki Haley unveiled her first two Cabinet picks, both of immense interest to the business community and both with Lowcountry ties. Upstate-based BMW executive Bobby Hitt, who was born in the Holy City and worked at the former News and Courier, was named to run the Commerce Department. Also, Haley tapped Mount Pleasant resident and labor attorney Catherine Templeton to lead the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Haley said Templeton would play a lead role in fighting union-organizing efforts in South Carolina.

Bid-ness

A sizable piece of the Noisette Project footprint in North Charleston was turned over to a lender after no one stepped up to bid on the property at a public foreclosure auction. CHSA LLC took ownership of the 240 acres on the former Navy base. It had been owned by Noisette's developer, which owed CHSA about $23.8 million. Affiliated with former state Commerce Secretary Bob Faith's real estate firm, CHSA bought the Navy Yard at Noisette's mortgage this year for an undisclosed sum.

The property is expected to play into a plan by the state to develop a rail yard to serve the port terminal being built nearby.

Slow slog

The state's economy improved in 2010 and will continue to improve next year, but at a slow pace, according to a forecast released by the University of South Carolina. Job growth is expected to increase to 1.2 percent in 2011 from 0.1 percent this year, according to the report. The Upstate and the Lowcountry stand to make the most gains because of the many economic development announcements in the Greenville area and Boeing's decision to build a $750 million aircraft plant in North Charleston. Tourist areas along the coast also are expected to benefit as an improved economy will spur more vacation business.

Market place

When the City Market restoration wraps up next spring, the 33,000-square-foot portion of the attraction between Meeting and Church streets will house such local retailers as clothier M. Dumas & Sons and toy seller Wonder Works. The so-called Great Hall also will offer outdoor seating where customers can enjoy local dining fare.

New ownership

The ownership of the 686-acre Carolina Nurseries site on Highway 52 shifted to an affiliate of The InterTech Group. ZZ Acquisitions took the deed to the tract at an auction after no one outbid the $12 million it was owed. The nursery was unable to repay the loan or find new financial backers, so the lender foreclosed.