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MUSC lauds a righteous gift from HBO star | Business

An actor and writer whose production company brought a taste of Hollywood to Charleston has made a righteous donation to support the Medical University of South Carolina‘s newest addition.

Danny McBride and art director wife Gia Ruiz made a $45,000 gift to the Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion, MUSC trustees learned during their board meeting Friday.

McBride is known for his roles in “The Pineapple Express” film and HBO‘s “The Righteous Gemstones,” among other works. A few years ago, the Georgia native set up his production Rough House studio in Charleston, where he and his family now live. Its projects have included the Gemstones spoof and the remake of “Halloween,” both filmed locally.

The McBrides’ gift was one of several that MUSC highlighted last week during its recap of recent donations. The others included a $1.5 million gift from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation.

Kate Azizi, vice president for institutional advancement at MUSC, said more than $88.2 million in donations came through the door during the 2020 fiscal year, surpassing the goal by more than $20 million. The Children’s Hospital Fund generated $8 million of that. 

Azizi said that nearly 800 members of the public have also donated about $2 million toward COVID-19 efforts. Those funds “supported so many different efforts,” such as testing, research, equipment and employees, she said. 

Sales have surged at Publix Super Markets since the COVID-19 lockdown. The Florida-based chain has 64 stores in South Carolina. File/Warren L. Wise/Staff

Publix profits

The COVID-19-induced lockdown that defined the 2020 second quarter translated into outsized gains for one of the largest supermarket operators in South Carolina.

Sales at Publix stores surged nearly 22 percent to $11.4 billion for the three-month period that ended June 27, the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain announced in a recent financial statement. After stripping out locations open less than 12 months, the year-over-year increase for the quarter came out to 20 percent.

The company attributed an estimated $1.5 billion of the sales increase, or 16 percent, directly to the coronavirus pandemic, which spurred demand for all variety of food and cleaning products at its 1,250-plus stores.

The bottom line at Publix also got a sizable bump. Its net earnings more than doubled to $1.4 billion for the quarter compared to the same period of 2019 — nearly half what it made all of last year.

The pandemic was declared a national emergency on March 13, and Publix noted that it was “classified as an essential business and has remained open to serve the needs of its customers.”

The Southeast employee-owned chain also noted that it offered two months of rent relief to tenants in the shopping centers it owns if their business operations were hurt by the outbreak.

Publix operates 64 stores in South Carolina and more than a dozen in the Charleston region.

The company recently announced a rare retail misfire. It’s shutting both of its GreenWise Market specialty stores in the Palmetto State later this month after relatively brief runs in Mount Pleasant and Lexington. Publix said it determined the two stores are too small to accommodate its newest grocery concept.

Cummins Turbo Technologies is replacing its logistics contractor. File/Staff

Changing employers

A North Charleston company that provides logistics services for Cummins Turbo Technologies is laying off 106 workers, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be out of a job.

ARD Logistics, which does business as Key Logistics Solutions, told the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce that Cummins “has decided for strategic reasons” to terminate its contract as of Sept. 30.

“ARD will no longer manage the Cummins logistics and warehouse or support the plant operations,” Shirley Collenton, the logistics firm’s human resources director, said in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act filing with DEW.

Employees were notified of the decision in late July.

Collenton said 160 workers and contractors will be affected, but all of them are expected to be hired by Cummins or another logistics firm working with the turbocharger manufacturer.

“We are currently working on a transition plan to seamlessly move this work back to the Cummins organization or a third-party identified by Cummins,” Collenton said in the letter.

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Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins has been cutting costs this year due to slowing global demand for its products, which include engines, filtration and power-generation products. The North Charleston plant, which employs about 700 people, is the company’s only producer of turbochargers for medium- to heavy-duty trucks with diesel engines.

The headquarters for Greystar Real Estate Partners is at Meeting and Columbus streets in downtown Charleston. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Taking on debt

Charleston-based Greystar Real Estate Partners is going further into debt, in an investment sense.

The apartment industry behemoth last week announced the launch of a $600 million fund that will buy bundles of subordinated loans from government-sponsored enterprises and other issuers. The higher-yielding debt it acquires will be collateralized by apartment buildings and other multifamily real estate assets. The risk is that so-called subordinated loans are farther down the repayment pecking order in the event of a bankruptcy or default.

The new Greystar Credit Partners II LP is the successor to a slightly smaller 2018 debt fund that has been fully invested.

“Greystar’s large and vertically integrated rental housing platform, together with our intimate knowledge of underwriting multifamily assets as a principal, positions us well to invest in the most subordinate part of the capital structure,” said Brett Lashley, a managing director with the Meeting Street firm. “The logic of leveraging Greystar’s Investment and property management businesses to make thoughtful decisions based on our vast amounts of internal data more quickly, and with better conviction, has paid dividends.’

Greystar invests in, develops and manages a global portfolio of residential rental units valued at more than $200 billion, including conventional apartments and student housing.

James Hardie Industries is considered a pioneer in the development of cement-based exterior siding. File/Provided

Closing costs 

The cost of shuttering a Lowcountry manufacturing plant for the second time has climbed past the $14 million mark.

In its earnings statement released last week, James Hardie Industries PLC included a $2.5 million expense to recognize severance costs it incurred at its Summerville factory during the April-June period. That’s on top of a $12 million closing-related impairment booked for the previous quarter.

The Dublin-based maker of HardiePlank and other cement-based building products announced in May that it was permanently idling its 60-worker South Carolina outpost just three years after restarting it, saying it needed to “realign supply and demand in the North American market following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A competitor opened the 150,000-square-foot plant in the late 1990s. Hardie bought out the rival and by 2003 was running the operation 24-7 to keep pace with orders.

The company mothballed the factory in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Hardie Industries invested $18 million in 2017 to reboot the Belgian Drive factory, which officially went dark again July 3.

It’s unclear whether the company is seeking buyers or tenants for the property, which was not being marketed online as of last week.  

Walmart is bringing free outdoor movie nights to some of its stores across the U.S., including two in the Charleston area this fall. Provided/Walmart

Movie night

Walmart is bringing the trendy drive-in movie idea to five of its locations across South Carolina.

The free night event kicks off nationally Friday and runs through Oct. 21 within the parking lots of 160 of the retail giant’s U.S. stores.

The first Palmetto State showing is set for Sept. 29-30 at the Centre Pointe Walmart in North Charleston at 7:30 p.m. Others follow, at the same time, on: Oct. 2-3 in Goose Creek; Oct. 6-7 in Sumter; Oct. 9-10 in North Augusta; and Oct. 13-14 in Spartanburg.

A range of newish and older flicks will be the main attraction, including: “Friday Night Lights,” “Black Panther,” “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” “Wonder Woman,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Ghostbusters,” “Back to The Future” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The ground rules for viewers include remaining in vehicles except for restroom breaks, wearing a face mask when outside and arriving before show time. Details about the film lineup and how to make reservations are at


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