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Columbia Business Monthly

#ColumbiaAgenda: Denny's New Diversity Campaign, New Gervais St Mural, SC Ports Dip, Terminix's Really Big Ant Farm, Charleston Retail Report, Bro-ification of Health

May 10, 2019 08:45AM ● By Chris Haire
Spartanburg-based Denny's launches new multicultural campaign highlighting the diner's diverse range of customers: In an effort heralding what Denny's is calling a brand revitalization, the Spartanburg diner franchise's new "See You at Denny's" campaign spotlights the wide variety of individuals from ethnically diverse backgrounds that dine at the chain.

The campaign also features "dedicated commercials speaking directly to African-American and Hispanic guests," according to a company release

"This new campaign is centered on the idea that as America’s Diner, Denny’s is uniquely positioned to bring people together –- an all-inclusive, all-welcoming place where people from all backgrounds come together to be themselves, relax and reconnect," John Dillon, Denny's chief brand officer, told Greenville Business Magazine. "If you think about it, a diner is the original social network, and at Denny’s we take pride in connecting in the restaurant over a great meal with good value or at home utilizing our Denny’s on Demand online ordering program. 

"We believe this new campaign will resonate with the modern American family as they come back to Denny’s to experience our latest restaurant remodels and menu improvements, such as better-for-you items, new bolder flavors, and innovation including the new crepe lineup we have just launched, as well as many other changes we’ve made in recent years."

Dillon notes that the diner "worked closely with our Denny’s agency roster of EP+Co, Fluent360, Conill and Blue449 to create dedicated advertising that speaks directly to today’s diverse target."

The company notes that the spots "will run on national TV as well as various digital and social platforms including Hulu, YouTube, Vevo, Facebook and Instagram."

The company has also "remodeled over 80% of its restaurants to be more modern and comfortable and overhauled a large majority of its menu to meet shifting consumer tastes."

Lady Vista mural adds color to Gervais Street: The Vista is boosting its Instagrammability and its reputation as Columbia’s artistic hub with a new mural on Gervais Street, which is almost complete. Called “Lady Vista,” the mural was designed and painted by local artist Cait Maloney, who says her goal was to capture the colorful spirit of the area.

The Congaree Vista Guild, a non-profit organization with members from area restaurants, shops, businesses, galleries and neighborhoods, partnered with One Columbia for Arts & History on the project.

The Vista was named an official South Carolina Cultural District by the S.C. Arts Commission in 2015, the only district in Columbia with this designation, awarded to walkable areas that are centers of cultural, artistic and economic activity.

“The Vista is meant to be a place of unity, inspiration and excitement,” said Merritt McNeely, president of The Vista Guild, in a statement. “The addition of public art such as ‘Lady Vista’ ensures that we continue in our mission to cultivate and showcase the work of talented local artists, while bringing people together.”

The mural is located between Park and Lincoln streets near popular restaurants Motor Supply and Sure Fire Tacos and retailer Urban Outfitters. --Leigh Savage


SC Ports Down in April after record-setting month in March: In March, the S.C. Ports Authority had the "strongest March in its history" and the and the second highest month moving TEUs (20-foot equivalent container units, i.e. your typical cargo container), but April saw a down-tick, with the number of TEU's moved dropping from 214,123 containers to 204,621, according to report from the SCPA.

The Inland Port of Greer -- which set a new rail lift record in March -- also witnessed a dip, as rail lifts dropped from 14,522 to 13,724, a number that would have broken the previous record of 13,060 set in June 2017. 

Year over year, the volume of TEUs at Wando Welch and North Charleston were up 4.2 percent, while SCPA notched 10.4 fiscal year-to-date container volume growth.

“April was strong for SCPA’s container business, supporting volumes well above planned levels with only two months remaining in the fiscal year,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “Our continued growth is testament to the commitment and skills of our employees and maritime community, and we look forward to a very positive FY2019 finish in June.”

The SCPA continues to play a  major role in the growing logistics industry in South Carolina. Yes, it's not as sexy as jumbo jets or European luxury sedans, but the logistics sector's impact is huge. 

We're talking about a statewide economic impact of $32.9 billion, 600 firms, and 113,000 workers bringing home a total compensation of $5.4 billion annually, according to a 2017 study from SC Logistics, a division of the S.C. Council on Competitiveness. And those figures make logistics a bigger industry than aerospace ($19 billion economic impact/22,000 workers) and automotive ($27 billion/61,000 workers). 

Terminix unveils record-breaking ant farm: Did you have an ant farm when you were a kid? It was nothing like the one unveiled by Terminix Service Inc., a Columbia-based company that created the world’s largest ant farm - approved by none other than Guinness World Records.

The massive ant farm is four feet long and three feet high, and only three inches wide, allowing it to showcase ants’ unique behaviors such as tunneling. It is currently home to 300 Western Harvester ants in ant gel, which allows improved observation.

“As a leader in pest management, we want to help people learn about insects and how they impact the world around us,” said Kevin Hathorne, Terminix Service technical director.

After 18 months of effort, the record-breaking ant farm was presented at Discovery Place Science in Charlotte on April 27 to celebrate Arthropod Day and is on display through May 11. --Leigh Savage


Retail remains strong in Charleston, especially for omni-channel retailers: “Omni-channel retailers” -- successful in both brick-and-mortar shops and online -- have a leg up on the competition according to a recent Colliers International report on Charleston’s retail market. The most successful retailers “are in tune as their client’s preferences change,” the report says. That means companies need a store for in-person browsing, plus online ordering, delivery, curbside pickup and other offerings. A strong digital and physical presence allows each customer “to be catered to based on their own shopping patterns.”

While absorption was negative for the first quarter of the year, the forecast expects positive absorption in the coming months, especially near dense residential areas and walkable urban retail locations. The vacancy rate increased to 6.17 percent this quarter, up from 5.53 percent in the last quarter of 2018, but is still considered low, with limited quality space that will leads to more new construction.

Though no new retail offerings were delivered to the market this quarter, 133,771 square feet of space is under construction and another 18,771 has been proposed.

Rental rates were up to $22.13 per square foot, though on high-traffic King Street, the average asking rental rate is $58.33. Significant transactions included a two-property sale totaling $6.9 million and 95 leases signed during the first quarter. --Leigh Savage


Federal government investing $2.7M to open business incubator in North Charleston (Post and Courier)

Work at Savannah River National Laboratory suspended for two weeks (Aiken Standard)

SC Senate approves $115 million tax breaks to bring Carolina Panthers across border (The State)

Spartanburg-area lawmakers split on Carolina Panthers’ incentives (Herald-Journal)

First-half sales up at Ingles Markets (Supermarket News)

Bosch says trade disputes, economic slowdown will hit this year's profit (AutoNews)

USC paid firm $137,000 to find its next president — then rejected all finalists (The State)

Downtown Anderson revitalization: A look at the ‘Under the Bridge’ project  (Anderson Independent Mail)

Three Mile Island Plant, Site of Nuclear Accident, to Close (Manufacturing.Net)

A Wake-Up Call for Grads: Entry-Level Jobs Aren’t So Entry Level Any More (WSJ)

Nestlé USA to exit direct-store delivery for frozen pizza, ice cream (Supermarket News)

The Wire
SCRA Announces Five New Client Companies

LHWH Advertising Wins Best Advertising Agency Website In International Competition