SC business notebook, Dec. 12

December 11, 2013 

Belk to enlarge distribution center

Belk Inc. is expanding its distribution center in Union County and expects to hire 170 additional people. The department store announced plans Wednesday to invest an additional $32 million next year to increase the center’s capacity. The company spent $9 million this year on the 500,000-square-foot facility in Jonesville, following a 2012 announcement. The company initially promised 124 jobs. The facility fulfills customers’ online purchases. The retailer says online sales have increased by more than 50 percent this fiscal year, compared to the same time last year. Belk president John Belk says the company needs to invest in its distribution centers to keep up with that growth. Belk is based in Charlotte. It operates 301 stores in 16 states.

S.C. tourism industry comes back strong

There are more signs South Carolina’s tourism industry is continuing its strong recovery from the recession. The head of the local Chamber of Commerce told the City Council Tuesday that admission tax revenue is up 6 percent while lodging revenues are up about 5 percent this year, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News reported. Chamber president and CEO Brad Dean says the area’s local option 1 percent sales tax has paid for marketing to increase the number of visitors. Dean said 38 percent of those who came to the area last year were first-time visitors, up from 34 percent in 2011. Dean says the chamber has an almost $30 million marketing budget for 2014 and nearly 75 percent of that money will be spent on online advertising. Scott Schult, executive vice president for marketing, said research shows that 80 percent of people plan their vacations online. Mayor John Rhodes said sports tourism needs focused marketing separate from other group events, pointing out an indoor sports complex is scheduled to open in spring 2015. Schult said the chamber is also looking to increase international markets, advertising in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Most oppose phone calls on planes

As federal regulators consider removing a decades-old prohibition on making phone calls on planes, a majority of Americans who fly oppose such a change, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds. The Federal Communications Commission will officially start the debate Thursday, holding the first of several meetings to review the agency’s 22-year-old ban. New FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has called the current rules “outdated and restrictive.” Technology has advanced to the point where in-flight calls – relayed first through a special system on planes – won’t overload cell towers on the ground. But that doesn’t mean that etiquette has. Many fliers fear their fellow passengers will subject them to long-winded conversations impossible to avoid at 35,000 feet.

The Associated Press contributed.

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