SC business notebook, May 16

May 16, 2014 

S.C. could pass craft beer law to attract San Diego company

South Carolina is on the verge of passing the most progressive craft beer production laws in the country, industry advocates say – a prospect that just three weeks ago was virtually unthinkable. The “Stone Bill” – an effort to loosen Prohibition-era beer laws to attract San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co.’s $31 million eastward expansion – has already been approved by the state House of Representatives. On Thursday, the state Senate assigned the bill to a six-member conference committee that is expected to meet as early as next week to iron out details. The new law would eliminate a choice beer producers have had to make for 80 years: Produce a little and serve on site or produce a lot and only be allowed to distribute. Stone Brewing – the nation’s 10th largest brewer reporting $135 million in revenue last year – demands both options in its “request for proposal” released this past winter, which several communities in South Carolina have responded to.

Unions add pressure to raise wages at fast-food chains

Labor organizers turned up the pressure on McDonald’s and other fast-food chains to raise worker pay on Thursday, with plans to stage actions in more than 30 countries. The demonstrations build on a campaign by unions to bring attention to the plight of low-wage workers and get the public behind the idea of a $15-an-hour wage. Industry groups say such pay hikes would hurt their ability to create jobs and note that many of the participants are not workers. The protests are being backed by the Service Employees International Union and began in New York City in late 2012. Since then, organizers have steadily ramped up actions to keep the issue in the spotlight.

GM adds five to recalls list

General Motors added five recalls to its growing list Thursday, pushing its total number of recalled vehicles to more than 11 million this year. GM’s recalls alone have the U.S. auto industry on pace to break the record of 30.8 million recalled vehicles set in 2004. The company said Thursday that it’s recalling nearly 2.7 million more cars and trucks to fix problems with brake lights, headlamps and power brakes. The recalls brought GM’s total number for the year to 18. That includes 2.6 million small cars worldwide for a deadly ignition switch problem. The company expects to take a $200 million charge this quarter for the added recalls.

More people will be in flight this summer

More travelers will take to the skies this summer, the U.S. airlines’ trade and lobby group predicted Thursday. About 210 million passengers – or 2.28 million a day– are expected to fly on U.S. carriers between June 1 and Aug. 31. That’s up 1.5 percent from last summer and the highest level in six years, according to the trade and lobbying group, Airlines for America. The forecast includes 29.9 million travelers – or 325,000 a day – flying U.S. airlines to international destinations, an all-time high. Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan are the top five nonstop international destinations, based on published schedules. Airlines for America does not forecast summer airfares. The average cost of a ticket last year was $381, up 0.1 percent from 2012.

The Greenville News and The Associated Press contributed.

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