August 16, 2013

SC business notebook, August 17

Judge sets hearing on Charleston cruise terminal; Greenville Tech wants to train manufacturing workers; More apartments broke ground in July; AOL’s Patch workers face layoffs; Shrimp prices increase as result of disease

Judge sets hearing on Charleston cruise terminal

A federal judge wants to hear attorneys argue why a challenge to a $35 million South Carolina cruise terminal should be settled without a trial. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled arguments for Sept. 12 in the ongoing dispute over a federal permit for the terminal proposed for the Charleston waterfront. Environmental and neighborhood groups have sued. They say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should have more extensively studied the impact on the environment and the city’s historic district before issuing a permit allowing the South Carolina State Ports Authority to put additional pilings under a wharf. The pilings are needed to transform an old warehouse into a new cruise terminal.

Greenville Tech wants to train manufacturing workers

Greenville Technical College wants a new building to train manufacturing workers. The Greenville News reported that the school is asking Greenville County for $25 million for the project. The council is expected to vote on borrowing money for the project next week. Councilman Jim Burns says the building is too expensive. Burns says enrollment at Greenville Tech dropped more than 7 percent between 2007 and 2012. School president Keith Miller says special features needed in the building make it more expensive.

More apartments broke ground in July

U.S. developers broke ground on homes at a faster pace in July. But the rise was all due to apartment construction, which is typically volatile. By contrast, builders began work on fewer single-family homes – the bulk of the market – and sought fewer permits to build them. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department suggests that home building is maintaining its recovery but might be starting to be restrained by higher mortgage rates. Builders began work on houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 in July, the department said. That was up 6 percent from June, though below a recent peak of more than 1 million in March.

AOL’s Patch workers face layoffs

AOL is laying off up to half the work force at its Patch local news sites and shuttering or consolidating roughly 150 of the 900 sites while looking for partners for others. Up to 500 of Patch’s 1,000 employees will go in the layoffs, which started on Friday with 350 people getting pink slips. In all, the layoffs amount to about 9 percent of AOL’s total workforce of 5,500.

Shrimp prices increase as result of disease

Shrimp prices are soaring because of a disease that’s crimping supplies in Thailand, Vietnam and China, the three largest producers of shrimp in the world. The popular shellfish is now approaching a record $6 per pound, up one-third from the beginning of the year. In 2010, a pound of shrimp set consumers back $3. Producers are blaming a disorder called Early Mortality Syndrome, which thrives in the waters of Southeast Asia.

The Associated Press and Los Angeles Time contributed

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