Member News | August 9

abbc912aafa6fd385c32ae09bb3045b1Mast General Store to Host Cocky Saturday, August 10

Get ready for Game Day! Cocky will be visiting Mast General Store this Saturday, August 10 from 1 – 2 p.m. Mast General Store is located at

Local Businesses Support Troops with Care Package Drive

A little bit of comfort will be coming the way of American soldiers serving overseas, courtesy of several local companies and Blue Star Mothers of America, a group of women with children who are currently serving or have served in the military.

From May through the first week of July, the companies collected nonperishable snacks, games, personal care items, and letter-writing supplies like envelopes and cards. The pile of donations was then given to the Midlands chapter of Blue Star Mothers, who will include them in care packages for active duty servicemen and women. Participating organizations included Mid-Carolina Friends of the NRA, Carolina Endodontics, GWA, Columbia Conference Center, and DuBose Web Group.

Military Drive 2013

Ann Ricard, president of the Midlands Chapter of Blue Star Mothers, thanked the companies, saying, “It’s little things—like snacks from home and cards from people who care—that makes being away from their families easier to bear for our active duty soldiers. We appreciate the help in bringing that comfort to them!”

Blue Star Mothers is a nonpolitical 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that organizes and supports a number of troop-related projects, like sending care packages, phone cards, and letters to active duty soldiers, providing services to families while members are deployed overseas, and collecting backpacks and clothing for soldiers to distribute to children in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For its next project, the community service group will be collecting school supplies until August 13. The school supplies will then be given to the teachers and classrooms most in need in Richland One School District, where most of the companies are located. Businesses or organizations that would like to participate may contact Kelly at Columbia Conference Center by phone at (803) 772-9811 or through the contact form at


EDTS Adds Aubrey Petkas to Growing Team
Newest addition to provide marketing support across all EDTS offices

EDTS, a full-service technology consulting firm specializing in networking, security and managed IT services for Southeastern businesses, has added Aubrey Petkas as Marketing and Administrative Assistant to its rapidly growing team.

A native of Augusta, Georgia, Ms. Petkas has over 4 years of marketing, graphic design, communications, event planning and administrative support experience in business-to-business environments, most recently with Augusta Technical College and a regional promotional supply firm.

In her role as Marketing and Administrative Assistant with EDTS, Ms. Petkas will support sales and marketing activities across the organization’s growing Southeastern footprint, and will be based in EDTS’s Augusta, GA office.  She is a graduate of Georgia College in Milledgeville with a B.A. in Advertising and Journalism.

“Aubrey is a skilled and talented marketing and administrative professional with a strong work ethic and customer-first approach, and is a welcome addition to the EDTS team,” said Charles Johnson, EDTS CEO.  “We are constantly seeking to hire the best talent available to serve the expanding needs of customers, and Aubrey will play an important role in that strategy.”

EDTS has been named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America for three consecutive years, and is the seventh fastest-growing small company in South Carolina according to South Carolina’s Roaring Twenties list, which cited EDTS’s growth rate of 198.4 percent in overall revenues since 2010.  The firm recently opened a third office in Columbia, SC.


Founded in 1999, EDTS was recently named to the 2012 Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America for the third straight year, and has grown to a staff of 50 professionals serving clients 24/7/365 across the Southeast from offices in Augusta, GA and Greenville and Columbia, SC.  A full service technology consulting firm, EDTS specializes in networking, security and managed services support solutions for businesses.  The firm provides Experience, Dedication, Technology and Solutions (EDTS) to help customers increase productivity and reduce cost associated with information technology.  Visit them at




Ned Nicholson Named Board Chair-Elect of the South Carolina State Museum Foundation

McNair attorney Ned Nicholson has been chosen to serve as Chair-Elect for the South Carolina State Museum Foundation Board.  Nicholson will serve a two-year term which began in July.

“The South Carolina State Museum has long embodied our state’s commitment to education and its devotion to enriching the lives of those who visit,” said Nicholson.  “I am honored to have the opportunity to help support the Foundation’s mission.”

Nicholson is a shareholder in the Columbia office’s Litigation Unit.  His area of practice includes general commercial litigation and arbitration, business disputes, insurance coverage disputes and construction law.  He has extensive lead counsel experience in multi-million dollar cases in both state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout the country. He has also participated in hundreds of mediations for clients seeking settlement of claims out of court.

Throughout his career, Nicholson has been deeply involved in leadership positions at the state and local levels.  In addition to serving on the Museum Foundation Board, he is a past president of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, past president of the Rotary Club of Five Points, former chair of the Lawyer/Physician Relations Committee of the South Carolina Bar Association and a graduate of Leadership Columbia.  Prior to being named Chair-Elect, Nicholson served on the Museum Foundation Board’s Executive Committee as secretary and chair of its Advocacy-Awareness Committee.

About the South Carolina State Museum Foundation

The South Carolina State Museum Foundation is a non-profit that was founded in 1980 to support the mission of the South Carolina State Museum.  The purpose of the South Carolina State Museum Foundation is to:

  • promote the programs and welfare of the South Carolina State Museum
  • promote sound educational programs and exhibits
  • give people in South Carolina an opportunity to become involved in educational efforts in the history, natural history, science and technology and art of South Carolina.

For more information, visit


The second quarter of 2013 saw a continuation of positive leasing activity in the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) office market with the overall vacancy rate among all building classes remaining essentially constant at 16.4%.  A flight to higher quality Class A and B product continued and as a result, vacancy rates continued their solid performance at 9.6% and 15.9% respectively.  Conversely, Class C properties reported a 60% vacancy marketwide.  As predicted, lower vacancy rates and increasing rental rates in Columbia’s Central Business District (CBD) spurred increased leasing activity in the suburban markets among tenants who either could not  find suitable space in the CBD or who are seeking more attractive economic terms.

Central Business District: The CBD remained the MSA’s strongest performing submarket with the vacancy level essentially maintaining the first quarter levels at 12.4% overall; 10.4% for Class A and 11.3% for Class B.  These levels remain significantly tighter than 2012 levels.   Due to the continued limited availability, average rental rates for Class A properties in the CBD edged further upward from $19.18/SF (full service) in the first quarter to $19.27/SF (full service) and Class B rates increased from $16.05/SF (full service) to $16.11/SF (full service).  Several new office developments are being contemplated as a result of the tight submarket conditions.  In addition, the re-purposing of historic buildings continues to occur with the enhanced Richland County Bailey Bill tax credit.  Two examples of re-developments are NAI Avant’s acquisition of the historic 807 Gervais building located in the Congaree Vista District which will house their headquarters and the purchase of the Keenan Building (121,682 SF) by Patel, Lewis, Pournaras, LLC who plan to undergo a mixed-use renovation conversion.  All eyes, of course, are on Bull Street with the recent approval by the City of Columbia of the critical development agreement which will allow this transformative, fully-entitled 181 acre urban mixed-use project to proceed.

Suburban Submarkets: Columbia’s suburban submarkets are comprised of St. Andrews, Northeast, Forest Acres, Dutch Fork/Irmo, Lexington, North Columbia and Southeast Columbia.

St. Andrews Submarket: The vacancy level in St. Andrews, Columbia’s second largest office submarket, dropped significantly from 28% in the first quarter to 25%, because of increased leasing activity. Several notable transactions include State Farm’s lease of 8,000 SF in the Converse Building at Synergy Business Park plus three other leases totaling approximately 11,000 SF also at Synergy.  Wellcare, a new company to the market, leased 6,000 SF in the Berkeley Building.

Northeast Submarket: Columbia’s third largest office submarket also saw a decrease in vacancy dropping to 16.3% overall from 17.6% in the first quarter. The vacancy level of Class A product remained extremely tight at 5.9% and Class B improved to 18.8% from 20.6%. One of the first quarter’s largest transactions occurred in the Northeast with Webster University leasing 28,500 SF at 100 Gateway Corporate Boulevard. Webster will be vacating 8911 Farrow Road (94,000 SF) which also recently saw South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control leave to consolidate into a state owned property in the CBD. This property now contains the largest block of contiguous, available office space in the submarket. The development of a new 30,000 SF Class A office building located in Pinnacle Point Business Park was completed and quickly surpassed 60% in occupancy.  With the limited availability of Class A space in the Northeast, we expect consideration to be given to the development of new Class A product.

While the St. Andrews and the Northeast submarkets performed well, the Lexington and Cayce/West Columbia submarkets also reported positive absorption reducing their vacancy levels from 21.0% and 22.2% respectively in the first quarter to 19.3% and 18.9% respectively in the second quarter. Forest Acres was the most challenging submarket with its vacancy rate increasing from 18.6% in the first quarter to 22.5% in the second.

Forecast: We expect overall vacancies to continue to drop and rental rates to rise, particularly in Class A and B properties.  The tightening of the CBD will not only spur activity in the suburban submarkets but will drive further historic redevelopment and consideration of new construction.  The St. Andrews and Northeast suburban submarkets in particular should benefit from the low vacancies and rising rental rates in the CBD. Overall, we expect fewer leasing concessions, inducements and subsidies.


COLUMBIA, SC (August 7, 2013)  NAI Avant is pleased to announce its overall top, state-wide brokerage producers for the 2nd quarter of 2013.  “As macro-economic conditions continue to improve, we are experiencing a greater velocity of commercial real estate transactions being completed,” said Bruce Harper, President and Broker in Charge of NAI Avant.  “Our Brokerage Division is realizing increased activity in virtually all segments of the commercial real estate spectrum,” commented Harper.  “We are extremely proud of these talented individuals whose drive, intellect and expertise delivered superior client service and industry leading solutions.”  NAI Avant’s top overall 2nd Quarter producer is Dexter Rumsey, Senior Broker from the Charleston office, and is followed by Paul Hartley, SIOR, Nick Stomski, SIOR, Roger Winn, and Ben Kelly, CCIM.

About NAI Avant
NAI Avant’s commercial real estate business is one of the largest in the Southeast.  With over 65 professionals, the firm provides comprehensive brokerage, leasing, development, property and project management services.  For nearly three consecutive decades, the group has had more of its brokerage professionals recognized as top producers or recipients of the top awards than any other firm in South Carolina. As a member of the NAI Global Network, NAI Avant is affiliated with over 350 offices and 5,000 professionals in 55 countries across the globe. NAI Global is the largest independent commercial real estate service provider worldwide and a wholly owned subsidiary of C-III Capital Partners. NAI Avant’s Property and Project Management Group currently manages a multi-million square foot portfolio of properties across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Through its Avant Healthcare Division, the firm provides comprehensive services to hospitals, clinics, and physician groups. NAI Avant, founded in 1966, is headquartered in Columbia, SC with an office in Charleston, SC. Find out more about NAI Avant and its services at Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NAI Avant and like us on Facebook.


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