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Mike Maddock, General Manager
2007-12-28 / Business

Briefs

by John Temple Ligon

Wachovia In mid- December Charlotte- based Wachovia Corp. cut 20 positions in the fixed- income division of its corporate and investment bank. One week earlier, Wachovia eliminated 40 positions in its Vertice mortgage unit, also a part of its investment- banking division. In late October, Wachovia announced it would drop 110 jobs in Charlotte and another 90 around the world to reduce its investment- banking division staff by 200. For the third quarter of this year, Wachovia's corporate and investment bank earned $105 million, down from $533 million in the same period last year.

Berkeley County DuPont announced plans to build a $500 million facility in Berkeley County where it will produce Kevlar, a durable fiber used in airplane parts, gloves and military and police protection vests. Called by DuPont people as their largest recent investment in the world, the new plant will employ 100 permanent people and about 400 contractor employees during construction.

Startups The S.C. Launch Industry Research Fund, a pool of funds set aside to support technology startups, pulled in $4 million this year, which was the maximum allowed for taxcreditable donations for the year. Individuals and businesses gain state- income- tax credits equal to their donations under the 2006 Industry Partners Act. Next year, the maximum allowable donations will increase to $6 million. S.C. Launch, part of the S.C. Research Authority, takes the donations and provides seed capital of up to $200,000 to technology startups. A total of 34 companies so far have started with S.C. Launch seed capital since its beginning in 2006, and those 34 companies have also secured another $30 million altogether in additional venture capital and private equity financing.

Big bills According to a study released Wednesday, December 19, by The Pew Charitable Trust, all 50 states have promised about $2.73 trillion to their state and municipal employees over the next three decades. South Carolina's portion of the promises comes to $33.7 billion, of which $24.6 billion has already been set aside, leaving $9.1 billion owed as an unfunded liability over the next three decades. S.C. is one of only 16 states that has paid nearly all of its annual required contributions over the past decade.

Taxes Governor Sanford wants to increase cigarette taxes in S.C. from seven cents a pack to 37 cents to help pay for a flat income tax rate. The cigarette tax increase would boost the state's revenue by $107 million. Under the governor's state income tax proposal, South Carolinians would pay a flat 3.4 percent and lose deductions or pay seven percent and take deductions. According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, six states have flat tax rates, ranging from three percent in Illinois to 5.3 percent in Massachusetts.

Nationally the worst in 16 years In November, single- family housing construction fell to the lowest level in 16 years.

SCANA to pay extra $1 million in interest This fall, both Moody's Investors Services and Standard & Poor's lowered SCANA's long- term debt ratings, projecting SCANA's interest payments into the coming year as $1 million more than last year.

CanalSide Construction is under way on CanalSide Lofts, the multifamily rental component of the CanalSide neighborhood being developed on the former CCI property. Pre- leasing for CanalSide Lofts will begin in March 2008 with first occupancy in early summer 2008.

Mortgage business tightens for 2007 With the sub- prime lending crisis continuing, S.C. hopes 2008 will be an improvement over 2007. During the past year: (April) Wells Fargo Home Mortgage laid off 252 employees at its Fort Mill office; (April) Nexsen Pruet Closing Network, a real estate closing firm, closed a 15- employee Rock Hill office; (August) NetBank laid off 281 people before closing its Columbia office; (October) Washington Mutual cut 50 jobs at its Florence office; (December) Bank of America announced intention to close an office in January in Florence County, leaving 105 people without work.

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