2008-09-12 / Business


by John Temple Ligon

The Mint moves

Charlotte's Mint Museum of Art was designed by architect William Strickland and built by Perry & Ligon (the same) in 1837 on Mint Street. It was moved brick- by- brick to woodsy Randolph Road in the 1930s. A new $57 million five- storey Mint is under construction on South Tryon Street, which is in the heart of downtown Charlotte.

Jobless Unemployment in the U.S. hit 6.1 percent in August, the highest in five years. In June, S.C. unemployment was 6.2 percent, and in July it soared to 7.0 percent, the highest rate since Oct. 2005. Allendale County had 15.9 percent unemployment in July, the state's highest, and Lexington County had 5.2 percent, the state's lowest.

Home sales Homes and condos sales in the Columbia area dropped 11.7 percent to 927 in July compared to the same time last year. For the year so far, sales are down 16 percent in Columbia.

Gearing up for trial Greenville's Jack Sterling, former chairman of Lexington- based HomeGold Financial, is scheduled for trial on Feb. 9 in Lexington County. Charged with three counts of securities fraud, Sterling faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Carolina Investors and its parent HomeGold failed in early 2003, taking more than 8,000 investors for $277 million in losses.

New business department chairman S.C. State University recently announced Gerald Gonsalves as its new chairman of the school's Department of Business Administration. Gonsalves earned his MBA from Xavier University.

Road travel down - rail travel up Drivers in the U.S. clocked 50 billion fewer road miles between November and June 2008 than the same time period last year. Amtrak ridership for 2007 was a record 25.8 million. An increase of another 10 percent is expected for 2008, bringing the total passenger ridership to 28 million. Between Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., rail passengers increased by 57 percent compared to the same month last year. Other states experienced similar growth on their intrastate rail routes, such as the passenger train between Charlotte and Raleigh. There is no passenger rail service connecting Charlotte with Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston.

Unhappy bookseller and unhappy book buyers

The Happy Bookseller on Forest Drive will close in October. The bookstore began in 1974 and moved to its current location in 1988. Rhett Jackson sold the store to Andy Graves in 1996.

Whittle retires Mack Whittle, chairman and CEO of The South Financial Group, parent of Greenville- based Carolina First, plans to retire by the end of this year. Shares of TSFG have fallen about 70 percent in the past year. TSFG lost more than $200 million in the first quarter of this year and almost $17 million in the second quarter.

AT&T Tower, Affinity Building, SouthTrust Headquarters - the 25 stories now known as Capitol Center...

...sold to U.S. Real Estate Investment Fund recently for $47.5 million, which comes to $103 per square foot for the 460,000- square- foot building, a relative bargain for office views of the State House and its grounds. The Plaza Hotel in NYC was recently renovated and partially converted into Central- Park- view condominiums that sold for about $4,000 per square foot.

Charlotte's deb days Charlotte debuted as No. 18 among 40 cities on Forbes.com's ranking of America's "Best Cities for Singles." According to the Charlotte Business Journal, "Forbes.com ranks the largest urban areas in the country according to each city's cool factor, cost of living alone, culture, job growth, online dating, nightlife and number of singles. Atlanta ranks No. 1."

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