2011-09-23 / Business


by John Temple Ligon

Construction jobs

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction jobs in South Carolina grew by 400 in August as compared with construction jobs in July. Comparing August 2011 with August 2010, construction jobs are still down by 300. Across the state 77,400 people are working on construction sites. In North Carolina, comparing with July, construction jobs dropped in August by 200. For the year, the drop in construction jobs in North Carolina comes to 5,600.

Duke Energy employment

Duke Energy is expected to announce this week it will eliminate about 2,000 positions once the merger with Progress Energy is complete. The two companies together employ about 29,000 people.

Overall employment

South Carolina’s unemployment rate for August was 11.1 percent, up from 10.9 percent in July. For August, the Columbia jobless rate was 9.8 percent. The North Carolina unemployment rate in August was 10.4 percent, up from 10.1 percent in July. For July, the unemployment rate in greater Charlotte was 11.2 percent.

Where unemployment drops

A one-word recommendation in response to anyone’s regret over local unemployment: MOVE. Houston’s unemployment dropped to 8.6 percent in August, down from July’s 8.9 percent. For all of Texas, 8,100 jobs were added in August. For the past 12 months, Texas gained a total of 253,200 jobs, the most in the country.

South Carolina recognized

According to a survey of U. S. corporate executives conducted by Development Counsellors International, South Carolina is seen as one of the best business climates in the country, third place behind leaders Texas (first) and North Carolina (second). The three worst business climates in the country, as determined by the same survey, are California, New York, and Illinois.

Why not Columbia?

As part of Sundance Film Festival USA, filmmakers will travel to introduce and screen their films during the festival in nine cities: Houston, Ann Arbor, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, San Francisco, and Tucson. The largest independent cinema festival in the country, the Sundance Film Festival runs January 19-29, 2012. Among the films introduced at the 2010 festival, nine received 15 Oscar nominations.

Why not Columbia?

Chiquita Brands International is studying Charlotte for a corporate headquarters relocation from Cincinnati, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. The company needs about 150,000 square feet of office space. Chiquita is suggesting it could create more than 400 positions in Charlotte at an average salary of more than $100,000. Chiquita is also checking out Atlanta, Ga., and Boca Raton, Fla. Charlotte is working with Mecklenburg County and the state to build a $5-$6 million enticement package to bring Chiquita on board. Big advantage for Columbia: The SCANA building on Columbia’s Main Street has almost a half-million unoccupied square feet with an attached 900- space parking garage, only 300 of which are dedicated to the Marriott next door. Big problem for Columbia: Chiquita has recently shared concerns over Cincinnati’s lack of commercial airline service to Europe, California, and South America.

Citadel Broadcasting no more

On Thursday, September 15, Atlanta-based Cumulus Media Inc. won the Federal Communications Commission’s approval to buy Citadel Broadcasting Corp., home of 1320 AM and “Good Morning Columbia.” The acquisition makes Cumulus the second largest radio company in the country with 572 radio stations in 120 markets. Its nationwide radio network serves more than 4,000 stations. Also serving 4,000 stations, Clear Channel is the largest radio company in the country with its 850 radio stations.

Angel investing

USC’s Innovista is the host for a day-long seminar on angel investing, Thursday, October 13, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the SCRA USC Innovation Center, 1000 Catawba Street in Columbia. Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m., and a cocktail reception will follow the event at 5 p.m. The director of the program will be Bill Payne, an angel investor in more than 50 startup companies and a founder of four angel investor networks. Typically an angel investor is a high-net-worth individual with at least $1 million in loose assets available to invest. For information, call Lauren Edwards at 777.9796. Also, visit http://main-aioseminar.eventbrite.com for an agenda or to register. Registration is $100 per person.

Home values still sinking

In the second quarter of this year, CoreLogic found 35 percent of all homes in metro Atlanta with mortgages were underwater, which means borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. At the same time across the country, 10.9 million homes with a mortgage, or 22.5 percent, were in negative equity— that is, underwater. If Congress gets its mortgage interest deduction alteration, home prices can be expected to drop another 15 percent.

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