GREENVILLE - The board of trustees of Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center - the county's largest employer with 9,800 workers - has voted to freeze its defined-benefit retirement plan. Up to now, the system has operated the retirement plan, as well as a 401(k)-like plan. Beginning Sept. 1, the pension plan will be frozen. Instead, the retirement savings plan has been enhanced so that at least 3 percent of eligible earnings will be put into the employee's tax-sheltered annuity.
ENTREPRENEURS ARE VITAL TO RECOVERY, OFFICIAL SAYS
GREENVILLE - Entrepreneurship is the key to the long-term U.S. economic recovery and to the revitalization of minority businesses, an U.S. Department of Commerce official told a Greenville group. "Job creation is indeed the No. 1 priority for the Obama administration," Rick Wade, a Lancaster native and deputy chief of staff to the U.S. Commerce Secretary, said at the Black Pages USA Breakfast Series this week. "Entrepreneurship is going to be the wave of the future. ... (And) African-American families, quite frankly, are struggling more than most. America has caught a cold while black America has caught pneumonia."
FREESTYLE MUSIC PARK GETS TIME TO PAY DEBTS
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MYRTLE BEACH - Freestyle Music Park was granted more time to pay off some debts but its future remains uncertain as discussions with potential new owners and investors continue. A bankruptcy court granted FPI MB Entertainment, the park's owner, an extension until April 1 to pay $570,000 in debt that former Hard Rock Park owners owed and FPI agreed to pay when it bought the park out of bankruptcy for $25 million.
DuPONT DELAYS OPENING BERKELEY COUNTY EXPANSION
CHARLESTON - By now, DuPont's Cooper River plant was supposed to be churning out thin strands of Kevlar to send to manufacturers worldwide that make everything from car parts to bullet-proof vests. But with fewer people and businesses buying products that require the strong fiber, the chemical giant has decided to delay the opening of its $500 million expansion in Berkeley County by at least another 18 months.
BEACH FIRST ORDERED NOT TO PAY DIVIDENDS
MYRTLE BEACH - Beach First National Bank was ordered by the Federal Reserve to not pay any dividends and will be required to create a plan to maintain sufficient capital. Beach First has had a year of sinking revenue and stock prices driven down by the economic downturn and struggling real estate industry.
HOUSING STARTS SHOW A GLIMMER OF LIFE
WASHINGTON - Housing starts showed signs of life in January, rising to their highest level in seven months, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. Starts rose 2.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000, the highest level since July. Building permits - a separate, less-volatile measure of new construction - fell 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000.
WALGREEN WILL PURCHASE N.Y. DRUGSTORE OPERATOR
NEW YORK - Walgreen Co. said Wednesday it has agreed to buy drugstore operator Duane Reade in a move that will more than quadruple the number of stores it has in the New York City metro area. Walgreen, the nation's biggest drugstore operator, said it would pay about $623 million for Duane Reade Holdings Inc., the biggest drugstore chain in the city. Including $457 million in debt held by Duane Reade, the transaction is valued at $1.08 billion.
The Greenville News, The (Charleston) Post and Courier and The Associated Press contributed.