South Financial to sell planned HQ


The South Financial Group will keep its headquarters in downtown Greenville and sell its $88 million, 60-acre campus near Clemson’s automotive research center in the south section of town, the company said Tuesday.

“Our downtown location offers space for our headquarters at an attractive long-term cost,” chief executive Lynn Harton said in a statement.

Under construction on the campus are two office buildings with nearly 235,000 square feet of space and a 41,000-square-foot conference center, said South Financial, parent of Carolina First Bank and the largest banking company based in South Carolina.

South Financial began drawing up plans for its corporate campus in 2005, to serve as the primary headquarters for its banking operations.

According to information filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, South Financial “had invested approximately $75 million in the project (which is included in premises and equipment on the consolidated balance sheet as construction in progress) and had entered into additional contractual commitments of approximately $13 million,” as of March 31, 2009.

The report added that South Financial expects to record a second-quarter charge of $16 million. South Financial has posted five consecutive quarterly losses totaling $659.4 million, much of it from write-offs on bad loans in Florida, according to The State.

Stock in South Financial is trading for less than $2 a share.


Teaching cuts represent lesson, opportunity


The headline in The State paper – “So many applicants, so few teaching jobs” – represents an opportunity, does it not?

Administrators at South Carolina public schools should be at least somewhat excited at the prospect of having so many talented teachers to choose from to fill their rosters, because if the education establishment takes this chance to weed out underperformers everyone will benefit.

Higher-quality teachers means students will get better instruction, parents will see their children’s learning skills improve more quickly and schools will post better results on standardized testing. If, however, administrators rely heavily on factors such as seniority, the results will likely be less than satisfying.

Not surprisingly, there’s a definite advantage for specialists, according to the report in The State

“Forty-two percent of the openings this year were in three areas: math, science and special education. South Carolina and states around the nation have a hard time finding teachers in these three areas every year.”

This is the typical supply and demand process that every industry goes through. Those who are especially gifted at their profession, or satisfy a hard-to-fill niche are in higher demand than those who don’t.

In a perfect world, everyone who wanted to teach could find a job. It would also be wonderful if everyone who had a teaching job brought the enthusiasm and imagination that can play such a crucial role in motivating young minds.

However, we live in an imperfect world. Is it unfortunate that there will likely be many teachers and recent college graduates who won’t be able to find a job in a classroom? Of course. Is it any different than any other industry? No.