Shortly after donating $1 million to the music program at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina-born Wall Street financier Darla Moore turned her sights on improving her Pee Dee hometown.

Moore and local officials in Lake City last week announced plans for a 57-room, $8 million boutique hotel for Main Street. Moore said work on the project will begin in early 2013, The Associated Press reported.

Moore, a part-time downtown Charleston resident, is chair of the Lake City Community Foundation. She said the deal shows that plans to revitalize the town’s downtown area are progressing. Grey Raines, vice president of Florence-based hotel builder and operator Raines Development Group, said there’s already a demand for the rooms. The project is expected to be completed late next year.

Trending down

Bank of America continues to shrink its branch footprint in the Charleston region.

This time, the Charlotte-based financial giant has shuttered its office at 4219 Rivers Ave. in North Charleston between Beaufort and Macon avenues. It had the distinction of being the Bank of America branch with the least deposits of all of the company’s brick-and-mortar locations in the Charleston region, at $9.3 million as of June 30, according to data filed with federal regulators.

“This decision is driven primarily by a decline in transactions, as customers increasingly rely on other channels including mobile and online banking,” spokeswoman Nicole Nastacie said in a statement last month. “However, we expect minimal impact given the proximity of other locations.”

Affected customers who chose to stay with the bank were directed to other North Charleston branches three miles away on Core Road or five miles up the road near Northwoods Mall. They were notified of the closing in July.

In May, the bank shut its branch of the Charleston Air Force Base, also in North Charleston. The Oct. 19 Rivers Avenue closing leaves the lender with about 16 offices in the three-county region.

“As we’ve acknowledged on numerous occasions, the number of banking centers in our nationwide network will trend down over the next few years,” said Nastacie, who declined make an executive available to explain that trend.

She’s available

Sallie Krawcheck’s name just keeps popping up for high-profile finance jobs.

First the Charleston-raised Wall Street executive emerged as an candidate for the CEO post at Baltimore-based mutual fund giant Legg Mason.

Now the speculation is that the 48-year-old could be in the running for the top job at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates firms like Legg Mason.

The Wall Street Journal was among the first media outlets to broach the subject after SEC chair Mary Schapiro announced last month she will be stepping down. President Barack Obama named agency commissioner Elisse Walter as “chairman designate” but he will need to renominate Walter next year or find someone else as a permanent replacement. Hence the search.

Reuters news service reported that Krawcheck “has been quietly raising her profile in Washington. For six months the former executive at Bank of America and Citigroup has been meeting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, offering her insights on a variety of issues including ‘too big to fail banks’ and money market fund reform.”

If the Legg Mason or SEC gigs don’t works out, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was, at press time, still looking for someone to fill an upcoming vacancy in the U.S. Senate.

Designs on the sun

Santee Cooper is seeking to spark new interest in renewable energy with a solar design competition for projects and structures that offer fresh ideas for how to harness the sun to benefit electric customers.

The contest is open to individuals or groups representing any college or university in South Carolina. Groups may include industry vendors and other professionals. Cash awards will be made to the collegiate program represented by the best submissions.

The state-owned utility reserves the right to build one or more of the submitted designs, which should be able to be replicated at various locations and not dependent on a pre-existing structure as part of the design.

Santee Cooper installed its first solar power project in 2006, said Marc Tye, senior vice president of customer service for the Moncks Corner-based utility. He said that the utility will consider using any submittals that are practical.

Submissions are due April 10. Winners will be announced in May. For more information, email elizabeth. kress@santeecooper.com.

Assessing the needs

Hanahan has secured $25,00 to help it find ways to upgrade the Charleston Farms neighborhood, which straddles the city and North Charleston.

The city was awarded a community development block grant under the S.C. Department of Commerce’s Village Renaissance Program.

The money will fund a comprehensive revitalization plan and needs assessment of the neighborhood that will try to identify areas for improvement such as public infrastructure, facilities and services, housing conditions, land use and public safety.

This is the first phase of a three-phase competitive program over five years. Moncks Corner embarked on a similar project earlier this year.

Dave’s Shack

Minnesota-based Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurant is licking its chops to enter the Charleston arena. The 186-unit chain hopes to enter the metro market with its new Shack concept, ready to take on the burger chains with quick-serve barbecue.

The restaurant operator said it hopes to add 50 new locations throughout the U.S. over the next two years, including the Charleston area. The full-service restaurant comes in at 5,000 square feet. The smaller Shack is about 3,000 square feet.