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The week in review

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The week in review

Philadelphia-based Comcast is expanding its presence in the Charleston region.

A recap of the key business events of the past week.

Cable TV and Internet giant Comcast said it will invest $21.4 million and create 550 office jobs off U.S. Highway 78 in North Charleston.

The 80,000-square-foot “Center of Excellence” will eventually house new customer service and technical support employees. It is scheduled to be fully operational in the second half of 2016.

The new hires will provide support for Comcast customers with the X1 entertainment operating system, high-speed Internet and digital telephone services, the company said.

The new office building will be at 3450 Ingleside Blvd.

Comcast will employ more than 800 workers in the Charleston region once the new office is fully staffed. The company opened a 5,000-square-foot Xfinity Customer Center in 2015.

Time is running short for state lawmakers to find a way to keep 300 people working at an aluminum plant near Goose Creek.

Legislation was introduced in the Senate Thursday to let Century Aluminum buy all of its electricity on the open market.

Co-sponsor Sen. Larry Grooms sees the bill as a long shot and wanted to give the company job-related tax credits. Century CEO Mike Bless says the company opposes taxpayer subsidies on principle.

The bill has only a few weeks to pass. May 1 is the deadline to get Senate-passed legislation to the House. The Berkeley County smelter employed 600 workers a year ago.

South Carolina’s state-owned railroad plans to build a 10-mile rail line to the site of the future Volvo factory, one of a handful of projects meant to ready the region for the Swedish automaker and other companies that might set up shop near the plant.

Palmetto Railways, a short-line carrier run by the S.C. Commerce Department, says it hopes to have the new line running to Camp Hall Commerce Park in 2019, a year after Volvo is expected to open its first U.S. manufacturing facility along U.S. Interstate 26 in Berkeley County.

The plans are still in the early stages, and state officials began pitching the project Tuesday with a public meeting in Cross, near the north end of the proposed line. Palmetto Railways also has launched a website to lay out broad outlines of the project, which it is calling Camp Hall Rail.

Palmetto Railways will build, own and operate the rail line. The cost has not been determined, nor has what the agency called “a preferred route” for the tracks.

A Georgia lender looking to beef up its coastal presence in South Carolina said it signed an agreement to buy the financially struggling Tidelands Bank franchise for $11.2 million.

United Community Banks will pay $2.2 million to stockholders of Mount Pleasant-based Tidelands Bancshares Inc., or 52 cents a share. As part of the deal, the buyer said the U.S. Treasury has agreed to sell the preferred stock it has owned in Tidelands since 2008 for $9 million — or a $10.4 million loss for the government when unpaid dividends are factored in.

The sale is expected to close in the third quarter. Tidelands’ seven coastal branches would switch to the United Community name.

Staff and wire reports

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