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Cisco buys Gwinnett company

Gwinnett's best known company and one of its largest employers was acquired this week.

Scientific-Atlanta, the cable-equipment maker that has pioneered the state's high-tech sector, was purchased by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. for $6.9 billion.

If you bought a cable subscription in the past 20 years, you probably had a Scientific-Atlanta "cable box" on top of your TV.

The company's Lawrenceville headquarters stretch across hundreds of wooded acres along Sugarloaf Parkway, but they will become part of a division of Cisco. It is unclear if Scientific Atlanta will keep its strong brand name, or become absorbed into Cisco.

Community support

Scientific-Atlanta is a major supporter of Gwinnett education. It sponsors programs to encourage kids to devote themselves math and science, fostering their interest in engineering.

Scientific-Atlanta dollars have helped build a local hospital, expand a college and fund research to battle cancer. The company says that support will endure, despite the Cisco acquisition.

Tech leader

Scientific-Atlanta is regarded as a pioneer of the state's high-tech sector - a forerunner of some 200 local firms.

"It was the first to take the big, bold step, and others followed," said Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia. "It has been on the leading edge of innovation since it was founded in the '50s."

Showtime

Discover Mills showed off its newest anchor tenant - the mall's biggest catch since an 18-screen movie theater opened there in 2003.

Medieval Times, a dinner theater company, heralded its groundbreaking with a performance of knights in a sword fight to the death, offering just a taste of what's to come when it opens this summer.

The company will build an 87,000-square-foot replica of a medieval castle, where patrons will be served a four-course banquet. As they eat, they watch the tournament unfold with chivalry, knights, horses, romance and falconry.

Its formula makes Medieval Times a tourist attraction. It's expected to draw up to 400,000 additional visitors to the mall each year.

Another blow

Here's more bad news for utility customers.

Georgia Power faces a $650 million shortfall because of rising fuel costs to generate electricity. It's a problem the company has battled all year, and consumers may be asked to help pay for it.

In May, Georgia Power received the Georgia Public Service Commission's OK to increase its fuel rate that customers pay. But the shortfall has continued to grow. Ga. Power expects to go before the Public Service Commission in April to once again ask for a fuel rate hike.