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Company closer to being sold

Scientific-Atlanta is one step closer to being sold, officially.

Shareholders of the Lawrenceville company approved its acquisition by Cisco Systems. They'll get $43 in cash for each Scientific-Atlanta share once the transaction closes sometime in the next few weeks. First the deal must meet regulatory approval.

Scientific-Atlanta, the TV set-top box maker headquartered in Lawrenceville, was purchased in November by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc.

The $6.9 billion acquisition was hailed as a win-win deal for both sides, but it wasn't embraced by everyone. It spurred a lawsuit claiming that Scientific-Atlanta directors failed to protect the best interests of investors.

The company said the complaints were without merit.

Scientific-Atlanta's headquarters on Sugarloaf Parkway employs more than 1,000 workers. The company is seen as a pioneer in the state's high tech sector.

Bill may derail project

State Rep. John Lunsford, R-McDonough, recently introduced a bill that threatened to derail the passenger line to Lovejoy. The measure would require that cities and county voters have a say before public money goes toward commuter rail projects.

This week some Georgia legislators came back with a resolution saying if there is a shortfall in subsidizing the Lovejoy to Atlanta railway, the Department of Transportation and Georgia Regional Transportation Authority will cover the costs.

How alternative transportation projects get funded is always a thorny issue in Georgia.

The nature of debate over the Lovejoy line could be a bellwether for similar arguments over an Athens to Atlanta commuter rail line. Much of the key infrastructure for an Atlanta to Athens line already exists. Trains could be running by 2010, commuter rail advocate and regional economic development booster E.H. Culpepper said.

Unemployment drops

The nation's latest job report painted the brightest employment picture in several years.

U.S. unemployment dropped to a 41⁄2-year low of 4.9 percent, getting the economy off to a good start in 2006. The jobs report released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department suggested companies are increasingly optimistic about the country's economic future, perhaps spurring them to add workers to their payrolls.

The Gwinnett jobless rate is also headed in the right direction, dropping to 4.3 percent in December, though still three-tenths of a percent higher than the same time the previous year.

Doug Sams can be reached via e-mail at doug.sams@gwinnettdailypostcom.