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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Banker Appointment

Jan 23, 2024 10:03AM ● By Donna Walker


Bennett Named Executive Director of External Affairs at First Citizens Bank

First Citizens Bank on Jan. 22, 2024, announced the appointment of James Bennett as executive director of External Affairs.


In the newly created position, Bennett, a seasoned First Citizens banker, is responsible for nationwide community engagement as well as strengthening relationships with state and federal government officials, members of Congress, trade groups and other public policy stakeholders.


His new position was effective Jan. 1, 2024. He reports to Chairman and CEO Frank B. Holding, Jr.


"We are glad to have James' leadership in this significant, new role at our organization," Holding said. "As First Citizens continues to grow, it's important that we remain a valuable partner to policy and regulatory leaders as part of our ongoing work together to ensure the strength and effectiveness of the U.S. banking system."


Holding added, "James brings a wealth of relevant experience to this position, as well as a deep knowledge of our company, its values and people."


From 2015 to 2023, Bennett served as Mid-South area executive at First Citizens, overseeing commercial, business and retail banking efforts, and leading market development efforts in the Columbia and Aiken areas of South Carolina and the Augusta area of Georgia.


Prior to his duties as Mid-South area executive, from 2002 to 2015, Bennett was executive vice president and director of public affairs for First Citizens Bank – South Carolina, before its merger with North Carolina-headquartered First Citizens Bank.


In 2000, Bennett was named chief executive officer at South Carolina Community Bank (now Optus Bank), South Carolina's first black-owned financial institution, and spent two years at the Columbia bank before returning to First Citizens.


Prior to this, he joined First Citizens – South Carolina in December 1994 as director of community banking, then moving to the professional banking group and then becoming director of economic development.


In addition to working closely with elected officials and the South Carolina Bankers Association, he was appointed by the governor of South Carolina to serve on multiple committees, including the S.C. State Ports Authority, the Education Oversight Committee and the accelerateSC initiative in 2020-21.


He served as the first African American chairman of the South Carolina Bankers Association in 2020 and was named United Way of the Midlands Humanitarian of the Year in 2022.


Bennett grew up in Cheraw, S.C., and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he is chair of its Educational Foundation.


He will remain based in Columbia.


Kevin Lindler, a former regional banking executive for First Citizens in Columbia, has assumed Bennett's prior role as Mid-South area executive.


First Citizens offers general banking services, including a network of more than 500 branches and offices in 30 states.


Parent company First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCNCA) is a top 20 U.S. financial institution with more than $200 billion in assets. 

VC3 Completes Acquisition of DominionTech, Vermont-based Information Technology Service Provider

Columbia, South Carolina-based VC3, a leading managed service provider serving municipalities and commercial businesses across North America, said it acquired DominionTech, an IT services provider supporting Vermont and New Hampshire businesses.


Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Officials said that by acquiring this highly reputed regional company, VC3 significantly expands its presence in New England.


Said Ryan Vestby, VC3’s chief executive officer: “Not only do our values intertwine, but DominionTech serves those who serve—from doctor’s offices to nonprofits. We look forward to merging teams, learning from one another, and using our combined knowledge to better serve our customers.”


“In the hypercompetitive MSP space, we realized that to reach the next stage in our evolution, we needed to partner with a larger company,” said Brian Curtis, DominionTech’s president and CIO. “VC3, with its focus on organizations such as municipalities that also serve their communities, appeared as an ideal fit in terms of values and culture.”


DominionTech Inc. was founded in 2001 with the mission to help small and medium-sized businesses with mixed network environments get the most out of their IT investments.


Over 1,100 municipalities and 1,000+ businesses rely on VC3's cybersecurity expertise, sector-specific focus, and automation to manage, protect, and accelerate their organization's technology.

Incentive Program Provides $500 to South Carolinians Who Earn a Secondary Diploma and An Additional $500 for Training

The General Educational Development (GED) Incentive Program began as a partnership between the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and the S.C. Department of Education’s (SCDE) Office of Adult Education, through which Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants could earn their GED for free through their local Adult Education center and receive a one-time $500 incentive payment from the General Assembly upon passing the GED exam.


Originally offered only to individuals receiving UI benefits as a growth opportunity during the pandemic, the program was expanded last year to provide $500 to anyone in South Carolina who earns their GED.


In addition, the program has expanded to provide an additional $500 to individuals who complete short-term occupational training through the S.C. Technical College system.


Aside from potentially receiving up to $1,000 for successfully completing the GED exam and occupational training, officials said that perhaps the greatest motivator for South Carolinians to complete their secondary education and upskill themselves is to open doors to the possibilities of higher-paying jobs, sustainable wages, and professional growth opportunities.


“The seamless collaboration between DEW, SCDE Adult Education, and the SC Technical College System to offer this life-changing program is a testament to the care and passion each has for the populations they serve,” stated DEW Executive Director William Floyd.


Floyd added, “Thanks to the GED Incentive Program, eligible South Carolinians can broaden their professional opportunities as part of DEW’s continued workforce development efforts, which prepare a skilled and growing workforce for rewarding careers with current and future employers in the state.”


“This partnership confirms the commitment of all three agencies to serve South Carolinians seeking to invest in themselves and respond to the ever-evolving needs of a modern employment landscape,” said State Superintendent Ellen Weaver.


Weaver added, “This expansion of the GED Incentive Program showcases the transformative power of an accessible education in South Carolina. The SCDE’s Office of Adult Education is eager to highlight the many ways we are here for the educational needs of every South Carolinian.”


“We need a skilled workforce to ensure South Carolina's continued success. Programs like this, connecting learners with education and training opportunities, expand the talent pool and provide a true win-win," said Dr. Tim Hardee, SC Technical College System president.


Hardee added, "This multi-agency partnership grows our state's workforce while providing South Carolinians a clear path to pursue their dreams and build a brighter future."


To be eligible for incentive payments, an individual must be a South Carolina resident, at least 19 years old, and not currently hold a GED or High School Diploma from any state.


He or she must also have started a secondary credential program (GED or high school diploma) by July 1, 2023, and earn a credential by June 1, 2024, through the Department of SCDE’s Adult Education program and qualifying technical colleges in the Technical College System.


Funding for this program is limited and incentive payments will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.


To learn more about the GED Incentive program, go to

IRS: Taxpayers Should Continue to Report All Cryptocurrency, Digital Asset Income

The Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers they must again answer a digital asset question and report all digital asset related income when they file their 2023 federal income tax return, as they did for their 2022 federal tax returns.


The question appears at the top of Forms 1040, Individual Income Tax Return1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors; and 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, and was revised this year to update wording.


The question was also added to these additional forms: Forms 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return; and 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation.


Depending on the form, the digital assets question asks this basic question, with appropriate variations tailored for corporate, partnership or estate and trust taxpayers:


“At any time during 2023, did you: (a) receive (as a reward, award or payment for property or services); or (b) sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of a digital asset (or a financial interest in a digital asset)?”


What is a digital asset?
A digital asset is a digital representation of value that is recorded on a cryptographically secured, distributed ledger or any similar technology. Common digital assets include:

Convertible virtual currency and cryptocurrency.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs).


Everyone must answer the question
Everyone who files Forms 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120 and 1120S must check one box answering either "Yes" or "No" to the digital asset question. The question must be answered by all taxpayers, not just by those who engaged in a transaction involving digital assets in 2023.


When to check “Yes”
Normally, a taxpayer must check the "Yes" box if they:

Received digital assets as payment for property or services provided;

Received digital assets resulting from a reward or award;

Received new digital assets resulting from mining, staking and similar activities;

Received digital assets resulting from a hard fork (a branching of a cryptocurrency's blockchain that splits a single cryptocurrency into two);

Disposed of digital assets in exchange for property or services;

Disposed of a digital asset in exchange or trade for another digital asset;

Sold a digital asset; or

Otherwise disposed of any other financial interest in a digital asset.


How to report digital asset income
In addition to checking the “Yes” box, taxpayers must report all income related to their digital asset transactions. For example, an investor who held a digital asset as a capital asset and sold, exchanged or transferred it during 2023 must use Form 8949, Sales and other Dispositions of Capital Assets, to figure their capital gain or loss on the transaction and then report it on Schedule D (Form 1040), Capital Gains and Losses. A taxpayer who disposed of any digital asset by gift may be required to file Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.

If an employee was paid with digital assets, they must report the value of assets received as wages. Similarly, if they worked as an independent contractor and were paid with digital assets, they must report that income on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). Schedule C is also used by anyone who sold, exchanged or transferred digital assets to customers in connection with a trade or business.


When to check “No”
Normally, a taxpayer who merely owned digital assets during 2023 can check the "No" box as long as they did not engage in any transactions involving digital assets during the year. They can also check the "No" box if their activities were limited to one or more of the following:

Holding digital assets in a wallet or account;

Transferring digital assets from one wallet or account they own or control to another wallet or account they own or control; or

Purchasing digital assets using U.S. or other real currency, including through electronic platforms.

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