With all the talk and activity in Washington, D.C., these days around issues like tax reform, I thought it might be interesting to look into the subject of the mortgage interest deduction. What was its origin, how is it used, and what is its future?

Federal income tax in the United States was first implemented in 1894, and all forms of interest on loans were deductible. Interestingly, the U.S. Supreme Court quickly ruled income taxes unconstitutional and it wasn’t until 1913 that Congress enacted a new income tax, after the Constitution was amended, and as part of this new tax interest was again deductible. In the early years of the tax code, it was safe to presume that Congress wasn’t thinking about mortgage interest deductibility, as homes in those days were generally bought for cash. Presumably, lawmakers were more concerned with mortgages on farms and business loans.

Hilton Head Island entrepreneur Kelly Stroud Spinella has fond memories of her childhood in Chesterfield, Va. Some of her favorite moments were fishing with her father on Lake Chesdin, something they would do together just about every evening at dusk.

“It was our time together,” Spinella said. 

Attorney finds working for dad elevates her game

Catherine Scarminach grew up on Hilton Head Island and wanted to explore new lands after high school.

She went to Atlanta for college, Knoxville to teach and Nashville to practice law.

But then her father, Chuck Scarminach, managing partner of Novit and Scarminach, called in 2011 with an offer that gave her pause.

Try to name a business where exceptional customer service doesn’t make a difference. With all the news about United Airlines and Dr. Dao, a sometimes Hilton Head Island resident, I thought I would examine this idea of what customer service is all about.  The “Success Center” defines customer service as “the support you offer customers – both before and after they buy your product – that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you.  It’s more than just providing answers; it’s an important part of the promise your brand makes to its customers, and it is critical to the success of your business.”

On March 15, the Federal Open Market Committee, or the FOMC, raised its benchmark rate for the second time in the past three months. This move might not normally get your attention, but since this was only the third increase in the past nine years it is truly notable. The “Fed Funds” target rate now stands at a low range of between .75 percent and 1 percent, still at a level considered anything other than a stimulant to our domestic economy.

Ten years ago, you could have counted on one hand the number of women in construction or “nontraditional” jobs — occupations in which women make up 25 percent or less of the total workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Today, however, that’s changing — which is not only great for women, but great for businesses throughout the Lowcountry and beyond.


Blues, food, drinks and laughter now fill a former warehouse in a blighted section of Hilton Head Island widely known for its deteriorating vacant buildings.

Ruby Lee’s South, a restaurant locally owned by former Hilton Head Island High School football coach Tim Singleton, is now firmly ensconced in the former warehouse at 19 Dunnagans Alley, thanks to a major renovation of the structure that likely would have been impossible several years ago.


Dianne Kosto is a successful entrepreneur, overseeing six locations of BrainCore U.S.A. in three states. But the reason she entered the neurofeedback industry was to help her with her ultimate goal, which had nothing to do with business yet is still her biggest accomplishment:  Raising her two boys. 

Since many people living on Hilton Head Island or in Bluffton are homeowners, I thought it might be time to do an update on the state of housing finance. It has now been almost a decade since the peak of the housing bubble and the excesses in mortgage lending practices that ultimately ended with the advent of the “Financial Crisis.”  Interestingly, the “Great Recession” was born of a lack of liquidity in the residential lending market that ultimately snowballed through the entire global financial system.


Tim McDougall doesn’t look like someone you’d buy marijuana from. With his Captain America good looks, close-cropped blond hair, thick-rimmed glasses and crisply starched white shirt, he appears more likely to sell you a high-end yacht than an eighth of pot.

But then the edibles come out — neon green lollipops and kaleidoscope gummies infused with Nerds candy. Then the crystals and the wax, powders and apricot-scented clumps designed to be smoked through a vaporizer.