Ripple effect of credit crunch: 'everything's on hold'

The Wachovia Championship starts every fall for The McLamb Group. There are tickets to ship and pairing sheets to print. Light fixtures and bars for the golf tournament's hospitality tents need to be ready by spring. The Charlotte printing and marketing company has been part of the intricate behind-the-scenes work since 2002.

Now, everything's on hold, because tournament coordinators don't know what name will top this year's tickets.

"I can't stress enough how important Wachovia and this tournament are to Charlotte and the business community," said Ed McLamb, 61, who said a quarter of his business comes from the event. "The tournament is going to survive but the bank and the folks they've installed made it what it is. You never know what other people coming in are going to do."

From the attorneys who advise the bank to the interior designers who rely on its wealthiest workers' dollars, many businesses have a stake in the outcome of talks between Wachovia, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

Some businesses are diversifying, like The McLamb Group, which is working with seven other golf tournaments and actively seeking more. Others are taking a wait-and-see approach, hoping Charlotte's low cost of living, talent pool and other big companies will be enough to keep them afloat.

The trickle-down effect starts with the companies that serve the bank directly. Large law firms, for instance, flocked to Charlotte in recent years, looking for a slice of the banks' booming business.

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