June 24, 2007

South Carolina Aquarium

June 19th, 2007: Today's meeting began with a moment of silence for our firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice to provide safety and security for us all.

Bruce Murdy introduced Kevin Mills the President and CEO of the South Carolina Aquarium who joined us last year. Before coming to Charleston in September he was with the St. Louis Zoo. He led a very successful re-branding effort, which significantly increased the number of visitors at the zoo.

Mills shared information about how the Aquarium is serving the community in multiple ways. Currently, there are about 450,000 guests who visit the SC Aquarium every year. In addition to serving those who visit the Aquarium's great attractions, which thrill both young and old, it is also an engine of economic development and a leader in conservation of aquatic life.

When the Aquarium opened, like many others, it experienced challenges. According to Mills, its business model was too optimistic, especially in the number of visitors and the revenue from those visits. The Aquarium has responded to those challenges and has been in the black for several years. Its remaining $4 million of debt is continuously being retired and future prospects are excellent.

The strategic plan, started in September 2006 and approved by the Board in May 2007, strikes a balance between the focus of conservation, education, and entertainment. Recent research indicates that conservation is the first priority with education as the second priority, while entertainment is still key and helps to build the other two themes.

The Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program has been very successful. It has been able to heal and release 25 Sea Turtles back into the wild. This is an especially important project to protect our dwindling Sea Turtle population. The program is being developed into a national model. The work of the Aquarium, and other marine resource organizations, is extremely beneficial for all types of sea life.

A current key focus of the Aquarium is finding ways to rejuvenate the experience for "repeat visitors". With its 8,000 member families visiting the aquarium three times a year, they created new programs and experiences to help stimulate and keep interest, such as the summer program entitled "Something's Fishy", which utilizes five characters in costumes and a multimedia experience to stimulate learning and entertainment.

The South Carolina Aquarium is not only a great source of entertainment, but it is also a great asset to our community for education and, most importantly, research and conservation.

Reported by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee

June 17, 2007

"Today's AT&T is not your 1984 Ma Bell."

June 12, 1007 - Ted Creech introduced Gregg Morton, the new President of AT&T South Carolina, as a highly accomplished professional who graduated from Clemson. Gregg then began his telecommunications career in Charleston, moved to Columbia, Atlanta, and finally, after two senior positions in Washington D.C., is back in S.C. to make a difference in our technology future. Gregg entertained our Club with a satirical film clip that outlined the last 30 years of the telecommunications industry. He stated that no matter how it appears, "we not just putting Ma Bell back together again."

Mr. Morton's key points revolved around how technology has changed the terrain since 1984, with the biggest change being found in the "wireless explosion" the world is experiencing. He emphasized that Ma Bell had no competitors in 1984 and now AT&T's biggest competitor is cable. Additionally, with today's broadband infrastructure, "anyone can become a voice provider." Of special interest to the Club was Gregg's observations on technology convergence: a wireless tsunami that will result in our TV/PC/other wireless devices all residing on a common platform using home monitoring applications such as "nanny-cam" and "pet-cam."

After quick plugs for AT&T's Apple i-phone (coming out on June 29th), HomeZone (their "satellite on steroids"), and U-Verse (their 2008 broadband platform), he moved on to the "future of the internet." His brief discussion on net neutrality and why a smart internet pipe is critical to our future was enlightening. As an example of why it's important: U-Tube uses as much bandwidth today as the entire internet used in 2000. Gregg ended his informative talk with the key point:

AT&T [he] opposes any legislation that shifts "beefed-up" internet business costs (innovation/expansion) to the consumer.

Reported by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee

June 8, 2007


June 5, 2007: Today our own Peter Lucash brought us invaluable information to assist us in planning for disaster at our places of business and our homes.

Contrary to common perception, natural disasters only account for a small percentage of the disasters that businesses encounter. The top three items that can cause business interruptions are hardware failure, utilities failure, and deliberate/malicious acts. Although natural disasters are rare, having a specific plan is of utmost importance in order to function should one occur.

The question that one must ask is "How long can the business keep operating without employees being able to go to the place of business?" For most, the current answer is "not very long at all!" By utilizing the planning strategies that Peter shared , businesses should be able to extend their viability.

The first area of concern should be the people. We cannot discount the fact that employees have families and homes that they value more than their jobs. It is important to set up systems to help employees cope during an evacuation. Some suggestions include setting up a common location at a hotel that is animal friendly, having mechanisms in place to automate payroll, and having a planned evacuation route.

Communication is a key concern. Businesses should be certain to keep detailed phone lists of employees, customers and vendors. Peter wisely recommends that duplicates of these lists be stored at a location at least 50 miles from the place of business. When preparing for an evacuation, businesses should carefully do the same with current accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Close attention should also be paid to the workplace. Depending on the size of the business, an option would be to have an alternate location. If this is not feasible, having up a mobile operations plan is important. By utilizing satellite phones, conference calls, and message boards, employees can be located and can continue to conduct business.

In addition, it is recommended that businesses create a videotape of the workplace and all of its contents. The tape should be sent to the insurance company and another copy stored at a location at least 50 miles away.

On a final note, Peter encouraged individuals to plan ahead and have personal Hurricane Kits at the ready. The kit should include a bucket, handi-wipes, toilet tissue, bread, peanut butter, lots of water, and protein bars.

Reported by Angie Johnson, Keyway Committee

June 1, 2007


May 29, 2007: Today the Director of Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto Festival brought us greetings and an overview of this year's fabulous events. With 700 events, 29 venues, 4000 artists and a 1.2 million dollar budget this year's festival is one of the best.

An introduction of children to the world of opera is featured with special performances throughout the city of Hansel and Gretel, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. Charleston's theater director Julian Wiles and its own "Have Nots" will have special events. Andrew Lloyd Weber's music is featured in a spectacular "Absolutely Andrew". "Illumination Shadows", a display of original paintings can be seen at the City Gallery. A huge wedding music and cultural event will be highlighted at Hampton Park. Don't miss the acrobats performing by their double- decker green bus in Marion Square And then there are hundreds of paintings for sale in the sea of tents at Marion Square.

Of special note is the SISTERS CITY JAZZ; A Tale of Two Cities. A free concert at the U.S. Custom House joins the forces of the Charleston Jazz Initiative explained to us by speaker, Jack McCray, and the Fotos for Humanity, highlighted by speaker, Devin Meyers. CJI documents the African American jazz tradition in Charleston which started in the late 19th century. A collection of oral histories, recordings, letters, etc. have been collected and displayed. A slide presentation of Fotos for Humanity gave graphic evidence of both the destruction and the hope of reborn music taking place in New Orleans.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee