March 27, 2008

"Gentleman Start Your Engines"

March 25th, 2008: On February 2, 1908 six of the most innovative automobiles of the time set out to complete the most difficult auto race ever. Three French teams, and one team each from Germany, Italy, and the United States would attempt to drive around the world, leaving Central Park in New York City destined for Paris, France. The United States took 1st Place arriving in Paris on July 30, 1908. In just less than six months, the US team made completing The Great Race a reality and created a legacy that would thrill auto enthusiast for years to come.

In 1996, The Great Race created the X Cup Division, a program created to allow young adults (ages 13 to 23), who are in school an opportunity to race a car across the country. Seeing a need to inspire and mentor our youth Dennis Barfield, Jack Crabtree and James Boggs formed the Charleston Area Youth Racers (CAYR) on January 14, 2006. CAYR is a 501 (c) non-profit that has a multi-faceted mission: the group strives to "train and teach teenagers the art of rebuilding antique/classic cars, to navigate the Great Race across the country, and the importance of team work, patience, self- reliance, and responsibility". The founders of CAYR are certain that local teens will learn "the importance of preparation and honesty, and how to accept defeat, and relish in victory". Additionally, the teams learn "how to share, how to compete, how to laugh at their own mistakes and forget the mistakes of others". All monies raised by the CAYR are used to fund fuel, a chase car, and motel stays while on the road.

In May of 2008 The Spirit of America team, owned by Dennis Barfield, Jack Crabtree and James Boggs, will participate in the Great Race 2008 from New York to Paris. In their words The Great Race 2008 "is an unparalleled marketing platform that will visit many countries and be witnessed by 350 million people". Upon their return, the men will begin building a new teenage team to race cross country in 2009, to create more "winners" for their motto is " To Finish is to Win"!

Submitted by Elizabeth Wooten, Keyway Committee

March 24, 2008

"A Positive Transformation"

March 18th, 2008: Metanoia translates from the Greek for, "positive transformation." The premise behind the Metanoia Community Development Corporation is that focusing on the assets of a community will make it shine. Reverend Bill Stanfield brought his energy to our meeting to share information about Metanoia, which is obviously his passion. The Reverend's belief is that tending to the flaws of a typically "needy" community is the wrong approach. The supporters of Metanoia recognize the positives, and not the negatives, of their host community of Chicora/Cherokee in North Charleston.

Indeed, Metanoia's approach seems to be working. The leaders focus their efforts on the positive energy of the youth, and have involved parents and residents. There is solid reasoning behind Metanoia's and Reverend Stanfield's actions, though they are unconventional to many other "charitable" organizations. In addition to his natural belief in the goodness of people, Reverend Stanfield relies on a theory spurred on by two men from Northwestern. Their study helped to point out that communities with the most "needs" actually benefit from being recognized for their strengths and not their weaknesses. Metanoia is completely dedicated towards recognizing the positive. The group has a strong religious influence and flavor. Children are taught to be "youth leaders" and chant a youth affirmation when they meet.

Metanoia was envisioned in 2002 started by the Southern Baptist Foundation. Today it thrives with help from the gifts and support of individuals and local government. Elizabeth Proutt, one of the supporters of Metanoia, and a Rotarian, introduced our guest, Reverend Bill Stanfield. We were also pleased to host staff members of Metanoia, Anthony Joyner, AJ Davis, and board member Gail Blair who supported and surprised Reverend Stanfield by coming to the meeting.

Reported by Jackie Grau, Keyway Committee

March 14, 2008

"Automated Trading Desk -- Charleston Success Story"

March 11th, 2008: Arpan Kotecha, team leader of the predictive technologies team responsible for the pricing engine technology that drives trading, shared his insights on how Automated Trading Desk was created. Arpan, originally from Tanzania, is a College of Charleston Alumni and started with the firm in 2004 in the competitive internship program.

Professor David Whitcomb, Steve Swanson and Jonathan Butler met through a mutual friend at the College of Charleston. They took an innovative concept, and with intelligence and hard work, created what people said could not be done. Beginning in 1988 the principals, along with the company's dedicated employees, taught computers to trade shares of stocks like humans, at unprecedented speed.

The company's unique "pricing engine" technology propelled the company from a small start-up to a success level that attracted the attention of the financial giant, Citigroup. Its innovation and brain power motivated a recent purchase due to its capability and ability to provide future value as the landscape of business continues to change dramatically.

While ATD has been very successful and extremely innovative, it hasn't been without its challenges. When stock trading in 2001 went to "decimalization" (going from trading the smaller increment in 1/8 of a dollar to a penny), the impact was dramatic and, without the innovation and drive of employees, would have been devastating. According to Arpan, the hiring of really smart people, most of which are hand picked from the College of Charleston, has allowed ATD to create systems that can develop a "price prediction" in as little as 30 seconds. ATD enables the prediction of very small changes in price extremely quickly and their clients make money by reacting to a penny, or even fraction of a cent, difference in stock price. The information and being able to extremely and accurately time the transaction are very valuable.

The company has three primary groups providing different functions. One of the most interesting groups is one that enables a customer to sell very large blocks of stock or even a smaller block of stock in a very thinly traded issue a little at the time without adversely affecting the price. Because of the high volume of stock traded each day and with some trades executed in as little as 100 mili-seconds, ATD's powerful technology has an extremely positive application as financial trade becomes more mechanized.

The 125 employees of ATD work in a positive, innovative climate to create models and systems that are at the cutting edge of financial service. The people, its culture, and its leadership create value for all concerned.

Reported by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee

March 7, 2008

"Charleston's Museum Mile"

March 4th, 2008: Today we had the privilege of having one of our own to share with us how Charleston's Museum Mile, launched on March 1, was conceived and created. John Brumgardt shared with us the innovative and unique concept that uses a mile of Meeting Street from Ann Street southward to connect museums, historic sites, historic places of worship, and other points of interest.

The Charleston's Museum Mile project unifies historic sites and properties as well as links uptown neighborhoods and the Battery. The objective was a positive change in a perception by offering a unique opportunity within convenient walking distance, public transportation, public parking, and lodging for a guest to comfortably relax and enjoy Charleston 365 days a year.

The Mile was conceived in 2004 during the strategic planning session of the Charleston Museum's Board. Its focus was to get the cooperation of different points of interest that were independent, but allied to add value to the typical visitor who spends 3.5 days in Charleston.

This project was made possible by $100,000 grant from the County of Charleston and charter sponsorships from the Bank of South Carolina, the Mills House, and Sticky Fingers. Having generous donors who are committed to the welfare of this area was crucial to the project's success

The goal of the project was to address a decline in visitors, but do it in a strategic, economical, and ecological way. After the presentation, it was clear to all that the Charleston Museum Mile was a superb way to address this need. It represents a great step forward in enhancing Charleston's visitor perception and allowing visitors to get more value for the time they spend in our fair city. The visitors benefit greatly from a simplified, focused access to historic Charleston. They can take as little or as much time as they choose to explore the sites that appeal most to them within the Charleston Museum Mile.

To enable easy access and navigation the visitor can start at any part of the Mile and visit sites in any order. They can enjoy the Mile by foot, use public transportation, or park at public parking lots. CARTA bus passes include DASH trolleys and allow the visitors to get on and off as often as needed.

Our hats are off to John Brumgardt who had an instrumental role in helping unify the museum and historic site experience to make it more valuable not only to those who come from out of town, but also those of us who enjoy our own heritage and never forget how great it is to live in Charleston. Again congratulations on the implementation of a great concept.

If you would like information on the Charleston Museum Mile and discover how you and your guest can enjoy the experience go to

Reported by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee

March 2, 2008

"Dad, I Love this Place ..."

February 26, 2008: When Valerie Morris introduced P. George Benson and asked what the "P" stood for, he smilingly replied: "President." Mr. Benson's resume is more than impressive with, among other accolades, degrees in mathematics, operations research, and statistics; Dean of two Business Schools; and four books to his credit. President Benson's opening remarks included a compliment to Rotary for awarding him a Rotary International Fellowship to Stockholm, in 1968 ("that was pre-empted by a Draft Board").

President Benson began with History. The College of Charleston was founded in 1770 when Charleston was the 4th largest city in the Colonies. Higher education was available "for men" in England. Harvard and Yale were soliciting funds from the wealthiest city in the Colonies, Charleston. The College was then established with classes beginning in the 1780's in the basement at 6 Glebe Street, now the President's residence. After many changes over the last 230+ years, the College is now the home of 11,400 students (10,000 undergraduates), who have "quickly outgrown the infrastructure for the 500 students enrolled in 1970." Fast-forward to February 2007 when George Benson became President; "the College needed some serious blocking and tackling" in the areas of organizational structure; budgeting systems; enterprise computer systems; faculty and staff compensation; key position hires; and physical infrastructure improvements. He accomplished those challenges, by anyone's metrics, to include a vision to transform the "Dixie Plantation" (17 miles from the main campus, and donated by Henry Dick in 1995) to a world-renown environmental sciences campus.

"Where do I go from here? I can't tell you because I came in with no fixed agenda; I'm not going to push, but our near-term objective is to use focus groups to establish an umbrella strategic plan to help address today's key issue of the privatization of public higher education institutions." His vision is to avoid cutting programs and people and find a way to buffer against diminishing state funding. The quote [title] for today's article came from Mr. Benson's daughter after transferring from U. of Georgia.

Reported by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair