December 18, 2009

"Higher Education Officials Push Education Action Plan"

Dec. 8, 2009: For South Carolina to get out of the cellar on a number of generational problems - low education levels, poverty, high unemployment and more - its leaders need to make a sustained commitment to improving higher education according to two state leaders who spoke to the club today.

Dr. Garrison Walters, executive director of the state Commission on Higher Education, told members South Carolina was far behind in focusing on the growing knowledge economy. "We have a lack of public priority focus and a lack of public focus on higher education." he said. "Our state is far behind economically and we're not catching up." For example, per capital income and the state's rank in the number of people with bachelor's degrees is about the same in 2006 as it was in 1990. Additionally, South Carolina's public colleges and universities rank 15th out of 16 Southern states in the percent of their budgets that come from state sources. In the current state budget, funding was down $203 million from two years earlier to $555 million. Columbia attorney Ken Wingate, who chairs the Commission, said it has created an Action Plan to make higher education a public priority . Three goals include:

Raise education levels. About 22 percent of S.C. adults have at least a bachelor's degree. The goal is to have 30 percent by 2030 - a so-called 30-by-30 goal.

Increase research and innovation. By creating new pathways to learning and technology, the state will create more of a culture of discovery, which should increase personal income.

Improve workforce training and educational services. Such a goal would align educational programs with important state clusters and connect adults with higher education in more flexible ways.

Wingate said several of the priority recommendations would cost little or no money: Enacting "regulatory relief" to allow colleges and universities to cut red tape from hiring, procurement and facility enhancement; and creating a cost reduction committee to promote and share best practices among institutions. Other measure would cost more, particularly increasing state funding and borrowing through the state's bonding power. Instead of declining state support, colleges and universities "have got to find the political mettle to make higher education not only an add-on to the state budget but the key to economic prosperity."

If higher education can become a state priority, a study shows individuals will earn twice as much over their lifetimes, generate almost 45,000 permanent jobs. "If people don't believe education, including higher education, is important, we can't possibly make the progress we need."

Submitted by Andy Brack, Keyway Committee
"SC Wind Energy ~ Nobody Does It Better "

December 1, 2009: As the wind energy market emerges along the East Coast and turbines continue to grow in size and weight, South Carolina is strategically positioned to serve as an industrial hub for this evolving industry.

The next-generation wind turbines and drive trains will be tested by the Clemson University Restoration Institute in a move that is expected to create hundreds of jobs and place one of the most important sites for wind energy research and development in South Carolina. The effort has received a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, combined with $53 million of matching funds, to build and operate a large-scale wind turbine drive train testing facility at the institute's research campus on the former Navy base. The announcement was just made by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. A drive train takes energy generated by a turbine's blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car. The award is the largest single grant ever received in the university's history and represents an enormous economic development opportunity for the region. Partners: the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; the South Carolina Department of Commerce; the State of South Carolina; South Carolina Public Railways; the South Carolina State Ports Authority; and private partners RENK AG, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.

The testing facility will be housed in Building 69, a former Navy warehouse adjacent to existing rail and ship-handling infrastructure, and will be capable of full-scale highly accelerated testing of advanced drive train systems for wind turbines in the 5 megawatt to 15 megawatt range. The building stands at 82,264 square feet on 6.3 acres. Planning and construction of the facility will begin in the 1st quarter of 2010 with an operational date of mid-2012. The Department of Energy estimates that SC could gain 10,000 to 20,000 new jobs related to the wind power industry during the next 20 years. In the short term, the Restoration Institute estimates the initiative will create at least 113 temporary jobs associated with construction of the facility and 21 full-time jobs. It also will generate 568 indirect jobs for a total of 852 jobs.

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee

December 2, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford

November 24, 2009: The Governor was introduced by Past President Amy Jenkins.

The Governor began by stating that he would be doing a virtual town hall meeting, specifically related to his thoughts and our thoughts about job creation and the economy, and to give one or two thoughts or words of wisdom on the states legislative agenda. (Having said this, the town hall meeting approach never really materialized). Following this, the Governor stated: "I apologize for letting you all down. I disappointed a lot of people." He then asked the question: "Where do we go from here?" He answered this question by saying that "it all depends on what we do next." He said that change occurs when the people make certain issues important, make them a priority, and keep talking about them. He noted that the next legislative session will run from January through June of 2010, only six months, then he will be leaving office.

The Governor said that there are three major issues that are on his mind and his agenda.

1. Restructuring, that is, taking the budget and making a Budget Control Board and converting it into an administrative board instead. He said that the Budget Control Board needs to be given the tools necessary to do their work effectively and then for the people to hold them accountable to their task. He asked: "Who's really in control, who holds the buck at the end of the day? There's a lack of accountability in our current system."

2. In the future, the Governor and Lt. Governor should run on the same ticket.
The Governor asked the question: "Could this be the year that we give back to the people who elect the constitutional officers?" He said that the construct is flawed, that it was set up in such a way as to assure that a black man would not be elected. He said that this was an unusual government structure.

He asked each of us to pick one of these three priorities and begin talking about it with our friends and associates. The Governor discussed the states spending and looking into the future. He said that "We've been having parallel universe discussions and have lost several years time in the process." He noted that we are on an unsustainable track of spending. He said: "A dollar comes in and it's going to get spent ... someone's going to spend that dollar." He wants to set spending limitations. He wants to change the fundamental dynamics of the system. He said that the state needs to do a better job of asset allocation. Governor Sanford spoke briefly about economic development. He said that Boeing came here because of the favorable economic conditions in South Carolina. He asked: "What can we do better as a state?" He said that he wants to reform the Employment Security Commission. The Governor then allowed about 5 minutes to take questions.

Submitted by Bill Christian, Keyway Committee
Rotary Foundation

November 17, 2009: Today, we were addressed by Bernie Riedel, Past DG and current District Chair of Rotary Foundation. Bernie took a few minutes to provide us with an overview, brief history and current update of the Foundation, and ended by showing us our dollars at work in the community. There are 532 districts in the world; our's begins west of Columbia near Chapin and runs east and includes 78 clubs. Last year our district was number thirteen in the world giving $990,588 to the Foundation, number seven in the world for Polio giving at $266,000, and number four in annual giving at an astounding $723,000. We have been number one, twice in the past six years! Thanks to all of you who have made this possible!

Rotary was started in 1905 in Chicago by a generous man by the name of Paul Harris. Though the club was not a service organization at its inception, the first service project, constructing an outhouse in Chicago, was completed in 1907. In 1917 at a National Conference in Atlanta Arch Klumph, President of Rotary, saw a need in areas of the world where Rotary was not present. It was then that Mr. Klumph stated that we needed an international commitment to do good in the world and started the endowment fund with $26.50 from the Rotary of Kansas City. In 1928 the endowment became a 501c (3), and in 1947 Paul Harris died and the fund received an outpouring of support from all over the world in his memory. For the first time the endowment had enough money to do something with it, and the Scholarship Programs were started. They still exist today, 62 years later. In 1957 the Foundation kicked off and got serious about raising money, and determining a way to recognize donors was necessary. It was then that the Paul Harris Fellow award was formed.

In 1985 there were more visionaries in Rotary and talk of Polio Eradication began. In 2008 our district received $431,000 back from the Foundation, (meaning that in 2006 and 2007 we gave $826,000) and the question became what to do with the money. There were 20 candidates for 6 Ambassadorial scholarships for $25,000 each, totaling $150,000 awarded in scholarships. One of these scholars came out of the Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club and another from the Hilton Head Club. A portion of the remaining money is used for matching gifts, if a club puts up $10,000 the district matches and the world fund matches. This year $305,000 in total projects were funded through matching gifts program. Rotary also fulfills district simplified grants. This year $86,000 was allocated back to the Rotary Clubs for their community. This year our club awarded the Center for Women and Carolina Youth Development with checks for their respective causes. This year we are sending a team to Brazil to continue Rotary's mission. To further Rotary's battle against Polio, in 2007 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave 100 million dollars, to be matched by Rotary and in 2009 the Gates Foundation came back and gave another $255 million and asked that we match another $100 million. Rotary has four years to raise $200 million. Our district is tasked with raising $1,000,000. Over $400,000 has been raised so far and we are on task to meet our goal. The Foundation is kept alive by gifts from Rotarians like you, please consider Rotary in your giving, and help promote good for all.

Submitted by Elizabeth Wooten Burwell, Keyway Committee