January 30, 2011

WINTER GALA - Benefiting the LowCountry Food Bank

January 27, 2010: Our first ever Winter Gala was held in lieu of our regular meeting this week. Members and their guests enjoyed a spectacular evening at the Rice Mill Building on Lockwood. This was our only fundraising event of the year and proceeds will go to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank. Guests enjoyed delicious food by Holy City Catering, music by Tim Taylor and a silent auction.

We sincerely appreciate the support of our generous sponsors -

GOLD SPONSORS: Soil Consultants (Brian Johnson), Francis Marion Hotel (Steve Dopp), Tom and Alma Clymer, Patterson Smith Company (Patterson Smith) and Holy City Catering.

SILVER SPONSORS: Dallis & Badger, P.A. (Alex Dallis), Morris Financial Planner (Kyra Morris), McGuire & Associates (Herb McGuire), Lights Camera Charleston (Wendy Beall & Scott Reid), and Pearlstine Distributors.

Also, a big thanks to Digit Matheny and the social committee for all their efforts in coordinating this wonderful evening!

January 22, 2011

Al Cannon on Terrorism in Charleston

January 18, 2011: Rob Dewey introduced Sheriff Al Cannon as our guest speaker. Sheriff Cannon was elected as Charleston County Sheriff in 1988 and has served in that capacity for 6 terms. The Sheriff was educated at the College of Charleston and USC. He is known nationally for his law enforcement excellence.

Sheriff Cannon began by stating that he felt like coming to Rotary was like "old home week" because he knew so many of the Rotarians present. He told several humorous stories in his opening remarks.

He talked about Port Security mainly and many of the innovations and improvements that have been made since 9/11. The critical part of his plan for the Port was to involve all levels of security in the city of Charleston. At a later date, the Coast Guard and Homeland Security took over the supervision and implementation of the program he designed. The name of his pilot program was "Seahawk." This program was the template for all Port Security around the country.

Sheriff Cannon developed tools with the Post Security Initiative called Watch-keeper, an arm of Seahawk. This program maintains a visible presence on ships randomly, and does security checks on the water. They also dive on the hulls of ships in the Port to make certain that there are no explosive devices attached to the hull. They also use air assets and engage the ships while they are offshore. They do aerial surveillance and often photograph ships from the air, analyzing the photos to make certain that there is nothing out of the ordinary being transported. They also analyze a wide variety of intelligence data that looks into ownership and ports of origin of the ships that enter our Port.

The Sheriff noted that securing the Port was more than just overseeing what comes in or goes out of the Port. He stated that over 40% of the material flowing out of Charleston to Iraq and Afghanistan goes through our air base.

Cannon was asked, among several questions,: "What are the threats you are most concerned about?" His response: "Something that would come into the Port to be used elsewhere, the smuggling in of people, all the home grown threats and various plots uncovered." His greatest concern of all is that of low explosive devices with radioactive materials.

The Seahawk Program (at the Coast Guard Command Center), was selected as one of the 18th "best initiatives", and is considered the very best in all of the southeastern United States.

Submitted by Bill Christian, Keyway Committee

January 15, 2011

Marketing Evolution ... or Revolution?

January 11, 2011: Well-recognized member of the historic Rotary Club of Charleston, Bruce Murdy, provided a focused report on the impact of technology on the broad industries of communications, marketing and advertising. He gave us a crisp and clear snapshot of the communications trends taking hold thanks to new and emerging technologies.

A centerpiece of his presentation was a short video of summary highlights that underscored the accelerating pace of new media channels and the explosion of the social media platforms. That defining video provided powerful statistics on how social media has grown exponentially in its ability to link millions of people worldwide in unprecedented ways. And, with no shortage of humor, the new reality came clear with summary phrases like, "What happens in Vegas, Stays on Facebook."

Bruce masterfully assembled the mosaic of today's global economy as fully networked, fully accessible and driven by increasing innovations in technology and communications. Social media, whether it's LinkedIn, FourSquare, Twitter, Facebook or others, has forever changed the pace, scale and style in which humans interact. We are seeing fast-evolving opportunities as well as many new challenges every day from different parts of the world. One clear benefit is the democratizing of information and access that the new technologies provide.

At this writing, we all mourn the flooding disaster in Brisbane, Australia. We all are able to participate in their loss and rebuilding on a real-time basis at any level we wish. Technology will continue to evolve and astonish us -- we just need to temper its capability with reasonable applications. These are exciting times for all people, and more so for those that lived in the dark for too long, who slowly are benefiting from the gift of transparency and access. The next five years are going to be nothing short of breath-taking.

Thank you, Bruce. Oh, look here, we see you've just checked in at Starbucks ...

Submitted by Mark Danes, Keyway Committee

January 6, 2011

Vitner Provides Economic Forecast

January 4, 2011: Nationally-known economist Mark Vitner opened a talk to Rotarians with something many have wanted to hear for awhile: "The near-term prospects for the economy have improved significantly."

The economy, the Wells Fargo executive said, has been growing for 18 months, including the last five months in a row. More importantly, the fourth quarter of 2010 will end with 3.5 percent to 4 percent growth - much stronger than many anticipated.

"We're clearly not going to have a double-dip" recession, he said, adding that inflation remained low and prices for everything, excluding food and energy, likely would rise less than 1 percent in the near future.

Job growth should also pick up, he said. In 2010, the country added about 90,000 jobs a month. In this new year, the number should move toward 160,000 a month. But while the recent Great Recession "doesn't hold a candle" to the Great Depression, most need to understand that the huge job loss suffered by America - particularly in permanent jobs - will take years for the country to recover completely.

South Carolina has a different economic picture, in some ways, because of its large rural population and past reliance on labor-intensive industry. Private-sector employment growth still is weak, but there are modest gains in education, health care, business and professional service sectors.

But on a good note, as the nation continues to produce and export more, South Carolina's dulled manufacturing capacity will start to hum again, which should bode well for the state in the next few years, Vitner said.

Submitted by Andy Brack, Keyway Committee

December 14, 2010: Our own Rotarian, Bill Hall, hosted one of the best luncheons we have ever had, at his HALL’S CHOP HOUSE restaurant on King Street. Rotarians and their guests were treated to a wonderful lunch! A huge thanks to Bill and his staff for opening up their restaurant to us! It was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays and to end 2010!