April 30, 2011

35th Spoleto Festival USA Features 150+ Performances

April 26, 2011: Plan on a full calendar when Spoleto opens on May 27.

Spoleto Festival USA General Director, Nigel Redden, provided a panoramic appetizer for The Historic Rotary Club of Charleston on April 26 when he previewed highlights for the Spoleto 2011 Festival set to open May 27 and run through June 12. "This year's festival is sure to be one of the most expansive in the 35 year history of its production in Charleston," said Mr. Redden as he laid out a concise summary of the multimedia events, exhibits and productions that will fill the city for 17 days.

Spoleto Festival USA will feature more than 150 performances of internationally acclaimed artists in theater, dance, opera, jazz and contemporary circus. It is likely to be the largest program in the Festival's history, and is expected to draw record visitors of all ages and demographics.

In addition to spotlighting American-grown talent, this year's festival weaves together the diverse artistic talents of individuals and groups from around the world including China, Cambodia, Spain, France, Ireland, Africa, and more. "The beauty of this year's program is that it delicately balances musical, theatrical and dramatic interpretations that create a subjective fabric that will be a different experience for each of us," added Redden.

From The Magic Flute to The Red Shoes, there is first-class entertainment that will appeal to all tastes. And, speaking of taste, the panoply of epicurean delights the chefs of The Holy City are expected to produce will surely complement the other four senses to aptly round out the experience.

For full details of Spoleto Festival USA, please visit, www.spoletousa.org or call 843-579-3100.

Submitted by Mark Danes, Keyway Committee

April 22, 2011

The Treasurer of the State of South Carolina

April 19, 2011: Our speaker was The Honorable Curtis Loftis, Treasurer of the State of South Carolina. Loftis was born in Columbia and graduated from the University of South Carolina where he served as president of the student senate. After years of work in the business world, he established the Saluda Charitable Foundation, which focuses its giving on the education, nutrition and medical care of children, especially those with disabilities. Saluda has served over 170,000 meals, built a church, renovated schools and hospitals and sponsored medical missions and food pantries.

The State Treasurer's Office is responsible for the investment, cash management, and safekeeping of the State's general and restricted funds and a portion of the assets of the South Carolina Retirement Systems. It also provides fiscal management services, including receipt and disbursement of all funds. It coordinates all banking services, manages the State's debt, and administers and both the unclaimed property and college savings programs. It also works with and communicates regularly with the bond rating services to maintain high credit ratings that keep the state's borrowing cost low.

While the state is not small it has both urban and rural areas and the treasurer's office processes 3 million dollars per day. The banking system handles over 30 billion dollars a year and Loftis feels that there must be increased regulation to protect all investors. This is the only state with a Budget Control Board to regulate fiscal issues. Currently, there is a move to create a Department of Administration. He warned that things often happen in the state with little prior warning to the public at large and noted that the next 60 days may bring major changes. He supports transparency and accountability in government and cautioned that all too often, changes happen in "back rooms".

He is concerned that the public is being short changed by the workers in Columbia who do not work hard enough or long enough each day to accomplish the state's needs. In his quest for open government he proposes the rule: "see no evil, speak no evil and do no evil". He expects to release information in the very near future as to agencies or departments that are not measuring up to his standards of performance, accountability, and transparency.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

The Charleston Port

April 12, 2011: James I. (Jim) Newsome, III addressed our club on the topic of the South Carolina State Ports Authority. Mr. Newsome became President and CEO of the SCSPA in September of 2009, bringing with him more than 30 years of experience leading international shipping lines. Prior to joining SPCA, he was President of Hapag-Lloyd (America), Inc., He has held numerous other positions in the shipping industry. A Savannah native, Mr. Newsome received a bachelor's degree in Transportation and Logistics in 1976 and an MBA in Transportation and Logistics in 1977 from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Mr. Newsome spoke about the deep water harbor initiative, growth prospects for the port, and the cruise business in Charleston. The $300 million initiative to deepen the Port of Charleston from 45 to 50 feet is a strategic priority for the port. The deepening would allow larger ships, specifically from the Panama Canal, to come into the Charleston port, bringing more business and boosting the state's economy. The volume of large, post-Panamax ships is expected to increase dramatically when the expansion of the Panama Canal opens in 2014. While currently enjoying the deepest waters in the Southeast, the port is already seeing some of the larger ships that need more than the port's current 45-foot low-tide clearance. The deepening will open the port to all classes of vessels under any tidal condition. There is consensus that a deepened Charleston Harbor is essential to facilitate the expected increases in trade through the harbor and the continued economic growth of the Southeast region.

The Port of Charleston closed 2010 with a nearly 17 percent increase in container volume, capping a year marked by new shipping services, statewide business initiatives and the arrival of the biggest ships on the East Coast. Newsome noted that South Carolina's ports are positioned to continue the upward trend in 2011. Charleston offers efficient access to a healthy growing base for both import and export cargo. On the export side, Charleston is an ideal gateway for the export-rich Southeast and this service links shippers across the region to another growing consumer market -- China. BMW's plant in Spartanburg currently produces approximately 1000 vehicles each day and is the exclusive exporter of passenger vehicles through the Port of Charleston to more than 130 global markets. The SCSPA handles international commerce valued at more than $50 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate over 260,000 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year

Regarding the cruise business, Charleston is moving ahead with plans to open a new cruise terminal next year on the northern end of Union Pier Terminal. The $25 million terminal will replace the current cruise terminal that opened in 1973 much farther south on the property. It is expected to greatly improve the cruise experience in Charleston while also complementing the character of Charleston. The port is expected to handle 90 cruise ships in 2011. Charleston will remain a niche market for the major cruise lines, however, and the SCSPA is committed to limiting cruise ships to 104/year. The cruise business is a significant economic force for both the maritime and tourism industries in South Carolina, supporting more than 400 jobs and $37 million in total economic output in 2010, including $16 million in wages and $3.5 million in tax revenues. It's a vital economic driver for the maritime industry. Other businesses benefit, as well, as the cruise ships and crew buy products and services here. In addition, passengers spend money in shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions.

Submitted by Loretta Wilson, Keyway Committee

April 8, 2011

The City Market: Then and Now

April 5, 2011: Barry Newton addressed our club on the topic of The City Market. Barry is a Charleston native, a graduate of Bishop England High School and an open air vendor for over twenty years; today he is the manager of The City Market. Mr. Newton began with a brief history of the historic entity, discussed the continuing renovations and shared the anticipated long term results.

In 1788 Charles Pinkney deeded the land for the City Market to Charleston and stipulated that is must remain a public market or be returned to the Pinkney Family. The buildings that exist today were constructed between 1804 and the 1830’s to house vendors and perpetuate the market’s vitality.

Over the last 200 years the market has operated continuously, making it one of the oldest in the country. Due to the rise of super markets, in the mid 20th century, the market became run down and unattractive. In the mid 1970’s under the leadership of Mayor Palmer Gaillard the city took on the task of revitalizing the market, noting its historic value and long term potential as a land mark for our fine city!

Today, The City Market is Charleston’s number one tourist destination, though not frequented by many locals! It consists of four structures from Meeting Street to East Bay housing over 300 outdoor vendors daily, including, of course, the Sweet Grass Basket Ladies. Most recently a group of successful business owners teamed up to “return the market’s local flair”, their mission being to regain the support of locals by adding more crafts, arts and cuisine to the area. The group has instituted strict rules for all vendors pertaining to displays, products, etc. A booth owner must obtain management approval before adding any new products or making changes. To further propagate change the committee is very selective about new vendors, moving away from any more souvenir type items. The building is now housing an art show in the evening displaying over 50 local artists at each event.

The physical renovations completed last year added lights and fans to the ceilings, re-mortared the bricks, totally refreshing the dark buildings of the past. Through out the project the city has worked hard to keep all of the operators in business, moving them from one building to the next as the work progressed. The $2.1 million in bonds that were used to renovate the properties will be repaid solely through the rents generated over the years to come, NO tax dollars were spent on this improvement. Additional enhancements include restrooms, ATM’s, and a pedestrian walk way. Vendors no longer park their vans next to the building and remain there all day instead they must unload and park elsewhere, making the market much less congested.

The three open air buildings were complete last May, work continues on the first building which will house new shops, including fine cuisine, and local tenants like Wonder Works. As a city we can all look forward to the completion of this phase in late June and enjoy the fruits of this fabulous venue for years to come!

Submitted by Elizabeth Burwell, Keyway Chairperson
Spring Social at the Maritime Center

March 29, 2011: Our Spring Social was held in lieu of our regular lunch meeting. Members and their guests enjoyed an Oyster Roast at the Maritime Center. It was spectacular evening on the harbor with delicious oysters and chili cooked by Jamie Westendorf. Thanks to Digit Matheny and his social committee for all their efforts in planning such a wonderful event. They even ordered a blast of cool weather - perfect for eating oysters! And, a special thanks to Denise Barto and All Occasions Party & Events for donating all the set-up of tables, chairs, and decorations. A great time was had by all those in attendance!