February 26, 2012


Feb. 23, 2012: Our 2nd Annual Winter Gala was held in lieu of our regular meeting this week. Members and their guests enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Francis Marion Hotel. Attendees were treated to delicious food, a wonderful jazz band that included members John Tecklenburg and Steve Coe, and an exciting live auction featuring local auctioneer Doug Warner. It was definitely a night to remember! All proceeds from this event will go to benefit the programs in our community that are supported by our Rotary Club. We appreciate the club's overwhelming support of this event!

We sincerely appreciate the support of our generous sponsors:

Title Sponsor: Francis Marion Hotel (Steve Dopp)

Gold Sponsors: SunTrust (Ed Vaughan)
BB&T (Frank Bullard & Steve Morse)
Patterson Smith & Co., Inc. (Patterson Smith)
Wells Fargo (Tom Clymer & Elizabeth Burwell)

Silver Sponsors: Morris Financial Concepts (Kyra Morris)
McGuire & Company (Herb McGuire)
Charleston Riverdogs (Dave Echols)
Tom & Alma Clymer
Dan Butts

In-Kind Sponsors: Ross Printing (Digit Matheny)
Wine Styles
Doug Warner
John Tecklenburg & Steve Coe
Being a Post and Courier Columnist

Feb. 14, 2012: Brian Hicks offered insights today on his role as a local political columnist for the Post and Courier. Brian is a native of Cleveland, Tennessee and joined the Post and Courier in 1997. He has covered Southern politics for more than 20 years and has won dozens of journalism awards including the SC Press Assn Journalist of the Year in 1998. He is also the author/co-author of six books, including the local history yarn, "Raising the Hunley".

Brian's columns are known for being brutally honest, often humorous, and almost always critical of our political leaders and their public policy positions. He occasionally gives out kudos/compliments. Brian unabashedly apologized to anyone in the room that he had somehow offended, but offered solace that he would get around to offending everyone else eventually. Brian takes relish in feedback from readers over the years, including one reader who asked management, "Where did you get Brian Hicks from, wherever it was, would you please send him back?" Many times Brian points out the obvious that otherwise doesn't get expressed in the news, such as the recent incident with Sherriff Cannon and Brian's observation, "Al shouldn't have done it, but let's get past this, someone needed to hit this guy".

Brian says that most folks presume he is a liberal Democrat as he is mostly going after Republicans. Brian claims he really has no dog in the fight, there are just more Republicans out there to pick on. In fact Brian fears he might be arrested for shooting after Democrats, as they're now an endangered species in South Carolina. Brian shared that most of his material for his columns comes from talking with politicians, many of them Republican members of the legislature, and apparently they help provide ample fodder for one of his favorite subjects, Gov. Haley. He stays on the pulse of what's going on politically and reacts to it on a day to day basis. Sometimes if not a lot is going on, he'll be wondering at 3:00 in the afternoon what in the world he'll be writing about for the next morning's column.

An interesting insight into being a columnist and SC politics, read Brian's column when you can!

Submitted by John J. Tecklenburg

February 12, 2012

Helen Offers Good Picture of Charleston Tourism

February 7, 2012: Helen Hill, obviously proud of how Charleston last year became the top travel city by readers of Conde Naste Traveler magazine, offered a rosy tourism picture to members Tuesday.

Head of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau for 25 years, Hill extolled the increasing professionalism of Charleston’s tourism outreach efforts and showed a great video commercial seen in other parts of the country. Its message: “Thanks, y’all” for visiting Charleston. To see the video that features Mike Lata of Fig restaurant, Mariana Hay of Croghan’s Jewel Box and Havin Turner of Market Pavilion Hotel, go here: http://www.charlestoncvb.com/visitors/video/#cn_thanks/

“Our industry is thriving,” Hill said, noting how a new report said more than 70 percent of Charleston’s hotel rooms were occupied in 2010 and revenues were up 6 percent.

Among the reasons Charleston won the top spot in the readers’ survey over San Francisco (which had won 18 years in a row) and other communities was Charleston’s friendliness. It also didn’t hurt that San Francisco’s homeless population apparently annoyed those voting in the study, which helped knock it off the top of the list.

Other contributing factors to taking the top spot were:

Communications: how the message about the city’s history and food was communicated. For the first time ever, they’re tied as top reasons for visiting Charleston.

More airline seats: The addition of Southwest to the market helped to add 350,000 more seats available to people traveling to the area, she said.

Good coverage. The area also has benefited on good stories by the media that have helped to get out the word about Charleston, as highlighted in a report on CBS News and during the recent GOP primary. “We’ve learned you can sell to the media just like you can sell to everyone else,” Hill said.

She said the community has three challenges to protect its “brand” for visitors. First, community bickering about cruise ships doesn’t look good to people who are considering a visit. Second, the CVB will need to be more creative about its sales effort. Third, the community has to deliver on what it sells.

In the coming year, Hill said she and her team would work harder and smarter to be the “front door of our community.” One big advantage: The PGA Championship coming this summer will expose Charleston to hundreds of millions of people across the world. And that can’t hurt.

Submitted by Andy Brack, Keyway Commttee

Alcoa-Mt. Holly: A Strong Presence

January 31, 2012: Rotarian Jim Geffert introduced today's speaker, Alcoa Plant Manager, Mike Rousseau, by holding up a dollar bill and explaining that the "topic for today is money" and the cost of doing business. And he couldn't have been more right. In addition to plant production and industry statistics, Rousseau's presentation provided a first-hand insight to the direct and indirect economic impact of Alcoa's presence and potential absence.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) (from Aluminum Company of America) is the world's third largest producer of aluminum and is a world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum, and alumina combined.

A primary aluminum smelter, Alcoa's Mt. Holly site was constructed in 1979 on over 5000 acres of timberland near Goose Creek. The plant has become an industry leader in production efficiency, energy utilization, and environmental control, and proudly holds the title of the first primary aluminum plant in the world to be registered completely to the ISO 9001 Quality System Standard.

On both a global and local scale, Alcoa's strong presence is unmistakable. In the Charleston region, Alcoa-Mt. Holly’s vast economic impact is outlined in the below Chamber of Commerce April 2011 study.

Alcoa-Mt. Holly's Economic Impact At-A-Glance:
562 direct employees ($91,000 per job in annual wages & benefits)
2,815 total jobs created statewide due to Alcoa-Mt. Holly's presence
$51 million annual payroll in the Charleston region
$184 million in local spending on goods and services at area businesses each year
$191 million spent statewide on goods and services annually
More than $3 million in property taxes paid to state and local governments annually
$2 million and 7,500 volunteer hours donated to community non-profits since 2006
$835 million pumped into South Carolina's economy annually because of Alcoa

This "wonderful metal", as Rousseau explains, is not only responsible for employing a "passionate" team of employees, but local residents who are committed to building a stronger community. A sentiment also shared on a corporate level with the generosity of the Alcoa Foundation. Some of the largest recent grants by the foundation to different Charleston area organizations include:

Trident Technical College - $400,000
Junior Achievement - $40,000
Earth Force - $43,000
SC Waterfowl Association - $45,000
The Nature Conservancy - $200,000
Trident Literacy Association - $35,000

So, how could the Lowcounty stand to lose this economic giant? Rousseau explained that the high electricity costs, representing 41% of their aluminum production costs, are far above the national average power rates.

Currently, Aloca-Mt. Holly pays their electric company, Santee Cooper, an annual cost to the tune of $180 million. Not surprisingly, Alcoa is Santee Cooper’s largest customer, consuming about 10% of the Moncks Corner-based utility's power production.

As quoted in a recent Post and Courier article, Rousseau stated: “We are clearly focused and have a sense of urgency on the power situation and getting that fixed so we can be competitive on the world stage. We should be further along than we are now. We need to get this thing moving quickly."

Although its current contract with Santee Cooper expires in 2015, a provision in the agreement states that Alcoa must notify the utility by June if it intends to terminate the deal. Rousseau explained that contrary to the reports, a solution must be met prior to the June deadline. This sense of urgency was evident and clearly stated in his last slide: “Now is the time for Santee Copper to provide a 20 year competitive rate structure, allowing Mt. Holly the opportunity to continue operation and investing in the Lowcountry.”

Submitted by Teal Van Saun, Keyway Committee