Joey Von Nessen (right in photo with Rotarian Stephen West), a research economist at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, shared the state’s 2019 market overview as Capital Rotary’s guest speaker Nov. 13. He said this year has been an economic roller coaster due to tariff and trade disputes, slowing global markets, fluctuating interest rates and waning of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 stimulus. Auto tariffs affect the Palmetto State via increased costs in the short run and potential changes in global production strategies in the long run. After peaking in 2015, our employment growth began to fall and is at 2% so far this year. But Von Nessen noted that every county has had employment gains at or above the state average since 2018. Labor costs, lumber costs and higher interest rates have negatively impacted the state’s construction industry, but the latter two are more positive recently. Although South Carolina is well-positioned for 2019, Von Nessen said the bottom line is that a “decaf” economy (lacking stimulus) combined with higher uncertainty worldwide means slower growth. Von Nessen serves on the advisory committee of the SC Board of Economic Advisors and is responsible for preparation and presentation of USC’s annual statewide economic forecast. He’s regularly invited to brief the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond on the state’s market conditions.
Capital Rotary members toured the City of Columbia’s Busby Street Community Center on Oct. 30 as part of the club’s 5th Wednesday program that features local field trips instead of a regular breakfast meeting. The complex off Farrow Road opened in November 2018 as a local engagement and resource center for the Burton Heights/Standish Acres neighborhood. It has two buildings – a nearly 7,000-quare-foot community center run by City Parks & Recreation and a 1,400 square-foot City Police substation. The center includes bathrooms, multi-purpose offices, a kitchen, a conference room and a large presentation space with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. Outside there’s a fitness walking trail and children’s playground. Tour participants included (left to right in photo) Katherine Anderson, Gloria Saeed, Felicia Maloney, Officer Ron Felder, recreation coordinator Jalesa McKelvey, Christina Myers, Ione Cockrell, City Parks & Recreation director Randy Davis, Ann Elliott, Bob Davis and Rowland Alston.
EarlyAct Club members at St. Peter’s Catholic School have presented a check for $112 to Bernie Riedel (red t-shirt in back row), past governor for Rotary District 7770 and current End Polio Now chair. The youngsters held a Purple Pinkie Fundraiser (each donation gets one of your fingers painted purple) in support of Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio worldwide. Their contribution will be matched two-fold by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation – a campaign partner – so that an additional 3,000 children in third-world countries can receive polio vaccinations. End Polio Now has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. Columbia-area Rotarians sponsor St, Peter’s EarlyAct Club as a service organization for students ages 5 to 13. It helps youth develop character and leadership skills linked to the ideals of Rotary International.
In folklore, vampires are undead creatures feeding on blood from the living. In reality, our homes are well-stocked with energy vampires – electronic devices that drain power even where they’re not in use and that can suck up to 10% of your monthly bill, according to Mary Pat Baldauf (in photo). She’s the City of Columbia’s sustainability facilitator and was Capital Rotary’s Oct. 23 guest speaker. Energy vampires are easy to spot because they (1) use an external power supply; (2) may include a remote control; (3) have a continuous display or LED status light; (4) may contain a battery charger; and (5) can feature a soft-touch key pad. Common examples include cable/satellite boxes; DVR, VCR, DVD players; mobile phone devices; video game consoles; and standby coffee makers. Baldauf said “slaying” energy vampires might be as simple as pulling the plug, especially for devices not used very often. Other remedies are (1) making use of energy-saving features — such as sleep mode — commonly built into electronics; (2) plugging into smart power strips that automatically cut the current when devices are not in use.; and (3) replacing old or broken products with ones that are more energy efficient and have a lower than average standby consumption rate. Baldauf noted that none of these strategies will eliminate power bills altogether, but a few small steps over time will save money. A University of South Carolina graduate, Baldauf engages residents, businesses and city employees in environmental and climate protection initiatives.
District 7770 Gov. Johnny Moore (right in photo) has honored Columbia’s Capital Rotary for 2018-2019 donations to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable fund for programs promoting peace and world understanding. Moore presented three recognition banners to immediate past president Philip Flynn. These included (1) ranking in the Top Three Highest in Per Capital Annual Giving in the district; (2) achieving Every Rotarian, Every Year status – a minimum Annual Fund contribution of $100 per capita; and (3) becoming a 100% Foundation Giving Club with 100% participation by members plus $100 average per capita contributions. Capital Rotary also was named a Three-Star Club for showing year-after-year Foundation support. Moore – a member of Chapin Sunrise Rotary – is a former assistant area governor and membership chairman for District 7770 that comprises nearly 4,000 Rotarians in clubs across the 25 eastern counties of South Carolina.
Capital Rotary past president Blake Dubose (standing at right in back row) and his team of club members delivered new paperback dictionaries to third-grade students at Gadsden Elementary recently. For 15 years Capital Rotary has donated the free books to 12 Richland District One grade schools as part of the Dictionary Project – an effort begun by a non-profit organization in Charleston in 1995 to help young people become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learners. Locally, the Rotarians have given out more than 14,000 dictionaries over the years, while a number of other clubs in South Carolina and throughout the country also are Dictionary Project sponsors. One of Rotary International’s worldwide goals is improving basic education and literacy for adults and young people.
For 37 years The Cooperative Ministry has been working hard for the “working poor” of the Midlands – those with low-wage jobs who are sometimes unable to meet basic living expenses. Scott Vaughan, the non-profit’s community awareness director (pictured with Rotarian Neda Beal), was Capital Rotary’s Oct. 9 guest speaker. He said local churches founded and still support the mission of focusing on short-term crisis assistance while build long-term self-sufficiency. The Cooperative Ministry helped 12,380 people in 2018 including rent or utility assistance for 531 households. Vaughan said the ministry’s “hand up but not handout” aid also was comprised of (1) food assistance – 6,025 people served; (2) free clothing for 6,259 clients; (3) free tax return preparation – 8,362 people served; (4) insurance counseling for 807 people; (5) car donations – six clients got vehicles for work transportation; and (6) working with five local firms for job placement. The ministry provides Christian counseling and financial education classes as well. Nearly 500 volunteers donated over 11,000 hours of time last year, along with support from more than 1,300 individual donors. Vaughan is a University of Georgia graduate who completed a three-year executive program at Emory University. He joined The Cooperative Ministry in 2017 after careers in journalism, marketing and in faith-based consulting for 5,000 congregations throughout North America.
Entrepreneurs looking to start or build a business can find help (and a cup of coffee) at weekly meetings in Columbia and four other communities across South Carolina. That’s the idea behind 1 Million Cups – a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation initiative to strengthen education and entrepreneurship. Columbia’s 1 Million Cups sessions take place at 9 a.m. each Wednesday in the Richland County Library’s main branch and are part of a network of 190 such events nationally. Capital Rotary members were briefed on the program Oct. 2 by Sergio Aparicio and Tim Bradford, local 1 Million Cups organizers. They said 1 Million Cups is not a sales or investor pitch, but a chance for entrepreneurs to explain what they do and what kinds of challenges they’ve faced. Each hour-long session includes networking, coaching, mentoring and encouragement. Aparicio works in the city’s Economic Development Office and is currently pursuing International Economic Development Council certification. Bradford has over 25 years of business management, consulting and marketing experience. He’s president of The Bradford Group of Companies, LLC with offices locally and in Pittsburgh. South Carolina’s other 1 Million Cups groups meet in Anderson, Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg.
The University of South Carolina’s Educational Foundation and Development Foundation provide key, non-profit support for the state’s flagship institution, according to Jason Caskey, a 1990 accounting graduate who oversees fund operations. Caskey (center in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard at right and assistant Hunter Lambert on left) was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 18 guest speaker. He said the two foundations’ assets total approximately $800 million. The Educational Foundation’s primary purpose is to accept donor gifts in the form of cash, real estate, life insurance and other valuables. It has assets of $565 million, including investments worth $478 million whose earnings are applied to scholarships, faculty/staff salary supplements, development staff support, the USC Children’s Center and foundation operations. The Development Foundation’s goal is to handle the purchase of real estate – some for operations, some held for possible future use and some to be put up for sale. Its total assets are approximately $225 million. Caskey received the 2008 Distinguished Young Alumnus award from USC’s Moore School of Business. He was a financial services practice leader and managing shareholder for Elliott Davis in Columbia before becoming the foundations’ president and CEO.
Columbia’s East Point Academy merges cultures, inspires minds and expands horizons for students by teaching them Mandarin Chinese, the world’s most spoken language. In the process, East Point earned an “A” ranking as the state’s 2nd best public charter school, according to Mark Bounds (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard). Bounds was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 4 guest speaker, tracing the school’s growth to 740 students since its 2011 founding. East Point practices language immersion – meaning that Mandarin Chinese is used extensively in academic classes schoolwide. Mandarin is spoken by over a million people and is the second-fastest growing language globally. South Carolina has an important China connection – Bounds said the country ranks 1st among the state’s export markets while Chinese companies employ over 3,500 of our residents. East Point has classes from 4th grade kindergarten to 8th grade middle school and hopes to add high school instruction. It offers extracurricular activities ranging from clubs to performing arts and sports. As the first school of its kind in the Carolinas, East Point has inspired two more Chinese language immersion institutions. “Together, our students, teachers, staff and parents make East Point Academy a great place to learn and grow,” Bounds said. Before becoming East Point’s head of school, Bounds worked for Lexington-Richland School District Five and for the SC State Department of Education. He served 20 years in the military prior to his education career.