Today’s technology is a strategic asset companies can use to differentiate themselves from the competition, but a business not on board with this philosophy may not survive the future. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard from their March 7 guest speaker, John Eckstrom, Carolina Business Equipment president and CEO. Eckstrom said technology’s marketplace impact includes (1) social media – where two-thirds of the earth’s 3½ billion connected people are on Facebook; (2) Twitter – allowing mobile access to information at up-to-the second speed; (3) cloud computing – that lets users store data elsewhere and retrieve it via the internet from any device; and (4) big data – where companies can analyze their information to look for hidden patterns, correlations, market trends and customer preferences. As these “converging technologies” continue to be applied in the business world, Eckstrom said, “we don’t know where we’re going because we’ve never been there before.” In addition to his career at Carolina Business Equipment since 1994, Eckstrom also serves as president-elect of the Business Technology Association, an organization for office technology dealers nationwide. (ChannelPro Network photo)
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club has made donations for two humanitarian causes – one to eradicate polio, the other to provide disaster relief in the U.S. and overseas.
The club raised $882 that will be matched with District Designated Funds to become a donation of $1,764 for the worldwide campaign to eradicate polio. Ending polio has been a mission of Rotary International since 1985. Rotarians have contributed more than $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
Capital Rotary’s contribution – and the resulting match from District 7770 in eastern South Carolina – was made to celebrate World Polio Day/Week. World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
The local club’s disaster relief donation totaled $8,000 earmarked for rebuilding lives and communities following hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, plus the September earthquakes in Mexico. “We are coordinating through Rotary for the best way to distribute our funds to make a difference,” said Capital president Blake DuBose.
“Our board voted for this donation because we remember when Columbia was impacted by a 1,000-year flood in 2015 and an outpouring of support came from all parts of the country,” DuBose added. “The greater Columbia area was the beneficiary of an incredible amount of giving then, so we’re doing what we can in the same spirit now.”
Adding quality members is the key to success for Rotary clubs, and Columbia’s Capital Rotary must continue to apply that formula, according to past president David Boucher. Boucher, now serving as membership director, focused on the importance of growth at the Oct. 11 meeting. Boucher said international membership numbers were fairly flat for the past five years while Capital Rotary added to its ranks, especially among female members. The club’s attrition rate over the last three years – 8.6% – compares favorably with that of Rotary District 7770 at 14.4%. Boucher believes Capital Rotary’s growth assets include (1) outstanding existing membership, (2) quality speakers each week, (3) a convenient meeting time at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, (4) accessible downtown parking, (5) a good meeting venue at the Palmetto Club, (6) improved social media and public relations and (7) a membership “growth culture.” But noting that “complacency is Rotary’s number one enemy,” Boucher warned that “attrition is real” and the need for “growing clubs with quality Rotarians” must be met to ensure future opportunities for service.
Capital Rotary members Carol Caulk and John Guignard have tips for Arden Elementary School third-graders on how to use the new paperback dictionaries they received as part of the club’s participation in The Dictionary Project. The project – begun by a non-profit organization in Charleston in 1995 – aims to help students become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learner. Capital Rotary donated dictionaries to some 850 students in 12 Richland County District One schools for 2017. Over the past 13 years, the club has distributed personal dictionaries to more than 13,000 students in the Columbia area. A number of Rotary clubs in South Carolina and throughout the country are Dictionary Project sponsors. One of Rotary International’s major goals is improving basic education and literacy for adults and young people.
Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company backs community improvement outreach efforts in education, arts and culture, and health and wellness. The Columbia-based firm and its employees had a positive local impact topping $2.4 million in 2016, including over $700,000 in employee giving and more than 11,000 hours of volunteer time for charitable organizations. That’s according to president and CEO Tim Arnold – flanked by Capital Rotary members Matthew Pollard (left) and Frank Rutkowski (right) – the club’s Sept. 20 guest speaker. Arnold said Colonial Life is especially proactive in school programs such as Junior Achievement, literacy and mentoring, and educator leadership training. These demonstrate the company is a corporate good neighbor committed to student achievement and preparation of a future workforce. Arnold earned a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s in business administration degree in finance from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He joined Colonial Life in July 2011.
Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose recognizes at-large director and service chair Neda Beal for continuing Rotary Foundation donations that support world understanding and peace programs. Beal is now a Paul Harris Fellow plus-three giver (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with three additional gifts at the same amount). The club previously honored Beal as 2016 Rotarian of the Year for guiding local community service, literacy and volunteer projects.
Eight of the state’s central region counties are enjoying the fruits of economic development efforts seeking new business and employment – to the tune of investments totaling over $12 billion and creation of more than 68,000 jobs. That’s what Capital Rotary Club members heard from Sept. 13 guest speaker Mike Briggs, shown talking with Rotarian Andy Markl (back to camera). Since 1997, Briggs has been president and CEO of the Central SC Alliance, a regional public-private partnership dedicated to stimulating economies in Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg and Richland counties as well as the City of Columbia. The alliance has been especially successful in boosting global investment. Briggs said more than 22,000 workers in the area are employed by foreign affiliates, and there are businesses from over two dozen countries represented region wide. He said the most important keys to continuing economic expansion are (1) a workforce dedicated to becoming more highly skilled and (2) an abundance of suitable buildings and site locations to quickly accommodate business needs.
Capital Rotarian Abby Naas has been named Female Executive of the Year for the South Atlantic League. Naas joined the staff of the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team in January 2015 as marketing and public relations vice president. She became a Capital club member later that same year. Naas now will be the South Atlantic League’s nominee for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award, an industry-wide honor presented annually by Rawlings and minor league baseball. Prior to joining the Fireflies, Nass was twice named Midwest League Female Executive of the Year while working for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in Indiana. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Fireflies)
Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose presents a $1,000 check supporting child feeding to Denise Holland, CEO of Harvest Hope Food Bank. The funds will go for (1) a BackPack Program providing child-friendly, nutritious, easy-to-open food to last the weekend for needy children and (2) the Kids Café Program serving an average of 300 children over 3,100 nutritious, warm meals monthly at 13 after-school sites including churches, community centers and Boys & Girls Clubs. DuBose said Harvest Hope has worked since 1981 to alleviate childhood hunger, a concern embraced by Rotary International worldwide.
As long as politics continues to overshadow sound policy, it will be difficult to pass meaningful health care reform in the United States. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard from their Aug. 23 guest speaker – Thornton Kirby. Kirby (right), shown with club member and human resources professional Trey Boone, is a health care attorney and former hospital executive. Noting that health care is one-sixth of the nation’s economy, Kirby said reform is also complicated by the public’s “three wishes” – (1) to have the world’s best health care, (2) to have someone else pay for it and (3) to not be responsible for changing their personal behavior to ensure better health. Kirby said a more “intelligent design” for reform would focus on affordability for employers, employees and government; on the clinical effectiveness of drugs instead of their marketability; and on promoting wellness behaviors in place of “sick care” emphasis. Kirby is president and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association, a private, not-for-profit organization created in 1921 to be a collective voice for the state’s hospital community.