Capital Rotary members got a “bulls and bears” look at the economy and stock/bond market when Nicole Dill (in photo with Rotarian Stephen West) was the club’s guest speaker Nov. 14. Dill, a Chapin resident, works with JP Morgan Asset Management and has 20 years of experience in financial services. In her briefing she said (1) the US economy has not had problem inflation for 30 years, a trend that will continue; (2) another recession is expected in the future, likely 2021or 2022; (3) 1,300 “baby boomers” will be retiring each day for the next decade, helping to fuel labor force needs that could keep the nation at or near full employment; (4) the Federal Reserve Board is predicted to raise interest rates in December 2018 and March 2019, and perhaps in June 2019, but probably not in September 2019; (5) the US has a consumer-driver economy, with 70% of our growth due to consumption: people buying things; (6) recent mid-term elections helped restore a more balanced government divide between Democrats and Republicans, which has been the nation’s norm 61% of the time; and (7) investors need to rebalance their accounts yearly because of national and international economic change.
Epworth Ice Cream Co. – a business launched just four months ago – is already proving to be a sweet success for Epworth Children’s Home, a Methodist-based institution housing about 70 youth at its Columbia campus. Company president David Mackey (shown at left with Rotarian Jim Potter) was Capital Rotary Club’s Nov. 7 guest speaker. Mackey said his star product – peanut butter ice cream – is based on a recipe created by Epworth Home in the 1930s. Today’s premium-brand Epworth Ice Cream comes in three other flavors as well. It’s made by an artisanal firm in Georgia and sold in pre-packaged cups, pint containers and in bulk to local restaurants. All profits go to the children’s home, and Mackey envisions a future where expanded local, statewide and regional sales might not only generate a healthy income, but also raise awareness of Epworth’s history and mission. A Richmond, VA native, Mackey graduated from Randolph-Macon with a BA in economics and from Wake Forest with an MBA in business/marketing. He created a business plan and raised funds critical to Epworth Ice Cream’s start-up over the past year.
Capital Rotarians went to historic Columbia College on Oct. 31 for a tour and briefing from president Dr. Carol Moore. She outlined plans to promote entrepreneurship and workforce development, noting that 51% of new business startups are headed by women. The college’s Institute for Leadership & Professional Excellence houses a McNair Center for Entrepreneurism – one of six such centers across the nation – for undergraduate and graduate students. Moore envisions a “consulting agency” approach where students with proper faculty guidance would work with businesses, combining academic knowledge and real-world job experience. Moore also spoke about plans for redevelopment projects at college-owned properties in adjacent neighborhoods, noting these would benefit students and nearby residents alike. Columbia College senior Marisa Thornton (left foreground) led Capital Rotary’s campus tour. Also pictured are club members (front row, from left) Mark Timbes, Ione Cockrell and Andy Markl; (back row, from left) Abby Naas, Philip Flynn, Paul Gillam, Daniel Moses and Austin McVay. Capital Rotary’s visit was part of the club’s Fifth Wednesday program featuring local field trips in place of a regular weekly meeting.
South Carolina’s Department of Commerce is laying groundwork for participation in a new community development program – Opportunity Zones – established by Congress as part of 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The program was detailed for Capital Rotary by Commerce research director Ben Johnson (pictured), the club’s Oct. 24 guest speaker. Designed to encourage long-term private investment in low-income communities, Opportunity Zones aims to jump-start economic activity in parts of the state that have not prospered over the past few years. Investors are offered federal tax incentives for putting existing capital gains into the program and keeping these monies invested for five, seven or 10 years or more. Opportunity Zones projects could include workforce development, affordable housing, new infrastructure, startup for new businesses and capital improvements. Johnson, who has experience in commercial real estate research and data, is a board member of the SC Logistics Council, the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator and Eau Claire Development Corporation. He also authored the most recent South Carolina Innovation Plan.
South Carolina United FC is the Palmetto State’s largest youth soccer club and aims to make a positive impact on the lives of the 4,400 children and young adults active in its programs. That’s what Capital Rotary members heard when Ron Tryon (shown with Rotarian Felicia Maloney) was their Oct. 17 guest speaker. Tryon – a former attorney – has been CEO of the soccer non-profit since January 2014. His goal is to offer quality youth recreational soccer in all neighborhoods and to any child regardless of race, religion or socio-economic background. South Carolina United FC attracts players from 250 schools in 17 counties and last year had 43 of its “alumni” players bound for competition at the college level. Three of the club’s former players are now in the professional ranks. South Carolina United FC’s cultural exchange program with a “sister state” in Germany has involved over 600 student-athletes and coaches since 2003. Its two annual tournaments attract some 200,000 players, coaches and parents, resulting in a $7.6 million economic impact in the Columbia area. Tryon also detailed progress on the club’s new 24-acre, five-field soccer training complex located near the intersection of I-20 and Monticello Road.
When Columbia hosts the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Regionals next March, that could bring 20,000-25,000 visitors to town and generate a potential $9 million economic impact. Scott Powers, executive director of Experience Columbia SC Sports, is working alongside the University of South Carolina to make that experience welcoming, user-friendly and enjoyable for players, coaches, media and fans. Powers (shown at left with Rotarian Alex Serkes) was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 19 guest speaker. He said the event – to be held March 22-24, 2019 at Colonial Life Arena – is the first time Columbia has been an NCAA Regionals host since 1970. The eight college teams slated to compete in first and second round games won’t be announced until March 17. How well the tournament draws will be influenced by which teams will be playing, where they’ll be traveling from, each team’s fan base and their fans’ willingness to travel. Powers is encouraging the Midlands to get involved by offering community events, fun things to do while in town and food/drink specials. “All eyes will be on Columbia to determine whether we will be selected to host again,” he said. Powers has been Experience Columbia SC Sports director since 2004. He’s a USC graduate, a Leadership Columbia gradate and a founding member of the South Carolina Sports Alliance.
The Alzheimer’s Association-South Carolina Chapter’s vision for the future is a world without the dreaded disease of dementia. Taylor Wilson (shown with Rotarian Tony Thompson), chapter director of communications and advocacy, was Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on Sept. 12. She detailed the statewide group’s work to educate, support and advance critical research for treating, preventing and, ultimately, curing Alzheimer’s. The chapter also promotes the needs and rights of patients and caregivers. Wilson said 89,000 South Carolinians have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; there are 309,000 caregivers in the state. South Carolina’s death rate from Alzheimer’s is the nation’s highest and went up by 180% in the past year. Wilson lauded Rotary for its support of CART – the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust – a project started in 1996 to provide funds for cutting edge research to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Wilson joined the Alzheimer’s Association staff three years ago and has spent the last 10 years working with non-profits around the Midlands area. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
Lou Kennedy, President and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals, spoke to the Columbia Capital Rotary Club on Wednesday, September 5th. An avid Gamecock fan, Ms. Kennedy detailed Nephron’s move from Florida to South Carolina and its growth over the last five years. Currently employing over 800, Nephron has become an anchor for the Midlands’ economy while being actively involved in the community. She described Nephron’s newest endeavor in providing hospitals with ‘short-supply meds’ and filling a nationwide need. Ms. Kennedy gave a personal story on perseverance that resonated with club members.
Capital Rotary Club visited the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (photo one) on Aug. 29 for a slide show and briefing by Deputy Amanda Jordan (photo two) on the agency’s mission, values, organization and programs. With its population of more than 400,000 spread over 756 square miles, the county presents a policing challenge for the sheriff’s force of 700 uniformed officers and 140 support personnel. Jordan said Sheriff Leon Lott stresses core values of service, integrity, accountability and professionalism for all employees and works to develop a sense of family throughout the organization’s various divisions and offices. She encouraged Rotarians to spread the word about the Citizens Police Academy – a 14-week program of classes designed to give participants an overview of the Sheriff’s Department structure, services and personnel. Jordan (shown with Rotarian Rowland Alston in photo three) is a University of South Carolina gradate who’s been a deputy for 15 years and now is a sergeant in the Office of Public Information and Media Relations. Capital Rotary’s Aug. 29 briefing was part of the club’s Fifth Wednesday program substituting local field trips in place of a regular meeting.
South Carolina’s 20 electric cooperatives have a big stake in financial fallout from the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant abandoned a year ago by Santee Cooper and SC Electric & Gas. That’s according to Lou Green, communications executive vice president for the Electric Cooperatives of SC. Green (left in photo with Rotarian Tony Thompson) was Capital Rotary’s Aug. 22 guest speaker. He said co-ops are focused on financial impacts that resolution of the $9 billion failure might have on their 1.5 million customers. They are especially concerned about Santee Cooper’s fate since co-ops are the state-owned utility’s biggest customer base. Twenty-three lawsuits plus various legislative actions complicate the issue, but Green noted that a special committee is meeting now to study the idea of selling Santee Cooper to pay off its nuclear debt. “The state needs to come up with a process and bring options to the legislature,” Green said. “They’re the only ones who can make a decision about Santee Cooper.” Green joined the state co-ops organization in 1992 after working in radio and television. He is a University of Georgia graduate with a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina.