Over the past seven years, the Office for Innovation, Partnership and Economic Engagement has become a focal point for industries melding the University of South Carolina’s resources with doing business in the Palmetto State. The result has been nearly $800 million worth of economic development, 620 jobs and $86 million in job-related impact, according to Bill Kirkland, the office’s executive director (in photo) and guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s June 3 meeting via Zoom. Kirkland said the engagement office’s work includes (1) corporate outreach; (2 help in licensing intellectual property; (3) innovation assistance for entrepreneurs; (4) support at the Innovista research campus in downtown Columbia; and (5) recruiting companies to the state. In the past six months, over $7 million in small business research grants have come as a result of the university’s “strategic creative partnership with corporate America,” Kirkland reported. For the past eight years, South Carolina has been among the top 100 universities granted U.S. patents. “We’re also the fifth fastest-growing manufacturing state in the nation,” Kirkland said. A former head of the university’s Columbia Technology Incubator, Kirkland also held executive management positions with IBM and Pfizer and was a managing partner for South Carolina-based LK Global Consulting. Capital Rotary has been holding biweekly video meetings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
South Carolina’s electric cooperatives are working together to help boost economic development in the Palmetto State. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard from Jamie Frost at their Zoom meeting May 20. Frost is senior vice president of community preparedness for the SC Power Team, a nonprofit set up in 1988. It serves 20 co-ops across two-thirds of the state seeking more industry and commerce, especially in rural areas. The Power Team offers project management, retention and expansion of existing businesses, utility rate incentives, funds to help prepare industrial sites and infrastructure, an annual economic development review, training and strategic planning. Over the past six years, co-op and Power Team efforts were key for attraction and expansion of companies investing more than $6.4 billion and creating 30,000 jobs in the state. Frost joined the team in 2017 after working for a consulting engineers’ firm. He’s a graduate of the University of South Carolina, completed the Leadership South Carolina program, Class of 2019, and is a City of Columbia Planning Commission member.
The head of the SC Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has been inducted into Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club. Kitty Sutton – executive director of the legal nonprofit since 2013 – joined May 20 during the club’s second Zoom meeting. Remote sessions are being held every two weeks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Sutton is a Columbia native with both English and law degrees from the University of South Carolina, plus a Masters in English from the University of South Alabama in Mobile. She’s worked at law firms in Mobile, Charleston and Columbia. She has been an adjunct professor at USC, the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College. Sutton is on the board of Justice 360, a group involved with juvenile justice and capital punishment issues. She’s also been a board member for Heathwood Hall Episcopal School and for Columbia’s Court Appointed Special Advocates, Communities in Schools and Carolina Ballet.
In July, District Governor David Tirard visited the Capital Rotary club to lead way into an exciting new Rotary year. During his comments, DG Tirard relayed Rotary International’s 2018-19 motto, “Be the Inspiration”, but emphasized that you don’t have to be a leader to be an inspiration and that everyone can leave their footprints in the sands of time to make a lasting change.
Tirard is originally from Plymouth, England where he had a 34 year banking career. He moved to the United States in 2002. Past District Governor Sandee Brooks invited Tirard to a Rotary meeting in 2003 and he has been a Rotarian since. He now lives in Hilton Head, SC where he enjoys chasing a little white ball around golf courses and has accomplished a single handicap.
Working to overcome effects of significant childhood trauma leads to better lives for youngsters and their families but requires “a lot of human capital,” according to Achieve Columbia executive director Robert Lominack, Capital Rotary’s July 11 guest speaker. Lominack (shown with Rotarian Ione Cockrell) co-founded the non-profit program in 2012 after working as a defense lawyer and high school teacher. Currently embedded at Hand Middle School, Achieve Columbia builds long-lasting and deep relationships with at-risk students and families beginning in 7th grade and continuing through high school graduation. Lominack said mitigating trauma’s negative impact “gives our students a wider window into the world and helps them find their place in it.” With a combination of group and individualized mentoring, tutoring, resource coordination and counseling, Achieve Columbia successfully deals with issues including student behavior and academics, homelessness, transportation and life beyond high school. Lominack is a Greenville, SC native and was educated at the University of the South in Tennessee and at Northeastern Law School in Boston.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s Project Lifesaver team aims to “bring loved ones home” safely when electronic tracking is needed to find at-risk wanderers – clients with Alzheimer’s, autism, Downs Syndrome or traumatic brain injury. Deputy Amanda Jordan (shown at left in photo with Rotarian Daniel Moses) briefed Capital Rotary on June 13, noting that 44 local clients and their families are enrolled in the program founded in Virginia nearly 20 years ago. Project Lifesaver began in Richland County in 2006 with only eight deputies and three clients. Today 80 deputies are trained, certified specialists in locating missing persons via electronic searching – a process that usually takes less than 30 minutes as compared to a normal physical search lasting up to nine hours and sometimes involving hundreds of officers and volunteers. Jordan said Project Lifesaver is cost effective for law enforcement and provides better protection for lost individuals. Richland County does not charge its residents or their at-risk loved ones for receiving a transmitter and joining the program. Jordan, a University of South Carolina graduate, has served with the Sheriff’s Department for 14 years. She coordinates Project Lifesaver for the State of South Carolina, where 18 counties have signed on. There are 1,300 participating agencies across the US, Canada and Australia. To date more than 3,400 client rescues have been reported.
Capital Rotary members held their fall social at River Rat Brewery on Shop Road in Columbia. The brewery was founded in 2013, currently offers 15 craft beers and includes a tap room and outside covered deck. Shown enjoying the evening’s fellowship are Rotarians Jimmy Gibbs (in light blue shirt) flanked by Allison Brumfield (left) and Abby Naas; club president Blake DuBose (blue striped shirt) and Jay von Kolnitz; (wearing vests, from left) Clint Yarborough and Tommy Phelps; and (group photo, from left) Tommy Gibbons, Jack Williamson, Bud Foy and Andy Markl.
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.
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.
EJ Newby (second from left) and Carol Caulk (far right) are welcomed to Capital Rotary membership, flanked by their respective sponsors, Craig Lemrow and Ione Cockrell. They’ve both been active in other clubs – Newby in Florence Rotary, where he was a board member and took part in a host of service projects, and Caulk in Columbia’s Main Street Rotary, where she was membership chairman and a board member. Newby is major gifts officer for Midlands Technical College and has been a Sunday school teacher for Northside Baptist Church. He and his wife, Mary, have three adult sons and five grandchildren. Caulk is director of workplace safety and wellness for Agape Hospice and LTC Health Solutions, with an extensive record of community service. She’s a 2009 graduate of Leadership Columbia, the treasurer for First Thursdays on Main Street and a board member for South Carolina’s Employers Advocate Association. She and her husband – Columbia Rotary member Glen Paul Caulk – have three children.