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.
Giving youngsters a safe place to learn, eat and grow is the mission of Hope Foundation Liberia, according to Columbia attorney Mark Arden, a board member for the non-profit and guest speaker at Capital Rotary’s first Zoom meeting on May 6 (shown in photo). Arden detailed efforts to improve the lives of rural kindergarten students “physically, emotionally and mentally” in the poverty-stricken nation wracked by 14 years of civil war, followed by the Ebola epidemic. Hope Foundation renovated buildings to serve as a temporary school and dug a new well to bring clean drinking water to the community. A new school on seven acres of land is nearly finished. It has enrolled 160 children and has a curriculum including etiquette, agriculture, being kind to others and trusting in God in addition to reading and writing. Children are fed two meals daily and will learn how agriculture can promote sustainability for the school. Arden is a partner at Chappell, Smith & Arden and graduated from the University of South Carolina and the university’s School of Law.
Capital Rotary members – unable to hold their weekly breakfast meetings at the Palmetto Club for the past seven weeks – held their first remote meeting via Zoom (as shown in photo) at 7:30 a.m. on May 6. President Abby Naas said the digital decision was made because “it has been too long since we have seen each other,” and a time frame for resuming onsite meetings is not known at this point. Nearly half the club joined the Zoom session, where donations of $1,100 each were announced to Harvest Hope Food Bank and to Senior Resources to assist in coronavirus relief efforts. Rotarians also discussed how they’ve been able to work remotely during the pandemic and to help business clients applying for government loans and financial assistance. Naas said the club plans to hold future Zoom meetings every other week and may even induct new members using the app. She also shared contacts that might assist in getting hand sanitizer, disposable face masks and face shields for those needing personal protection equipment.
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) boasts a refreshed look, feel and direction while trying to build on a 24% growth in passenger traffic since 2018. That’s the message Capital Rotarians heard March 11 from guest speakers (left to right in photo) Kim Jamieson and Mike Gula. Jamieson heads marketing and air services development, while Gula has been the aviation facility’s executive director for six years. They said CAE’s customers are 70% business fliers, 20% college, government or military passengers, and 10% family-based travelers. To compete with larger airports in Charleston, Charlotte and Savannah, CAE emphasizes a “fly with ease” theme of comfort and convenience. Gula said 91% of passengers move from the terminal’s entrance to security screening stations within five minutes. CAE also has local pride of ownership. Along with businesses operating on its campus, the airport generates over 1,800 fulltime jobs, more than $80 million in labor income and $535 million in economic output in South Carolina. CAE handles over 132 million pounds of cargo each year as a regional hub for UPS Airlines – the world’s third-largest airfreight operation. Gula said strong local support allows the airport to work for bigger planes, new air service and better fares.
Capital Rotary’s Philip Flynn (at right in photo) presents a new lapel pin to Dr. Tommy Gibbons, recognizing him as a Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Five contributor to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable fund to support programs for world understanding and peace. Gibbons has made an initial $1,000 donation to the fund, followed by five additional gifts of $1,000 each. Gibbons served as Capital Rotary president in 2016-2017. Flynn, the club’s immediate past president, is chairman of Foundation giving and international service during this year. Paul Harris Fellow honors are named for the Chicago attorney who founded Rotary International in 1905.
Capital Rotary members got a lesson on “Generation Y” millennials from March 4 guest speaker Matt Vaadi, who heads ERG, a Columbia-based human resources and payroll services company. Vaadi (at right in photo with Rotarian Darren Foy) defined millennials as those 20 to 39 years old, born from 1980-1999. At 86.9 million, they’re today’s largest demographic and 54% of the workforce. They contribute $1.3 trillion to the economy and are 61% college-educated. But on average they change jobs every two years, costing some $30.5 billion in turnover/retraining. Vaadi said millennials are often described as entitled, but should be more accurately seen as achievement-oriented, socially conscious, team players, continuous learners, digitally dependent and optimistic. Their most valued employment benefits are training and development opportunities (22%), flexible working hours (10%), cash bonuses (14%), free private healthcare (8%) and retirement funding (6%). Vaadi said the keys to retaining millennial workers are job flexibility, recognition of their efforts and a feeling of “work family.” He said Generation Y likes to focus on the “why” of doing a job rather than the “how” or “what” the job entails.
Capital Rotary president Abby Naas (left in photo) recognized Philip Flynn and Katherine Anderson on March 4 for their continuing support of The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that funds programs for world understanding and peace. Flynn was named a Paul Harris Fellow plus-one donor, representing an initial $1,000 donation, plus another of $1,000; Anderson is a plus-two Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by two more for $1,000 each. Flynn is Capital Rotary’s immediate past president. Anderson has been a club member since March 2009.
A reception (in photo) recently launched a new mentorship program being established by Columbia’s Rotary clubs and students in the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club. The goal is helping Rotaractors find success in their fields of study, professional development and life after graduation. Mentors and students will be matched based on profession and the student’s major and area of interest. A student may have up to two mentors and will participate in activities such as career and course guidance, resume review, local industry networking events, and exploring internship opportunities. USC Rotaract is open to young adults interested in community service, leadership and social activities. Capital Rotary became the student group’s lead sponsor in July 2019. The local Vista Night and Main Street Rotary clubs are co-sponsors.