Ronald Pote’s business is not salt of the earth. It takes salt out of the earth.

The Charleston entrepreneur walked away with the grand prize of $5,000 in Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual Perfect Pitch competition.

The award goes to the inventor in South Carolina who had the best idea for a business.

Pote’s patent-pending product, Byosoil 200, encapsulates salt in the soil, a problem in the Lowcountry and coastal areas where wells are contaminated with migrating saltwater as freshwater aquifers are drawn down. It is made by his company, Byo-Gon. The product is injected into irrigation water that then is used on turf and plants.

An all-natural product, ByoSoil provides humic acid technology, high amounts of soil microbes, and biostimulants that naturally build root health, increase nutrient uptake, decrease salt content and even increase the turf’s tolerance to disease without building a reliance on harmful chemicals.

More than 30 people entered their business ideas into the Perfect Pitch contest.

The top 10 finalists had five minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to win the grand prize, a scholarship to BizBuilderSC entrepreneurial training classes and a dream team of mentors.

Chamber chatter

Taking place early in the new year, the 2013 Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting will focus on retaining younger workers.

The nighttime event will be Jan. 10 at the Charleston Area Convention Center.

The guest speaker will be Rebecca Ryan, futurist and founder of Next Generation Consulting, which advises cities and regions about attracting young professionals and high-performing creative types.

It won’t be her first chamber appearance. Her Madison, Wis.-based firm has been retained by the group to help assess and address the so-called brain-drain that depletes too many midsize and smaller metro areas of their top talent.

Ryan, who is the author of “Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation.” Is compiling data and input to form what she has called Charleston’s “handprint.” The seven indexes run the gamut from pocketbook issues such as housing affordability to more nebulous social measurements.

As Ryan and others see it, the quality-of-life quotient will become increasingly important to a workforce that’s becoming increasingly mobile while putting off the traditional adult rituals of marriage, children, home purchases and other commitments.

Ryan’s assessment will measure the Charleston region against five peers: Austin, Texas; Charlotte; Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh; and Savannah. The chamber plans to use the study to help it develop an action plan.

Web of problems

Edson Munekata is itching to get his new Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse open in the former Piccadilly in North Charleston. He just has one problem. No one will provide him Internet service. He said he is steps away from North Charleston City Hall, and all the surrounding businesses on Mall Drive have the service, but he can’t get it. He’s called Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and others — all with the same result. No service. He has even contacted the mayor’s office for help.

Munekata expects to hire up to 50 people at the renovated former restaurant and hoped to open by early December, but he said he needs phone and Internet service to make that happen.

Bedtime story

Fewer heads in beds lowered Charleston County’s hotel occupancy numbers in October.

County hotels registered an occupancy rate of 74.3 percent, down 1.1 percent from October 2011, while average daily room rates increased 3 percent and revenue per available room climbed 1.9 percent.

The county is estimated to have sold about 2,600 fewer room nights last month versus October 2011, according to the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis. For the year, occupancy is up 0.2 percent.

Peninsular Charleston led all submarkets with an occupancy rate of 87.5 percent, but its rooms were off 0.9 percent year over year for October.

West Ashley posted an occupancy rate of 78.6 percent, an increase of 0.2 percent over last year.

North Charleston’s occupancy rate was 65.4 percent, a drop of 0.3 percent from October 2011. It’s the eighth month this year that the area’s occupancy has declined year over year.

But it was East Cooper that showed the steepest drop in room rentals last month, dropping 4.7 percent to 66.4 percent occupancy.