Santee Cooper didn't dole out executive raises last week, but it set the stage for changes in the financial compensation for its top brass.

In a resolution passed at a board meeting in Myrtle Beach on Friday, the state-owned utility's directors agreed that "a competitive pay philosophy and structure are required to attract and retain highly qualified executives."

It went on to say the objective is "to promote and reward excellent performance" based on recommendations contained in a report from New York-based Towers Watson, a global human resources consulting firm.

The report wasn't immediately available after the resolution passed Friday because it contains some confidential information that will have to be redacted, said utility spokeswoman Mollie Gore.

The board typically reviews compensation for Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter each April. He received a bump of 8 percent, or $33,000, in October that brought his annual salary to $450,252. It was his first raise in nearly four years.

In good taste

Charleston has again graced the glossy pages of Conde Nast Traveler magazine in the "Hot List" edition released last week.

The magazine highlights Charleston's Zero George Hotel as one of the "best food hotels" in its 18th annual "Hot List," an editorial ranking of the best new hotels in the world. The luxury boutique hotel was one of 33 accommodations to be recognized out of nearly 400 that were considered.

Dean Andrews - a former executive of Charleston Place and of the company that manages it - and wife Lynn Easton opened the 17-room lodging in January 2013 in the former Maison du Pre Inn at East Bay and George streets. The hotel has since received accolades from publications such as Travel + Leisure Magazine and the travel website TripAdvisor.

The article in Conde Nast, penned by local restaurateur Brooks Reitz, applauds Zero George for its culinary component, the Zero George Cafe, and its cooking classes for guests led by chef Randy Williams. Other best food hotels mentioned in the article included The Thompson in Chicago, The Vines Resort & Spa in Argentina, and Domaine de la Baume in Tourtour, France.

The full list is online at

Donor data

Charleston software maker Blackbaud has unearthed another piece of evidence showing that the after-effects of the last economic downturn are fading.

Donors and contributions to universities and other places of higher learning returned to prerecession levels in 2013, the technology company said in a new report released Wednesday.

Among the key findings:

The number of alumni donors was down a median of 1.1 percent for both public and private institutions compared to 2012.

Revenue was up 5.3 percent, marking the third consecutive year of growth for that metric.

Donors gave 5.8 percent more to their schools last year, for an average of $531.

"Before the economic recession, the national trends in higher education were 'donors down' and 'dollars up,'" said report author Shaun Keister, who is vice chancellor of development and alumni relations at the University of California-Davis. "That all changed in 2009 with both key metrics dipping and dipping sharply. For the second year in a row, however, we are seeing a return to prerecession trends and patterns, indicating that the impact of the recession has been minimized." The report is based on giving trends at 123 colleges and other higher-education institutions.

Daniel Island-based Blackbaud sells software and service to the nonprofit industry. It is one of the largest high-tech firms headquartered in the Charleston region.

A copy of the alumni donor study can be downloaded at


The Tribute to the Legacy of Black Businesses Gala, originally scheduled for Friday, has been postponed until Aug. 15 to boost ticket sales and to expand the event, according to organizer Raquel Padgett.

The gala planned for the Charleston Area Convention Center will recognize African-American-owned businesses that have been in the Charleston area for at least 40 years. Sponsor MBD Media has partnered with Peacock Media Agency of Charleston to organize it. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and country singer Darius Rucker have been invited to participate.

Details can be found online at

Flying united

The flight crews who work for Charleston's newest air service provider appear ready to fly united.

Seventy-one percent of the roughly 2,600 pilots at JetBlue Airways voted last week to join the 50,000-member Air Line Pilots Association, International union.

JetBlue serves Charleston International with flights to New York and Boston. It adds Washington, D.C., as its third local destination June 19.

The National Mediation Board will authorize ALPA as the representative body for the pilots, and then both New York-based JetBlue and ALPA will organize negotiating committees, the airline said in a statement.

The focus for JetBlue crews now shifts to establishing pilot representatives, setting up committees in key areas, and getting to work on their first collective bargaining agreement.

"The association is ready to work with JetBlue pilots to achieve their goals," said Lee Moak, ALPA president.