A cultural renaissance is emerging across the Southeast and Charleston is at its forefront, according to Southern Living Editor-in-Chief Sid Evans.

During Evans' keynote speech Thursday at the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau annual Travel Council luncheon, the top editor with Time Inc. gushed about the place he once called home.

"It's a city of dynamic and creative people," he said. "I think of it as the Paris of the South. It's everything we want to be."

He added that Charleston is particularly ahead of the curve when it comes to the Southeast's culinary scene.

"The food scene alone is phenomenal, and you guys are at the edge of that," he said.

Evans, who once edited the Charleston-based magazine Garden & Gun, left the publication in 2011 when Time Inc. hired him as the group editor of Cooking Living, Coastal Living, Sunset and This Old House. He was promoted in April to editor-in-chief of Southern Living, the seventh-largest magazine in the U.S.

But before Evans' climb up, he had to take a leap from a lofty position in New York. He left his job as editor of Field & Stream, which had a circulation of 150,000, for the same position with Garden & Gun, which at the time had an audience of 30,000 readers.

Garden & Gun's owners include The Post and Courier parent Evening Post Industries Inc., which has a small interest, and Evening Post Chairman Pierre Manigault.

You're putting me on

The Charleston organization best known for its Easter Promenade is heading the central event for a nationwide hat giveaway.

The Hat Ladies of Charleston have partnered with the Headwear Association, a national organization that advocates wearing hats to prevent skin cancer, to put on the Hat Day in the Sun event, which will be held Thursday in eight U.S. cities.

To promote the cause, the organization will give away free wide-brimmed sun protection hats for men and women starting at noon in Marion Square downtown.

Other participating cities include New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. This is the first year the organization will hold the annual giveaway in Charleston.

The free hats have been donated by Broner Hats, Dorfman-Pacific, Bollman Hat Company, Magid Hats, Wallaroo Hats, Korber Hats, San Diego Hat Company and Head'n Home Hats.

Casting call

The Harbor Entrepreneur Center is holding a casting call to find Charleston's next big business idea.

Aspiring entrepreneurs in the Lowcountry are invited to pitch their business ideas for a chance to win a month of workspace and mentoring from the business-accelerator program in a "Pitch It to Win It" competition Thursday.

The 6 p.m. event at Holy City Brewery at 4155 Dorchester Road in North Charleston will include 10 three-minute business pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs as well as a beer-naming contest where guests can submit ideas for a chance to title a Holy City batch of beer. The event is free.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can contact Jackie McKelvey at mckelveyjp@g.cofc.edu or 908-330-0802 by today. Go to http://www.hecpitchittowinit.eventbrite.com to RSVP and receive a $5 beer credit.

High school pitchers

Fifteen aspiring entrepreneurs from high schools across the state are coming to Silicon Harbor for a chance to compete this fall in Silicon Valley.

Hosted by the College of Charleston School of Business, the students will go head to head Wednesday in the third annual Mark Motley Foundation State Business Plan Competition by YEScarolina.

"Money is the carrot that helps get the students interested in learning about entrepreneurship," said YEScarolina president Jimmy Bailey.

And seed money is what the students are coming to compete for.

The first-place winner will walk away with $3,000 plus an all-expenses-paid trip to pitch the business at the Network for Teacher Entrepreneurship's National Challenge in California's Silicon Valley in October. One of South Carolina's own will have the chance to win the top prize of $20,000.

The final round of the local competition is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Wells Far-go Auditorium at the College of Charleston School of Business. The public is invited.

First honors

The State Ports Authority awarded Moultrie Middle School teacher Deborah Belflower the inaugural Lowcountry Environmental Educators Award.

The award recognizes a tri-county educator who demonstates environmental leadership "through above-and-beyond efforts to engage students in real-world environmental topics," officials said. Belflower was selected as the first recipient for her efforts to expose students to the importance of the Lowcountry environment. Belflower assisted with development of the SPA's education program, which includes a sixth-grade curriculum and the hands-on activity that has students analyzing economic and environmental data to recommend the appropriate harbor depth for the Port of Charleston.

The SPA wants to deepen Charleston Harbor an added 5 feet from its current 45 feet. The shipping channel can receive big ships that draft 48 feet, but only when the tide is high enough.