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Column: The Great American Eclipse: Winners and losers

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On Monday, the Palmetto State will have an extra million people visiting. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know why.

The nation’s first total solar eclipse since 1979, and the first to cross from the West Coast to the East Coast since 1918, will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow from Oregon to South Carolina starting at 9:04 a.m. in Newport, Ore., with the sun completely obscuring my backyard in Charleston at 2:46 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Across the harbor from me, Al Roker from the Today Show will be broadcasting from the aircraft carrier Yorktown. Up the road, The Bend, a reclaimed 17-acre riverfront property owned by the civic-minded Susan Pearlstine, will host a free event featuring the Grammy Award winning band Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

This eclipse thing even has the folks at Krispy Kreme doing something for the first time: They’re giving their signature glazed treats a chocolate sheen in honor of the moon passing in front of the sun.

So I wondered: Who is going to benefit from this event and who is not?

First, the obvious winners: anyone in the hospitality business.

“The eclipse is having a very positive impact on our business,” said Kenny Lyons, the director of hospitality for the Neighborhood Dining Group (the folks that own, among other restaurants, the nationally known Husk.) He added: “We’re not always fully committed on a Monday night, so we are humbled that Mother Nature has chosen Charleston to be on the eclipse path.”

Over in the Gem State of Idaho, Airbnb is seeing a 450% increase in bookings compared to the previous week. And they’re only the fourth-top state to receive Airbnb guest arrivals for the night of the eclipse, behind Tennessee, South Carolina and Oregon.

Who’s going to lose out?

The cellular connections and roadways are both expected to be jammed. ATMs in viewing cities will probably empty out.

“We’re unsure what to expect on that day” said Brenna DeWilde, the owner of Jet’s Pizza in North Charleston. “With so many people traveling to Charleston, we’re worried that traffic might prevent us from being able to deliver pizzas and hard for our customers to get to us.”

I am also going to be a “loser” that day.

Yep, I’m staying home from work because of my fear of the roads being at a standstill. This choice will impact my livelihood.
Perhaps though, Susan Pearlstine has a better perspective?

“I am on the opposite spectrum of everyone anticipating gridlock and gloom. This eclipse is historic. Yes, business and life may be disrupted for the day, but the chance to have fun and learn about science and history is something this business owner is going to celebrate,” she said.

Personally, I’ll be at a viewing party in my neighborhood that day. What’s on the menu? Sun Chips, Moon Pies, SunnyD and maybe some Blue Moon. I’ll be wearing my ISO-certified glasses and listening to CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising.”

Perhaps that actually makes me a winner?

Thomas Heath, CLC, is a business coach, strategic adviser and founder of Thomas Heath Coaching. Have a question? Planning a great startup event? He loves to respond to our readers. Contact him at Thomas@ThomasHeathCoaching.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/AskThomasHeath.

Startup Roundup

An insider’s view into Charleston’s Startup community.
Curated by Thomas Heath

As a business coach and a columnist who writes about the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, I go to a lot of different events each week. People are constantly asking me which ones are the best to attend. It was with that in mind that we created Startup Roundup. Here are my picks for the best events coming up:

JRS Coding Expo
2-5 p.m., Aug. 22
This new coding school from Tom Wilson is having an open house to showcase the app development work of its latest graduating class. If you’re a hiring manager or entrepreneur looking for developers or a prospective student exploring a career change, then this should be a great event for you. JRS Coding School, 111 Coleman Blvd., Suite 402, Mount Pleasant. Free. RSVP at: http://resources.jackrussellsoftware.com/gradexpo

Startup Grind
6-8 p.m., Aug. 22
This monthly gathering, sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, is part of a global startup community that inspires and connects entrepreneurs. At this meeting, Charleston Director Jeremy Berman will conduct one of his “fireside chats” with Carolyn Finch, the Executive Director of Charleston Women in Tech. The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, 1505 King St. Extension, Suite 110, Charleston. $10. Register: startupgrind.com/charleston/

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