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Take a look at the Cyber Center. Page 31



Last August, I sat in the back of Bell Auditorium and waited for one of my all-time favorite comedians, Brian Regan, to walk onto the stage. At the time, it made sense that my personal bias toward Regan’s work would make the empty seats in the room loom large in my mind. (Doesn’t this town understand what they have here!?) But 10 months later, during a conversation with Chris Bird, general manager of James Brown Arena ( JBA) and Bell Auditorium, I realized that it wasn’t just me. Bird estimated that there were probably around a thousand empty seats in the auditorium that night, which was honestly more than I would’ve guessed. With around 1,500 people in the building (the venue can shift between 2,500 and 3,000 seats), the show was far from an economic failure. Still, a weekend act featuring a comedian of Regan’s standing topping out at 60 percent capacity definitely won’t be a selling point the next time around. “When you compare us against another market four years from now, it may be a rea-

son to come back or not come back,” Bird said.

A Positive Change

But that’s far better than artists passing over Augusta altogether, which isn’t a problem these days. The Bell Auditorium is set to host Jerry Seinfeld on Oct. 14. Steve Martin and Martin Short will grace the same stage six weeks later. Gladys Knight will perform at the JBA at the end of this month. “I’ll be very honest — 10 years ago, I think Augusta would get skipped on a tour,” Bird said. Then again, 10 years ago, James Brown Arena was in an entirely different situation, one that made it difficult for its managers to attract top talent. From its opening in 1979 through much of the 1990s, the venue was attracting performers including Van Halen, KISS and Bon Jovi. But the arena’s novelty faded over the years, and its local management team couldn’t keep up with competition in other cities. In 2009, venue management company Spectra took over the arena. Bird was hired in 2014. “They (former management) weren’t pursuing entertainment the way they are now,” said

The opening of the renovated Miller Theater, along with the James Brown Arena, Bell Auditorium and Imperial Theatre, gives Augusta a variety of venues to attract top national talent. Photo by Witt Wells

Bruce Balk, an audio engineer who owns Super Sound Augusta and works shows for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which has a small presence of around 25 members in Augusta. “They were doing what they had to do, but they didn’t have the pull of a management company. Chris has the ability to travel and pursue business, and a local GM just isn’t going to have as many contacts. They did what they could, but they didn’t have the resources like this company does.” Balk said that once Spec-

tra took over, music promoters “knew what they were dealing with” when they booked shows in Augusta. From that point, one of Bird’s biggest challenges has been keeping his finger on the pulse of a city whose demographics can be difficult to plan around.

Careful Planning

While cost of living in Augusta is lower than it is in cities such Charleston, S.C., or Greenville, S.C., so is median income. One of Bird’s biggest cautions — one that he’s had to learn over the years — is for venues to resist

the temptation to target a single demographic with too many shows within the same month, which has been a problem in the past and could continue to be one if local venues get ahead of themselves in a city projected to grow rapidly. “People only have a certain amount of money,” Bird said. “We can multiply the shows, but we have to be very smart for the artists and the promoters.” Bird credits a trusting relationship with promoters as the biggest reason for his staff ’s abilSee VENUES on Page 4

The Augusta Commission has passed an ordinance making it legal to operate personal transportation vehicles, such as golf cars, on certain streets downtown.



A staggering 85 percent of the world’s golf cars are made in Augusta, and they are shipped all over the world from manufacturers including Textron Specialized Vehicles and Club Car. Now, a new ordinance passed by the Augusta Commissioners could make them a common sight in downtown Augusta. The ordinance makes it legal for personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) to operate on certain downtown streets as long as they are registered and pass certain safety qualifications. In the coming months, Augustans could see more of them downtown, where the vehicles would be used primarily for tours put on by the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Right now, those tours include an Augusta history tour, an African-American history tour and a James Brown tour. “It would allow the tours to be a little more dynamic and be run more often,” said Jennifer Bowen, vice president of destination development for the CVB. “There are tours that are operated on golf carts in Nashville and Tuscaloosa with a company called Joyride. We’ve had conversations with that organization.” This coincides with a vision that the CVB created in 2016. Branded Destination Blueprint, the plan’s purpose was to lay the groundwork for a city that needed to do a better job of capitalizing on its best assets, namely a historical downtown and a beautiful river that runs right through the city. The thought was that as long as city leaders and businesses continue to cre-

2 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

ate a more vibrant community with improved river access, more restaurants and breweries, and more attractive housing options downtown, both locals and outof-towners would show up and spend more money. Some parts of the plan, such as an expanded and elevated Augusta Common, are more ambitious than others. The CVB wanted to start with the small things, such as the golf car tours. “I think it’ll be a unique and dynamic experience,” Bowen said. “People do have an expectation for a golf-like experience in the whole city, and this expectation will deliver in the downtown area.” Right now, city tours are the only organized plan that has been discussed by the CVB with regard to golf cars, but an ordinance allowing golf cars to be driven downtown would open up other doors as well. Should they choose to invest in PTVs, businesses would be able to provide employees a shuttle service to local restaurants for lunch. Venues such as The Miller Theater could contract with commercial operators for events. Hotels could own their own PTVs, which would be convenient for guests and a prevention against people driving under the influence of alcohol. The result, in theory, would a more connected district with a more attractive entertainment scene. “Hypothetically, the breweries could get together and contract with commercial operators and, say, every Friday, they could be willing to contract and shuttle people from the Broad Street dining area to the brewery and back,” Bowen said.

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Tim Dalton has seen it all in his more than two decades of helping business owners find buyers for their companies. Dalton owns Integra Business brokers and is trying to put other business owners in a better position to sell by planning as if their company is always for sale — even when they don’t expect an offer. “You never know when a competitor will call and want to buy your business,” he said recently at his Columbia Road office. His words resonated with me, because Morris Communications acquired my former company, Buzz on Biz, in 2016, after closely watching my progress and expressing interest. I checked off most of the boxes when its team was interested in growing the niche publication part of the business, and the company made an offer. Dalton is seeking those who want an honest assessment of how to increase

the value of their company before a suitor comes calling. To that end, he and I teamed up to produce some radio commercials on WGAC and ESPN. You’ll get to hear him share examples of different kinds of companies that have managed to increase their value by avoiding pitfalls. Here are a few of the takeaways I got

“Show potential buyers your business generates cash and collects quickly, and it adds to the value of your business,” he said.

Don’t set up your business like the hub and spokes of a wheel

Dalton says a traditional wagon wheel has a hub and spokes. Potential buyers will be wary if the hub (the

the business if owner has to be involved in all activities,” he said. Can you take a vacation and leave the business to employees? Do you have an operating manual if you have to step away from the company for a period of time? Overall, can you fix some leaks in your business? Start with an assessment of your business and possibly a valuation. There’s no cost. Call or email me, and it may make sense to confidentially connect you with Dalton.

from that interview.

Cash flow is like a teeter-totter

Dalton says cash flow is a balancing act of the payment terms you give to your customers and get from your vendors.

owner of the business) is too directly involved in making the spokes (employees, vendors and customers) go. “Ultimately, it diminishes the value of Neil Gordon founded the Buzz on Biz brand in 2005 with a Business Minute concept on News 12 that still airs daily at 6:25 a.m. Gordon is adding new video concepts to help other businesses grow. To reach him, email

Features Buzz Bits................................................... 6-7 WRDW Breaks Ground.................................8 TV station plans to leave North Augusta after 65 years for a new studio in Augusta.

Movin’ on Down........................................ 26 Alison South Marketing moves into new downtown digs.

To order a 12-month subscription mailed to your home or office, please mail a check for $49 (includes sales tax) to cover postage to the address below.

Openings, Closings............................. 12, 13 Upcoming Events................................ 14, 15 Businessperson of the Month.................. 22 Mark Alison has learned the value of giving clients a little extra.

Low-Cost Fun............................................ 28 Disc golf combines camaraderie, challenges and good times.

Columnists Tim Dalton: 5 ways to boost your business’ value.......................10 Gary Kauffman: Recharge your batteries........................................16 Christine Hall: Rental of a second home has tax benefits........18 Russell Head: DOL finalizes rule to expand association health plans...........................................................................................................20 Ed Enoch: Cyberattacks aren’t only threat to your business...20 Dagan Sharpe: Money can become a servant or a master......23 Tony Creighton: Pros know best ways to wash concrete.........23 Missie Usry: Students earn double credit with dual enrollment................................................................................................24

The Buzz on Biz mission is to act as an inspirational tool for those in the workplace and those who are entrepreneurs, and to provide useful, practical information to increase their companies’ bottom lines.

Dub Taylor: No shortcuts in quest for true success.....................24 Witt Wells: Future of Georgia’s cannabis industry tough to predict........................................................................................................25 Susan O’Keefe: Rooted Coffeehouse creates community atmosphere.............................................................................................27 Ben Casella: Criminal’s spirit lives on in impressive IPA.............29 Samantha Barksdale: A few flicks worth burning the midnight oil.............................................................................................29 Tammy Shepherd: State of Columbia County is strong............30

Publisher Ashlee Duren, Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman Multimedia Journalist Witt Wells, Photography Witt Wells, Gary Kauffman Sales Manager Lisa Dorn, Sales and PR Leslie Whitney,, 706-823-3719 Layout Amanda Holahan Ad Building Michael Rushbrook Distribution Ken Brown Opinions expressed by the writers are their own and their respective institutions. Neither Morris Media Network nor its agents or employees take any responsibility for the accuracy of submitted information, which is presented for informational purposes only. Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter @BuzzonBiz 643 Broad Street, Augusta GA 30901

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz



Continued from Page 1

ity to bring A-list artists (think Kevin Hart, who played the arena last fall) in recent years, artists that a decade ago would’ve passed right by Augusta on their way from Atlanta to Charleston. He isn’t afraid to tell promoters that a big show — one that would seem to be a no-brainer success in another market — won’t work in Augusta, whether the date is too close to another concert or hits a single demographic with more shows than its constituents can afford. A bit of false advertising from Bird, followed by a bad turnout, is all it takes to lose a promoter’s confidence in his or her local ties, which can affect countless potential shows in the future. Building trust with promoters over the long haul isn’t as exciting as, say, announcing a four-week, talent-loaded lineup at the JBA and Bell. In fact, Bird probably wouldn’t have much trouble doing that. But he’s not playing the short game. “I have two buildings with 365 days in a year, so I’ve got 700 dates,” Bird said. “To say I’m only doing 100-125 is not because I couldn’t book more. I could do it all day long if I wanted to. But I think that’s a very short-term approach. You have to have a paper trail or a history so you can build upon that and get bigger shows. I always try to emphasize we’re only half the puzzle here. The community buying tickets, the community showing up, the community supporting is the other half.”

More Community Support Needed

But “community support” is based on multiple demographics that are in flux everywhere from downtown Augusta to Grovetown to Fort Gordon. Both Bird and Marty Elliot, general manager of the Miller Theater, try to create a balanced schedule spread across multiple genres and demographics. For Elliot, getting locals in their late 30s to mid-50s in the door with acts such as St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Three Dog Night and Jeff Foxworthy hasn’t been too difficult (which is impressive when you consider the fact that Elliot was booking shows when the now-revitalized theater was still scaffolded). Some acts, including Weird Al Yankovic, have even attracted a significant amount of fans from other cities. But Elliott doesn’t “feel like we’re doing enough for people in their mid-20s to mid-30s.” The venue isn’t hitting the urban market either, she said. On the millennial front, the Miller’s upcoming schedule would seem to suggest that the historic theater is headed in the right direction; comedian Tom Se-

4 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

James Brown Arena is the city’s largest venue but, at nearly 40 years old, has many drawbacks. A modern, larger arena could bring more top acts to Augusta. Photo by Witt Wells

gura, whose three-hour comedy specials have made the L.A.-based comic a Netflix hit, will play the Miller on Nov. 4. Ten days later, popular folk singer-songwriter act Iron & Wine will hit the same stage. Both shows should attract a young crowd. The real challenge is getting millennials to consistently seek that entertainment. Elliot’s staff held focus groups with millennials in an effort to learn how to better pique the demographic’s interest. Individuals expressed a desire to see more ‘90s-era music and attend events focused on social interaction. Another sentiment voiced by the group caught Elliot by surprise: “There’s nothing to do here.” “When you look at the things there are to do, they’ve got the blinders on,” she said. “It’s tough to make the time to get out to do stuff. I think we’ve got to meet them where they are. We’ve got to figure out how to connect: group sales, companies getting involved. “But I think the main thing I want to do is change that narrative in their brain that there’s nothing to do. When they think there’s nothing to do, they stop looking. It’s just a shift. We’ve only been here six months. It’s going to be a whole shift that happens about what it means to come downtown. All this has got to happen for people to care enough to get off of Netflix.”

A Variety of Venue Sizes

One thing that has served Augusta well since the Miller reopened is its variety of venues. Over the years, the Avett Brothers, for example, have played the 300-seat Sky City, the 850-seat Imperial Theatre, the 2,500-seat Bell Auditorium and Evans’ Lady A Pavilion, which can accommodate up to around 7,000 people. It was

the perfect progression for a band that over the last decade has risen from cult favorite to massive commercial success. “That’s a great example of how a band’s popularity has grown in the market,” Bird said. “That’s the progression of the artist that you want to see.” Add to that a 7,800-seat JBA, and Augusta can accommodate almost any kind of act. Ironically, the city’s biggest venue is also what’s holding Augusta back. “It’s not inviting, it’s not colorful,” Bird said. “And I’m proud of Augusta for buying tickets, for showing up, for coming out even though the arena looks like the arena. We have to be honest with ourselves that there’s only so much you can do in a 40-plus-year-old venue.” Even though a maximized JBA has around 7,800 seats, in reality, a large stage cuts out 2,000 of those seats, Richmond County Coliseum Authority Vice Chairman Brad Usry told the Metro Spirit in 2016. Many major artists looking to play 10,000-seat arenas simply aren’t going to make a stop in Augusta. “We don’t have suites,” Bird said. “We’re not new and shiny. We are a little smaller on the arena side than what it takes to get some of these A-level artists. The James Brown Arena can’t be renovated to current industry standards. It’s cost prohibitive and unproductive. “It’d be like putting a new motor and paint job into your vehicle from the ‘70s; it would get you down the road, but the transmission, tires and mechanical equipment would not be able to keep up with today’s shows.”

The Importance of a Downtown Arena

As discussions of a new arena have gained steam over the last couple years, both Bird and Balk have been encour-

aged by a community becoming increasingly educated about a modern arena’s role in a community. The approximately $600,000 that the arena loses every year (down from the $1.2 million annual loss before Spectra took over) is a small price to pay for the tens of millions of dollars it’s generating for the economy every year through hotels, restaurants, bars and gas stations, Bird said. “I think most people do not understand the civic center in Augusta was never built to make a profit,” Balk said. “It was built to bring people to downtown Augusta.” Now, not only would an arena with premium seating be much more likely to break even or even be profitable, but it would significantly improve the experience of locals and those visiting Augusta for shows. “Having those amenities within walking distance, it’s important for artists, it’s important for creating an experience for those buying tickets, and that doesn’t happen when you’re driving into a place and driving out of a place,” Bird said. The lack of infrastructure around the Regency Mall site, the other possible location for a new arena, is Coliseum Authority Chairman Cedric Johnson’s primary reason for skepticism about that site being a viable location for a dynamic entertainment experience. “Downtown is growing — it’s booming,” Johnson said. “Downtown on a Wednesday at 6 o’clock, it’s hard to find a parking place. We do feel like we have had an economic impact on downtown. Right now, (the Regency Mall site) just doesn’t have the infrastructure to support what downtown has.” Fifty-seven percent of Augustans who voted on the issue in May voted to locate the arena downtown, a decision that Mayor Hardie Davis and the Augusta Commission unanimously agreed should be a priority in choosing a location. After the vote, Davis questioned its conclusiveness by pointing out that the majority of Democratic voters voted for an arena at the Regency Mall site. For better or worse, the final decision will shape the future of entertainment in Augusta for years to come. “Waiting in lines, having to be car-dependent — those don’t help the customer experience,” Bird said. “Those don’t create a date night. Those don’t help making a whole night of it. ‘Yeah, I’m going blow a few hundred bucks tonight, this one night of the month, maybe. Or I’m going to go see Brian Regan. I’m going to have dinner, I’m going to take somebody out and I’m going to Uber home.’ It adds up. And I think our job is to make that experience as friendly and as comfortable as possible.”

buzz bits BORDER BASH TO RETURN TO DOWNTOWN A new public art project will focus on Augusta Canal.

CANAL SEEKS ARTISTS FOR PROJECTS The Augusta Canal is trying to bring the best out of local artists inspired by one of Augusta’s most historic areas. Artists interested in creating works inspired by the history and environment of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area can now apply for a public art project commission. They have until Aug. 13 to do so. The Augusta Canal Authority issued a request for qualifications for the project, which offers $14,000 for the selected artist or artist’s team. “The city’s new public art plan cited the canal as a prime location for an art walk, art installations and presentations,” said Rebecca Rogers, the canal’s director of marketing and lead staff for the art project. “We hope this will be the beginning of a series of public art activities along the canal.” The Canal Authority has suggested a couple of locations for installations, namely the canal’s Mill Village or Lake Olmstead trailheads, or along one of the canal trails. The work can have permanent, semi-permanent or temporary elements and will be unveiled next April in observance of National Parks Week. The project is funded by a grant from the Porter Fleming Foundation and the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area through program funds of the National Park Service. Preference will be given to regional artists throughout the Southeast or those with strong connections to the Augusta area, including former students, former residents and artists with family connections in Augusta. Following a review of qualifica-

6 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

The Border Bash will return to downtown Augusta for its 25th anniversary event Sept. 7. This year’s event will again be held in the Augusta Common. Last year it was held in North Augusta. The event will feature performances by University of Georgia and University of South Carolina cheerleaders and mascots, with the bands Whiskey Run and Tokyo Joe performing live music. The event also features food vendors, drinks, Bulldog and Gamecock merchandise, and games for kids and

adults, including a 64-team cornhole tournament. The annual Border Bash celebrates the football rivalry between the University of Georgia and the University of South Carolina. Proceeds from the event support charities and clubs in the CSRA. The Border Bash Foundation has contributed more than $900,000 since it began. General admission tickets go on sale July 27 at, CSRA Sprint Food locations and Communigraphics in North Augusta for $10.

The annual Border Bash is returning to downtown Augusta. File photo

tions, four finalists will be chosen to develop detailed proposals. Firstround applications are due by 2 p.m. Aug. 13.

DONATIONS HELP GOLDEN HARVEST SERVE 403,000 MEALS More than 400,000 meals were served to hungry families in Golden Harvest Food Bank’s fifth annual anti-hunger campaign, “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” A total of 403,174 meals were provided to hungry families in Georgia and South Carolina, beating last

year’s total. The campaign ran in April and was carried out in partnership with Feeding America and Walmart, where customers gave donations at the register for qualifying food items. “The strength of this campaign is in its ability to connect shoppers, corporations and local Walmart stores to fight hunger in our communities,” said Travis McNeal, executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank. “To work together to raise this many meals highlights the progress we’re making to raise awareness of the 1 in 5 people who are hungry in our area.” The campaign kicked off on April 2 and ended April 30. For the 2018 campaign, Walmart and Feeding America doubled their meal goal to at least 200 million meals. With the help of new partner

Nextdoor, customers, suppliers and Synchrony Bank, the final meal count was more than 230 million meals nationwide.

The Big Mo drive-in theater’s distinctive peach-shaped projection booth is one of its famous features.

BIG MO EARNS RECOGNITION Trips to The Big Mo drive-in theater in Monetta, S.C., are a staple of summer for many people in the CSRA. Recently, it has been recognized by two publications. Architectural Digest named it one the 25 Most Charming Drive-In Movie Theaters, while USA Today picked it to represent South Carolina in its tribute to the top drive-ins in each state. The Big Mo has been in business since 1951. It offers double features on three screens every weekend from spring through fall. A singular feature of the drive-in is a projection booth shaped like a giant peach. It is one of about 330 drive-in theaters remaining across the country.

US LABOR MARKET STAYS ROBUST The already robust labor market got stronger in June. The Labor Department announced that U.S. employers added 213,000 jobs in June. This continues a nine-year economic expansion in the country. The average hourly wage was 2.7 percent higher than a year ago. Economists believe the strong labor market will soon force employers to offer higher wages. The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.0 percent from 3.8 percent. Economists said that the economic strength in the country helped boost

buzz bits

hiring despite some employers having a hard time finding qualified workers to fill jobs. Although tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have worried some economists, manufacturers and service firms have yet to indicate any effects from them. Retail sales also saw an increase, 0.8 percent in May according to reports, in a sign of consumer confidence.

STEM SCHOOL IS READY TO OPEN, GROW Bettis Preparatory Leadership Academy is set to open in August. It is a STEM school for students in kindergarten through fifth grades. The goal of Bettis Prep is to not only teach students in science, technology, engineering and math, but also develop leadership. Plans are to add sixth grade next year, seventh grade the following year and eighth grade the year after that. The school plans to have two teachers per grade level and one special ed teacher. Bettis Prep is in Trenton, S.C.


The site of the former Trinity CME Church will be the focus of an eight-month contamination cleanup by Atlanta Gas Light. As a result, that portion of Walton Way and Taylor Street and a portion of the third level of the Augusta Canal will be closed for about eight months. The company said nearby residents might notice a non-hazardous odor from coal tar residue as it’s removed from the site.

SCAMMERS USE UTILITY BILLS IN NEW SCHEME Scammers are using utility bills in their latest scheme to steal money. According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers call businesses and homeowners and pose as electric, water and cable company employees who claim that their bills are unpaid and the service will be deactivated. The scammer then asks the customer to pay immediately via credit card or, in some cases, prepaid debit cards. The scammer asks the customer to call them back once they have a credit card or debit card. Scammers like asking for debit cards since they are difficult to trace and can’t be canceled. Sometimes these scams are run via emails. Another variation of the scam is to claim that the

customer’s meter is not operating properly and it is the customer’s responsibility to pay for repairs, again through prepaid debit cards. Some con artists also go door-to-door to lure customers outside to inspect wiring, pipes or other elements while an associate quickly robs the house. The Better Business Bureau advises customers to contact their utility companies about any such calls before paying anything. Utility companies do not demand immediate payment over the phone and do not use prepaid debit cards.

GEORGIA POWER CUSTOMERS ARE GETTING REFUND Georgia Power customers will see slightly lower totals on upcoming bills. The July bills will show a $25 credit, the second of three credits customers are receiving as a rebate from the Plant Vogtle expansion of two new nuclear reactors. Earlier this year, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved a total of $75 in credits for each customer. The final $25 credit will be applied to the September bills.

Catch the Buzz! Get more on area events and follow business and economic news across the CSRA at

GEORGIA DRIVERS MUST KEEP HANDS OFF CELLPHONES Since July 1, drivers in Georgia aren’t allowed to have their hands on their phones, even to talk on them. The state’s new hands-free law prohibits drivers from holding or cradling their phones or other electronic devices while driving. The law also prohibits using the phone to text, view emails, or view or record videos. The law allows a driver to touch one button on a phone while driving to answer the phone. In-car Bluetooth and single-ear headphones are allowed for phone calls. GPS and voice-to-text are also allowed. One early announcement indicated

that drivers would not be able to use phone apps such as Spotify and Pandora. However, in a clarifying statement, those apps are allowed if they are activated before driving begins. A phone can be used when the car is legally parked, but not when it is stopped at stoplights or stop signs. The law affects anyone driving in Georgia, including those coming from states that do not have such a law, like neighboring South Carolina. The law is designed to cut down on distracted driving. Some law enforcement personnel say cellphones are a major factor in distracted driving. July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




Ever since I Love Lucy was the toprated show on television, WRDW Channel 12 has made its home along Georgia Avenue in North Augusta. But that will soon change. The CRSA’s longtime CBS affiliate, which now also includes WAGT Channel 26, The CW 26.2, My12 (12.2) and Antenna TV (12.3), held a groundbreaking for a new state-of-the-art station on July 12. The new home of the TV stations, owned by Gray Television, will sit atop a hill at the corner of Interstate 20 and Riverwatch Parkway, next to Costco and Cabela’s in Augusta. WRDW has been in the same building since it started in 1954, and Vice President and General Manager Mike Oates said a new facility was desperately needed. “We’ve been in the same building going on 65 years, and that building had seen its better days a number of years ago,” he said. “We’re stepping into the 21st century.” Indeed, the plans announced at the groundbreaking could make the new facility not only the premier broadcast facility in Augusta, but also in the Southeast. Oates said the broadcast technology being tested by Gray is not available yet, and Augusta might be the first to put it to use. “Probably nobody even in the Southeast region will have this technology,” Oates said. He believes it will allow the station to build on what it has done for the past sixplus decades. “We’ll be able to deliver the news and programming products in the way Augusta has come to expect from us, but we’ll be able to step it up a notch,” he said. What difference will it all make? “Gathering the news more quickly and efficiently, the quality of the signal, the sets — everything about it will be pretty obvious that it’s cutting-edge stuff,” Oates said. “It is a 21st-century facility, and it will have technology that is simply unparalleled,” Gray President and CEO Hilton Howell said at the groundbreaking. Oates said the location for the new headquarters was never in doubt. Oates and Howell went land shopping in April 2017 and looked at the present location first. Howell immediately proclaimed, “This is it.” Although they inspected other properties, they continued to be drawn back to the corner of Riverwatch and I-20. Oates said it is an ideal location for visibility and is centrally located in the CSRA. He

8 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

At the July 12 groundbreaking ceremony, Mike Oates, vice president and general manager for WRDW and WAGT, explains some of the reasons for building a studio in Augusta. It will replace the studio that has been in North Augusta since 1954. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Acquisition will expand Gray’s markets

An artist’s rendering shows what the new studio will look like. The 30,000-square-foot facility at is expected to be in operation by early 2020.

added that sites in North Augusta were considered but were not adequate to contain a building and the satellite dishes and antennas a TV station requires. “North Augusta was awfully good to us,” Oates said, “but we grew out of the space.” The building, which will be constructed by Darnell Construction of Alpharetta, Ga., will be 30,000 square feet, nearly double the current building’s 16,000 square feet. It will include a helipad, a fitness room and a break room “that will look like a restaurant,” Oates said. It will be designed with all the amenities that new hires will be looking for.

WRDW-WAGT currently employs about 85 people, but the new facility will allow room for more. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we have the opportunity to add jobs,” Oates said. Construction could start as soon as the end of July if the final permits come through. Oates expects construction to take 12-14 months and outfitting the building with the new technology another five months, putting the opening of the new facility in early 2020. “This will be a monument to television in our area,” Oates said. “It’s a testament to our dedication to the industry and Gray’s dedication to the area.”

Gray Television is completing a deal that will make its presence in the Augusta area even larger. Gray owns both WRDW (Channel 12) and WAGT (Channel 26) and is in the process of purchasing Raycom Media, which owns WFXG (Channel 54). The deal with Raycom is expected to be approved during the fourth quarter. The deal would make Gray Television, based in Atlanta, the third largest broadcast group in the nation. Gray’s presence will expand from 57 markets to 92 markets, which will cover about half of the United States. It will have more than 140 stations in those markets. In most of those markets, including Augusta, Gray has the No. 1 or No. 2 station in the market.

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




Since buyers, through their offers, largely determine the price for which a business will sell, we have compiled several factors that affect a business’ value in the eyes of a buyer. Here are five of the several factors to consider if you want to achieve more value for your business.


Companies with a monopoly in their market get 50 percent higher offers. This is not saying you need a true monopoly; instead, think of it this way: The way your business’ product or service is different from your competitors makes you more valuable. Think pizza — someone came up with d e l i v e r y. Think oil change — someone came up with a 15-minute one. Think online shopping — Amazon came up with Prime two-day delivery. We all have competitors, but we need to establish ourselves with a unique offering that no one else is currently providing in the market place.


Sell less stuff to more people. Drill down to what your company does extremely well and perfect those few products or services. Establish your business as the dominant, go-to provider for your offering. Get rid of the products or services where the financial impact is less than 15 percent of your revenues. We all are better at what we do when we work with laserlike focus on a few things instead of being spread over many. Your customer will feel the difference, too.


Create recurring revenue streams. Companies with 75 percent or more recurring revenue get better offers. A buyer will pay more for a business where there is a history of recurring revenues. Contracting companies typically have a hard time selling for a decent value because most of their work is one and done. But a pool company that does weekly cleanings, or an HVAC company or landscape design firm that also does maintenance, will create more value with recurring revenue.

10 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

We all are better at what we do when we work with laser-like focus on a few things instead of being spread over many.


Reduce reliance on you, the business owner, and any one employee, customer or supplier. Some questions to ask yourself are: How well would my business function if I

when an unexpected buyer or unforeseen reason to sell your business may appear; you want to be able to capitalize on the value.

Tim Dalton is president of Integra Business Brokers and has more than 19 years of experience in the Augusta area assisting business buyers and sellers. He is also a Certified Business Value Builder. Additional services include targeted business acquisitions, business valuations and financing assistance. Dalton is a licensed real estate broker in Georgia and South Carolina and can be reached at 706.650.1100 or tdalton@ Visit Integra’s website at

were out for three months? Does any one of my sales reps account for 40 percent or more of my revenue? How much business would I lose if they left the company? If one of my customers produces 25 percent of my revenue, how will business be if I lose that account? If 60 percent of my inventory comes from one supplier at very favorable terms, how will my business be affected if those terms change? If any of these questions give you a little heartburn, I can guarantee a buyer will feel the same way and offer you less.


An acquirer needs to know it can grow. Remember, it is not buying your past; it is buying your future growth. Your business model should ideally be able to be reproduced in another market or town. How easy would it be to accommodate a five-times growth in your business? If that is a very hard or impossible thought, it highly diminishes your company’s value. Many businesses are bought by strategic buyers who know growth can be achieved through acquisition, but they don’t want to stop where you leave off. If you’d like more information on where your business value ranks, visit our website and take the Value Builder Assessment. It is a free analysis of your business and will provide you a score and report on where you are doing well and where you might need some improvement. You never know



Mordecai Evans Michael Reagan Tim Dalton

4468 COLUMBIA RD, SUITE B MARTINEZ, GA 30907 | 706-650-1100

Georgia Based Consulting Firm Servicing Clients Nationally • Executive Leadership Strategy - Planning a Re-brand? - Expanding to new markets?

• Organizational Structure - Need help creating long-term value for your customers?

• Business Development - Up-sizing? - Down-sizing?

• Peak Performance - Need to increase productivity of your sales force?

Keynote Speaker on Business Development, Human Resource and Diversity Strategy, and Leadership |

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz


Openings, Closings and Moves


A new Dunkin’ Donuts has opened on Furys Ferry Road.

Dunkin’ Donuts Dunkin’ Donuts has transformed the former Sonic Drivein on Furys Ferry Road into its newest Dunkin’ store. The new store opened on June 28. It is own by the Patels, who also own seven other Dunkin’ stores in the CSRA. Sonic closed the restaurant last summer, reportedly because of electrical problems. The store went through an extensive renovation. The back part of the building will serve as the regional corporate offices. Art in Motion A new dance studio is a preparing an opening in Grovetown this fall. Owner April Storm-Hartsell ran a local dance studio for 25 years before closing it nine years ago. Now, she wants to open one again in an area that lacks an outlet for young people to learn how to dance. “I know the business and I love kids, so I decided to reopen,” Storm-Hartsell said. “There’s nothing in that area.” Art in Motion dance studio will offer classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and modern dance for anyone from 18 months old to adults. It will even offer classes in creative movement for toddlers. The 1,400-square-foot studio will be at 245 Meridian Drive. Storm-Hartsell plans to open the studio Sept. 8. Uber Eats Add Uber Eats to the growing list of food delivery services available in the Augusta area. The San Francisco-based company said its Uber Eats service

would become available in Augusta, according to a report from The Augusta Chronicle. The company has partnerships with more than 30 local restaurants, including Fat Man’s, Finch and Fifth, Laziza Mediterranean Grill, Roma’s Pizza, Woody’s BBQ, Atlanta Bread Company and Pita Pit. Uber Eats is the fifth restaurant delivery service to launch in Augusta. The others are Augusta Takeout Express, Augusta To Go, Waitr and Grubhub. Uber Eats started in 2014. “Uber Eats offers a convenient way for people to get the food they love; opens up new economic opportunities for driver partners; and enables restaurants and chefs to connect with more customers,” the company said in a statement announcing its entrance into the Augusta market. Uber said it would offer services through Uber drivers already in Augusta. Customers can use the promotion code “AUGUSTAEATS” to get a $5 discount on their first order. Carolina Moon Distillery The owners of Carolina Moon Distillery in Edgefield, S.C., have watched their small-batch operation grow on the community over the last five years. Now, after three years of planning, the group is finally getting ready to open a new distillery in the heart of downtown Augusta. David Long, co-owner of Carolina Moon along with Cal Bowie and Bill Hatch, said the distillery will be similar to the Edgefield one but “with a little bit of polish on it.” “It’s a niche that is growing across the country,” Long said of a widespread trend of small-batch distilleries. “And now Augusta will be able to say they have one as well.” Second City Distilling Company (named for Augusta’s status as the second-oldest city in Georgia), will be located at 4 Eighth St., which used to house Cafe 209. The group had initially hoped to open the distillery on Broad Street, but zoning and coding rules became particularly burdensome. Later, it became clear that

12 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

Buona Caffe was the first company to sign a lease for space inside the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center. Photo by Gary Kauffman

COFFEEHOUSE TO TAKE UP RESIDENCE IN CYBER CENTER Buona Caffe Less than five months ago, the owners of Central Avenue coffee shop Buona Caffe announced the purchase of what will become an expanded roasting operation in downtown Augusta. Apparently that wasn’t the end of their plans to expand in the area. Buona Caffe also plans a new coffee bar in the lobby of the new $110 million Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center, which opened July 10. Buona Caffe was the first company to sign a lease at the cyber center, according to Paula Calhoun, director of communications for the Georgia Technology Authority. The facility also houses the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s cyber crime unit, office space for cyber-related companies, a technology business incubator and a number of undergraduate and graduate programs in the cyber field. The coffee bar will open on Aug. 15, the day that Augusta University classes begin. “It says so much about the commitment of the Georgia Technology

Authority and Augusta University to Augusta that they selected a local company for the coffee bar instead of a national chain,” said Buona Caffe co-owner Pat Curry. “This is an important investment in our local economy.” “From the beginning of this project, we’ve said we wanted to involve as many local Augusta businesses as possible,” said Calvin Rhodes, executive director of Georgia Technology Authority and chief information officer for the state of Georgia. “We’ve heard nothing but good things about Buona Caffe from our Augusta partners, and are excited to have John and Pat on board.” Buona Caffe plans to have the coffee bar open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. The bar will include a menu similar to the one at its 1858 Central Ave. location. “We’re incredibly excited about this new location,” said Buona Caffe coowner John Curry. “The cyber center is ushering in a new era in the life of downtown Augusta, and we are literally in on the ground floor. We can’t wait to open.”

Openings, Closings and Moves The owners of Carolina Moon Distillery will open Second City Distilling Company in downtown Augusta, in the former home of Cafe 209 on Eighth Street.

the design of the Eighth Street building was the perfect draw. Long said the nearly 6,000-squarefoot building is an ideal space for Second City and will accommodate a tasting room, retail space, mash room, distillation room and bottling room. “Everything will be done from field to bottle, as we like to say; it is all done under that roof,” Long said. Unlike at Carolina Moon, customers at Second City will be able to enjoy cocktails and flights. The distillery will also have a small bar. Over the years, Carolina Moon has refined its craft, Long said, leading to a larger selection of whiskey, vodka, gin and rum, as opposed to just moonshine. Second City will still make moonshine, but a lesser quantity than Carolina Moon initially made. The owners have worked out a lease agreement with Morris Communications, which owns the property. Long said he is aiming to open the distillery by January at the latest. “I think the community sees that we bring people to Edgefield that wouldn’t normally come,” Long said. “We see that same thing for Augusta. People will drive to come spend some time with us.” As downtown continues to develop, Long said, he hopes the distillery can be an “anchor in the area.” “They never forget the first, so we’re hoping we have a lasting effect because of being the first,” Long said. “Assuming we get the Augusta location up and running well, this may not be our last stop.” Field Botanicals A new skincare business is preparing to open downtown. Field Botanicals, a local business formerly based in North Augusta,

third location is in the works on Knox Avenue in North Augusta. Tropical Smoothie Café serves a variety of smoothies made with fresh, healthy ingredients and offers flatbreads, wraps, sandwiches and salads. Breakfast is served all day. Jake’s Fireworks The Fourth of July is over, but a fireworks store is still open on weekends. Jake’s Fireworks, which has dozens of stores across the country, opened a location in the former Prestige Appliance store on River Watch Parkway, near Exit 200. The store is open Thursday through Saturday. It sells a wide range of fireworks.

sells cruelty-free and vegan-based skincare products. Owner Jennifer Tinsley said she quit her day job and started the business after seeing a need for affordable, high-quality skincare products. She’d become familiar with a cosmetics industry ripe with greenwashing. “It was always my goal to open up a downtown store,” said Tinsley, who had been running Field Botanicals out of her North Augusta home. “I’m doing a little quicker pace than intended on the shop. Downtown is on the cusp of something great, and I want to be involved in that. There’s a great need in Augusta for specialized beauty products.” Tinsley describes her venture as an “indie beauty store,” which will sell products including botanical perfume, body spray and deodorant. The shop is 215 12th St., the former location of Nutrition Simply, a health-based startup that is no longer based in Augusta. Tinsley is planning a grand opening of Field Botanicals in October, although she will likely open the store for limited hours before then. She also plans to host workshops, demonstrations and makeovers at the shop.

The Chipotle Mexican Grill in Aiken is closing after just two years.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Tropical Smoothie has been a popular restaurant since opening in the Augusta Exchange shopping center two years ago. Now a second location is open in the CSRA, and a third is on the way. The second location is being built in the second phase of Mullins Crossing in Evans, near the Belk store. A

Flanigan’s Ice Cream An Aiken ice cream parlor has reopened for business after a move. Flanigan’s Ice Cream recently opened in a new store at 221 Barnwell Ave. NW from its previous location on Dougherty Road. The new location is about 50 percent larger and has outdoor seating. Flanigan’s offers hand-dipped ice


Chipotle Chipotle Mexican Grill in Aiken lasted just two years. According to The Aiken Standard, the Chipotle on Whiskey Road is closing its doors. It opened in March 2016. The company is in the process of closing 65 underperforming stores. Chipotle also has restaurants at 362 E. Martintown Road in North Augusta and in the Augusta Exchange shopping center in Augusta. Neither of those locations is expected to be affected by the closings.


cream and treats including sundaes, banana splits and shakes. The store has nine part-time employees.


WSQ Another property along Washington Road has been sold to a group associated with Augusta National Golf Club. The Publix shopping center has reportedly been sold to WSQ, a group that has purchased land for Augusta National. The deal is not expected to be completed until October. Earlier in the year, WSQ also purchased the Washington Square shopping center, which is anchored by Stein Mart. Manus Bio A biotech company will acquire a local manufacturing facility. Manus Bio Inc., a supplier of natural ingredients, will create up to 50 product development, manufacturing and distribution jobs through the acquisition of the former NutraSweet plant in Augusta, according to an announcement from the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Georgia continues to be a leader in the life sciences and health information technology sectors as a result of our pro-business environment and highly skilled talent pool,” said department Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Manus Bio will bring quality jobs to Augusta while having access to Georgia’s unique business assets. We look forward to working with them to support future growth.” The acquisition allows Manus Bio to expand manufacturing, accelerate commercialization and fulfill the growing demand for its ingredients. The expansion taps into Augusta’s proven and experienced workforce. “We look forward to ... contributing to the state’s bioeconomy. In particular, we are impressed by the talented employees and are appreciative of the strong support we have received from the local and state government,” said Dr. Ajikumar Parayil, founder and CEO of Manus Bio. “The established manufacturing capabilities in Augusta will enable us to scale our operations and address the rising demand for high-performance natural ingredients using our advanced fermentation technology.”

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz



Friday, Aug. 3

Aiken Center for the Arts, 122 Laurens St. SW, Aiken. Meet Aiken’s Fabulous Arts Group. For more information, visit

First Friday Means Business, 7:30 a.m., 117 Newberry St. NW, Aiken. Informative breakfast meeting with a keynote speaker. For more information, visit

Tuesday, Aug. 28

Tuesday, Aug. 7

Hot August Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, 121 Richland Ave., Aiken. Hot topics presented by local experts each Tuesday in August. On Aug. 7, “Procurement: How to do business with three of Aiken’s largest employers.” For more information, visit

Saturday, Aug. 11

Women of Worth One-Day Seminar, 10 a.m., Mosaic Church, 478 Columbia Industrial Blvd., Evans. This free seminar introduces women to the concept of community-based empowerment, including how to use a mentor, spiritual/vocational gifts and overcoming barriers to adequate employment. For more information, visit

Tuesday, Aug. 14

Chamber Before Hours, 7:45 a.m., Columbia County Chamber Office, 1000 Business Blvd., Evans. Start your day by networking with other business members. Topic is “How to Start and End Networking Conversations.” Registration required. For more information, visit Hot August Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, 121 Richland Ave., Aiken. Hot topics presented by local experts each Tuesday in August. On Aug. 14, “Branding: How a great brand can build a great business,” presented by Abigail Tiefenthaler, Sweetspot Strategies. For more information, visit

14 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

Hot August Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, 121 Richland Ave., Aiken. Hot topics presented by local experts each Tuesday in August. On Aug. 28, “The Customer Experience,” presented by Mike Thomas, Alison South Marketing Group. For more information, visit

Catch the Buzz! Get more on events and follow business and economic news across the CSRA at

Thursday, Aug. 16

Third Thursday Business Builder, 11:30, Augusta Metro Chamber office, 1 10th St., Augusta. Topic to be announced. Registration required. For more information, visit

Friday, Aug. 17

Good Morning North Augusta, 7:30 a.m., Palmetto Terrace, Municipal Complex, North Augusta. Legislative update with state Rep. Bill Hixon and state Sens. Shane Massey and Tom Young. Registration required. For more information, visit

Tuesday, Aug. 21

Hot August Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, 121 Richland Ave., Aiken. Hot topics presented by local experts each Tuesday in August. On Aug. 21, “Networking: The perfect pitch,” presented by Francine Burroughs, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. For more information, visit Women in Business, 11:30 a.m.,

Ribbon cuttings scheduled July 31: Susie Q’s Sweets, Nothing Bundt Cakes, 4217 Washington Road, Suite 7, Evans, noon Aug. 1: Blush & Glow Studio, 341 Furys Ferry Road, Martinez, noon Aug. 23: Spratlin & Son Construction, 139 N. Peachtree St., Lincolnton, Ga., 4 p.m. Legends Club, 2701 Washington Road, Augusta. “Progress Report: Augusta-Richmond County State of Education,” by Dr. Angela Pringle, superintendent of Richmond County schools. Registration required. For more information, visit

Thursday, Aug. 23

Networking for Leads, 3 p.m., Columbia County Chamber of Commerce office, 1000 Business Blvd., Evans. A structured program designed to promote meaningful business relationships. The goal is for businesses to give leads. For more information, visit Business After Hours, 5 p.m.,

Wednesday, Aug. 29

Executive Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Savannah Rapids Pavilion, Evans. “8 for ‘18” political and policy discussion on eight broad concepts that make up the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s strategy for statewide economic growth with guest speaker Chris Clark, Georgia Chamber president and CEO. Registration required. For more information, visit State of Our Community, noon, USC-Aiken Convocation Center, 471 University Pkwy., Aiken. This luncheon provides an update on the vision that community leaders have for the next several months. Nearly 500 local leaders will be in attendance. Registration is required. For more information, visit

Thursday, Aug. 30

Starting a Business Course, 5:30 p.m., Augusta Small Business Development Center office, 2907 Professional Pkwy., Suite B, Augusta. This course for businesses less than 2 years old covers important tools and resources a business owner needs to establish a solid foundation during its formative years. Registration is required. For more information, visit

Friday, Sept. 7

First Friday Means Business, 7:30 a.m., 117 Newberry St. NW, Aiken. Informative breakfast meeting with a keynote speaker. For more information, visit

Thursday, Sept. 20

Columbia County State of the Community Address, 5 p.m., Columbia County Exhibition Center, Grovetown. A communitywide barbecue dinner and business expo with more than 425 community members in attendance. Community leaders will discuss growth and goals of Columbia County. Registration is required. For more information, visit

AT THECLUBHOU.SE •A  ugusta Locally Grown has its downtown pickup location at every Tuesday, 5-7 p.m. • Entrepreneur members of theClubhou. se meet every Wednesday morning for Founders Circle, 9-10 a.m. Aug. 1: 1 Million Cups offers a couple of entrepreneurs from the area a chance to share their story with the community. 8-9 a.m. Aug. 8: ATDC Lunch & Learn: Setting Expectations to Scale Manufacturing & Working with Designers, Engineers and Manufacturers, with Shane Matthews. Learn how to grow from a product prototype to scalable production. Noon to 1 p.m. Aug. 8: ATDC’s Startup Academy Pitch Competition and Showcase. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 9: The Augusta Developer brings together developers and managers to talk about the developer culture in Augusta. This month, we will have talks about the intersection of design and development. 6-8 p.m. Aug. 16: PyAugusta is a monthly meetup of Pythonistas focusing on Python programming and its applications to data science. 6-8 p.m. Aug. 21: Our Gathering of We Who Make Stuff is an opportunity for members to show off progress on their interactive exhibits for Arts in the Heart of Augusta. 6-8 p.m. Aug. 22: Beer & Bytes is our time to bring together our entire community of entrepreneurs, makers, techies and creatives for a bit of new-fashioned networking. 5-7 p.m. Aug. 24: Join Kim Hines of Augusta Locally Grown for Growler Gardening, which gets together the horticulturally minded for some garden maintenance and good beer! 5-7 p.m. Aug. 28: Agile Augusta meets to discuss agile project management. 6-7 p.m.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: a weekend. For more involved lessons and projects, a summer art camp for one week or the main after-school art course, covering the whole school year, is more appropriate. I have reached out to the competition and met about ways we can collaborate. I also learned that it is possible to hold my classes at there establishments. This is a good way for ASAP to gain more positive exposure.

ASAP After-School Arts Program Art “Art the Artist” Abdon FOUNDER & CEO

1. What is the business? My business is Art the Artist Studios. Within my company is a new art enrichment program, I call ASAP, or After-School Arts Program.

7. What’s next for you?

2. What is happening next for the business? ASAP is in the startup phase and will launch this fall. I will have programs in middle schools of the CSRA, teaching young people how to draw and develop comic books. I call this course “I am a Superhero, Too!” I want to show children that they can consider their creative abilities “Superpowers”. We want to keep a positive perspective on creativity. 3. Any significant experiences/ skills that influenced your business? All the things I want to teach children about drawing, and art in general, have to do with my childhood experiences and my military career. Through teaching children the basics of drawing and creating a comic book to tell a story, they also learn how to talk to their fellow classmates and present their ideas, concepts, and finished projects. The military taught me how to talk about conflict resolutions, suicide prevention, and improved decision making. I want to take what I have learned of talking in front of people and my experiences in the military to show the children applicable life skills. 4. How did you get the idea? In the spirit of reciprocity, I was looking back to middle school and asked myself what I would teach to a younger me. My answer is to not only learn from other artists how to draw, but to also talk more and communicate your thoughts to others. Storytelling encourages

ARTHUR ABDON personal development skills and coping mechanisms. Ultimately, ASAP’s mission is to foster a love for the arts with children that want to create and tell their story. Our tagline is “We are giving our children the creative vision for their future.” If children can visualize what they want to be when they grow up, and be able to have fun doing it now, then they can focus on the direction they need to go for their future. 5. Who are your main competitors? They are organizations which offer after-school programs, (ie. Boys and Girls Club, KROC Center, and Gertrude Herbert Institution of the Arts) though I have found there are differences that set ASAP apart. ASAP is teaching children three main objectives: how to draw within traditional art, how to tell a short story in comic book format, and how to use technology to create a professional comic book as a product. 6. What have you learned from your competitors? I have learned how I can work with my competition. These organizations taught me different ways to structure my business model to accommodate parents and children with a variety of time lengths and course durations. For instance, I can give an art workshop that covers basic art skills in one evening or

I will continue to challenge myself to meet other artists and entrepreneurs that want to make a positive difference in our community. I am starting a meetup group with other up-andcoming artists. I am inspired to mentor them and learn from their experiences. I hope to grow a community of artists that have a centralized vision of helping each other and future artists. Follow me on all social media outlets and offer me feedback: @ArtTheArtist on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. 8. How has company?

working out of benefitted your

Working at has been a real game changer for me. I am very grateful to be one of the first participants for the StartUp Life Program. The knowledge from the instructors and the other participants is priceless. I have gained new friends that I now consider family because of this StartUp program and the other events held by

WANT TO BECOME A MEMBER? VISIT Would you like to schedule a tour? STOP BY 540 Telfair St. Augusta, GA EMAIL

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




My wife and I recently returned from a relaxing vacation in Tennessee with family. It was made relaxing in part due to poor internet reception. Instead of being on our phones and tablets, we read, played cards, hiked and napped. We also intentionally avoided any emails or texts pertaining to work. Unfortunately, for many Americans, vacations aren’t as relaxing as they should be, largely thanks to cellphones. Business leaders, especially, can fall into the trap of staying connected to their businesses, to the point that they seem to have simply traded their normal workspace for a more scenic one. But it is important for physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual health to occasionally draw a line that technology and the demands of work can’t cross. Often, though, drawing that line and then sticking to it is difficult. That’s where a life coach can help develop goals, strategies and accountability. Here are a few things to consider when cutting the technology link between you and your business when you’re on vacation. Understand the benefits. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, our bodies and minds are not perpetual motion machines that churn out our best day after day. We not only need good rest at night, but we occasionally need a week to recharge. Staying connected short circuits that. But when we truly get away from the business for a week or two, we find that we return with renewed energy, new possibilities to solve problems and good — possibly brilliant — ideas for the future. Develop a business or team that can operate without you. Yes, you’re important, but if you’re so vital to the continued success of the business that you can’t be gone for a week, you’re shaving the chance of success far too thin. Developing trusted assistants and a robust business plan is part of running a successful business. Not only will that allow you to get away for much-needed recharging of your own, it also inspires confidence in your team that will bring out the best in them. Create a code word for emergencies. Of course, emergencies do come up. You can create a code word a trusted employee can text or put in an email to someone else you’re vacationing with so you’ll know to check in. But make sure the employee understands that it has to be a real emergency, like a fire or tornado, and not

16 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

Everyone needs some time away from the responsibilities of work — and from those exhausting smartphone screens.

just that the office is out of coffee filters and he wants to know how many to order. Relax. Sometimes, especially for Type A personalities, vacations can become so packed with destinations and activities that it feels like they need a vacation from their vacation. Create space for yourself to just sit at the beach, hike up a mountain or curl up in a chair with a good, nonbusiness book. On the flip side, business leaders can often create stressful vacations for their employees. Some even predicate that an employee can have time off only if he or she promises to keep a cellphone close at hand. Even if you don’t make that a demand, the temptation to keep sending texts and emails can be strong. While your intention might be to simply keep them “in the loop,” those notifications can make the employee feel that he or she must respond or the job could be in jeopardy. Here are a few things that you can do to draw the line for your employees when they’re on vacation. Encourage employees to disconnect. If you advise them that you don’t expect anything from them during their vacation

— in fact, communicate that you’ll be disappointed if they respond to anything — they will be able to ignore business communication without feeling guilty. Think ahead. Since vacations are almost always planned months in advance, take time before the employees leave to catch up on everything they’re doing and where to find information you might need in their absence. If you feel the need to keep them in the loop on projects, set up a temporary email account to send the information to that they can access when they return. Keep in mind that just because you’d like to have information from them right away, even when they’re on vacation, you are seldom facing issues that can’t wait a few more days until they return. Set a corporatewide no-contact policy. Not only should you not be contacting an employee on vacation, but you should ensure that no one else in the company will do so, either. Working employees should be encouraged to not disturb their vacationing colleagues — not even when it’s simply work gossip. Drawing the line between work and vacation is increasingly difficult to do in our smartphone age, but that also makes

it increasingly important to do. As a leader, set the tone by making sure you take your contactless vacations (it may be that the employees left behind will enjoy a sort of vacation from you!) and insist that your employees take their full vacation time. You’ll find that not only can the business continue to run while people are on vacation, it will actually begin to thrive when people have recharged themselves. If you need help in implementing a technology-free vacation, a life coach can help you develop and set those boundaries.

In addition to serving as editor of Buzz on Biz, Gary Kauffman is also a Christian life coach working from an office in Martinez. Contact him at 803.341.5830 or or visit

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




Tax rules on rental income from second homes can be complicated, particularly if you rent the home out for several months of the year and also use the home yourself. There is, however, one provision that is not complicated: Homeowners who rent out their property for 14 or fewer days a year can pocket the rental income tax-free. In other words, if you live close to a vacation destination, such as the beach or mountains, you might be able to make some extra cash by renting out your home (principal residence) when you go on vacation — as long as it’s two weeks or less. Although you can’t take depreciation or deduct for maintenance, you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes and casualty losses on Schedule A (1040), Itemized Deductions. In our area, renting your personal residence out during the week of the Masters Tournament can provide a substantial tax-fee benefit! In general, however, income from rental of a vacation home for 15 days or longer must be reported on your tax return on Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss. Your rental income may also be subject to the net investment income tax. Keep in mind that the definition of a “vacation home” is not limited to a house. Apartments, condominiums, mobile homes and boats are also considered vacation homes in the eyes of the IRS. Furthermore, the IRS states that a vacation home

18 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

is considered a residence if personal use exceeds 14 days or more than 10 percent of the total days it is rented to others (if that figure is greater). When you use a vacation home as your residence and also rent it to others, you must divide the expenses between rental use and personal use, and you may not deduct the rental portion of the expenses in excess of the rental income. For example, let’s say you own a beach house (your “second home”) and rent it out during the summer between mid-June and mid-September. You and your family also vacation at the house for one week in October and two weeks in December. The rest of the time the house is unused. The family uses the house for 21 days, and it is rented out to others for 121 days for a total of 142 days of use during the year. In this scenario, 85 percent of expenses, such as mortgage interest, property taxes, maintenance, utilities and depreciation, can be written off against the rental income on Schedule E. As for the remaining 15 percent of expenses, only the owner’s mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible on Schedule A. Tax Reform and Vacation Rentals: Under tax reform, the amount of interest a homeowner is able to write off is limited to mortgage loan amounts of $750,000 or less for tax years 2018-25. If you own a second home as well, the two mortgages combined could exceed the $750,000 cap. In addition, property tax deductions (combined

with state income taxes) are capped at $10,000. If you do not rent out your second home, you could be losing out on deductions (taxes and mortgage interest) that lower your taxable income. Therefore, it is prudent to consider renting out your second home as a vacation rental, since you would then be able to deduct these expenses, and possibly others such as homeowner’s association fees, maintenance expenses and utilities. Furthermore, you can still use the home 14 days a year (more if you are staying there for maintenancerelated activities) and deduct these expenses. Even if you use it more than 14 days a year, you are still able to deduct these expenses proportional to the amount of rental use. Be sure to information your tax preparer about how you are using your personal residence and vacation homes, especially if you are renting them for any period of time during the year. Christine Hall is a partner in Hall, Murphy & Schuyler PC, a full-service accounting firm. For a complimentary accounting, tax or business consultation, call 706.855.7733 or email cmh@

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706.855.8811 The total direct costs of just one DUI charge can easily run you over $10,000. ▪ Towing ($100 – $1,200) ▪ Impound fees ($200-$1000) ▪ Bail ($150 – $2,500) ▪ Legal fees ($2,000 – $25,000) ▪ Fines ($300 – $1,200) ▪ Expert witnesses ($2000-$25,000)

▪ High-risk insurance ($4,500) ▪ Alcohol evaluation ($150-$200) ▪ Alcohol treatment ($250 – $2,000) ▪ License reinstatement fee ($60 – $250) ▪ Ignition interlocks ($60 a month for two years) ▪ Loss of Employment

But PJ Can Help! Expert DUI Defense: Qualiications: ▪ Review of Officer’s Report ▪ Review of Video of Incident ▪ Payment Plans Available

▪Licensed in Georgia & South Carolina ▪Member of Augusta Bar Since ‘04 ▪Former Prosecutor

Call PJ today!

Attorney PJ Campanaro

GilEaves Eaves Gil



Financial Advisor

Wealth Management Advisor 706.855.8811

706.821.2222 601 N. Belair Square, Suite 16, Evans, Ga

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




On June 19, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule that gives small businesses more freedom to join together as a single group to purchase health insurance in the large group market or to self-insure. These benefit arrangements are called association health plans (AHPs). By forming AHPs, small employers can avoid certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms that apply to the small group market. According to the DOL, this will provide small employers with more affordable health insurance options. However, in exchange for lower premiums, AHPs may cover fewer benefits. Most AHPs will not be subject to the ACA’s essential health benefits reform, which requires small-group plans to cover a core set of items and services, such as mental health care and maternity and newborn care. According to the DOL, this reform provides small employers — many of whom are facing higher premiums and fewer coverage options — with a greater ability to join together and gain many of the regulatory advantages enjoyed by large employers, along with increased bargaining power.

Eligible employers

The final rule allows employers to join together to form an AHP that is a single ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act) plan if either of the following requirements is satisfied: • The employers are in the same trade, industry, line of business or profession; or • The employers have a principal place of business within a region that does not exceed boundaries of the same state or the same metropolitan area (even if the metropolitan area includes more than one state). In addition, the final rule allows working owners without other employees, such as sole proprietors and other selfemployed individuals, to join AHPs.

Additional requirements

To distinguish single-plan AHPs from commercial insurance-type arrangements, the final rule requires AHPs to satisfy the following conditions: • The primary purpose of the group or association may be to offer and provide health coverage to its employee members; however, the group or association

20 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

also must have at least one substantial business purpose unrelated to offering and providing health coverage or other employee benefits to its members. • Each employer member of the group or association participating in the group health plan must be the employer of at least one employee who is a plan participant. • The group or association has a formal organizational structure with a governing body and has bylaws or other similar indications of formality. • The group or association’s member employers control its functions and activities, including the establishment and maintenance of the group health plan. • Only employees and former employees of the current employer members (and family members of those employees and former employees) may participate in the group health plan sponsored by the association. • The group or association is not a health insurance issuer (or owned or controlled by an issuer or by a subsidiary or affiliate of an issuer). In addition, the final rule requires AHPs to comply with certain consumer protections and anti-discrimination protections that apply to the large-group market. For example, AHPs may not charge higher premiums or deny coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions or cancel coverage because an employee becomes ill. Additionally, AHPs under this rule will not be able to charge employers different rates based on the health status of their employees.

Applicability date

The final rule includes a phased applicability date. The final rule allows fully insured plans to begin operating under the new rule on Sept. 1, 2018. Existing self-insured AHPs can begin operating under the new rule on Jan. 1, 2019, and new self-insured AHPs can begin on April 1, 2019. Russell T. Head is CEO of Head Capital Advisors, an Acrisure agency partner and Augusta’s largest employee benefits brokerage. He can be reached at 706.733.3459 or



Recently, our office suffered a minor cyberattack. Someone clicked on a link in an innocuous-looking email that was about an “invoice.” Next thing you know, a bug or worm or spider or whatever they are calling malware now got access to this person’s contacts and started happily sending emails. It had only been going a few minutes when I got the email from her and grew suspicious. Even in that short time, more than 1,000 email messages went out. Luckily for us, that was all the bug did in our system. It was just fishing for people to go to a website and log in with their Microsoft account information. Fortunately, we have a sharp IT team and safeguards on our data. We are all inundated daily with cautionary tales about cyber threats. However, my warning is not about the enemy on the outside storming the gates — it is about the “frenemy” on the inside, slowly and methodically stealing your assets. At least several times each year, our office deals with a client who has been harmed by someone in his or her own organization. Generally, it is the “trusted employee,” the person who has been at the company so long that the person’s behavior is seemingly beyond reproach. This is particularly true about embezzlement. We hear “John has been with us forever!” or “Sally is our most trusted employee!” and — the most telltale sign — “Joe never took vacation; he was

here night and day!” (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.) President Ronald Reagan’s muchquoted Russian proverb holds the key to mitigating losses from inside: “Trust, but verify.” Loss mitigation, whether in money, trade secrets or other intellectual property, requires that no one person has unfettered control over an asset. That could be a bank account, a customer list or any other asset. Without examining your organization, I cannot tell you the right processes or procedures to protect your business. However, I can assure you if you put all your eggs in one basket, they will very likely get cracked! Talk to your business attorney, your CPA and your insurance provider about checks and balance to protect your business from the fox already in the henhouse.

J. Edward “Ed” Enoch has practiced law in Augusta for more than 20 years, mostly focusing on helping business owners and companies to include formation, transition, business planning, contract writing, employment law and other areas of the law. Email








Mark Alison’s business philosophy can be traced back to a teenage love of chocolate milkshakes. Alison, a marketer, real estate investor and hot sauce entrepreneur, said that when he was 15, his father bought a Mister Softee ice cream franchise and drafted him to run the truck. “I ate a lot of the profit,” he recalled.

Mark Alison, Entrepreneur One of his favorite treats was a chocolate milkshake, which according to company standards meant milk, soft serve ice cream and one long pump of chocolate. But to double his pleasure, Alison added a second long pump, which he found greatly enhanced the flavor. “I asked Dad how much it cost to do another pump and he said it was just pennies,” Alison said. He convinced his father to let him add a second pump of chocolate to shakes he sold to customers, and the customers agreed with his assessment of the improved taste. Within a few months, the Alison franchise was using more milkshake cups per capita than any other Mister Softee franchise. The company wanted to know why, but Alison refused to tell them what made the difference. That experience, though, taught him a valuable lesson about doing a little more to exceed the customer’s expectations. “Later, when I got into business I thought, if this is the norm, what would it take to give the customer an ‘extra pump of chocolate,’” he said. It was a philosophy that caught on in his marketing firm, too — “What’s the extra pump we’re going to give this customer?” became a routine question. Alison merged his marketing firm, Alison Group, with South Company in 2016 to form Alison South Marketing Group. He is mostly on the sidelines now but still represents Queensborough Bank & Trust’s interests. Since 2012, Alison has been a real estate investor through local investment group AORE, where he is also a teacher. And, perhaps most famously in the past few years, he is the developer, marketer and distributor of the hot sauce brand

22 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

Mark Alison makes regular deliveries of his Help Me Jesus hot sauce to The Pot Smoker barbecue restaurant in North Augusta. Photo by Gary Kauffman

“At heart I’m really a teacher. I’ve been a teacher forever, whether in Sunday school or in goal setting.”

ing advice that often cost a substantial amount to obtain was being given out free. He quickly became involved in the group. Not only did it appeal to him as an investment opportunity, but as a chance to teach others. “Just helping people appealed to me,” he said. “At heart I’m really a teacher. I’ve been a teacher forever, whether in Sunday school or in goal setting. I’m trying to give back because they helped me.”

Help Me Jesus. The hot sauce came about as a result of Alison’s love of Mexican food — developed when he studied at the University of Monterrey in Mexico — a hobby of growing peppers and a quest to develop a hot sauce that wasn’t so hot that it overwhelmed the flavor of a dish. Once he found the perfect blend, he gave some of his surplus to friends, who urged him to market it. He soon became his own marketer and distributor. “I take three or four cases with me when I’m traveling and stop at likely places,” he said. “Now I have distribution points up and down I-95.” Locally, one of his best customers is The Pot Smoker, which uses Help Me Jesus on its hot wings. Real estate investing also was a bit of an accident. Alison was invited to an AORE meeting and found that invest-

What is the passion that drives you? “I didn’t think my hot sauce was that big a deal — I liked it whether or not anyone else did. But one day I came into The Pot Smoker and met a family with a little boy, about 8. Robert (Boggs, manager of the restaurant) said, ‘This boy loves your hot sauce.’ I squatted down and shook his hand and he thanked me for making the hot sauce. I didn’t think I needed validation, but that turned my crank. I feel the same thing in real estate or in weekend goal setting, when people come back and say I opened their eyes to their potential. An entrepreneur will do a lot of stuff for free because what drives them is to do something for others.” What makes an entrepreneur? “There’s flexibility; you have to roll with the punches. There’s a good support team, especially from a spouse, although you have to be willing to go it alone if you

In his own words

really believe in the idea. And you have to be an optimist. You’ve got to know the target is going to move and be flexible enough to move with it. An entrepreneur’s mind is always working. I still keep a pad of paper beside the bed to write things down — although I had to learn to turn the light on because I couldn’t read what I’d scribbled in the dark.” How do you unwind? “My wife, Melanie, once called my neighbor, Dick Bass, and said, ‘Mark comes home stressed to the max; do you think you could get him out in your boat to go fishing?’ When I came home, Dick had mowed the yard for me, so I thought the least I could do was go fishing with him. Now fishing has become associated with relaxing. “I also like a great movie. I can disconnect in the movie theater and be in the movie. I’m there — I sit through every credit. I want to absorb it and stay in the moment.” How do you give back to the community? “Both Melanie and I are really involved in our church. I’m also on the board of several nonprofits — one is trying to reduce divorce rates. I’m on the Southeast Firefighters Burn Foundation. When I started college at USC-Aiken, I was told I had to declare a major, so I did — business. The first course I took was double-entry accounting and I couldn’t get it. Now, 30 years later, they put me on the board of advisors for the School of Business. I’m also involved with Marriage Helper in Nashville that helps married couples. “In 2003, I helped our church, Midland Valley Community Church of the Nazarene, put together a 2020 vision, and one part of that was putting a Christian counseling center on the grounds. Now we’ve broken ground for that. It’s so important that if we can help Mom and Dad, then we’ve helped all the kids in that family.” What does the future hold for you? “The future holds some of the same, although it’s different now that I don’t have the overhead. It gives me more time to do things when I’m not trying to make a living for another dozen people. I’m already helping my son with his business. A few weeks ago, we were in Scotland, where my daughter and son-in-law live, and I was working with them (on) how to expand their ministry there. Helping is a joy. I hope that lasts as long as I’m alive. It keeps me young and vital.”



P.T. Barnum once said, “Money is a terrible master, but an excellent servant.” I couldn’t agree more, but there’s a component necessary to preventing money from becoming our master in the first place and having it serve excellently — our hearts. The money we have been entrusted with, whether it be a little or a lot, will never serve excellently until our hearts are detached from it. If this does not occur, money will compete with our devotions and catapult us into the dangerous territory of idolatry. The word “idolatry” tends to cause us to think of ancient times, when sacrifices were made to statues of gods. However, idolatry can be less visual and more internal. Idolatry is actually a heart condition. It is where our heart goes, and it leads us to satisfy our internal desires for security, stability and safety. For example, do we view our job as our source of security and primary identity? Do we feel the size of our paycheck and savings accounts determines our safety and validity? Do we view other people as our source of worth and emotional stability? If so, all of these things reveal our heart’s condition and the idol(s) we seek

If we are able to view money merely as a resource to be managed, rather than something emotional, we can begin acquiring the skills and discipline necessary to manage it so that it will never be in control of us.

to meet our “needs.” Clearly, money is at the center of much of this. Our jobs provide money. Money can provide us with many blankets of security. We find that people respond to us differently based on the size of our bank accounts. Because of that, money attracts the devotions of our hearts through the immediate gratification it provides. We can see it, touch it, spend it and use it to get us

what we want, when we want it — including applause from others. Our hearts desire something to cling to, and if we aren’t careful, and wise, money will quickly be made our master because of all the reasons listed and more. Ultimately, we must detach our hearts from money. We must not get caught up in the lie that our self-worth is tied to our net worth. However, this battle is not easily won, for we are surrounded by influ-

ences that tell us the opposite is true. However, if our hearts are detached enough to view money merely as a resource to be managed, we can begin acquiring the skills and discipline necessary to manage it properly, just like any other skill and workable resource. The key is to seek skills from sources whose “heart” is also detached from money. Heart, perspective and prioritization are everything when it comes to mastering money rather than having it master you. The good news is resources are out there and so are good mentors. I personally appreciate faith-based resources, and, thankfully, they are abundantly available. Take the time to invest in them and to seek them out.

Dagan Sharpe is senior vice president of Queensborough National Bank & Trust and the author of Highways End and Full Disclosure. Email him at dagan.



Whether it is out back in the garden or the front driveway, there are now more houses than ever that utilize patio and deck areas. While these outdoor areas are enjoyable and add to the overall appeal of your home, they must be maintained to look good and stay in a healthy condition in the long run. If they aren’t maintained through regular cleaning, there is a real danger of dirt, grime, algae and other organic growth, oil and stains ruining the look of your paved areas. Of course, the main advantage of pressure washing your concrete outdoor surfaces is to keep the area clean, and a licensed pressure-washing company will use the right equipment and commercial grade detergents to get the best results possible. While this might seem like an easy doit-yourself weekend project, most electric or gas pressure-washing machines

you can buy or rent from the local home improvement store won’t be able to effectively clean your home’s hardscape surfaces. Professional pressure-washing companies use commercial-grade machines, detergents, cleaners and tools that have the power to treat and remove most stains, algae, and other growth using different tools and methods learned through years of experience and training. Another factor to consider is cost effectiveness. In recent years, financial difficulties have led people to reduce their spending, sometimes in misguided areas. For example, you should never stop going to the dentist, because you face the risk of missing a potential problem before it turns into something worse. In the same way, you shouldn’t forget to clean and seal your driveway or patio, because doing so will remove the risk of larger problems occurring in the future.

Keep in mind that your home is one of the biggest investments you make, and money spent on its upkeep is always money well spent. As we touched on earlier, grass, weeds and algae growth can be a nightmare for patio and hardscape areas. These types of organic growth are not only unsightly, but also can cause slip hazards when wet. Additionally, when algae and other organic growth grow and spread between pavers, bricks and mortar in your home’s outdoor surfaces, the integrity of these surfaces can be compromised. Bricks and pavers can begin to crack and become loose, making it more likely that someone will trip and fall. Regular pressure washing can eliminate organic growth such as this, ensuring a clean, slip-free outdoor area safe for all to enjoy. The cleaning can also highlight any areas that might need repairs. Ultimately, all the benefits we have mentioned so far, plus many others —

oil/stain resistance, better color of paving, keeping sand in place — all work together to keep your paving healthy and strong. As long as you clean and maintain your driveway using a licensed pressure-washing company you trust, such as AllClean Pressure Washing, you will not need to pay for repairs or a complete replacement for a long time!

Tony Creighton is the owner/operator of ALLCLEAN™ Pressure Washing LLC and its subsidiary, Augusta PROCLEAN™ — committed to providing high-quality cleanings for the CSRA’s commercial properties and homes. Call 706.651.8089 or email

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




Did you know that your high school student has several options for getting ahead on earning college credit? The dual enrollment program in Georgia allows high school students to enroll at a college or university and up to 12 credit hours without any cost to the family. Specific courses will give credit toward high school and college graduation simultaneously. Parents who are considering dual enrollment for their teenagers have many questions and concerns. Some parents fear that the classes will be too challenging or that their student won’t fit into the environment. Maybe it’ll be too much work at a faster pace than they’ve grown accustomed to. However, parents who take the time to inquire learn that an above-average high school student who is bored, loves a challenge and has no trouble meeting deadlines will succeed in dual enrollment college courses.

An above-average high school student who is bored, loves a challenge and has no trouble meeting deadlines will succeed in dual enrollment. Since guidance counselors work closely with college representatives, they can often suggest good transition courses to start. Many colleges, including Georgia Military College, offer support to dual enrollment students so they will succeed. GMC offers free tutoring, success coaches and a nurturing, encouraging environment. Academic advisors communicate often with the high school guidance counselor so there are no surprises when

a student shows early signs of struggle in a course. Classes at GMC have a diverse population with varying age ranges, but often there are other dual-enrolled students in each class. In nine weeks, a dual-enrollment student earns the same credit that takes them a year to earn at high school. That course is also one that counts toward future college completion! When asked what advice they’d provide to anyone considering dual enrollment, students and parents often say they wish they had known that the state of Georgia allows students to participate as early as ninth grade. This allows a student to complete a technical certificate, technical diploma or an associate’s degree. GMC has seen several students graduate with an associate’s degree in the same year that they graduate high school, all at no cost to the family. Parents also point out that students feel comfortable at GMC, making the transition into college less shocking than

moving straight from high school into a college dorm. Eligibility for participation in the dual enrollment program at Georgia Military College is based on a student’s high school GPA, approval by the high school counselor and SAT, ACT or Accuplacer test scores. Students who do not score high enough or who have not taken the SAT or ACT can opt to take the Accuplacer placement test at our campus at no cost. Missie Usry is the Enrollment Manager at Georgia Military College’s Augusta campus. For questions about Georgia Military College, call 706.993.1123 or visit its website at



As I travel across the country consulting, people constantly ask me what the secret to success is. I tell them that success isn’t rewarding if it’s easy. Maybe few of us get lucky and become successful with the very first thing we create, but such lucky breaks are few and far between. It’s more likely that you and I aren’t among those lucky few. For us, there is only the path: years of challenging work, dedication, focus and struggle to create meaningful work every day. Cheating your way, taking the easy route or copying others won’t make you successful. Such a success, even if attained, has a short life span, and you won’t feel satisfied with yourself. But the success and its rewards you get after doing the hard work last longer, and you also feel satisfied with yourself for putting in the effort. So, why should we run after short-lived success, when we have it in us to work hard, create great things and achieve permanent success — a success that’s not just limited to money, but also to living a simple, happy and creative life? To become a pro and succeed in our

24 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

craft, we have to keep working, no matter what. Most people want to be successful, but they do not realize that success comes from within and is a product of how we view

successful people. When our work isn’t any good, we have to keep working; when we don’t seem to make any

progress, we have to keep working; when others laugh at us, we have to keep working; when others criticize our work, we have to keep working; when we can’t find a way to make a living from our work, we have to keep working. It’s doing the work that will make us better and, someday, lead us to success and the rewards that come with it. All we can do is work with all our heart and mind in it. That’s the only thing in our hands. Can’t we just stop looking for the next shortcut to success and instead focus on practicing our craft and producing more output each day? There is an old and tested route to success, and it’s the same one that every person, past or present, who became the best in his or her field used to succeed. And that’s to put in the work every day, to try to get better at it every day, and to continue to learn from the masters every day. Let’s remember the

reward at the end. Let’s do the right thing ourselves. Let us be the ones who work hard, let us create value, let us give more than we ask for and let us succeed with integrity. We don’t need shortcuts. Instead of the “short” way or the “long” way, we will take the right way to success. And that right way comes from excelling in our craft and creating meaningful things with it — adding value to others’ lives in some way. So, which route will you take: the short one or the rewarding one? In whatever you do, never allow anyone to outwork you. Never! Dub Taylor, the CEO of Dub Taylor Consulting, holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Management from the Jack Welch Management Institute and a Bachelor’s degree in history from Stillman College. He is pursuing his doctoral degree in business with a concentration in leadership at Walden University. Contact him at info@dubtaylorconsulting. com, call 205.454.7242, follow #askDub or visit his website,



A few months ago, I called a local food business owner for an interview about his new venture, which has become increasingly popular in Augusta over the last year. He answered the phone from Oregon, where he was enjoying a vacation with his wife. As I discovered midway through the interview, it was kind of a work trip, too. In addition to taking in the magnificent views of the Northwest, he was planning to do some digging into the rapidly growing marijuana business, which is thriving in Oregon, one of eight states where recreational use of the drug is legal. This entrepreneur is in the midst of creating a successful local business built on highquality food, but he was already planning his next venture: edibles. Although that might not be a legal possibility in this state for at least a few more years, I applaud his foresight. While marijuana is still illegal in Georgia and could very well remain that way for a while, you can’t knock staying ahead of the curve when it comes to a business that is trending upward. It’s difficult to project the future of the marijuana business in a state like Georgia. While it’s one of the most conservative states in the country, it also saw a major change last fall, when Atlanta decriminalized weed. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization, but the maximum fine for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Atlanta is now only $75, which is essentially the same thing as getting a speeding ticket. Plus, medical legalization in Southern states has already begun as Oklahoma and Arkansas passed legislation this year to approve it. South Carolina has been debating the issue for years, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has gradually expanded the qualifications for the use of cannabis oil for preventing seizures and mitigating intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions. Here in Augusta, the effects of this movement on the business world have begun to take shape. This month, a small retailer called CBD Store of Augusta officially opened in Martinez. The store is entirely dedicated to products containing cannabidiol, or CBD oil, a compound in cannabis that has become a popular remedy for PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and other ailments (some local vape shops sell the product, too). CBD oil has gained popularity at a fast pace in the wake of medical marijuana legalization in many states, although CBD is derived from the hemp plant, not marijuana.

State legislators are very cautious about making sure that Atlanta’s recent decriminalization law doesn’t push Georgia down the path of becoming the next Colorado. What’s certain is that there’s a growing demand for CBD oil, even when it’s THC-free. lies had similar stories. What these stories mean for cannabis-related businesses in Georgia over the long haul is impossible to predict. Many state legislators are very cautious about making sure that Atlanta’s recent decriminaliza-

CBD has a very low amount of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. But because of strict regulation in Richmond and Columbia counties, the owners of CBD Store of Augusta aren’t taking any chances and have elected not to sell products that have even small amounts of THC. After talking to the store manager and learning about the business owners, it seemed that all four of them were inspired to get into the CBD oil business at least partially because of the testimonies they heard from former opioid users. Those users testified that CBD oil helped lift them out of serious addictions. The manager told me she had to hold back tears after talking to one customer who had debilitating arthritis. CBD had become the best answer for her, as it has for many people with at least a dozen other medical conditions. The topic is an emotional one. When Deal first signed legislation legalizing CBD oil for certain conditions in 2015, a man named Mike Covington started to cry. He had already watched two of his four children die from seizures before moving his family to Colorado so that his third seizure-prone child could be treated. Other fami-

tion law doesn’t push Georgia down the path of becoming the next Colorado. What’s certain is that there’s a growing demand for CBD oil, even when it’s THC-free. CBD Store of Augusta has been running out of products faster than it can restock them, and it seems like a safe bet to say more stores like it will pop up in other areas of the CSRA. As the state’s list of medical conditions that merit legal consumption of CBD oil grows, so will the number of people buying it. For what it’s worth, the aforementioned entrepreneur was convinced we’re all underestimating the speed with which this business is going to take off in the South. I can’t say I disagree. But for now, the only edibles you’ll find at a store are THC-free CBD gummy bears. Witt Wells is a Memphis-born writer with a love for comedy, the written word and the outdoors. He lives in Augusta, where he reports on business news in the CSRA. Contact him at

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




A new mural just inside the entrance of 668 Broad St. bursts with vibrant colors and images from Augusta’s storied past and increasingly appealing present, a stark contrast to a side of Broad Street whose duller storefronts don’t yet match the hype that downtown has garnered over the last few years. The remodeled space is the new home of the Alison South Marketing Group, which is moving its 22 employees from Aiken. While locals clamor to get a slice of the quickly disappearing pie of the west side of downtown, the east side, nicknamed “SoBro” (south of James Brown Boulevard) by some, remains largely undeveloped. It was an intentionally bold investment into the rough-around-the-edges side of town, a move that summed up the agency’s desire to join the supporters of the Miller Theater in investing in the area’s economy. In 2010, the South Company was comprised of a small table in a virtual closet in Aiken and two people trying to break into the local marketing arena. It merged with the more established Alison Group in 2016 to form the current company. I sat down with four of the agency’s leaders — President Cynthia South, CEO Mike Thomas, Branding Vice President Ron Turner and partner and Vice President of Account Services Kate Sanders — to talk about what a presence in downtown Augusta means for a homegrown — and still growing — marketing company. Wells: Tell me a little bit about how this company got started. Thomas: So, Cynthia and I started back in 2010 in Aiken. We kind of just started with a couple of clients that first year in a small office space and had just met a lot of businesses that were in need of marketing services. We built it from the ground up, really. We really started to grow heavily when Ron came on board and became a partner with us in 2015. And then our team really started to develop. We probably didn’t have a full-time person until 2014. So, that first three years was pretty much myself and Cynthia with some part-time people. South: Our Augusta accounts were growing, so it only made sense that we invest in Augusta and have a presence here. We did that with Aiken. We bought a building in downtown Aiken and wanted to be part of that revitaliza-

26 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

A mural just inside the new lower Broad Street office of the Alison South marketing firm reflects the business leadership’s vibrant vision of the city. Photo by Witt Wells

tion. Because that’s what we were doing — contributing to the economy of Aiken by helping the business grow. We’re doing the same thing in Augusta, helping businesses grow and contributing to the local economy. And so we wanted to have a downtown presence and be part of this downtown revitalization. Wells: What does this new presence in downtown Augusta mean for you? Turner: I guess it’s our statement. We’ve always had a presence here, we’ve always had clients. But being out of Aiken, everybody looked at us like we were an Aiken agency only that just happened to have a couple clients over here. But this is really our fort that we’re building over here. We were very intentional with the space that we chose, because everybody wants to be on Broad Street, on upper Broad between 10th and 13th. And we want to partner with the Miller and other places to come down here to what I was told was dubbed “SoBro,” to be part of the new development. Cynthia was very adamant about finding the right space, but we chose this end of Broad because that end of Broad is established. They’re part of a great group to keep that vital heartbeat going over there, but we wanted to be the nuance down here. We wanted to be kind of the Greenwich Village of Augusta. We’re really excited to be on this block. South: And this building is so unique. This mural is going to be a conversation

piece and a destination. Turner: This building’s been around since the 1880s. It’s been a lot of different things, but we’re so happy to help preserve part of the feel and the continuity of the building itself. We wanted to help preserve that, and we wanted to add a modern flare to the building itself, so when you walk in, you feel that creative flow. But then in the building itself on the back wall, we have something that Kate had come up with: “We’re ink slingers, idea bringers, scribblers and strategists.” It goes on to say that if you’re not up late at night thinking about the next design, we are. (Mike) is up until 2-3 in the morning emailing us. You’ll notice the huge cowbell above the kitchen sink. We don’t stop at the predictable. We try to take things as far as we can take them. We bring more cowbell to it. We try to bring the noise with all of them. One of the things we’re known for are our billboards — a mouth drinking out of a 40-foot straw or a 65-foot nail on a billboard, those are probably us. We try to tell a good story with everything. Anybody can do great design, but it’s the story behind what you’re doing that really develops that connection with the community. Wells: What is one of the integral parts of your creative process that is unique? Thomas: Our philosophy is very different. We’re the full-service approach to

marketing. You have to have the strategy to figure out the brand, and then we help manage the business’s day-to-day marketing needs. We buy their media, we handle their web development in-house. We do their social media in-house. We can help them with an event need if they need us to staff a booth. Everything is done in-house. Turner: I’ve worked in huge agencies. I’ve worked in small agencies. But one thing I’ve never seen — and it kind of stunned me when I started — was everybody pitches in, everybody works for an idea. We’ll have a front desk person throwing out ideas. We put meaning behind everything we do with it. You can’t get your feelings hurt as a designer in this industry, period. It’s hard to subdue ego. (Mike) will always throw something back at you. He’s like, “You can do better than that.” And I’ll get mad and go back and try harder. It’s that constant networking within our office behind the scenes before anybody ever sees how far we’re taking it. South: The diversity in our staff that you can get, that richness in ideas and perspective … we have women, men, primarily young. Some in the middle range and some on the upper range. Straight people, gay people. Sanders: People from all different places. Turner: Black and white. I think it’s part of the success of who we are, our culture. We’ve gone on kayaking trips together, we do escape rooms together, we have Friday happy hours in the office. We have so many things that we offer. Wells: Does this new building open up new opportunities? Sanders: I think it comes with some real opportunities but also obstacles. I think it gives us a lot of opportunities for additional clients in Augusta, people who are downtown that for different reasons maybe have heard of us, but they don’t know exactly what we do. And so, now that we’re down here, they’re going to see our logo, they’re going to see our name. So, there’s some opportunity there for new business. South: In Aiken, we renovated a building that hadn’t been touched since 1958. So, we really made an improvement in downtown Aiken. We are working in Augusta, we represent Augusta, we want downtown to be successful, so we’re here. What we’ve done with the space represents our creativity. None of us really have an office. I think that’s different than most company cultures.



Think neighborhood coffee shop. Think fixer-upper interior with white subway tiles and farmhouse décor. Think fresh pastries and specialty coffees. Think of these things and the 8-month-old coffee shop in the Market at Riverwood in Evans should come to mind. On its website, Rooted Coffeehouse bills itself as a missiondriven community existing to cultivate relationships through the art of coffee. It provides the food, drinks and space. The relationships are up to you, the patrons. As my three colleagues and I entered the charming eatery, we were welcomed by a friendly cashier. She gave us a few facts about Rooted as we explained this was our inaugural visit. Although the artistic flair of the menu was creative and fit perfectly with the décor, it was a bit difficult to read. I had to stand fairly close to the menu board to decipher the offerings. Perhaps it’s my age, but I spied young boys squinting, too! Morning, noon or night, the menu stays the course. Our party choices covered the map with sandwiches such as the caprese, turkey brie and spicy chicken on ciabatta, to name a few. “The entire place has a very purposeful feel,” commented one colleague. “There is a long table suited for a larger group, then a round table ideal to promote discussions and even a reading lounge with a couch and chairs,

Rooted Coffeehouse Rating is based on a scale of 1 to 5.

Food Price Location Networking Noise Level Rooted Coffeehouse is at The Market at Riverwood, 3116 William Few Pkwy., Suite 1, in Evans. It is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Learn more at

a dedicated space.” We easily found a table as the place wasn’t packed, but it was certainly busy. The steady stream of customers kept the staff on their toes. We waited a few minutes for our drinks to be ready and had to ask more than once for the napkin dispenser to be refilled. But those are minor tweaks easily overcome. Rooted has a pleasant atmosphere with a neighborhood feel. For a cozy conversation with clients, this would be an excellent choice. To impress an up-andcoming business whiz or to land a signature on the dotted line, Rooted would fit the bill.

The sandwiches at Rooted Coffeehouse, including a turkey brie and a caprese with tomatoes and mozzarella, were simply delicious. Photo by Susan O’Keefe

Still without napkins but eager to eat, our food was delivered by an energetic employee, and she was the answer to our doily dilemma! Presentation was simple. Taste was out of this world. The turkey brie was dripping with delicious flavor. The combination of turkey, brie, spinach and peach chili pepper spread is mouthwatering. I begged to try my colleague’s caprese and was equally enamored with the mozzarella, tomato, spinach, pesto, sundried to-

mato spread and balsamic glaze. The chefs earned an A+ from us. In addition to inside seating, there are a few small tables on the outdoor patio area. Rooted is a unique, locally owned, community-minded coffee shop that is quickly proving to be more than just a place to grab a hot cup of java. With an eye on the prize for good food, good drinks and good relationships, Rooted seems grounded in goodness. Rooted is closed on Mondays but opens at 6 a.m. on other business days.

Susan O’Keefe has been reviewing restaurants for Buzz on Biz since August 2015. Her restaurant visits and reviews are done with a businessperson in mind.






July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz



On a humid evening in mid-July, about a dozen foursomes gathered in a wooded area to play a round of golf. But they weren’t using clubs or planning to hit any small white balls. These golfers were armed with brightly colored, round pieces of plastic. This was disc golf, a sport that has devotees every bit as avid as those found on a traditional golf course. These discs were not your lazy-afternoon-at-the-beach Frisbees. Each golfer carried a bag crammed with a dozen or more discs of various weights, flight patterns and stability factors. Some are drivers for the long shots, some are mid-range for approach shots, and there are even putters. Instead of a hole, the golfers try to drop the discs into a basket draped in chains about four feet off the ground. Most courses utilize wooded terrain where the clear area for disc flight might be no more than a few dozen feet wide. Despite their bright colors — orange and yellow are among the popular choices — discs can get lost in the woods. Although they’re plastic, they can sink easily into the depths of a pond or lake. Like it is in the ball golf world, Augusta is widely known in the disc golf sphere. The International Disc Golf Center, home of the Professional Disc Golf Association, is located in Appling. The National Collegiate Disc Golf championships are held annually in North Augusta, and several courses in the CSRA have hosted amateur and professional world disc golf tournaments. In addition, there are a number of sanctioned tournaments played throughout the area. “This is a destination that people travel to from around the world,” said Henry Hamilton, president of the Augusta Disc Golf Association (ADGA). “A lot of ball golfers are also disc golfers. There couldn’t have been a better pairing of the two.” For locals, the ADGA offers league play every night of the week, as well as a number of tournaments. Part of the appeal of disc golf is the ease of getting started. A starter set of

28 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

“We have people from all walks of life — doctors, lawyers, college kids — all coming together for one thing: to throw the disc in the basket and hear the chains ring.” – Henry Hamilton, president of the Augusta Disc Golf Association

Sean Sprague tries for a birdie on the Riverview Park disc golf course in North Augusta as teammate Brandon Phipps looks on. Photo by Gary Kauffman

two or three discs runs about $20-$30, and many of the courses are free. A round can be played in under three hours, and dress codes are far less stringent than on traditional courses. And even though many shots require precision and strategy, the game is casual enough that anyone can play and have fun. Hamilton said he’s seen people from pre-teens to those in their 80s on the courses. “It’s an excellent family activity,” Hamilton said. “We have people from all walks of life — doctors, lawyers, college kids — all coming together for one thing: to throw the disc in the basket and hear the chains ring.” The game’s casual atmosphere and closeness to nature develop an esprit de corps even among strangers. Newcomers are greeted warmly and are offered a helping hand. “The community is very responsive to new players,” Hamilton said. “Just like any sport, you have your cliques, but we’re all still here to have a great big good time.”

Disc golf in the Augusta area does require a bit of exercise — and bug spray — as the courses move up and down hills, across streams and over exposed tree roots. But it is also great for rehabilitation, as Hamilton can attest. “My brother picked up disc golf years ago, but I said, ‘I’m not going to go throw Frisbees in the woods,’” Hamilton said. “It didn’t sound interesting at all.” A car crash in 2008 changed that. The injuries meant Hamilton couldn’t engage in the more active sports, like soccer, that he had enjoyed. Friends encouraged him to play a round of disc golf as low-impact physical therapy. “After 18 holes, I was hooked,” he said. For those who get “hooked,” the world of discs offers a lot to obsess about. The discs are rated on speed, glide, turn and fade, as well as being different weights. Because of the relatively low cost, many avid golfers own an excess of discs. “Most of us have a plethora of plastic at the house,” Hamilton acknowledged. “The majority of us have plenty of discs

with us that we give out or sell for almost nothing (to newcomers).” Hamilton said one of the best ways for a newcomer to get indoctrinated to disc golf is the Thursday night doubles league at Riverview Park in North Augusta. It is a best-shot league, so a rookie can be paired with a more skilled player and still be competitive. Although like in many sports disc golf players are primarily male, Hamilton said it is growing in popularity among females, and the ADGA holds events to encourage players’ wives, girlfriends and other women to compete. Because much of disc golf involves precision and shot shaping, size and strength are not the factors they are in some other sports. The ADGA has about 100 members, but there are about 1,000 active players in the community. While some tournaments offer prize money, most competitors play it for the sheer fun. “When you throw a Frisbee, it brings out the kid in everyone,” Hamilton said.

For more information about local leagues and courses, visit or



It has been said that the South is somewhat of a modern-day Philistia. Well, while that may be the case from pocket to pocket, the South I know is quite cosmopolitan. With that said, from time to time it’s good to get out into the world and observe how the rest of humanity behaves. In order to see how people do things up North, so to speak, one need only to head northward (or southward to southern Florida). I did that with the family recently and had a blast. In between snorkeling and eating Italian food, I did carve out some time to taste a couple of south Florida beers while on sabbatical from the hustle and bustle of our city. One brew stuck out at me from the trip; I’ve detailed it here and hope you get to try it one day.

Ashley Gang Imperial IPA

John Ashley was a bandit of sorts in southern Florida. He robbed banks, bootlegged and was even an occasional pirate. Truly, they don’t make them like this guy anymore. Unfortunately for Ashley, however, a life of crime didn’t pay back then, either, and he was gunned down by police at the age of 36. About a century later, his spirit lives on (I suppose) in the form of a delicious imperial IPA. I had my Ashley Gang at Little Moir’s Leftovers in Jupiter, Fla. It was poured from a bottle into a pint glass, with a hazy amber tint and hearty head evident. The nose conveyed significant hops coupled with sweet and earthy malts and a touch of pine. The sip was much the same, but with a mouthfeel that wasn’t quite as heavy as I had thought it would be — a welcome note for me, personally. The lacing was impressive, as were the sweeter aspects of the malts, which

interacted quite symbiotically with the boldness of the hops (think grassy caramel). Overall, Ashley Gang has a drinkability that is impressive for an imperial IPA and pairs well with fish. I had mine with a fish wrap cooked tandoori style with Mexican street corn salsa, gorgonzola cheese and plantains. Yes, it was messy, and, yes, it was very delicious. As for dessert, it looked quite tasty, but, after that beer and that meal, there just wasn’t any more room. Ben Casella also recommends Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla., and Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat from Big Top Brewing Co. (recently reviewed by Ben and from the same brewery as Ashley Gang). He does not recommend wearing jean shorts, dying frosted tips into one’s hair or rooting for any team besides the Georgia Bulldogs.



Once upon a time, I was a night owl. It was nothing for me to stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. doing schoolwork, watching movies, listening to music or reading a new book. In the last year, however, things have changed. I’d like to believe the only reason is because I now have to be at work at 7:05 every morning, but I have a sneaking suspicion my age has a little something to do with it as well. Lucky for me, it’s summer. Summer means time off, naps during the day and a chance to stay up super late like I used to. This month, my reviews are dedicated to all things worthy of watching late night. Two a.m., here I come.

‘Wind River’

I read the Netflix description for this film several times before deciding to turn it on. Quite frankly, the description was pretty terrible. This is honestly one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, but I could have easily continued to overlook it. Luckily, my husband said we should give it a shot. Thank goodness I married

someone with great intuition. Wind River is set on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. Jeremy Renner plays the lead character, Cory Lambert. While not Native himself, he is close to the community after having been previously married to a Native woman. The film starts with Cory picking up his son on the way to the reservation. The conversation he has with his ex-wife lets us know a terrible tragedy caused the marriage to end, and she is extremely protective of their son. Upon reaching the reservation, Cory leaves his son with his ex-wife’s parents so that he can track the mountain lion he has been hired to kill. It is winter in Wyoming, and he soon finds tracks in the snow. Sadly, they are not the tracks of an animal, but those of a teenage girl from the reservation. Cory follows the tracks and finds her body, barefoot and lightly covered with snow. Native Americans are all too often overlooked in the public conversation about racism, oppression and poverty, and crimes against them are frequently left unsolved. While not a truly a “true story,”

Wind River is based on the many reports of violence against Native American women. This film does not preach, however. It draws attention to the subject by keeping you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Not only will you shout in disbelief when all is revealed, you’ll also be compelled to spend at least a few minutes considering the plight of an amazing group of people.


I’m an Army brat whose family lived on base in Germany. For those of you who don’t know, this meant we got three channels of American television, and one of my fondest memories is watching WWF wrestling each week. Those were the days when you still thought it all might be real, and there was nothing like it. If only we’d gotten more channels, I might have known about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. GLOW is very loosely based on the show of the same name that aired during the 1980s. This Netflix series does a good job of introducing the show and its incep-

tion, as well as obstacles the women faced trying to make it. Sure, it’s a little campy, but wasn’t everything in the ’80s? While not necessarily one of my alltime favorites, GLOW is enjoyable. The episodes are only 30 minutes long, have just enough drama and feature extremely memorable characters. I started watching at midnight and made it through about six episodes before I lost interest. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Season 2, but I’m definitely planning to watch a little more soon.

Samantha Barksdale, “Sam the Movie Chick,” is on a mission to find the best movies and TV shows for you to stream from Netflix. She loves good flicks, good food and good friends. Her eclectic tastes are sure to give readers a wide range of viewing choices.

July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz




What is the state of our community and Georgia? Well, that depends on how you define community. For the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, we define the community as the greater Augusta area, with Columbia County serving as the core. Columbia County ranks as one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation — 28th, actually — with a 55 percent growth increase since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The county also has one of the highest household median incomes at $73,211. The Columbia County public school system is one of the top-performing systems in the state. With more than 27,000 students, the county ranks in the top 10 percent of the state’s 195 school systems. The school district is comprised of 32 public schools and almost builds a new school or an addition to a school every year, or at least it seems that way! As you can imagine, the school system is the largest employer in the county. With these kinds of credentials, you can tell we are a strong county with a very bright future. However, we can’t stand alone, because close to 70 percent of the professional workforce leaves the county each day to go to work. The highest-paying jobs are outside the county, but, fortunately, those paychecks do come back home and are spent with the retail establishments, restaurants and service providers of the county. All of these qualify as a win-win for our area! So, back to the original question — what is the state of our community? To find out, I encourage you to attend the State of the Community Address on Sept. 20 at the Columbia County Exhibition Center in Grovetown. The event is a wonderful opportunity to hear from community leaders on the opportunities and challenges we should expect over the next five years. What’s in it for me, you might ask? As a business owner, the information is very valuable in setting the strategic direction of your company. As a resident, you might learn that a four-lane highway will have a major impact on your commuting time for the next several years, or that the cultural arts center is about to break ground! Come hear directly from those who are leading development in our community – Columbia County Commission

A highlight of the annual State of Columbia County night is the Business Expo & Showcase. Photo contributed.

Chairman Ron Cross, Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones, Harlem Mayor Roxanne Whitaker and School Board Chairman David Dekle. In addition to that distinguished panel, Col. James Clifford, the garrison commander at Fort Gordon, will also speak about the developments of Fort Gordon inside and outside the installation. All of this shared information is a valuable tool to making better life decisions. So, what’s the outlook of the state? The Georgia Chamber of Commerce predicts that there will be 1.4 million job openings thanks to 1 million retiring baby boomers and more than 400,000 new jobs. The state of Georgia was recently named the “Best State to Do Business In” for the fourth consecutive year. And according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia ranks No. 1 for workforce development programs, and cooperative and responsive state government. Fifty-five percent of those aforementioned job openings will be in the urban areas, and more than 50 percent will be freelancers. New and future jobs will be focused in health care, building trades, advanced manufacturing and robotics,

30 Buzz on Biz July 27–August 24, 2018

computer/math, financial/cybersecurity, business and technology. While this all sounds extremely positive, and it is, the state can’t ignore some major challenges that need to be addressed. Chief among them are infrastructure, exports and legal climate. With this, I encourage you to hear firsthand how the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is leading various initiatives to tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges at the Executive Luncheon Series on Aug. 29. Chris Clark, the president/CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, will address these issues. After all, knowledge is the key to making better, more informed decisions for your future.

Tammy Shepherd is president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and has worked at Disney World, Savannah Rapids Pavilion and Columbia County Magazine. Email tammy@

Upcoming events EXECUTIVE LUNCHEON SERIES When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 Where: Savannah Rapids Pavilion, 3300 Evans to Locks Road, Martinez, GA 30907 Speaker: Chris Clark, President/ CEO of Georgia Chamber of Commerce Topic: “8 for 18: The Georgia Chamber’s Strategy for Statewide Economic Growth” STATE OF THE COMMUNITY ADDRESS When: Thursday, Sept. 20 Where: Columbia County Exhibition Center, 212 Partnership Drive, Grovetown, GA 30813 Details: • 5 p.m.: Showcase & Business Expo • 5:45–6:30 p.m.: BBQ dinner buffet • 6:30 p.m.: Program begins

On July 10, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal cut the ribbon on the 167,000-square-foot Hull McKnight Building of the Georgia Cyber Center, part one of what was announced as the Nathan Deal Campus for Innovation. “This is a historic day in Augusta, Georgia,” Deal said. “It is a historic day in the state of Georgia, and I believe it will prove to be historic for the entire nation.” Learn more about the cyber center at

There’s a rooftop seating area with a view of the Savannah River and a direct connection to a newly completed segment of Riverwalk Augusta.

A 340-seat auditorium, an abundance of classroom space and the latest technological resources are among the highlights of the 167,000-squarefoot facility.

The building will house facilities for Augusta University, Augusta Tech, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (left), Augusta-based incubator, the Georgia National Guard and the University System of Georgia.

The various gathering spaces inside (and outside) the four-story building are meant to foster creativity and collaboration.

PHOTOS BY GARY KAUFFMAN July 27–August 24, 2018 Buzz on Biz


TrueNorth Church | North Augusta, SC

Buzz on Biz July/August 2018  
Buzz on Biz July/August 2018