W HA T ’ S IN S I D E
February 2014 • The CSRA’s Only Monthly Business Magazine
Career Expo connects job seekers, providers
Buzz Bits...................................................... 8,9 Cyber Command boon for CSRA........ 10 Aiken is Hydrogen County USA........... 13 Augusta economy looking up............. 17 Special Career Section............................ 33 Career Expo Booth Layout.............. 40,41
EDTS ranks among 5,000 fastest-growing companies
1st annual event set for Feb. 13 at Legends Club
By Elisabeth Curry Special Correspondent Finding employment is hard work. The process can take months, sometimes years. Just ask Brent Tucker, a 28-year-old University of Georgia Law School graduate who has been searching for work in the legal field in the CSRA for nearly four months. Since hunting for work is a job in and of itself, Buzz on Biz has planned a career expo for the Augusta area on Thursday, Feb. 13. The goal: Making the process easier for job seekers as well as potential employers. Tucker sees the Buzz on Biz Career Expo as an opportunity not only to network and possibly find work in his chosen field, but also as the beginnings of a centralized resource for job-seekers who are looking for employment in more specific fields. “The biggest difficulty as a job seeker in the legal field is a lack of a central source for attorneys looking for work,” Tucker said. “There’s not a lot of turnover.” The Buzz on Biz Career Expo is scheduled between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Feb. 13 to allow attendees who are currently employed plenty of time to drop by on their lunch hour, as well as before their shift begins or after it ends. The Legends Club on Washington Road was selected as the venue for its central location, only a few miles from I-20 and Riverwatch Parkway. Attendees will be asked to check in upon arrival, enabling employers to contact them after the expo concludes. Neil Gordon, president of Buzz on Biz, LLC, considers the career expo to be a natural extension of what he started seven years ago with the Buzz on Biz publication. The goal was to highlight small businesses, especially local entrepreneurs trying to expand and increase their businesses. The arrival of Buzz on Biz Special See CAREER EXPO, page 6
EDTS employees in Augusta monitor some of the nearly 5,000 computers and servers that the company manages. EDTS offers managed networking and security systems, and has been ranked 148th in the world by MSP Mentor 501.
Experienced people, attention to detail push EDTS to the top By Gary Kauffman Editor in Chief When it comes to computers and servers, most companies want their network to function like a light switch – turn it on and it works. No need to know why and how it works, just that it does. For the past 15 years, EDTS of Augusta, with South Carolina offices in Columbia and Greenville, has been taking care of the whys and hows so businesses can have information technology that works when they want it to. In today’s technology-driven world, IT that works is more important than ever. “IT has become one of the – if not the – biggest things in business,” Charles Johnson, CEO of EDTS, said. EDTS manages the behind-the-scenes networking and security needs for about 180 companies and 5,000 “end-points” (computers and servers), primarily in the Southeast. Their worked has earned praise from their clients, and they have gained national attention as well. EDTS has been named to Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies for four straight years, ranks among the 25 fastest-growing companies in South Carolina by both SC Biz media and Integrated Media Publishing, and is ranked 148th in
the world in managed service providers by MSP Mentor 501. WatchGuard Security Partners selected EDTS for its High Growth Award. CRN chose EDTS for both its Fast Growth 100 and its Next-Gen 250. Since January 2009, EDTS has almost quadrupled its annual revenues. People Make The Difference With IT, it is easy to equate growth to the latest technology, but Johnson believes his company’s success relies on the people behind the technology. “In our industry, people make the difference,” he said. “It’s putting the right butts in
Inc. magazine awards adorn the lobby wall at EDTS headquarters in Augusta.
the right seats.” Johnson’s personal goal is to look a client in the eye and guarantee the best service possible. “Behind me is a team with the same diligence and the same discipline,” he said. “Our common goal is good customer service and customer satisfaction.” The EDTS team consists of more than 50 dedicated people, including 38 highly trained and certified engineers They hold more than 100 individual certifications and are at the top level of certification with all the networking and security vendors they deal with. The team is also crosstrained so that even when illness or vacation takes away one expert, others are in-house to take care of any issues. Johnson said that level of training and expertise sets EDTS apart from its competitors. “You can’t be a doctor overnight, and you can’t be an expert in IT overnight or by simply reading a book,” Johnson said. He said that unfortunately in some businesses, hiring IT support is based simply on the lowest dollar figure rather than the qualifications or quality of service. Many See EDTS, page 2
Continued from page 1 CEOs, he said, spend more time researching the best flat-screen TV to watch the Super Bowl on than they do in researching their IT support. “It’s like taking your Mercedes to a shade tree mechanic,” he said about choosing IT support based on cost alone. “I want them to be asking the same types of things (about IT support) that they’re asking before purchasing a flat-screen TV.” Charles Johnson For example, Johnson said they should ask what are the differences in various brands as it relates to technology, quality, reputation, warranty and service. “The informed buyer is typically the happiest with their decision,” he added. The Latest in Technology Although people are the bedrock of EDTS, the company is also on the cutting edge of the latest technology. It recently launched a portfolio of managed security services designed to identify and stop network attacks and threats by identifying malicious activity instead of simply relying on detection (or lack thereof) by software. Eighteen months in development, Johnson said these services are a critical component in stopping data loss from covert types of malware and Trojans that have plagued retailers lately. “We have our thumb on the pulse of IT and it shows in our growth,” Johnson said. Take a step inside the EDTS office in Augusta and it’s quickly apparent how seriously the people take their duties. A network oper-
ations control room is fitted with four large wall monitors and work stations with three monitors each. Engineers occupy the work stations, monitoring the various systems that EDTS manages so that red flags can be dealt with swiftly before problems arise. In the next room, the support call center operates at 12 stations – also fitted with wall monitors and personal monitors – where clients’ questions and issues can be dealt with efficiently. The large monitors display EDTS’s key performance indicators that help them track efficiency, response times and trends that help ensure the best client service. While some IT managed service providers are content to update virus definitions once a day, or even once a week, EDTS checks for the latest updates every four hours. Johnson explained that if an anti-virus manufacturer detects a “virus storm” happening around the world it may send five to 10 updates a day, making the constant updating a necessity for the best protection. EDTS runs checks to make sure that the updates and systems they put into place work as they should, and its engineers go to work immediately to fix any failures or bugs. The company also looks ahead for potential issues. The EDTS team has identified nearly 1,000 things that could go wrong in a managed IT network and wrote programs to self-correct those issues if they arise. If the self-healing programs don’t correct an issue within a few seconds, an alert is sounded and a human steps in to deal with the problem. Important For Companies of Any Size All of this may sound as if EDTS is only for big companies using lots of computing power, but Johnson said there is no small or large to it. “People have a misconception that small businesses don’t need this as much as a large business,” he said. “The same security
“People have a misconception that small businesses don’t need this as much as a large business.”
Computer security critical for all businesses, large or small The post-Christmas announcement that Target’s security had been breached, putting millions of credit cards at risk, has raised computer security concerns nationwide. Charles Johnson, CEO of EDTS, said it isn’t just large corporations like Target that should be concerned. “Small businesses are the ones that typically are held hostage by hackers,” he said. He said that computer hackers these days are sophisticated and meticulous. He believes the Target attack was probably planned for a year, with the hackers running tests beforehand. “Malware is so prevalent on today’s computers that it’s not a matter if you get hit but when,” he said. “This is especially
2 Buzz on Biz February 2014
important to anyone who takes credit cards, or stores personal health inform. We’re helping the industries which are most often taken advantage of.” Malware is so well hidden these days that it is often detected only by the activity it produces rather than by the virus itself. That means it usually takes a company with the expertise of EDTS to provide the depth of protection needed. For example, EDTS spent 18 months developing a portfolio of security services to help combat malware and other advanced security threats. It also has a trained and certified security forensics team that ferrets out sources of attacks, gathers evidence for prosecution, and occasionally assists local banks and the FBI with investigating security issues.
EDTS experts field calls and provide answers at the 12-station support call center.
stance and systems apply to a small business as a large one. The difference is in the physical devices we use. For instance, the same firewall security policies apply for any size company; however, the physical device chosen is determined by how many users and types of traffic the company has.” EDTS serves companies with as few as five users to those with more than 500 users. Johnson said the need for working technology is just as critical for the five-user company as the big ones, perhaps even more so. But while the same strategies apply regardless of business size, EDTS doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all package. Instead, Johnson and his staff work to customize the service to the business needs. “We step back and really want to understand their business,” Johnson said. “We want to know their pain points, what would cause them to go down and for their people to be unproductive.” This can be especially helpful to the small business owner or CFO who handles IT as one of several different responsibilities and may not even understand the system himself. EDTS also is a leader in security for compliance industries like healthcare, retail and financial institutions and governments, which each have their own unique sets of needs. Johnson said that HIPAA, PCI, SOX and GLBA compliance is critical to these industries and it takes the right partner to assist them. EDTS offers several levels of service, from merely consulting to their “ExcuseFree” service that gives clients round-theclock care 365 days a year. “We’re not everything to everyone,” Johnson said. “But we have attention to detail and passion in our delivery. Very seldom do we lose a customer due to service.” Johnson is not one to rest on the laurels his company has already received. His team holds quarterly reviews to determine how to implement the latest technologies to provide even better service. He has an unabashed enthusiasm for what he does. “I get passionate about it,” he said. “It’s what I’ve done for the past 20 years. It’s my livelihood.” EDTS doesn’t just focus inward, though. Over the past several years it has sponsored many community organizations and
5 questions to ask in choosing an IT provider
EDTS CEO Charles Johnson said choosing the IT provider that is right for your company is easy, if you know the right questions to ask. He added that there is a big difference between the risk and reward with each provider. He recommends asking the following five questions when looking for an IT provider: 1. Do they offer service level agreements backed by a full-time, dedicated support desk so you can speak to an engineer when you have a problem, including after hours and holidays? 2. Do they provide the reporting you need to ensure they operate with transparency, offering the data needed to make decisions and judge their results? 3. Do they employ only competent, certified engineers without outsourcing your network needs to part-time or off-shore resources? 4. Do they have documented security measures in place to ensure you and your company’s data are protected? 5. Have you done your homework by checking their reputation, verified the certifications and partnerships they claim, and visited their facilities to ensure they are who they say they are? charities. “This is the community we live and work in,” Johnson said. “We have to give back to it.” Those communities now include Augusta, Columbia and Greenville, but Johnson plans to expand into other areas of the Southeast. The next office will probably be in Charleston, with Nashville, Tenn., and Macon, Ga., also on the radar.
Jobs – Putting providers and seekers together with our first Career Expo JOBS, JOBS, JOBS… The timing for our 1st Annual Buzz on Biz Career Expo on Feb. 13 could not be better. Our editor, Gary Kauffman, is featuring several stories in this issue about how local and state economists are seeing progress on the job and economic front. The fact that the CSRA has made up 7,000 jobs lost since 2008-09 is powerful! One of employment experts on the front line is Isaac Kelly with Augusta Staffing. He is part of a trio of staffing agencies that is growing with local employers, garnering new contracts to kick off 2014 with interesting assessments of this year. Kelly told me, “I think skilled industrial employees and medical IT will be the big boom for the start of the year. Locally, we’ve seen an increase in electronic records technicians in both classroom enrollment and placement into the medical groups. We’re also attracting a great deal of high-tech industrial companies into our backyard that will need the skilled labor that our technical colleges and Fort Gordon will be put- Neil Gordon ting out.” Buzz on Biz Kelly and his brother Robert have been writing articles the Publisher past several months to help employers and prospective employees think about next steps in the hiring process. Please read Robert Kelly’s column on the third page (page 35) of our special section entitled, “Your employees need some love, too.” Buzz on Biz, LLC is also feeling the tide change in advertising and the improving economy. This issue, at 48 pages, is a record in our six-year history. As of press time, we were sold out with our major business partners, our special section, and nearly sold out with booths at the Expo. The time is right for a major Career Expo and we hope you participate on Feb. 13 from 11-4 at The Legends Club. A complete pull-out section is included in this issue with a centerfold featuring a list of the exhibitors and specific breakout sessions.
The CSRA’s Only Monthly Business Magazine 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. To order a 12-month subscription mailed to your home or office, please mail a check for $36 to cover postage to the address below. Publisher Neil R. Gordon Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman/803-341-5830 Sales Manager Neil R. Gordon/706-589-6727 Sales Kyle W. Evans/706-288-9957 Special Projects Erin Campbell/706-589-2033
Photography Gary Kauffman Melissa Gordon/sofiacolton.com Design Gary Kauffman Distribution Coordinator Erin Campbell Submit Information email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Opinions expressed by the writers herein are their own and their respective institutions. Neither Buzz on Biz LLC or its agents or employees take any responsibility for the accuracy of submitted information, which is presented for informational purposes only.
For more information, visit us at buzzon.biz or like us on Facebook
3740 Executive Center Drive, #300, Martinez, GA 30907
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
Where’s the beef?
A look at the unfunny ads on TV For you not awake and aware in 1984, Wendy’s hit the air with a TV commercial featuring octogenarian Clara Peller peering under a bun on the competition’s product and demanding, “Where’s the beef!” Both the spot and the phrase became a cultural icon that year. Yes, you can catch it on YouTube.
Using that c o m m e r cial as both a benchmark and a theme, I thought it might be fun Don MacNeil – and maybe a little instrucCrown Point tive – to “lift Communications at the bun” on a Windsor Jewelers few recent national TV commercials and ask the same question. Because it’s what I do, I probably pay a little closer attention to radio and TV commercials than you do. I’m even more certain that, when I see or hear a spot that’s just bad, my imagination flies to the boardroom in which the concept was pitched, and I try to picture the Creative Director feigning excitement over his Big Idea and the corporate brass all saying, “Wow, that’s great! Go with it!” Example 1: Now hold on to that picture and then recall what went through your mind the first time you saw Nationwide Insurance’s “Big Baby” commercial in which we’re supposed to get it that this guy’s beloved vehicle is his “baby.” I’m married to a very bright lady, but I had to explain and re-explain all of this to her the first three times we saw this spot. And I had to scour YouTube to even establish that the “product” being advertised was Nationwide Insurance. Example 2: I’m speechless at how far Ford’s ad agency had to reach to come up with their “And Is Better Than Or” commercials for the Ford Fusion. Among
many versions is the one involving kids playing in an outdoor, above-ground pool that suddenly falls apart, dumping water and kids everywhere, while the Dad says, “It’d be like using nuts or bolts!” Are you noticing that in the last few years national ad agencies seem to be stuck in a, Okay Now We Have To Stop And Do A Funny Skit format? And had I simply described all of this and withheld the product’s name, could you have recalled, “Ford Fusion?” Yup, I had to search “and or commercial” to even ID what was being sold. Example 3: The main visual in JC Penney’s signature Christmas TV commercial is a seven-person, red-sweatered choral group pitching product at the top of their lungs on a motorized platform with a white picket fence across the front slowly moving across a Penney sales floor. Remember it? And do you also recall never absorbing the product-pitching, unfathomable lyrics sung to the tune of, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” A concept this weak would be harmless – even excusable - if we all weren’t aware that JC Penney is hanging by a fiscal thread, and what they really needed was the second coming of “Where’s the beef?” I’m sure you have your own mental list of commercials you can’t believe ever made it to production. If I had all of these ad agencies in a large auditorium I’d provide a simple solution. Creative minds, I’d point out, are very different from comedic minds. Both are vital, but your creative people AREN’T FUNNY! Yet the world is awash in starving comedians who ARE. Given the kind of money you’re throwing around, put three or four of them on retainer. Yes, you could easily end up with concepts so bizarre they’d be inappropriate for air – but could go viral. And could be the next, “Where’s the beef?” Don MacNeil is a traditional media expert, having spent more than 30 years on-air and behind the scenes in media and marketing. If you have any comments or questions, email him at email@example.com.
Recycling cartridges is eco-friendly It’s often said that reusing is the highest form of recycling. Here are some facts about recycling: • Every person in the U.S. creates about four pounds of waste per day • About 54 percent of all U.S. waste still goes to landfills • In one year, if the world’s discarded cartridges were stacked end-to-end, they would circle the earth twice. • A laser cartridge thrown into landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose. Some components made of industrial grade plastics will take over a thousand years to decompose. • It takes about a gallon of oil to produce every new toner/laser cartridge. • Every remanufactured laser cartridge saves nearly two pounds of metal and plastic waste from being deposited in landfills. Toner cartridge remanufacturing saves more than 38,000 tons of plastic and metal from landfills. Pretty scary stuff if you think about it. More importantly, many of these statistics are preventable if cartridges are recycled instead of just thrown away. Reusing is the most eco-friendly solution when it comes to printing. At Cartridge World that’s what we do; we reuse and remanufacture over 90 percent of the cartridges we sell, thereby keeping that waste completely out of the landfill while saving you 25-40 percent versus the cost of a new cartridge – with no sacrifice to quality.
Want to recycle but are stuck in a contract or for whatever reason can only buy brand-name cartridges? There are many places that are more than happy to take those brand-name cartridges off your hands. Some places, including Cartridge World, are even willing to pay you for the empty cores. Many of our customers use collecting cartridges as a fundraiser for their school, church, or favorite charity. Since 2005, Cartridge World has paid out more than $60,000 to these groups for their efforts. Remember, cartridges that you buy are yours and before you toss a cartridge in the Robert Amos trash, you have a Cartridge World choice. Together, we all can put a dent in these scary statistics and take another step towards being eco-friendly. Robert Amos owns Cartridge World in Augusta. For nine years Cartridge World has been helping the CSRA save on their printing needs, whether for home or for business. Visit Cartridge World, 592 Bobby Jones Expwy, or call 706-228-6000.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
CAREER EXPO Continued from page 1 Projects Coordinator Erin Campbell inspired Gordon to step into the arena of connecting employers and employees. “An event like this is a huge undertaking,” Gordon said. “My skill set has always been sales and marketing, but not really handling event planning. Erin Campbell has event planning experience. We thought it would be an excellent time to expand to this sort of event.” As for the benefit to local businesses, Gordon said that a comprehensive crosssection of industries have been gathered, from healthcare and education to real estate and finance. “We feel really good about being able to create a lot of traffic for them,” he said. “The goal is to get 1,000 qualified people who want to do better for their career, or who are just looking for work in general. We’re hoping to get as many people as possible for the event. We want the sponsors to feel like they’re getting a good value.” In addition to excitement, Gordon admitted to a certain amount of nervousness during the early stages of planning due to the large scale and uncertainties associated with turnout. “We just didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said, “but we sold out of all the main sponsorships. I’m most excited because I think I’ll know a good portion of the vendors and the applicants. I want to try and network them together.” A variety of companies will be in attendance, allowing job seekers to see that
6 Buzz on Biz February 2014
companies are hiring, looking for quali- programs at the Augusta/Ft. Gordon camfied candidates to work in the information pus. technology, clerical, medical, and financial Phil Rausch, district director for Troy fields, as well as many others. University, stressed the availability of a Employment agency Augusta Staffing physical classroom environment, in addiconnects job seekers with employment op- tion to online classes, for prospective stuportunities and will be actively filling job dents in the Augusta area. positions at the career expo. In addition to “Advertising has been an issue for us. helping attendees find jobs, Isaac Kelly of Not a lot of people know we’re here,” said Augusta Staffing will conduct three work- Rausch, who took the district director posishops at the expo to educate and assist job tion in June of 2012. “You can get classes in seekers with what can often be a tedious the classroom, as well as online. We’re extask. cited to get the opportunity to participate The breakout sessions will focus on re- in this expo, and get the word out that we’re sume writing, online applications, and in- actually here in Augusta.” terview Troy Unif o l l o w - See our special section on the Career versity offers ups. These Expo starting on page 33. Booth lay- a variety of workshops undergraduate will focus out and information on pages 40, 41 and graduate on the degree proevolving job market, how resumes should grams, such as criminal justice, clinical be formatted in hard-copy and online, and psychology, IT, and cyber security. Rausch applicant tracking after the submission and is confident in the instruction the students interview process. receive there. “I’m excited to turn on some light bulbs “We have great professors,” he said. “I sit with the workshops,” Kelly said. “I hope in on all the classes to see the instruction people will walk away with the skills to find given to the students. Part of my job is to and effectively apply for jobs.” build the campus, and knowing your inThe Career Expo will not only connect structors sells your campus.” job-seekers to local business that are lookRausch hopes the Career Expo will help ing to hire, but also raise awareness about stress the importance of a classroom envieducational opportunities in the area. Rep- ronment to the learning process, maintainresentatives from Troy University, most ing that students learn more surrounded by commonly associated with its Alabama their peers. campuses, will be in attendance at the event The Career Expo, though an obvious to promote available classes and degree boon to local businesses searching for em-
ployees, focuses mainly on providing jobs to those who might otherwise be restricted to the arduous process of cold-calling potential employers or dropping in on busy companies unannounced to submit resumes. Tucker hopes it will help him and others who are searching for work in a more specialized field. “As a server in the food service industry, you can pop into any restaurant and submit a resume,” he said. “An attorney is different. If you’re going to hire an attorney, it’s a fulltime job. There has to be a position the law firm needs to fill.” Tucker has been relying on the University of Georgia to notify him of job openings. Firms looking for attorneys will approach the law school, which in turn will promote the available position on alumni message boards. The positions posted, more often than not, require the job seeker to travel out of the area, sometimes leaving behind a community they’ve been a part of for years. Tucker hopes to make connections at the Career Expo which will allow him to find a position within the legal field in the Augusta area. “I’m looking for some kind of way to connect to the sort of job I want to do,” said Tucker, expressing reluctance to leave the CSRA. “I want to find people who are at least tangentially connected to my field here, in this area. My wife and I like Augusta. We’ve made quite a few connections here and I wouldn’t want to lose those. We’d like to settle down here if we can.”
A “must read” for all CSRA medical offices I recently had a very candid conversation with a physician friend. We talked about our new era in healthcare and I watched his countenance deteriorate from that of anger and animation to sadness and defeat. The responsibility of generating sufficient revenue for mortgages, braces and peanut butter for every employee’s family in the practice, not to mention his own, has become Jimmy McCollum Credit Card overwhelming. What does Payment Systems this have to do with card processing? Every penny is now more important than ever before and, depending upon your specialty, could be an appreciable chunk of your gross. As deductibles climb, so does the number of credit and debit cards taken, including FSAs and, proportionately, cost. If a practice does a lot of elective or cosmetic procedures, with little insurance involvement, the cost of accepting cards is sobering. Average Ticket, Monthly Volume, Card Types, as well as Pricing, determine the Effective Rate (total fees paid divided by the month’s volume), which is the only number that matters.
The NO SOLICITING sign at the front door does keep people from wasting your time. And there will always be another few minutes needed for EMR training. But assuming – or hoping – one has a fair, competitive rate is not enough when the stakes are this high. You have to know. That sign keeps card processing costs elevated, potentially wasting thousands of dollars annually. In last month’s article, I wrote about a local dentist who had an Effective Rate of 12 percent. Half of that is too much, but it happens. Often, card processing is a part of medical office software and is utilized because it was ready to go. Perhaps your bank set up your account. It is handy, but at what cost? We at CCPS offer medical offices three options: 1) If your current system is compatible with outside card processors, we will integrate. 2) If it isn’t compatible, but you only want something on which to charge cards, we’ll install a countertop card terminal or set you up with a virtual terminal on your existing PC. 3) If you need a complete medical pay-
Jimmy McCollum is vice president of Service Operations for Credit Card Payment Systems. Mark Hofilena is the president. The company was formed in 2006 after the two longtime friends worked for other credit card companies. For more information, visit ccpaymentsystems.com or call Mark at 706799-2913.
ment solution, CCPS offers MX MedPay with: Real-time estimation of patient payment responsibility Determines benefits, co-pays, co-insurance and remaining deductible amounts Offers installments and recurring billing for high deductible plans Consolidates all provider medical statements into one Automates posting of patient payments, simplifying reconciliation to your PMS/Accounting Integrates communication via email and text to accelerate self-pay collections
Patient payments can be made via mobile phone, text and web Audit Payers by identifying procedure codes at the claim level that aren’t being paid at the contracted rate Automates reconciliation of outstanding receivables As good as it is, I’m not writing this in order to sell software. You know how critical efficiency has become, and some of those tax-deductable card fees will buy a lot of Peter Pan Honey Roast. Give Mark a call at 706-799-2913. Let him see if you are where you need to be. If you are, he’ll tell you. If you aren’t, you will be.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
buzz bits Weinberger’s acquires office supply store Weinberger’s Office Supply has purchased one of Augusta’s most respected businesses – Carter Blanchard Office Supply. Owner Mark Weinberger stated, “It is a natural fit for Weinbergers Office Supply and gives our customers a more convenient way to shop locally for all of their office needs. The CSRA has been very good to the Weinberger family and we feel very strongly about providing local services. We can now say everything you need in office supplies, right down to the paperclips, is available at Weinbergers Office Supply!” Tonya Carter Blanchard, former owner of Carter Blanchard Office Supply is excited that Weinbergers Office Supply will carry on the tradition and continue to serve the community’s office supply needs. She is also thrilled Weinberger’s hired her entire team and is confident Weinberger’s will provide the ultimate customer services, quality supplies and services. The Weinberger family of businesses has been a staple in the Augusta area for more than 82 years with Weinberger’s Furniture and Mattress Showcase, Weinberger’s Furniture and Rug Outlet, Weinberger’s Business Interiors and Weinberger’s Office Supply in Augusta, Furnish 123 in Grovetown and Weinberger’s Furniture and Mattress Showcase in Lake Oconee.
Direct flights to Reagan Airport ending soon Augusta Regional Airport will soon no longer offer direct flights to Washington, D.C., after a decision by American Airlines to end the service. But officials are urging the public to still originate their flights to the nation’s capital from Augusta. According to a report in the Augusta Chronicle, the airport and area business leaders are working to restore the nonstop flights to Washington by 2017 when the Army Cyber Command opens its new headquarters at Fort Gordon.
8 Buzz on Biz February 2014
Scheduling flights to Washington’s Reagan National Airport to start from Augusta will show the number of travelers going there and increase the chances of nonstop flights being offered again. Augusta was one of 17 small to mid-size cities that lost direct flight connections with Reagan National as part of American Airlines’ merger with US Airways. The airline had to relinquish 52 slots at Reagan to avoid controlling the majority of the slots. The date of the last direct flight from Augusta to Washington is not known, but is expected to happen within a few months.
Jan-Pro cited as top commercial cleaning franchise Of the myriad of accolades bestowed in the franchise industry, an Entrepreneur Franchise 500 award is among the most prized. Jan-Pro Franchising International was awarded the No. 1 spot in Commercial Cleaning, Fastest-growing Commercial Cleaning Franchise, and No. 12 overall franchise in Entrepreneur’s 35th Annual Franchise 500 rankings for 2014. Jay Waldron, the Augusta, Aiken, and Columbia franchisee of Jan-Pro, is part of the national success, setting records nationally and giving back locally. They have decided to double their contribution this year to the charity of their choice, YMCA. They have pledged a $20,000 donation for the annual Community Campaign. Entrepreneur also ranked JanPro a Top 30 Global Franchise. And the honors continue, because Jan-Pro also recently received high-satisfaction reviews from its Master Owners in a survey conducted by Franchise Business Review.
Augusta native featured in Forbes Jamail Larkins, 29, formerly of Augusta and founder of Ascension Air Management, has been named to the Forbes Magazine
Command, five new peripheral jobs will be created. While he considered that estimate high, he did say he expects the jobs at Fort Gordon to create more jobs in the private sector as well.
Cabela’s announces March 20 opening date in Augusta Cabela’s Inc., the world’s foremost outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, will officially open the doors to its Augusta store at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 20. A ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Cabela’s executives and special guests will begin at 10:45 a.m. Opening day will begin a weekend-long celebration featuring outdoor celebrities, giveaways and more. The 42,000-square-foot Augusta location is Cabela’s first in Georgia. The company also has announced plans to open a store in Acworth later this year. 30 Under 30. The feature lists 450 entrepreneurs and innovators under the age of 30. Larkins is one of 15 who was featured with a short bio. According to Forbes, Larkin started flying at the age of 12 and was immediately hooked. While still a teen he sold instructional aviation manuals and equipment and also performed in air shows. In 2006 he formed a joint venture with an established broker to sell general aviation aircraft. His Ascension Air now sees $8 million in annual revenue and is a leading regional distributor for Cirrus Aircraft, the top manufacturer of piston-driven planes.
Home rentals for Masters Week on upswing Home rentals for Masters Week are enjoying a third consecutive increase, according to Sue Parr, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber manages the Masters Housing Bureau. The recession had put a dent in prices, but that seems to have rebounded. Calls for homes began last June, several months
The store, which will employ approximately 90 fulltime, part-time and seasonal employees, is located at 833 Cabela Drive on the south side of I-20 at Riverwatch Parkway in the Village at Riverwatch development. In addition to thousands of quality outdoor products, the store also features wildlife displays, innovative digital signage, an indoor archery range and archery tech room, gun counter and more. Currently, Cabela’s operates 50 stores across North America, with plans to open an additional 20 over the next two years. earlier than in previous years. Not only have bookings increased, but he average rental price is about 6 percent higher than a year ago.
Cyber Command coming to Fort Gordon Fort Gordon was officially named as the place for the Army’s Cyber Command headquarters last month. This is good news for the area, as this is expected to not only bring in more employees at the base but also their families. In addition, contractors and others who will be working closely with Cyber Command will also visit and perhaps live in the area. In a presentation at the Georgia Economic Outlook event held in Augusta Jan. 27, Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, called the move a “game-changer” for the Augusta area. He called it a game-changer because of the multiplying nature of new jobs, especially those seen as innovative. He said some estimates are that for each new job added at Cyber
Metro Chamber plans annual delegation to Atlanta The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce is currently forming its member delegation of business and community leaders to represent its members and the interests of Augusta’s business community in Atlanta on Feb. 11. The Chamber, in coordination with the Burke County and Columbia County Chambers of Commerce, coordinates this annual trip which gives over 45 local business and public sector leadership the opportunity to network with state leaders. The intent is to build knowledge, awareness and relationships for the betterment of the CSRA region and to advocate on behalf of our community. The trip includes a bus trip to Atlanta, allowing this select group of chamber members a chance for one-on-one networking while traveling. If you have any interest in representing your community, learning more about state public policy and advocating on behalf of our members, please contact Butch Holley at Butch. holley@augustametrochamber. com to reserve your spot. Space is limited and subject to availability.
New Marriott planned in Augusta Work on a new Marriott extended stay hotel on Marks Church Road is expected to begin in February. The 124-room Residence Inn by Marriott is expected to be finished by the 2015 Masters Week. The four-story hotel will be located at 1116 Marks Church Road, near the Bobby Jones Expressway and Wheeler Road.
buzz bits Roma’s Pizza in Augusta gets new manager, new look A retired military trainer with Fort Gordon recently took over the reins at the iconic Roma’s Pizza in West Augusta across from the Regal 20 Cinemas. Beginning in 2002 and off and on for 11 years, Rick Baldwin worked occasional shifts – when not deployed – to help out Roma’s owner, a longtime friend. Baldwin closed the restaurant in the 4th quarter for about a month while remodeling the store. Changes include table
New office community coming to Aiken “The Mill on Park,” a new office community focused on promoting the vitality of small businesses in Aiken, will soon be a reality. Caradasa, LLC, the University of South Carolina Aiken, and the Aiken Small Business Development Center (SBDC) have officially joined forces in the unique, new partnership and last week a memorandum of understanding was signed cementing their commitment to this project. “The Mill on Park” will be located on the corner of Park Avenue and Laurens Street, the office community will feature traditional offices as well as micro offices designed to grow and support businesses. “When I was first considering the viability of a facility like the Mill on Park, I felt confident that the project could provide a unique place for small businesses in Aiken, but it was only after discussions with the University of South Carolina Aiken that I realized that this project could achieve much more,” said Catie Rabun, president of Caradasa. “Collaborating with USC Aiken on this project allows both organizations to bring something to the community that would have been more difficult for each of us to accomplish on our own. Caradasa has been able to organize the development of this one of a kind facility and USC Aiken has the expertise in
seating throughout the restaurant instead of booths, an electronic menu board, a self-service drink machine, new paint and a more European feel with exposed brick. From a food and service standpoint, he’s added Italian mozzarella cheese and his staff members clean up the dishes after everyone’s meal. Baldwin continued his $44.99 and $54.99 Dinner and Movie Tickets deals in partnership with Regal. the programming of workshops and business development services that will support tenants of the Mill on Park.” Space will be available in The Mill for one person offices, and some larger ones that can accommodate four to five employees. Tenants will be able to collaborate with one another while sharing the expenses of maintaining the offices. Shared services include a high tech conference room, full kitchen, bathrooms, copy/scan/fax services, community gathering space, high speed secure internet, downtown location, services of USC Aiken and the Aiken SBDC, recycling center, janitorial services, on-site park, and 32 parking spaces.
Philanthropist Julian Osbon dies at age 74 Augusta philanthropist and businessman Julian Osbon died recently at the age of 74. He pioneered a treatment for impotence in the 1980s and retired to a second career of Augusta philanthropy. Osbon was named Augusta Philanthropist of the Year in 1996. His community involvement included stints for Augusta History Museum, Historic Augusta, University Health Care Foundation and the executive committee of the Medical College of Georgia Research Institute. He was also on the board for the Georgia Medical Center Authority. He is past president of
Augusta Tomorrow and past chair for the CSRA Community Foundation. Osbon, who has a profile page at Forbes magazine’s website, sat on the board of directors for Georgia-Carolina Bancshares, which runs First Bank of Georgia. He resigned his board position in 2012 as his health declined. Osbon was a downtown landowner, with several apartment buildings under his control. Osbon was born in Aiken and worked for his father’s tire company until the early 1980s when he started his medical company to sell his father’s erectile dysfunction invention. The Osbon ErecAid was synonymous with vacuum therapy in the treatment of erectile dysfunction before Viagra. Osbon Medical Systems grew to become a business with $30 million annual sales and then merged with a California company in 1995 in a $46 million deal.
Smart Grid helps Georgia Power customers Georgia Power customers have a more reliable network, thanks to the completion of a statewide Smart Grid. The power company created 73 self-healing networks that can automatically isolate problems and restore power to areas not directly affected by the problem. This creates faster recognition of outages and improves restoration times. So far the project has save Georgia Power an estimated $3.5 million in reduced service trips.
Wi-fi coming to Atlanta airport
Atlanta’s airport may finally be getting free wi-fi. The lack of free wi-fi at the world’s busiest airport has been the No. 1 complaint of passengers. The problem has been an outdated system that would max out at 2,000 users. With 150,000 passengers a day going through the airport, that system was inadequate. The new system would allow up to 15,000 users at a time.
Dog inspires Aiken man to unique designs A dog inspired a new store in Aiken. Patrick Donovon, owner of Bravefriend Apparel and Designs on Whiskey Road in Aiken, specializes in screen printing, embroidery, and branding design. About 15 years ago Donovan was working in an administrative position for a law firm in Columbia, but had an art background. One day his apartment caught on fire. His dog was trapped inside and died. Patrick also lost all of his belongings and had to start over. He utilized his artistic ability and began to come up with unique T-shirt designs for some music groups. He came off the road and opted to form his “Bravefriend Apparel and Design” company named after his dog — and with designs in honor of his dog.
Innovators urged to enter competition Local leaders are urging companies from across the Greater Augusta Area to apply for consideration for “The 2014 Top40/ Top 10 Innovative Companies in Georgia,” presented by The Technology Association of Georgia. “It’s been a great year for our local technology sector,” said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver. “I am hoping that we will be well represented among the state’s Top 40 innovative companies with at least five or more applicants from the Augusta area.” The Greater Augusta Area has the second-highest technology sector growth in Georgia, and a 2012 study from San Franciscobased Engine Advocacy ranked the area as 12th nationwide in high-tech job growth. The “Top 40 Innovative Companies in Georgia” will be awarded based on degree of innovation, scope and financial impact of innovation, likelihood of success and promotion of Georgia’s innovative efforts national and internationally. Eligible companies must be based in Georgia and focused on the development and dissemination of technology. Applications must be received by Feb. 7. For more information visit the website at tagonlin.wufoo.com/forms/qupn7i40xffvrq.
Restaurants should see growth in 2014
The restaurant industry is expected to register its fifth consecutive year of real sales growth in 2014, according to the NRA’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Restaurant and food service sales are projected to total $683.4 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent from 2013. Sales growth in 2014 will be driven by an improving economy and elevated levels of pent-up demand among consumers. When asked if they were using restaurants as often as they would like, more than four in 10 consumers said no. During the stronger restaurant business environment of the mid2000s, typically only one-quarter of adults said they would like to be patronizing restaurants more often.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
Cyber Command HQ a boon for CSRA Area chambers encouraged DOD to bring new missions to Fort Gordon By Tammy Shepherd President/CEO Columbia County Chamber of Commerce When the Army announced in December that it will consolidate its Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Gordon, the CSRA saw its hard work pay off. Now that it’s coming, the collaboration needed to make the transition is in place and moving forward. And, I’m proud to say, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce has been among the leaders in these efforts. First, just how big is Army Cyber Command and the growth it is expected to bring to Fort Gordon? It’s been compared to the Savannah River Site coming to the area in the 1950s. It’s hard to imagine the CSRA without SRS. Just in Columbia County, almost 1,500 residents work at the site. And even more than with SRS, the jobs coming with Cyber Command and the off-shoot defense contractors expected to locate here will bring highly educated professionals looking for strong schools and an outstanding quality of life. Army officials know this and have been working with the school system to prepare. They’ve been meeting with government leaders and professionals to begin planning for the expected growth – more housing,
10 Buzz on Biz February 2014
road improvements and all the other infrastructure needed to support more people living here. Military officials estimate the growth at Fort Gordon will add about 4,000 jobs between 2013 and 2019. And that doesn’t include government contractors seeking to locate near Army Cyber Command and a Cyber Center of Excellence. The Chamber and other economic development groups, are collaborating to target those industries. How have we at the Chamber been involved? For the past four years, during the annual CSRA Leadership Trip to Washington, D.C. (coordinated by the Columbia County, Augusta Metro, North Augusta and Aiken County chambers), representatives have met with Department of Defense officials to encourage them to bring new missions to Fort Gordon – specifically Cyber Command. It was a collaborative effort to keep Fort Gordon front and center of the decision makers. By bringing these officials information about our low cost of living and high quality of life, we were able to show that Fort Gordon was the best place to move the Cyber Command headquarters. That collaboration was vital to the successful “Listening Session” the Department
Tammy Shepherd, president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, signs the Fort Gordon Covenant, pledging to support the troops and the base.
of the Army held here in April to give communities a chance to plead their case for avoiding personnel reductions. One of the ways we have supported growth at Fort Gordon was our support for the successful TSPLOST referendum in 2012. The revenue coming in from the sales tax set aside for regional transportation projects will make much needed improvements to roadways allowing traffic to continue to flow as the number of vehicles increases, especially around Gate 2 into the Fort. I serve on the Advisory Board of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. The Alliance was created in 2003 to rally support
for Fort Gordon to enhance the potential economic value of a collaborative relationship with the community. Last month, we hosted a meeting with Garrison Commander Col. Sam Anderson who told county officials and our board of directors what to expect as Cyber Command moves in. The impact Cyber Command will have on the CSRA will be tremendous for decades to come – much like SRS has for more than 60 years. We are proud to be a part of the collaborative efforts making sure we support the military families we will soon be calling neighbors.
One size does fit all We’ve spoken a lot about responsive website design; when a website is designed to “respond” and be displayed optimally across a variety of screen sizes. Responsive websites are designed to look great on a 60-inch flat screen, standard laptop or desktop monitor, tablets and even smartphones. Don’t you wish all of your email mesJeff Asselin sages had the same Director of Sales functionality? & Marketing at Pew Research tells us that 91 Powerserve percent of the U.S. adult population owns a cell phone, and 56 percent of those report that their phone is a smartphone. Smartphones make it easier for folks to stay connected with social media, get real-time information from the web, talk, text and keep up with their email accounts. Think about all the devices you use to read your email: Computer, tablet and smartphone. Chances are, you view them on a variety of screen sizes from large to small monitors, vertical and horizontal formats, sometimes with pictures displayed and sometimes with pictures off. For those of you with multiple email accounts (per-
sonal, business and spam) you may even be reading them in different browsers and email clients. As a marketer, you might think that the challenge of building email messages that look perfect on all devices as impossible. It’s actually more possible than you think! Enter Responsive Email Design. A spin-off to Responsive Web Design, Responsive Email Design utilizes an approach that takes into consideration the requirements of all types of devices, including mobile, to display an email. Responsive Email Design focuses on usability and optimal viewing experiences across multiple screen sizes.The layouts for each may vary, but these emails are designed for the best viewing and navigation possible. What does the future look like? Our friends at Forrester Research predict that by 2017, 78 percent of U.S. email users will access their emails via mobile. AddiThis is a sponsored article. Jeff Asselin is Director of Sales and Marketing for Powerserve, a web development company that focuses on websites, custom business software, search engine optimization, graphic design and social media marketing. He will put his more than 16 years of advertising and marketing experience to work for you in helping grow your business. For more information , visit www.powerserve.net or his office at 961 Broad St., Augusta. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or706-6917189 or 706-826-1506, ext 122.
tionally, 58 percent of companies polled by Marketing Sherpa said they see tablets and smartphones being a large part of their email strategies in the next 12 months, up from 46 percent in 2012. So what does all of this mean? According to emailclientmarketshare.
com’s research, 50 percent of all of their clients’ emails opened in 2013 were on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Be sure your email campaigns are ready for the growing smartphone market while also optimizing for larger screens as well. Responsive Email Design is the way to go.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
Cost accounting helps answer business questions Can you point your company in the direction of financial success, step on the gas, and then sit back and wait to arrive at your destination? Not quite. You can’t let your business run on autopilot and expect good results. Any business owner knows you need to make numerous adjustments along the way – decisions Christine about pricing, Hall, CPA hiring, investHall & ments, and so on. Associates So, how do you handle the array of questions facing you? One way is through cost accounting. Cost accounting reports and determines the various costs associated with running your business. With cost accounting, you track the cost of all your business functions – raw materials, labor, inventory and overhead, among others. Cost accounting differs from financial accounting because it’s only used internally, for decision making. Because financial accounting is employed to produce financial statements for external stakeholders, such as stockholders and the media, it must
12 Buzz on Biz February 2014
comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Cost accounting does not. Cost accounting allows you to understand the following: Cost behavior. For example, will the costs increase or stay the same if production of your product goes up? Appropriate prices for your goods or services. Once you understand cost behavior, you can tweak your pricing based on the current market. Budgeting. You can’t create an effective budget if you don’t know the real costs of the line items. To monitor your company’s costs with this method, you need to pay attention to the two types of costs in any business: fixed and variable. Fixed costs don’t fluctuate with changes in production or sales. They include: rent, insurance, dues and subscriptions, equipment leases, payments on loans, management salaries and advertising. Variable costs do change with variations in production and sales. Variable costs include: raw materials, hourly wages This is a sponsored Employment article. Hall & Associates P.C. is a full-service public accounting firm established in 1979. They have a staff of experienced professionals that stand ready to meet all of your accounting, tax and general business needs. For a complimentary consultation, call 706-855-7733 or visit hallassociatescpa.com.
and commissions, utilities, inventory, office supplies and packaging, mailing and shipping costs. If you’d like to better understand the ins and outs of your business and create sound guidance for internal decision making, you might consider cost accounting. Typically, businesses don’t charge
enough for their product and services. Don’t be a victim of underpricing. Your accountant should be able to help you draft budgets, adjust pricing and give you suggestions keeping an appropriate level of inventory. Let us know if you have questions or need help with a cost accounting system.
Hydrogen County, USA
Aiken Co. at forefront of next energy boom By Stephen Delaney Hale Special Correspondent The beginning of the end of our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels may be happening in Aiken County right now. Energy from hydrogen is seen as the hope for the future to replace oil and gasoline, and to reduce pollution with its watervapor emissions. Aiken County is rapidly gaining a reputation as Hydrogen County USA with an ever-expanding synergy of hydrogen research, applications and education, thanks in large part to decades of research at the Savannah River Site. The results can already be seen. North Augusta has place two hydrogen-powered city buses into service and some companies have placed hydrogen pickups on the road. One of South Carolina’s hydrogen refueling stations is located in the Sage Mill Industrial Park at the Graniteville exit off I-20. Aiken County is also the home of the Center for Hydrogen Research. The good news for the CSRA, beyond a possible reduction of dependence on foreign oil, is more jobs as peripheral industries come to the area. Decades of Research Aiken County’s leadership in hydrogen research is no accident. The heritage of hydrogen research is embedded in the Savannah River Site. What is now the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) began operating as the Savannah River Plant in October 1952. Research into the properties and potential of hydrogen began at the plant’s inception The “Bomb Plant,” as locals called SRS then, was built primarily to produce tritium, an isotope of hydrogen. Tritium is used in combination with plutonium, also made in SRS reactors for 35 years, as the fuel for American thermonuclear weapons, commonly called H-Bombs for their hydrogen component. Walt Joseph, 84, a retired SRS engineer and now executive director of the SRS Heritage Foundation, said they called it the Super Bomb while they were inventing how to make it and the tritium and plutonium that went into it. “Research into other aspects of hydrogen has been going on from the very early days of the site, since the five nuclear reactors first went critical in 1954,” says Joseph. “The reason we are capable of doing the things we are doing now with hydrogen is because of the things we were doing then, inventing ways to produce and safely handle tritium.” Tritium is the isotope of hydrogen that is used in thermonuclear weapons. “They were inventing how to do this work with tritium and that led to hydrogen research because the two gases are so very similar chemically,” Joseph said. Hydrogen is the lightest atom with just one proton and no neutrons. Its sister, deuterium is still an isotope of hydrogen but it has an added a proton. Tritium, the slightly radioactive sister of the other two, has hydrogen’s proton and two neutrons. Deuterium is a somewhat rare but natural component of water. Tritium is very rare in
North Augusta goes green with hydrogen fueled bus North Augustans have a unique opportunity to witness the potential future of hydrogen. The City of North Augusta and the Center for Hydrogen Research teamed up to purchase two hydrogen fuel cell buses for use in the region. The buses will not only be used locally but are available for other events in the region. Todd Glover, the North Augusta city manager, said the city’s new hydrogenpowered city bus from the CHR offers many advantages for public transit. “It serves part of what we do, it is utilitarian, moving people, moving them to Hammonds Ferry and to the baseball stadium when it is operational,” he said. “But there are other aspects it brings us and one is showcasing the technology. Another is enhancing, not just the image we want of being a sustainable environmentally conscious community, but it really helps us on the road to becoming that. “When Fred initially brought the idea to us, he mentioned our beautiful brick ponds, our clean technology initiatives, our renowned greenway, and the clean technology of the bus is part of the image and the reality we are creating here. We also love the way it looks. It has a design that is very environmentally appealing; Green leaves, touching down into rippling water. It is nicely done. Beyond everything, the exhaust is just water vapor, pure H₂O.” Since the bus is just now going into service, Glover cannot say if there will nature, produced in trace amounts by the interaction of the atmosphere with cosmic rays. All three can be said to exist naturally, but it takes quite a lot of processing to make enough tritium to make weapons, and that was among the primary purposes behind building the Savannah River Site during the Cold War. Hydrogen knowledge “beyond the fence” Over the past 15 years, many people have worked long and hard to get some of that
be a difference in the cost of running it compared to the old diesel busses. “We think it will eventually be a little less,” he said. “Certainly with the opportunity to acquire it at such a discounted price, even if it broke even with the traditional diesel, the benefits compared to diesel emissions are way in its favor.” Also, city managers have to look at issues most others never see. “There is the real issue of non-attainment,” Glover said. “We in the entire CSRA are in danger, because of emission from local industries, of being ruled in non-attainment (of air quality standards by the Environmental Protection Agency.) That is very important for the recruitment of new industries because if you get into non-attainment status, you begin to be limited what industries you can recruit. This one bus won’t change that, but it is a symbol of working toward clean air.” He cited Exit 5 of I-20 where North Augusta has established a giant carpooling parking lot, “where a lot of people meet up and ride together and that decreases emissions and helps us with our non-attainment status. It all plays in together. From the earliest days of Project Jackson, we talked about a bus system downtown to get fans to the games, so certainly this is ahead of that schedule, and it will work for the Peach Jam (national high school basketball tournament) and other things. highly classified hydrogen knowledge “outside the fence” – beyond the SRS boundaries and into the hands of entrepreneurs and industries who can make the many uses of hydrogen available in our daily lives. From the beginning of the SRS over 60 years ago, only a relatively small percentage of SRS workers, just those with the highlevel “Q-Clearance,” were authorized to study and work on the site’s advanced research projects.
It became a little less difficult to access the research after the fall of the Soviet Union but the security walls went back up even higher after the attacks of 9/11. Still, a lot of progress is being made, say those working to make it happen. “The thrust of it as I see it is a community of vision,” said Fred Humes, director of the Applied Research Center, a division of the Aiken/Edgefield Economic Development Partnership (EDP), and the person who could probably go by the title of “Lead Visionary” in this decade-and-a-half process. Humes explained that, “As we looked at the needs of our county, region and country, we assessed the resources we have to build on for the good of all.” Hydrogen is just one of the many technologies under study at the Savannah River National Laboratory, he says, but it is one with great potential. Center for Hydrogen Research Just outside the fence and adjacent to the SRNL is the Center for Hydrogen Research (CHR), recently built by Aiken County at a cost of about $10 million. That’s a lot of money but it represents a vision of the future for the county, said Humes and County Council Chairman Ronnie Young. Young added that there was no opposition on Council to the investment. “We on Council wanted some alternative energy source that we could build our future around,” said Young. “We didn’t want to depend on fossil fuels. We thought it was a path toward a more stable future for our county and our country. “That’s why we got involved. We saw it as an investment in future jobs, an investment in national security and an investment in the people we are sworn to represent.” The CHR already has hosted or currently hosts researchers from Toyota, The Savannah River National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of South Carolina Aiken, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Project, AIST (Japan’s national laboratory), small businesses, several international car manufacturers and the versatile Education, Training and Development Laboratory. This highest-of-high tech labs is used to train the workforce, to educate the public and government officials, to conduct the latest hydrogen research and to demonstrate what is possible. The CHR makes its own hydrogen through an array of solar photovoltaic cells on the sunny side of the property, plus a wind farm on the roof and in the yard. Both forms of renewable energy create electricity which is sent through an electrolizer, a scientific bucket of water. The charge simply separates the oxygen, which is safely and beneficially released into the air, and the hydrogen, which is stored, ready for use in fuel cells at the lab. “We built the Center for Hydrogen Research to leverage the research and knowledge of the SRNL and bring it to the public in order to create jobs and provide renewable energy to our country,” said Humes. See HYDROGEN COUNTY USA, page 14
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
HYDROGEN COUNTY USA Continued from page 13 “We are demonstrating that we can produce energy independence by turning solar energy to hydrogen.” Hydrogen Tour of Aiken County Certainly, the greatest concentration of hydrogen research and applications are within the Savannah River National Laboratory. But there is plenty more that people can see “outside the fence,” comprised of work
that has been declassified and now available to private researchers. Aiken County has the only on-road hydrogen-powered vehicles, fueled at the development partnership’s hydrogen fueling station at Sage Mill Industrial Park at the Graniteville exit from Interstate 20. There, some companies fill their vehicle and the public is welcome to “come fill up your hydrogen-powered pickup,” as Humes does frequently.
Want to take a ride in a fuel cell powered bus? You can. The City of North Augusta and the Center for Hydrogen Research teamed up to purchase two fuel cell buses for uses in the region. The buses will not only be used locally but are available for other events in the region. Just like the truck, the buses will be fueled at the Sage Mill hydrogen fueling facility. The Aiken County Career Center technical high school on the Aiken/Augusta
Hydrogen research growing across SC Following the lead of the Aiken/Edgefield Economic Development Partnership (EDP), the hydrogen economy is taking hold in Columbia, South Carolina’s knowledge and power base. In 2006, the Center for Hydrogen Research (CHR) in Aiken County joined with Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and South Carolina State University to form the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance. A couple of years ago, the Alliance hosted the National Hydrogen Association’s annual convention in Columbia where hundreds of scientists and researchers from around the world praised the state for its leadership in the field. There is support for hydrogen research and development on many levels statewide, but none more strongly than from the Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, a hydrogen proponent for years. “The state’s investment in the hydrogen industry is seeing a return already and we are positioned to lead the country and the world in this critical energy sector,” Harrell said. “When we created the Centers of Economic Excellence to help grow our state’s knowledge-based economy, we did not know for certain what direction this public/private partnership would lead us,” Harrell added. “Driven by industry investments and world-class scientists, hydrogen research took off and presented itself as a viable industry that could lead to a booming knowledge-based economy for South Carolina.” South Carolina is now consistently
14 Buzz on Biz February 2014
South Carolina House of Representative Speaker Bobby Harrell waves from a hydrogen-powered truck owned by the Center for Hydrogen Research, with local representative Roland Smith as a passenger.
rated as one of the top five states in this technology. South Carolina was the first state to consolidate permitting under the state’s Fire Marshall Office to not only speed up the permitting process for companies but also to train local fire marshals as permitting officials in this technology. “This is more important than it might sound,” said Fred Humes, director of the Applied Research Center, a division of the EDP. “Now all of the county fire marshals are trained in hydrogen permitting, so when an industry applies for a license to operate, there is one state official in each county that can rule on it. Nowhere else in the country can this be done and that automatically stops projects because
local governments don’t know what to require or look for in applications. They have to get themselves educated while the project awaits approval. Right there is a job market for technical schools to train students for important future positions.” South Carolina was also one of the first to map the supply chain for hydrogen and fuel cells to identify which South Carolina companies could support the coming technology and which companies needed to be recruited. Aiken County and the state introduced fuel cell forklifts into industry and now BMW has a fleet of fuel cell forklifts runnning on hydrogen produced from landfill gases.
highway has entered into apprentice arrangements to begin preparing students for the hydrogen economy. Just down the highway, Aiken Technical College is also preparing their students for the future they clearly see. Susan Winsor, Aiken Tech president, said it is an exciting time to be a part of this emerging science, working with so many accomplished partners. “The Savannah River National Laboratory has invested a great deal of intellectual capital related to hydrogen production and storage and the next natural step is to create a workforce that is able to support the application of that knowledge.” To do that, the college is working with the SRNL, the Center for Hydrogen Research, the Economic Development Partnership and others to develop and employ specific hydrogen energy training models to expose students to advanced green energy technology. “They will be the workforce of the future that will install, maintain and repair the coming hydrogen infrastructure, and that’s very exciting,” Winsor said. Advances, jobs and industries to follow As all good things will, tremendous advances have been made over the years and that will continue in this field, according to Humes, Harrell, Winsor, Aiken County’s Superintendant of Education Beth Everett and Will Williams, director of the Aiken/Edgefield Economic Development Partnership. “All major automakers have announced that beginning in 2014, they will bring production fuel cell vehicles to the market,” Humes said. He works with Hyundai, Honda, Daimler and, before them, Toyota on a regular basis. Their engineers currently use Humes’ laboratory in Aiken County for much of their research. While the U.S. rollout will begin in California and spread to major metropolitan areas first, South Carolina is now well-positioned to be in line for these exciting new vehicles because of numbers of vehicles on the road and its hydrogen infrastructure. The CHR and the state are currently working to determine the infrastructure needs to support the vehicles, a prerequisite to the cars being introduced into our area. The advances are not only in private vehicles but have seen great success in backup power for cell towers, airport and seaport handling equipment, small cells to See HYDROGEN COUNTY USA, page 15
HYDROGEN COUNTY USA Continued from page 14 power computers and phones and even extend the staying time for drones in military and commercial uses. “All of these are opportunities for individuals to start up companies to service these coming needs and for our education system to get students ready to fill these needs,” Williams said.
“All of these are opportunities for individuals to start up companies to service these coming needs.” Both Humes and Williams say the Aiken County School Board and Aiken Technical College are tailoring classes to meet the needs of industries in Aiken County and those studying the county as a possible site for development. Dr. Scott Greenway is working the Aiken County hydrogen potential gold mine from two directions. He is the lead engineer for the CHR and he is a partner in a spinoff company, Greenway Industries, that is already developing products and services in the burgeoning hydrogen industry. “We are doing work on hydrogen fuels and hydrogen storage,” Greenway said of his private company’s business plan. “And we are making a lot of progress. “We are working on products that will be for sale in the realm of hydrogen stor-
age. Cost has always been a factor in hydrogen storage so our company is looking at ways to build products at low cost. It could have applications for homes, vehicles and for portable applications such as laptops, cell phones, other things like that. We have come a long way in portability.” Those products will open jobs, most likely for graduates of the two Aiken County schools who are training for them right now. Greenway said his company currently has six employees but he drafts other researchers from the Applied Research Center when he needs help with temporary projects. He expects to grow the business and to see other businesses spin off from Aiken County’s advantageous perch in the hydrogen research cycle. “People are going to have to be trained and hired to install these applications, to repair them and keep them running. We will need people to manufacture them. This is the nucleus of a coming new industry and this county is positioned to take advantage of it,” Greenway said. For Many “Renewable” is the Key Hydrogen fuel is the only fuel that can be made. At this time and here in this country, most of it is made from natural gas. But it can be made from water using electrolysis – running an electric current through water. It can also be made using landfill gas and other reusable sources. The supply of materials from which hydrogen can be extracted is virtually limitless.
Dr. Scott Greenway works on hydrogen research at the Applied Research Center.
“It is more expensive right now than just using oil to power our vehicles, but the technology is evolving and becoming less expensive, and that will continue, especially where there are fewer alternatives,” Humes said. “Was the bag phone expensive when cell phone technology was in its early stages? Sure. Now they’ll give you the phone if you’ll just sign up for their service. A hydrogen economy will develop in the same
general way. With ongoing research and uses, the efficiency and reliability of fuel cells is getting better. We’ve gone way beyond the stage of the crank phone on the wall phone and hollering for BR549!” From small beginnings, the vision of the benefits of hydrogen fuel cells is making progress. “It’s a game-changer,” Williams said, “and we are excited to be a part of this exciting technology.”
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
Plan ahead to assure quality in retirement Did you know that qualified retirement plans tend to discriminate against the highly compensated? The restrictions placed on qualified retirement plans strictly limit the size of the benefits that can be accrued for highly-compensated employees. When compared to the benefits provided to lower- Mike Herrington paid employees, Fiscal Fitness these limita- Investment Advisor tions can produce a “reverse discrimination” effect that results in qualified retirement plans replacing an inadequate percentage of an owner’s or key employee’s pre-retirement income. Eligible compensation that can be considered in applying these benefit or contribution limitations is capped at $260,000 in 2014 (as adjusted for inflation). There is, however, a solution to the inadequacy of qualified retirement plan benefits for owners and key employees – a selective executive benefit plan can be used to counter the “reverse discrimination” effects of a quali-
16 Buzz on Biz February 2014
fied retirement plan. Planning for Medical Care The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the older population in the United States (ages 65-plus) will more than double by the year 2030, to over 71 million Americans. When coupled with increasing life expectancies, this “aging of America” has led to a rapidly growing variety of options available to senior citizens who require medical and personal care services. By planning ahead, you can help assure that you receive the quality of care and the quality of life you desire should you need long-term care services in the future. Nursing Homes Nursing homes residents in nursing homes are in need of more intensive medical and physical services. The goal of a nursing home (also known as a skilled nursing facility, extended care service, or This is a sponsored financial column. Mike Herrington is the President of Herrington Financial Services, Inc, a Registered Investment Advisor. Mike is a Certified Financial Planner licensee(CFP), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Certified Estate Planner(CEP). He has been serving clients in the CSRA since 1984. He can be reached at 706-868-8673 email@example.com
health care center) is to help residents meet their daily needs and to return them home whenever possible. Assisted Living Facilities The goal of an assisted living facility is to provide assistance and personal care services as needed, while maintaining maximum resident independence in a more home-like setting than that provided by a nursing home. Continuing Care Communities The goal of a continuing care or life care retirement community is to provide a range of services, from independent living through full-time skilled nursing care that
can be modified to respond to a resident’s changing needs. Home Health Care Services By providing a variety of medical and personal services through nurses, therapists and home care aides, the goal of home health care is to make it possible for senior citizens to retain a measure of independence while receiving care in the environment they most prefer…their own homes. If you would like assistance with planning to pay for health care needs in retirement, please contact my office.
Augusta economy not rosy but looking up Health, education bedrock of Augusta economy
By Gary Kauffman While it wasn’t exactly a glowing report, economist Simon Medcalfe isn’t pessimistic about the Augusta area’s economic outlook for 2014. Medcalfe spoke at the GRU Hull School of Business’ sixth annual Economic Forecast Breakfast on Jan. 15. He said for the first time since he’s been doing the forecast, he sees no major economic event on the horizon that could affect the local economy. For 2014 he foresees continued growth in employment and the housing markets. He added that the CSRA has a decent base to attract new talent and new businesses. In 2008-9 the area lost about 7,000 jobs. Medcalfe said most of those have been regained. “We’ve largely recovered those jobs now and are back to where we were, which is good news,” he said. But those jobs are not exactly where they used to be. The biggest gainer is in the education and health sectors, where about 2,500 jobs have been added since the end of 2010. “This is the bedrock of our economy,” Medcalfe said. “This is what we do here.” It’s a growth trend he expects to continue
as the Baby Boomer generation reaches “People are a little more confident in the retirement age and will begin consuming economy,” he said. more healthcare services. And then there was the bad news. Transportation and utilities is another The local manufacturing sector lost area of job growth, adding about 1,000 jobs about 3,000 jobs since the recession, and since 2010. those jobs have not been recovered. But The retail sector is more prone to sea- there may be a silver lining at the national sonal peaks, but now has about 1,000 more level. jobs than it had during the depths of the “On a national level we’re starting to recession. produce more things,” Medcalfe said. “SevMedcalfe expects the retail sector to con- enty-three percent of cars are made in the tinue to improve once Cabela’s opens on United States.” March 20 – not because it will employ so The logging, mining and construction many but because of the people it will bring industry was also hard hit by the recession. to the area. Since 2008, 1,500 “This is a rejobs have been lost tail store that in that sector. is a destination Again, there store,” he said. was a glimmer of “People will hope, at least on drive for hours the construction The Augusta area lost about 7,000 to get there.” jobs in 2008-9. Those have been largely end. Medcalfe said The leisure regained, but not in the same areas. that the number of and hospitalresidential hous# of Jobs ity areas are also The Gainers ing permits has affected by sea- Education/Health +2,500* increased for five sonal peaks and Retail +1,000 consecutive years. Medcalfe didn’t Transportation/Utilities +1,000* Housing prices list specific emare increasing and *numbers since 2010 ployment numthe length that bers. But he said The Losers homes are staying over the past 18 Manufacturing -3,000 on the market is months con- Mining/Logging/Construction -1,500 decreasing. sumer spending Financial -800 The financial has increased in Information services sector lost about -500 those areas. 1,000 jobs through
Jobs are back but redistributed
2011, and has regained just 200 of those. Information providers, like newspapers, lost about 500 jobs that have not been replaced. Professional and business services – which Medcalfe described as a “mishmash” of services – has been hard to measure but has been up and down over the past few years. Medcalfe also had some marginally good news for the wage earners. “Real earnings are back to 2008 levels,” he said. “Workers are getting pay raises but some of it is eaten away by increasing prices.” CSRA workers are also working fewer hours per week than the national average. While the number of employed hours is trending upward nationally, that has not translated yet to this area, Medcalfe said. Hope for the future lies in the fact that the Augusta area has a high degree of economic freedom. He said this matters because of how it translates into the real world. “The more economic freedom, the higher the per capita income,” he said. “And the more economic freedom, the lower the unemployment.” He also believes that the CSRA has the potential to draw skilled workers to the area. He noted that on the Forbes list of the 50 best places to work, nine are represented in the Augusta area. “This will help attract and retain talent,” he said. “It will help us grow.”
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
18 Buzz on Biz February 2014
Cautious optimism for Georgia economy Economists say state could outpace rest of U.S. in 2014 By Gary Kauffman Editor For the past several years, the state of Georgia has lagged behind the rest of the country in recovering from the recession of 2008-9. That’s about to change. “Our forecast is good news for the state,” said Charles Knapp, University of Georgia president emeritus. “Georgia has typically been behind the United States in growth, but we predict that will be reversed in 2014.” Knapp, also interim dean at UGA’s Terry School of Business, spoke at the Georgia Economic Outlook event in Augusta on Jan. 27. The event was part of a series of economic outlooks provided by the Terry School of Business. Knapp said Georgia was hit harder during the recession than many other areas of the country, and recovery has been slower. While the United States as a whole has recovered about 85 percent of the jobs lost in the recession, Georgia has recovered only 69 percent. “One reason Georgia got hurt is we depended too much on the in-migration of people and businesses,” he said. “Not enough of our growth was based on edu-
cating our own people.” Before the recession Georgia attracted about 100,000 new residents per year. That fell to a low of 29,000, but Knapp predicts that to climb back to about 60,000 in 2014. He expects Georgia’s population to grow at a rate about 1.3 percent more than the U.S. population as a whole. While the risk of another recession always looms, Knapp said the risk in 2014 is much less than it has been in recent years. He assessed the risk for another recession in Georgia at 20 percent, down from 40 percent just a year ago. One reason for the optimism is a restructuring of Georgia’s private sector economy, and he expects more balanced growth. Knapp expects the biggest growth in the construction industry and in business and professional services. The biggest loss will be in government jobs, mostly at the federal level. He did note an expectation of an increase in manufacturing jobs, a third of which were lost during the recession. But he said optimism there should be guarded. “The factory jobs we lost are not coming back very fast,” he said. “At the current pace it would take about 30 years to regain where we had been.” Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist for Wells Fargo, also spoke at the event and said Georgia added about 90,000 jobs in 2013 – but 95,000 in the private sector, with a loss of jobs in the gov-
ernment sector. He said final numbers aren’t in yet for Augusta, which is difficult to assess because of the large numbers of contractors working at both Fort Gordon and the Savannah River Site. “But I feel confident that when the revised numbers come out at the end of February that Augusta will have added 2,0003,000 private sector jobs,” he said.” The housing industry is another story. Knapp predicts new housing starts to rise by 34 percent in 2014. That’s double good news for the state. Not only will it increase construction, it will also increase the demand for products from Georgia’s building supply industries. Knapp also expects the price of singlefamily homes to rise by 8 percent, with the lower-priced homes appreciating in value the most. Vitner said the housing market in Augusta was not hit as hard as in other parts of Georgia. He pointed to the numbers of homeowners with a mortgage higher than the value of their homes. In Augusta that number is only 4.6 percent, while it is four times higher in Atlanta. Vitner added that income numbers for the Augusta area are higher than the employment numbers would indicate, which means the economy is going in the right direction. “I’m more optimistic today than at any time since the recession,” Vitner said.
Three areas of economy to watch Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, speaking at the Georgia Economic Outlook event on Jan. 27, said there are three significant areas that could affect the U.S. and local economies in coming years. Credit. “Credit is not likely to flow as freely in the future as it has in the past,” Vitner said. Still, he believes rates will be competitive. But he expects the economy to be more “interest rate sensitive.” Energy. Vitner said the current oil boom is being driven by information technology. “We’re not finding more oil, we’re finding better ways to extract it,” he said. That could lead to a possible oil glut that could drive prices down. Manufacturing. Some manufacturing jobs that had gone to foreign countries are returning to U.S. soil. Jobs initially left because of cheaper labor overseas. But some manufacturers have found that cheaper isn’t always better. “The companies that are coming back are looking for ways to make things better,” he said. “It’s quality driven. I think that could be really important for this part of the country.”
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
U.S. view of finances could be dangerous Government’s policies may devalue dollar
It is unfortunate that the mass media spends more time covering the antics of Justin Beiber than fully disclosing to the American people the crisis of the national financial situation. More often than not, when the media does attempt to address the issue, they ultimately cause more confusion by trying to explain the complex into simple phrases such as “we’re spending our grandkid’s money.” We are not, at this time, spending our grandkid’s money. We have already spent it. The unborn are already broke. This nation is now spending money that does not exist. Two words that constantly get interchanged in the media are “debt” and “deficit.” While the two words are related, they have different meanings. Debt is what one already owes and deficit is when one consistently spends more money than they earn. This nation does not have a $17 trillion dollar deficit; rather, the nation is $17 trillion dollars in debt. Think of it this way: Your income is $2,000 a month, but your combined bills add up to $3,000 per month. You have a deficit of $1,000. However, instead of cutting the cable service and taking other measures to curb the deficit, you start paying bills using credit cards. The amount you spend using other people’s money (the credit card companies) is your debt. The amount you need to repay on your debt also now increases your deficit, causing you to borrow even more just to pay off the minimum balance on the debt you have incurred. This method of floating works for a while until you max out the cards. But rather than cut up the cards and stop spending money frivolously, you simply ask the creditors to increase your line of credit or “raise the debt ceiling.” For the average individual this cycle can only go one for a short amount of time. Eventually, the money runs out and the in-
20 Buzz on Biz February 2014
dividual defaults and is forced into bankruptcy. This scenario is exactly what the national government of the United States is doing on a grander scale, only worse. In addition to floating the credit accounts and increasing deficit spending, the government is engaged in what they misleadingly call “quantitative easing.” What that term means is that the Fed simply prints money Thomas Scott that does not exist. Hudson In the short Correspondent term, this quantitative easing devalues the currency already in the system. For the average citizen, this means the price of goods rise and the value of the dollar sinks. That is why $50 at the grocery store today will buy the same amount of goods as $30 would have 10 years ago. The amount of goods in the buggy is the same, the individual items just cost more. So, if the holders of this nation’s debt
know that it can never, ever be repaid, then why do they keep loaning us money? The answer is simple. It is like a business owner making loans to a competitor knowing that while he won’t be repaid, eventually the competitor will run out of options. He will not only have to close up shop, but he will be forced to come and work for the creditor. That business person gains a whole new clientele and has newfound cheap labor. China is the country that loans the U.S. federal government the most money. China is still an emerging economy, but it intends to become the world’s economic leader. Over the last several decades, that country has industrialized and grown wealthier while manufacturing here has declined at an equal rate with China’s growth. Currently, the U.S. dollar is the world’s standard form of currency. All other countries monetary value is based on the value of the dollar and China wants that to change. The mass media yawned when China launched it’ first aircraft carrier and increased its demands of territorial sovereignty in the Pacific. Not one pundit asked the question of why does a country with 1.354 billion people need aircraft carriers? What country in their right mind would invade them or attempt to curb their access to shipping lanes?
The real value of U.S. money
For many years, the U.S. dollar was backed by gold and silver. In other words, you could trade in a gold certificate dollar for a certain amount of gold, or a silver certificate dollar for a certain amount of silver. They were issued in several denominations. The silver standard ended in 1964 and the gold standard in 1971. Since then, the dollar has been a fiat dollar, meaning there is nothing of intrinsic value to back up the dollar bill. In other words, a dollar bill – or a $100 bill for that matter – has no more intrinsic value than writing the number 100 on a piece of notebook paper (other than the fact that paper and ink are a higher grade, so the value may
be marginally higher than an ordinary sheet of paper). The value lies purely in the fact that the government says these pieces of paper are worth the amounts that are printed on them, and all of us citizens agree to honor that when buying and selling. The Federal Reserve Board estimates the cost of printing various denominations in 2013 as follows (the rate varies because of the quantity ordered): Denomination Price per note $1 and $2........................................5.4 cents $5.......................................................9.8 cents $10....................................................... 9 cents $20 and $50...................................9.8 cents $100............................................... 12.7 cents —By Gary Kauffman
The reason for the military buildup goes hand in hand with China’s policy of loaning the U.S. as much money as it wants. China eventually wants the U.S. economy to completely collapse. Their leaders know that as the dollar slides, their currency – the renminbi – continues to move closer to becoming the world standard. When that happens, and it will, then China can flex its economic and military might to become the next world empire. Rather than American domination on the world stage, China will dictate world policy. Countries such as India, Japan and South Korea will be forced to accept China as both their economic dictator as well as military protector. America will be forced to cede all of its territorial possessions in the Pacific to the dominant Chinese and eventually become a vassal state of the Chinese Empire. If America balks at Chinese aggression, they can simply close the Panama Canal to this country, something they could do tomorrow should they want to. The Chinese know that if they yank the purse strings tomorrow, this country will devolve into chaos and everything is going according to their plan. They will keep propping this country up with loans until the time is right for yanking the rug out from underneath this country’s feet. In the final analysis, we in the country are not spending our grandkid’s money; we are trading in our grandkid’s future liberty. It is time for the citizens of this country to understand that Washington, D.C., will continue on the reckless path it is on until We The People stand up and demand they stop. The framers of the U.S. Constitution gave the citizens the ability to make that demand – it is called an Article V convention. Currently, there are movements in 35 states to call for such a convention. Find out more about this movement at www.conventionofstates.com. These opinions are those of Thomas Scott Hudson and not necessarily those of Buzz on Biz or its staff. He is the investigative reporter for WGAC AM/FM and author of the book, The Contract on the Government, available at amazon.com. For comments or story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
Many parts of Health Care Reform in effect now Did you know that Health Care Reform is entering its fourth year of implementation? While it seems as though Healthcare.gov has caught a tremendous amount of attention over the past few months we cannot lose sight of all of the many changes that have occurred and will occur in 2014. Below are a few HCR changes that will affect you or your employees this year: 90-Day Waiting Russell T. Head Period Limitation: A waiting pe- Employee Benefits Consultant riod for FT benefit eligible employees may not be more than 90 days. This may not be an issue for many large employers or professional firms as they tend to have 0 to 60 day new hire waiting periods. However, for industries with high employment turnover this may create a tremendous amount of time, paperwork and expense. The most simplistic change for those industries who typically have had a six-month or 12-month waiting period may be to change their waiting period to the first of the month following 60 days effective date. Accurate record keeping and timely en-
22 Buzz on Biz February 2014
rollments are imperative to stay compliant in 2014 and the years to come. Cost Sharing Subsidies: The focus quite often regarding Healthcare.gov is the possibility of qualifying for a premium tax credit. Many people are unaware of the Cost Sharing Subsidy. An individual or family that falls below 251 percent of federal poverty level and purchases insurance coverage on their public exchange (State/Federal) may qualify for this benefit if certain other qualifications are met. For example, in Georgia, the second-lowest cost Silver Level plan from Humana may help a qualified individual take their $4,250 annual individual network deductible all the way down to $750. Cost sharing subsidies simply provide financial assistance in helping reduce an individual’s out-of-pocket expenses toward covered medical care. Essential Benefits: What is essential? Most individuals who have coverage privately or through a small company should not see a significant difference in the overall coverage of their policy. Most policies already have most of the “essential benefits” such as hospitalization, physician care, prescription coverage, etc. However, there are a few new items that you may not have seen before. For example, prior to Jan. 1 it was almost impossible to find a quality major medical carrier in the individual private market that would offer maternity coverage as a part of the base benefits or even as an optional rid-
er. Now maternity coverage is built into the policy like other covered medical expenses. Of course, anytime you add on additional coverage there is always a cost built into the premium of the policy – essentially nothing is free. Another added benefit that you will see in the market is rehabilitative services. This benefit will be extremely beneficial to those who may need either inpatient or outpatient therapies. In order to take full advantage of this benefit it would be smart to make sure you are accessing network providers as out-of-network benefits could expose you to increased cost sharing way beyond your annual out-of-pocket maximum. Finally, essential benefits must include pediatric dental and vision care. Don’t expect to drop your current dental or vision insurance as most of these medical plans apply your annual deductible before
first dollar benefits begin. This new pediatric coverage benefit may be very limited in overall coverage benefits. Your separate dental and vision insurance coverage should be much more comprehensive. Next month we’ll continue with the second segment of HCR changes that may affect you in 2014. For further explanation of the ACA/ PPACA provisions outlined in this article, please refer to the following resources: www.hhs.gov, www.irs.gov, www.healtcare. gov or www.cms.gov. Russell T. Head is a Partner and Chief Visionary Architect with Group & Benefits Consultants, Inc., Augusta’s largest, privately held, locally owned employee benefits consulting firm. He can be reached at 706-7333459 or email@example.com. Visit Group & Benefits Consultants at www.groupandbenefits.com.
Poll: Workers paying more for health care About half of Americans (47 percent) with employer-based health insurance say more money is being taken out of their paychecks each month for health insurance than a year ago, according to a report by Bankrate.com. Forty-four percent are reporting higher out-of-pocket expenses as well, including deductibles and co-pays. Those with incomes in the $50,000$75,000 are most likely to report more
money taken from their paychecks and higher out-of-pocket expenses. Female employees are also more likely to have higher out-of-pocket expenses now, 52 percent compared to 35 percent of males. The Bankrate poll further found that 48 percent of Americans would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Only 38 percent want to keep it, down from 46 percent who wanted to keep it last September.
Leisure & Hospitality Exploring the link between health and wealth The immediate benefits of physical fitness are plenty obvious to the average individual – a reduced risk of disease, a better prognosis for long-term health, an increased level of activity, and of course, a better physique are all among the rewards of an investment in your health. H o w e v e r, recent studies have shown that there are Tammy & Tommy significant c on n e c t i on s Garner between living Anytime Fitness a healthy lifestyle and leading a successful one. These studies indicate that, for a variety of reasons, those who’ve worked hard to achieve a healthier body are more likely to be fiscally prosperous as well. Two of the most prominent links between healthy living and financial success were personal discipline and reduced chronic pain.
Individuals who’ve disciplined themselves to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet also showed a greater sense of professional discipline. This, in most cases, leads to a more lucrative or successful career in which the participants were more likely to achieve their goals. Similarly, those studied who were deemed physically fit had a markedly lower incidence of chronic pain, allowing them to work with greater focus and motivation than those individuals suffering from prolonged ailments associated with obesity or a lack of exercise. At Anytime Fitness we care about you physically, mentally, and financially. Helping find a better “YOU” is what we do best. Our caring staff and top-rate personal trainers make us the ideal club for those new to exercise, those who feel intimidated by large, crowded gyms, or the fitness enthusiast. We make it personal and we make it convenient, 24 Hours, 365 days a year. For more information about our four clubs in the CSRA, visit us at anytimefitness.com/gyms/24/ martinez-ga-30907 or call us at 706-3642447.
Now, if you’re worried about your financial future because you’re not feeling fit, don’t give up hope. The fact that you are reading this article is already a sign that you’re interested in getting healthy. Use that energy to get in gear and get down to a gym like Anytime Fitness. If you need some help getting started, we have some great new small group training programs and high-intensity in-
terval training classes that will help you get results and stay motivated. We also offer state of the art equipment, personal training, and tanning so you will find what you need to be your best. Invest in yourself and make a difference in your life starting today. Discipline breeds discipline. The sooner you get to work on your body, the sooner you’ll start seeing the rewards elsewhere.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
Garlic Clove: A perfect fit for a lunch hour Great Food. Casual Feel. Hospitality. Convenience. That’s what I look for in a great Powerhour lunch spot. And while I rarely find restaurants that have it all, this month I hit it spot on. Chef Jeff Freehoff, owner and chef at Garlic Clove Italian Eatery in Evans, certainly knows what it takes to run a good restaurant. He’s created a casual and quaint dining environment and gathered a staff of friendly, attentive and professional servers. Garlic Clove is located on Washington Road in Evans, near the Ace Hardware store. It’s a great, convenient location for those working in the Columbia County area. The décor at in the restaurant is simple, and the warm, intimate feel of the dining room almost makes you feel like you are gathering at home for a family dinner. The walls are adorned with inspirational quotes and pictures of family. Booths and tables are set to accommodate both large and small groups. I met a colleague at Garlic Clove on a Monday for an early lunch. We were look-
24 Buzz on Biz February 2014
ing for somewhere to “meet in the middle” of our two offices – somewhere we could relax and enjoy but stay within the hour we allotted in our schedules for the meeting. The lunch buffet, offering salad, soup, pasta, three sauces and pizza, seemed the best option for dining on a tight schedule. But after looking over the entire menu, we decided to pick two entrees and share. We both started our lunch with a Greek salad, mixed green garden salad with crumbled feta, Kalamata olives and Mediterranean dressing. I love that the Garlic Clove makes Nola Bon Viveur its salad dressings in house. Power Hour Lunch Taking the time to house-make salad dressings says a lot about a restaurant’s striving for excellence. The Mediterranean dressing did not disappoint. It was delicious. Speaking of homemade…the fresh, warm bread served with oil, spices and roasted garlic is outstanding. I’m usually one to say no to the bread, but this I could not resist. Chicken Parmesan and Baked Ziti Florentine Alfredo. Piccolo (smaller) portions. Delicious. The favorite was the Florentine Alfredo – ziti pasta combined with chick-
en, spinach and sliced Italian sausage and tossed with their creamy Alfredo sauce and baked with Mozzarella. And at around $10, including salad, a great price point. Coupled with great tasting food, great service can make or break a restaurant. At Garlic Clove we were greeted with a smile, seated immediately and were very well taken care of throughout our meal. Our server was knowledgeable of the menu, and he gave us his recommendations. He checked on us often, making sure that we had everything we needed. After lunch, he cleared our table promptly, seeing that we had “work” we needed to tend to.
We fellowshipped, we dined and we worked all within about an hour. Great food, great service, great work atmosphere. Convenient, casual, quiet. Business lunch meetings are a fantastic way to break up the day, and there’s no better way to really connect with clients, customers and co-workers. As I search the CSRA for the best local spots, sometimes I score, and sometimes I come up empty. The Garlic Clove Italian Eatery is definitely a slam dunk. It makes the “A List”. Garlic Clove is located at 4534 Washington Road in Evans. It opens daily at 11 a.m.
Photo by Sophia Colton Photography
Find the right size and scale for your event “Sometimes less is more” is an important adage to consider when hosting a professional event, but when it comes to event planning, scale can be hard to realize. So how do you know where to draw the line? Finding the purpose of your event will draw that line and will direct your apCandace Wolke proach. Keeping Co-Owner, it in focus will prevent over or Geez Louise under planning. Special Events Keep in mind that the size and scale of an event is not the same thing. Size describes how big, as in a large venue to accommodate many people,
while scale describes the extravagance of it all. Don’t let the size of the guest list trick you into planning a large-scale event. For instance, when planning a large conference or educational event, your important message shouldn’t be lost in distracting decorations and activities. Keep it simple and to the point so attendees remember the importance afterwards. When reaching out to a substantial-sized guest list, perhaps in attracting new clients or reeducating old clients, you should opt for your scale to be much larger. A company-sponsored picnic with field day activities or a street market with food trucks and family oriented entertainment can be effective. An open house hosted in in a large open space will encourage guests to move around and look around. Strategically placing information around the space will help guide the crowd and enable you to manage
their experience. These are also appropriate approaches for events such as new product launches, grand openings or political campaigns. For fundraisers, go bigger. It should go without explaining: the more people, the more money. With the right donations and vendors in place, you can manage an entire fundraiser at little cost. Meanwhile, philanthropic events are generally kept small to recognize the value of each guest. Don’t let your guest feel like one in a crowd of many. Show your appreciation by offering a light and relaxing environment in which they will feel important. Luncheons, art galas and cocktail parties are the perfect social events for that. When clients have become close friends, your event should be small and intimate. You’ll have double the conversation in store so your activities should be effortless to
make time for everything that will be discussed. A brunch, dinner party or round of golf are all great ways to rekindle friendships and clientships in one motion. A daylong golf tournament, however, is the perfect way to turn up the scale and is appropriate for reconnecting with many of clients who are friends. No matter what kind of event you plan to host, if you keep the purpose at the front of your planning the rest will fall into place. For help planning your next company event, call Geez Louise Special Events and Corporate Services at 706-664-5259. Candace Wolke is the co-owner of Geez Louise Special Events and owner of Woah Nuts!, a revolutionary donut shop coming soon to Augusta. She spends her free time at home with her husband, Jonathan, and two little boys, Noah and Liam. Find Geez Louise on facebook for more information.
Facebook starting downward trend in use, according to study Facebook became the new MySpace, and now it may go the way of MySpace. A new study from Princeton University finds that Facebook has already had its day in the sun and will start declining. It predicts that the popular social site will lose “80 percent of its pea user base between 2015 and 2017.” The researchers employed models used
26 Buzz on Biz February 2014
to study infectious diseases that spread between people until they reach a peak when the population develops immunities. Then it dies away. In this case, the people become immune to the “idea” of Facebook and are no longer
affected by it. Facebook reports 874 million users worldwide, but has already admitted that it is losing teenage users. Although Facebook is more popular than MySpace ever was, the study found that Facebook is following the same rise and decline as MySpace. The study shows that MySpace peaked in
users around 2007 and had ceased to be a factor in 2012. Facebook, according to the study, reached a peak in 2012 and started a downward trend in 2013. The biggest reason for the downturn is the loss of teens. A study by iStrategy Lab found that Facebook had about 25 percent fewer teen users in 2013 than it did in 2011.
Many workers lack basic skills, jobs left unfilled The unemployment rate in Georgia continued to drop in 2013, finishing at 7.4 percent, and is expected to drop even further in 2014. That’s good news – with a caveat. Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist for Wells Fargo, speaking at the Georgia Economic Outlook event in Augusta Jan. 27, said there is more to the reduction that people finding jobs. “It’s fallen more because people have left the work force than that they’ve found jobs,” he said. While some of that can be expected as the Baby Boomer generation ages and retires, Vitner said proportionately, the biggest group of people leaving the work force are men in their 20s. Vitner believes this stems from a failure to educate or train these men for the jobs that are available – and the jobs are available. “Everywhere I go employers, large and small, tell me they have jobs they can’t fill because
they can’t get people to pass basic skills, like reading,” Vitner said. Charles Knapp, president emeritus of the University of Georgia and interim dean at the Terry School of Business, believes it will take a restructuring of the education system, not just spending more, to change that. He noted that in the past four years, spending on education has increased significantly with little result. “We’re spending 2-1/2 times as much in real dollars per student, but test scores have hardly budged,” he said. Knapp urged better education to bolster the economy for the long term. “We need to put greater emphasis on educational achievement,” he said. “We trail most other states in educating our children.” For example, he said, in testing, Georgia eighth graders rank 40th in the nation in math skills. “Failure to educate our children lowers Georgia’s standard of living,” he said.
Finding the right people takes a business from good to great Good to Great by Jim Collins 300 pages, Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook or audiobook Good to Great is one of the most insightful and powerful management books ever written. Jim Collins and his team studied and researched successful companies over a 10-year span to identify what good companies did to become great ones, and if what they did could be documented and duplicated. While the team identified six principles, one of the principles has helped me understand the role of leaders in transitioning a small business to a larger, Eddie Kennedy successful, productive Business Book company. I believe that Reviews if applied, it will work in your business and in your life as well. Finding the right people and having them in the right place is a major key to the success of your company. Collins says, “Begin by getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.” Then you can decide what direction the bus will go. With the right people in their proper places and the wrong people out of the way, the process of understanding what needs to be done to get to the
next level is much easier. The right people will help you see where to go and how to get the company there. Your time will not be consumed with having to motivate the team, as they will be selfmotivated. Once they are on the bus make sure everyone is in the seat best suited for them. This ensures that you will fully use their talents and abilities to accomplish the mission and vision of the company. Collins believes you need people who will vigorously argue and debate, looking for the best solutions and answers, but after a decision has been made, they support the decision fully regardless of if it was their idea or not. The other five principles of a successful company that Collins identifies in Good to Great are Level 5 Leadership, Confront the Brutal Facts, The Hedgehog Concept, A Culture of Discipline and The Flywheel. They are all important concepts to take to heart if you want a company that is more than ordinary. But for me, the principle of finding the right people is well worth the time it takes to read the book. Eddie Kennedy is the owner of Great Deals Augusta and an avid reader of business books. Eddie believes every business owner should invest in themselves by reading, but if you can’t, then read his column every month to see what he learned. Have you read any great business books? Let Eddie know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
28 Buzz on Biz February 2014
Local business openings, moves and closings During the past month, a number of CSRA businesses were started, changed ownership and moved to new locations. Unfortunately, a few of them also ceased operations. Here is a recap of those business happenings. New Businesses Molly Manners Alison Smith, who helped build Ladybug’s Flowers and Gifts with her mom, Susan Bone, recently bought into the “Molly Manners” franchise. As a mother of two children, Smith said she and her husband are continuously teaching and encouraging good manners. “I found Molly Manners and purchased it for the Augusta area. I feel that manners start at a very young age,” she said. The Molly Manners curriculum covers ages 3-17, focusing on all aspects of a child’s development. Smith kicked off Molly Manners with a Holiday Camp back in December with a full class. She has partnered with Twisted Indulgence Yogurt in the Riverwood Shopping Center in Evans and will hold a fourweek class for first-fifth graders on Tuesdays during the month of February. There are several more classes listed on the website calendar at www.mollymanners.com/ alisonsmith/ Those classes will be held at various locations, with most being held at a retail space on Fury’s Ferry next to Subway and Ladybug’s. Thistle Do A mother and daughter team has opened
a gift shop, Thistle Do, in Martinez in a log cabin behind the Gary’s Hamburgers. The mom is a former staffing company executive. Thistle Do opened just before Christmas and is stocking its boutique in time for Valentine’s Day. Thistle Do’s slogan is “quaint yet uniquely different.” They offer monogramming, a variety of chevron bags, unique gifts, wreaths and home accessories. They are also offering specific heart-shaped Valentine’s Day gifts. College Checks Consultants Three lifelong educators with a combined 113 years of experience in public and private education and university teaching have formed a new company, College Checks Consultants, LLC. All three women have been sharing their advice for years with students and parents and decided to form a company to be able to help more families. They charge a one-time $50 consultation fee to meet with all members of the family and get a good sense of the students’ desire and the practical needs of their parents. The company then bills the parents $75 per hour for a boutique of services based on what a family needs. Some services are coaching parents to help their children. The two main areas of help they provide are in preparation for college and college matching details. They will help prepare high schoolers to do better on their SAT, ACT, college essays and college interviews. College Checks Consultants also help
match students to in or out of state schools, based upon their lifestyle desires and admissions requirements. They’ll help locate scholarships, grants and loans while making sure all forms are completed and deadlines are met. Little Caesar’s Little Caesar’s is bringing its $5 pizzas to the Food Lion Shopping Center on Highway 25 in the Belvedere area on North Augusta’s north side. Nearby, Bojangles is moving into the closed Huddle House location. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet After 20 years of standing vacant, the large space in Kalmia Plaza in Aiken that once housed Belk will spring to life with Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, a retailer of closeouts, excess inventory and salvage merchandise. Ollie’s plans to occupy the 25,098-squarefoot space at 1660 Richland Ave. by spring or early summer. The store is expected to open some time in the next six months, according to a press release. The Belk space has been vacant for more than 20 years. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, based in Harrisburg, Pa., is a retailer of closeouts, excess inventory and salvage merchandise, according to a press release. Aiken Speakeasy and Eats A new restaurant in Aiken will be a throwback to the Roaring ‘20s speakeasies, complete with needing a password to enter. Aiken Speakeasy and Eats will located at 126 Laurens St. in Aiken, in the space for-
merly occupied by Desserves Bakery. The new restaurant is furnished in art deco style and will feature medallion spring lamb and Roaring ‘20s toasties – chilled steak with a cheese spread. Joe and Arlene Iannelli, owners of Casa Bella Italian restaurant in Aiken, are behind the venture. Business Moves Scrubs of Evans Scrubs of Evans has tripled in size with a move down Washington Road. Mark Harrell , owner of Scrubs of Evans, just moved his uniform and accessory store further down Washington Road in Evans. The store size goes from one bay in a shopping center in front of Wal-Mart to three bays in the center of Park Place, a Martinez Shopping Center next to Taylor BMW. They moved to increase their sales floor, allowing them to carry more brands and keep more in stock. They have also expanded their business hours and are now open until 6:30 p.m. each day and until 4 p.m. on Saturday. His ribbon cutting is scheduled in February. Scrubs of Evans offers new selections every month, trusted brands like Cherokee, Koi, Grey’s Anatomy, Barco, Med Couture and Wink in a large variety of sizes. It also offers online shopping. David Fields Tires and Brakes David Fields Tires and Brakes recently moved to 3206 Washington Road, across See OPENINGS, MOVES, page 30
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
No way out? Planning an exit OPENINGS, CLOSINGS strategy for your business Last month my column discussed the need for everyone, particularly small business owners, to have an estate plan. Taking that theme one step further, business owners need to have an exit strategy. I am currently working with a couple of clients on succession planning. Many more businesses I represent need this planning, but have not even J. Edward started. Enoch, J.D. As a private business owner, Business Attorney there are only three options for getting out of your business: (i) transfer it to an insider, (ii) transfer it to an outsider, or (iii) go out of business. Unfortunately, many private businesses end up in the third category by default. Transferring to an insider means passing the business to your family or selling the business to a key employee. These transitions cannot happen overnight. They take planning. If a child or an insider is going to buy the business they have to be trained to run the business. Plus, they
30 Buzz on Biz February 2014
need the financial wherewithal to pay fair value for the business. If they are going to receive the business as a gift, how is the owner going to fund retirement? Transferring to an outsider means creating a market to sell the business. Who might be interested in buying the business? Trade magazines are full of ads by business brokers trying to sell mom and pop businesses. For that to work, the business has to generate a price that both satisfies the owner’s needs and pays the broker. Competitors might be interested in buying the business, but how do you find out without the word getting on the street you are looking to sell your business? Regional or national firms might be interested in acquiring the business. How do you tap into those markets? Look to your team of professional advisors, particularly your CPA and your business attorney, to guide you along this path. And you need to start long before you are actually ready to get out of the business. This is a sponsored Law Talk article. Ed Enoch’s practice focuses on business, employment and real estate law. He is a 1992 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Washington and Lee School of Law. He has served in many leadership roles for SHRM, Rotary, the Family Y and the United Way. Reach him at 706738-4141 or email@example.com.
Continued from page 29 from Warren Baptist Church. The business is also the headquarters for Yellow Cab of Augusta. For five years the business was located at 1628 Gordon Highway. Fields purchased the Washington Road location to run all of his companies and is even looking to expand. Yellow Cab needed to expand after getting awarded the taxi service from Fort Gordon last April. The Yellow Cab Dispatch service will soon be a call center for several taxi companies across the United States. Buffalo Brakes Buffalo Brakes is under new ownership with a husband and wife team and is planning a move. The auto repair shop had been on the 3900 block of Washington Road near the Bobby Jones Expressway. Soon, they’ll open in the former Cliatt Automotive shop at 4446 Washington Road, tucked behind the Shane’s Rib Shack restaurant and across from Wal-Mart in Evans. Business Closings Sportsman’s BBQ A longtime favorite barbecue restaurant, Sportsman’s BBQ in North Augusta has closed. The family-run business empire ran into difficult times a few years ago when Al Bone became ill. Eventually family members closed Al’s Family Restaurant in North Augusta. Relatives Butch and Darlene Bone operated the other family business, Sports-
mans BBQ, on Martintown Road, about halfway to Edgefield and not far from the popular McDonald’s Fish Camp. Bullchicks The Bullchicks on 615 East Martintown Road in North Augusta is now closed after about a year in business. It is the second Bullchicks Restaurant to close in the CSRA in the past six months. The first Bullchicks store on Highland Avenue in Augusta closed in 2013 amid challenges between the franchisee and the franchisor based in Corpus Christi , Tex. The Highland Avenue store was the first franchised in the country. The concept was unique in that 20 varieties of chicken wings shared the menu billing with 20 different hamburger options, hence the name, “Bullchicks”. About Thyme Café About Thyme Cafes in North Augusta and Evans have announced that they have ceased operations as of the end of January. The following is a Facebook post from About Thyme Cafés Liz Victor on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 25. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Friday, January 31st will be our last day at both locations of About Thyme Cafe. We would like to thank all of our friends and loyal customers for your support! Please continue to support local restaurants!” In August 2012 North Augustan Victor opened her business in a former Movie Rental spot near the Municipal Building. They were open for breakfast and lunch.
Learning a lesson about trying on clothes before purchasing “How was your day,” I asked my husband, Brian. He had just returned home from work. “Terrible,” he replied. “Why,” I said concerned. “What happened?” “After my morning meeting,” he began. He frequently used the phrase “morning meeting” as a metaphor. I needed clarification. “An actual meeting,” I interrupted, “or is ‘morning meeting’ code for a bathroom break?” “The latter,” he said. “After my morning meeting I realized that my fly was down.” “Go on,” I prompted. “I tried to zip it up but something was wrong. The zipper wasn’t just down but it had gone all wonky and it wouldn’t zip.” “Ahhh, zipper disease,” I said knowingly. “That’s bad.” The fly of his pants wouldn’t zip. At work. “That’s really Nora Blithe bad,” I amended. Humorist “I couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t work with my fly down so I left the store and went next door to the discount clothing store to buy a new pair of pants.” “That explains the horizontal crease in the legs.” He religiously irons every morning. It was strange to see him with wrinkles or a crease going the wrong way. “But it gets worse,” he moaned. “Do tell,” I leaned in. “I found pants in my size, paid and hurried back to
my store but when I put the new pants on I realized they were tagged wrong.” “You should have tried them on,” I chided. I’d spent years trying to convince him to try clothes on before he bought them. “I usually wear a 33 and these say 33 but they’re closer to a 30. It was physically painful to put them on. I mean it hurt!” He imitated wearing the tight pants and clutched at his waist. “You’re still wearing them,” I pointed out. He lifted his shirt and pointed to his waist. The button was undone and the pants stayed up. I grinned. “You know, if you were self-employed this wouldn’t have happened,” I told him. “If I were self-employed I would still have to wear pants,” he retorted. “True, but you would have more flexibility to try things on if you weren’t on someone else’s schedule,” I replied. He grinned sheepishly. “Maybe, but I would still have to try the pants on before I bought them.” I laughed. “Have you learned your lesson?” “What do you think?” I think he has a lot to learn about buying clothes. Nora Blithe is an Augusta native, an entrepreneur and a syndicated humor columnist. She lives in Greenville, S.C., with her husband, Brian, and their pets. Read her syndicated humor column Life Face First in Verge, or find her online at doorinface.com or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City ranks second among most budget-friendly According to the website ApartmentGuide.com, Augusta is the second-most budget-friendly city in the nation. Augusta was chosen because it has low rent and a low cost of living. Mayor Deke Copenhaver says the ranking is big news for the Garden City. “Anytime you get national recognition, and to look at some of the other cities on the list, you’ve got Dayton, Ohio… Tulsa, Oklahoma… those are some great cities, so it’s exciting,” Copenhaver said. ApartmentGuide.com lists the lowest cost of rent at $350 a month, and some of the higher-end apartments can cost more than $1,400. Copenhaver says the low cost of living is one of many factors that bring people to Augusta. Gene Mock is from Gray, Ga. He has been staying in the Augusta area for the past few weeks because of work. He said, “The housing is better. You get more bang for you buck here, as they say. There are better living conditions and things are more convenient to get to.” Sarah Anawalt has lived in places all across the world, but she recently moved to Augusta. She said, “If you just walk around, it’s a little difficult, but the moment you start getting to know your places, knowing where to buy things, it gets cheaper and cheaper. Especially if you find houses with people, but you have to look.” Copenhaver expects a lot of new people to move to the Augusta area over the next few years, and he also says there will be more economic development announcements very soon.
February 2014 Buzz on Biz
32 Buzz on Biz February 2014