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W H A T ’ S IN S I D E

JuLY 2014 • The CSRA’s Only Monthly Business Magazine

Making the grade

Georgia, SC both ranked among most business friendly By Gary Kauffman Remember the excitement of bringing home a report card with good grades on it? Businesses in the CSRA can feel a bit like that after a survey that found Georgia and South Carolina to be among the most business-friendly states in the country. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, in conjunction with Thumbtack.com, surveyed small business owners in each state and based their rankings on those responses. Georgia earned an A– and South Carolina a B+. Only 12 other states ranked that high. “It doesn’t surprise me,” said Susan Caldwell, area director of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. “Georgia is an entrepreneurial-friendly state.” While relocations of large companies to a state usually garner the headlines, Laura DiSano, co-director of the University of South Carolina Aiken SBDC, said a state’s impact on small businesses is vital to economic success. “Big companies are important, but we need to be able to go beyond that and cultivate entrepreneurship at the local level,” she said. The third annual Small Business Friendliness Survey ranked the states in 10 categories, then averaged them to attain the overall grade. South Carolina actually received more A’s than Georgia – in six categories compared to two – but had its overall rating dragged down by a D+ in Training and Networking Programs. DiSano said that is misleading because there are plenty of programs in place. Finding them, though, is sometimes difficult. “There’s such a plethora of information but it’s the navigation to them that is not always easy,” she said. “A lot of times people have to go to multiple places to achieve things.” Georgia also received its lowest grade, a C, in Training and Networking. “That did surprise me a little bit,” Caldwell said, “simply because I see what is out there with our resource partners. See BUSINESS FRIENDLY STATES, page 16

Take your business to next level............3 Buzz Bits...................................................... 6,7 Exit 5 gets Park & Ride............................ 12 Taking time off from your business... 14 Businessperson of the Month.............. 15 2015 ACA compliance checklist.......... 19

Poised for a boom?

Housing market on the rebound with steady growth anticipated

By Gary Kauffman The housing market in the CSRA finally appears to be loosening up, and that’s good news for homeowners, would-be home owners and businesses. Although the diverse economy of the Augusta area kept the economy more stable than in many parts of the country, the recession of 2008 had a negative effect on home sales. But that is changing. “It’s been congested for a while because of the recession,” said Bert Dean, executive director of CSRA Home Connections and president of Clarion South Communications that works with Century 21 Larry Miller Real Estate. “By the time the market crashed in September 2008 real estate was already tightening up. Then it just slammed down in 2009 and 2010.”

Things began picking up in 2013 and numbers for 2014 are running about the same, although Doug Reese, general manager for Blanchard & Calhoun, said the ice storm and bad weather in January and February have skewed those numbers. But new construction is booming now. “Inventory is at an all-time low,” Reese said. “Builders can’t get the inventory up fast enough.” There are several reasons for the upturn in the housing market, the most simple being that people have finally decided enough is enough. “People had been taking a wait-and-see approach,” Dean said. “But now people have started saying, ‘we can’t wait to see what will happen.’” See HOUSING MARKET, page 2


Safe Homes plans new larger facility

Safe Homes unveiled plans in June for its new building project that will double its capacity and offer better services for its clients. Safe Homes serves victims of domestic abuse and their children, and has been a presence in the CSRA for 30 years. Last year Safe Homes helped 329 victims, well over the capacity for its relatively small facilities. “We’ve been over capacity for some time,” said JoAnn Herbert, chair of the Safe Homes board. Safe Homes has already raised $1.8 million in funds, 60 percent of the goal of $3 million for its Break Ground, Build Hope, Heal Hearts campaign. The board is looking for community support to raise the remainder of the funds. The goal includes $2.1 million to build the new 14,500-sq.-ft. home, which will provide private bathrooms for the families sheltered there, as well as improved facilities to care for the children who usually accompany the victims. It will have a 36-bed capacity with 24-hour security and administrative offices. In addition, $500,000 will be used as seed money for an endowment for long-term stability, $60,000 for community and volunteer relations and $340,000 for enhancing victim services and to obtain matching grants. “This is a five-year expansion plan that will meet the true demand in our community in a more efficient and cost-effective way,” Herbert said. Nan Richards, campaign chair, said time is of the essence to help the number of abused victims. “We cannot turn away any more people,” she said. “We absolutely have to build this shelter.” For more information, contact Executive Director Aimee Hall at aimee@safehomesdv.org.

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HOUSING MARKET Continued from page 1 But there is also increased optimism because of jobs coming to the area, most notably from the changes at Fort Gordon that will not only bring in thousands of soldiers but also contractors who work with the Fort. “The growth at Fort Gordon bodes well for the market for existing homes and new home sales,” Dean said. Reese agreed. He said about 20 to 25 percent of the growth will come from new homes and the rest from sales of existing homes. But that is significant. “That 20-25 percent is very high,” he said. “Few parts of the country can say that.” Because of Fort Gordon and where the land opportunities are, much of the new home growth will be in Columbia County. But the CSRA as a whole should benefit. “Columbia County will benefit the most because there will be more new home development and more schools being built,” said Joe Todd, director of New Homes and Land Development for Better Homes & Garden Realty. “But we’ll see growth in the whole area consistently.” Richmond County, though, won’t be shut out. “Richmond County gets the benefit in growth in retail,” Dean said. “Columbia County gets more of the housing.” But the effect will probably be more widespread. “Aiken is doing well with their growth and there are new things happening in North Augusta,” Dean said. “The core counties of the Metro area will do well.” But don’t expect a return to the inflated pre-recession values for homes. Dean said before the recession the home market had almost become a commodities market. “Values will return to normal,” he said. “There will be more stable opportunities than in the run-and-gun days of the late ‘90s and early 2000s.” For the time being, existing housing remains a buyer’s market although less noticeably so that a few years ago. New homes, though, are trending toward a seller’s market. “I think we’ll see more of a seller’s market in the next year,”

Todd said. “We’ll see prices pick up over the next few years.” Dean believes it will be more balanced than it has been for a while. “There’s going to be balance,” he said. “It’s been a buyer’s market exclusively since the crash. It’s not going back to a seller’s market. It’ll be more normal.” Prices have already been increasing. Interest rates for mortgages remain low, making it easier to buy. “Money is cheap,” Reese said. “The rates are unbelievably attractive. I don’t see a dramatic change in that.” That doesn’t mean lenders will make it as easy as it once was to get a mortgage. “Lending practices were tight because they had been too loose,” Reese said. “It has tightened up significantly, but that’s not a bad thing.” The upward trend in the market is something the realtors see continuing. Reese said more than 1,200 new homes were added to Columbia and Richmond counties last year. “I think we’ll surpass that this year, and we’ll see that for four to five years or longer,” he said. Todd sees the same scenario. “We’ll see pretty stable growth for the next few years,” he said. Dean said stable is a key term. “It’s not a rocket ship,” he said. “Larry Miller and other realtors are much more comfortable with stable growth. Steady growth is what everybody is looking for.” Steady growth should be easier for CSRA to attain because of the diverse economy. Unlike many areas that gravitate toward one type of industry or another, the CSRA has diversified between military, medical, education, retail and technology. “Augusta is the least volatile, most steady economy in the country,” Dean declared. In the end, what the housing market does or doesn’t do specifically will depend on the mantra realtors have used for decades. “It will be based on location, location, location,” Dean said.


Stuck? Take your business to the next level Let’s say that you’ve been running a great little manufacturing or distribution business. Or maybe you’re on the leading edge of an industry, doing something very avant garde and entrepreneurial. Revenue is under $5 million, and you’re profitable. You know that you’ve built a great business, but you’re not really sure what to do to take it to Kim Romaner the next level. It’s grown organiBusiness Broker cally, mostly, or maybe at one point you acquired another company to grow. Beyond that, you can’t see over the horizon to the next steps you should take to grow it further. You have some ideas, but they would require capital – capital you don’t really have, and which the bank seems unwilling to lend you. You may have plenty of energy and ambition, or perhaps you’ve been working really hard for years, and you and your team are tired and possibly uninspired. What to do now? Sitting in my in-box at this moment is an e-mail from a buyer who is looking for companies just like yours, and owners just like you. It’s from a mezzanine finan-

cier who would like to be your partner; not only a working capital infusion partner, but a business mentor. Someone who knows how to grow a company like yours and create a much more valuable exit strategy for you than the one you have now. Examples of the help they can provide along with the capital include strategic planning and development; support and development of an executive team; development of information technology structure; support of an add-on strategy (i.e., growth via acquisition); connecting you to industry leaders and valuable contacts; and growing the equity value of the business, not just the daily business. Sounds good, but you’re afraid of what the kids might think, because they’re involved in the business, and expecting you to give it to them. Working with this type of investor can help to create a family succession plan that can satisfy all parties involved.

This is a sponsored article. Kim Romaner is president of Transworld Business Advisors of Augusta, a business brokerage that helps people buy and sell businesses, and also enter into the franchise world. With more than 70 locations in the United States and abroad, Transworld has sold thousands of businesses. If you’d like to talk to Kim about selling or valuing your business, buying a franchise or turning your existing business into a franchise operation, call 706-383-2994, or email her at kromaner@tworld.com.

If you’re worried about losing controlling interest in your business, I can tell you that not all deals go down that way. As Kyle Madden of KHL Capital reminded us at a recent conference, there’s a matrix of liquidity and control. What his firm wants to hear are your goals. Are you interested in an outright sale? Do you want to recapitalize your firm and still hold majority control? To have a bigger influx of capital, would you be willing to hold only a minority stake? Keep in mind that the minority stake will have a much greater value after the improvements the recapitalization will pro-

vide. It may even be greater than what you would have gained by selling the business outright. If you haven’t sold your business because your trusted advisors have let you know that you won’t exit with the cash you’d hoped, one possible solution is finding an investor who is aligned with your goals and can help you to finance and implement the changes that will get you where you need to go. If you’ve just peaked out and need to get to the next level, there’s a match out there for you. At Transworld Business Advisors, we’re talking to these investors every day, and can help you find your perfect match.

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News abounds for fellow ‘bizaholics’

I’m a small “bizoholic” so I love reading our newspaper cover to cover. Others enjoy that “Buzz” is a fairly quick read and they like to scan through and pick out stories of interest. For instance on Pages 6, 7 and 8 you’ll find about 50 “Buzz Bits” of openings, closings, milestones, mergers and company honors. My guess is several will interest you and a few may even make you mutter, “I didn’t know that!” In this issue, the two stories that appeal to me more are ones that directly affect my bottom line and even my personal finances. On page 9 we welcome new sponsored columnist Ronald Garnett of Small Business Financial Solutions. He’s asking small business people to consider “factoring,” the art of turning over your accounts receivables to a factoring company. They pay you a lion’s share of the total monies upfront – and they collect on each one over time. Wow! If your business is like mine, cash is king and it’s all about the flow! Related to that is Eddie Kennedy’s Book Review of EntreLeadership on page 25. Dave Ramsey’s books have spawned a wave of followers in the business and church world. I must admit I’m late getting on the bandwagon. It’s at the top of the Gordon family list of books to read and implement in our personal finance life. As you well know our business lives often Neil Gordon intersect our personal lives! Speaking of money, we welcome three new advertisers who Buzz on Biz make money their business. Georgia Bank & Trust, Queens- Publisher borough Bank & Trust and First Citizens Bank are all represented in this issue, joining longtime advertiser, Security Federal. To those advertisers, we thank you for your business and don’t take it lightly, and to our readers – support our advertisers! Neil Gordon is president of Buzz on Biz, LLC and produces a daily TV segment on News 12 This Morning, a daily radio show on WRDW 1630 AM, a daily website, a weekly email business newsletter and the monthly publication Verge in addition to Buzz on Biz, the CSRA’s only monthly business publication. To learn more, visit buzzon.biz or email him at neil@ buzzon.biz.

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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 Janine Garropy/803-480-2800

Photography Gary Kauffman Melissa Gordon/sofiacolton.com Design Gary Kauffman Submit Information gkauffman@buzzon.biz thegordongrouppr@comcast.net

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

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July 2014 Buzz on Biz

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buzz bits Pro hockey leaves Augusta for Macon

Professional hockey is not longer a part of Augusta, at least not for the near future. On Wednesday the Augusta Riverhawks signed a deal with Macon to move the team there, where they will be known as the Macon Mayhem and continue to play in the Southern Professional Hockey League. The Riverhawks were forced to suspend team operations this past season after problems at the James Brown Arena kept them from having ice to play on. The ice refrigeration system broke in February 2013 with eight games remaining in the season. It has not yet been repaired. The Mayhem signed a fiveyear lease with Macon and will begin playing games in the Macon Coliseum in the 2015-16 season. The Riverhawks had played in Augusta since 2010. A previous hockey team, the Augusta Lynx, had played hockey in Augusta from 1998-2008 in the East Coast Hockey League.

Three hospitals vie for spot in Columbia Co.

Three hospitals have told Columbia County that they should be the ones to construct a new hospital there. University Hospital, Georgia Regents Medical Center and Doctors Hospital have all filed Certificates of Need with the county, making their cases of why they should be the ones to construct a hospital. Officials are now in the process of reviewing the proposals.

Shea named head of Georgia econ developers

Kevin Shea has been named president of the Georgia Economic Developers Association. Shea has worked in economic development for years, previously holding senior level posts for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah Economic Development Authority. He also served as chair of

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GEDA’s Board of Directors. Most recently he was a vice president at Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Augustine, Fla.

Long presidentelect for Young Lawyers

Book explores history of Augusta, Lake Olmstead

John R.B. “Jack” Long of John R.B. Long P.C. in Augusta was installed as president-elect of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia on June 6 during the organization’s Annual Meeting. Long, whose firm specializes in general civil litigation, corporate and business law, and family law, is a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University and was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 2006. He previously served on the Board of Directors of the YLD Executive Council and as secretary and treasurer of the YLD. He is the son of Jack Long Senior, who has specialized in class action lawsuits in his career. He will be installed as the 69th president of the State Bar of Georgia YLD in June 2015. The YLD is comprised of approximately 10,000 lawyers admitted to the State Bar of Georgia who are 36 years old or younger or who have been admitted to their first bar no more than five years. Through the years, the YLD has also gained national recognition by winning several American Bar Association awards for its projects and publications.

Robert A. Mullins traces rich history of Augusta in his new book called 12 Monkeys & a Green Jacket. Published by Xlibris, the book explores Southern history, specifically the history of Augusta, through Lake Olmstead. The book presents the social history of Augusta through a series of stories and answers such questions as why Augusta had the grandest hotel in the South and why the world’s greatest golf course is located here. Dayton Sherrouse of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area describes this book as a “must-read for anyone who has an interest or appreciation of Augusta’s colorful history.” The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Mullins is the owner of Mullins Law Firm, P.C. in Augusta. In addition to his practice of law, Mullins has authored numerous professional journal articles, served as the editor of the CSRA Environmental Law Reporter and is an adjunct professor in the legal studies program at American Public University.

Trinity in top third of best physician hospitals Trinity Hospital of Augusta is among the “82 PhysicianOwned Hospitals to Know” listed by Becker’s Hospital Review. The list highlights the highest-performing hospitals that are partly or fully owned by physicians. Physician-owned hospitals are a unique breed, as there are only 240 in the United States. The 82 hospitals on this year’s list have earned recognition from various reputable sources, including Truven

Work progressing on new stores at Washington Crossing Progress is being made on the renovation in the Washington Crossing shopping where Whole Foods Market and several other national chain stores will be taking up residence in the fall. A new façade is currently going up on the store front that formerly housed Georgia State Floral Distributors and will now be the Whole Foods store. Other retailers who will be doing business in the shopping center are Designer Shoe Warehouse, HomeGoods and Half-Moon Outfitters. Other retailers and restaurants are also expected to lease space there. Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill are expected to stay in their current locations, although it is unknown what will happen to the other retailers there. The businesses remain open during construction. The entire project is expected to be finished by spring 2015. Washington Crossing is located on Washington Road, just off Exit 199 of I-20. The Washington Road entrance is currently closed, but access can be gained from Center West Parkway. Health Analytics, Healthgrades, The Joint Commission, Press Ganey and CareChex. They have also earned high scores from CMS’ Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. The Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team chose hospitals for inclusion based on these accolades.

Georgia urges installation of car charging stations In an effort to make it easier for people to buy electric cars, Georgia is urging employers to install charging stations at the workplace. Georgia ranks second only to California in the number of electric cars in use, and 1,000 more are added per month. About 80 percent of those are located in the five counties of

the Atlanta metro area. Coca-Cola, Georgia Power, Toto USA and Cisco Systems have already installed charging stations for their employees, which cost about $15,000 each. Coca-Cola has built 85. Because of the cost, Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration is developing incentives to help companies build the stations. The hope is that with charging stations readily available, more employees will buy electric vehicles. Electric vehicles reduce admissions, resulting in cleaner air in metro areas like Augusta, and also reduce the state’s dependence gasoline from sources outside the state. Studies have found that workplace charging stations are critical to a person’s decision to buy an electric car. Studies have also shown that retailers who offer charging stations can expect customers to linger longer inside the store while their vehicle charges.

Georgia, SC on airbag recall lists Georgia and South Carolina are on an expanded list of vehicle recalls because of air bags that may not function properly in humid conditions. Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Chrysler and Ford all are making the recalls in the humid areas. The recalls affect primarily older model vehicles. The problems stem from the air bag inflators that can function improperly and rupture the bags, which have caused six injuries. The problem is with air bag supplier Takata and was resolved by the end of 2002, but improper record keeping by the company resulted in not knowing exactly which models and years were affected. The vehicles affected in most cases were built between 2000 and 2005.


Two Hull Barrett lawyers given honors Two lawyers from Hull Barrett PC have been named to James Magazine’s list of Most Influential Attorneys for 2014. David Hudson and Patrick Rice both received the honor. Hudson was recognized for his expertise in libel and the First Amendment. He also serves as counsel for Georgia Press Association. Rice was honored for his representation and work with Augusta National Golf Club. Only four private practice attorneys in the CSRA were named to the list. The listing of most influential lawyers considers expertise in court and lawyers who shape public and private policies. Hull Barrett was established in 1916 in Augusta and 1872 in Aiken, and has a long successful history in Georgia and South Carolina. James Magazine is a Georgia publication focusing on government, politics and business.

Augusta 10th in battle for information jobs NewGeography.com, a site devoted to analyzing and discussing the places where people live and work, has named Augusta on their list of “Cities Winning the Battle for Information Jobs in 2014” for midsize cities. Augusta was listed in 10th place on the Mid-Sized MSA List for 2014, a jump of 70 positions over 2013’s list when Augusta was listed 80th. It was the largest jump in position of all the 92 cities surveyed on the Mid-Sized MSA List. Savannah was No. 64 on the Mid-Sized List, with Columbus, Ga., making the list of the Small Sized MCA list at No. 116. Atlanta ranked No. 16 on the Large Sized MSA list. For all three lists combined of small, midsize and large, Augusta was No. 35, Atlanta was No, 40, Savannah No. 230 and Columbus No. 251 of all the 317 cities nationwide. Henry Ingram, Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said, “The

buzz bits information jobs in Augusta began with the recruitment of ADP, Zapata Technologies, RSI and several more. These companies have helped with the increase of information and technical jobs in Augusta during the past year.” Scott Poag, Project Manager for the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said, “With the Cyber Command moving their operations from Fort Meade, Md., to Fort Gordon in Augusta, we expect to see more activity in military contractors and information jobs. The Development Authority has already begun the recruitment process for these military contractors for the AugustaRichmond County area, and I am confident that more information jobs will be coming in the very near future.”

Metro Chamber names 10 top young professionals The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Augusta Magazine, recently announced 10 of Augusta’s most outstanding young professionals. These young professionals entered into a competitive nomination process in March and have emerged as this year’s most promising and rising stars. Nominations were reviewed by a selection committee consisting of Augusta business leaders. The following professionals have been named the 2014 Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch: Jason Blanchard, Lawyer & CPA, Tucker Long, PC; Courtney Bodie, Associate Attorney, Moses Law Group, LLC; Maria Lynn Fuller, Director of Operations for Human Capital Management, Automatic Data Processing (ADP); Tiffany Mallory, Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia; Isaac Kelly, Staffing Recruiter & Business Development, Augusta Staffing Associates; Lauren Dallas, Marketing Coordinator, Augusta Sports Council; Mark Reeves, Attorney, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; Steve Sanders, Attorney, Fulcher Hagler LLP; Fletcher

North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center celebrating five years with birthday bash The Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta (AHC) is celebrating its fifth anniversary on Friday, July 18, with a Birthday Bash from 6:30-10 p.m. The event titled “Birthday Bash! Heart & Soul” will feature live entertainment from The Henrys, Carey Murdock and Flo Carter in the Palmetto Terrace, which is located on the 4th floor of the Municipal Building. The host of the celebration will be Laura Warren of WRDW TV – 12 On Your Side for 60 Years. The celebration will also feature a birthday cake competition with awards for Most Artistic and Patron’s Choice. The contest includes entries from BBQ Barn, Bayou Catering, Bi-Lo Bakery, Boll Weevil Café & Sweetery, Kyndra’s Cakes, Jennifer’s Cakes and Publix. Guests will have an opportunity to cast their vote after they have viewed all the entries. The cakes will be served during the event’s intermission. In addition to live music, the celebration will feature two exhibits. The AHC’s main gallery is Dickert, Construction Project Manager, Allen & Batchelor Construction, Inc.; and Chad Walters, Lean Consultant, Lean Blitz Consulting. “These recipients represent the outstanding young talent we have in our region,” said Sue Parr, Augusta Metro Chamber President, “The professional opportunities our region provides as well as the quality and cost of living make us a magnet for growth for this important demographic.” Each recipient is featured in the June/July issue of Augusta Magazine, receives a nomination to Georgia Trend’s “40 Under 40 Competition” and will be honored at the Chamber’s Member Economic Luncheon on June 12. Five of the past winners have gone on to win the Georgia Trend “40 under 40” award.

featuring the “Historic Sites of North Augusta”, based on the driving tour of North Augusta, which was produced by the Heritage Council. The exhibit features 39 historic sites that helped to shape the community that we know today. The other exhibit shows “Then” and “Now” photos of Georgia Avenue, from the early 1900s through today, in addition to some rare artifacts from North Augusta’s past. AHC’s balcony gallery is presenting SnoCap’s 50th Anniversary exhibit. Rachel Franklin, owner of Sno-Ca,p has collected items and stories from members of the community to share. If you stop by Sno-Cap on any Monday evening in July, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the AHC. Tickets for the Birthday Bash are $10 for AHC members and $15 for non-members, and can be purchased at the Center or online at artsandheritagecenter.com. The Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

pated in five events, the most of any city. Volunteers planted flowers and cleaned at Ronald McDonald house, served meals at Golden Harvest Food Bank’s soup kitchen, sorted food for Golden Harvest and cleaned pens at the Columbia County Humane Society. In additions, volunteers painted and replaced windows and siding on the home of a single mother and her children. Wells Fargo presented Family Promise of Augusta with a check for $10,000 to help with that project. “We are determined to make our summer count – the heat can’t keep us away,” said Brian Steinfeld, district manager for Wells Fargo in Augusta. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday than serving our communities alongside our co-workers and friends. We are honored to help in this way and we’re proud to support these non-profits that work hard to make a difference all year long.”

Wells Fargo volunteers help Augusta Tech city residents certified for Volunteers from Wells Fargo spent the first day of summer aviation helping out various people in the community. maintenance On Community Service Super Saturday, Wells Fargo members and friends volunteered in 23 cities across Georgia. In Augusta, the volunteers partici-

All over the world there is an increased need for safe, secure, and properly maintained aircraft and with the Aviation

Maintenance Technology (AMT) program at Augusta Tech, the College is fully prepared to meet that need. In July 2013, the College opened an Aviation Maintenance Building adjacent to the Thomson McDuffie Regional Airport which houses offices, classrooms, and lab space. After a thorough audit of the facilities, equipment, materials, supplies and curriculum, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determined that the College was qualified to offer the Powerplant Rating and received an Air Agency Certificate. On May 30 of this year the AMT Program received FAA certification to offer the Airframe curriculum, Powerplant curriculum, and the combined Airframe and Powerplant curriculum, completing the certification process. Augusta Tech’s AMT program prepares students to enter an industry with both local and global career opportunities. Airframe and powerplant mechanics inspect, repair, modify and maintain aircraft for commercial airlines, businesses, manufactures, general aviation operators and corporations. For more information or to apply, visit www.augustatech. edu or call 706-597-8265. Fall Semester classes begin Aug. 25.

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Business openings, closing and moves Openings University Hospital University Hospital opened its new Grovetown campus at the end of June. The $4.85 million facility, located at 925 Branch Court off 1-20 Exit 190, offers Prompt Care and occupational medicine. It also houses wound care, a laboratory and radiology services. Dr. Jennifer Herbert is the primary care physician and offers same-day appointments. Cupcakes By Britani A military wife and mother has brought her cupcake business from California to Augusta. Britani Stratton moved to the area about a year ago. After the birth of her third child, she decided to open her cupcake business, Cupcakes by Britani, from her home on a personal order basis. She makes all her cupcakes on the day of delivery or pickup, using the freshest ingredients. Stratton takes orders for birthdays, weddings, showers, corporate events and other functions. For more information, call 760-792-2517 (a California area code). Mathnasium Mathnasium, the franchise that helps children improve their math skills, will open a third franchise in the CSRA. Owner Jeff Rucker, former Channel 26 meteorologist, announced on his Facebook page that he will open the third franchise in the shopping plaza on Whiskey Road in Aiken. The new location should be open after Labor Day. Rucker opened his first Mathnasium in Evans in November 2011, and added a second location in the Augusta West shopping center next to HH Gregg in 2013. Outdoor Augusta A new type of consignment store in Evans is trying to “recycle the elements of adventure.” Owners Amy and Andy Colbert’s new store buys, sells outright and sells on consignment outdoor items and apparel. Items include kayaks, disc golf discs, sleeping bags, camping gear, life jackets, knives, fishing gear, GPS devices, skateboards and many more. Their website, outdooraugusta.com, proclaims that they are looking for “everything that makes life awesome.” It stresses that it accepts and sells only high-quality items. The store is located at 4414 Evans to Locks Road in the former location of the Bean Baskette. A-Style Wings A big brother and little sister have teamed up to start a new wings restaurant in Aiken. Called A-Style Wings, the restaurant offers 10 flavors of wings, with sweet barbecue and lemon pepper the current customer favorites. The restaurant also serves Philly cheesesteaks, reubens, burgers, fish and shrimp. Cornelius Cullum had helped manage a McDonald’s restaurant and sister Kenyetta Cullum-Miles had worked at a Red Lobster. They had always wanted to run a restaurant together. A-Style Wings is located on Richland Avenue near the Sam’s Club and Walmart.

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Final Cut Final Cut, a new store featuring discounted name-brand items, opened in mid-June at 216 Bobby Jones Expressway, next to Lowe’s, in a building that formerly housed Mike’s Furniture and seasonal businesses. Final Cut offers discounted prices on national brands in furniture, home décor and clothing. Chick-fil-A Chick-fil-A will soon have a presence in south Augusta. Construction is expected to begin soon on the new location in the Windsor Square shopping center on Peach Orchard Road. The new restaurant plans to be open for business this fall. Krispy Kreme will also join Chick-fil-A in Windsor Square. The two new stores will join Dollar General, Goodwill and a post office in the shopping center. SRP, which has been located in the center, has moved. The stores are part of a continuing effort to improve the shopping center. Other improvements include better lighting and new landscaping. Bojangles The final touches are being made on construction of the newest Bojangles in Evans next to the Eagle Pointe Shopping Center and Ace Hardware. The new Bojangles is expected to begin serving its famous chicken biscuits sometime this month. This store gives Bojangles a presence in Evans. They shut down their previous Evans store next to TPS on the corner of Wash Road and William Few Parkway. In recent months Bojangles added stores in Aiken and Grovetown, and built a free-standing restaurant at South Carolina exit 5 off 1-20. Planet Fitness Planet Fitness opened a new center in the Aiken Exchange Shopping Center next to Target on Whiskey Road. This is the 13th Planet Fitness in South Carolina. Planet Fitness is known for its Judgement Free Zone which encourages members to work out at their own pace. JSD Studio JSD Studio, a dance studio, opened recently at 2601-D Deans Bridge Rd. Owner Evette Bussey is following her childhood dream of being a dancer/choreographer. “I’m inspired by the joy that it brings to children when they are able to make their dreams come true,” she said in a press release. “JSD Studio is a place that gives children and parents hope that they will succeed in life.” JSD Studio strives to personalize the dance experience for children. The Studio’s theme is “Where Dreams are Made.” Hollander Sleep Products Hollander Sleep Products has announced plans to open a new manufacturing center in Thomson by within a year. The Florida-based bedding manufacturer plans to build the 208,000-sq.-ft. facility in Stone Business Park in Thomson. It makes comforters, pillows and mattress pads for Beautyrest, Nautica, Ralph Lauren, Homedics and Laura Ashley Home. The new facility is expected to employ

more than 200 people. Pine Heights Senior Adult Day Care A historic North Augusta home has been renovated as a day home for seniors. Dr. Joe and Michele Holt have taken historic Pine Heights, 1117 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, and have turned the onetime sanatorium into a “home away from home” setting for senior adults in need of daily care while family members are at work. Pine Heights Senior Adult Day Center will offer a unique concept of a “one stop shop” model of care by having independent contractors provide services such as:cosmetology, nurse practitioners, physical therapy and personal training. This allows seniors to have their needs taken car of during their stay at the home. A grand opening was held on June 26 to show guests the facilities and to explain their programs. Closings Food Lion Food Lion has closed its store on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta. The recent addition of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the same vicinity apparently factored into the decision. The store closed on June 20. The Wrightsboro Food Lion employed 40 and had been at its location for nearly 30 years. Maxwell House Pharmacy The Maxwell House Pharmacy closed its doors for good the final week of June after 60 years in Augusta’s downtown. Located at 10th and Greene streets, the pharmacy cited increased competition from chain drugstores and anticipated fallout from the Affordable Care Act for the decision to close. It was the last independent drug store in Augusta. The business had a full-time staff of three. The pharmacy’s records have been turned over to the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Walton Way. Moves Cobb’s Financial Services Cobb’s Financial Services recently moved its offices from one downtown office to another. They left their office on 8th Street and now work out of a building at 451 Telfair Street near La Maison and the Gordon Highway overpass. Cobb’s Financial Services handles payroll processing for small businesses and tax prep for personal and business and provide a few other things. For more information, visit their website at cobbstaxfinancial.com. The Gun Rack After more work than planned, The Gun Rack in Aiken re-opened in its new location on June 16. Owners Chuck and Stephanie Scott announced last November that they would be moving from their Richland Avenue location to 1563 Edgefield Highway. The new location allows them to have 10-lane, state-of-the-art indoor shooting range. There is also a classroom in the building for those studying for a concealed weapon permit. The retail area has been doubled and there is a larger workshop for the gunsmith.

Sherwin-Williams Paints Sherwin-Williams Paints finalized a deal recently to move into the former KFC restaurant near the Wal-Mart on Washington Road in Evans. This will be an expansion in an effort to better serve Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY) and the growing commercial trade in the CSRA. Currently, both residential and contractor customers in Columbia County visit the Sherwin-Williams off Washington Road in Martinez. According to a Martinez employee, that store will focus more on working with contractors and the new Evans store will work with homeowners in the Knob Hill, Riverwood and Windmill Parkway areas. The KFC closed more than a year ago. Sherwin-Williams expects to open its new store around September. Acquisitions Georgia-Pacific/SPG Holdings Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP will buy food service paper goods company SPG Holdings LLC for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2014. SPG has operations in Augusta as well as in Green Bay, Wis. and Hattiesburg, Miss. “SPG has skilled employees, high-quality assets, efficient operations and an excellent customer service model, and will be a significant addition to the Georgia Pacific Professional business,” said Kathy Walters, who leads Georgia-Pacific’s Consumer Products Group. Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific recently bought a chip mill in Bernice, La., from Hunt Forest Products Inc. for an undisclosed sum. Georgia-Pacific’s brands include Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, enMotion, Sparkle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair and Dixie. State Bank Financial/ First Bank of Georgia State Bank Financial Corporation, the holding company for State Bank and Trust Company, and Georgia-Carolina Bancshares, Inc. jointly announced in June the signing of a definitive agreement for State Bank Financial to acquire Georgia-Carolina Bancshares and its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Bank of Georgia, in a cash and stock transaction with a purchase price of approximately $82 million, or $22.35 per share. The agreement has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2015. Completion of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including customary regulatory approvals and the approval by the shareholders of Georgia-Carolina Bancshares. Remer Y. Brinson III, President and CEO of First Bank of Georgia, said, “We are excited about partnering with State Bank, another Georgia-based community bank, which shares our values, particularly our emphasis on superior, personal service and community involvement. The strength and resources provided by State Bank will enable us to expand the products and services available to our customers.”


Factoring one way to keep invoices paid What alternatives does a business owner have when a bank says no to their request for financing? Increasingly business owners are turning to the alternative finance market. Alternative finance or secondary finance can include such options as: Commercial factoring, asset-based lending, purchase order finance and inventory finance just to name a few. This article will deal with commercial factoring. Factoring is a financial transaction where a business sells its accounts r e c e i v a b l e s Ronald Garnett (i.e., outstandSmall Business ing invoices) to Financial Solutions a third-party called a factor. The seller will receive between 80 percent to 90 percent of the value of invoices, normally within three to four days, and the balance minus the factor’s fee when the invoice is paid. It is important to know that factoring is not a loan; it is the assignment of the right to receive payment of invoices for a certain price. It is a purchase of a financial asset. In factoring, the credit history of the seller is considered, but the factor is gener-

ally concerned with the credit and stability of the party who must pay the invoice, the account debtor. Therefore, businesses that do not have the credit history to obtain a bank loan can factor invoices so long as the account debtor is credit worthy. As long as the seller has performed the work and the invoice is valid they normally will qualify for factoring. Another advantage to factoring is that in most instances the factoring contract can be “nonrecourse.� Nonrecourse means that if the invoice is not paid the factor must bear the loss if the account debtor does not pay the invoice. While most people may not be familiar with factoring, it has been used for hundreds of years. In fact, it came to America with the pilgrims around 1620. Factoring provides a feasible financing alternative to businesses that have accounts receivable. E. Ronald Garnett has managed and owned businesses for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Augusta State University, and holds graduate degrees from Georgia State University, and Indiana University. For the past several years has taught classes in micro-enterprise development, and is a certified instructor in micro-enterprise business planning and development. He has worked with numerous businesses and was able to obtain funding for their enterprises. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia teaching Business Law.

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10 Buzz on Biz July 2014


Purchasing Cards don’t have to cost so much When I talk with our wholesale merchants, it’s interesting to see how many of their customers now pay, almost exclusively, with Business Cards or Purchasing Cards. Why write a check today, when the same check can be written to the credit card company next month? The seller loses Jimmy McCollum another few perCredit Card cent of profit. But Payment Systems this is where we are. The old days are gone and, like everything else with the American Dream, businesses will become more efficient if they hope to have something to pass to the next generation. Did you know that a Visa Corporate Level 3 Purchasing Card can have the same Interchange cost as a plain Consumer Rewards Card at a restaurant? It’s all about the information entered when it’s charged. As with most everything else within Visa’s and MasterCard’s Interchange Tables, the higher the risk, the more expensive a card is to process. We have merchants who sell goods to factories, hospitals, government agencies, etc. All are entering the correct data, the

correct way, and are saving a lot of money over where they were and over so many of the businesses out there who just don’t know. Business Cards are simpler than Purchasing Cards and more plentiful. If certain info isn’t entered (whether enter is pushed, in order to bypass the prompts and speed things along or you weren’t set up for Level 2 processing) that Business Card will cost significantly more to process than it should. Why does anyone care about the info in the first place? Bureaucracy or business, large or small, governmental or commercial, must have a means of retrieving information about what has been purchased, from the seller. This isn’t Visa/MasterCard conspiracy stuff, it’s a legitimate need. Depending upon each card’s magnetic stripe, data requested by Business Cards and Level 2 Purchasing Cards will include a combination of the following: Invoice Number, Purchase Order Number, Customer Code and Sales Tax amount. Level 3 Data requests include the Level 2 plus Product Description, Product Code, Quantity, Unit of Measure (case, pallet, etc.), Unit Cost, Discount, Shipping Cost, etc. If the bookkeeper wants to know what that $516.32* bought, it’s available. *$516.32 ... if you can tell us what role this amount has played in U.S. History, and become a merchant of CCPS, we will pay up to half of that amount toward your first month’s processing fees!

There is a local merchant who recently entrusted their card processing to CCPS. He has some good contracts but has been running all of his Level 3 Cards, and entering only Level 2 Data, for many years. His agent apparently knew nothing about Purchasing Cards and set him up improperly. A couple of months back, on $125,000 in sales, he overpaid by $900 in Card Processing fees, in one month. This very savvy businessman simply didn’t know, but now he can explain Levels 2 and 3 Card Processing Theory. If data isn’t entered, in Visa’s and MasterCard’s eyes, the risk level has rightly risen

and you are now giving away your money. I say “now” because you may not have known before now. If you accept any Commercial Cards, you owe it to your business, to your employees and to your family to confirm every last transaction is going in as inexpensively as it can. 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.

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1-20 Exit 5 growing, gets Park & Ride lot Allows for car pooling to area workplaces

By Stephen Delaney Hale We’d all get rich if we could predict where the next explosion of business investment will land, but there’s a bona fide mushrooming economy coming up out of the ground at what would seem among the unlikeliest of places – North Augusta Exit 5 of I-20 at U.S. Hwy 25. Casually observant people could pick up that something is up when the signs for a new Walmart go up near an intersection, but signs are, the megastore was following a trend already moving toward Exit 5. That’s what megastores do with trends. Walmart and its dozen or so client stores will soon dominate the area that, until SRP Federal Credit Union put up its headquarters building a half-dozen years ago, was known as the quirky but quiet environs of Murphy Village, the bizarre collection of huge empty houses built by the Irish Travelers and home to their ancient Romani customs. But whatever congestion Walmart brings to the once-lonely intersection will only be dropped on top of what has recently become swirling mass of fast food franchises, shipping companies, small businesses and a Food Lion shopping center with a dozen outparcel stores. Just driving down Hwy. 25 it is already hard to decide what quick sandwich to eat and even harder to maneuver into the parking lot of your choice. Also, the Hwy. 25 intersection with Sweetwater Road, where it pours right into the new Walmart development, has been greatly expanded – clearly making room for a lot more traffic. It seems that four years ago the City of North Augusta and the South Carolina Department of Transportation must have known all this was coming because that is when they started planning a 220-space North Augusta Park & Ride, just now completed in the elbow of the northwest section of the I-20/U.S. 25 cloverleaf. “The project was initiated four or five

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This lot will be open within the next month to allow people to carpool along 1-20 and Hwy. 25. Photo by Gary Kauffman.

years ago for a couple of reasons,” said project manager Skip Grkovic, now a retired consultant and North Augusta’s former director of planning and economic development. “The primary reason is to combat air pollution.” Grkovic explained that a study by the federal Environmental Protection Agency placed the Augusta Metropolitan Area in an air quality status that could trigger sanctions on the whole area. That area includes North Augusta and even Aiken – far from the Miracle Mile manufacturing complex in Augusta that is thought to contribute most to the pollution. With 200 cars parked and the drivers moved to carpools, vans or busses, significant pressure would be reduced on the air quality. At the same time, the Park & Ride could have a positive economic impact, reducing and funneling commuter traffic to Columbia, Sage Mill, Savannah River Site, Bridgestone and even Edgefield and Aiken.

“We worked closely with DHEC’s (South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control) air quality bureau to measure the potential demand and worked with SRS, Bridgestone and other nearby industries,” explained Grkovic. “The total budget for the project, which is designed to be as energy efficient as possible, was $1.5 million.” Two similar facilities, one in Lexington on I-20 and another in Sumter on I-26, were built for 90 vehicles and are “heavily utilized,” he said. But the state does not do a consistent job of maintenance, so the City of North Augusta will be responsible for the maintenance, landscaping and security at the Exit-5 facility. “It is a major entrance to our city so it is important that it looks good,” said Grkovic. The landscaping has been installed and the lighting is energy efficient, all-LED parking lot area lighting. Security was a major concern. Visibility from the road-

ways and security cameras were carefully designed. The city is installing the security cameras, which will feed directly into Public Safety in real time viewing as well as providing a record of anything happening there. “The effect on air quality should be significant,” said Grkovic, adding that the city is planning a dedication of the facility in mid-August. All participants will be invited, starting with the public, businesses and industries, transit folks, including the Aiken County Best Friend Express and the Augusta Mass Transit. The two systems will meet each other at the Augusta transfer facility on 15th Street, providing public transportation for people from around the region. It wasn’t built for that purpose, since it didn’t exist when planning began, but there’s no doubt that people using the Park & Ride will also avail themselves of the services of the burgeoning retail zone sprouting at the exit.


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Is taking time off good for your business? It’s summertime, time when many people go on vacation for two weeks or longer. But many business owners fear having staff (and/or themselves) take a real vacation, for fear their business is going to suffer. Like most things, taking time off has its positives and negatives. But we’re human, so all work and no play is no good for anyone, if it’s done for very long. The key: Businesses should have vacation policies that work to the advantage of both the business and its staff. U.S. compared to European Vacation Policies: Did Larry Rudwick you know that Business and much of Europe Relationship Coach requires more than 30 paid days off per year, while the U.S. actually has no paid leave requirements at all! Since it’s not required, why do any U.S. businesses offer paid vacation? The key reasons are to 1) be competitive in the workplace, attracting and keeping their work force, 2) encourage their people to get rejuvenated and 3) help keep people honest and the business healthy. To stay competitive in the workplace, employers want their employees to 1) like their job and the people they work with, 2) like their compensation package, including the perks such as vacation policies and 3) feel they’ve got it better where they are at than they will likely find elsewhere. Getting rejuvenated: Time off allows people to spend time doing other things than

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Much of Europe requires more than 30 paid days off per year, while the U.S. actually has no paid leave requirements at all!

work. Whether it is catching up on doctors’ appointments, unfinished projects around the house or traveling around the world, time away helps better balance one’s life, grow in new ways and come back to work refreshed, with new perspectives. Keeping people honest: The sad fact is that all too often some people actually refuse to go on vacation. They don’t take time off for one or more reasons that are against the company’s best interest: 1) They want to “protect” and “safeguard” their job, so no one else gets to know how to do it, or 2) even worse, they may even be stealing from the business, and know how to keep it hidden, as long as no one does their job. Therefore, any business should have “back-ups” who can occasionally do almost any job or task. Working while “on vacation”: Most of the workforce carry smartphones now, allowing phone calls, emails, texts and Internet access 24/7. This has, however, become a double-edge sword because many never truly “vacate” their normal reality of staying connected electronically. Business Expectations: Each business has different policies and expectations about

vacations. Some truly want their people to get away and stop thinking about work, while others expect their people to always stay connected. It’s hard for well-paid employees to have real vacations, when the business culture condones and rewards working all of the time. On the other hand, some progressive companies offer sabbaticals after working

for a period of time. For example Intel, the leading computer chip company, offers two months off with pay, after working for seven years. Vacation policies in America vary widely. In my opinion, many businesses see paid vacation time as a business cost they want to minimize, while many progressive, smart businesses understand that offering generous paid vacation will help create a loyal staff, and pay back handsome dividends. For more information on this and other business topics, go to BusinessTune-Ups. com, sign up for my free newsletter, or call Larry Rudwick at 571-331-6102.


Chef cooks up successful business model By Elisabeth Curry Edward Mendoza, owner of Kitchen 1454 on Walton Way, refers to his restaurant both as his “baby” and “a three-headed monster.” Mendoza grew up in Augusta, graduated from Augusta State with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1999, and headed off to culinary school in Vail, Colo. When his wife, Dr. Cindy Neunert, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, took a job at GRU in July 2011, the couple moved from Dallas, Texas, to Martinez; in Sep-

Businessperson of the Month Edward Mendoza, Kitchen 1454 tember of the same year, Mendoza leased a building at 1454 Walton Way and Kitchen 1454 was born. He sought out local farmers and artisans to supply the restaurant with the freshest possible ingredients, built up a reputation that includes being voted Best New Restaurant in Augusta by Augusta Magazine, and bought the restaurant in May 2012. The small, farm fresh-driven restaurant, which serves diner fare with a Southern flair, recently underwent renovation and expanded its breakfast and lunch hours (7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday) to include a dinner service. Not only does the restaurant offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Kitchen 1454 also consists of a food truck and catering company. (The food truck and catering company, Mendoza says, are the second and third heads of his restaurant monster.) Add on the Saturday cooking classes and Mendoza’s creation becomes not just a restaurant, but an all-inclusive culinary experience. Out of the three heads of your threeheaded monster, which one do you enjoy the most? It’s got to be the restaurant. It’s my baby. I started it from scratch with my own money, I had a partner when I first opened and I bought him out in the first year. We’re do-

ing dinner now. I want to turn it into a bistro over time, but we’re trying to work within our means, and it’s a process. The experience is what I’m most passionate about. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, catering, dinner – it doesn’t matter. We want everyone to feel like they’ve had a great value and a great experience when they use us. It’s hard to say you’re a fine dining place when you’re charging $10 or $12 a plate, but you can still be the best $10 plate in town. The value and the experience are key. We try to find the best local people who are passionate about what they do and use them to the best of our abilities. I’ve got a coffee guy, a milk guy, a cheese guy. I’ve got a guy that just does corn and a guy that just does mushrooms. Slowly but surely we’re building a small community of people who do their own thing and really care about what they do. If your life had a theme song, what would it be? I’d have to say “Ain’t Life Grand” because I love my job. I’m very fortunate that I’m able to get up and come here. I live a lifestyle – I don’t have a job. Most people have to go report to their jobs – I get to come do what I want to do. I get to enjoy my lifestyle. Being a restaurateur, it invokes you, it involves you, it’s everything. I don’t get a day off. Even on my day off, I’m still worried about the restaurant. It’s like having a child. You’ve got to take care of it, and that’s enjoyable to me. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? I travel a lot. I’ve been to 44 countries. I’m lucky because travel tends to go along with cooking. I also played soccer when I was in high school, all through Europe. Vietnam was one of my favorites, there and Australia. Vietnam is just untouched. You go there and you go back in time. The big cities are the big cities but when you get outside of them, it’s just beautiful, so green and lush, and the people are very hospitable. I loved Australia. Sydney was great – it’s just like a different kind of New York. And the food was really good. In ninth grade when I was over there, I ordered a cheeseburger, and it was the first time I ever had a fried egg on a cheeseburger. We were out for the day and I just walked into this common little 5-and-10 corner store near our hotel. I didn’t know that they’d put the fried

egg on there – they sneaked it on the burger. I ate that cheeseburger and it was genius. I had this amazing food revelation, and the whole thing was just by pure chance. I really want to go to India though. It’s another one of those countries that’s very old. There’s so much history there, and everything’s different about it. Changing your whole world for three weeks or a month – that’s what I’m looking for. Just seeing all the different cultures and experiencing how everything is absolutely flip-flopped from how we do things in this country. Outside of the restaurant, how do you spend your time? Wine. There’s three or four guys and we get together once a quarter and have kind of a wine party. We’ll pick a region or a vineyard or a type, I’ll get some different wines, and we’ll have wine club and check them out. We’ll learn about the grapes. The guys I do this with, one of them is a pathologist,

one’s a lawyer, I’m a chef. All of our jobs our pretty intense, but it’s nice because in the time that we get together, we just get to be wine geeks – nothing else. We don’t have to talk about work or politics or anything else. Just wine for a couple hours. Travel too. We go on at least one big trip a year, and I try to go on at least two or three little ones. The last place my wife and I went was Seattle. Before that I was in France and Switzerland. We’re getting ready to head in a few weeks to Oregon. We’re going to go to Portland for a few days, then to the wine country for a few days, and then out to the coast on the beach for a few days. Where do you see yourself headed in the future? Who knows? I’m always looking for another restaurant. The opportunity just has to be there and has to be right. I’ve got plenty of ideas. I’m just waiting for the next adventure, so we’ll see what happens.

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BUSINESS FRIENDLY STATES Continued from page 1 It’s more a matter of awareness, of is the word getting out?” This was Georgia’s third consecutive year of an A– rating. South Carolina had received an A– last year and a B+ the previous year. The survey showed that small business owners in Utah, Idaho, Texas and Virginia were happiest with their states, all of them rated at A+. Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Colorado received A’s, and Georgia, Iowa and Kentucky A–. South Carolina, Nevada and Nebraska were ranked at B+. The unfriendliest states for business, according to the survey, were California, Illinois and Rhode Island, all of them receiving a grade of F. Pennsylvania, New

Entrepreneurs Forum gleans info to help businesses The University of South Carolina Small Business Development Center is working to help its local entrepreneurs. In late June, the SBDC sponsored its first Innovative Entrepreneurs Forum, an informal meeting that allowed small businesses to talk about what would help them succeed. It has two more meetings tentatively scheduled for Sept. 4 and Dec. 4.

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Jersey and Connecticut rated only D’s, and New York, Massachusetts and New Mexico grades of D+. Caldwell said it is significant that 12 of the top 14 states have Right to Work laws (meaning employees can’t be forced to join a union), the exceptions being Colorado and Kentucky. All nine of the bottom states do not have those laws. “Right to work is a factor,” she said. “That matters, based on what our clients share with us.” While the state rankings are great for promoting business, DiSano said that what happens at the local level is vital as well. “Within each community there need to be individuals who embrace and promote innovation and entrepreneurship,” she said. “You need a listening environment. What

Grades for Ga., SC

Overall friendliness Ease of starting a business Ease of hiring Regulations Health & safety Employment, labor & hiring Tax code Licensing Environmental Zoning Training & networking programs

GA SC A– B+ B+ C+ B C– B A B– A+ B– A B A C+ B A– A A– A C D+

is it you need? What would better support you? How can the city help you?” Caldwell agrees. “We all have a role in that,” she said. “The easier we can make that for someone, the more inviting it will be for them to locate there.” Caldwell said the fact that this report based its finding on actual business owners is significant because it gives a better perception of the business climate. “The report provides an opportunity to not only see areas where Georgia ranked

high, but also identify those where it did not and take note,” she said. She expects to share the report with clients. She also expects more business owners to take advantage of the state’s positive business climate. “It’s not uncommon for me to meet with people from other states who are considering moving here,” she said. “I talked to one gentleman, he and his wife are starting a business. They researched five areas of the country but they chose Georgia because it was more entrepreneur-friendly.”


Elderly relative could be dependent on taxes Are you taking care of an elderly parent or relative? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 43.1 million people age 65 and older in the United States in 2012, nearly 15 percent of the total population. Whether it’s driving to doctor ap p o i nt m e nt s , paying for nursing home care or medical expensChristine es, or handling Hall, CPA their personal finances, dealing Hall & with an elderly Associates parent or relative can be emotionally and financially draining, especially when you are taking care of your own family as well. Fortunately, there is some good news: You may be able to claim your elderly relative as a dependent come tax time, as long as you meet certain criteria.

The IRS defines a dependent as a qualifying child or relative. A qualifying relative can be your mother, father, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, for example, and can be any age. There are four tests that must be met in order for a person to be your qualifying relative: Not a qualifying child test, residency/ member of household or relationship test, gross income test, and support test. Not a Qualifying Child – Your parent (or relative) cannot be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else’s tax return. Residency – He or she must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico; however, a parent or relative doesn’t have to live with you in order to qualify as a dependent. If your qualifying parent or relative does live with you, however, you may be able to deduct a percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other expenses when you figure out the amount of money you contribute to his or her support. Income – To qualify as a dependent, their income cannot exceed the personal exemption amount, which in 2014 is $3,950. In

addition, your parent or relative, if married, cannot file a joint tax return with his or her spouse unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid. Support – You must provide more than half of a parent’s total support for the year such as costs for food, housing, medical care, transportation and other necessities. If all of the above qualifications are met and your parent can in fact be considered a dependent, you may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit if you paid work-related expenses for the care of a qualifying individual. The credit is generally a percentage of the amount of work-related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual. The percentage depends on your adjusted gross income. Work-related expenses qualifying for the credit are those paid for the care of a qualifying individual to enable you to work or actively look for work. In addition, you may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of qualified medical expenses. To do so, you still must provide more than half your parent’s support; how-

ever, your parent doesn’t have to meet the income test. The deduction is limited to medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (7.5 percent if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1949), and you can include your own unreimbursed medical expenses when calculating the total amount. For example, if your parent is in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, any medical expenses you paid on behalf of your parent are counted toward the 10 percent figure. Food or other amenities, however, are not considered medical expenses. The tax rules for claiming an elderly parent or relative are complex. If you have any questions, please give us a call. We’re here to help you. 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.

What competition says you’re doing wrong It’s only human nature to demonize your competition. They cut corners, they’re less than truthful in their advertising and they overcharge. And of course, you don’t. As a result, your blood so boils at the mere sight or mention of their name you tend Don MacNeil to tune out evCrown Point ery word that Communications at follows. Windsor Jewelers I’m here to suggest that instead, you listen carefully. Pay even closer

attention if what the Bad Guys are putting out there is locally produced. Locally produced? Why is that important? Because the message, the theme and the copy points are typically dictated to the copy writer by a business owner far too close to the situation, frequently resulting in an ad that asks you, the audience, to get as riled up about his competition as he is. Need I point out that most of us don’t care? That we have daily challenges of our own? But you, his competition, need to listen carefully. He’s telling you what you’re doing wrong. His frustration is telling you what you’re getting right. Instead of taking offense, ask yourself if he has a point. In my radio days we knew that if a station changed its format and came straight at us it meant the other guy was willing to bet serious treasure that we could be taken down, that we were doing something poor-

But you, his competition, need to listen carefully. He’s telling you what you’re doing wrong.

ly or just incorrectly. Conversely, ESPN wisely took advantage of their first-to-market sports coverage leadership by investing their way to a virtual monopoly. Who ever heard of employing ongoing callout surveys to pinpoint which sports topics people really care about and which are tune-outs, and then tailoring programming accordingly? ESPN has, and while the major networks still bid aggressively for pieces of the sports

pie, wanna-bes like FoxSports had to adopt the business model niche’ of regional networks to survive. So how can you protect your flank? After doing all you can to get your own house in order, stay tuned to what the competition is saying about you. Not just on TV and radio, but online and on the street. The Bad Guys across town don’t realize it, but they’re conducting a master class in your vulnerabilities, some legitimate and some, just their demons talking. Your job is to sort out which is which. Finally, look to your own marketing, and tailor your messages so you’re not returning the favor.

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 windsorway@comcast.net.

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Long-term care insurance now protects later Long-term care insurance purchased today can help provide you with the financial security you need and deserve in your retirement years. By acting today, you will have protection to help pay for whatever long-term care needs a long life brings! Long-term care refers to help with daily activities needed by people with disabilities or chronic, longer-l ast ing illnesses, such as help with eating, bathing and dressing. Longterm care also Mike Herrington Fiscal Fitness includes assistance for those Investment Advisor suffering from cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Other types of insurance, such as health insurance and disability insurance, do not typically pay for these services. Long-term care can be provided in a variety of settings, such as your home, an assisted living community or in a nursing home. A typical long-term care insurance policy helps cover the cost of long-term care services, including: • Assistance in your home with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, meals

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and housekeeping services. • Visiting nurses and/or home health aides who come to your home. • Services available in your community, such as adult day care. • The cost of an assisted living community. • Nursing home care. While the good news is that people are living longer, the bad news is that increased life expectancy also increases the odds of needing long-term care services, which can be expensive. Without long-term care insurance to help meet the cost of needed long-term care services, you run the risk of depleting a lifetime of savings. With long-term care insurance, you’re in a better financial position to make the choice of what long-term care services you receive and where you receive them. Plus, qualified long-term care insurance receives favorable income tax treatment. The benefits from qualified longterm care insurance, for the most part, are not 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 ormike@herringtonfinancialservices.com

taxable income to the recipient, up to a per diem limit ($330 for 2014). Eligible premiums paid for qualified

Increased life expectancy increases the odds of needing long-term care long-term care insurance can be applied toward meeting the 7.5% “floor” for medical expense deductions on your federal income tax return. The amount of eligible long-

term care premium that can be applied to the 7.5% floor depends on your age: If you are this age by the end of the year: This is the maximum eligible longterm premium for tax deduction purposes in 2014*: 40 or less $370 41 - 50 $700 51 - 60 $1,400 61 - 70 $3,720 More than 70 $4,660 * The maximum eligible long-term care premium is adjusted each year for inflation. Contact my office if you’re interested in discussing long-term care insurance.


Prep for 2015 ACA with compliance checklist

2015 Compliance Checklist The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made a number of significant changes to group health plans since the law was enacted more than four years ago. Many of these key reforms became effective in 2014, including health plan design changes, increased wellness program incentives and reinsurance fees. Additional reforms become effective in 2015 for employers sponsoring Russell T. Head group health plans. Employee Benefits For 2015, the Consultant most significant ACA development impacting employers is the shared responsibility penalty for applicable large employers and related reporting requirements. To prepare for 2015, employers should review upcoming requirements and develop a compliance strategy. This is part 1 in a new series for 2015 ACA compliance. Cost-sharing Limits Effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, non-grandfathered health plans are subject to limits on costsharing for essential health benefits (EHB). As enacted, the ACA included an overall

annual limit (or an out-of-pocket maximum) for all health plans and an annual deductible limit for small insured health plans. On April 1, 2014, the ACA’s annual deductible limit was repealed. This repeal is effective as of the date that the ACA was enacted, back on March 23, 2010. The out-of-pocket maximum, however, continues to apply to all non-grandfathered group health plans, including self-insured health plans and insured plans. Effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015, a health plan’s out-ofpocket maximum for EHB may not exceed $6,600 for self-only coverage; and $13,200 for family coverage. Special transition relief for the out-ofpocket maximum was provided for plans that use more than one service provider to administer benefits. This transition relief only applies for the first plan year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. It does not apply for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015. For 2015 plan years, health plans with more than one service provider may divide the out-of-pocket maximum across multiple categories of benefits, rather than reconcile claims across multiple service providers. Thus, health plans and issuers may structure a benefit design using separate out-of-pocket maximums for EHB, provided that the combined amount does not exceed the annual out-of-pocket maximum limit for that year.

Check your plan’s cost-sharing limits:

For example, a health plan’s self-only coverage may have an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,000 for major medical coverage and $1,600 for pharmaceutical coverage,

Additional reforms become effective in 2015 for employers sponsoring group health plans. for a combined out-of-pocket maximum of $6,600. Health FSA Contributions Effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2013, an employee’s annual pre-tax salary reduction contributions to a health flexible spending account (FSA) must be limited to $2,500. The $2,500 limit does not apply to employer contributions to the health FSA and it does not impact contributions under other employer-provided coverage. For 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 706-733-3459 or rthead@gandbc.com. Visit Group & Benefits Consultants at www.groupandbenefits.com.

example, employee salary reduction contributions to an FSA for dependent care assistance or adoption care assistance are not affected by the $2,500 health FSA limit. On Oct. 31, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the health FSA limit remained unchanged at $2,500 for the taxable years beginning in 2014. However, the $2,500 limit is expected to be indexed for cost-of-living adjustments for later years. The IRS is expected to release the health FSA limit for 2015 later this year. 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.healthcare.gov and www.cms.gov.

Update your health FSA’s contribution limit:

1 Work with your advisors to monitor IRS guidance on the health FSA limit for 2015. 1 Once the 2015 limit is announced by the IRS, confirm that your health FSA will not allow employees to make pre-tax contributions in excess of that amount for 2015. Also, communicate the 2015 health FSA limit to employees as part of the open enrollment process.

1 Review your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum to make sure it complies with the ACA’s limits for the 2015 plan year ($6,600 for self-only coverage and $13,200 for family coverage). 1 If you have a health savings account (HSA)-compatible high-deductible health plan (HDHP), keep in mind that your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum must be lower than the ACA’s limit. For 2015, the out-of-pocket maximum limit for HDHPs is $6,450 for self-only coverage and $12,900 for family coverage. 1 If your plan uses multiple service providers to administer benefits, confirm that the plan will coordinate all claims for EHB across the plan’s service providers, or will divide the out-of-pocket maximum across the categories of benefits, with a combined limit that does not exceed the maximum for 2015. 1 Be aware that the ACA’s annual deductible limit no longer applies to small insured health plans.

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3rd Annual Outdoor Expo set for July 19 There aren’t a lot of places where you can watch a waterskiing squirrel and flying dogs while surrounded by some of the best outdoor equipment in the nation, but Augusta will be one of those spots on July 19. That’s when the third annual Augusta Outdoor Expo is scheduled, taking place in the James Brown Arena. The outdoor expo will run from 10 a.m.8 p.m. Tickets for the expo are $12 for adults and $5 for ages 3-15 presale, or $17 and $10 at the door. At a kickoff breakfast this morning, Expo Coordinator Adam Harris of Queensborough Bank, said expectations are for more

than 6,000 people to attend the event. More than 1,600 attended the inaugural expo at Warren Baptist Church, forcing it to switch to the Arena. Last year about 4,400 attended the outdoor show. In addition to hunting, fishing, archery and shooting equipment, there will also be off-road vehicles and taxidermy on display. More than $50,000 in door prizes will be given out, including the grand prize of a BadBoy Buggy valued at $13,000, and a $2,500 Shopping Spree. Elite hunter David Blanton of Realtree Equipment will be the guest speaker at 4 p.m. that day. During the daylong event, visitors will

Nike Peach Jam bringing best HS cagers to North Augusta Some of the best high school basketball in America will be coming to North Augusta in mid-July, and the championship can be viewed on ESPN. The annual Nike Peach Jam will take place in the Riverview Activities Center July 16-20. This year, ESPN plans to televise the semifinals and championship. ESPN has broadcast the finals in the past but this is the first time to see the semi-finals on the station. The tournament brings the best 24 from

the Elite Youth Basketball League teams from across the country to compete for the EYBL championship, is big for North Augusta. The EYBL is composed of teams of the best high school talent in the country, many already being recruited by top college teams like Duke, Ohio State and others. The Peach Jam is a boon for the North Augusta and Augusta areas as family and fans travel for many miles to spend the week here.

be entertained by Twiggy, the waterskiing squirrel, and the Ultimate Air Dogs. Georgia Southern University will also present the Center for Wildlife Education and the Appling Archers will hold shooting lessons for youths. Harris started the Augusta Outdoor Expo as a ministry extension of his church. He said the mission is to reach men and

women of the community who wouldn’t normally come to a church. Blanton’s speech that day will also be ministry-oriented. Harris said response to the expo has been positive because it is a “clean, familyfriendly event.” For more information, visit augustaoutdoorexpo.com.

CVB predicts $8 million visitor spending in July The Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Augusta Sports Council (ASC) have announced that visitors attending meetings, reunions, events and/or sporting events in Augusta will generate at least $8,200,115 in direct visitor spending over the month of July. July means sports in Augusta. The 3rd Annual Augusta Outdoor Expo will be at the James Brown Arena July 17-20 and is expected to draw an attendance of more than 5,000 people. Originally held at Warren Baptist Church, the event was so popular that it had to be moved to the James Brown Arena in its second year to accommodate locals and visitors in attendance. The 2014 Nike Peach Jam will take the

court in North Augusta and its players will be filling Augusta hotels by the thousands. The event is expected to have an economic impact of more than $2 million and an attendance of more than 8,500 people including players, their families, coaches, and spectators. The Nike Girls Basketball Nationals will take the court after the Peach Jam and is expected to have an attendance of more than 5,500 and is anticipated to also produce more than $2 million in direct visitor spending. “We believe Nike Peach Jam is unique to the communities on both sides of the river and we are excited to bring so many elite players, coaches, members of the media and scouts to the area,” said Merl Code, Director of Nike Elite Youth Basketball.

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Environment important to potential employees TD Bank recently released findings of its TD Bank Environmental Attitudes Survey, which found that 54 percent of Hispanic respondents consider a company’s environmental stance to be important when seeking employment, and 34 percent of respondents said they would refuse a job if they disagreed with the organization’s sustainable impact. Hispanic respondents with children were significantly more likely to evaluate an organization’s environmental impact – 63 percent – and 40 percent of those with children say they would refuse a job based on environmental practices. More than 70 percent of Hispanic respondents also say it is very important that their current employer work to improve its environmental impact. The nationwide TD Bank Environmental Attitudes Survey polled more than 2,200 employed consumers of all ages, including more than 500 Hispanics, about their environmental behaviors, preferences and expectations. “The results of our study indicate that employees hold a company’s environmental commitment to a high regard,” said Diana Glassman, Head of Environmental Affairs at TD Bank. “Implementing a strong and innovative environmental program is not only the right thing to do, it is an effective way to attract, inspire and retain the best and brightest employees.” Environmental Practices Matter in the Workplace According to the survey, employees pay

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close attention to their employer’s environmental commitment and place importance on the business’ sustainable impact. Sixty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents believe it is important for the companies they do business with to operate from environmentally sustainable buildings. Opinions were stronger among millennials (66 percent) and households with children (57 percent). Eighty percent of those surveyed say they would contribute financially to improve their own environmental impact at the workplace. Of that number, 82 percent of Hispanic millennials and 85 percent of households with children are willing to spend to make a sustainable difference at their job. Ninety-five percent of Hispanic respondents would participate in environmentally friendly workplace activities if offered. Nearly 50 percent of Hispanic respondents say they regularly participate in environmental activities at the workplace. Improving Sustainability in the Home and Community Not only does sustainability matter in the workplace, but the survey results demonstrate respondents are also interested in greening their homes and communities. Eighty-three percent of Hispanic respondents are willing to donate their time to improve the environmental sustainability of their community. Eighty-eight percent of respondents with children and 95 percent of those who are more environmentally ac-

tive are willing to spend at least two – three hours every month to improve their community. Eighty-one percent of respondents state they would contribute financially to improve the sustainability of their communities. Of that number, 84 percent of Hispanic millennials and 89 percent of households with children are willing to invest more. Eighty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents with children and 85 percent

of millennials are willing to invest financially to improve the sustainability of their homes. Forty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents said they are willing to spend two – three hours every week to improve the sustainability of their homes. Ninety-one percent of Hispanic respondents with children said they are willing to spend time enhancing the environmental impact of their households as well.

Texting while driving illegal in SC Texting while driving is no longer a legal option for drivers in South Carolina. On June 9, South Carolina became the 49th state to outlaw texting while driving. It is legal now only in Montana. Georgia passed a law outlawing texting and driving in 2010. South Carolina’s law bans writing, reading or sending texts while the car is in motion. However, it is still legal when the car is stopped or the person is using a hands-free device. The law still allows for GPS navigation devices. Officers cannot stop a vehicle for a violation unless they have a clear and unobstructed view of texting taking place. They can only issue warnings for the first six months that the law is in force. The maximum fine for the offense is $50 (fines in Georgia are $150). It is not con-

sidered a crime in South Carolina nor can it be reported to insurance companies as a violation. Some people have claimed that the new law will be unenforceable, but proponents hope that it will help educate people about the risks of texting while driving. Texting while driving is considered dangerous because it distracts drivers from surrounding conditions. It is estimated that 23 percent of accidents involve cell phone use, but most statistics list “distracted drivers” without differentiating what distracted them. Drunk driving is still the biggest cause of fatal accidents, at 32 percent, twice that caused by distracted driving. Speeding ranks second at 31 percent. Fatal car accidents have been declining since 2000, and are nearly half of what the nation experienced in 1970.


www.buzzon.biz

careers & EDUCATION Smart choices important for pro athletes

Football players stress education

By Stephen Delaney Hale June is that time between awards banquets and training camps when it is in season for famous, successful athletes to come home for a time and share their knowledge, their experience – and sometimes a little of their cash – with the fans back home. Several were back in Aiken County over the past month, running camps for kids, holding scholarship events, sharing their stories and celebrating the roots of their success. Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker, and South Aiken High School’s favorite son, Dakoda Watson was at his old school for several events, culminating with naming a scholarship to be awarded to one student from each of the seven high schools in Aiken County. Being a successful athlete means fame and money, but it also carries a weight of responsibility, as Troy Williamson knows. Williamson, a graduate of Silver Bluff High School and a star at the University of South Carolina, was the seventh player taken in the 2006 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. That netted him a huge rookie contract for his efforts. Reached at home near Beech Island, Williamson said he tells successful young athletes, “Obviously, have some fun with it. You’ve worked hard and so now you’ve earned a financial reward and you should enjoy it, but you must ap-

Kids listen to instruction at a recent football camp in Aiken County. Photo contributed.

preciate it. In your mind you have to decide for yourself, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to be successful when the sport is over? What will take care of me whatever happens on the field?’ “I always tell young people, make a plan and stick to it because the sports and the big checks are going to end.”

About his own experience, Williamson said he “lucked up.” He tells what could have been a scary story, even a tragic one, but it worked out remarkably well. “When it came to finding someone (to help me invest), See SMART CHOICES, page 26

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Taking the right steps now for the future Often, rising college students are unsure of what the future holds or which career field is best. In such a whirlwind, high school seniors are enjoying senior week, off to prom, taking that senior trip, and marching down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance. It’s a proud moment with family watching as they cross the stage. Where did the time go? If you find yourself asking ‘what now’, Missie Usry there is no need Enrollment Manager, to panic or sit out when your Georgia Military peers are headCollege ing off for their freshman year of college. Here are a few steps to plan for the future, even when it time has flown by and you may not have given it a second thought. Choose the right major. Choosing a major is a difficult decision for college students, but it can also be exciting. Most importantly, choose something that really interests you. Do not choose a field like nursing just because it is what your parents want or because it is popular. Do not choose com-

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puter technology or pre-med just because of the high salary potential. Chances are if you are not genuinely interested in your major, you will not be successful in your classes. Choosing a field that hits your passion will reflect in your classwork and your grades. More importantly, your enthusiasm will carry over into your career after graduation and help you be successful in the professional world. If you are not sure about what interests you, do not worry. As a college freshman, you still have some time to take general education courses in areas where you’ve never been exposed. You might also conduct job shadowing or use assessments found on the Georgia Department of Labor website. The college career center is also a good resource to determine the best fit for a student’s skillset. Georgia Military College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which means that all credit earned at the institution is transferable to other accredited schools. Eligibility for participation in the joint enrollment program is based on students’ high school GPA and SAT or ACT scores. Missie Usry is the Enrollment Manager at Georgia Military College’s Augusta campus. For questions about Georgia Military College, please call 706.993.1123 or visit our website at www. gmcaugusta.com.

Get involved! Joining clubs, becoming a student ambassador, working on campus as a federal work study student, serving on your college’s Student Government Association, volunteering with a student group or writing for your school’s newspaper are all great activities that can give you experience and serve as resume builders. Being in a club, like a debate club, shows you know how to work on a team and manage your time well. Volunteering with a student group to clean up the river or serve homeless in your community indicates that you think about others

and would be considerate of others in the workplace. Participating in student government develops leadership skills and great people skills. Working as a student ambassador or federal work-study student while maintaining a high GPA is an effective way to show you have strong organizational skills. Writing in the school newspaper demonstrates a student’s ability to write in a variety of styles and develops creativity that can carry over into a work environment. These activities can also help lock down a career path, so look for ways to get involved and highlight your talents.


Education program will prep students for workforce Gov. Nathan Deal announced in June that Georgia was one of three states chosen to receive a $1 million grant to lead an education initiative, Guided Pathways to Success (GPS), focused on making college more affordable, boosting college completion and saving taxpayers millions. The grant is funded by the Lumina Foundation in partnership with Complete College America. “College completion is not only a higher education issue. It’s an economic issue, a business issue and a workforce issue,” Deal said. “By 2020, more than 60 percent of job openings in Georgia will require some form of postsecondary education. To meet this demand, we must increase the number of students graduating with postsecondary degrees in a timely, cost-effective manner. “This initiative builds on the concrete steps our universities and technical colleges have already taken to increase graduation rates. Providing our students with structured degree plans and guaranteeing course availability will eliminate excess credits, cut college costs, ensure more ontime graduations and save the state millions.” Too many Georgia students take courses they do not need and that do not count toward their degree. A study conducted by Complete College America shows that Georgia students and taxpayers spend more than $126 million each year for ex-

cess college credits, and an analysis they commissioned last year concluded that at least half of all excess credits could be eliminated with GPS. “Like everywhere else in America, the vast majority of college students in Georgia do not graduate on time, and in the process they rack up unnecessary debt as two- and four-year degrees quickly extend to five or six years,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones. The goal is to provide all Georgia students enrolled in high-demand degree programs with a GPS degree plan by fall 2016. These degree plans will be designed by college advisers and faculty to ensure their quality and value. “Guided Pathways promises to provide our students with a clear roadmap for the future,” said Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia. “This initiative will assist our institutions to better serve students to realize their educational and career goals faster and at less cost. I appreciate the Lumnia Foundation and Complete College America›s support for this exciting initiative.» “The technical college system looks forward to implementing the GPS program at nine of our colleges in selected high-demand programs this fall with plans for systemwide implementation by fall 2016,” said Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.

Are you a leader or an entrepreneur? EntreLeadership struggle. Ramsey offers some good pracby Dave Ramsey tical advice on employees, from the hir320 pages ing process Available in hardcover, Kindle and audio to working with them There are many good books on lead- as a team ership or bemember ing an entreto letting preneur and a problem starting a busiemploye e ness, but there go. are not many Y o u r books on the employcombinat ion ees are the of these two. backb one Dave Ramsey, of your the author of bu s i n e s s . Total Money How you Makeover and treat them is how they will treat your cusEddie Kennedy tomer. If you can’t treat them right, evenfounder of FiBusiness Book tually your business will not succeed. nancial Peace Un i v e r s i t y, Treat your team well. Respect their Reviews wrote a great needs and work with them. Listen to business book that combines both of them. The more you do that, the more these thoughts into one book, EntreLead- they’ll help you and your customers. ership. Also, successful businesses have to Ramsey defines EntreLeadership as manage their finances. Ramsey takes his “the process of leading to cause a ven- basic principles of personal finance and ture to grow and prosper.” In this book, applies them to small business manageRamsey pulls from his own 20 years of ment. The principles of spending less experiences and delivers some very prac- than you earn, paying cash as you go, tical advice to help you grow your busi- avoiding debt, saving and investing will ness. work in the small business environment Good time management is a key to to help make a business a stable and satbeing a successful entrepreneur. Many isfying operation. entrepreneurs have the ability to dream, If you are looking for a great book to but being able to convert those dreams help you with the basics or to check up on into goals and develop a plan of action how you are doing with what you already with steps for others to follow is a key in know, add this one to your collection. turning that dream into a successful endeavor. Ramsey challenges the reader to Eddie Kennedy is the owner of Great use to-do lists and to work on realizing what things are important and urgent Deals on Furniture in Augusta and an avid reader of business books. Eddie beand what is not. Turning your idea or small business lieves every business owner should invest into a larger entity is going to involve get- in themselves by reading, but if you can’t, ting other people to work with you and then read his column every month to see follow you. This is one of the biggest chal- what he learned. Have you read any great lenges an entrepreneur faces and it is usu- business books? Let Eddie know at eddie@ ally one of the major reasons businesses greatdealsaugusta.com.

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SMART CHOICES

Continued from page 23 I went inside a bank. I had a big check and I was just going to deposit it,” he said. “The cashier told me I needed a better plan and she hooked me up with this guy, Keith Shealy, who became my financial advisor. Keith really helped me. He helped me create my foundation and place my investments.” Those investments include a Which Wich sandwich franchise in Aiken and getting into a Smoothie King location. Williamson said he will have more to tell local kids later this summer. His foundation is preparing for a field day, an annual cookout and college giveaways sometime in late July or early August. It will be a chance to share his experiences with people around him and from local schools. Williamson said he left professional football after six years with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars to devote himself to his family, including his wife and childhood sweetheart, Charity and their four boys, and

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a life of philanthropy through his Fighting Against the O.D.D.S. Foundation. Watson, still a star linebacker in the NFL, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars after stellar careers at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Florida State and South Aiken High School, recently put on football and cheerleading camps at his old school, a charity golf tournament in Aiken and a gala dance and party for his many friends in town. The headline outcome of the three events was announcing a college scholarship for one student at each of the seven high schools in Aiken County: South Aiken, Aiken, Silver Bluff, Midland Valley, North Augusta, Wagener-Salley and Ridge Spring-Monetta. After four years with Tampa Bay, Watson this year signed a three-year, $6.25 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, including $1.5 million guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $2,083,333. Part of Watson’s message to the 120 youngsters who at-

tended his Koda’s Kids Football and Cheerleading Camps in June was, don’t do what I did. “I didn’t take my education seriously,” he said with a forcefully deep voice, as if he wanted the kids to listen. “I don’t want them to do what I did in high school. Education - education – education; that has to be your main focus. What is going to last a long time is your degree. Stay focused in the classroom and everything else will fall into place. I had to take night classes, computer classes, summer school, tutors. I’m not interested in your football career at this point in time. I’m interested in your studies.” Despite his early disinterest in his studies, Watson did pull it together during his Florida State career and graduate with a B.S. in Social Science. He declined to name him, but he said he found a financial advisor when he left Florida State. “I listen to whatever my financial advisor says,” Watson said. “He won’t steer me wrong and he has been very successful in leading me to good investments.”


Leisure & Hospitality Columbia Co. has many outdoor attractions By Tammy Shepherd President/CEO Columbia County Chamber of Commerce One of the many things I enjoy about the summer is getting to dress more casually during the work week. From sandals and sundresses to capris and golf shirts, it’s time to be more comfortable at work. Even the best dressed, bankers and attorneys, have gone to a more “business casual” look a few days a week. In the summer, we can take time to get more comfortable with our own community. Become a tourist in your own hometown. Just like members of the Chamber’s Leadership Columbia County program will say, “I had no idea all of these wonderful facilities were in my own backyard.” For example, have you ever toured the historic Appling courthouse and the jail across the street? How about Old Kiokee Baptist church, or the visitors center in the Lockkeeper’s house at Savannah Rapids Pavilion? Or the Grovetown Museum and Oliver Hardy Museum in Harlem, or the artifact room in the fire station near the lake? Now, Columbia County is not all just museums; there are many facilities that offer residents and visitors a wonderful experience daily. Savannah Rapids Pavilion and Park is an excellent example. Not only does it offer a wonderful facility for banquets and meetings, the park offers a playground, picnic shelters and much more. As the opening manager of this facility from 1993-1998, I can tell you the park is just as popular as the building. One Sunday afternoon, I received a call from the Sheriff ’s Department that the security alarm was going off at the Pavilion which meant I had to go out there and reset it. By all the cars in the parking lot, you would have thought a huge event was going on in the building. Instead, no one was in the building; these were just all the people enjoying the park amenities and the canal. There are many parks to enjoy in Columbia County: Patriots, Blanchard Woods, Riverside, Lonnie Morris Park, Wildwood Park, Reed Creek Nature and Wetland In-

The Gatekeepers Cottage is one of may beautiful places to visit in Columbia County during the summer. Photo contributed

terpretative Center and Harlem Park, just to name a few. Other great facilities include the Columbia County Library and Performing Arts Center, Senior Center, Justice Center, new health department, recycling centers and much more. While checking out school buildings might not be on your list of tourist destinations, we cannot forgot about the wonderful, mostly new, schools we have in the county. With the high growth, the Board of Education has had to build a new school every year and the county has invested in much needed infrastructure of roads. It is great to have such wonderful amenities in our own backyard. These amenities

are why Columbia County is a great place to live, work and raise a family. These facilities create new customers for our businesses because more people want to live here. These facilities did not just fund themselves. They are an investment you have made by shopping in Columbia County. That extra percent you pay for the county SPLOST, or Special Local Option Sales Tax, and the educational SPLOST allows both of the school system and the county government to build these facilities for a greater quality of life for you. It is the fairest tax possible and everyone pays into it when they shop in Columbia County.

Although the Chamber is not a proponent of higher taxes, we believe it’s our role to create an environment where businesses can thrive. Creating a customer base for local businesses and supporting quality growth is one means of accomplishing that. The Board of Commissioners and Board of Education will soon bring back to the voters a list of items for the next SPLOST. I encourage you to attend the planning meetings to educate yourself on the proposed projects and let your voice be heard. The Chamber leadership will be there too. Just remember, before the summer begins to fade, take advantage of the investment you have made in your community.

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Farmhaus coolest place in town for a burger Since Farmhaus opened on Broad Street last year, it’s become quite a destination. Its famous burgers are the stuff of legend, and it’s presence in the coolest part of Broad Street made downtown even better. But I hadn’t made it down yet. Now that I’ve gone, I will go again. And again. First, the atmosphere. Smallcity living can be a little bland. Farmhaus has that comfortable urban vibe that comes when the designer knows how to use details and doesn’t Jennifer Miller skimp on any of Power Hour Lunch them. That alone makes it a great place for a power lunch – you’ll feel powerful just sitting there. I had heard it was loud – I didn’t notice. My guest and I had no problem talking. In fact we stayed for about an hour.

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Farmhaus 1204 Broad Street Augusta 706-496-8771 www.farmhausburger.com Hours Tuesday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. This is a burger joint. They have salads and hot dogs, but the burger is the star. They’re custom-made from select cuts brought in from local farms. Natural, organic and local – a wonderful combination. You can build your own burger, picking between 100 percent Angus Beef, organic ground turkey or organic Sea Island Red Pea Veggie Patty. No iceberg lettuce here – its hydroponic butter lettuce. For a buck or two you can add all sorts of goodies, from jalapenos to avocado to a fried local farm egg. We ordered at the counter. I asked the guy taking orders what he recommended. His favorite was the B&B Burger: Blue cheese, bacon, grilled onions and mayo. For an extra $2.50 I got amazing French fries and a drink. Yummy. However, this isn’t a burger for someone with a simple palette. The flavors were rich and complex. While I enjoyed it, I think next time I’ll go for something a little less complex and but spicier. It’s nice to know I will have that choice. The bread was delicious and the meat

tasty. I wouldn’t say the meat was the star, the parts of the burger were. My guest went for the veggie burger. She enjoyed it – as much as you can a veggie burger. Face it, it’s just not the same. But she prefers them and enjoys Farmhaus’ because it’s so much better than at other restaurants.

Would I recommend Farmhaus? Absolutely! One suggestion: We went about 11:40 a.m. on a Friday and walked right up to the counter to order. By noon the line was quite long. And while it moved quickly, if you have a limited lunch break you might do well to come early.


SC celebrates 50,000 new jobs since 2011 Gov.Nikki Haley and state business leaders responded recently to the news that South Carolina has announced over 50,000 new jobs since 2011. This benchmark was reached on the same week the governor joined state officials and company representatives from Giti Tire, The Lash Group, and LPL Financial for three economic development announcements that combined for a record-setting 7,100 new jobs and $800 million in capital investment. A total of 56,239 new jobs have been announced across the state since 2011. “This is a great and historic week for South Carolina,” Haley said. “Getting to the point where we can say that over 50,000 new jobs have been announced since 2011 didn’t happen overnight and has everything to do with the amazing and hardworking people who make up Team South Carolina. This is about bringing better opportunities to the people and families of our state – and that’s a real reason to celebrate.” The announcement in June came after 11 consecutive months of the unemployment rate decreasing in South Carolina, most recently from 5.5 percent in March down to 5.3 percent in April. Since January 2011, the unemployment rate has dropped 5.2 percentage points. Additionally, 2,050,776

South Carolinians were employed in April – the highest level in the state’s history. 5.3 percent is the lowest level the rate has reached since June 2001. “In her first four years leading our state, Gov. Haley has changed the conversation and perception of South Carolina by making job creation and a better business climate her number one priority,” said Otis Rawl, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “Typically not a week goes by that we don’t see a company announce it is locating here or expanding in this state. “Other states now look to us as an example of how to recruit new businesses while taking care of the businesses we already have. That is because of Governor Nikki Haley’s leadership.” Lewis Gossett, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, said, “When Gov. Haley took office she faced a daunting challenge – to reestablish South Carolina as the location of choice for companies looking to grow and succeed – and she has met that challenge time and time again,. Other states now know we are back in the game. Gov. Haley understands that it’s her job to create an environment where the private sector can thrive and then she simply closes deals.”

Cyber company opens new office in Augusta

The Augusta Economic Development Authority announced in June that MacAulay-Brown, Inc. (MacB), a leading National Security company delivering advanced engineering services and product solutions to Defense, Intelligence, Special Operations Forces, Homeland Security and Federal agencies, is opening its newest office near Fort Gordon in Augusta. The addition of the Fort Gordon office significantly increases the company’s presence and reach into United States Army Cyber Command and intelligence units, as well as TRADOC’s Cyber and Signal Centers of Excellence located at Fort Gordon. MacB’s Cyber, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) and Information Operations (IO) solutions and services are designed to immediately identify, respond and neutralize threats, as well as identify and exploit vulnerabilities in target environments. The new office provides additional logistical support to the company to increase strategic new business opportunities and to cultivate critical relationships with key military, civilian and business leaders located at, and around, Fort Gordon.  The office opening comes on the heels of MacB announcing the addition of

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Rhett Hernandez, former commander of United States Army Cyber Command, to its Board of Advisors. In addition, it furthers MacB’s expansion into the midAtlantic region, which it has identified as an area of strategic growth for the company. Henry Ingram, Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said “We are thrilled to have MacB to be a part of our Cyber Command business community here in Augusta. They are an outstanding company with a sterling reputation.”  “We have long supported many of the intelligence units located at Fort Gordon,” said Sid Fuchs, President and CEO of MacB. “The opening of our newest office in Augusta reflects our continued commitment to working closely with our customers. At the same time, it expands our ability to provide Army Cyber Command, the Cyber and Signal Centers of Excellence and other Joint Cyber organizations with our unique Cyber capabilities.”  The Fort Gordon office is located at 3633 Wheeler Road, Suite 330 in Augusta. MacB Vice President, Dan Gutierrez has been selected to lead the new office and all Fort Gordon initiatives for the company. For additional information on MacB’s Cyber, ISR and IO capabilities visit www.macb.com.

Report: Strong loan rates shows renewed economic confidence Auto lending continues to shine at Georgia’s credit unions as the not-for-profit financial institutions carried their strong 2013 lending results into the first quarter of 2014. While overall loan growth at Georgia’s credit unions slowed slightly in the first quarter of 2014 to 0.7 percent (2.8 percent annualized), likely a result of seasonality, loan growth continued to outpace savings growth at rates of 5.0 percent versus 2.5 percent, respectively over the 12 month period ending March, 2014.  “More Georgians back at work, continued low interest rates on consumer loans and a much improved housing market have all helped to rebuild consumer confidence,” said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). “Consumers are more willing to take on those big ticket life purchases such as new cars and homes.”  Automobile lending was the star performer of the loan portfolios during the three month period with new vehicles leading the charge. New vehicle loans showed a quarterly increase of 5.4 percent (21.5 per-

cent annualized), approximately twice the growth rate recorded in 2013. Used auto loans as well as first mortgages also ended the quarter in the positive with quarterly gains of 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent respectively. That growth was offset by declines in both credit card/unsecured loans and second mortgages. “It is not surprising that more Georgians are choosing to purchase new vehicles this year,” explained Mercer. “The cost of owning a new car versus a late-model used car is not much different for some models, which clearly helps new car sales.”  Georgia consumers’ increased confidence in both labor and overall economic markets. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Georgia’s March unemployment rate of 7.0 percent was a 0.4 percent decline from December. Georgia’s housing market continues to improve, recording its highest FHFA’s purchase-only index reading in three years. Georgia credit union borrower-bankruptcy filings continued their decline, falling by more than 17 percent in the year ended March 2014. 

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Martinez, Augusta listed as rising cities Martinez and Augusta are in the top 10 of cities on the rise, according to NerdWallet. Martinez saw a huge increase in people of working age, growing by 35 percent from 2009-12. Augusta had a more modest 2.7

City 1 Johns Creek 2 Hinesville 3 Warner Robins 4 Carrollton 5 Mableton 6 Martinez 7 North Atlanta 8 Sandy Springs 9 Tucker 10 Augusta

Nearest Big City Atlanta Savannah Macon Atlanta Atlanta Augusta Atlanta Atlanta Atlanta Augusta

Working Age Median Population Employment Income Total Growth Growth Growth Score 39.1% 0.0% 6.9% 83.3 13.4% (2.8%) 17.3% 76.0 14.5% 0.7% 10.6% 74.5 5.9% (1.8%) 17.0% 72.9 10.4% (2.3%) 12.6% 69.5 35.4% 0.5% (5.3%) 67.9 (2.2%) 2.2% 10.2% 66.7 16.6% (5.6%) 10.3% 65.2 (9.8%) 2.9% 10.2% 63.5 2.7% (1.6%) 10.1% 63.4

Remer Brinson chair of Georgia Bankers Assoc.

Remer Y. Brinson III, president, CEO and director of First Bank of Georgia, headquartered in Augusta, was installed asthe 125th chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association during the GBA Annual Meeting held June 15-17. Brinson was elected to the position by his peers throughout Georgia. “Remer brings a wealth of strong leadership qualities to his new role as GBA Chairman,” said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. “Our banks and our industry will be well-served by his experience and insightfulness about the critical issues facing our members, their customers and Georgia’s communities.” Brinson previously served on the GBA board of directors, chaired GBA’s Community Bankers Committee that focuses on the unique needs and opportunities of community banks as well as the GBAPublic Affairs Committee, which recommends policy positions to the board. Brinson was first employed by Georgia Railroad Bank & Trust Company and its successor First Union from 1982 to 1994. Brinson then served as president and CEO of Citizens Bank and Trust, until its acquisition by Allied Bank of Georgia. Brinson was a senior vicepresident at Allied Bank of Georgia and later Regions Bank. Brinson joined First Bank of Georgia as President in 1999. Brinson also serves as President and CEO and on the board of the bank’s holding company, Georgia-Carolina Bancshares. Georgia-Carolina Bancshares’ common stock is quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol “GECR.” Brinson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1982 and the Georgia Banking School in 1989.

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percent gain. Augusta, while experiencing negative employment growth, still saw the median income rise by 10 percent. The rankings come after taking data from several sources.

Georgia gained  76,400 jobs between April 2013 and April 2014, and the 7 percent unemployment rate, while higher than the national average of 6.3 percent, is trending downward, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 277,000 people moved to the state in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and per capita income increased 2.7 percent to $38,179 in 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. Job opportunities across all economic sectors are increasing and more companies are relocating to the “Peach State,” according to  analysts  at Wells Fargo Securities, who are “relatively optimistic” about Georgia’s economic prospects for 2014. The state has recaptured 65 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, analysts found. Georgia’s cities on rise include middle income and wealthy Atlanta suburbs and military towns. Here’s what all the cities had in common:

Six of the top 10 cities saw double-digit increases in their working-age population. The four cities on the top 10 list located outside the Atlanta metro area had military bases nearby. Eight of the top 10 cities on the rise saw income for full-time workers increase by more than 10 percent. NerdWallet crunched the numbers for all 37 Georgia cities with more than 20,000 residents to find the cities with the most growth in population, income and jobs. The analysis examines the following growth metrics from U.S. Census data: 1. Population growth.  Measured growth in the working-age population from 2009 to 2012. 2.  Employment growth.  Evaluated growth in the percentage of employed residents from 2009 to 2012. 3.  Income growth.  Calculated growth in the median income for full-time, yearround workers from 2009 to 2012.

seamlessly connected logistics infrastructure will enable these businesses to be successful and competitive. This is good news for Georgia, and my goal going forward is to maintain our status as a leader in the global marketplace.” “We’ve been crunching numbers for months, looking for a state whose business climate is solid as a rock,” said Scott Cohn, senior correspondent and lead investigative reporter at CNBC. “Georgia, the Peach State, the cream of the crop, with 1,659 out of 2,500 points, it’s a big jump from Georgia’s eighth place finish last year. Georgia’s best category, its workforce, tops in the nation for the third year in a row. Georgia ties for first in infrastructure with America’s busiest airport and one of its busiest ports.”

CNBC bases its rankings on a proprietary survey methodology derived from a series of metrics engineered with the help of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness. States receive points based on their rankings in each metric. CNBC then separates those metrics into 10 broad categories and assign a point weighting to each category. The categories include: cost of doing business, economy, infrastructure and transportation, workforce, quality of life, technology and innovation, business friendliness, education, cost of living and access to capital. Georgia has ranked among the top 10 states in CNBC’s business climate rankings over the last 10 years, and moves up from No. 8 last year.

Georgia ranked No. 1 in business Gov. Nathan Deal recently celebrated the announcement by CNBC, a world-leading news source for business and financial information, that it has named Georgia as the No. 1 place for business in the nation. “Since taking office, I have worked every day to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business,” Deal said. “Last year, Site Selection magazine named Georgia No. 1 for business, and today CNBC followed suit. These rankings are a testament to the commitment from Georgia businesses, communities, our economic development partners and the people of Georgia. As more people see Georgia’s successes, more businesses will consider expanding or relocating here. I am confident that our state’s highly skilled workforce and

Outdoor projects high on to-do lists More than two-thirds (68 percent) of remodelers are planning outdoor home improvement projects this season, a 70 percent increase compared to last summer (40 percent), according to the summer Zillow Digs®Home Design Trend Report. Openair living rooms, featuring wood arbors, fully upholstered seating and muted colors, will be popular with homeowners this season. This one-of-a-kind trend report depends on a survey of members of the Zillow Digs Board of Designers, a group of design experts from across the country, and the most popular outdoor photos on Zillow Digs, a hub for home improvement and design inspiration.   Summer remodel budgets increased since the beginning of the year, up 100 percent to $1000 on median. With a larger budget, many homeowners are considering more extensive outdoor remodels such as open-air living rooms to expand useable square footage for year-round use, adding value to their home.

Top three trends for open-air living rooms: Wood arbors: Wood arbors will be all the rage this summer with homeowners wanting a clearly defined outdoor space that functions as a second living room. Expect to see “arbors featuring lots of greenery” to create the illusion of an “open-air ceiling,” says  Melissa Klebanoff  of Melissa Klebanoff Interior Design in  Seattle. Wood arbors with white curtains and outdoor twinkle lights also will be popular this season. Fully upholstered couches: Zillow design experts identified fully upholstered couches as a growing open-air living room trend as homeowners want to invest in “comfortable seating and lounging pieces for a real indoor/outdoor feel,” says  Mara Miller  of Carrier and Company in  New York City. In addition to indoor-style seating, other typically interior accessories such as rugs, lamps and wood coffee tables also will gain popularity among remodelers. Muted colors:  Homeowners and

designers identify soft, muted hues as the most popular colors for open-air living rooms. Outdoor colors this season are about “subtly not saturation,” says Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design inWinter Park, Florida. Expect to see homeowners «dialing back» those louder accent colors from last summer such as «turquoise to sea glass, watermelon to a greyed shrimp and bright orange to a beautiful sherbet,» Thee says. Zillow Digs is a hub for home improvement and design inspiration, where users can browse more than one million photos of interiors and exteriors of real homes, organized by space, style, cost and color. Patent-pending Digs Estimates help people understand what it would cost in their geographic location to recreate the actual bathrooms and kitchens they are viewing. In addition, Zillow Digs users can collect images, share favorites and follow others for inspiration, from the Zillow Digs App for iPhone and iPad or on the Web.


Taking entertaining back to the basics Let’s face it. We live in a Pinterest world. Each 8-years-old’s birthday party we attend is becoming more and more elaborate, each dinner with friends is beginning to take a month to plan, and each company get together is beginning to have more expectations than attendees. Am I saying that it is wrong to have these parties? Of course not! As an event planner it is my job Lelia Hebert to ensure these ideas and dream Geez Louise events come to Event Planning life but as a busy mom of three or a single parent, there are times when these events are just not feasible. I am here to tell you, it is ok that you didn’t make the decorations for your child’s party by hand while baking a cake and booking a clown. Remember the basics and your party will be just as fun! TIMING – Give your attendees proper notice of the event. If it is an adult event, keep in mind that your attendees will possibly need a babysitter, which takes time. Also, as a mom to a 9-year-old boy, his social calendar fills up faster than my own.

Proper notice means my kid will be there! Sorry, we cannot attend your party this Friday, although we got your invitation on Tuesday. FOOD – If you are planning an event that will last one minute over an hour, you need food. You cannot expect to have a four-hour event without something to snack on; people will get hangry (hungry + angry). Also, a food table is often a conversation starter. You love baby carrots with ranch dressing, I love baby carrots with ranch dressing, let’s make a deal! ENTERTAINMENT – Kids and adults alike need to be entertained. With technology at our finger tips, it is easy to turn

to your iPhone over actual conversations. With children, they are just as entertained by a game as they are at a playground, so keep it simple and fun. With adults, music is always the key to liven up an event and keep from having awkward silent moments. ORGANIZATION – What is worse than getting to an event only to be asked to help hang a banner? Properly organizing your time will ensure that your event is on time and ready when your guests arrive. Also, organization of the event is the key. If you have a timeline of how your event will occur, there are no questions and you will not be met with more obstacles.

As an event planner, I can even get a little overwhelmed with the expectations and demands of a Pinterest world. It is my job to make those dreams come true but at the end of the day, what really matters? Fun and cake. Lelia Hebert is the Owner of Geez Louise Special Events and Marketing Director for Meybohm Realtors. She enjoys spending her free time watching Wheel of Fortune with her husband, Kevin, and cuddling with her little boy, Bobby. Please contact Geez Louise for all of your event planning needs at 912312-0866.

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Working the job of a lifetime My husband Brian returned home from work and lay face down in the middle of the living room floor. The dog immediately jumped on him. “Uhhhhmmmmpppfff,” he gasped when she landed in the small of his back. “Get off!” I opened a beer. “Rough day at the office, sweetie,” I asked, handing him the beer. “If only I worked in an office,” he muttered. He doesn’t. He works in retail and sells glasses to masses of people. People who are furious that they have to spend their money on glasses instead of something they really want. Nora Blithe “We had a ‘problem customHumorist er,’” he groaned. “Just one?” I asked, surprised. He rolled his eyes so hard I worried he’d sprained them. “Yeah, just one today but it was a bad one and it took me hours to sort out a computer problem with her order. The problem was caused by home office but my boss will probably yell at me for it.” He took a long pull from the beer. “I need a different job.” He did. He’s happiest when working with machines. People present him with a bigger challenge, particularly people who are determined to be unhappy no matter what he does. These people are also known as retail customers. A bad economy and limited job options landed him his current job. He misses working with his hands. Brian is at his best when a machine breaks down. He

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pulls it apart, finds the problem and reassembles it. When people aren’t working at their full potential you can’t take them apart and add oil. I smiled at him. “Finding a job that’s a good fit is a little like dating.” “How do you mean?” he asked. “They aren’t all destined to be a marriage. Sometimes all it takes is one bad dinner and a movie to know this isn’t the job you’re going to stay with for the rest of your life.” “I need to break up with this job,” he muttered. He thought about it for a moment. “Is it cheating if I start looking for another job?” “I think you’re getting carried away with the metaphor,” I replied. He climbed out of the floor and sat on the couch. The dog jumped in his lap. Brian scratched her ears, gave me a warm smile and said, “If I can find a job that makes me as happy as you and the dog do, it will be a great job indeed.” “One that will last a lifetime,” I agreed. 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.

Blood donors needed for summer months Area blood donors are asked to help “Save our Summer” by donating blood at any Shepeard Blood Center or drive in the days ahead. Summer is a tough time of year for the local blood supply due to a drop in donations, but there is a continued need for the right blood products at the right time. It is a good time for a business to sponsor a bloodmobile or to encourage employees to donate. Specific blood types needed currently are O Positive and A Positive types. “Summer is a very busy time for our community and outdoor activities increase,” said Kevin Belanger, president and CEO of Shepeard Community Blood Center. “With this come changes in normal schedules, vacations and a decrease in presenting donors. High schools represent approximately 17 percent of our collections during the year and with school out, there is no way to reach this large group of loyal donors in one central location. We ask that every community member that is healthy, well and meets the donor criteria, roll up their sleeve and donate blood for our local patients.” Shepeard Community Blood Center must have at least 144 donors present every day to donate blood to meet the needs of the 20 local hospitals. Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with a signed parental consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds on the day of donation. Please bring a photo I.D. or Shepeard Community Blood donor card. We recommend that all potential donors eat and drink plenty of fluids prior to donating blood. For more information, call Shepeard Blood Center at 706-737-4551 or visit shepeardblood.org.


Georgia calls off gas tax hike Gov. Nathan Deal announced recently that he will stop an increase in the motor fuel tax scheduled to go into effect on July 1. The average price of a gallon of gas increased to $3.66 from $3.21 since January and would have resulted in a 15 percent increase in the state gas tax. “We’re seeing a steady rebound in Georgia’s economy, with our unemployment rate going down and state revenues heading up, but Georgians are still paying gas prices that are high by historical standards,” Deal said. “To remove this financial burden on Georgia taxpayers and businesses, I signed an executive order suspending the motor fuel tax increase set for next month. This

will help cut costs for families and keep us the No. 1 place in the nation for business.” Every six months, at the start of January and July, the Department of Revenue sets the motor fuel tax based on an average of prices. A recent rise in gas prices called for an increase in the motor fuel tax. Major fluctuations in gas prices can also trigger an increase or decrease within those six month periods, but this increase was part of the regular six-month schedule set in law. The governor has the power to suspend collection of a tax until the next meeting of the General Assembly, which must ratify the suspension.

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Old Chamber turned into center of Culture District 600 Broad Street (the “Old Chamber Building”) is unique in Augusta. Designed by world renowned architect I.M. Pei, it was originally built as a signal of Augusta’s pending urban renewal. Sadly, soon after it was built, downtown Augusta began a decline that only recently has begun to turn around with a series of public and private investments. ARC Corporation has selected this building as the first project in urban Augusta in a corridor that is destined to become a Culture & Innovation District: A place for creativity, events, entrepreneurs, good restaurants and a safe place for families and students to enjoy the increasingly vibrant downtown core. The City has designated ARC Corporation the steward of this building for 10 years, and contributed about a third of the money needed for its redevelopment. For the last six months, ARC has been working with local vendors to repair and rehabilitate this building and ready it for community use. Now they are seeking partners, tenants, artists and organizations to join us as they jump into the center of downtown Augusta to support culture, innovation and education. With completion now in sight, ARC Corporation is seeking proposals from individuals, non-profits, institutions, organizations and businesses that fit the ARC Mission and will help to create a Culture and Innovation District downtown. Proposals can be in four categories: Food and Beverage Vendors: They are seeking a partner restaurant or cafe. It is open to for-profit (rent-paying) tenants or non-profit tenants (achieving a social mission). Monies garnered from rent or sales will be donated back to organizations and individuals inside the Culture & Innovation District. Community Room Events: The finished project will have a “community room” that can be booked, free of

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charge, by any group offering a service, performance or class to the public that supports the Mission of the Culture & Innovation District. Events can be one-time or recurring. Neighborhood organizing meetings, non-profit board meetings, arts performances, classes, films and others all welcome. Explain your ideas for enlivening downtown with Culture and Innovation. Performances and Web Streaming Studio: ARC is in conversation with Rooftop Media to create a web-streaming studio which we are tentatively calling “Live from Downtown Augusta!” They are seeking performers, curators, radio show hosts, and more! Ever wanted to have your own TV show or broadcast your performance for all to see? Now is your chance. Tenants: In addition to public spaces, 600 Broad has

a great deal of additional space that can be used for offices, education, studios, and more (but no apartments). Have a socially-oriented business that could use some incubation in order to grow to the next level? Have a service organization that addresses the mission of the Culture & Innovation District? Have a cultural project that will serve Augusta but needs a little boost? Contact ARC and let us know: (a) Who you are; (b) What you plan to do; (c) How much space you need; (d) Who you serve; (e) A schedule of the types of spaces you need; (f) a schedule of when you would use those spaces; and (g) Why your project should receive subsidized support; (h) How you plan to use this opportunity to grow and eventually move out into the broader Culture & Innovation District.


Leadership Augusta announces 2015 class The Leadership Augusta selection committee has chosen the members of the 2015 class. Leadership Augusta has a highly competitive application and interview process. The following candidates have been selected for having leadership qualities that will make a difference in our community. This is the 35th year of the program with over 1200 alumni that have completed the yearlong course. The candidates selected for the Class of 2015: Nkolika Aniedobe, NEK & NEX Holdings; Phillip Arnold, Signal Regimental NCO Academy; Katie Ashley, ADP; Nicholas Blume, Georgia Bank & Trust; Christen Carter, Georgia Regents University; Leadra Collins, Paine College; Kayla Cooper, Augusta Georgia Law Department; Lauren Dallas, Augusta Sports Council; Jonathan Davis, Augusta Economic Development Authority; Andrew Dawson, WACG-FM (GPB Augusta); Kimberly Elle, Augusta Warrior Project; Randolph Frails, Frails & Wilson, LLC; Bobby Gagnon, American Family Insurance; Mariah Gardner, WAGT NBC & The CW Augusta; Also, Lynn Gladney, Richmond County Tax Commissioners Office; Karen

Gordon, Garden City Jazz; Keith Gray, Augusta Judicial Circuit Drug Court; James Heffner, ADP; Iman Hill, Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau; Garnett Johnson, Augusta Office Solutions; Fasha Lewis, Richmond County Solicitors Office; Kimberly Maddox, Ansley at Town Center; Tiffany Mallory, US Attorneys Office; Elizabeth McLeod, Fulcher Hagler LLP; Ian Mercier, Medical College of Georgia Foundation, INC; Sam Nicholson, Nicholson Revell LLP; Dominck Nutter, Richmond County 911 Call Center; Lukmon Onigbanjo, RCCG Redemption Chapel; James Reid Sr., Augusta Youth Development Center; Lauren Roman, Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce; Laura Sherrouse, Georgia Regents University; Wendy Smith, First Bank of Georgia; Stephen Tatro, ADP; Jason Thorton, Augusta First Bank & Trust; Steven Uhles, Georgia Regents University; David Williams, Cranston Engineering Group. Leadership Augusta’s mission is to identify, develop, grow and connect knowledgeable leaders from throughout the region through dynamic education, membership, and alumni programs that enable them to grow as leaders and help make the community a better place to live and work.

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