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W HA T ’ S IN S I D E

May 2014 • The CSRA’s Only Monthly Business Magazine

Medac moving to N. Augusta.................5 Buzz Bits...................................................... 8,9 Mill on Park opens in Aiken.................. 13 Businessperson of the Month.............. 18 Careers & Education section................. 23 Startup Augusta aids businesses........ 26

North Augusta preps for growth Downtown merchants seek proactive solutions

By Stephen Delaney Hale How do you prepare for business growth and change? And how do you do so without piling on an extra layer of rules for small businesses? Those two questions were asked about a dozen times one afternoon in mid-April by a group of North Augusta business owners. The meeting with leaders of the city and leaders of business support organizations was spearheaded by Shelley Craft, co-owner of The Men’s Refinery and Special Effects Hair Studio. The initial purpose of the group is to form a downtown development council for North Augusta that will inform people about growth opportunities, and encourage growth without extra government restrictions. “This is what you get when you make me sit still for three ice storm days,” Craft said. “I had too much time to think about this.” Project Jackson and the expansion of Georgia Regents University into downtown Augusta and from the new Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, as well other growth along the edges of the city mean changes are coming to the downtown area. “Things are coming to downtown North Augusta, not just Project Jackson, but a lot of growth including developments out Martintown Road,” said Craft, who is a member of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “My initial goal here is to create a downtown development council.” She said there is a need to manage changes coming to the city. “There is a big need, but, if we don’t start small, we won’t get anywhere,” she said. Before the meeting, Craft went door to door among downtown businesses asking owners and managers their opinions of forming some kind of council or downtown business alliance to cope with issues from imminent growth. “It was surprising to me to find that most people don’t See NORTH AUGUSTA, page 5

Project Jackson along the river will mean growth for North Augusta’s downtown business area.

Growing bigger: A business owner’s dream – or dread

By Gary Kauffman, Editor Expansion. It is the goal of nearly every business owner, but it is also the cause of a lot of anxiety. In my years working with small businesses in Indiana, I listened to dozens of business owners talking about their ideas for – and their fears of – expansion. I saw the gleam of excitement in their eyes, followed by furrowed brows of worry about whether it was the right thing to do. The scenario for many small businesses is that the owner works hard to build a successful business and then one day finds himself or herself in a position where they are working 12-hour days and struggling to stay ahead of the pace of the customers. Sometimes it’s a space issue – can they display and store enough product to keep the customers

they have and draw in new ones? But expansion means taking a risk – financial, of course – but also a risk in reputation and in doing what made the business fun in the first place. The first thing a business owner needs when considering expansion – before gathering the finances, before scouting out a new location – is patience. “The biggest thing is to be careful and not do it too fast,” said Tammy Garner, who has expanded her Anytime Fitness franchise from one location to four in 10 years. “Make sure you have all your bases covered.” Mark Harrell, owner of Scrubs of Evans, said he spent See EXPANSION, page 2


EXPANSION

continued from page 1 about two years in research before moving and expanding his store in January. Laura DiSano, co-director of the Small Business Development Center in Aiken, said sometimes when small business owners begin working a lot of hours they’re eager to expand but she urged caution. “There will be a period where the reality is that you’re working 60 hours a week,” she said, “but you may have to deal with that to be sure that’s going to continue. If you see it sustained over a quarter then you can put your toe in the water.” Putting a toe in the water means doing some heavy-duty research beforehand. “Often the business owner will get enamored with the idea of expansion instead of getting the supporting documentation for it,” DiSano said. “It’s hard because for many small business owners, time is not something they have a lot of. But it’s something you have to have time for because if you do it uninformed you can really hurt yourself.” Garner said she and her husband, Tommy, looked for several things when deciding to open their second gym – the general population, the growth of the area and the competition around the new location. In addition to researching for the right property, Harrell said he also sought the advice of other business owners who had expanded. “I got feedback from them,” he said. “I’ve got a buddy in Atlanta who’d gone through the same thing about a year earlier, and I talked to him about the things he did and things he could have done differently.” DiSano said the Small Business Development Center has librarians on staff who can help business owners research the demographics needed to make good decisions on expansion. “You need to go in with your eyes open,” she said. Taking time to research the expansion process also gives a business owner time to start setting aside the money it takes to expand. “We didn’t move until we had the money to move,” Harrell said. “But always plan for 10-15 percent more than you expected.” In addition to demographics and finances, expansion also requires a hard look at some other areas, DiSano said. Expanding a product line may seem like a great idea, but will the increase in income be enough to offset the expenses of expanding to a new location and hiring additional staff?

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Mark Harrell at work at Scrubs of Evans in its new location across from Club Car. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Another consideration is the supply chain. Small businesses often rely on other small businesses for supplies. If you decide to expand, will your supplier be able to keep up with the increased demand for supplies? Conversely, if you are the supplier, you need to keep in touch with the businesses you are supplying. If they decided to make a major expansion, what will you need to do to keep their business? Will it be worth the cost of expanding your own business to keep up with the demand, or should you look for other ways to diversify your business? Two different approaches to expansion Harrell and the Garners took two different approaches to expansion, highlighting the decision a business owner often has to face – a single, bigger store, or multiple locations. Harrell maintained a single location but moved it to a bigger store, going from 1,300 square feet to 2,900 square feet. His original location limited the amount of product he could display and the amount of room for storage of product not on display. “In order to do what we needed to do, we needed more space,” he said. “The goal of our expansion was more product selection for our customers.” Harrell was also limited in access and parking for his store. His new location on Washington Road across from Club Car has given him plenty of parking, and a stoplight at the shopping center’s driveway. For the Garners, opening new locations meant a benefit in convenience for their customers. “We can’t be one big club and expect

people to come to us,” Tammy Garner said. “We have to go to them.” But there are some drawbacks to adding a second location. “It got complicated,” Garner said. “We had to train someone else. That was the hardest thing. Luckily, we hired someone pretty good initially.” She added that a second store also doubles everything, meaning twice the amount of bookwork, supplies and equipment – plus it doubles the anxiety. “It wasn’t really a hardship,” she said. “It was fun, it was just busy.” Expanding without expanding But there are ways to expand a business without adding to the physical location. Harrell is working at increasing his business-tobusiness line. Because many doctor and dental offices provide scrubs for their staff, Harrell is working at making those connections. “That’s me taking the store to them,” he said. “My goal over the next two to three years is to serve group practices.” DiSano said businesses can also expand by collaborating with other businesses. For example, a business might find itself in need of making deliveries. Rather than buying a truck and hiring a driver, the business owner could collaborate with a delivery business. That way both businesses grow without a big cash outlay. “It’s expanding without expanding,” she said. She added that sometimes a business will experience peaks that keep an owner busy but don’t necessarily point toward an

expansion. In those cases, the owner could turn to the local colleges. “Some business owners are working with graduate students to work through those peaks,” she said. “There are a lot of talented people looking for that experience.” If the issue is limited warehouse space, DiSano suggested finding suppliers who can do just-in-time deliveries. That usually takes some research to find suppliers who are reliable in their ability to deliver orders in a short amount of time. Obtain key advice While many small business owners relish their independence, DiSano said having advisors is a key to business success. She recommended having a CPA or attorney – or both – to advise on decisions like expansion. “Business owners don’t have the time or expertise to do everything,” she said. “They need someone who can quickly look at the numbers and say, ‘If you increase productivity by x here, you can increase profit by x.’” DiSano said every business wants to expand but what owners are uncertain about is the fact-based rationale to do that. “When they put some fact-based numbers behind it they can go forward with confidence,” she said. When those steps are taken, an expansion is usually successful. “Expansion is fun and exciting, and generally helps boost excitement,” Garner said. Harrell has been pleased with his decision to expand. “It was a process and a long-term investment,” he said. “But it’s been a wise move.”


Embracing growth in our midst

I want to welcome Media Consultant Janine Garropy to our Buzz on Biz, LLC team! She replaces Erin Campbell, who took a community relations position with Chic-Fil-A. We appreciate Erin’s energy and passion – especially coordinating our 1st Buzz on Biz Career Expo. Janine is a seasoned media professional, who spent several successful years with Morris Communications and a local phone book directory. Perhaps as impressive is her life skills as a former town councilwoman in New York, a volunteer firefighter and various other activities in charitable work and the non-profit world. She’ll help us grow in many ways with sales, distribution and public relations work in the community networking for Buzz on Biz at chamber functions and other events. If you’ve worked with her before in an advertising capacity or would like to, please call her at 803-480-2800 or email her at Janine. garropy@buzzon.biz. You’ll be glad you did. We hired Janine to help us grow – and that is the focus of this months’ issue. Our South Carolina writer Stephen Delaney Hale takes a close look at the economic explosion about to happen in North Augusta, and what’s next besides Medac Neil Gordon and Project Jackson. Buzz on Biz Editor in Chief Gary Kauff- Buzz on Biz man interviews a pair of entrepreneurs who have expanded Publisher their businesses in contrasting ways, and ties it together with information from the award-winning Small Business Development Center from USC Aiken. In our Buzz Bits section, notice all of the new businesses “springing up”. ‘Tis the season! 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.

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 Kyle W. Evans/706-288-9957

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

3740 Executive Center Drive, #300, Martinez, GA 30907

May 2014 Buzz on Biz

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NORTH AUGUSTA continued from page 1 really know much of anything that is going on, and the coming developments that will affect us all,” she said. “I would like to create a group to come together as a committee and get ourselves informed. The structure (of how the group might look in the future) is up to discussion. We are just now getting together to figure out how to make things happen.” Everyone in the group recognized change is on the way or they wouldn’t have taken time out from a busy Wednesday to spend two hours talking with each other, they all agreed. But they are also aware that the public mood is not in favor of more government, more regulations and certainly not anything that will turn out to be a waste of time and money for small business people who already don’t have enough of either. Along with Craft, others present were Terra Carroll, president of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce; Mary Anne Bigger, executive director of North Augusta 2000; Brad Pond, Leadership North Augusta; John Felak, North Augusta City Parks and Recreation; Michelle Jones, Chamber Chair and Georgia Carolina Physical Therapy; Brett Brannon, Georgia Carolina Physical Therapy and Board member of North Augusta 2000; Wesley Fountain, Fountain Law Firm; Tom Greene, former mayor and Chairman of North Augusta 2000; Cindy O’Brien, The Yoga Center’ Robert Rollings, Shannon Rollings Real Estate and Todd Glover, North Augusta city administrator. The group was asked to consider business promotion already underway in the City. Carroll gave a description of the support functions provided by the Chamber and Bigger did the same with North Augusta 2000. Craft readily conceded that what comes out of several more meetings of business owners and managers might be to “create this group and house it under somebody else’s roof,” such as the Chamber or North Augusta 2000. A separate downtown business association is another possibility or perhaps a business advisory committee within the city government. “There are things we need to prepare for.” Glover acknowledged that 90 percent of his time since starting as city administrator in January 2012 has been taken up with economic development issues.

Medac plans move to downtown Just as North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones and his City Administrator Todd Glover strongly hinted during the contentious debate over Project Jackson last year, a company announced in late April that it is bringing more than 600 jobs to the city as a direct result of the passage of the controversial development. The company, Medac, Inc., a provider of services to health care providers, announced a $12 million investment and what will be the largest private workforce in the history of downtown North Augusta. Medac held a news conference on April 24 to say that the Project Jackson initiative, and the welcoming and supportive efforts of the City officials of North Augusta, directly influenced them to

The biggest link in that chain has been Project Jackson, which Glover said is “as much about downtown revitalization as it is riverfront development.” Glover said former Augusta City Manager Fred Russell used to joke with him that “Georgia Avenue is a one-way street to Augusta. But that is definitely not true and I enjoyed pointing out traffic to him coming from Augusta to North Augusta at lunchtime to spend their money.” Harking back to Project Jackson and other pending economic development engines that will soon impact North Augusta, Glover said with a sort of happy warning, “our downtown businesses need to prepare for those changes now.” One example, Glover said, is that the city is preparing to offer a shuttle service from downtown to the new baseball stadium that will bring hungry fans back to their cars just in time to find a restaurant to enjoy. There are old city ordinances that restrict live music and where you can impose a cover charge, along with other local laws, that won’t serve businesses well as new people arrive, Glover said. “There are some things that our downtown businesses, and the city frankly, are not doing to prepare for the anticipated traffic from the stadium and other attractions coming to the riverfront,” he added. Although preparing for Project Jackson growth is an immediate priority, it is only one part of a vision for a future downtown

consolidate their 400-person workforce from their current three structures on Scott Nixon Memorial Drive in Augusta into one building directly across the street from the North Augusta Municipal Building. Once there, the company plans to add another 215 workers, all of whom they envision will take advantage of the pedestrian-friendly design of the new development to walk to lunch and play during their time off. “We are very excited to be here,” said Bijon Memar, president and founder of Medac. “We will do everything possible to bring the jobs here and I think our employees are all looking forward to it and moving to this area.” North Augusta. “The paradigm of downtown development has completely changed,” Glover explained. “Now, the pattern of young people coming out of college following where industry takes them is changing to a pattern where they move to where they want to live and businesses and industries move there to reach an educated workforce.”

“Our downtown businesses need to prepare for those changes now.” He said that the cities that are attracting young professionals are the cities that are growing. North Augusta and Aiken are older communities. “Every city needs to attract the 22- to 35-year-old demographic,” he said. “To do that we need an attractive look and activities that appeal to that age group. Greenville, South Carolina, and Austin, Texas, are two examples that have been successful in attracting younger professionals.” Among many other things, both Greenville and Austin have tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly by-ways that include pleasant beer gardens along their riverfronts. Young people come and enjoy the venues and de-

Those employees are motivated by being able to walk down the hill to eat at restaurants, shop retail or live in apartments here, he added Glover predicted Medac will have “a huge impact on our town. It could transform our downtown as to what types of amenities are available, as far as restaurants,” and other shops. Mayor Jones thanked Memar for choosing North Augusta and said the announcement confirms what he, Glover and other Project Jackson proponents predicted all along. “As we went through the TIF project for Project Jackson, we felt very confident that there would be what I call a ‘trickle over effect.’ That is exactly what has hapcide they want to live there, Glover said. “Our goal is that these young people move here and fall in love with the community and start families and begin to infill into neighborhoods,” Glover said of the emerging model of successful cities. Greenville’s Fluor Field, home to GreenJacket’s rival, the Greenville Drive, is a good model for North Augusta, Glover said. Since it opened, 110 new businesses have opened in the vicinity, producing 242 new building permits in that neighborhood and so far $91.5 million in private investment in the vicinity. That is real economic growth, growth that is permanent and not particularly susceptible to government budgets and economic fluctuations, he said. “Ashville is another model for us to look at,” Glover said. “Because of the way they have encouraged small businesses, you don’t see a chain restaurant in downtown Ashville. Some of our city ordinances don’t promote that. Also, with the expansion of GRU and their intentions on downtown, if we don’t attract some of that growth we are missing the boat.” “New Urbanism,” is the term for the idea of walkable neighborhoods with a mixture of restaurants and businesses among residential areas, much like North Augusta’s Hammonds Ferry has developed. It’s not a new idea. Glover said it’s the way towns See NORTH AUGUSTA, page 6

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continued from page 5 were before the automobile changed the way everything is built. Both Glover and former Mayor Tom Greene mentioned that there are many vacant areas in downtown North Augusta that can be repurposed toward a new urbanism, pedestrian/people-friendly design. “Millennials,” the term for the generation of young people that everybody wants to attract, want to live in walkable urban areas and healthy seniors want to live downtown, said Glover. He said both groups want to live close to a downtown where people don’t always have to drive for most of their needs. Small community grocery stores are highly valued in this type of design. Trader Joe’s and Sprouts are examples of these that are spreading across the country, he said. Developing alleyways from forgotten

“This is going to be the place to be.” space to safe, pedestrian-friendly avenues to walk to where you want to go is part of the model Glover says he wants to follow. One example is the passage between Dr. Thurmond’s office and Jackson Square. People respond to downtown festivals and the city could promote many of them, he suggested. “When we get people living downtown we will get these retailers and restaurants catering to their needs,” Glover said. “Proj-

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Business owners hope the growth on the edges of North Augusta will stimulate the downtown area.

ect Jackson will bring that. Are our downtown businesses ready for what is to come?” “Some of this will require city action, what the city allows or promotes to come into town,” he added. “Do we want a cottagy look or big box development? We should maintain that we have a certain standard that we are not going to let slide.” At the same time, Glover praised a different model in the new growth at Exit 5 of I-20 as a positive development that doesn’t have to be the same as downtown. His message distilled out that this change is not to be feared but managed. “I hope a lot of other people want to put a new business downtown now,” he said. “This is going to be the place to be.” High Hopes “I have very high hopes for our downtown over the next five years, but it’s got to be all of the people sharing the same vision,” said Glover. “Bring us pictures of the

places you love.” Laughing, Glover added, “I don’t want bureaucrats designing our new developments. I want ‘cleptocrats;’ people who see great ideas and steal them for ourselves!” What could make good businesses better? Glover asked. “We’ve got a beautiful downtown with so much potential. Imagine the outfill of Project Jackson,” he said. “Once they fill up that property along the river, the only way they can grow is this way.” Brett Brannon cautioned the group to be careful how they structure any organization. “We don’t need another bureaucracy,” he said. “Let’s be sure to structure anything we come up with as independent, an alliance. We should use what we’ve got, not something that will be an additional burden on businesses.” Greene asked Glover, “Have you developed a vision for what you want the downtown area to look like?”

Glover said, like this meeting of interested business people, it is a work in progress. He has instructed his planning staff to provide ways to incorporate these ideas into the community. Glover said it is probably the city’s responsibility to lead the plan for growth along with whatever may come out of this meeting along with the Chamber, North Augusta 2000 and other citizens in a joint effort. Coming Soon In late April, Craft said she has been in touch with many more people and that the small group hopes to hold a larger meeting in late May. That meeting would have a presentation by Glover and seek additional feedback from businesses. She said the community will be notified through many channels and that anyone interested in more information is welcomed to contact her at her business, The Men’s Refinery at 706-831-1358.


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services, the search engine does it’s best to return relevant results. Websites that have regularly updated content tend to have the best and most recent information and are often rewarded with higher search results. Often, in a rush to launch a new website, content is overshadowed by the desire for that super cool design or amazing functionality. It is important that your graphic design and web programming team is familiar with your sales process and your core products and solutions. Take time to carefully consider your website content and copy. Be sure to tap into your creative side and keep your headlines powerful and convincing. Does your content position you as a “thought leader?” Finally, keep in mind that you must also develop content that search engines find relevant to help ensure higher search engine ranking performance.

soft spot – their inner voice that says, “Yes, I want these goods and services!” Keep in mind what is important to them and frame your content around their common business problems and goals and show how you can help them achieve these goals. Position Yourself As the Expert – Your site content should go into enough detail to prove that you know what you are talking about. Keep in mind that your home

page and initial pages should not be cluttered, it is OK to have your users drill down in your site to find more content. Help with Search Engine Optimization – Regardless of who your target customer is, the most common readers of your website will be the major search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Bing. These search engines “crawl” through your pages to index all of the information. When people perform a search for your goods and

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buzz bits May spending by visitors to top $2 million

The Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Augusta Sports Council (ASC) announced that visitors attending meetings, reunions, events and/or sporting events in Augusta will generate at least $2,763,527 in direct visitor spending over the month of May. Among the biggest events drawing visitors are the Georgia World Organization of China Painters, PQ Sports – AAU Basketball, Augusta Women’s Rugby Football Club, Georgia U.S. Tennis Association, Augusta Warrior Project, Georgia Funeral Service Practitioners Association and the Georgia State Elks Convention.

Willie Mays named as top mortician

Willie Mays of Mays Mortuary in Augusta will be honored as the Georgia Funeral Service Practitioners Association (GFSPA) Mortician of the Year at 89th annual Convention and Exposition May 18-21 at the Augusta Marriott at The Convention Center. Conveners will engage in meetings and workshops offering more than 10 hours of quality continuing education. Topics of interest that will be presented to funeral service professionals include: embalming techniques, OSHA regulations, and effective management practices among many others. In addition, the convention will offer attendees the opportunity to connect, network and learn from other funeral professionals from around the state and southeast. Mays will be honored a the awards banquet on May 20.

Zaxby’s opens new store in Aiken

A new Zaxby’s on University Drive opened and is just down from Aiken Regional Medical Centers. It is the second location in

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Gerald Jones Honda wins prestigious award Gerald Jones Honda of Martinez recently received a prestigious honor from American Honda Motor Co., Inc., the Honda President’s Award, for its exceptional performance in 2013. Achieving the President’s Award requires a yearlong commitment to attaining excellence in the areas of customer satisfaction, sales, training and facility image. More than 1,000 Honda dealerships participated in the 2013 program, with 173 earning dealership honors. Andy Jones, president of Gerald Jones Honda said, “We are grateful to receive this award again. The President’s award recognizes our Honda team and validates their efforts, while providing benefits to our customers. It’s what we strive to do each and every day. We also understand that the city of Aiken, with another on Whiskey Road, and fourth location in Aiken County. Zaxby’s contractors bulldozed the former BBQ Barn and cleared the land. The property had been vacant for almost two years. The restaurant is approximately 4,000 square feet and seats more than 50 diners. The other two Aiken county locations are in North Augusta on Knox Avenue and Edgefield Road.

Augusta jobless rate declines

The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that Metro Augusta’s unemployment rate decreased to 6.6 percent in March, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 6.7 percent in February. The rate was 7.7 percent in March a year ago. The rate declined because Augusta employers created more jobs and laid off fewer workers. The number of jobs increased to 216,700 in March, up by 700, or 0.3 percent, from 216,000 in February. The job gains came mostly in education and health services and professional and business services, along with the goods-producing sector, which includes mining, logging, and construction. Over the year, the number of jobs decreased by 2,600, or 1.2 percent, from

without our great customers we would have not been able to achieve this award.” Gerald Jones Honda, located at 4022 Washington Road, carries the full line of Honda vehicles. Gerald Jones Honda is a member of The Gerald Jones 219,300 in March 2013. Most of the decrease came in government and professional and business services. There were 1,167 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in March, a drop of 621, or 34.7 percent, from 1,788 in February. Most of the decline in claims came in manufacturing, construction, and administrative and support services. There were 1,319 claims in March 2013. Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.1 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 9.4 percent. Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 7.0 percent, down from 7.1 percent in February. The rate was 8.4 percent in March a year ago.

EDTS receives honors from Microsoft

EDTS, a regional IT services company specializing in managed IT services, network security, and advanced infrastructure for Southeastern businesses, has obtained Gold Midmarket Solution Provider Competency honors from Microsoft for the 13th consecutive year, and has been ranked 91st

Auto Group that employs more than 200 people and is also comprised of Gerald Jones Audi, Gerald Jones Volkswagen, Gerald Jones Volvo, Gerald Jones Subaru, Gerald Jones Mazda, Gerald Jones Mitsubishi, and The Gerald Jones PreOwned Super Center. among North America’s leading managed IT service providers by MSPmentor, becoming the only firm with dual Georgia-South Carolina operations to make the top 100 rankings. The Gold Midmarket Solution Provider competency demonstrates EDTS’s expertise in meeting customer needs based on the most current Microsoft solutions to help midmarket businesses with their unique business challenges while understanding their business processes, infrastructure, and future growth costs.

Lamar Advertising donates to Marines

Lamar Advertising of Augusta was recently recognized for its efforts in the Marine Corps with a public service announcement program. Lamar Advertising helped to raise awareness of the commitment Marines demonstrate to the nation and to those in their community by donating more than $46,000 in billboard space. The Marine Corps PSA Program, entitled, “For Us All,” is not just an acknowledgement of service, but a service in itself.

Nine from GRU receive state business honors

Nine students in Georgia Regents University’s James M. Hull College of Business received statewide recognition during the 2014 Phi Beta Lambda Georgia State Leadership Conference Awards ceremony in Atlanta. Eight of the nine qualified to compete in the organization’s National Leadership Conference slated for June in Nashville, Tenn., and include Erica Clemmons, Business Presentation; Michael Fowler, Financial Services and Personal Finance; Richard Gamble, Business Presentation; Austin Hixenbaugh, Information Management; Candida Moyer, Accounting for Professionals, and Accounting Analysis and Decision Making; Daniel Padilla, Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Management and Marketing; LeRoy Ramsey, Computer Concepts; and Stan Swinford, Information Management.  “I am very proud of our chapter and of the hard work and leadership the students displayed in a competition that included representation from the state’s most competitive business schools and programs,” said Buffie Schmidt, Advisor for GRU’s Phi Beta Lambda chapter and Professor in the Hull College of Business.

AARP rates Augusta as age friendly Augusta is now recognized as an AARP Age-Friendly Community. According to AARP, an AgeFriendly Community is designed to establish an inclusive and accessible environment that encourages active and healthy aging. It also proactively focuses on those elements of communities that enhance independent living with a goal of having older citizens take a more active role in their communities. The Age-Friendly Communities program provides an opportunity to broaden support from other agencies and organizations for much of the work that is currently underway in the Augusta area.


buzz bits good for families and workers there to go there weekday evenings and weekends, since the cafeteria is closed on weekends and will give folks other option besides McDonalds in the children’s hospital.” There have been several restaurants in that spot, and for years Brad Usry of Fat Man’s Café had that contract with then MCG. Barbara Lowe and Kellie Johnson

Johnson named TaxSlayer Businesswoman co-owner donates to of the Year Kellie Johnson, general USC Aiken manager and part-owner of Shane’s Rib Shack of Evans, won the 2014 Successful Businesswoman Of The Year award an April event at the Legends Club in the National Hills Shopping Center. Johnson co-owns the popular Washington Road restaurant with her parents and has been heavily involved in many community activities with area Chambers of Commerce and non-profits, always willing to lend a hand with discounted or complimentary food. Barbara Lowe of MAU took home the Administrative Professional Of The Year Award. The event was a sell-out and emceed by Paige Tucker, anchor of WAGT’s 6,7 and 11pm news. Prior to the award ceremony and lunch, about 20 vendors displayed their products and services in a walk-through Expo at the Legends Club.

Subway coming to 15th Street

Signs are up on Harper Street just off of 15th Street that a Subway restaurant will be opening across from one of the entrances to the hospital. It replaces the Brown Bag, a sit-down version of a food truck concept that has been in Augusta for more than two years. One Buzz radio listener chimed in with a special request for Subway: “Since this is a major company instead of the independents previously in that spot, I hope they’ll have regular store hours like the other Subway stores. I’ll eat there every once in a while, but it would be

Zane Christopher, co-owner of TaxSlayer LLC, recently made a generous donation to fund the establishment of the TaxSlayer Student Services Center for the School of Business Administration (SOBA) at USC Aiken. Christopher graduated with an accounting major from USC Aiken in 2001, and serves on the Business Advisory Council for the School of Business. Christopher’s gift will enable the School of Business to renovate and furnish existing space in the Business & Education Building to provide an expanded array of student support services for business students at USC Aiken. “The new TaxSlayer Student Services Center will enable us to better serve the growing number of USC Aiken business students who are pursuing an undergraduate business degree on the USC Aiken campus, or through our new online business degree completion program offered as part of the USC System Palmetto College initiative,” said School of Business Dean Clifton Jones. “We are blessed to have the strong and tangible support of our many successful SOBA alumni such as Zane Christopher, who want to help us provide our business students the same warm, caring, learning environment they experienced for many years to come.” Christopher, Jimmy Rhodes and Carl Rhodes are partners in a company named TaxSlayer. TaxSlayer grew out of an established firm with a solid reputation of over 40 years in the tax preparation business, by producing a professional Tax Package, TaxSlayer Pro, for professional tax practioners in 1992. In 1998, using the same

Healthy Lifestyle Expo slated Learn how to better your body and better your health at a free event. The Healthy Lifestyle Expo is back to share the newest practices of healthy living. For six consecutive years, the Life Expo has catered to members of the community looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The expo will be held at the USC Aiken Convocation Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 10. It is sponsored by Aiken Regional Medical Centers and The Caring for Carolina Partners. Admission for this event will be free to the public. The event will be filled with fitness information, exciting demonstrations ranging from karate to cooking and health screenings for all who attend. Health screenings will be provided by Aiken Regional Medical Centers and will inbasic technology from their professional package, they developed an individual consumer version for online preparation and e-filing of income taxes. Over the last decade their tax preparation software has been used to complete millions of returns.

Daniel Village sold to local company Leading shopping center developer, owner-focused on urban communities Equity One has sold Daniel Village, a 172,438-square-foot groceryanchored shopping center in Augusta, Ga. to B&C Southeast L.L.C., a local company. Cassidy Turley represented Equity One in the transaction led by senior vice presidents Drew Fleming and Mark Joines of Southeaast Retail Group. Equity One received 10 offers on the asset but in the end decided to go with a local company. “Since (B&C) were a local buyer, they had a better understanding of the market and the area,” Fleming told Commercial Property Executive. Daniel Village is a Bi-Lo anchored shopping center located at the NW corner of Wrightsboro Rd. and Iris Drive in Augusta, a middle-income

clude cholesterol checks and much more. The Shepeard Blood Mobile will be in attendance to collect donations. During the event, the Aiken Horsepower Car Show will be held in the parking lot. Also, there will be a senior fashion show by Dillard’s of Aiken. Fashion show models provided by UniHealth Post-Acute Care of Aiken. This year attendees can also make donations for Goodwill. For more information about the expo visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ AikenLifeExpo. This event is brought to you by Aiken Regional Medical Centers, The Caring for Carolina Partners – WJBF-ABC News Channel 6, Maxwell Law Firm, Beasley Broadcasting and USC Aiken Convocation Center. population. The center’s other tenants include Rite Aid, Wells Fargo, Rent-A-Center, the UPS Store and several restaurants. Augusta is the second-largest city in the state of Georgia, after Atlanta. The shopping center is located two miles from downtown Augusta. But the surrounding area that supports the center is primarily residential. The city currently has an average retail vacancy rate of 7 percent, which is better than the national rate, making it a strong retail market, according to Fleming “Daniel Village presented a rare opportunity to acquire value-added grocery-anchored shopping center in the heart of Augusta. Right now those opportunities are hard to come by,” Fleming concluded in a press release.

Governor signs law protecting gun rights On Wednesday, April 23, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 60, legislation that protects law-abiding, licensed Georgia citizens’ Second Amendment rights. “For decades now I have staunchly defended our Second Amendment rights as both a legislator and as governor,” said Deal. “This legislation will

protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License. Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population. License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law. This law gives added protections to those who have played by the rules – and who can protect themselves and others from those who don’t play by the rules. “Our nation’s founders put the right to bear arms on par with freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Deal said.

Masters ads just 4.4 minutes per hour The Masters Golf Tournament is one of the nation’s most popular sports events. Americans For Responsible Advertising recorded the CBS television broadcast of the last day of the tournament and analyzed the advertising from the time the broadcast came on the air 2 p.m. until the last putt was sunk 6:51 p.m. During this time there were 38 commercials which, in total, accounted for a little over 21 minutes of broadcast time. This is an incredibly-low average of just 4.4 minutes of advertising per broadcast hour. Very few, if any, television broadcasts of sports events get anywhere near this low. Virtually all of the advertising on the part of the sponsors (AT&T, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, and the tournament itself ) was institutional as opposed to product. That is, the advertising was intended to enhance the images and reputations of the sponsors as opposed to selling specific products. The commercials themselves were all high-quality productions, tasteful and even interesting. When people talk about the Masters Tournament, the words “class”, “taste,” “manners”, and “beauty” are often heard as well they should be. Perhaps the only discordant note in this regard is the fact that when the players are interviewed inside the clubhouse they occasionally keep their multi-logo golf caps on.

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Majority of businesses still don’t use cloud computing According to a new survey, cloud computing is still in its infancy among many business owners. Newtek Business Services, Inc., The Small Business Authority, with a portfolio of over 100,000 business accounts, announced today the findings of its SB Authority Market Sentiment Survey, a monthly window into the concerns of independent business owners. Based on a poll of over 1,300 respondents, the key finding from the March survey is that 60 percent of business owners do not currently use cloud computing. Barry Sloane, Chairman, President and

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CEO of The Small Business Authority said, “We believe the trend in cloud-computing solutions for independent business owners is real. We also realize our clients have a technological bias to these solutions, as compared to all small businesses owners, so our readings are slightly skewed. “With that, we know that this segment of the economy is poised for significantly greater expenditure and growth as suggested by major IT consultants. We will continue to position ourselves as the known provider of cloud computing services for independent business owners.”


The rationale of paying estimated taxes Tax season is finally over and most folks have filed their tax returns for 2013. Based on their 2013 tax return, many taxpayers have been set up with quarterly estimated payments for 2014. Every year we are asked the same question, “Do I have to pay these estimated payments?” If you owed additional tax for the prior year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current year. Estimated tax is the method used Christine to pay tax on inHall, CPA come that is not subject to withHall & holding. Associates This includes income from selfemployment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension or other income is not enough. In most cases, you must pay estimated tax for 2014 if both of the following apply. You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for 2014, after subtracting your withholding and refundable credits.

You expect your withholding and refundable credits to be less than the smaller of: 90 percent of the tax to be shown on your 2014 tax return, or 100 percent of the tax shown on your 2013 tax return. Your 2013 tax return must cover all 12 months. If your adjusted gross income for 2013 was more than $150,000 ($75,000 if your filing status for 2014 is married filing a separate return) you must pay in 110 percent of your 2013 liability to avoid penalty. If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments. However, if you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated taxes by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings. Complete a new form W-4 for your employer and reduce your exemptions. A lower number of exemptions results in more tax being withheld from your paycheck. The most amount of money will be withheld with a Single/Zero status. Remember, you don’t have to be single with no dependents to ask for that status on your W-4. Also keep in mind that, at times, a taxable event in the prior year may make it appear that estimated payments will be due for the current year, when in fact they are not. For instance, if you sell stocks or a piece of investment property at a gain, receive a severance package or win the lottery you will owe tax, but the absence of that

Estimated tax is used to pay tax on income not subject to withholding

their due dates will result in an estimated tax penalty in most cases. There are some exceptions to this rule if you do not receive your income evenly throughout the year so give us a call if this pertains to you or if you are unsure as to whether you need to make estimated tax payments.

event in the current year may negate your requirement to pay estimated taxes for the current year. Estimated tax payments should be made in four equal installments and do not follow the traditional monthly quarters. The due dates are April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15. Failure to make the payments by

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.

All of your clients want you. Your staffers are nice but limited, and when your clients signed up for your service/product, they didn’t want limited help. They wanted an expert. And that was you. That is you. And since it’s all about you… is your business worth anything without you? Kim Romaner It is. Surprise! Business Broker But it will be worth a whole lot more if you can solve the problem of it being all about you. I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve grown a business to seven figures and was the one bringing in all the business. I was also researching and writing the proposals, providing training and support, doing installations, marketing the business…I could do it all, man. And I did. But I should not have. I had a “partner.” I had people working for me. And they helped. They supported me—as Steve Martin would say—as the “All Being: Master of Time, Space and Dimension.” Without me, I thought, there would be no business. And guess what? I was right. Mea culpa. My fault. Back then, having started this business in my 20s, I did not see or know how to develop a team or choose partners that would bring as much as I did or more to the party. And honestly, maybe I didn’t want to. Maybe my ego was very happy being the center of attention, the hub of all of that activity. And maybe I was scared. Five years into that first business I went through a difficult divorce as the parent of a very young child, and at that time, I wasn’t about to share decisions about my livelihood with anyone. But I didn’t know how much I didn’t

know. I didn’t know that there were perfectly good advisors out there, professionals like business brokers, who would help me to craft an exit strategy, value my business, help me find strategic buyers and market my business professionally. All at no cost to me, by the way, until the business was sold. I just had no idea. I was so sold on my version of what my business was, I couldn’t see it from the outside. I needed a different pair of eyes. Now I know what counsel I would have offered to my much younger self. Hire someone. Hire someone who seems trust-

Your successon plan: It’s not all about you

Since it’s about you, is your business worth anything without you? worthy, whom you like or even admire, who has a great work ethic, good skills, a sharp brain, and ambition. Help them to know what you know. Give them business growth goals. Pay them well. Let them run the place from time to time so that you can take a vacation and turn off your cell phone. Do it even if you think you can’t afford it. When you do that, you’ll be building your business into a sellable asset, not a job, an asset that operates without you almost as well as when you’re there. Then one day, when it’s your turn to cash in on all of your hard work, you can turn over the keys to the new owner and walk away with the full value of what you’ve built. 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.

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Defining special enrollment for exchanges Enrollment through Healthcare.gov continues past April 1. The initial open enrollment through the government exchanges (Federal or State) began Oct. 1, 2013 and ended March 31, 2014. The initial start was extremely rocky at best – meaning the first couple of months we all were quite frustrated with the process to say Russell T. Head the least. However, through upgrades Employee Benefits Consultant in technology the enrollment process became less difficult and tedious to manage. While there are still issues and technology bumps to maneuver we are much more content with the enrollment system and the changes that continue to be made. For many people, this was your opportunity to enroll in comprehensive major medical coverage on a guarantee issue basis without underwriting or pre-existing conditions being considered. As a result of the end of the initial open enrollment period, an individual generally cannot enroll in a qualified health plan (QHP) through an exchange for the rest of 2014, unless a special enrollment period applies. Special Enrollment Periods Qualified individuals and enrollees may

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be allowed a “special enrollment period” under certain circumstances (such as marriage or birth of a child), during which they could enroll in QHPs or change enrollment from one QHP to another. Each special enrollment period will be 60 days from the date of the triggering event. In general, for the individual Exchanges, circumstances that trigger special enrollment rights include: Loss of minimum essential coverage Becoming a citizen, national or legally present Mistake by the Exchange or HHS Change in eligibility for federal subsidies Gaining or becoming a dependent through marriage, birth or adoption Gaining access to new QHPs due to a permanent move Contract violation by a QHP or misconduct by a non-Exchange entity providing enrollment assistance or conducting enrollment activities Other exceptional circumstances apply (as defined by the Exchange) Most life events that trigger a special enrollment period must be reported through the Exchange website. However, special en-

Russell T. Head is a Partner and Chief Visionary Architect with Group & Benefits Consultants, Inc., Augusta’s largest, privately held, locally owned employee benefits consulting firm. He can be reached at 706-7333459 or rthead@gandbc.com. Visit Group & Benefits Consultants at www.groupandbenefits.com.

rollment periods as a result of exceptional circumstances, misrepresentation, enrollment error or plan data error must be reported through the Exchange call center, rather than the website. If you or someone you know may qualify for special enrollment rights we encourage you to contact your health insurance

broker or consultant or a qualified licensed Navigator to help enroll you in a qualified health plan. 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.

One-third of uninsured Americans plan to remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that they obtain health insurance or pay a fine, according to a new Bankrate.com report. The most common explanation (given by 41 percent of respondents who plan to stay uninsured) is that health insurance is too expensive. However, a whopping 70 percent of uninsured Americans do not know about the subsidies that reduce the cost of health insurance. “This is a staggeringly high percentage,” said Bankrate.com insurance analyst Doug Whiteman. “The government has spent over half a billion dollars promoting the Affordable Care Act and more than twothirds of uninsured Americans still don’t know about the subsidies.” Seventeen percent of uninsured Americans who will continue to go without health insurance say the reason is that they oppose

the Affordable Care Act; 13 percent say they do not need insurance because they are healthy. Among 18-29 year-olds, a group essential to Obamacare’s success, over 60 percent say they will sign up for health insurance this year, while 28 percent say they will stay uninsured. Of the 18-29 year-olds who plan to remain uninsured, 31 percent say they will do so because they are healthy and do not need health insurance. Respondents between the ages of 30 and 49 are the most likely to remain uninsured (39 percent plan to continue going without health insurance). Almost half in that age group who won’t get insured (47 percent) cite cost as the biggest factor. Additionally, 54 percent of uninsured Americans with annual household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 intend to stay uninsured.

Many Americans plan to stay uninsured


Mill on Park opens to positive reviews Office building pioneers a new way to work By Stephen Hale The new business building in downtown Aiken, The Mill on Park, was just what Jonathan Bourman needed. “Right in the middle of town and a place where we can afford to begin our work,” said Bourman, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church who moved to Aiken in mid-April to form the new congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. His words echoed the thoughts of half-adozen tenants who moved into The Mill on Park small-business incubator even before it was officially opened. Catie Rabun, co-owner of The Mill on Park, hosted a “media opening,” on Wednesday, April 23 as an official introduction of the business for businesses. The opening started with a visit from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. “Well Catie, you are certainly to be congratulated,” Graham said after touring the new office building on the corner of Park Avenue and Laurens Street. The building, a large modern brick structure across Laurens from the Old Post Office, began life as a bookkeeping processing center for a large bank but sat empty for the last decade. Graham greeted new tenants who were moving in or coming to one of their first days of work in The Mill, as it is already being called for short. “This is an inspiration to see you find this way to give a chance for small businesses to form themselves without the extreme startup expenses that might prevent them from ever making it,” said Graham. “This is the alternative to opening your business in the garage. Here you have that low overhead but with all this support.” Rabun said that by mid-April the office spaces were already about 60 percent rented ahead of opening. Rent begins at $420 a month for a 100-square-foot office, plenty for one person, and can be configured upwards for room for two, three and more workers. Among the clients already in The Mill

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Catie Rabun, co-owner of The Mill, answer questions at the opening of the business building in April.

are Edgewater Technical Associates, a national staffing business that works locally with Savannah River Site positions; Ameriprise Financial investment counsellers; Sage Environmental, an environmental and safety compliance consulting firm; Prosper Consulting, a business consulting firm; Peace Lutheran, a new church launching in Aiken; HaleStorm communications, an Aiken publicity and contract writing firm; and WRS Realty, a Mt. Pleasant, S.C., based corporation that has developed 25 Walmart anchored shopping centers. On the ground floor, although not technically a part of The Mill, is Best Lawyers, a firm that publishes ratings of lawyers across the country. Also on board are offices of The University of South Carolina Aiken and the Small Business Development Center, which is associated with the university. Having the academics in the building will give the other tenants access to advice on strengthening their businesses and a connection from which they may be able to take on interns who can trade the work experience for academic credit. “We’re so excited to be a part of this,” said

Deidre Martin, vice-chancellor of USC Aiken. She said that one of the initiatives of USC Aiken Chancellor Sandra Jordan has been to have a larger presence downtown. “This is a mill that is producing small-business owners and entrepreneurs, and it has us right in the middle of town.” Rabun said she has “a couple of other companies that are close,” to coming into the building but couldn’t name them until they do. “I didn’t expect we would have this many here so soon,” Rabun said. Doug Rabold, owner of Prosper Consulting has begun work in his new office in The Mill on Park that includes two windows on the beautiful southern end of Laurens Street, including the Old Aiken Post Office, originally commissioned by Frank Hitchcock in 1912. Rabold said he is “delighted with the whole idea of The Mill and he was among the first to reserve space so he could have this view of downtown. “I am very optimistic about the future of Aiken,” he said. “The business community and business climate here are very supportive and very ready to welcome new types of businesses.”

Kelly Canady, recruiting manager at Edgewater Technical Associates, said she and her fellow workers are “very excited about moving into The Mill. We want you to know we just finished furnishing and decorating our offices and we stayed in town and spent all our money here.” She added, “The synergy is great inside among the clients in The Mill. Everybody is curious about everybody and have been very helpful in a great Southern kind of way.” Calling the concept, “a new way to work,” Rabun said she was excited about the idea of having start-up and small businesses share the cost of an office building by dividing the space into several small offices – spaces that can be rearranged by moving walls as needs for more or less room evolves. Two shared conference rooms are available to tenants, as is a printing room that provides copies, print outs and fax services as an amenity. Recycling facilities and a mail room are also part of the amenities. There are also several common areas and a public break area designed to bring tenants and their guests together in relaxed, informal conversation, the type of meetings that sometimes produce the spark of new ideas, she said. It all comes with one bill for rent, utilities, Internet, cleaning services, copy center and security system. The Mill also connects tenants with the outdoors. Bike racks and picnic tables sit on the lush park setting surrounding the complex and everything downtown is within a few blocks’ walk. Rabun said a ground floor space for a café sits waiting for the right entrepreneur to come along and open a coffee or sandwich shop for tenants and the public. “The Mill on Park was created to be a place for small businesses to thrive in Aiken and it seems that we will witness that take place,” Rabun said. “The planning and development of this project has been underway over the course of the past six months in partnership with Caradasa LLC, the University of South Carolina Aiken and the Small Business Development Center. The support we have received from the community has been astounding. It’s reassuring to see the town of Aiken get excited about small business and I am proud to be a part of that.”

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Collective voice of business makes a difference

By Tammy Shepherd, IOM President/CEO Columbia County Chamber of Commerce There was little doubt what issues were paramount to the Columbia County Chamber’s moderator during a recent local candidate forum – business and economic growth. The questions Tony Ferguson, Chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, went right back to the Chamber’s 2014 Legislative Agenda, an agenda designed to promote a healthy business climate and encourage economic opportunities. It’s an agenda that takes the collective voice of our business community and works to make sure that voice is heard by the decision makers. Infrastructure, business growth, workforce development, economic development, taxes, regulations, transportation, jobs, future growth, roads – those were among the hot button topics for the forum sponsored by the Columbia County Chamber and the Columbia County News-Times on April 21. The candidates participating were the ones in contested races in the May 20 Primary: County Commission Chairman, County Commission District 1 and School Board District 3. One of the most important functions of the Columbia County Chamber is to support legislation and other government ac-

After the November 2013 Pre-Legislative Breakfast, members of the Columbia County Legislative Delegation pose with representatives from the Columbia County Chamber and the Richmond County Legislative Delegation.

tion that promotes a strong business climate and encourages economic opportunities. The Chamber is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any particular political candidate for office. However, we can provide forums to better education members and the public about the election process. Hence, the candidate forums. About 100 people attended the forum.

Staten Heard listens as his opponent in the May 20 Primary for the Columbia County Board of Education District 3 seat, Mike Sleeper, answers a question during a Candidate Forum sponsored by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the Columbia County News-Times.

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A recording of it is posted on the Chamber’s website (www.columbiacountychamber.com). We plan to continue partnering with the News-Times for future candidate forums. At the Chamber, our Government Affairs Committee leads these efforts by identifying key issues and making sure this collective voice is heard in Atlanta and in Washington, D.C. One way we keep our members informed is through our annual Pre-Legislative and Post-Legislative breakfasts. On May 8, the committee will host the Post-Legislative Breakfast. (The Pre-Legislative Breakfast was held in November, before the session began.) The members of the Columbia County Delegation will discuss the highlights and challenges of the past session, giving an insight that only someone in the trenches can have. This year the keynote speaker will be Chris Clark, President/CEO for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Clark is a dynamic speaker who works closely with lawmakers in Atlanta lobbying for the Georgia Chamber’s legislative agenda. Tickets are still available for the breakfast which begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion. You can make reservations through the Chamber’s website, www. columbiacountychamber.com, or by calling the Chamber office at 706-651-0018. There

is no charge for members and the cost for first-time visitors is $20. The Chamber takes its advocacy efforts out of town as well. Each year we partner with the Chambers in Aiken, North Augusta and Augusta on trips to Atlanta and Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and key government officials in offices like the Department of Energy and the Pentagon. These face-to-face meetings help protect our region’s vital economic interests and show a unified message from the Greater Augusta region. Another way we use our voice is through our partnership with the Georgia Chamber’s Small Business Alliance. The Alliance offers support for small businesses, usually defined as 20 or fewer employees. Programs such as quarterly webinars on topics of interest to small businesses, tools, discounts and access to growth capital are offered. But perhaps even more important is the voice it gives small businesses in Georgia. The Chamber is the state’s largest advocacy organization. The support given by a unified business community helps ensure that the businessfriendly environment in Georgia continues and encompasses businesses of all sizes. Join us and let your voice be heard.


‘Old’ age and tacos As a writer who works from home, I don’t get out much so I decided to take a part-time job to get out of the house and meet more people. The bad economy gave me very few options but I was determined to find something. With few choices, I reluctantly accepted a job at a local fast food restaurant. My first day, Nora Blithe I donned my Humorist apron and paper hat and looked around. My coworkers were young…very young. I swear no one was older than 12. I considered running but the manager, Ally, caught me and made me fill out my new hire paperwork. She looked at the form and gaped at my age. “How old are you,” she marveled. “Thirty-five,” I said dryly. She leaned in conspiratorially, “If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the oldest person who works here.” Why yes, I thought sarcastically, that makes me feel much better. That and this stupid apron make me feel spectacular. I was beginning to think I made a mistake accepting this job. When she finished the paperwork (and marveling at my ancientness) Ally taught me how to assemble a taco. It’s a taco, I thought. How hard can this be? Assembling a taco involved 17 steps, complicated directions and had to be done in two seconds or less. I had the answer to my question. It was very hard.

Ally rattled the directions out at me like an auctioneer selling a choice horse. I was still trying to process her first sentence when she finished her fourth paragraph. I had a suspicion that this job wasn’t going to work out. A customer arrived and Ally told me to wait on them. Hesitantly, I reached for a wrap but got the wrong size. Ally stopped me. Then, I found the right size wrap but the wrong type. Ally stopped me again. After four tries, I had the right type and size wrap but had forgotten the complicated directions for the wrap heating machine. “It’s simple,” Ally said exasperated. “You lift this, slide this over, push this lever down. Put the wrap here unless it’s a jumbo wrap, then you use this basket. Close the lid, ratchet this lever twice, twirl this dial clockwise then counterclockwise. Then you press this button for steam four times for a small, seven times for a large and eight times for a jumbo.” “Uh,” I said confused, “I lift this?” Frustrated, Ally made the taco. Later that same day, the oldest person who worked there quit. I decided to follow her lead leaving a 13-year-old the title of oldest person to work there. Getting out of the house is overrated. I’ve decided there’s a place for age discrimination and that there’s a reason some jobs are done by the young and energetic. The old among us aren’t fast enough for fast food. 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.

The owner of Mr. Dryclean will open his second location on Jimmy Dyess Parkway. His other is in South Augusta. Construction is underway to develop a stand-alone facility to do dry cleaning and laundering services. Contractors are working on the new site at the corner of Jimmy Dyess Parkway and Wrightsboro Road. The owner, Sae Choi, said he hopes to

capture the business trade and those affiliated with Fort Gordon. Choi owns the property, which he has been renting in the past several years to moving truck companies and those setting up fruit stands. The new Mr. Dryclean location is expected to open for business in mid-June. Georgia Bank and Trust processed the construction loan.

Mr. Dryclean to open second CSRA store

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Make your business look, sound major league You’re a smart guy or lady. You’ve built your business by hard work and even harder thinking. Mix in the kind of passion found only among those performing their life’s work in a place they own outright, and its no wonder advertising looks easy by comparison, something you can do yourself and pocket all of that money you Don MacNeil might have othCrown Point erwise sent to an Communications at ad agency. Windsor Jewelers That I’m here to suggest a second view probably comes as no surprise. But to really accomplish something I hope to leave you with a few ways you can look as if you do have an agency. First, you’d expect me to advance the case that marketing and advertising – even on a local, small business level – is just as nuanced and layered with dos and don’ts as any other profession. As proof I’m fond of pointing out that if you can make bowling complicated, anything’s fair game. And it turns out bowling can be complicated. All of this crystallized in my mind re-

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cently when a very bright client with a new line of jewelry with nationwide aspirations jarred me with a succession of marketing faux pas I wasn’t expecting from someone so on top of things. When I requested his current logo I was presented with a crudely hand-drawn piece of art featuring what looked like a small maze as viewed from space inside a circle. When I gently questioned him on this (adding that you couldn’t discern any meaning from the maze), he insisted it had some sort of family history or meaning. The accompanying name of his jewelry line was rendered in a font that, at least for those of us in this line of work, was laughably amateurish. Saddest of all, various artists in his circle had helped him with all of this. Your logo is no less than the flag of the country that is you. You hope it’s imparting an image of strength, intelligence and invincibility, when in truth it could be sending a few unintended other messages. The maze? He placed sentimentality ahead of putting that logo to work for him by visually explaining what his product is or does. If artwork is necessary in his logo (and that’s always a healthy debate) then it should have been the signature design element of his jewelry. And his font? Right off a computer. It screams homemade…and all that implies. Space here doesn’t allow for a definitive outline of all the ways – with a little coaching – you can make yourself look and sound major league. My intent in these

chats is always to expand on one or two examples in the hope a light bulb will go on that’ll get you to think, “Ah! If that’s true, then this and this must also be the case!” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Look around. Identify someone (a business) whose marketing you admire and then find out who’s at the bottom of it. If that road leads back to an agency you can’t afford, try to dig a little deeper to discover who in that agency is actually doing the design and writing. You’d be surprised how often – provided your business doesn’t compete with any of their clients – you can get the real brains behind an agency’s creative to freelance on your behalf. Finally, make yourself do what those of us who do this for a living have to do every day: View with extreme skepticism the first

creative idea you have, regardless of the subject or need. Punch through your delight in “thinking creatively” and realize that that great idea you just had came too easily, nearly guaranteeing thousands of others have had a similar thought. Take it further. Follow that thread to a second theme and a third. Now you’re getting closer to a fresh idea…one that will trump your first concept a hundredfold and say to the world you do have an agency – and a very good one! 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.


Aiken SBDC receives award for excellence The Aiken Small Business Development Center (SBDC), located on the campus of the University of South Carolina Aiken, received the Center for Excellence and Innovation for SBDC’s in South Carolina. The SBDC was selected by the Small Business Administration and a review team who evaluated the submission. The Center will be honored at the “Annual Salute to Small Business” to be held at the capitol in Columbia on May 7. “USC Aiken is proud to be associated with the Aiken Area Small Business Development Center and pleased to partner with the SBDC and Catie Rabun on The Mill project in downtown Aiken,” said USC Aiken Chancellor Dr. Sandra Jordan. “While I’m thrilled, I’m not surprised that our local SBDC is being honored with the SC Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award, for Bob Clark and Laura DiSano excel at building powerful and productive partnerships and they seem to have an endless well of creative ideas to help address the challenges facing small business owners.” Listed below are some of the highlights of the Aiken SBDC: • USC Aiken is the host institution and provides the space for the Center as well as many partnerships and collaborations including a Memorandum of Understanding between USC Aiken and SBDC on The Mill project, a collaborative radio program

on business co-sponsored by USC Aiken School of Business and alumni, and teaching classes in the School of Business to students on starting a business. • The Center’s funding comes from state investment and federal match as well as local (county) government support. • For every $1 invested in the SBDC, $10.15 is returned to the public in state taxes The two part-time consultants at the Aiken SBDC (Laura DiSano, and Bob Clark are three year veterans with extensive experience in Fortune 100 companies and private sector business ownership ) logged 700 hours in one-on one, no-charge, confidential business consulting/counseling with 120 clients. They also helped to create four new business starts in Aiken, 26 new jobs and a stunning $4.6 million in capital formation (bank, non-bank and equity investments). These accomplishments were reached through their support of clients with business, financial and marketing plan development, and navigating licensing and business formation. They have promoted small business through deep and wide advocacy by developing ideas on business incubation, emerging and innovative entrepreneurship. They are frequently presenters at local Chambers, Kiwanis, Business Networking International (BNI), Aiken Downtown Development Association and Economic Partnership Events.

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Making silver linings out of disasters When you face the aftermath of a disaster, such as fire or water damage, you want a company that is reliable in cleanup and restoration. First General Disaster Services of Augusta has been that company for a quarter of a century. Lee and Susan Jernigan came out of Georgia Southern College with the idea of following in the family tradition of building homes. But they quickly saw the need in the restoration business.

Businessperson of the Month Susan Jernigan, First General Disaster Services Started in 1989, the company now has 23 employees, including its own field crew to rebuild and restore damage to homes and businesses. They do everything from start to finish, from cleanup to rebuilding. The company has started a flooring and decorator division called Silver Linings that works with homeowners to create an updated look to a damaged home. The rationale behind that, president Susan Jernigan said, is that homeowner should be able to come out of the disaster with something better than they started with – a silver lining to the disaster. First General works on damage claims of $10,000 to $300,000. Most often the damage resulted from a fire or flooding, but the company has also done cleanup at crime scenes, meth labs and sewer backups. They have event taken squirrels out of attics. First General has recently been busy helping homeowners and businesses recover from ice storm damage. The company was inundated with 134 insurance claims within the first three days. How did you come to be president of this company? We found out in 2004 that my husband had an inoperable brain tumor. At that

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time I had never worked in the business. We took five years off and spent it with our kids, we traveled and did a lot of stuff. After about five years I started looking at things and said, “My gosh, I’ve got to go back and run the business.” This company ran on its own, which says a lot about my husband and the way he set up things. I came back four years ago and had to learn the construction business. What have you learned about yourself through this? That I can learn anything at 50. I never knew this business – my degree is in information technology systems. I served on boards and raised kids and had a wonderful life, but it was different. It’s grown at a slow pace so it’s given me time to learn the business. Whatever I do, I throw myself into it. I put in 60-65 hours a week but I still feel like I’m trying to learn things. What are you most passionate about in your business? I love giving back a house that is improved and up to date in its look and style. Taking a really bad situation and making a silver lining out of it. It takes away the sting of what happened. What’s the best business advice you’ve received? Leaning on others. I’m in a business network of other remodeling and restoration contractors started by Les Cunningham. Les taught me how to rely on our network members. During the ice storm we had 134 claims and just two estimators. I called out to the network and someone came down from Canada and stayed all week writing up claims. What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you? I’m big into offshore fishing. The week the business won Top Performer, I also won the female angler award for catching the biggest fish. If you were stranded on a desert island and had all the basic necessities, what three things would you want to have with you? I took hair rollers on a mission trip to Haiti. I rolled my hair in a tent. Boy, did they give me grief about that. But I would want fishing string, matches and a warm blanket. We give out blankets when we go out on a job. It gives just that little

bit of comfort. Oh, and I would carry my pocket Bible. How do you unwind? I play with Tucker, my Golden Retriever. We get outside and throw the ball. What does the future hold for you? I’ve been spending a lot of time with

my son, Trey, talking to him about his future plans. He’ll graduate high school this spring and is going to Georgia Southern in construction management. I’m trying to get him prepared to run the business. I’m hoping he’s my exit strategy at some point.


Nursing home stays and leadership qualities At a median daily rate of $230, an average nursing home stay of 835 days currently costs over $192,000, making it virtually unaffordable for many Americans. Medicare does not pay for long-term care services, as explained by the Social Security Administration: “About Social Security and Medicare... Social Security pays retirement, disability, family and survivors benefits. Medicare, a separate program run Mike Herrington Fiscal Fitness by the Centers for Medicare & Investment Advisor Medicaid Services, helps pay for inpatient hospital care, nursing care, doctors’ fees, drugs, and other medical services and supplies to people age 65 and older, as well as to people who have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years or more. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so you may want to consider options for private insurance (emphasis added).” Here are a few statistics: About one-third of individuals turning 65 in 2010 will need at least three months of nursing home care, 24 percent will need more than a year, and 9 percent more than

five years. (Source: What Is the Distribution of Lifetime Health Care Costs from Age 65?, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, March 2010) About 71 percent of nursing home residents are women. (Source: CDC Vital and Health Statistics, Series 13, No. 167, June 2009) The national median daily rate in 2013 for a private room in a nursing home was $230, an increase of 3.6 percent from 2012. (Source: Genworth 2013 Cost of Care Survey, March 2013) The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days. (Source: CDC Vital and Health Statistics, Series 13, No. 167, June 2009) **** Those who become Extraordinary Leaders are those who master the skills of leadership. Here are the top skills an Extraordinary Leader must master. Get on top of these and you will find your influence growing extraordinarily! Good Communicator. Leaders are those who can take the vision they have and com-

municate it in ways that their followers can easily understand, internalize, and own. Then, and only then, can they carry it out. “Sees” the End Result Long Before Others. Leaders are always looking out ahead of themselves and their situations. Followers are worried about what happens today, while leaders are thinking about and strategizing about what they see for tomorrow. Ability to Define Goals for Self and Others. Do you know what your goals are? Can you define them? Can you articulate them clearly (being a good communicator)? Can you do this for those who follow? Can you define and set their goals? Ability to Set Strategy and Course of

Action. What will you do to reach the goal? Many people can say where we should go, but it is the Extraordinary Leader who can lay out a plan for everyone to get there. Ability to Teach Others. Work hard at your teaching techniques, and be sure to use as many situations as possible for the opportunity to teach those who would follow. Ability to Inspire Others. You may have a great goal, but if you want to be an Extraordinary Leader, then you will have to put a little oomph under your followers! This is the ability to inspire. Work at helping them to see the big picture, the great end results and how good it is going to be for them and others. Above all, make it exciting.

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

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Obsessed with the extraordinary The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive Patrick Lencioni 184 pages Written in a fictional fable style, Lencioni tells the story of a CEO who grew his business into a thriving successful company after discovering four disciplines that allowed him to work less, delegate tasks and get more done through others. As the reader, you see how these disciplines are used in every day examEddie Kennedy ples when the Business Book CEO is faced Reviews with challenges and hard decisions. In most small businesses, the owner is the CEO, CFO, COO, HR and everything else. Working more hours seems like it is the only way to grow the business. An owner may get burned out or just give up and quit. Lencioni introduces four key obsessions or disciplines that he believes are keys for growing a small business into a thriving organization. The Four Disciplines are: Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team Create Organizational Clarity Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity Reinforce Organizational Clarity through Human Systems Of these Four Disciplines, the most important is the first one. Without it the others are not possible. As your business grows you realize you cannot do it all. To get started, you select employees to be on a leadership team that can help you lead others to carry out the mission and

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vision of the company. Then trust must be developed between team members. There will be disagreements on how to solve a problem or how to go after new business, but it should be limited to issues and not individual personalities. Once a decision has been reached, the team has to put the fight behind them and move on as a cohesive unified team, choosing not to hold grudges or resentment against other team members. While this takes time and energy to accomplish, it will build into a group of individuals who are committed to each other and the overall good of the company. Challenging each other, in a healthy way, increases performance, efficiency and effectiveness. I started using this in my business several years ago and it has helped us transition our business model to handle new lines and new clients. I suggest you pick up this book and start putting these four disciplines to practice in your business.

Eddie Kennedy is the owner of Great Deals on Furniture in Augusta and an avid reader of business books. Eddie believes every business owner should invest in themselves by reading, but if you can’t, then read his column every month to see what he learned. Have you read any great business books? Let Eddie know at eddie@greatdealsaugusta. com.


Successful ways to grow your small business Owning a private, growing business can be quite rewarding. Here are some basic guidelines to help make this happen. Set your Goals and Mission! Set your business goals in writing, and have a well-thought-out mission statement, before starting a business. Share them with your advisors, and get their honest feedback. After starting a business, look at them often, and refine them when necessary. The Rule of Threes: It often takes three times more time Larry Rudwick and money to accomplish imBusiness and portant mile- Relationship Coach stones. Businesses often fail because their business plans were unrealistically optimistic. Warning! Most new businesses close within the first 3 years, and the founder often loses lots of time and money, gone forever. Execute Your Mission with Confidence and Effectiveness – focus, focus, focus: You and your business team must all be on the same page; everyone needs to “row in the same direction”. Financing a Business: Banks rarely make loans to businesses until they are established; they require collateral that will protect their loans. New businesses are often funded by the founder(s), and/or receive loans from “friends and family”. Some businesses sell shares, rather than,

or in addition to, taking out loans. While there are risks involved in taking on partners, the right partners, under the right terms, can help make a business quite successful quite quickly.

A team of advisors is possibly the most important element to a growing business Cash Management: Cash is the lifeblood of the business. Even a profitable business that runs out of cash may be forced into bankruptcy. Doing cash flow projections frequently can help greatly reduce the risks and probability of significant financial setbacks, especially businesses that frequently run short of cash. Taking on More Staff: New hires can be much more expensive to a business than expected. It’s not just their salaries and benefits that can be expensive, but so can potential lost “opportunity costs,” things that could have been produced or achieved if the new hire was not made. The key to successfully taking on new staff is: a) Hire the “right people,” b) train them efficiently and effectively, c) manage them properly and d) compensate them appropriately. Note: All of this assumes the business really needs more staff and can af-

ford to compensate them competitively. Key Advisors (last, but not least): Smart, successful business owners know that an experienced team of experts they can call on when needed, is a key secret to success. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t have a team of advisors or, if they do, they call on them only after the business is facing significant business challenges. This team typically includes a) their CPA, b) their business attorney, c) their business coach or consultant, d) their Board of Directors, e) their banker or source of funding and f) other trusted

people with significant business experience who may be considered to be their “advisory board”. A team of key advisors is possibly the most important element to create a growing business. There should be at least one member of the team qualified to provide assistance to any business challenge you are likely to face. Call on them whenever necessary. For more information, go to BusinessTune-Ups.com, sign up for my free newsletter, and call me. Larry Rudwick 571331-6102. There is no charge for an initial consultation.

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careers & EDUCATION GRMC offers quality training, caring spirit May and June are critical months for hospitals like Georgia Regents Medical Center (GRMC). Thousands of graduates are looking to start their new careers after graduating from nursing schools across country and from GRU College of Nursing. Mary Kate McAdams has been at GRMC for almost four years as an RN in the North Neuroscience Unit. “I came directly to GRMC from nursing school and could not recommend a better transition hospital,” she said. “This hospital has special gifts for transitioning new graduates to fully functioning independent nurses.” McAdams has learned how to take care of adult patients who are recovering from brain surgery, stroke or working through issues related to their nervous system. “This was one of the reasons that I personally chose GRMC,” she said. “I knew that they were a teaching facility, and I wanted all the benefits that this kind of facility could offer to a fresh student. I loved that they valued fresh new ideas and opinions and was particularly drawn to the patient and family centered aspect of their foundation.” Carla Allen is the lead charge nurse at GRMC and began 10 years ago as a nursing

student at GRU. “Our patient- and family-centered care is world-renowned and teaches each nurse about how important patient and family involvement can positively impact hospitalization,” Allen said. “We utilize evidence-based practice and nursing-shared governance to ensure the best, most up-to-date care for our patients. Plus our compensation and benefits are probably some of the best in the area.” Rachel Hong, a registered nurse, said her application process was easy and pain free. “When I came to GRMC five and a half years ago, I had such a warm reception from the nurse recruiter to the nurse manager who hired me,” she said. “I’ve been on my floor the entire time and I’m now one of the permanent charge nurses. Even though days are full of challenges, I’m proud to be a nurse and forever grateful for the opportunity to work at GRMC.” Amy Colbert, in her 12th year as a nurse, said, “Being that GRMC is teaching facility, there is definitely learning in all capacities and disciplines happening simultaneously, so whether it be a fresh new grad, or an experienced nurse transitioning to a new realm of patient care, there are guaranteed to be people surrounding them both learn-

ing and willing to teach to all experiences,” she said. Colbert joined the newly formed Pediatric Float Pool in 2012. “I love that GRMC has opened up positions for this type of nursing,” she added. “It allows me to travel throughout the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and work with all types of patients, families, and staff.” Sometimes the GRU student becomes the teacher. Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Jennifer Edmunds started as a student in the Trauma ICU 12 years ago and joined the team as a staff nurse in 2003. “I was mentored by my fellow staff and became a charge nurse in 2004 and really started growing my leadership skills,” she said. In 2006 she decided to further her education as a critical care clinical nurse specialist.

“In 2008, fully supported by our management team, I finished my Master’s degree and took the position as nurse educator for the Trauma ICU,” Edmunds said. “As my skills as an educator grew, I took over the position as the educator for the surgical ICU as well in 2010. I since have mentored other nurse educators and have worked to grow our base of unit based educators.” Workplace studies show that workplace satisfaction is a huge factor in retaining employees and nurse McAdams agrees. “I love my boss and all of my coworkers,” she said. “They are huge advocates for me and the rest of our staff. I love that our facility is focused on being patient- and family-centered and this gives me a freedom to practice nursing in a more dignifying way for the people and families that I serve.”

Some of the talented nurses at GRMC are, in front from left, Rachel Hong and Mary Kate McAdams. In back are Carla Allen, Jennifer Edmunds and Amy Colbert. Photo by Gary Kauffman

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Clearing the confusion behind financial aid For college students, the process of applying for financial aid can be confusing and overwhelming. How does one apply for financial aid? What are the different types of aid out there? What information does a student need to apply? Here are some tips, websites and guidelines for successfully completing the financial aid application Missie Usry process. It is impor- Enrollment Manager, Georgia Military tant to understand the types College of financial aid available before completing an application. All forms of financial aid can be divided into two basic categories: Money that you will have to pay back, and money that you don’t have to pay back. Federal and private loans fall under the first category, indicated by the use of the term “loan.” However, scholarships, federal and state grants and federal work-study funds fall under the category of money that is awarded or earned based on certain criteria. As a student, it’s best to maximize the money you don’t have to pay back, or “free money,” and minimize the use of loans. This will allow you to graduate with the least amount of debt after earning your degree. Keep in mind that this means an investment of time to search for scholarships and to complete the necessary steps to apply for those scholarships. When completing the FAFSA (Federal Application for Federal Student Aid), keep in mind that students under the age of 24 are required to include their parents’ income information when applying for federal financial aid. This regulation applies to all students unless serving in

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the military, married or are living independently with a child. Be sure to have copies of W-2s and tax returns when completing the application. To apply for federal aid, students need to complete the FAFSA, found online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, which colleges will use to determine the amount of aid you are awarded. Applying for various State of Georgia grants, such as Hope Grant, Hope Scholarship, Zell Miller Scholarship, Hope GED Grant and any other State of Georgia specific grants, to be used in a Georgia college, a student can apply at www.GACollege411.org. The website is designed to assist in planning for college. Students can use many tools on this website or can navigate to the Financial Planning portion of the site to apply for grants. Additional financial aid may be available through college or university financial aid offices, and through non-profit or private organizations in the community. There are many online search tools, such as www.fastweb.com, www.bigfuture.com, and https://www.salliemae. com/plan-for-college/scholarships/, which can help locate these additional forms of aid. High school guidance counselors are also a great resource for locating scholarship and grant opportunities. 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.


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Startup Augusta helps entrepreneurs grow By Tony Lever Startup Augusta I personally went looking for mentors years ago. What I found was a disconnect between the older businessmen with years of experience and the younger entrepreneurs who knew how to code and build commercial web applications. Both skill sets are needed to excel in today’s business world, but the two groups are miles apart. This issue is not just in Augusta, it exists all across the country. We want to bring these two segments of the community together. We no longer live in a world where you can open a corner store and expect to make it without some form of digital brand development and Ecommerce integration. Startup Augusta is designed to educate, mentor, and connect entrepreneurs with the tools and the funding sources required to promote a sustainable startup community in Augusta and the surrounding areas. Entrepreneurship is the primary focus of Startup Augusta. We are interested in supporting businesses at all levels of development, from notes on a napkin, through seed funding and beyond. Startup Augusta is a solution designed to take Augusta headfirst into the next phase of growth that is upon us in the current digital world. As a Rotary Club of Augusta member, I really enjoy the atmosphere that surrounds the Club. I therefore decided to pull some of those ideas into Startup Augusta, mainly the high ethical standards. I also held meetings with some very smart people in the

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community and got their feedback on what they thought would work and why other attempts have failed. I personally have been in the Ecommerce business for a decade now selling, of all things, Pine Straw (PineStraw.com). I started before there was a Twitter or Instagram, way back in the day when people really had not grasped what could be done with the internet yet. I learned the ins and outs of ecommerce and the value of Domain Names. I am not convinced the average business owner has fully realized the intrinsic value in Domain Names yet, however, I will keep pounding this message until it is obvious to anyone and everyone. We have several organizations in the community who do wonderful jobs with business in some form or another and we want to augment what they are doing and give the community a virtual hub for startup activity. We are not interested in individual political parties. What we are interested in is the business of value creation, capital formation, and helping people build businesses - period. Ecommerce, Digital Brand Development, Medical Information Technology, and Cyber Security Technology are our primary areas of commercial focus in the long run. We have to take these steps in a logical sequence and have decided that Mentors for the entrepreneurs in the area is a great place to focus on in the beginning. We will shift focus to the angel investment network in the next few months.

Tony Lever is helping connect entrepreneurs with the right tools and funding sources to create a successful business.

Startup Augusta is expanding our circle of influence in the greater Augusta area. If you are a professional in any area of the startup ecosystem (Angel Investor, Entrepreneur, Professional Service Provider ),

and would like to get involved with this exciting and developing new opportunity, please contact us at StartupAugusta.com today! StartupAugusta.com or Startup@ StartupAugusta.com

Condos available in historic Whites Building The J.B. Whites Building at 936 Broad Street will hold an open house on Saturday, May 3, 2-5 p.m. to show the benefits of living there. The building has studio and one-, two-

and three-bedroom condominiums available. For more information, contact realtor Adelle Dennis at 706-722-4962 or visit historicaugusta.org.


Making a change in an untrusted profession I Googled “least trusted occupations” then clicked on polls from various countries. It wasn’t surprising that politicians floated to the top. But what if only merchants were polled? Would there be a business owner consensus? Yes, there’s a murky profession that at least rivals the politicians’ – it’s the Card Processing Industry. That is an odd way to introduce Merchant Services, but sadly it’s more accurate than odd. As an owner of Credit Card Payment Sys- Jimmy McCollum tems, I’ve seen Credit Card many things Payment Systems previously done to merchants. For more than seven years, we’ve had the privilege of helping those merchants get their cash flow in order while developing many long-lasting friendships. I don’t want to paint everyone in the industry negatively because all aren’t. But I’ve been a merchant too. I almost did a “Top 10” like Letterman, with horror stories, but that’s just too much ugly. What is an effective way to seek out honest people who want make a good career

out of helping merchants, while I show the industry and point merchants toward CCPS? How about a “Top 1” list?

This is the industry from which we are saving merchants Mrs. Peggy is in her mid-70s and was our merchant for a few years through our agent, Chris, in North Carolina. She and her husband opened their little cafe 32 years ago. One day last year someone called, told her they could save her a lot of money and faxed a stack of papers to sign and fax back. The next day they walked her through reprogramming her terminal over the phone. She soon felt something wasn’t right and started asking questions. One of the contracts was a four-year lease. Sensing she was going to be a problem, they tried to proactively clean out her bank account for the full lease amount. Crying, she called Chris, who came by and asked “Mrs. Peggy, where is the terminal they leased to you?” They had sent her nothing. It seems they “leased” the terminal that Chris was letting her use for free! He was able to rescue Mrs. Peggy. This is the industry from which we are

saving merchants. We work directly with the most beaten down, yet vital folks in our country: Small business owners. They employ more than 50 percent of the workforce. Many, if not most, are hanging on by a thread and need help. As I wrote above, we have the privilege of helping with not only the flow of funds, but also, because our corporate offices are here, local customer service and technical support as well. Singer Judy Collins once said, “Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” We enjoy helping our merchants across the US, but especially our neighbors in the area. We need to get the word out faster

though. Are you, or do you know, a salesperson with integrity who lives here or in Aiken, Columbia, Athens or Statesboro wanting to be well rewarded in multiple ways? Please give Mark a call. Do you, or someone you know, accept credit cards and want to see if there is room for improvement? Again, give Mark a call at 706-799-2913. 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.

Putting the ‘grand’ in Grand Opening

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to make your presence known in the community. A grand opening is your businesses way of welcoming your community and other local businesses to view your products and meet you associates. A successful grand opening can become a successful first year of business. The key component to a grand opening is participation from the community and other businesses, below are tips to Lelia Hebert accomplish that. Geez Louise Creating a Event Planning budget is the starting point for any event that you plan, especially a grand opening. Be sure that you separate your grand opening budget from your monthly advertising and marketing budget. You will need to consider the cost of advertising the event, entertainment, food and promotional items. Choosing a date well in advance will help you properly plan and schedule your grand opening. You will also need ample time to create anticipation for your event. Use tools such as community calendars on city, news and radio web sites. Also, you can contact your local media to cover your grand opening. Be sure to book them soon after you pick your date! Another benefit of choosing a date in advance will enable you to assure you have the proper permits from your local government. Some local governments require permits and have regulations for banners, inflatables and even those crazy-arm guys! Be sure to play by the rules so you do not receive fines. After that basics of your grand opening

are planned, such as food, entertainment and date, you will want to turn more of your focus on participation and invitations. We have covered adding your event to community calendars but you may also want to consider inviting other businesses, or local religious groups or schools, depending on the type of business you own. A great idea to drum up business and participation is to offer a discount or coupon to these groups. Drop off flyers to other businesses with coupons attached for the grand opening. You want maximum participation as it yields maximum sales volume. You will also want to consider events to take place at your grand opening. Will you have a ribbon cutting? Contact your local Chamber of Commerce. This is something they specialize in and will add another layer of participation from the community. You will also want to make sure that you have maximum staff on hand to help with the event. Your staff should offer product demonstrations and answer all customer questions. Lastly, give them something to remember. Many companies offer promotional items featuring the company name, logo and contact information for customers to take home. You can often get these products in bulk and they should be ordered at least six weeks before the grand opening. Grand openings should be just what they state in the name, Grand. Your business should leave a lasting impression on the community that will result in return customers and income. These are just some of the things to consider when planning a grand opening, if you need help putting it all together, call us! 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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Goodwill plans two May job fairs in CSRA In celebration of the annual Goodwill Week, May 5-9, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA will hold a series of spring job fairs throughout its 35-county service area, including two in the CSRA. The job fairs will be preceded by “boot camps” designed to help job seekers in their search for employment, and all of the opportunities are provided free of charge. Two job fairs are scheduled for the CSRA: • The Aiken Goodwill Job Connection at 1015 Pine Log Road will hold a Spring

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Career Expo from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, May 7. Employers scheduled to participate include Day Break Adult Care Services, Aiken Regional Medical Center, Aramark, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Dollar General, Goodwill Industries, Helms College and Goodwill Staffing Services. • The South Augusta Goodwill Job Connection at 3120 Peach Orchard Road will hold a Spring Career Expo from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, May 8. Employers include Cintas, U.S. Battery, Teleperformance, FPL Foods, the Richmond County Sheriff ’s Office, Goodwill Industries, Helms College and Goodwill Staffing Services.

These job fairs will bring together employers and applicants while highlighting the job training and career development programs available through Goodwill’s Job Connections. In preparation for the Career Expo, Goodwill’s South Augusta and Aiken Job Connections are offering a free Job Fair Boot Camp from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, May 2, to assist job-seekers in making the best first impression. Taught by human resources professionals from businesses represented at the Career Expo, the Job Fair Boot Camp also will give participants preferred entry to the following

week’s Career Expo. Goodwill Week celebrates the power of work across the United States and Canada on the first full week of May. Many of the 180 autonomous Goodwill organizations mark the week with career fairs and employee events. For information on Aiken’s Spring Career Expo, call Aiken Community Director Jennifer Hart at 803-649-7694, or email jhart@goodwillworks.org. For information on the South Augusta Spring Career Expo, call Staffing Services Manager Kelly Taylor at 706-447-5195, or email ktaylor@goodwillworks.org.


Leisure & Hospitality

Achieve your fitness goals the SMART way The trick to creating achievable fitness goals is to make it SMART: That’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time frame. This simple acronym will help transform fitness goals to something thoughtful and detailed. 1. Specific Your goal must clearly define what Tammy & Tommy you’re going to Garner do. Goals must Anytime Fitness be clearly defined with the 5 Ws. What will be accomplished? Why is it important? Who is involved? Where will it take place? When will it happen? 2. Measurable Identify concrete criteria to measure the progress toward your fitness goal. For example: I will run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, three times per week for a month vs. I will run more (which lacks any way to measure your success). 3. Attainable In order for your fitness goal to be reached, it must be a realistic fitness goal for you. If this is your first time running, setting a goal of running five miles four days a week is not a realistic goal and therefore is not likely to be attainable. Figure out what’s most important to you and then answer the question: How can I set realistic fitness goals? 4. Relevant A relevant goal is one that truly matters to you – one that supports your values, needs and overall health. And to determine whether or not your goal is relevant, you must think if it is worthwhile. If it is, then it’s relevant. And you’re good to go!

5. Time Frame Creating a deadline may be one of the most important steps to setting a goal because time constraints help develop drive and focus. First ask yourself, when will I have this goal accomplished? Then think, what can I do today to move me towards my goal? What about two weeks from now? What about two months from now? Now that you’ve set a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time specific goal, how will you follow through with it?

Plan your workouts with someone else. We’ve found it much easier to stick to our fitness goals if we have someone to hold us accountable for our workouts. Not to mention, you can push yourself harder if you have a workout buddy. Rewarding yourself along the way with

small incentives can provide the motivation and perseverance you need to reach your end goal. Take caution against foodrelated rewards, as these rewards may hinder weight loss goals. Rather, reward yourself with a night at the movies, a minivacation or that much-needed pedicure.

At Anytime Fitness we care about you physically, mentally, and financially. Helping find a better “YOU” is what we do best. Our caring staff and top-rate personal trainers make us the ideal club for those new to exercise, those who feel intimidated by large, crowded gyms, or the fitness enthusiast. We make it personal and we make it convenient, 24 Hours, 365 days a year. For more information about our four clubs in the CSRA, visit us at anytimefitness.com/gyms/24/ martinez-ga-30907 or call us at 706-3642447.

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Shishkebab provides adventurous dining There’s no mistaking that the building once housed a Huddle House diner, except for the sign that advertises the $3.99 gyro lunch special and Friday night bellydancing. Inside, the rows of laminate booths and syrup bottles have been replaced with lots of somewhat exotic textiles and individual tables and a seating area that requires you to sit on the floor on a cushion. There are plenty of traditional Turkish decorations around to set the mood. My guest and I missed the bellydancing, but it’s probably not appropriate for a business lunch. We went for the food – and we were glad we did. The service Jennifer Miller was good. We were directed Power Hour Lunch to our choice of tables when we entered and the server was prompt with menus and our drinks. The menu gave us a pretty good idea what each dish was – and it all sounded wonderful. We started with babaghanoush, a chargrilled eggplant puree that’s flavored with sesame paste, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, for $5.99. It was served with a warm, soft pita cut into slices and topped with kalmata olives and drizzled with a little olive oil.

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Shishkebab Turkish Restaurant 648 North Belair Road, Evans 706-993-3600 www.shishkebabcsra.com Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday – closed Oh my, this was good and very different. The rich smoky flavor was strong, but not over-powering. Combined with the eggplant, it made a lovely opener to the meal. The dish was creamy so that the dip could be scooped with the pita or spread. We both decided on wraps – they just sounded too good to pass up. And, they were on the express menu – important when you have a limited amount of time. I had the Grilled Lamb Wrap for $8.99. Marinated cubes of tender lamb were grilled with peppers, onions and lettuce and wrapped in a soft, warm pita. It came with a small cup of Tzatziki. The flavors were complex and rich. It wasn’t spicy, but full of flavor. My guest ordered the Spicy Wrap for $6.99. Spicy ground lamb and beef were grilled and wrapped with vegetables. Our server did let her know that the entrée she ordered was spicy – not too spicy, he said, but too spicy for him. She found it delicious and with the right about of heat. Our wraps were similar, but the tastes were unique. The texture of the meats was quite different, and while mine was more exotic, hers had more zip.

It was a bit messy. By the end we had both used a couple of napkins and had resorted to using a knife and fork. That isn’t a big deal, but if you’re trying to impress a client it could be a little awkward. We both cleaned our plates, but turned down dessert, even though we had heard the baklava was amazing. Overall I loved the place. It’s a good place for a business lunch, if you are with an adventurous soul and want to concentrate as much on the food as any work that has to be done. I will go back, as will my guest. There

are too many interesting items to try not to become a regular. Who knows, maybe we’ll take in the Friday night belly-dancing sometime.


Everyday Joes have a place to hangout Joe’s Underground puts customers first

By Gary Kauffman It’s not often you find a restaurant named for the customer rather than the owner, but such is the case with Joe’s Underground. The name, according to current owner Jeremy LaFontaine, came from the desire for the bar to be an establishment where the “everyday Joe” could feel at home. The Underground portion of the name comes from the fact that it is indeed underground, reached by a set of well-worn marble steps on the corner of 8th and Broad streets. Joe’s Underground has been a fixture in Augusta’s downtown for 23 years, although LaFontaine took over ownership of it at the beginning of 2013. His goal is to create a new image that will make it a favorite of a more eclectic group of Joes. “It’s a little bit of a challenge,” LaFontaine said. “We want to make it an enjoyable experience whether it’s the food or the alcohol or the bands. We’re trying to stay true to the feel but also trying to clean things up.” One of the first items on the cleanup agenda was to turn it into a smoke-free bar, which cost LaFontaine the patronage of some hardcore smokers but has generally earned favorable comments. “I see the trend of going smoke-free, and especially down here where we don’t have the ventilation,” he said. “I want a place where customers could go home from and not smell like an ashtray.” LaFontaine spent the first year of ownership upgrading the food, beverages and entertainment. All the food is now made from scratch and offered in generous portions. “We try to push the envelope a little bit,” he said. “I’m constantly tasting new things to try.” He also encourages each bartender to create signature mixed drinks. A wide array of flavored vodkas means they can create some unique taste experiences, like orange creamsicle and banana cream pie. In fact, LaFontaine asserts, customers will notice the difference in all mixed drinks because of the effort he and other bartenders put into it. “The difference between a good drink and a great drink is the amount of effort that is put into mixing it,” he said. “And

we’re talking about a difference of about 30 seconds.” Joe’s Underground also offers a sampling of some Georgia-brewed beers, including Eagle Creek in Statesboro, Monday Night Brewery in Atlanta and Terrapin Hopsicutioner in Athens. The background music at Joe’s Underground is the blues – “It gives it a kind of laidback feel,” LaFontaine said – but the live

bands are wideranging in style. Everything from blues to hard rock, and even funk and rap, have had their chance on stage. “I’ll give anyone a chance once,” LaFontaine said. The key to a band booking more performances relies on how well the crowd is entertained. A current favorite at Joe’s Underground is a glam rock show called Chainsaw Mascara, which LaFontaine de-

One little piece to help the downtown When it comes to people complaining about downtown Augusta, Jeremy LaFontaine of Joe’s Underground has limited patience. “Anyone can be negative on Facebook and complain that there’s nothing to do in Augusta,” he said. “Anyone can do that. But try to give back as much as you get.” He said that if people look far enough they can find something negative to say about the downtown, and he admitted that there is work to be done.

“But there really is a great base of things to do downtown,” he added. Joe’s Underground works to give back to the community in a variety of ways. Two of the bar’s pet projects are Augusta’s roller derby team, the Soul City Sirens, and the girls rugby team, the Furies. “I want to see a change in Augusta and I’m trying my best to do something about it,” LaFontaine said. “One little bar is not going to make or break it, but we’re trying to add our little piece.”

scribed as an ‘80s hair band crossed with Rocky Horror Picture Show. The next step for Joe’s Underground, planned by the end of the year, is a gradual overhaul of the décor. The current décor has the same well-worn look of the marble steps on the outside, but LaFontaine said at least everything is clean. But even with all the changes, LaFontaine’s overriding concern remains with the “everyday Joes” who frequent Joe’s Underground. “Customer service is No. 1,” he said. “I try to focus on that above anything else. You can get bar food and drinks anywhere, so what is it about us that makes us different? We take a little extra time to do it right.” Making a customer’s visit to Joe’s Underground a memorable experience will continue to be LaFontaine’s goal. “I’ve got a lot of plans,” he said. “I’ll never get to the point, no matter what I’m doing, where I’ll be happy and content. Not in a negative way, but there are always little things I can do to make the experience more enjoyable.”

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