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W H AT ’ S I N S I D E

SEPTEMBER 2014 • THE CSRA’S ONLY MONTHLY BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Baby Boomers impact market................3 CSRA a technology hub............................7 Buzz Bits...................................................... 8,9 Small Business conference.................... 19 EDA brings job growth to area............ 23 BAH 100th Anniversary Special Section

Goodbye store fronts? E-commerce booms N. Augusta wins lawsuit, awaits appeals By Stephen Delaney Hale Another domino fell from the long line of obstacles to a major development on the shores of the Savannah River in North Augusta. South Carolina Circuit Court Judge J. Ernest Kinard, Jr., ruled on Aug. 20 that North Augusta has acted according to the law in promoting the multi-million future development code named “Project Jackson.” The proponents have weathered contentious debates in the halls of government and in the headlines for more than a year to achieve what might be final approval of the estimated $141 million project. Project Jackson has succeeded in debate in the North Augusta City Council, Aiken County Board of Education, Aiken County Council and now the South Carolina 3rd District Circuit Court. Still, no ground is being broken as the developer, Greenstone Properties of Atlanta, and the City of North Augusta wait to hear if plaintiff Steve Donohue appeals Judge Kinard’s decision to a higher court. Donohue, a resident of the River Golf Club in North Augusta, brought suit against the city on Dec. 23, 2013, seeking to stop the development by contending that the city’s financing method, a Tax Increment Financing District (known as TIF financing) is not allowable in the area to be developed because it does not meet two major parts of the definition of a TIF district. One was that the area to be developed had to be a blighted area and that it could be shown that it would not otherwise be developed if this development is not allowed. Donohue also contended that the City of North Augusta held illegal executive sessions in which they made decisions on the project out of the hearing of the public or the press. Judge Kinard found for the City in each matter. He ruled that the same area had already been designated as blighted by the establishment of a previous TIF district and that the state statute that created TIF financing requires that the blighted designation need only be found the first time. “The Court finds that in amending the TIF Plan under See LAWSUIT, page 2

More stores, like La Dee Da of North Augusta, are catering to the online customer. Photo by Gary Kauffman

E-commerce will increase as customers change habits

By Gary Kauffman Hope Seamen is closing her North Augusta store, but she’s not going out of business. Far from it. Seamen, owner of La Dee Da Gifts, is joining the growing number of businesses who will rely on e-commerce – selling online – rather than through a storefront. “I still believe in shop local and I support the community whenever I can,” Seamen said. “But in this economy you do whatever it takes. People are more driven to the web, more driven to e-commerce.” That is exactly what Tony Lever predicted at the Small Business and Entrepreneur’s Conference held at the Legend’s Club in Augusta on Aug. 12. He should know – he

started a business selling pine straw around the United States, all from a website. “I predict in the future store fronts will get smaller,” he said. “You can sell to the entire world from your office.” He said with a store, a business might have 30 potential customers walk through the front door on a Saturday afternoon. But online, double or triple that many potential customers may view your products in the same time period. Seamen understands that. Her website kept the business going through tough times. “If not for the website, especially during the ice storm, I See ECOMMERCE, page 2


Plans for fashion outlet mall scrapped

Plans to build an outlet mall next to Cabela’s have been scrapped, according to a press release from Ben Carter Enterprises. “While the Augusta retail trade area’s strong demographics remain attractive, I have decided to focus my efforts on the restoration of Broughton Street in Savannah’s Historic District and the development and lease-up of Tanger Outlets Savannah in Pooler,” Ben Carter said in the press release. The announcement comes as a surprise after a July announcement that Carter and Georgia Theatre Co. had reached an agreement to switch the location of a proposed 14-screen theater to make room for the outlet mall. At that time, Carter said he expected to break ground for the mall in December and have the mall operational by Masters Week 2016. According to sources, key anchor stores that Carter sought had not yet agreed to locate a store in Augusta. The mall had been expected to be 400,000 square feet, with fashion outlets, restaurants, hotels and other businesses. The proposed mall would have created an estimated 1,500 jobs. Plans to build the new theater are not affected by the recent announcement. While the mall won’t move ahead as scheduled, there is indication that the plan could be picked up again if key fashion retailers would decide to locate in the area.

Construction of the 149,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market in Washington Crossing Shopping Center is nearing completion. The store is expected to open this fall. Other new tenants in the shopping center will be DSW Shoes, HomeGoods and Jason’s Deli, joining exitsting stores Bonefish Grill, Outback Steakhouse and Verizon. Photo by Gary Kauffman

GB&T plans charity giveaway to celebrate 25 years

In celebration of its 25th anniversary this year, Georgia Bank & Trust Company of Augusta will continue its tradition of supporting the community by making a donation of $25,000 to 10 area charities. The top 10 recipients, determined by most votes received, will be awarded $2,500 each. “It’s been an incredible 25 years to be part of the community. Rather than throw a party, we thought it was a great opportunity to give back. We are going

E-COMMERCE continued from page 1 don’t know how we’d have made it,” she said. “A lot of our customers are not staying in the local stores. They’re purchasing online. Lever said that trend will only grow stronger. “Fifteen years from now everyone will be doing all their business from their phones,” he said. “You’ll have to start selling to the world.” He doesn’t think that stores will disappear. People will still go to the mall, but with a different mindset. “The mall will be more of an experience,” he said. “You’ll go in and order things to be shipped to you the next day.” Seamen has plans to offer something like that. Although her store will close, she has purchased a trailer – painted bubblegum pink – that she plans to take to homes or businesses, or to special events like a girl’s night out, to make it easy to purchase items. But selling from the trailer isn’t as much the goal as it is to create exposure to drive business to her website. With e-commerce becoming such a big part of the future of business, Lever said a website is vital, something not all small businesses have. During a separate talk at the Aug. 12 conference, John Kane of the

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Augusta Chronicle noted that 45 percent of small businesses don’t have a website. Yet a survey showed that 90 percent of women in the CSRA are using mobile devices. Seamen didn’t have a website for the first three years of her business. It was while celebrating her third anniversary with special offerings on Facebook that she had her “aha” moment. Her Facebook page went from 500 likes to 10,000 likes in a week’s time. A constant question was the address of her website so they could order online. She immediately began working on building a website. “At the beginning it was overwhelming,” she said. “I’ve learned to mainstream it and do the things we’re good at on it.” Lever said domain names are as valuable as an actual storefront. “Domains are virtual real estate,” he said. Much of a domain name’s value lies in it being memorable and letting people quickly determine what the business does. The question a business owner should ask about the domain name is, “Can you say it on the radio one time and get people to remember it?” Seamen chose to use her business name as her domain name – ladeedagifts.com.

to ask our community to vote. We polled our 350 employees to see what charities they are most involved in,” said CEO R. Daniel Blanton. The contest will run from Thursday, Aug. 28 through Friday, Oct. 31. The list of eligible charities can be viewed online at GiveBack25.com or by visiting any local branch. The top 10 winners will be chosen by the community. Voters will be allowed to cast one vote

Lever’s website is pinestraw.com. One advantage e-commerce has over a local storefront is a huge increase in potential customers. Lever said he sells pine straw to most of the United States. Seamen has shipped wreaths from orders on her website to as far away as Alaska and Germany. Closing her store will also allow Seamen to be more competitive on price. “With closing our store front, our prices will be more comparable (to other online stores),” she said. It will also allow her to spend more time with her husband and three children. Seamen admits it will be hard to close the store but she has to go where the customers are. “At times I feel like I’m selling out by closing the store,” she said. “But our customers and our society, they’re just not there anymore.” That is why Lever believes that intellectual property like business name, domain name and phone number will be increasingly important in the world of e-commerce. “Invest in your intellectual property,” Lever said. “I cannot stress that enough. The future of commerce is intellectual property and how you can convey that to end customer.”

per day for the duration of the contest. Cast votes by visiting GiveBack25.com, any Georgia Bank & Trust branch location or by calling 706-738-6990 in Georgia or 803649-4240 in South Carolina by Oct. 31. They have 12 locations. Nine in Georgia under the name Georgia Bank & Trust and 3 in Aiken County under the name Southern Bank & Trust. Southern Bank & Trust is a division of Georgia Bank & Trust. They are adding a future location in Grovetown.

LAWSUIT

continued from page 1 S.C. Code, the City is not required to make updated findings related to blight, declining or static property values or the need for public assistance to correct them,” the ruling stated. He also ruled that testimony in the July 18 trial established that, “there is no evidence that would lead to the conclusion that the City Council took any action during the executive session held at its March 11, 2013 meeting,” and other executive sessions. He summarized that point, saying, “The Court finds this evidence credible and persuasive. The means used by City Council to announce and convene executive sessions did not violate the Freedom of Information Act, as Mr. Donohue had claimed.” The ambitious project would move the Augusta GreenJackets minor league baseball team across the river to a new stadium built for them, surrounded by shops, restaurants, offices, housing, meeting spaces and a hotel. Economic development authorities in North Augusta and across Aiken County continue to wait, expecting that Project Jackson will be an economic boon to the whole county and finally, after 112 years since its founding, transform North Augusta from the sleepy image of a bedroom community to a vibrant city with a character and identity all its own.


Boom, Baby! A generation impacts market Baby Boomers, the largest American generation, were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. They are the children of the Greatest Generation, those that went through the Great Depression and World War II. Baby Boomers are fully onethird of the population of our country. They have the highest incomes compared to other Kim Romaner generations, they have more Business Broker wealth, they are very healthy and physically fit (50 is the new 30!), their purchases comprise 40-50 percent of total consumer spending, they’re living into their 80s on average, and…they own 7 million privately held businesses. What are Baby Boomers doing with those businesses? Well, they’re considering their options. And what are those? The first and most common option is passing the business to the owner’s children or the company’s employees. A third of Baby Boomer business owners are planning to implement this retirement strategy, and it will be an effective strategy in some cases. What we’re hearing from the majority of business owners we’re talking to right now,

however, is that the kids and the employees are not interested in taking over the business or are not prepared to successfully run the business. What we know about the country as a whole is that 36 percent of adult children— that’s 14 million of them—live at home. (Unsurprising related statistic: 70 percent of parents want them gone!) So what about the other 67 percent who are not planning (or hoping) for the above eventuality? They have three options: 1), their businesses will outlive them. That is, they will pass without having a succession plan in place. 2), they can close their businesses when that becomes feasible (leases expire, etc.), liquidating inventory and assets if they can. And 3), they can sell their businesses while they are ongoing concerns, add to their retirement nest egg and recoup more significant value for their years of investment in the business.

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.

As we transitioned out of the Great Recession, 2013 saw a 68 percent increase in business sales over 2012. Half of businesses sold in 2013 were sold by Baby Boomers. Continuing that trend, 76 percent more businesses will sell in 2014 than sold in 2013. Additionally, in the last four years, $35 billion in federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loans have been put on the street – that’s the largest amount ever. For the younger generations – and the average age of business buyers in 2013 was 35 to 45 – this poses a significant opportunity. What experts are predicting right now is a tsunami of wealth transfer as boomers retire. Think about it: The oldest baby boomer is 68 this year. Over the next 15-20 years, this vast generation will be desirous of or needing to slow down, step down and experience a quieter existence. But 83 percent of these business owners say that they want their businesses to continue after they exit.

And the SBA wants to loan the money to make sure that happens. This will mean that many great businesses are and will be on the market, some at considerable discounts, most priced to provide a quick return on investment, and many SBA loan eligible. That’s great news for younger business owners looking to expand (acquire a larger customer base rather than building it from scratch!), younger business-oriented people looking for independence and a dependable source of income, and experienced professionals who are looking for their next “gig.” For the local economy, this will mean a boom in business growth as new owners take over existing, well-established businesses with great reputations and grow them to new heights. In other words, look out, CSRA! Our future is extremely bright!

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Strategic Partnerships

My business mentor and tennis buddy, Jeff Annis of Advanced Services Pest Control, saw today’s announcement coming years ago when we were reviewing my business while swatting forehands at the Petersburg Racquet Club. Years back Jeff told me that unless strategic alliances formed between media companies some will go out of business. There were just too many similar options for companies like this. He was right as some publications and ad agencies have come and gone. Jeff also warned me back then to not be a “commodity”— be different, specialized and deliver a unique service. It is with that spirit that Buzz on Biz, LLC entered into a strategic alliance with Augusta CEO and its CEO Randy Davidson. Randy and I share the same faith, family values and entrepreneurship Randy’s team are experts in delivering fresh content daily via e-newsletters in Augusta and seven other Georgia cities. Augusta CEO has developed a unique business model that reaches business owners daily with news, videos and analysis. We’ll be able to share some of their content through our diverse distribution methods in this newspaper (see Lucy Adams’ story about the technology advances in the CSRA on page 7), on News 12, on Beasley Broadcasting and with our weekly e-newsletter. Some of our unique content will also appear in their newsletter. “Neil has created a powerful media company in the Augusta market and we are proud to align Augusta CEO with Buzz on Biz,” Randy said in part of a press release to his subscribers. “This alliance reaches the who’s who of Augusta and will ensure that businesses in the CSRA receive coverage and exposure in Neil Gordon all media.” Buzz on Biz From an advertising perspective, Augusta CEO and Buzz on Biz will bundle some business-to-business ad packages so Publisher that our unique contacts have access to our key demographic at a great value. We’ll look to sponsor events together in the future. It is a “win-win-win-win” for business news consumers, advertisers, and both of our companies. For more information visit www.buzzon.biz or www.AugustaCEO.com. We are also proud of another partnership formed this month. You’ll notice a second section of our newspaper – an 8-page advertorial on different paper stock. It is the 100th Anniversary of Booz Allen Hamilton. This consulting company has a major presence on post at Fort Gordon, with approximately 150 of their folks there. Booz Allen Hamilton is also a sponsor of this year’s AFCEA conference in September at the Augusta Convention Center on Reynolds Street. Neil Gordon is president of Buzz on Biz, LLC and produces a daily TV segment on News 12 This Morning, a daily radio show on WRDW 1630 AM, a daily website, a weekly email business newsletter and the monthly publication Verge in addition to Buzz on Biz, the CSRA’s only monthly business publication. To learn more, visit buzzon.biz or email him at neil@ buzzon.biz.

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THE CSRA’S ONLY MONTHLY BUSINESS MAGAZINE The Buzz on Biz mission is to act as an inspirational tool for those in the workplace and those who are entrepreneurs, and to provide useful, practical information to increase their companies’ bottom lines. To order a 12-month subscription mailed to your home or office, please mail a check for $36 to cover postage to the address below. Publisher Neil R. Gordon Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman/803-341-5830 Sales Manager Neil R. Gordon/706-589-6727 Sales Janine Garropy/803-480-2800 Design Gary Kauffman

Photography Gary Kauffman Melissa Gordon/sofiacolton.com Paid Interns Daniel Marshall Alexandrea Daitch 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


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Industrial park’s space adapts to tenants’ needs By Stephen Delaney Hale If you need some space to grow your business or perhaps a supply depot for equipment or inventory that you don’t use every day, Deans Bridge Industrial Park could have just what you need. The industrial park, located at 3105 Spring Grove Drive, Augusta, has thousands of square feet of modern and adaptable spaces that can be configured to meet your business needs. It is owned and operated by Adams Development Company. “The spaces are versatile for a variety of businesses” said Tripp Wilson, the industrial park’s leasing agent “We work with large national companies as well as local startups.” For a lot of companies that means a regional office close to the interstate system that allows them to respond quickly to the needs of their clients. For companies that service industries at Fort Gordon, Plant Vogtle, SRS and other major companies in the area, it might mean space for backup or seasonal equipment. The industrial park has nine buildings that each contain 10,000 square feet of clean, modern space to be leased. That gives Wilson the flexibility to offer clients between 1,000 and 10,000 square feet of “flex” space. Wilson gave several examples of companies that count on Deans Bridge Industrial Park for their base of operations. “For example, Russell’s Weddings and Events has a beautiful showroom set up for displaying their wares that give people ideas for what their wedding or event can look like.” he said. It is also an office and storage point for emergency providers. Hepaco, for example, is an emergency response, industrial services company headquartered in Charlotte, NC. They have their Augusta facility located in the industrial park. “They keep emergency response equipment at many locations around the country so that they can have a short

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Tripp Wilson, director of Dean’s Bridge Industrial Park, in front of one of the adaptable spaces. Photo by Stephen Hale

response time during an emergency.” Similarly, Lewis Goetze responds to equipment breakdowns at industrial plants nationwide and they have to be nearby and ready whatever needs fixing for their clients. Deans Bridge Industrial Park was recently purchased by Augusta native Franklin Adams whose Adams Devel-

opment Company is now based in Charleston, SC. His Augusta office is located in Augusta Business Center, 111 Shartom Drive. For more information on finding your space at Deans Bridge Industrial Park contact Tripp Wilson at (706) 2941924 or reach him at twilson@adamsdc.com


CSRA evolves into technology hub By Lucy Adams Courtesy of Augusta CEO In less than 10 years, Augusta and the CSRA have evolved into a hub of technological research, implementation, discovery, innovation and delivery. Among U.S. cities, Metro Augusta ranks second for high-tech job growth in the last five years. The number of technology jobs in Augusta increased 81 percent from 2006 to 2011. In Georgia, Augusta has the secondhighest growth in technology-based businesses, bested only by Atlanta. In 2014, NewGeography.com cited Augusta as No. 10 in the country for Cities Winning the Battle for Information Jobs, and Wallethub.com designated Augusta as the No. 3 Best Place to Start a Business. This perfect storm stages Augusta for a steady increase of tech-related jobs and companies. Technology breeds more technology. Gadgets are quickly obsolete. Computers need constant software updates. The latest hardware and software require the development of hardware or software to support them. Other business sectors rely on tech assistance to aid with the integration of technological advances. One niche gives way to another as new applications, risks and research open doors for alternative solutions, methods and utilities. The CSRA is capitalizing on these characteristics of the tech industry. “Information security, process automation, energy and sustainability, health, education and advanced manufacturing are our primary areas of specialization as a community,” said Eric Parker, co-founder and managing partner of theClubhou.se Partners and advisory board chair of the Greater Augusta chapter of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). The twofold forces of Augusta’s layered healthcare community and the U.S. Army’s Fort Gordon continue to push the CSRA to the forefront of the technology field in Georgia and in the nation. Relocation of the U.S. Army’s Cyber Command Headquarters (ARCYBER) to Fort Gordon is compounding the CSRA’s tech sector expansion. In conjunction with ARCYBER’s move to Fort Gordon, several other units such as the Cyber Center of Excellence and the Cyber Resources Teams, along with intelligence units, will follow. Parker called the development an “economic game changer.” The army’s decision to headquarter ARCYBER at Fort Gordon attests that the area’s infrastructure and atmosphere are conducive to the proliferation of tech-based businesses. Scott Poag, Project Manager for the Augusta Development Authority, notes the symbiotic relationship between the private and public sectors. “Augusta is right in the middle of it,” he said, adding that the city is uniquely poised for progress. “Other communities do not have these features that exist in Augusta – the 11 hospitals, the medical university, a research university, a technical training college, Fort Gordon and the presence of the

Savannah River Site nearby.” ARCYBER is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs with salaries ranging from $50,000 to more than $100,000 by 2019. That adds up to an annual income impact of $154 million. Private sector cyber contractors and tertiary tech-type businesses arriving in the region to meet outsourced needs, to identify and fill high-tech niches and to take advantage of the benefits of clustering will multiply the income effect. The partnership between Georgia Regents University and Philips Healthcare, a leader in the field of medical technology, provides another example of public sector-private sector synergy. This first-of-its-kind innovative delivery model for treating patients with cutting-edge medical technology will revolutionize the healthcare industry. The 15-year, $300 million alliance signed in June 2013 will not only benefit the 4 to 6 million people living in the region served by Georgia Regents Health System, it will also foster continued development and refinement of diagnostic and treatment tools and spur tech businesses that provide supportive services. Numerous tech-based businesses have set up shop in Augusta, taking advantage of the tech-savvy workforce. “In today’s economy, companies locate where the talent is available,” Poag said. Federal facilities, like Fort Gordon, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and Savannah River Site, along with private enterprises, such as Plant Vogtle, attract a brain-trust of technology experts to the CSRA. In addition, local secondary schools, colleges and universities train students to enter a tech-skilled workforce. A. R. Johnson High School, a health science and engineering magnet school, and Richmond County Technical Career Magnet High School, prepare young people for post-secondary study in tech-related fields. Augusta Technical College offers a nuclear engineering technology program to accommodate the area’s growth trends. “Georgia Regents University and Augusta Technical College are training the workforce of tomorrow at every level,” Poag said. Efforts are afoot to cultivate a community comfortable with technology, to bring people together to exchange ideas, test hypotheses and implement inventions. Parker’s endeavor, theClubhou.se, for example, “functions as a cultural center for techies and entrepreneurs.” Parker believes this grassroots movement toward a tech-abled citizenry sets Metro Augusta apart as a model of trailblazing in the 21st century. Morris Venture Capital, a division of Morris Communications, is taking advantage of the Invest Georgia Act, which creates a $100-million venture capital fund in the state. Other financing opportunities through initiatives like FundAugusta.com educate the community on crowdfunding. Crowdfunding enables average citizens to pool their resources to finance a local project or organization, driving technology growth from the ground floor.

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Marketing firm plans small biz conference

Becoming a Small Business Champion is the theme of a networking conference and 10th anniversary celebration of Exousia Marketing Group planned for Sept. 12. The event will take place 9 a.m-3 p.m. at Be My Guest Catering and Events, 4216 Washington Road, Evans. Exousia’s “Becoming a Small Business Champion” event will help entrepreneurs to boost their businesses, gain enlarged territory in the marketplace, and excel in their industry. CEO Ruby James has assisted diverse clients with marketing design through premium services. She believes that locally established businesses in this digital climate can go forward to world domination if they are empowered through knowledge, motivation, and guidance from trailblazers and top-shelf thought-leaders. Five speakers are slated for the event including globe-trotting speaker Will Moreland and Cyber Security expert Wayne Anderson. The cadre of speakers have a combined total of more than 40 years experience. Offerings for the event will include topics such as Marketing Tips, Finance for Small Business, How to Position/Boost Business, Income Generation, Cyber Command Opportunities and More Relevant and Premium Information. Authors, small business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to register and/or become vendors for this event. For more information, to register or become a vendor, visit www.exousiaexcel.com.

United Hospice changes name to PruittHealth

United Hospice’s Augusta and Aiken locations are now PruittHealth Hospice. After 45 successful years in the health care industry, UHSPruitt Corporation has changed its name to PruittHealth, as well as the names of its family of providers, and modified company branding to achieve a more unified image for its vast array

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buzz bits of health care services. While the name may have changed, the quality of care and services has not. The community can expect the same quality services and commitment to caring that United Hospice has always provided, now with a new name. This rebranding campaign is visible in communities throughout the Southeast, and along with a new name, PruittHealth has a new logo and website to better represent the organization’s unique model of care and spectrum of health care services.

Local burgers get recognition Three Augusta eateries had their burgers selected among the Best Southern Burger Spots by Garden & Gun magazine. Selected were Farm Haus and Sports Center Restaurant, both on Broad Street, and Gary’s Hamburgers with locations in the Augusta Exchange and on Washington Road, as well as in North Augusta. The selections were based on Facebook suggestions from the magazine’s readers.

Historic Partridge Inn under new ownership Following a June auction, Partridge Inn Holdings, LLC has officially acquired The Partridge Inn in Augusta with a top bid of $4.25 million. Atlanta-based NorthPointe Hospitality Management, LLC will be the management company for the hotel, which officially changed hands on Aug. 18. “We’re excited to be working with The Partridge Inn and to have the opportunity to bring this historic property back to its glory days,” said Greg Winey, president of NorthPointe Hospitality. “This hotel represents an investment not just in the physical property, but in Augusta’s bright future as well. The hotel’s excellent location, storied history and architectural charm make it poised to reclaim its place as the city’s premier lodging and special events destination,” said Winey. “We look forward to returning The Partridge Inn to its proper standing as Augusta’s icon of Southern hospitality and a market leader.” The historic hotel, which originally opened in 1910, has 144 guestrooms and suites, a quartermile of verandahs and balconies, a restaurant, an outdoor pool, an exercise room, and 8,000 square-feet of meeting space. NorthPointe will usher in a new era for the esteemed property, which was last updated in 2006. During the $6 million project, the hotel will undergo extensive and complete renovations of all guestrooms, meeting spaces, public

Local lawyer WAFJ, Arby’s receives national help bring recognition ‘Christmas’ to Sarah Floyd Blake has been Safe Homes selected as a 2014 member of The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40. This is the second consecutive year Attorney Blake has been named to this prestigious organization. According to The National Trial Lawyers’ website, the organization only recognizes 40 young attorneys from each state or region for membership. Only those who demonstrate superior leadership, reputation, influence, stature and profile as civil plaintiff or criminal defense attorneys will be considered. To be eligible for membership, The National Trial Lawyers considers lawyers’ achievements, settlements and verdicts as a trial lawyer. Blake is a partner at the law firm of Floyd Leopard and Blake L.L.P. She is licensed to practice law in the states of Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. Her practice areas include personal injury, family law and criminal defense.

SafeHomes of Augusta received Christmas early when 88.3 WAFJ and local Arby’s restaurants teamed up to collect items for the domestic violence shelter in the CSRA. SafeHomes’ mission is to transform victims of domestic violence into survivors. During the month of July, 88.3 WAFJ set up ‘Christmas Shop’ at local Arby’s and asked listeners to be their elves. The elves have been busy and have donated more than 3,000 items and given more than $1,300 in monetary and gift cards. Those donations were presented to SafeHomes’ representatives on Monday. “88.3 WAFJ listeners have caught the vision for this outreach,” said Steve Swanson, 88.3 WAFJ station manager. “The staff of 88.3 and Arby’s certainly brought out the Spirit of Christmas in engag-

spaces and the exterior. Updates to the hotel will create a fresh look to the property’s historic architecture while adding the amenities that today’s guests expect. The first step of renovations, including structural and cosmetic work, will start immediately. During this time, The PI Bar and Grill will temporarily operate on a new dining schedule, which will include only breakfast, dinner and their famous Sunday Brunch. Over the next six months, the remainder of the property will be completely transformed. The property will be ready to welcome guests in March 2015, in plenty of time for the Masters Tournament.

ing listeners to do the same. The response was humbling. We are thanking God for His love and generosity in this outreach. We know that SafeHomes will have a lifelong positive impact on the families and we just wanted to do our part.”

Day Care celebrates 20 years in CSRA

Learning, Laughter and Love, a local child enrichment center is celebrating its 20th year in the CSRA. The business, located at 5119 Wrightsboro Road in Grovetown, celebrated its 20th anniversary in July and recently opened a new center in the Appling-Harlem area. Owner and founder Deena Youngblood said they are excited about their new location and the number of years they have provided excellence in Early Care and Learning in the CSRA area. Youngblood is the mother of 12 and has dedicated her life to instilling morals and values to all of the children she helps raise.

Learning, Laughter and Love is part of the Geogia Early Learning Development Standards and has curriculum and lesson plans for every age.

Downtown building to be replaced Downtown Augusta will lose a historic building but should gain a new one in its place. The Brislan Building at the corner of 12th and Broad streets had housed Downtown Dental and six upstairs apartments. It was badly damaged in a fire on Jan. 3 and has remained mostly untouched since. 12th Street between Broad and Ellis streets has been blocked off since. The city recently issued a demolition permit to raze the building. Property owner Michael Osbon plans a new 10,000-square-foot building in its place that will be mixed use of commercial and residential. Immaculate Ink Custom Tattoo, which operates in the adjoining building, will move to 1285 Broad Street while the demolition takes place.


Augusta’s economy looking strong The labor market in Augusta should remain robust over the next few months, according to the Augusta Leading Economic Index (LEI) released recently. The Index showed another increase in June, the fourth consecutive month of growth since the winter ice storms negatively affected February’s LEI. The Index has increased by 4.4 percent since June 2013. Both unemployment insurance claims and job openings show continued improvement, indicating a strong outlook for the economy. Much of the local growth in the past year has been in the leisure and hospitality industry, as well as in business and professional services. Leisure and hospitality is now the third largest employment sector in Augusta, moving ahead of the retail trade. It has gained more than 3,000 jobs in the past year. Overall, leisure and hospitality and business and professional services have accounted for 4,600 new jobs in the area, offsetting losses in other areas such as health and education and government. There are 3,500 total more jobs in the Augusta area now than a year ago.

Area golf courses make changes The most prestigious address in the CSRA, West Lake Country Club, is working hard to get to the next level with their Country Club. Earlier in August, the Board of Directors opted to let go of their longtime general manager. He’s been replaced on an interim basis by their head golf pro. That move was made to improve communications between the board and operators of the country club. A board member confirms there have been challenges in making debt service payments to the bank to payback monies needed for renovations at West Lake. He says the club’s course and facilities are in excellent condition and that these kinds of challenges are becoming more

buzz bits

Artists Row takes over First Friday downtown events The Greater Augusta Arts Council will transfer the management and publicity of First Friday events to Artists Row. The change will take place on Sept. 5. First Friday, a monthly arts event in downtown Augusta, has been under the management of the Greater Augusta Arts Council since January 2005. Artists Row is working with many new partners to revitalize this important event. Partners include Clear Channel Radio, Channel 12, The Augusta Market, Symphony Orchestra Augusta and SouthStar Trolleys. Artists Row is also working with city leaders from the office of the mayor and the sheriffs office. Vendors interested in joining First Friday should contact Syd Padgett at 706-513-0916 for an application and more information. Artists Row is currently only accepting applications for locally created arts and crafts. common with golf courses in the CSRA. He adds there should be no concern of the West Lake Country Club closing and all involved are working hard to take the Club to the next level of success. Buzz on Biz founder Neil Gordon says there have been a lot of change in the local landscape of area golf. Champions Retreat, for example, was recently sold by the Meybohm and Pollard Family to a private company that is pledging to put millions of dollars into adding a lot of extras onto the well-maintained courses, which features designs by Masters greats Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. In South Carolina, Mount Vintage went into foreclosure and closed the course in February of this year and the bank opted to re-open it in late April.

Staffing firm has jobs in Burke County

Express Employment Professionals, a staffing firm based in Augusta, is looking for qualified individuals for open positions at various Burke County manufacturing facilities.

They will be performing interviews on the Augusta Technical College-Burke County campus on Thursday, Sept. 11, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Applicants must have industrial experience. Interested parties can apply online at www.expresspros.com and schedule an interview for that date by calling 706-3644473.

TEDx event planned for January HACKAugusta, theClubhou. se, MailChimp, Georgia Regents University, NewFire Media and CONima have scheduled TEDxAugusta for Jan. 30, 2015, at the Imperial Theatre with refreshments and conversation served directly across the street in the City Room. The theme for TEDxAugusta is “connections,” focusing on anything that connects one person or idea to another. Speakers for January’s TEDxAugusta will be announced on Oct. 1. Tickets to TEDxAugusta will be available starting in September. Anyone interested in submitting a speaker or performer

application for the TEDxAugusta event can visit www.tedxaugusta.com. All applicants must read the rules published by TED regarding speaker and performer guidelines. TEDxTelfair Street, hosted at the Richmond County Library in January 2014, was the precursor to TEDxAugusta. Videos of each TEDx talk, presented during last year’s TEDx event, are available at www.tedxaugusta.com/videos/. TEDx events are independently-organized events. The TEDx initiative grants free licenses to people around the world to organize TED-style events in their communities with TED Talks and live speakers. More than 5,000 TEDx events have been held, and selected talks at these events are also turned into TED Talks videos. TEDx Augusta is an independently organized event meant to inspire and challenge the greater Augusta community.

EDTS among best in IT world EDTS, the full-service technology consulting firm specializing in network security, managed IT services and advanced infrastructure for Southeastern business, was named to the 2014 Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies for the fifth consecutive year – a distinction fewer than 18 percent of honorees typically achieve annually – surviving and thriving even during one of the worst recessions in American history along the way. EDTS comes in ranked at 3,522nd place on this year’s Top 5000 list, and continues to rank highly among IT Service providers on the list – historically the fastest-growing segment. The 2014 Inc. 5000 list measures revenue growth from 2010 through 2013, with average annual growth for 2014 coming in at 516 percent, according to Inc. To qualify, companies must be U.S. based and privately held, independent and have had at least $100,000 in revenue in 2010, and $2 million in 2013. EDTS was also recognized as a member of CRN’s 2014 Next-Gen 250 list, making the prestigious ranking for the third consecutive year The CRN Next-Gen 250

highlights up-and-coming technology solution providers who have adapted their businesses in unique ways to meet market demands for emerging technologies such as unified communications, managed services, virtualization, and cloud computing.

4 area Sonics among final 12 in competition Kermark Group, Inc., a Sonic Drive-In franchise organization operating in the Augusta area, announced that four of its drivein crews have qualified for the final stage of Sonic’s annual Dr Pepper Sonic Games, a multimonth competition and training program recognizing the best Sonic Drive-In crews across the country. With only 12 crews from around the nation competing in the final stage of the Games, having a third of the group come from one franchise organization is a significant accomplishment. A record 2,800 drive-ins participated in this year’s Games, and the crews were narrowed down through multiple stages throughout the year. The four Augusta-area crews will be rewarded for their hard work with an all-expenses-paid trip to Sonic’s annual convention in New Orleans this September, where the final 12 teams from across the nation battle it out for the bronze, silver and gold medals. The four Augusta-area crews advancing to the final 12 stage are: Aiken crew from the 2092 Whiskey Rd. Sonic Drive-In; Evans crew from the 4436 Washington Rd. Sonic Drive-In; North Augusta crew from the 1036 Edgefield Rd. Sonic Drive-In; and Waynesboro, Ga., crew from the 275 South Liberty St. Sonic Drive-In. The Augusta crews and the other eight teams have been through months of tough challenges all aimed at testing their knowledge of Sonic and their position within the crew. This batch of Sonic all-stars will advance to the Ultimate Training event in New Orleans where they will go head-tohead in two days of team and individual competitions on Sunday, Sept. 7, and Monday, Sept. 8.

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Business openings, closing and moves Openings Teavana Teavana, a specialty retailer offering more than 100 varieties of premium looseleaf teas, authentic artisanal teawares and other tea-related merchandise, is now open in the Augusta Mall. The new store is 1100 square feet, located on the upper level across from the new H&M store. Founded in 1997, the company offers new tea enthusiasts and tea connoisseurs alike its “Heaven of Tea” retail experience where passionate and knowledgeable “teaologists” engage and educate them about the ritual and enjoyment of tea. Teavana donates to the EquaTrade program, which helps fund education and economic development worldwide. This is the eighth premier retailer the Mall has added in the past 18 months. Others are H&M, Michael Kors, Foot Locker House of Hoops, Clarks, Earthbound Trading Company, Icing, and Buca Di Beppo. Several retailers have also completed or are in the process of remodeling their stores in the mall, including Hollister, Kay’s Jewelers, Zales Jewelers, Lane Bryant, Justice and Victoria’s Secret. Once complete later this year, Victoria’s Secret will be nearly 10,000 square feet near JCPenney. More than 300 Teavana stores in North America and the Middle East each day introduce people to the wide world of loose leaf tea and build new groups of tea enthusiasts. Which Wich Which Wich, which has more than 300 stores in the United States, is adding Mullins Crossing to the list. The unique sandwich shop replaced the Great Wraps shop which had closed in 2013. The Evans store will be in the same wing of Mullins Crossing as Moe’s and the FedEx store. Last year, Which Wich opened on 3668 Wheeler Road and the Patel family plans a third CSRA location in 2015. Which Wich is somewhat like a “modern-day” Subway. There are about a dozen choices. You pick the bag of the corresponding sandwich and take a Sharpie pen to mark up the specific ingredients you’d like added to the sandwich. Once finished with your sandwich, you can hang up your bag in the store art gallery. H&M One of the world’s top fashion stores, H&M recently opened in the Augusta Mall. H&M at Augusta Mall gives shoppers in Georgia access to the latest trends at the best prices. The new location offers collections for ladies, men, young ladies and young men, with separate “store within store” sections for accessories, lingerie, and its plus-size line, H&M+. This location also carries the Swedish retailer’s children’s collection, which features quality clothing for kids of all ages, from newborn to 14 years. H&M is the first fashion company to roll out a global garment recycling program. Through this initiative, H&M customers at Augusta Mall can help save natural resources and contribute to a reduced environmental impact by donating unwanted pieces of clothing from any brand while in

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the store. Customers will receive a voucher for 15 percent off their entire next purchase for each bag of donated clothing. Walmart A deal has been signed that will bring another Walmart neighborhood grocery store to the CSRA. The new Walmart will be built at 300 South Belair Road, close to I-20. It will be a 41,000-square-foot grocery store with 12,800 square feet in additional space on the property. It is believed a fast-food restaurant, gas station and some retail stores might be part of this 15-acre complex. The common denominator in the locations of the four Walmarts is Food Lion. The first one that opened on Evans To Locks Road in Evans replaced a closed Food Lion. The second neighborhood store is on Wrightsboro Road. It opened in the spring and shortly after it opened the Food Lion at North Leg Road and Wrightsboro Road closed. A third one is in development in North Augusta and will sit nearly across the road of an existing Food Lion. The new Belair Road Walmart will be located a few blocks from an existing Food Lion, which is at 365 S. Belair Road. New China New China is now open and connected to the Circle K on Washington Road in Evans. They are near the Evans Diner and not far from the Evans Walmart. Normally, Circle K’s are next to sub or pizza shops connected to the stores. Although there are many Japanese restaurants in Evans, this is believed to be the first Chinese Restaurant. Acquisitions and Expansions WAFJ The CSRA’s only hometown contemporary Christian music radio station, 88.3 WAFJ, launched a sister station the last week of August. Known as 88.7 Shine FM, the new station’s music features some of the same artists played on 88.3 WAFJ, but with more emphasis on music designed to produce an atmosphere of worship. It is a form of music not currently available on radio in the CSRA. “It’s a station that will remind people of God’s greatness,” said Steve Swanson, operations manager for both stations. “I am eager to see how it will impact people who hunger for more worship and praise apart from Sundays and regular church services.” 88.7 Shine FM will offer a nearly nonstop stream of music. Like 88.3 WAFJ, it will be a non-commercial, listener-supported station. In addition to the traditional radio airwaves, 88.7 Shine FM can also be heard through free smart phone apps and through its website. 88.3 WAFJ, located in North Augusta, is celebrating its 20th year of serving the CSRA. Ruth’s Family Restaurant Ruth’s Family Restaurant, a Southern tradition in the CSRA for decades, is expanding. Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 4, the “dinerlike feel” will be transformed into a bit of a dinner bistro. They’ll be open for dinner Thursday through Saturdays from 5-9 p.m. Currently,

they are open for breakfast and lunch. New owners took over a few years ago. Ruth’s is located on Washington Road in Martinez between Davis Road and Bobby Jones Expressway. Daybreak Adult Care DayBreak Adult Care Services has opened its newest office in Evans. With the expansion of the Aiken office, the adult care service company will be able to provide senior care to residents in Georgia. Owner Chrissa Matthews said, “Now we are able serve the residents of the entire CSRA, no matter where they may need in-home care. My business partner for the Evans office is Shanda Vaughn, RN. Shanda is a lifelong friend and she has an absolute heart for seniors. She is a perfect fit to ensure our Georgia clients experience the DayBreak Difference!” DayBreak provides personalized home care services with a focus on maintaining dignity and independence in daily living for seniors in their homes. DayBreak Services include 24/7 care, respite care, grocery shopping, Alzheimer’s and related dementia care, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, hospital/facility sitting, companionship, transportation, medication reminders, errands, home health, palliative, or hospice support, bathing assistance and dressing assistance. For more information about DayBreak Adult Care Services, call 706-723-1744 (Evans), 803-226-0288 (Aiken) or visit them online at www.daybreakcare.com. Kitchen 1454 Edward Mendoza, chef and operator of Kitchen 1454 on Walton Way in Augusta, plans to open an Italian restaurant in the Bi-Lo shopping center on Furys Ferry Road in Martinez. He will be moving into the former Robolli’s restaurant building. The new restaurant, named Cucina 503, is expected to open in mid-October. (Cucina means kitchen in Italian.) Mendoza told Buzz on Biz founder Neil Gordon that Kitchen 1454 will continue to serve breakfast and lunch and Cucina 503 will be open for dinner only. Cucina 503 will serve pasta made by the staff and Old Italy-type recipes. Premier Networx Premier Networx, Inc., a local full service IT company, announced last month that it has acquired Vernon Systems, LLC. The acquisition will enable Premier Networx to further establish itself as a leading provider of IT solutions in the CSRA and will double its customer base. “We are very excited about this acquisition,” said Chad Harpley, Premier Networx’s CEO. “The new additions to our team will increase our ability to continue providing Augusta and surrounding areas with quality, full-service IT solutions.” Harpley founded Premier Networx in September 2013 after more than 15 years in the IT industry. Premier Networx provides IT solutions to businesses throughout the CSRA and specializes in PC and server support, managed services, cloud email and backup solutions, network management and security, third-party software support, infrastructure cabling and telephone systems. For more information about Premier

Networx and its services, visit www.augustaitguys.com. Georgia-Pacific Georgia-Pacific LLC and SPG Holdings LLC last month completed the previously announced acquisition of SPG by GeorgiaPacific. As a result of the acquisition,  GeorgiaPacific acquired all of the equity of SPG held by investors in the company including CIC Partners, a Dallas-based middle market private equity firm. The acquisition includes SPG’s three manufacturing facilities in  Green Bay, Wisc., Hattiesburg, Miss., and Augusta, as well as a sales and administrative office in Dallas. Operated by approximately 500 employees, SPG and its facilities now become a wholly owned subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific in the acquisition. Closings Crazy Turks Crazy Turks Pizza Bar & Grill closed in August, ending their tenure on Washington Road with a performance by the group “South Atlantic.” This was the latest and fourth attempt in the past 10 years by a restaurant to make the location at 2910 Washington Road work. Crazy Turk’s opened in July 2011. On a Facebook post, managers said that the building had been sold and they were forced to close. T.R Ready had owned the building and according to Buzz founder Neil Gordon, when Fazoli’s closed at that location 10 years ago, the property was being leased at that time for $6,000 per month. Moves Summerville Pharmacy Summerville Pharmacy is now operating at its new location at 2839 Central Ave. The neighborhood pharmacy was formerly located on Wrightsboro Road and moved to the new address on July 1. The relocation was strategic, based on a few important factors. First, they wanted to add drive-thru access for customers on the go. Second, they were able to double their store size, allowing customers to have a broader line of healthcare products. Third, they wanted to be close to their customers, and the new location, situated behind Daniel Village and next to Dairy Queen, is the ideal spot to serve Forrest Hills, Summerville and several other surrounding neighborhoods. Though the location is different, the owners – Joe Boyd, Rob Woods and Chris Hearon –said their commitment to excellent customer care remains the same. “A neighbor greets you by name, comes when you call and looks out for your needs,” said pharmacist-in-charge Chris Hearon. “That is the kind of service that Summerville Pharmacy has always provided. We look forward to continuing this commitment to our current customers and our new neighbors.” Rob Woods added, “I invite all of the residents around our new location to come and view our new store. We would love to have the opportunity to show you why we’re different and to earn your business.”


60-year-old firm enjoys sweet smell of success By Gary Kauffman Chances are, if you’ve sent or received flowers from a local florist in the past 60 years, Georgia State Floral Distributors was involved. The company brings in flowers from different parts of the globe, mostly Ecuador, Colombia, California and Holland, with a few exotic locales like South Africa, Kenya and Israel, and distributes them to florists in about a 120-mile radius of Augusta. Like several other area companies, such as E-Z-Go and WRDW Channel 12, Georgia State Floral Distributors began in 1954 when the Savannah River Site caused a

Businessperson of the Month Len Collins, Georgia State Floral Distributors population boom in the area. The familyowned business is now into its third generation. Cecil Collins started the business at the urging of his brother, who ran a similar business in Macon. His son, Len, now serves as the company’s president, running the business with his brothers Pat and Darrell. Len’s son Trevor and Pat’s son Shea now work in the company business. Georgia State Floral began humbly in 1,200-square-foot building on 9th Street. Eventually, he expanded the business into four buildings along that street. When Cecil retired, the business moved to the corner of 10th and Telfair, then later into the Washington Crossing Shopping Center on Washington Road. Last fall, when Whole Foods bought that building, Georgia State Floral moved to its current location off Doug Barnard Parkway about a mile from the Bobby Jones Expressway where it has spread out into 42,000 square feet. Georgia State Floral prides itself in delivering the freshest flowers. Len Collins said refrigeration has extended flower life, and the company uses storage techniques learned through 60 years in business, as well as the correct foods and fungicides, to

keep the flowers fresh. How did you become involved in the family business? My dad, being from a farming background, believed in getting us involved early, as soon as we could hold a broom. But I had no intention of working in the business. I went to college with the intention of becoming a dentist. But when it was time to get into my career, I decided the family business would be a better idea and I went into small business management. My brother Darrell worked for a pharmaceutical company and Pat worked for a wine and spirits distributor. But somehow

or another we all ended up back working together. How has the business changed over the past 60 years? The business has changed so much over the years. There used to be about 40 florists in Augusta, now it’s down to 15 or 16. Basically that’s due to people closing their stores because of age. The business is still there; other stores have picked it up. Now we see more spikes in business, with big events like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. What are you passionate about in your business? What drives me is helping our retailers.

We can’t grow our business until they are prospering. Everything we do is for them. If a charity calls asking for flowers for an event, we call a retailer to do it because we want them to get the credit. We co-op advertising for them at the holidays. We’re getting ready to put on some business seminars to help them with things like health insurance and small business insurance. And we put on hands-on shows so they can learn all the new design techniques. What did you learn from your parents that helps you in business? All of it. Just watching my dad take phone calls at 9, 10 or 11 at night from a customer. He didn’t call them customers, he called them business partners. He said, “We’re in business together, we’re solving problems together.” How do you splurge on gifts for your wife? Since I’m in the industry, giving flowers can’t be considered splurging, right? It has to be jewelry. I’d like to say I give time, but that’s a luxury I hardly ever have. How do you start your day? I usually get here at 5:40 in the morning, make the coffee, eat a biscuit and read the paper while I’m eating. Then I try to have some quiet time to get my mind set for the day and I pray. Then I’m greeting the employees when they arrive, and I check my emails. Then I try to get my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in our industry. Why does the price of roses go up so much at Valentine’s Day? Everybody asks that question. Basically, it’s overtime. Overtime on the farms and in the trucking, here and in the stores. There are so many flowers coming in from overseas that the planes have to return empty, so transportation costs skyrocket. There are so many beautiful flowers out there, why is everyone stuck on red roses? My wife gets mixed flowers at the holidays. How do you give back to the community? Mainly through our church, First Baptist of Augusta. We’re involved in several ministries there. But just being in this business, somehow we’re going to help. What do you enjoy about your job? That we’re there at any important part of a person’s life. The birth of babies, weddings, birthdays, recitals, anniversaries – and then at death, we’re there too. I think that’s an incredible honor.

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Combatting criminals in your business Economic cycles indicate that during more difficult times theft and other criminal activity increase. The past several years we have seen a significant rise in crimes against our business and corporate clients from both internal and external sources. Monetary loss due to crime in a business is difficult to estimate. Many businesses tend not to report crimes against them to their insurance companies in fear of having to pay higher premiums. Also, many businesses find it difficult Chris Shelton and expensive to Electronic Security pursue criminal Consultant action in cases of employee crimes. Without adequate security measures in place, this is very true. You might be surprised to find out that according to a dated FBI report, nationwide, businesses lose a staggering $6.5 million in stolen office equipment each year. On average when a company is burglarized it costs $1,989 per occurrence. This amount does not include time and productivity loss. Shoplifting on average cost $205 per occurrence. Not to mention any crimes against employees while on the business

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premises and the negative impact that will have on productivity. Crimes against business can be classified into two categories: Crimes by employees and crimes by others. Crimes by employees are typically theft of cash, inventory, merchandise or office equipment. Crimes by others include theft of inventory, merchandise or equipment, as well as fraudulent lawsuit claims, vandalism and other crimes. Recently, electronics were stolen from new- and customer-owned boats inside a fenced storage area at a marine dealership. In another circumstance, a customer at a convenience store filed an insurance claim against the store stating they fell due to a faulty door mat. However, the surveillance video of this occurrence proved it to be a fraudulent claim. These types of crimes happen on a daily basis and are actual events that have recently taken place in our local area. The most surprising thing to me has always been how many small businesses have no budget or concern for security and Electronic Premises Systems (EPS) systems until the day after something happens. Being reactive versus proactive can cause the business owner/operator to make rushed decisions. Today’s business owner/operators have loads of new and exciting technology to help prove or even disprove a crime has taken place. Electronic Premises Systems

include but are not limited to: Intrusion detection systems Video surveillance systems Access control systems Inventory systems RFID – Parking and traffic management systems The best news is that most of today’s systems can be integrated together in order to simplify the use, manipulation and monitoring by the owner/operator. Using this technology and having visible equipment in place can even deter a crime before it happens. In upcoming articles I will discuss in more detail the individual EPS and their benefits to your company. I will also explain the need to contract a qualified and

trustworthy systems installer to integrate these items using their expertise so that you as the business owner can keep focus on what is most important, your business. Christopher Shelton has 29 years of experience installing, repairing and integrating commercial and industrial electronic security, IT, control and A/V systems. He is a Georgia-licensed and fully insured contractor of burglar, fire, telecomm and general low voltage systems. Chris has installed, maintained and integrated electronic premise systems for all types businesses, including Chic-filA, Bojangle’s, Wal-Mart and several schools and churches. Contact him at 706-541-0878.


Alternative financing options are numerous Often the question arises, what is the alternative finance market? In general the alternative finance market is financing that comes from a source other than a bank or similar financial institution. So, if you are in business or want to start a business and a bank tells you no, where do you turn? In many cases a business owner or potential a business owner Ronald Garnett has no idea Small Business that they have Financial Solutions alternatives. In previous articles, you have been introduced to the financing method of factoring. However, factoring is by no means the only financing option in the alternative or secondary finance market. The options in this market are numerous and varied. In some instances, you can obtain financing if the business owner can demonstrate they have a legitimate contract to perform services. Also, a business owner may obtain financing if they have an order to manufacture goods. If you have a business opportunity that requires

certain types of equipment, there are financing options that will allow you to lease your necessary equipment. Some funders specialize in such varied fields as financing import export trade, while some specialize in business acquisitions and franchising. In almost any area of business financing there is an alternative financing source that specializes in that area. The commonality among all these different funders is that the financing requirements are substantially lower than those required by banks. Therefore, for most business owners if a bank says no, it should not be the end of the funding process – it should be the beginning.

If a bank says no, it should not be the end of the funding process – it should be the beginning. The difficulty a number of business owners face is that they do not have the information available to them to apply

to the funding source that matches their needs. The alternative finance market has evolved into a niche market, so while there are hundreds of sources available almost all of them specialize in a particular funding arena. Also, the financing terms can vary greatly among funders so a business owner may find a source but overlook a source with the lower interest rates. If you are a business owner and need funding you have alternatives no matter what your need. Just be aware that you may need expert help to guide you through this process.

E. Ronald Garnett has managed and owned businesses for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Augusta State University, and holds graduate degrees from Georgia State University, and Indiana University. For the past several years has taught classes in micro-enterprise development, and is a certified instructor in micro-enterprise business planning and development. He has worked with numerous businesses and was able to obtain funding for their enterprises. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia teaching Business Law. Call him at 706-3038766.

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The benefits of employee benefit plans The objective of employee benefit planning is to assist you in evaluating the effectiveness of your current employee benefit plan, in deciding what benefits will be available to which employees, and in designing an employee benefit package to achieve your objectives. Ask yourself... • Do your employees make a Mike Herrington substantial conFiscal Fitness tribution to the Investment Advisor success of your business? • Do you know the financial impact on your business of a high employee turnover rate? • Have you ever lost employees to a competitor? • Do you offer a competitive package of employee benefits? • What employee benefits do your competitors offer to their employees? • Are you concerned about the cost of employee benefits? • Are you taking advantage of employee benefit plans to satisfy your personal financial security needs? The facts are... • Employees are frequently the glue that

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A well-designed employee benefit program need not be cost prohibitive. hold a business together. • A good employee benefit plan can make it easier to recruit, hire and retain productive employees. • When a quality employee terminates employment, it can result in a reduction in profits, increased competition, replacement costs and a loss of confidence among customers and creditors. • A well-designed employee benefit program need not be cost prohibitive. • Small business owners cannot rely on others to assist in achieving their personal financial security goals. 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

IRA Minimum Distribution The objective of the required minimum distribution rule is to ensure that the entire value of a traditional IRA or employersponsored qualified retirement plan account will be distributed over the IRA owner’s/retired employee’s life expectancy. IRS regulations include a “Uniform Lifetime Table” that is generally used to calculate the required minimum distributions that must be made from qualified plans, including 401(k) plans, Section 403(b) annuities and regular IRAs. To calculate your annual required minimum distribution, follow these simple steps:

Example: Step 1: Account balance as of the previous December 31: $______ $200,000 Step 2: Distribution period factor based on your age as of December 31 in the year for which the distribution is being calculated: 25.6 Step 3: Divide Step 1 by Step 2; the result is your annual required minimum distribution for the year: $______ $7,812.50 Note: The above discussion does not apply to non-deductible Roth IRAs, which are not subject to minimum distribution requirements.


One-person businesses: Challenges, opportunities One-person businesses (and other very small businesses) have their own unique challenges and opportunities compared with larger businesses. Whether a supersmall business will likely survive and thrive depends on many factors. Tremendous Upside Potential, but… Small businesses, when done really well, have the potential to make the key people very successful and wealthy. But many small business fail. So, Larry Rudwick be smart about it. Take risks, Business and but careful risks. Relationship Coach Be peoplesmart and make sure your numbers (such as cash-flow projections) work. S.W.O.T. Analysis: Looking at the Strengths and Weaknesses (things that can be controlled) and the Opportunities and Threats (things that cannot be controlled) is a good predictor of success in a start-up or ongoing business. Be really honest when asking yourself these questions. Remember: No one starts a business thinking they are going to fail; however, 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first three years. Strengths: Are you confident that you

Whatever business you are in, sales and marketing will likely be your weak link. know all of the skills needed to be successful in this business? What required skills do you have and not have necessary to succeed? Weaknesses: What help do I need and where can I find reliable help I can afford? Opportunities: Is there a good market for what I am offering? Is it easy to find? Is there much competition? Threats: Is it difficult to break into this market? Or, is technology changing and soon it will be much more difficult to hold the business I have been getting? Sales – always a weak link: Whatever business you are in, sales and marketing will likely be your weak link. Note: Even if sales is your strength, promoting yourself is more difficult than selling someone else’s product or service you believe in. It’s easy to sound like you’re boasting or bragging. Hats, hats and more hats: The small business owner must usually wear many hats: 1) Sales and marketing, 2) answering the phone, 3) placing orders and

paying bills, 4) bookkeeping, 5) business planning, 6) monitoring cash, 7) trying to borrow money when needed, and 8) making sure that the products and services are produced correctly, on time, and delivered to the customers/clients when due. Few people are truly good at all of this and, unfortunately, few people have all the management and supervisory skills to get these done effectively through others. Problem: People often don’t realize they need help. If your business is going in the wrong direction (bills are getting harder to pay, for example), don’t wait until the problems

are so great that it, in the best case, will take a huge amount of work to right the ship and, in the worst case, you are about to become one of the 80 percent of businesses that must close its doors. Seek professional business help sooner rather than later: There is help available to small business owners in all aspect of business. Don’t be shy asking for help. A business failure, for some, can be similar to the death of a loved one. For more information, visit www.businesstune-ups.com/index.html, sign up for the free newsletter, listen to my podcasts, and contact me through my website. There is no charge for an initial consultation.

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Minimum essential coverage – what is it? Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) is what Healthcare Reform has defined as a coverage level that all American are required to have in one form or another. It includes healthcare coverage provided through an employer plan, a government plan, an individual health plan or a grandfathered health plan. The following Q & A should ad- Russell T. Head dress any concerns Employee Benefits you may have relaConsultant tive to your own or your business’ coverage. 1. What counts as minimum essential coverage? Employer‐sponsored coverage (including self-insured plans, COBRA coverage and retiree coverage); Coverage purchased in the individual market (including a qualified health plan offered by an Exchange); Medicare Part A coverage and Medicare Advantage plans; Most Medicaid coverage; Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage; Certain types of veterans health coverage administered by the Veterans Administration; Most types of TRICARE coverage;

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Coverage provided to Peace Corps volunteers; Coverage under the Non-appropriated Fund Health Benefit Program Refugee Medical Assistance supported by the Administration for Children and Families; Self-funded health coverage offered to students by universities for plan or policy years that begin on or before Dec. 31, 2014. State high risk pools for plan or policy years that begin on or before Dec. 31, 2014. as minimum essential coverage); and Other coverage recognized by the Secretary of HHS as minimum essential coverage. Minimum essential coverage does not include coverage providing only limited benefits, such as the following: Stand-alone vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation or accident or disability policies; Medicaid providing only family planning services; Medicaid providing only tuberculosisrelated services; and Medicaid providing only coverage limited to treatment of emergency medical conditions. 2. What are the statutory exemptions from the requirement to obtain minimum essential coverage? Religious conscience — You are a member of a religious sect that is recognized as conscientiously opposed to accepting any insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration administers the process for recognizing these sects according to the

criteria in the law. Health care sharing ministry — You are a member of a recognized health care sharing ministry. Indian tribes — You are: (1) a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe; or (2) an individual eligible for services through an Indian care provider. Income below the income tax return filing requirement—Your income is below the minimum threshold for filing a tax return. The requirement to file a federal tax return depends on your filing status, age and types and amounts of income. Short coverage gap—You went without coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year. Hardship—You have suffered a hardship that makes you unable to obtain coverage, as defined in HHS final regulations. Unaffordable coverage options—You can’t afford coverage because the minimum amount you must pay for the premiums is more than 8 percent of your household income (adjusted to 8.05 percent for plan years beginning in 2015. Incarceration—You are in a jail, prison or similar penal institution or correctional facility after the disposition of charges against you. Not lawfully present—You are neither a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national nor an alien lawfully present in the U.S. 3. What do I need to do if I want to be sure I have minimum essential coverage or an exemption for 2014?

The vast majority of coverage that people have today will count as minimum essential coverage. For those who do not have coverage, who anticipate discontinuing the coverage they have currently or who want to explore whether more affordable options are available, the Exchange is open in every state and the District of Columbia. The Exchange helps individuals compare available coverage options, assess their eligibility for financial assistance and find minimum essential coverage that fits their budget. For those seeking an exemption from the individual responsibility provision, the Exchange is able to provide certificates of exemption for many of the exemption categories. HHS has issued final regulations on how the Exchange grants these exemptions. Individuals will also be able to claim certain exemptions for 2014 when they file their federal income tax returns in 2015. Individuals who are not required to file a federal income tax return because their gross income falls below the return filing threshold do not need to take any further action to secure an exemption. See question 21 for further information on how to claim an exemption.

Russell T. Head is President/Managing Partner with Group & Benefits Consultants, Inc., Augusta’s largest, privately held, locally owned employee benefits consulting firm. He can be reached at 706-733-3459 or rthead@gandbc.com. Visit Group & Benefits Consultants at www.groupandbenefits.com.


Retirement plans help employees and employer Offering an employer-sponsored retirement plan can be an excellent way to attract high quality talent for your business and help those employees save for the future. Instituting a retirement plan can provide you, as the employer, with benefits that enable you to Christine make the most of your business’s asHall, CPA sets. Such benefits Hall & include: Associates Ta x - d e fe r re d growth on earnings within the plan Current tax savings on individual contributions to the plan Immediate tax deductions for employer contributions Easy to establish and maintain Low-cost benefit with a highly-perceived value by your employees Here’s an overview of four retirement plans options that can help you and your employees save: SIMPLE: Savings Incentive Match Plan A SIMPLE IRA plan allows employees to contribute a percentage of their salary each paycheck and to have their employer

match their contribution. Under SIMPLE IRA plans, employees can set aside up to $12,000 in 2014 (same as 2013) by payroll deduction. If the employee is 50 or older then they may contribute an additional $2,500. Employers can either match employee contributions dollar for dollar – up to 3 percent of an employee’s wage – or make a fixed contribution of 2 percent of pay for all eligible employees instead of a matching contribution. SEP: Simplified Employee Pension Plan A SEP plan allows employers to set up a type of individual retirement account – known as a SEP-IRA – for themselves and their employees. Employers must contribute a uniform percentage of pay for each employee. Employer contributions are limited to whichever is less: 25 percent of an employee’s annual salary or $52,000 in 2014 ($51,000 in 2013). SEP plans can be started by most employers, including those that are self-employed. 401(k) Plans 401(k) plans have become widely accepted savings vehicles for small businesses and allow employees to contribute a portion of their own incomes toward their retirement. The employee contributions, not to exceed $17,500 in 2014 (same as 2013), reduce a participant’s pay before income taxes, so that pre-tax dollars are invested. If the employee is 50 or older then they may contribute another $5,500 in 2014 (same as 2013). Employers may offer to match a certain

percentage of the employee’s contribution, increasing participation in the plan. Profit-Sharing Plans Employers also may make profit-sharing contributions to plans that are unrelated to any amounts an employee chooses to contribute. Profit-sharing Plans are well suited for businesses with uncertain or fluctuating profits. In addition to the flexibility in deciding the amounts of the contributions, a Profit-Sharing Plan can include options such as service requirements, vesting schedules and plan loans that are not available under SEP plans. Contributions may range from 0 to 25 percent of eligible employees’ compensation, to a maximum of $52,000 in 2014 ($51,000 in 2013) per employee. The contribution in any one year cannot exceed 25 percent of the total compensation of the

employees participating in the plan. Contributions need not be the same percentage for all employees. Key employees may actually get as much as 25 percent, while others may get as little as 3 percent. A plan may combine these profit-sharing contributions with 401(k) contributions (and matching contributions). Pension rules are complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing, so call us first. We’ll help you find the right plan for you and your employees. This is a sponsored Employment article. Hall & Associates LLC. 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.

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SALES & MARKETING

Making yourself known theme of conference By Gary Kauffman What Quentin Kuyper, co-executive and artistic director for the Jacobs Concert Series, learned at the Small Business and Entrepreneurs Conference on Aug. 12 was welcomed but not unexpected. “It reinforced what we already know,” he said. “Our website is a disaster and we don’t do nearly enough with social media.” Kuyper attended the conference because the Jacobs Concert Series is about to enter its 25th year relatively anonymously. “Nobody knows we’re out there, but we have the best classical chamber music in town,” he said. “We’re finding ways to market ourselves and to get us in the public conversation.” Making themselves known was a common theme of the 50 small business owners and entrepreneurs who attended the conference. Helping those people achieve their goals was the reason the conference was sponsored by Startup Augusta and the Augusta Chronicle. The speakers, primarily from the board of directors of Startup Augusta, covered a gamut of subjects relating to small businesses. Subjects included ecommerce, traditional media, social media business law, and sales and marketing. In his opening remarks, Mayor Deke

Copenhaver noted that Augusta has a rich history of entrepreneurship. He pointed to Henry Cumming, whose vision for the textile mills along the Augusta Canal helped the city grow; Bobby Jones, whose desire for a world class golf course resulted in the renowned Masters Tournament; and James Brown, whose hard work resulted in a new music style. “Augusta was built on entrepreneurship and innovation,” Copenhaver said. “Small business is the backbone of our community.” Whether a start-up or an existing business, keynote speaker Tony Robinson urged the businesspeople in the audience to stay fresh. He used the acronym fresh for his talk – Focused, Relevant, Effort, Strategic and Happy. “There’s a big difference between doing something and how you do it,” he said. Staying focused, he said, requires targeting a business’ market, identifying competitors and deciding on a promotion strategy. Relevance means that it has to be something people want. “If it interests you make sure other people are also interested,” he said. For effort, he said there is no substitute for hard work, not just for a short period but over time.

Strategic means to always be looking ahead for new ideas and ways of doing things. “Surviving today doesn’t mean you’ll be surviving tomorrow,” Robinson said. “You should have an idea where you want your business to be 10 years from now.” Finally, happiness is vital to sustaining a business. “If you’re doing something that doesn’t make you happy it cannot be rewarding,” Robinson said. “But being happy is not necessarily making more money.”

A popular theme during the day-long conference was “feeding the beast,” a term Buzz on Biz founder Neil Gordon first brought up as a metaphor for news media outlets’ constant battle to find content. But it soon became used to refer to a variety of marketing and business strategies. Another theme running through the day was the importance of becoming an expert in the field. That was important for generating news about the business, driving sales See CONFERENCE, page 21

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Preparing now for (gasp!) Christmas season I’ve become convinced that wives achieve a clarity of truth denied to us guys. And better, they more often than not have a way of sharing these insights in a wonderfully Yogi Berra kind of way. Yogi has spent a lifetime saying things like, “That restaurant? Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” But Don MacNeil we know what Crown Point he means. Communications at My mom once said Windsor Jewelers sternly, “Don’t you look at me in that tone of voice!” During the holidays some years ago as the whole family approached the main entrance of the mall, my wife blurted out, “Hands on wallets, it’s Christmas!” (Meaning pickpockets) I laughed out loud. Someone should be writing these down. So, Mr. Small Business, what are you doing for Christmas? This month continues the season of maximum holiday denial. Even as coaches’

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whistles echo from nearby gridirons it’s tempting to assure ourselves that December is a long way off. Do I have to spell it out? It’s not. In fairness, for you, the holidays may actually be a negative when your customer base becomes gift-focused and delays coming to see you. But if retail’s your game, chances are it’s the period that can make or break your year. With all that’s on the line, you need a check list. Have you figured a holidays promotional budget? Included should be every expense you otherwise would never have incurred. Decorations, outside and in. Extra help for the anticipated extra business. (And pay extra attention to training them. If they aren’t fully integrated into your company’s way of doing things they can undo a large part of what you’ve built to date.) Think about bonuses if certain goals are met. Possibly a Christmas party. And all of that before figuring up actual advertising. Have you contracted for the media time (radio/TV) and space (print) you’ll need? In both cases, late comers are often left with only crumbs. Have you sufficient budget to launch in November and go the distance, or should you consider clustering your dollars around historically big-dollar days, like Black Friday, December weekends and the final countdown? Have you crafted your message? Turned a graphic designer loose on that message?

Have you gathered your customer emails together for a blast or two? If you have a web master, have you provided him with what he needs to “holiday up” your site? The Duke of Wellington is supposed to have said, “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” (A culture of leadership developed) Sun Tzu wisely says in Art Of War that, “Battles are won or lost before they’re even fought.” (Preparation)

Chances are pretty good your Mom never said either, but both ring true as you strap your helmet on, roll up your sleeves and do what’s smart to get Christmas right. 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.


CONFERENCE continued from page 19 to a website and making sales. Attendees to the conference also learned about the importance of ecommerce, digital marketing and business law. Eddie Huff also presented an innovative approach to sales which involves more upfront sharing of agendas for the mutual satisfaction of client and seller. He compared the approach to a doctor doing a diagnosis and then working to solve the problem. Dana Keen of Keen Signs felt the day was packed with information. “I’ve taken so many notes,” she said. “But at the top of the page I wrote, ‘Be the expert.’” “All the speakers were tremendous,” said

Chad Heard of Auben Realty. “The biggest thing for me was marketing, and learning that 45 percent of businesses don’t even have a website.” While most of the attendees had already started a business, Jessica Long was there wanting to know what to do before she started. A recent college graduate, she has always enjoyed the dynamics of the business world. “I can see myself going into a business with a purpose,” she said. “I’d like to start a business to help other people, like hiring women in need. My ultimate goal is to go overseas and help develop microbusinesses. “This has helped pinpoint the things I need to focus on.”

The ugly truth about your website Brilliant Wealth Concepts has created websites for clients across the globe in many differing niches – HR consulting, personal training, excavating, hair products. 72 percent of websites I study receive a failing grade of 59 or lower (Based on Website Excellence Analysis). Here are seven ugly, yet common, practices we’ve seen. 1. Use of “Free” Website Builders. I’m sorry folks but these companies do not have your best interest in mind – Wix, Vist apr int, Weebly, Homestead, Webs. com…shall I continue? Using these website builders rarely position you as the authority in your niche. Why? They limit you George Garner from a customBrilliant Wealth ization standConcepts point and customization is what makes businesses unique. Additionally, website builders are not optimized to attract search engines. Let’s face it, it’s time to move on from your template website and give your business a professional look. Our small business websites are designed to bring you results and remain affordable. Your website is a lifetime investment that should pay back. 2. Same Stuff, Different Site. A majority of the small business I’ve worked with pay very little attention to the art of uniqueness or what I call a USP – Unique Selling Proposition. It is imperative that small businesses differentiate themselves from the pack. Why? Picture this – you’re a realtor in Augusta. Your agency provides you with their “free” template website to market your business. Well guess what, the other 500 realtors in your firm have this same site, just different stuff on it. Who should your prospective buyer buy from, you or Bob? What is going to differentiate between you? Consider a strong declaration such as “Augusta’s exclusive relocation real estate agent – with over 1,000 satisfied homeowners.” Your USP should clearly define who you are, with an underlying benefit to the end user. 3. No Call To Acton. A Call To Action is an instruction that drives your client to take an action. Examples are “Subscribe Now,” “Get A Free Quote,” “Reserve Your Spot Today,” or “Buy Now”. Regardless of whether your goal is to get customers to purchase a product, sign up for a mailing list or call you directly for a quote – a well written and attention grabbing call to action on your website should make sure your audience performs your desired action.

If you give too many options, the visitor will hit the back button, thus resulting in potential lost business. Your website should drive visitors to take the next logical step. 4. Everything to Everybody. The best websites are personalized – they are not presented as a “Jack of All Trades.” Businesses are seeking experts in a particular craft. You should market what you do – for example “iphone cell phone repair company.” By doing this, clients looking for android cell phone repair wouldn’t waste time calling you because you can’t offer them help. You have to speak in a clear, concise message defining who you are and what specific value you bring. 5. Lack of Credibility. Humanize your business by establishing your business’ credibility. Show users your business philosophy, show your staff and demonstrate your experience. Having testimonials is one of the most effective methods to show you can be trusted and are credible. Video testimonials are an even better method to see and hear customer’s raw opinions of your business. Your prospects are asking, “Are they qualified to solve my problem?” Your website must confidently answer this question by use of testimonials, certifications, social proof, etc. 6. Not Easily Accessible. As basic as this may sound, many small businesses fail to have credible contact information clearly displayed on the home page. Make sure your phone number and other forms of personal contact are prominent on your website so that users know that you are easily reachable if they have any questions or comments about your business. Your website should clearly display the critical information to allow clients to easily contact you. 7. No Marketing Strategy. It’s not enough to simply have a website – you need to know how to optimize it for the end user. Don’t design products or services based on ideas and assumptions; however, create marketable solutions based on data and researched needs. Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask them! An effective marketing strategy will position you as the “go-to-guy” in your niche thus driving more traffic and potential sales to your site. Don’t get stuck with a website that sucks! Next month, we’ll dive briefly into “How To Convert More Sales With Your Website.” George Garner is the founder and Owner of Brilliant Wealth Concepts – a company that specializes in web design, marketing and consulting. His team of quality web designers and marketing experts provide World Class customer service to all his clients. For a complimentary analysis of your website, please email support@brilliantwealthconcepts.com or visitwww.BrilliantWealthConcepts.com.

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Increase traffic to your business with Pinterest Pinterest came on the scene four years ago as an invitation-only site. You can still invite your friends, but it’s not necessary to have an invitation to open an account. Now it’s the fastest-growing social media platform of them all. And, businesses have discovered that Pinterest is a great place to showcase their products. Just in case you’re not familiar, Pinterest is a social media platform that functions like a collection of virtual bulletin boards. It allows you to “pin” all those great ideas you find while browsing the Web. Pinterest has quickly become the go-to site for ideas for all kinds of projects. To give you an idea of the level of activity on Pinterest, a recent communication from their PR department reported, Pat Homer “There are more than 30 billion Social Media pins on Pinterest that have been Communications collected by people into more than 750 million boards.” The same communication also shared that 75 percent of Pinterest users pin using the Pinterest App on their mobile devices. And, since the majority of users – 80 percent – are women, they are accessing Pinterest on their mobile devices while they’re waiting in the carpool line, in doctors’ offices and other places where they are required to wait. Since women make the majority of purchasing decisions for their families, this is huge. But now, men are catching on to why their wives and girlfriends are so obsessed with this platform. So what do people pin? Everything! The most popular pins are in the food and drink, do-it-yourself and crafts and

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home décor categories. Guys are getting in on the fun and pinning cars, travel destinations and other luxury items. Some relatively recent innovations include the ability to pin geographical places and a Pinterest message feature that allows pinners to discuss pins with other Pinterest fans. Pins default as public and can be seen by people who follow you and pinned by followers of your followers and their followers, so a popular pin can have a reach of exponential proportions. But another great feature is the ability to have secret boards. So, if you›re on the company Christmas party committee, you can create a secret party board and invite the other committee members to join the board. So, what can Pinterest do for a business? Pinterest ranks as one of the greatest social media sites to drive traffic to your website and your products. If your products have heavy visual appeal, you should absolutely

have a Pinterest account. Two corporate giants with large followings on Pinterest are Lowe›s and Williams-Sonoma. But you don›t have to be a corporate giant to drive lots of traffic to your website with Pinterest. Etsy, a marketplace for crafters and artisans, is the website that is most pinned. Crafters and artisans on Etsy are small businesses, and Pinterest has proven to be a valuable driver for their sales. If your product line lends itself to visual appeal, you may be able to increase traffic to your website or business by showcasing your products on Pinterest. High-quality photos and descriptions will increase your success rate. Pat Homer is Vice President of Social Media Communications at SocialPAJE, a Social Media Management and Branding company. Contact SocialPAJE at (706) 564-4135 or info@socialpaje.com. Also visit SocialPAJE.com or search for us on any of the social media platforms.


Bringing new businesses to Augusta Economic Development Authority plays specific, key role in area’s job growth By Gary Kauffman If the Augusta Economic Development Authority was an animal, it would undoubtedly be a platypus. The platypus is an Australian animal that is mammal, but lays eggs like a reptile and has a beak like a bird. Likewise, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) has power granted by the state but is not a part of either state or county government; it is not a non-profit but operates some of its business that way; it doesn’t have money to lend but authorizes companies to borrow money; and it can own land without property tax, but does pay property tax on land it leases. But unlike the platypus, which lives in relative anonymity in Australia, the EDA plays a critical role in the long-term economic success of Augusta. The EDA’s efforts are to draw businesses to Augusta that will create jobs and revenue for Augusta-Richmond County. Walter Sprouse, executive director of the EDA, said it can be a daunting task, considering the competition for those companies. “Take 50 states, and take that by the number of counties in each state, and that’s how many competitors we have,” Sprouse said. The EDA has been in the news several

times in the past few weeks announcing the expansion of several companies into the Augusta area as a direct result of the new Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Gordon. “Our job is to identify what we (Augusta) do best,” Sprouse said. “Cyber Command will obviously bring in contractors working with the military. But we also do well in medical, manufacturing, nuclear, chemical, food processing and aviation.” The EDA does not, however, work with retail. It’s only contact with Whole Foods, for example, was to provide information about the area when asked, and writing a press release when the company announced its job fair. It did not have any involvement in the proposed fashion outlet mall. The EDA becomes the single point of contact for a business considering moving to the area, and the source for authorization to borrow funds. Helping companies find funding sources The state general assembly created the EDAs about 45 years ago when businesses began moving from the north to the south. Those businesses often had trouble with funding from northern banks because they were moving and difficulty in funding from southern banks because they weren’t established there. One of the EDA’s key functions is to autho-

rize Industrial Revenue Bonds for those companies. Sprouse stressed that the EDA does not give money or loan money to businesses – it only authorizes them to seek funding. For example, a company – we’ll call it Widget World – may need $10 million to build a new plant in Augusta. The EDA authorizes them to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds. Widget World may decide to issue those in $10,000 chunks on the open market. An investor, local or non-local, can purchase some or all of those bonds. The percentage of return and terms are determined by Widget World and the investors. The money comes from the investors directly to Widget World, and when Widget World pays back the bonds, it pays to the investors. “We’re the first cousin to a mortgage broker,” Sprouse said. “Our job is to make sure the company has the financial ability to pay it back.” Because of the way bonds are issued, Sprouse said it is not worthwhile to authorize bonds for less than $2 million. That is why, he said, it seldom makes sense for a retailer to seek their help. The bond process also funds the EDA. The EDA receives one-eighth of 1 percent, or .00125, of the balance remaining on the bond issue after the first year. That allows the EDA to remain an independent agency. The only funds the Augusta EDA receives from the county are $60,000, which are earmarked for specific expenses, like office rent and maintenance, office supplies

and utilities. Helping with tax incentives A key inducement for many companies in choosing a location is property taxes. Many states offer tax abatements where property tax rates are severely reduced or even eliminated (New York currently has a campaign offering no taxes for 10 years for businesses locating in certain areas of the state). In Georgia, however, it is illegal for a city or county to give tax abatements. That’s where the EDA comes in. The EDA can own property without paying property taxes. However, once it leases a property, it has to pay taxes on the lease, but at a graduated rate. The first year’s property tax, for example, will be only a small percentage of the total tax. This increases incrementally each year until it eventually reaches 100 percent of the amount due. The EDA is allowed to do what is called a lease-back to compete with tax incentives offered in other states. In our previous example, say Widget World raises its money and builds its $10 million plant in Augusta. It can then sell the property to the EDA, usually for a minimal amount, and then the EDA leases the property back to Widget World. It then pays the property tax through the lease. Since the EDA’s property tax on the lease is a fraction of the full amount early in the lease, Widget World in essence gets a See JOB GROWTH, page 24

Advance Services Pest Control hits $100K mark in donations to LLS Jeff Annis and his 40-member team at Advanced Services Pest Control are dedicated to the fight against cancer. For the past 10 years, they have been supporting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) by raising funds for cancer research and raising awareness for LLS in the greater Augusta community. It began in 2004 with LLS’s annual Light The Night Walk. Annis and his staff signed up to participate as a company and since then they have raised more than $100,000 to help cancer patients live better, longer lives. Over the years Annis has taken on many leadership roles for Light The Night

– Corporate Chairman and Honorary Chairman, his team has earned first-place fundraising team for the walk three times (2004, 2009 and 2012) and he has recruited other executives in his company to take on leadership roles with the walk. In 2012, LLS added a new event in Augusta – the Man and Woman of the Year campaign – and Annis and his team were first in line to help support this new fundraising endeavor. Annis served as Chairman of the inaugural event, as well as the 2013 and 2014 campaigns. Since its inception, the Man and Woman of the Year campaign in Augusta has raised nearly $600,000.

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Despite SPLOST, mills district moves forward The Augusta Regional Collaboration (ARC) Project announced in August that it was still moving forward on the Mills District, but acknowledged that without SPLOST VII it could no longer recommend that Georgia Regents University plan major campus expansion for the District at this time. ARC Project continues to work with GRU to move students to the urban core. This work first began in the fall of 2012, when the Commission and Mayor directed ARC Project to coordinate with the University’s expansion efforts and passed a resolution in support of GRU. The resolution called for long-term partnership and mutually beneficial collaboration between the City of Augusta and GRU as planning evolved. “Our work with GRU hasn’t been limited to just one area,” said ARC Executive Director Matthew Kwatinetz. “We look forward to continued discussion of our primary goal with them: to see students, faculty and visitors in the downtown core. Whether that is the on the Savannah River, Broad Street, the Health Sciences campus or some combination of them all, ARC Project views any expansion of GRU as a positive for the City, and expansion downtown as a generational success to celebrate.” As for the Mills, Kwatinetz remains up-

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beat as ARC Project continues to reach out to developers and potential anchor tenants. According to a presentation submitted to the Commission in February, the $12M requested for SPLOST VII, if spent by the City of Augusta, could release $87M in combined federal tax credits, energy payments and improved land value – that would mean $7 leveraged for every $1 invested by the city. That does not include improved property and sales tax resulting from the development, which would raise money for the General Fund without raising taxes on citizens and businesses. But this financial equation can also work for a private developer. “The economics of the Mills District are persuasive,” said Kwatinetz. “ARC will continue to advocate for the Mills as one of the most promising development opportunities in Richmond County. Our commitment to bring inclusive growth, improved infrastructure and safety to Harrisburg does not stop because of a bump in the road. Instead, we look forward to continuing to facilitate an outcome that will benefit Augusta’s citizens and businesses.” The next opportunity for SPLOST will not be until 2015. In the meantime, GRU is moving forward with its Master Plan, scheduled to complete later this year.

JOB GROWTH continued from page 23 tax break. For example, if the property tax was $20,000, Widget World may only pay $1,000 in the first year of the lease. “That is competitive with other states that offer tax abatements,” Sprouse said. “Every state in the union offers tax breaks.” Making it easier to find Augusta Of course, a company may decide to locate in Augusta and build a new facility without ever contacting the EDA or taking advantage of the bond authorization. But the EDA makes it easier for companies who may have never heard of Augusta to find out about Augusta. Many companies use site location companies to find the best sites for a new facility. For example, Widget World in Salt Lake City, Utah, may decide it wants a new factory in the Southeast. It contacts XYZ site location company and lists the specifics of what it needs for the new facility. XYZ company then searches out sites around the Southeast and returns with some recommendations. It might give Widget World three choices in Georgia, three in South Carolina and three in North Carolina. Augusta EDA has connections with many site location companies so that they can quickly determine if Augusta will meet the needs of Widget World. Representatives of the EDA may also fly to the company’s headquarters to find out in more detail what the company needs and how AugustaRichmond County can meet those needs. After site visits, Widget World may narrow it down to three cities it’s interested in

that meet their basic needs. Then comes further negotiations about specifics, which may be as detailed as having a street renamed. It is a process of elimination for Widget World. “Basically, what economic development comes down to is, don’t get eliminated,” Sprouse said. Augusta’s key advantages Augusta has several key advantages that many companies are looking for – a major interstate highway, a water supply with ample excess capacity and a good workforce. Cyber Command has opened new avenues for the EDA in attracting companies. But that means the EDA also can do more locally as well. “Our job in working with these defense contractors is to find them good office space,” Sprouse said. “That also means working with local developers to build good office space in Richmond County, because we don’t have enough.” Already the EDA has helped MacauleyBrown and Sabre Systems, two defense contractors, locate offices here. But the EDA doesn’t just work with new companies to the area. It can also help existing Augusta businesses with their expansion plans. For example, several years ago the EDA helped Georgia Regents University with the addition of its cancer center. “We’ve reached out to all existing companies about their expansion plans,” Sprouse said. Sprouse said the EDA also relies heavily on local experts in specific areas to answer a company’s detailed questions.


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CAREERS & EDUCATION American dream? Statistics say it isn’t so Parents, you have a dream for your student. Is this your scenario? Janie/Johnny will graduate from Elite High School, attend Premier College, graduate in four years with a degree in Money Making and bring home no college souvenir such as a college loan to repay. Ye s , that is the beginning of the Americ a n Dream. However, the statisCollege Checks Consultants tics paint College Prep for Students & Families a different picture. According to Eduardo Porter, writing in The New York Times June 25, 2013, “…Americans are actually enrolling in college and then dropping out halfway through – when they’ve probably already incurred a bunch of debt and won’t benefit from the better job prospects that come with a degree….More than 70 percent of Americans matriculate at a four-year college….but less than two-thirds end up graduating. Including community colleges, the graduation rate drops to 53 percent. Only Hungary does worse.” While this seems to be a dire statement indeed, there are some variables than can be predicted – and overcome if

planned for properly. Choosing challenging coursework in high school builds a foundation for strong standardized testing. Making a list of college choices early allows families to visit campuses, meet students and professors, and decide if that college environment matches their needs and goals. As the list narrows, students should keep calendars of deadlines for early enrollment and financial aid applications in order not to miss making the most of each opportunity. But the most time-consuming task is to research all available avenues for financial assistance in order for the student to be able to concentrate on studying instead of worrying about college debts. All sources need to be researched – grants and scholarships assuredly, but workstudies, internships and even studies abroad are avenues

for renewable monies which will not bring a future burden. One estimate of the 2012 average student loan debt is $140,000. Let us help. College Checks Consultants, LLC, is an educational consulting company owned by three retired educators who have, together, amassed more than 110 years of experience advising and assisting high school and college graduates with all steps in this process. University professor Dr. Elizabeth Evans, AP math-endorsed high school teacher Debbie Lancaster, and AP English literature-endorsed high school teacher Sandy Perry will meet with families to discuss all steps of this process and provide services for each step. Let us help to change your future! Call 706-305-0531 for more information.

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Columbia Co. names Leadership classes By Tammy Shepherd President/CEO Columbia County Chamber of Commerce During the past few weeks, the Chamber has welcomed our newest Leadership classes. It’s always an exciting time of year for the staff, our board and the committee members who oversee the programs. The new students – whether they’re 15 or 55 – are always thrilled to be starting this new adventure and eager to learn more about our community and develop as individuals. Competition for the few slots available is tough, and those selected make quite a commitment of time and energy to see it through. The Youth Leadership and the Leadership Columbia County programs are an important part of the Chamber’s mission to advocate for beneficial economic growth in the area. Strong leadership is the key for economic growth. We’ve all seen examples of good and bad leadership – and the consequences of both. That’s why it’s so important to develop good leaders and why the

Members of the 2015 Columbia County Chamber Youth Leadership class are, in front from left, Isabel Flanagan, Diane Kelement, Carly Pence, David Brannon, Keene Hillis, Olivia Pennoyer, Cameron Barton, Rod Bayliss, Darasha Singleton, Casey Andrews, Jordan Smalley and Evan Read. In back are, from left, Alex Schwan, Grace Welch, A.J. Allen, Justin VanEssendelft, Jake Knight, Michael Sostre, Pooja Gohel, Tiffany Ujjin, Bailey Booth, Karson Pennington, Nick Iseman, Samantha Newman, Meghan Dixon, James Dorsey, Jayda Felder and Madelyn Echols

Chamber makes such an investment in developing youth and adults leaders. Through the programs we expose the participants to the positive things in our community, as well as the challenges. Armed with that insight we hope that they can go out and make a difference. We’ve been successful in that mission. Look at many of our community leaders now who are serving in many different capacities – many of them have been through our leadership programs. They have the skills and knowledge to benefit them personally and professionally.

Members of the 2015 Columbia County Leadership class are, in front from left, Eric McIntyre, Margaret Taylor, Ben Tankersley, Will Butler, Bo Hopkins, Will Lanier, Dorothy Brandon, Margaret Doss and Steve Wilkerson. in row 2 are Daniel Pharr, Jessica Cain, Linda Diebel, Dale Dye, Alyson Getchell and Jennifer Miller. In row 3 are Lemuel Brooks, Tracy Bryant, Leila Lawson, Carey Miller and Michael Gilles. In row 4 are Jeremy Young, Johothan Powell, Bonnie Cox, Troy Clark and Brett Miller. In row 5 are Will Badger, Teri Mobley, Mitchell Muchison, Katie Newton and Kelly McCauley. In row 6 are Robbie Bennett, Maria Darley, Nichole Hayes, Brian King and Brandon Harper. Not pictured was David Weitz

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The year, the Youth Leadership program has 28 students from the Columbia County public and private schools and a homeschooler. Students can participate in their sophomore or junior years. They began the program with an ori-

entation on Aug. 12 where they and their parents met at the Chamber office with the staff and members of the Youth Leadership Steering Committee. The following Saturday the group met for a day of team-building and leadership training at Pointes West Army Resort at Clarks Hill Lake. For the next eight months, the students will participate in a day-long session each month in which they will travel to various locations to get a hands-on look at many aspects of the community, such as healthcare, law enforcement, local history and culture, business and community service. They even travel to Atlanta to see the State Legislature in action and meet with lawmakers. First Bank of Georgia is the Title Sponsor for this 16th year of the program. This year, Frank Spears of State Farm is the Youth Leadership Chair and Karen Smith of Doctors Hospital is Vice Chair. The Chamber’s Director of Membership, Joey Cummings, is the Program Administrator. This year we have the largest adult class in the six years since the program started. The 36 class members began the 10-month program with a Meet the Class reception See LEADERSHIP, page 27


Think before posting career-ending pictures You may want to think twice about taking a wild party “selfie” if you are preparing to start the process of applying for jobs. Did you know the majority of employers will screen your social media presence while deciding if they want to hire you? Have you given any thought about the email address you use on your resume? It is one of the things that makes a first impression with an employer. Before you Bella Wenum begin your job search, take the Library Associate, time to comb Georgia Military through all of College your social media accounts and either remove or “untag” all tasteless photos or restrict your privacy settings to only friends; but be wary that the profile settings on your friends’ profiles could still mean photos of you could be shared with the wrong people. The danger in simply restricting your profile is that once something is on the internet, it never leaves. It is better to prevent potentially damaging pictures from appearing online in the first place.

To prevent unapproved pictures of you from appearing on your profile in Facebook, change your settings to where you need to approve “tags” before they go into effect. You can do this for pictures and wall posts. Other popular social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram afford the same safeguards such as restricting your profile to only your approved list of followers. Another action to take is to see what results come up when you perform a search of your name. If there is anything that could potentially damage your chances of getting the job offer, it is time to act to get it removed. Google has a service called Google Alerts. When your name is published, an email will be sent to you. Before sending out the first resume, you’ll want to evaluate your email address to be sure it is professional. Often, people initially set up their email address user name based on a favorite hobby, interest or

a cute nickname. For personal purposes at home, this might be okay, but for resumes and professional correspondence, it’s best to use a first and last name, making your email more professional and recognizable to employers. Taking the effort to clean up your online presence and evaluating the email address you’ll use on your resume are both well worth the time it takes. It could make the difference in getting the job! 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. Bella Wenum is the Library Associate 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.

LEADERSHIP continued from page 26 on Aug. 18. Later that week, they met at Pointes West at Clarks Hill Lake for a twoday retreat that included team building activities such as a challenging ropes course that required teams to work together to navigate the obstacles. Over the next 10 months, the group will spend a day a month in sessions learning about law enforcement, healthcare, education and workforce, economic development and history of the county.

The program continues to grow in popularity. Not only is this the largest class, we had the most applications ever this year. The selection process is rigorous. Applicants must submit a detailed application and submit letters of recommendation. From there they are interviewed by a panel from the Leadership Steering Committee, which organizes the sessions and guides the class during the year. Adam Williams of The Cleveland Group, CPAs, is the Leadership Chair and Karyn Nixon of Georgia Regents University, is the Vice Chair. Laura Smith, the Chamber’s Director of Programs, is the Program Administrator.

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Laws to improve your leadership skills The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell No matter how good or bad your leadership skills are today, you can improve them. John Maxwell’s book will help you identify what you can do to become a better leader. Using the ideas and concepts found in this book will help create a leadership style that will have people follow you. Let’s look at several of his 21 Eddie Kennedy Laws of LeaderBusiness Book ship. Law #1. The Reviews Law of the Lid. This is a vital law of leadership. Simply stated, if you are the leader then you are the lid. Your organization will not progress beyond your ability to lead others. If you cannot effectively lead other people, your goals will not be reached by the team. To be an effective leader, you must grow in your ability to influence others. Maxwell says, “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” It will take some time and effort, but you can develop your influence of others and raise your lid. Law #14. The Law of the Buy-In The first thing people buy into is the leader. People don’t follow the leader automatically. They follow the leader they believe in. If they believe in you, they will do almost anything to help you make your vision come to pass. Your team needs to be able to trust you

and what you say and do. They need to know that you care for them. After they buy into you, they will buy into your vision. Without their buy in, nothing will happen. Law #15. The Law of Victory Vi c t or i ous leaders are unwilling to accept defeat. They figure out what must be done and they go after it with e ve r y t h i ng they have until they achieve it. As a leader, you must have an undefeatable attitude and desire to succeed. There are three key components to achieve team victory, unity of vision, diversity of skills, a leader dedicated to victory and raising team members to their potential. Creating a unity of vision for your team doesn’t happen spontaneously. The right team members with the proper diversity of talent don’t work together automatically. It takes a leader to make those things happen. It takes a leader to provide the motivation, empowerment and direction required to win. 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.

Helms College partners with Atlanta culinary school Helms College has entered a partnership with The Art Institute of Atlanta that will facilitate credit transfers to allow Helms culinary graduates to continue their education and receive credits toward an Associate or Bachelor degree at any of the seven campuses of The Art Institute of Atlanta. Under this agreement with The Art Institute of Atlanta, Helms students who earn a grade of “C” or higher will be able to transfer credits from the Macon or Augusta programs to The Art Institute of Atlanta and its branch campuses to continue their education and receive credits toward an Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management degree. Students from the Polly Long Denton School of Hospitality at the Helms College, Macon Campus; and at the School of Culinary Arts at the Helms College, Augusta Campus, currently can study toward a 22-week certificate in restaurant

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fundamentals or a 44-week diploma in culinary arts, with an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts degree available in Macon and under review for future addition in Augusta. Helms College students will be able to continue their education at The Art Institute of Atlanta campuses, including The Art Institute of Atlanta- Decatur, The Art Institute of Charleston (South Carolina), The Art Institute of Nashville (Tennessee), The Art Institute of Virginia Beach (Virginia), The Art Institute of Washington (Virginia), and The Art Institute of Washington- Dulles (Virginia). The Art Institute of Atlanta is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), while Helms College is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). For more information on Helms College, visit www.helms.edu.


LEISURE & HOSPITALITY

Old-fashioned charm remains at Sports Center It used to be there was a little 19- inch TV on the freezer and another on a shelf in the corner. Now there are four sizable flat screens hanging on the walls. It used to be that a few lucky folks had a business card with the phone number allowing them to call in an order that would be hot and nearing ready upon arrival. There used to be more pool tables and fewer Ed Miller dining tables. Power Hour Lunch The wall décor is still a mishmash of vintage posters with a few newer items wedged in here and there. The display case of old baseball cards is a reminder that, while some things get updated, others stay the same. Of course, the place is the legendary Sports Center on Broad Street in downtown Augusta and staying “the same” when all around you is changing is a good thing if you’ve got the best cheeseburger in town – and, they do.

The Sports Center 594 Broad Street Augusta 706-724-9307 “All the way” is what to order. You’ll be rewarded with bread that is always soft and fresh. The burger patties are still handrolled and pressed before being placed on an old-fashion griddle and being cooked to perfection. Ripe tomatoes, cheese and those ever-so-yummy grilled onions round off the sandwich along with ketchup, mustard and perhaps a little mayonnaise. All that, plus sweet tea, for about $7. It doesn’t get any better. Of course, a burger this good deserves onion rings to accompany it. No bags of frozen rings here, either. These delicious specimens are battered by hand and deep fried while your burger cooks. It’s best to keep an eye on them once they’re served. The batter is so light they might float out of the basket. Don’t get in a hurry at The Sports Center. There will be plenty of time to discuss business, or whatever the popular topic at hand may be. Of course, if you have the number, an order can still be called in.

But why? It’s a fine place to hammer out the finer points of a business arrangement and you will not be rushed. Folks around you will be paying attention to their own business and the constant chatter ensures no one will be listening in on your conversation. Sometime, when the juke box gets fired up, it can get loud. That’s ok. Simply talk a little louder. After all, this is a bar and pool hall. This is not the traditional place to go to close a company deal, but I can only imagine how many have been successfully completed over mighty fine burgers, fries, rings and sweet tea. Be aware of a couple of thing before en-

tering. People do smoke there. If you’re offended, find someplace else. And, bring cash. Credit cards and ATM cards are some symbols of the modern age that haven’t made it to The Sports Center just yet.

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I get by with a little help from my friends “Hello,” my best friend Lexie answered the phone. “Arrrgggghhhhh,” I wailed in response. “What is it this time,” Lexie asked. She was accustomed to my phone calls. “Did you lock your keys in your car? Break your toe trying on heels again? Run out of chocolate?” She gets me. “No, no and yes but that’s not the problem. At least it won’t be a problem until the 4 p.m. Nora Blithe sugar craving Humorist kicks in,” I said making a mental note to pick up a candy bar on the way home. “This arrgggghhhhh is about work,” I continued. “I’m giving a speech in 20 minutes and I dripped café mocha on my white blouse. I don’t have time to go home and change and the stain removing pen I keep 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.

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Buster is Lexie’s 80-pound Boxer mix who never grew up. He’s big, goofy and totally lovable. “He was asleep next to my bed and he was dreaming. He was drumming his claws on the hardwood floor like he was running. The constant clicking kept waking me up. Then, he began barking in his sleep. You know, the kind of muffled bark that they do?” “I do,” I replied, “I’m never sure if they’re having a good dream or a bad dream.” “That’s it,” she agreed. “He started barking and drumming his nails on the floor and I kept waking slightly but not all the

in the car melted in last week’s heat wave.” “I bet no one will notice,” she said encouragingly. “Ha! Not likely,” I retorted. “There’s a big brown splot dead center on my right boob. They’re going to notice.” “I’m sure it won’t be as bad as my last presentation to vendors.” “What happened?” I asked. “The presentation was really important. I was afraid I wouldn’t sleep well the night before so I took a sleeping pill but it only helped a little because Buster kept waking me up.”

way. Suddenly, he squealed.” “It startled me fully awake,” she said. “I jumped to comfort him, spun and did a face plant on the headboard. I broke my nose.” “No,” I gasped. “Yes,” she retorted. “I woke with two black eyes. When I did my presentation, no one said a word. Feel better?” “No, but you did solve one problem.” “What’s that?” “I didn’t know how I was going to open my speech,” I said. “Now I have a funny story to tell.” “Glad I could help,” she replied dryly.


Southern Living brings Test Kitchen to The Willcox Publisher’s Note: Since The Willcox hotel in Aiken was named to the limited Southern Living Hotel Collection in October 2013, the two natural partners in Southern hospitality continue to co-sponsor stylish events for their readers and clientele. Also out of their partnership, a Charleston couple has won the Big Day Wedding Giveaway, sponsored by the magazine and to be held at The Willcox in May. The hotel and several of its wedding/event suppliers will provide their services for free for the couple – a total of at least $35,000 in goods and services for the winning couple. The Willcox will host Southern Living Test Kitchen on the Road, featuring Chef Robby

Melvin, test kitchen director at Southern Living and Regan Browell, executive chef at The Willcox, in two seatings with two separate specialties on Saturday, Sept. 20. Chef Melvin and Chef Browell will demonstrate recipes, share ideas and tips and interact with guests as they create “Sunday Suppers” during the first session staring at noon in The Restaurant at The Willcox, followed by a session on “Great Grilling,” appropriately by the hotel’s pool starting at 5 p.m. Joining Melvin and Browell will be Christian Carlisle of Plum Pudding, gourmet kitchen store on Laurens Street in downtown Aiken, and Karin Jeffcoat, master floral designer and event planner at

Cote Design, also on Laurens Street. The afternoon demonstration of how easy it can be to prepare great “Sunday Suppers, when family and friends gather for easy conversations and good food!” begins at noon. At the evening demonstration, beginning at 5 p.m., the chefs will fire up the grill with your favorites for their session on “Great Grilling.” Participants will share “Southern bites” and a beverage while lounging in The Willcox’s beautiful and serene pool area. Southern Living Test Kitchens are set up like a home kitchen so that the cooking conditions mirror that of your home. The

appliances and pantry staples are just like that of a typical household. For those who want to immerse themselves in the whole experience, The Willcox offers a Test Kitchen Package, which includes overnight accommodations on Sept. 20 in a luxurious King Room, a Southern Living culinary welcome treat upon arrival, both sessions of “Sunday Suppers” and “Great Grilling,” evening turn-down service, continental breakfast and late check out. To purchase event tickets or a hotel package, please call The Willcox at 803-6481898 for reservations. Seating is limited. For more information, visit www.thewillcox.com.

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