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January 2016


2016 Outlook by Industry Experts Top Leaders Share Lessons Arts and Culture Rock & Roll and Soul Food

+ A Georgia Chamber Publication

BUSINESS DOWN SOUTH Local County Works to Keep Grads in Georgia

The Georgia Chamber has gone digital! I hope you’ll enjoy reading with convenience, whether on your desktop or handheld device. We’re excited about this inaugural issue and the opportunity to tell you about great business, politics, entertainment and local chamber stories, from around the state. Last year we celebrated a century of leadership, this year, we’re focused on a very exciting initiative, Georgia 2030. We are blessed to live in a state with a vibrant economy, competitive global market and unparalleled quality of life. As you know, with blessings come challenges, our challenge is how do we continue to lead? My answer is, in order to lead we must serve and plan for future generations. With your help, we plan to keep pace with the rest of the country by growing our economy 40% by 2030. Working together we will expand Georgia’s role in global commerce, cultivate a world-class workforce, bolster economic mobility, improve long-term job creation and support diverse, thriving communities. I hope you will take time to either attend a listening session, town hall meeting or participate in a survey or social media campaign. I believe in the “Power of Partnership,” and look forward to working together to make Georgia better for future generations. Chris Clark



Planning For the Future of Our State

If you want something done, ask a busy person. — Benjamin Franklin The Georgia Chamber asked Paul Bowers, president of Georgia Power, to take on the role of chairman in 2015, the Chamber’s 100th year. You won’t find a busier Georgian. And he got the job done.

Bowers was named chairman, president and chief executive officer of Georgia Power, effective Dec. 31, 2010. The company is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest producers of electricity.

As chairman, Bowers dedicated himself to growing the Georgia Chamber’s presence statewide.

Bowers traveled the state in 2015, outlining the Chamber’s mission to business and civic groups, explaining the need to strengthen education in Georgia, better prepare our workforce and launching programs to identify and train the next generation of leaders.

“I was honored to Paul Bowers, Chairman, serve as 2015 board chair during the Georgia President & CEO, Georgia Power Company Chamber’s centennial year,” said Bowers. “Our state’s economy has benefited tremendously as a result of the Georgia Chamber’s collaborative initiatives and strong partnerships for the last 100 years and in 2015 we committed to ensure that legacy continues. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work so closely with Chris Clark and look forward to supporting incoming Chair Hank Linginfelter as he leads us in 2016.”

“Leadership matters. Engagement matters,” Bowers said of the Georgia Chamber during a gathering of business leaders in Rome last summer. “We’re making things better for those who come behind us.” Thank you, Mr. Bowers, for your service and leadership!

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. ” — John Maxwell The Georgia Chamber enters its second century with AGL Resources executive vice president Hank Linginfelter taking on the role of chairman. “The Georgia Chamber is a well-respected organization that has positively influenced the business climate in Georgia for more than a century.

company’s seven utilities, He is responsible for all operating functions of the utilities including field operations, customer experience, gas operations, construction, energy efficiency programs and utility marketing and sales. In addition, he has corporate-wide responsibility for regulatory and governmental affairs, economic development, supply chain, engineering and environmental

I am honored to lead an organization that Hank Linginfelter, Executive Vice has been shaped by so President Distribution Operations, many talented people. AGL Resources As an executive of AGL Resources, a Fortune 500 company that is health and safety. headquartered in the state, Linginfelter has a bachelor’s degree in I look forward to advocating on behalf of industrial management from Georgia our members to enhance and continue Tech and a master’s degree in business the success of the Georgia Chamber,” said administration from Georgia State Linginfelter. University. Linginfelter was named executive vice president of AGL Resources in December 2007. As chairman and CEO of the

In 1915, the organization we know today as the Georgia Chamber was originally two organizations: one called the Georgia Manufacturing Organization; the other the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

In 1992, after several name changes, the official brand of the state’s largest business advocacy organization became the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Although the name has changed over the years, many things remain consistent. On the Chamber’s first anniversary in 1916 a survey was conducted across the state to help define the organization’s mission. The survey included three important questions: 1) What should the Georgia Chamber undertake for the good of the state and what help in time and effort will you render towards that end?

You may ask the question, how will we know if the issues are similar? The Chamber will use a mix of traditional and non-traditional communications strategies. We will engage rural and urban Georgia; small and large businesses; every demographic; elected leaders both local and state; employees and site selectors...in other words, the entire state. We will also host statewide Town Hall meetings, engage constituents via social media campaigns as well as facilitate focus groups to ensure all Georgians have an opportunity to participate in this process.

The collected insights, opinions and data will be analyzed by the Chamber to develop focused, 2) What should the Georgia Chamber undertake realistic and actionable goals. Then initiatives to improve agricultural opportunities? will be prioritized for implementation over the next 10 years. 3) What should the Georgia Chamber do to improve trade conditions and opportunities in As to the actual questions, Clark says, “the your own line of business? Chamber will let the data drive the types of questions asked of Georgians, but our goal is These three questions helped guide the to get the best ideas for a better Georgia on any organization through our first century. In issue that might impact our long term success.” 1916, we asked Georgians to help define the organization’s mission. And finally, once the data has been collected and analyzed the Chamber will partner with Currently, we know over the next 14 years the legislators from around the state to conduct state will change drastically due to population immersive studies that will identify and growth, economic changes and political shifts. recommend solutions to better position Georgia Consistent with earlier years, present day, for long term growth and success. the Chamber is taking a similar approach by developing an ambitious and aggressive strategy During the past century, the Chamber’s been to plan for the future of Georgia. committed “to improving Georgia’s economic climate and contributing to the competitiveness “Much like the survey in 1916, We will be of business and industry by creating prolaying out a map that impacts the next 100 growth policies, effective advocacy, support for years,” said Chamber President & CEO, Chris economic development and quality investor Clark. “Many of the issues may have changed service.” over the last century but some are still very similar.” According to Clark, Georgians were During the next 100 years, the Chamber will concerned about agriculture, infrastructure and continue to support the growth and prosperity transportation; which are not all that different that has benefited Georgia over the last century… from many concerns today. Introducing Georgia 2030!

6½ years into recovery, where’s Georgia’s economy headed? World markets have been in turmoil since the new year began.


any economists agree on the future of Georgia’s economy: it’s green lights all the way in 2016. Just keep your expectations low.

flooring capital of the world, which has recovered quickly from near 20% unemployment at the depths of the great recession.

Kennesaw State University economist Roger Tutterow says, “I don’t think expansions die of old age. The fundamentals are there for continued 2% growth statewide” this year. His predictions are in line with economists at the Atlanta Federal Reserve, Wells Fargo and the University of Georgia.

Augusta is nurturing a diversified economy, driven by healthcare, growth at Augusta university, expansion of the NSA and creation of the Cyber Warfare Command at Fort Gordon.

With near-full employment and most industries in at least modest growth mode, the biggest risks to Georgia involve the global economy. While the state’s growth is outpacing the national average, different regions are recovering at different paces. Tutterow says two of the fastest growing local economies are in Gainesville, thanks to expansion in health care and professional services, and Dalton, the

Military presence has also been a stabilizing force at Fort Stewart in Hinesville in southeast Georgia, but the ongoing defense department audit of its facilities called BRAC remains a concern. Columbus’s Fort Benning, a major employer in west Georgia, will lose 3,500 soldiers as part of base realignment. In Macon, re-gentrification of downtown is leading to real estate price increases, and rural areas of the state are generally seeing healthier returns in agriculture. As the fastest growing port on the east coast, Savannah is seeing job growth and

higher real estate prices. Tutterow says the only red flag ahead of the five-foot deepening of coastal Georgia’s shipping channel is a strong US dollar. About half the port’s business comes from exports. The stronger the dollar, the more expensive US goods are to export. Metro Atlanta is on a tear, with new jobs coming from the relocation of Merdeces-Benz US headquarters from New York, expansion at Sage Software, Comcast and others. Baxalta’s new $1 billion biologics plant near Covington east of Atlanta will be complete in 2016 and will eventually employ 1,500. In 2016, housing prices in Atlanta will finally move ahead of recession-era lows, but with that comes the eventual risk of overbuilding, particularly along the city’s northern arc. Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner says the priority in maintaining a healthy pace of corporate expansion is having enough workers available to hire. “Companies move here because they’re convinced a pool of talented workers is available,” he says. The state’s emphasis on workforce training “appears to be paying dividends.” Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart says this pattern of growth is closer to normal. Expectations that the economy has stabilized led the Fed to implementing a small increase

in the federal funds rate in December, the first in seven years. “Extraordinary economic times are giving way to a more normal environment. Inflation is not an issue. The economy is growing steadily despite challenges.” What economic trends are the most important to watch in 2016? Tutterow says job growth and pay increases, both of which are possible this year, will indicate Georgia’s economy is still growing. So will more mergers among banks, continuation of the state tax credit that led to the fast-growing local film industry and a modest improvement in manufacturing, which is recovering after decades of contraction. Wells Fargo’s Mark Vitner says Georgians should be satisfied with steps their elected leaders are taking to move the state forward, particularly after Site Selection, a respected industry publication, named Georgia as “Best for Business” in the US for an unprecedented third consecutive year in 2015. “Politicians are doing an effective job. And they should. Georgians should hold them to the same high standards as they expect from their football coaches.”

Be Part of Creating a Better State of Business for Georgia

Membership in the state’s largest advocacy organization is an incredible way to ensure that Georgia continues to be a state that is friendly to businesses of all sizes and industry, encourages job creation and investment, and remains globally competitive. For more information about membership, contact John Cushnie at jcushnie@gachamber.com or 404-223-2467.

Immigration Reform

Support reforms that ensure a talented and qualified workforce in order to maintain and grow our economy and global competitiveness.

Affordable Care Act

Support the delay of payment cuts to hospitals treating low-income patients through the Disproportionate Share Hospital program.

Healthcare Access

Support policies and legislation that provide increased flexibility for federal agencies to improve healthcare access through innovative state-specific plans.

Savannah Harbor Expansion

Support the appropriation of federal funds needed to complete the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Retailer Fairness

Support policies and legislation that provide equal tax treatment of both brick and mortar retailers and online retailers

Proposed EPA Clean Power Plan

Support reasonable regulations that take the needs of individual states, and their economies, into consideration before finalizing new air quality rules.

Proposed EPA Waters of the US Rule

Support a formal rulemaking process to achieve the objectives of the Clean Water Act, not unilateral executive action.

Highway Trust Fund

Support efforts to preserve the long-term viability of the Federal Highway Trust Fund.


Support policies that provide opportunities for Georgia businesses to expand their market footprint through international trade.

Labor Relations

Oppose policies that put Georgia businesses at a competitive disadvantage by placing restrictions on employer-employee relationships and contracts.

Protecting Georgia’s Military Bases

The Chamber supports protecting the military presence in Georgia including installations that have a total impact of $20 billion on our economy.

Debt Ceiling

Support the passage of an annual budget, protect the standing of the dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency, and avoid government shutdowns.

Regulatory Accountability Act

Support modernizing the Administrative Procedure Act to increase public participation and transparency in rulemaking, and requiring agencies to choose the least costly option and legal recourse for challenges to new rules.

Economic Development & Taxation

Ensure Georgia is able to grow its economy and maintain its reputation as a leader for global commerce by opposing policies that promote discrimination or would have a discriminatory effect Continue to build an attractive statewide ecosystem for venture and seed capital through support for Invest Georgia and other programs Support ongoing examination of the current tax base, tax rates, tax incentives and compliance requirements to ensure a Georgia business environment that is fair and competitive -- not only for the state’s current businesses but also for businesses considering relocating here


Ensure K-12 education funds are invested more efficiently and effectively to improve student outcomes and increase transparency Maintain college-and career-ready standards in K-12 public education to promote a more globally competitive workforce


Preserve Georgia’s employment-at-will doctrine and strengthen the state’s right-to-work status Continue to make substantive changes to the workers’ compensation system that promote balance for employers and employees

Energy & Natural Resources

Protect statewide access to sustainable, reliable and affordable energy supplies Enhance access to high-quality, affordable water supplies; promote investment in critical infrastructure; and ensure future water supply security for communities and businesses across the state

Health Care

Ensure the viability of our statewide health system through improving access and affordability Promote cost containment with respect to employer-sponsored health insurance

Legal Reform

Continue to support, preserve and strengthen civil justice reform Improve balance in the state’s civil justice system by: modernizing rules of civil procedure for handling electronic discovery requests; limiting double recovery for non-existent medical expenses; and updating the business judgment rule to create a fair standard for business officers and directors


Continue to improve Georgia’s infrastructure through maximizing current revenue sources for transportation funding Expand infrastructure focus to multi-modal transportation priorities including transit, freight and logistics



and Play an Active Role in Shaping the Future of Our State

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce serves as an advocate for the interests of businesses, both large and small. The Chamber PAC is an independent, bipartisan entity that strengthens our collective voice by providing support to our business champions serving under the Gold Dome and pro-business candidates running for office. For more information contact Lindsay Jacobs at 404-223-2479 or ljacobs@gachamber.com.

ave Atlanta Whenever I le th past and head sou ic line of that geograph known as demarcation , I always try The Fall Line odus so that to time my ex possible arly I have the best each ays to leave e p It . ch n for BBQ and p lu r r e tt e M in option fo e p in Darien. It rning to arriv o m ri m e sh e th it in h h W g enou land r Georgia St. Simons Is ven earlier fo e to r o ip tr m a t e n cr ce e ons re ic my lunch opti that prior to a d so e , n ta e n p a p tl a A h just so akfast in by my a working bre ically limited h y p b d ra e g y o e la g e d re s e wa te w chance to half of the sta kly became a ic u q e g n e ll in the southern a ever gs. But that ch mmenced. N n co a p sh r e ru g n u ch h n own en as the lu con precisely cal fried chick a lo M a to le p it m e k sa a m e first time. I opportunity to th e r th fo n d o o o ss F a l p u one to H&H So con had g through Ma und myself in in fo I ss a r, p to e ip ri tr p s pro reviou d that every p quickly realize opportunity. been a missed

In an admission that now brings feelings of shame, I wasn’t familiar with the story of H&H, even though the legendary restaurant commands its own Wikipedia page. I was aghast to discover that even some Chicagoan named Oprah, who visited H&H in 2007, knew more about a revered Georgia restaurant than me. When I finally stepped into the Forsyth Street eatery, I immediately understood what truly inspired the Allman Brothers to record Eat a Peach. The smell of freshly fried chicken and simmering vegetables is intoxicating, never mind the vintage autographed posters, playbills, and headshots from anybody who was anybody in 1970s southern rock or blues music. The story of H&H recalls the proprietor, known affectionately to Maconites as “Mama Louise” allowed the famous southern rockers of the Allman Brothers to pay what they were able for food while they were struggling musicians, saying “pay me when you can”. Mama Louise was so important to the band that they eventually invited her to go on tour with them so that they would never have to suffer through a bad meal on the road. One could make a strong case that the catering on that tour deserves its own spot in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Duane, Gregg, Dickie, and the rest of the band. It would be worth the visit to Macon purely for the musical history on the walls of the restaurant, but the food also stands tall next to any revered meat and three in which I’ve ever dined. If you can possibly find a way to resist ordering the fried chicken at H&H (I’ve yet to succeed), the menu also contains a rotating cast of meats including fried fish, baked ham, pork chops, and stew beef that each have their own dedicated fans. The vegetables by no means play second fiddle with an equally strong lineup of staples like collards, mac & cheese, okra & tomatoes, and blackeyed peas. If the opportunity presents itself and chicken & dumplings are on the board, you will not be disappointed. H&H is best attended with a small group, because there are so many things on the menu worth trying. It also helps to have friends when it comes time for desert. Not partaking in at least one choice from the standout lineup of pies, cobblers, and banana pudding served on the finest melamine china would be a regrettable decision. So next time I find myself passing through Macon around lunchtime, I will consider a detour to downtown. If you’re in the area, I recommend you do the same. Not only will you find an authentic and delicious meal, you might also end up dining next to music royalty. Map image courtesy Google Maps

How do effective leaders successfully manage through difficult times and deliver for their organizations and customers? We asked five Georgians, all participants in Leadership Georgia, for insight on their management style.

Gretchen Corbin

Commissioner Technical College System of Georgia Atlanta You have to listen to the customer’s needs. When you’re negotiating, how do you reach a win for everyone involved? Sometimes you have to recognize it’s not going to work out and that’s OK. Those deals aren’t supposed to happen, so move on to the next win-win. The Golden Rule of life applies to business as well. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Two important priorities of being a leader is to encourage others to grow by offering ongoing training and helping them keep their families first so they are able to give their all to the organization when they’re at work. In my career, Governor Deal blessed me with positions in three state organizations. Each of those jobs has helped me in the next one. I see first-hand how educating our workforce ties in to economic development. Gretchen’s recommended reading on leadership: Move Your Bus by Ron Clark Click on the book jacket

David Danzie

CEO Fall Line Contractors Macon I’ve learned that you have to be willing to make hard decisions quickly. Others want to give their input, which is fine, but the longer you wait to make a tough call, the more issues you create. It helps to truly understand your strengths and weaknesses. I like structure and I’m outgoing and gregarious, but I’m less effective at carrying out the details, so I have to be aware of that and rely on others and not try to do it all myself. Last November, my father died, which was extremely hard. I learned that I tend to internalize, which is a bad trait. It prevented the people around me from being able to empathize, and we all need a balance between help from others and time to ourselves to navigate through tough times.

Mimi Gudenrath

Program Specialist/PBIS Georgia Department of Education Atlanta I decided to leave what would probably have been an easier life for me in Athens, where I grew up and my parents were both beloved educators, and move to Macon, where I knew no one. There I met a mentor, Dr. Mary Margaret Wood. She works with young people in Georgia who have emotional and physical disabilities. It opened my eyes. We began a program to get funding from the General Assembly to help these kids. I didn’t take as many risks when I was younger because I didn’t want to embarrass my parents. But they wouldn’t have been embarrassed, they would have asked what I learned. Be transparent with everyone you meet. Take risks and be prepared to mess up. When you do, apologize directly to the person or group, acknowledge the misstep and how you intend to correct it, and then do it.

David’s recommended reading:

Mimi’s recommended reading:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

Deana Bibb

Batch Maker and CEO Proper Pepper Pimento Cheese Sandersville

Joy Lampley

Assistant Chief Counsel US Department of Homeland Security Atlanta

Five years ago, after having twins late in life, I decided I had more in me than I realized. I didn’t know a thing about starting a business, but I looked around and decided, “Hey, I can do that. They did!” I spent 10 months doing research and attended a marketing seminar at UGA.

I realized early on that leadership was a calling. Leadership is hard. Life is hard. Building a career is hard. People are people. There are lots of books about leadership, but none of them will tell you how to handle and navigate every situation, so I always draw on my faith in God.

My husband and I are fortunate. I didn’t have to launch this business to survive — he has a good job in banking. So I haven’t had a lot of sleepless nights yet as many entrepreneurs do. But now I’ve reached the limits of my production capacity.

My mantra is, “leaders lead.” Whether it’s 2pm or 2am, leaders are always on. Leaders are consistent, they strive for excellence and they’re always inspirational. When I find that I’m tired, I won’t give myself an out. I have a Diet Coke and get back into it.

The founder of Leadership Georgia, J.W. Fanning, has a philosophy I try to follow. “A clear conscious makes for a restful pillow.” I try to be authentic and not cover up my mistakes. I admit them and take time to reflect.

Sometimes I draw on the wisdom of people who came before me. I call and tell them what’s going on and ask them for their wisdom. I don’t wait for a phone call or wonder what they might think — I reach out.

Deana’s recommended reading:

Joy’s recommended reading:

Good to Great by Jim Collins

It Worked for Me — In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell


n 1886, Henry W. Grady traveled to the New England Society to deliver a speech that propelled him to national prominence and forever changed the trajectory of the South.

His speech that night was a plea to the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the country to consider investing in the South, a region that was ripe for industrial development. Grady was a native of Georgia, and was serving as the editor of the Atlanta Constitution when that speech was delivered, so it is no surprise that Georgia would serve as the focal point of the next hundred years of southern investment, which is precisely what Grady foresaw.

While Atlanta bolstered its claim as the economic capital of the South throughout most of the 20th century, our neighbors spent the last few decades creating their own identity. Grady envisioned Georgia as part of the South that would attract investors from across the nation, a state that would move on from the scars of the Civil War and unleash its full potential. He saw the growing economic and cultural diversity as a strength and an opportunity, when others had previously seen it as a weakness and a threat. In his lifetime, Grady helped bring cotton exhibitions to Georgia, using the existing economic strengths of the State to draw new investment into expanding industries. Over a century after Grady’s vision came to be reality, a diverse economy has made Georgia a global leader in commerce. Through the efforts of subsequent visionary leaders, Georgia claims the world’s busiest passenger airport and the fastest growing container port on the east coast. We have a freight and logistics network that builds on Atlanta’s founding as a terminus of railroads. The Olympics of 1996 left no doubt that Georgia is uniquely positioned to grow as an international hub of business. If Grady’s speech in 1886 was the opening monologue of our story, we now find ourselves entering the second act. The difference between today and the 1880s, when Grady began his seemingly quixotic mission to redefine the South, is Georgia is now surrounded by competing states that have seen the success of Georgia and have taken bold steps to carve their own niche.

North Carolina has come to be known as the banking and financial hub of the Southeast, attracting high paying jobs that would have previously gone to New York or San Francisco. Tennessee claims some of the largest healthcare management companies in the country along with the growing healthcare IT industry. Texas has ridden the domestic energy boom of the last decade to prominence and has created entire new industries in the process. Florida continues to amass wealth through tourism, capturing tax revenue from out-of-town guests from across the world. To our own credit, Georgia is a major player in all these sectors, but we still struggle to define what we will be known for in 2030. In recent years, we have seen major growth in film production and financial services technology, two industries that are putting Georgia in a renewed global light. Our logistics industry, buoyed by the previously mentioned airport, shipping, and freight network, continue to thrive. We are a growing hospitality destination with diverse geography from mountains to beaches and the ability to house hundreds of thousands of visitors. Will one of these industries eventually turn into the crown jewel that our neighboring states would envy? Potentially, but it’s also possible we have enough economic diversity to thrive without a single crown jewel. However, if we learned anything from Henry Grady, it’s that before the world will take notice, we better have a clear understanding about where we stand as a state and where we intend to go. Photo courtesy of Henry W Grady courtesy of Everett Historical

CSM Bakery Solutions... Proud Cornerstone Members of the Georgia Chamber

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, CSM is dedicated to developing and providing solutions that drive customer growth and success. CSM offers a broad, innovative portfolio of premium quality bakery ingredients, finished products and services for retail and foodservice markets as well as artisan and industrial bakeries. For more information, please visit www.csmbakerysolutions.com

Klaus Balzano / Shutterstock.com

2015 was not supposed to be an election year. However, due to a variety of reasons, 2015 saw an unprecedented number of special elections. Since Sine Die ten new members have been elected to the Georgia General Assembly—two senators and eight representatives. On behalf of the Georgia Chamber membership, we’d like to congratulate each of our newly elected officials; we look forward to working with you and appreciate your service to our great state!

“As a registered nurse, co-owner of a physical therapy practice, and the mother of two school-age children, I am focused on the health, education, and prosperity of Georgia’s families and businesses and I look forward to serving Columbia County in the Georgia State House.” Representative Jodi Lott, Augusta, District 122

“I ran to be an energetic representative from Roswell and Alpharetta to the state of Georgia following more than 5 years on Roswell City Council. There are many issues to which I can add a fresh perspective from years of experience, both as a physician, and having been involved in every aspect of our community.” Representative Betty Price, Roswell, District 48

“I ran for the legislature to make government simpler, smarter and more effective for all Georgians.” Representative Shaw Blackmon, Bonaire, District 146

“I chose to make myself available as a candidate for State Representative as an act of faith. As such, my desire is to represent the good people in this district with honor and integrity.” Representative Clay Pirkle, Ashburn, District 155

“I ran for State Senate because I have heart for service to my community and believe that I have the experience and leadership ability to effectively champion the interests of Senate District 20 in the Georgia General Assembly. I’m honored that the voters have placed their trust in me to be their voice at the State Capitol, and I will work diligently to secure a prosperous future for the families of Middle Georgia.” Senator Larry Walker, Perry, District 20

“I decided to run for the General Assembly because I believe that the people of House District 80 deserve honest, pragmatic, and forward-thinking representation under the Gold Dome. I am very excited for the legislative session to begin, and I’m looking forward to working with all of my colleagues to improve public education, facilitate small business growth, defend our constitutional rights, and move Georgia forward in 2016 and beyond. Representative Taylor Bennett, Brookhaven, District 80

“I decided to run for State Senate to make a difference in my community on a larger scale and to make Georgia a great place for my children, 10, 15, and 17, to one day return to after they complete college. As a native of my district, Rockdale County has provided me a rich history and heritage to share with my children and we love the long term relationships that we have built. My primary legislative passion is education, which is vital for helping all families achieve economic prosperity and moving Georgia out of its low score of 4th in the nation for keeping people in poverty.� JaNice Van Ness, Conyers, District 43

Representative Doreen Carter, Lithonia, District 92

Representative Marie Metze, Atlanta, District 55

Georgia Chamber Public Affairs Team Working to Create a Better State of Business for All Georgians EXTENSIVE POLITICAL INSIGHTS David Raynor Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kyle Jackson Vice President State & Political Affairs Kade Cullefer Vice President Legal STRONG BI-PARTISAN RELATIONSHIPS Cosby Johnson Government Affairs Manager Elizabeth Harwood Government Affairs Manager Lindsay Jacobs Political Affairs Manager POLICY ANALYST EXPERIENCE Jason O’Rouke Senior Director of Public Policy & Federal Affairs Megan Baker Director of Public Policy

For more information, contact us at 404-223-2264


How one Georgia woman turned a career change and a layoff into a multimillion dollar company. The lessons she’s learned, eight years in.


ust before the recession of 2008, Julie Haley and her husband Michael used their life savings to launch the technology consulting company, Edge Solutions. Michael had lost his job and Julie decided to leave her law career. “We viewed the changes as an opportunity.” At that point of the recession, though, it was too late to turn around. “We learned that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Edge provides technology consulting for mid-size companies in health care, education, media, financial services and entertainment, helping clients strategize about how to safely and cost-effectively store and access important data. Haley’s first year as an entrepreneur included many sleepless nights. “There was always payroll to meet and sometimes it was very close. I learned early on how to manage cash flow. You also have to establish a banking relationship to get lines of credit to expand, which was also a big challenge.”

Click the microphone to listen to the Georgia Chamber interview with Edge Solutions CEO Julie Haley

Launching during a recession had an upside: many talented people were looking for work. “They wouldn’t have come to a startup otherwise, so we were able to put great talent in place first and then focus on revenues. All these years, we’ve put every cent back in to growing the company.” And Edge is growing fast. Ranked #3 on the INC 500 fastest growing companies, Edge grew 51% in 2015 and has 35 employees in eight states. They plan to open a Charlotte office this year. And in November, CEO Haley was named a Woman of the Year in Technology by Atlanta-based Women in Technology.

Julie Haley’s

Top 3

Lessons Learned

Don’t tolerate toxic people.

One toxic person can destroy the atmosphere at a company, so hire slow and fire fast.

A company can’t succeed by trying to be everything to everyone.

At first, we always said yes and found ways to deliver, which was good for cash flow. But as we grew, we were offering our clients too many choices. So we decided to focus on data storage because every year, our clients’ storage needs double or triple.

It’s important to address missteps quickly and move on.

A common mistake is to avoid making tough decisions, particularly with personnel matters, but prolonging the issue only makes things worse.

Company culture is her priority. “Think of how many people are miserable in their jobs,” she says. “I was in a high powered law firm where you were judged on the number of hours you could bill, not what you were doing for your clients. In some law firms, people are on their 2nd or 3rd marriages. I want to operate in an atmosphere where people want to come to work.” Edge offers employees flexibility balancing work and family commitments and has an organized program to give back to the community. Edge Solutions has earned the highest certification available as a womanowned enterprise. Sometimes that rigorous process opens doors and

sometimes it doesn’t. “Many of our customers, like AFLAC, care about our culture. It’s important to them that we talk the talk and walk the walk.” At their offices in Alpharetta, you’ll find Julie and her husband working together every day. “And I haven’t killed him yet. We have different talents and we rely on each other. Our offices are far apart and we try not to talk about work when we’re at home.” Julie Haley’s vision it to keep Edge Solutions privately-held, continue to grow organically and have fun doing it. “I am proof that it’s never too late to change careers or start your own company.”

Yamaha Marine Group... Proud Cornerstone Members of the Georgia Chamber Yamaha Marine Group, based in Kennesaw, Ga., supports its 2,000 U.S. dealers and boat builders with marketing, training and parts for Yamaha’s full line of products and strives to be the industry leader in reliability, technology and customer service. For more information visit www.yamahaoutboard.com

Valdosta-Lowdnes County

“You have to master, or at least manage change.” — Paula Ballard, President and CEO Valdosta-Lowdnes County Chamber of Commerce “20 years ago, we took Valdosta State University for granted,” says Ballard. “We increasingly see its importance to generating talent and keeping jobs here.” Like many Georgia cities, the mix of businesses has evolved in Valdosta. Companies with fewer than 100 employees dominate the scene. “We used to have large manufacturers, but many are no longer here. Instead we’re seeing the emergence of hundreds of small businesses.” That trend is fueling demand for venture and angel financing. “Our priority in this legislative session is Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s program, Invest Georgia,” says Ballard. The venture capital fund, authorized by the General Assembly in 2013, aims to provide funding to early stage Georgia companies in agribusiness, logistics, health care and other industries, but funding for the program is moving forward slowly. Invest Georgia will be important to communities like Valdosta that compete with other nearby states, she says. “We need every weapon we can get.”

Nurturing small, local businesses is critical to Lowdnes County’s growth. “It’s unusual now to hit a home run recruiting large companies from out of town. More communities are competing, and they’re using sophisticated tactics. Wins are rarer and more difficult to come by.” Ballard says community leaders must be honest about tactics that aren’t working and focus on priorities. “We fought to get a good census count so we could attain metro status.” Working together, Valdosta city and Lowdnes County officials were successful. “Cities and counties that don’t cooperate with each other are going to be dead.” The economic downturn forced many business owners to focus inward. That trend presents a challenge to Chambers as they recruit young professionals. “It’s harder to find leaders who can afford to take the time for anything outside their own parking lots.” Photos courtesy Valdosta-Lowdnes County Chamber of Commerce, Valdosta Main Street

The Georgia Chamber thanks our Georgia Influencer Team: Executive Editor:

Keisha N. Hines

Georgia Influencer Platform Designer:

Richard Warner and the What’s Up Interactive Team

Contributing Graphics Designer:

What’s Up Interactive, Jaun Mims, Vastmpressions, LLC

Contributing Writers:

Keisha N. Hines, Jason O’Rouke, Richard Warner, Greg Bieger, Elizabeth Harwood

Georgia Chamber Influencer Team:

Keisha N. Hines, SVP, External Affairs Kyle Jackson, VP State & Political Affairs Jason O’Rouke, Senior Director Public Policy & Federal Affairs Ian Rutan, Senior Sales Manager Elizabeth Harwood, Government Affairs Manager Cosby Johnson, Government Affairs Manager Jasmine Davis, Communications & Social Media Coordinator

270 Peachtree Street, NW Suite 2220 Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 223-2264 www.gachamber.com Twitter: @GAChamber

Interested in Partnering with the Georgia Chamber? Ad and sponsorship opportunities are available please contact Ian Rutan at irutan@gachamber.com or 404-223-2276

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS: Health and Wellness Summit Cyber Security Summit Congressional Luncheon D.C. Fly-In Business Champions Golf Tournament

May 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016

Profile for Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Georgia Influencer January 2016  

The inaugural issue of the Georgia Chamber's digital publication about Georgia business, politics and leadership. Download, read and share f...

Georgia Influencer January 2016  

The inaugural issue of the Georgia Chamber's digital publication about Georgia business, politics and leadership. Download, read and share f...


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