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The Georgia Influencer Summer 2016

How Georgia Leads

The passion behind some of Georgia’s leading executives & entrepreneurs

Georgia’s Transportation Future is Bright


Transportation remains a priority for legislators

Georgia Chamber’s Newest Affiliate

Travel and hospitality represents a $53 billion business sector in Georgia

Leading with Patience Leading with grace in a largely male dominated industry.

A Georgia Chamber Publication

Inside this



Keeping Georgia the #1 State for Business

Georgia Chamber’s Government Affairs Team plays a major role under the Gold Dome



Leading with Patience

Representing Georgia’s banks requires understanding all sides of an issue

The Georgia Influencer


Capitol Fashion

Fashion and style at the Capitol

20 19

Chamber Champion

The hidden gem in Towns County Chamber


Arts & Culture

Local farmer’s market on the way to becoming the largest single grocery in the United States.


What’s Next for E-Discovery

Unlimited electronic discovery: A get rich quick scheme for Georgia plaintiff’s lawyers

A Message from the President & CEO As we reach the summer of 2016, I continue to be excited about the great things happening at the Georgia Chamber. We are in the midst of a statewide tour for our Georgia 2030 initiative and I continue to be amazed at the diversity of the communities throughout this vibrant and blessed state. As the largest business advocacy organization in Georgia we care not only about the needs of the business community - quality of life, access to healthcare, education, transportation, military and veteran’s affairs are also important issues and priorities for us. The 2016 Legislative session was full of highs and lows however, in the end, we worked with legislators on both sides in the best interest of all Georgians. In this issue we are highlighting our outgoing Government Affairs Council Chairwoman, Elizabeth Chandler. You’ll also read about the Chamber’s newest affiliate, The Georgia Travel Association. I hope you’ll take time to read about why legal reform is so important for Georgia. I’ve said this before I truly believe in the “Power of Partnership,” thanks for all you do to continue to make Georgia the #1 state in the nation for business.

– Chris Clark

I truly believe in the “Power of Partnership,” thanks for all you do.

The Georgia Influencer


David Raynor SVP of Public Affairs

Priority for the Chamber’s Government Affairs Team:

Keeping Georgia the #1 State for Business Just after midnight on March 26th, the General Assembly completed its 256th legislative session and sent a stack of laws to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature. For the Georgia Chamber’s Government Affairs team, led by David Raynor, it was the culmination of a year’s work. It was “one of, if not the most difficult sessions I’ve had to navigate in my 16 years at the Capitol. We had to play defense more often than pursuing a proactive agenda.” Raynor leads a team comprised of fulltime lobbyists, a public policy team and a political affairs team. In his role as head of the Government Affairs Council, he also works with 400 public and contract lobbyists across the state. “The Chamber’s team has experience working on Capitol Hill, managing member associations, running political campaigns, lobbying for small business and working in important state government roles. We’re a welloiled machine.” Before joining the Chamber as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Raynor spent nearly five years as state director of the National Federation


The Georgia Influencer

Pictured Above: Cosby Johnson, Elizabeth Harwood, David Raynor, Kyle Jackson, Jason O’Rouke, Lindsay Jacobs, Megan Baker

“ ”

of Independent Business, an advocacy group that represents 350,000 of small business owners nationwide.

“The majority of Georgia Chamber members are small businesses, so my experience fighting regulations and advocating for lower taxes served me well,” says Raynor, “Plus, the NFIB and the Georgia Chamber have had a solid working relationship for a long time.”

Atlanta, but statewide, as well.”

The Chamber didn’t take a position on Campus Carry, the bill that would legalize firearms in most areas of public colleges statewide.

The Georgia Chamber supported casino gambling and horseracing as a way to grow tourism and bolster the state’s merit-based HOPE Scholarship. In recent years, HOPE has struggled to meet demand, forcing lawmakers to At the state capitol this year, curtail benefits. The proposed Raynor and his team were largely gaming legislation failed, but successful in navigating proRaynor says the Chamber will business measures through the continue to search for solutions Legislature and curtailing bills seen that maintain HOPE funding. as harmful to job growth. For the remainder of this year, A plan to let the city of Atlanta Raynor’s team will focus on vetting pursue a $2.5 billion expansion and supporting pro-business of MARTA also passed with the candidates on both sides of the Chamber’s support. This fall, aisle. “We’ll advise our members voters will be asked to approve a which candidates are most half-percent hike in the sales tax sympathetic to decisions that to pay for the expansion. “The will keep the state’s #1 business number of millennials that rely rating.” on public transit is growing. We need to make sure we have transit Looking ahead to the next resources in place, not only in session, funding for healthcare

I think it’s the diversity of our team that helps us deliver.

and public education are likely to be priorities. “We’re doing a deep dive into the overall picture of healthcare statewide,” says Raynor. “Even in states like Georgia that have chosen not to expand Medicaid, some alternative needs to be addressed so we can reach more of the uninsured and underinsured.” There will also be an effort to find new ways to pay for public education. “With financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we’ve been looking at how to replace an antiquated funding formula with one that promotes a more work-ready workforce.” Results of the study will be released late this summer and lawmakers will be briefed in the fall. Also on the radar in 2017: preserving the movie industry tax credit, which generated $6 billion in Georgia last year. “As with any tax credit, we have to demonstrate to the legislature that it’s worthwhile. There’s no question that this one is creating jobs across the state.” Being successful in a role where so much is at stake requires a capacity to listen and learn. “The most important skill for the Public Affairs team is to understand the expectations of our investors and then over-deliver on it. I think it’s the diversity of our team that helps us deliver.”

Jason O’Rouke, Megan Baker, Kade Cullefer

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You’re fortunate if you have a passion. For me, it was politics. I worked with Sara Palin when she decided to run for Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska — her first public office. In ’96, we went door to door in a beat up old Suburban. I thought she was pretty cool.

How Georgia

Leads How do effective leaders successfully manage through difficult times and deliver for their organizations and customers? We asked three Georgia business leaders for insight on what they’ve learned and how they describe their management style.

Our pastor Andy Stanley says, “I only want to be as successful as 45 hours of work a week will allow me to be.” To be successful and still have time for balance, you have to focus on execution. That means being clear about goals. Employees have to understand how the process works and where they fit. And as a leader, you have to ensure that everyone knows the plan and is executing on even the smallest details. So be slow to hire and fast to fire.

Jay Williams

Founder & Sometimes Creative Director The Stoneridge Group Atlanta

Our company’s mission is to get candidates elected to office, so we have to believe in all the candidates we represent. We’re passionate about that and our candidates win more than 80% of the time. But when one doesn’t win, it’s easy to lose perspective because it’s very personal and very public.

You’re fortunate if you have a passion.

Jay’s recommended reading about leadership: A Good Hard Kick in the Ass Rob Adams


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At State Farm, we help our customers manage risk and recover from the unexpected. I’ve learned the importance of failing forward when that happens to me.

Even though I’m an opinionated guy, I’ve learned to make it a point to listen twice as much as I talk. I’m also trying to instill in my kids that no matter how successful you are, true success is making time for your family and giving back to the community. It’s not an afterthought.

When we started, we took every piece of business we could get because we needed the cash and didn’t want to take outside investment. I learned that there are times when a client is not a fit, even if that means your company grows slower. That’s the only way you can make time for family and your community.

...make it a point to listen twice as much as I talk.

The First 90 Days Michael Watkins

Chris’s recommended reading about leadership:

Kristyn Cook-Turner

Area Vice President State Farm Insurance Atlanta

My dad, who was a high school wrestling coach before he joined State Farm, taught me that you have to earn people’s trust before you have the right to challenge them. That’s important because your organization is only as good as your team. State Farm is growing fast in Georgia, adding 1,500 people this year, attracting and retaining talent is so important. My role is to help my team be the best they can be, so I read a lot and seek to learn from other leaders.

I’ve learned the importance of failing forward...

Chris Sizemore

Co-founder and CEO Creative Mischief Atlanta

Creative Mischief is more a belief system than a company: employees first, clients second, community third. 10% of our business is pro bono or reduced rates.

I played women’s basketball at Syracuse. That’s where my coach inspired me to think bigger and where I learned about leadership from studying the great basketball coach John Wooden. Their lessons were to know where you’re going and understand that about others.

Kristyn’s recommended reading about leadership: Wooden on Leadership UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

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The tire guys you can trust since 1936

Proud Cornerstone Member of the Georgia Chamber


For Elizabeth Chandler, representing Georgia’s banks requires understanding all sides of an issue

Click Here to listen to the complete interview with Elizabeth Chandler The Georgia Influencer


Cover Story


espite contentious debate over issues including religious liberty, campus carry and gambling in this year’s General Assembly, Georgia’s banks can be happy with the outcome as it relates to their industry. And for that, they can acknowledge the skills of a woman with nearly 20 years’ experience in a largely male dominated industry. Hawkinsville native Elizabeth Chandler manages federal and state government relations for the Georgia Bankers Association, an advocacy group that represents about 220 banks statewide. It’s a role that affects thousands of jobs, and since 1997 has tested her management skills through boom times and recessions. “It was interesting when I first started,” Chandler says. “There were a handful of female lobbyists including mentors like Linda Womack, who most recently worked with Emory University and passed away this past year.” Womack was a mentor to young women, as Chandler tries to be today. Chandler’s professional journey began two days after she graduated from Mercer University

She is smart and dependable and has a delightful personality that lights up any room.


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when Charlie Harmon of Senator Sam Nunn’s team in Washington, impressed with her energy, offered her a job. “I was 22 and I’d flown to DC for the day, nervous as a cat. I felt like such an adult!” They put her to work answering phones. “I got to meet everyone who was coming to meet the Senator, including Colin Powell and Dick Cheney, who sat down in front of a copy of TIME Magazine that featured them both on the cover.” Pretty heady stuff for a recent college grad. “Senator Nunn taught me the importance of knowing all sides of an issue, being prepared and mindful.” Dealing with callers to the Senator’s office, who were often angry, required that she learn patience. As the Senator told her, how she responded to those callers would form their impression of the Senator. “This was during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. We had five phone lines and they were lit 24 hours a day.” Written responses from the Senator had to be well crafted and thought out. The experience, she says, made her a much better writer. From his perspective, Senator Nunn considers her a solid hire. “Elizabeth was an outstanding member of my Senate staff, and I knew that I could rely on her whatever the task. She is smart and dependable and has a delightful personality that lights up any room. The Georgia Bankers Association is fortunate to benefit from her good judgment and wisdom, and so was I!” Her days in college behind the teller’s window at the family’s community bank in Pulaski County, Planters First, also helped her at the GBA. “I’m glad I had that time to understand about what life in a small town is like.”

Elizabeth and her husband, Don E. Chandler

Joe Brannen, a Nunn aide, left Washington in 1980 to join the Georgia Bankers Association in Atlanta and brought Chandler aboard in 1996. There, diplomacy helped her gain influence among lawmakers in Atlanta and in Washington. “You can’t just convey one point of view because you want lawmakers to understand the whole issue. And sometimes that means we have to have difficult conversations with our members.” Today, the GBA’s Brannen says of her, “Elizabeth has a real knack for explaining the big-picture implications of any particular issue, and the elected officials and regulators she works with appreciate that as they consider new laws and policies. And, that big-picture perspective carries over to her role with the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council.” The Government Affairs Council is made up of over 400 government affairs professionals that study and adopt policy positions for the Georgia Chamber. As the 20142016 Chair of the GAC, Chandler works with nine committees to represent business interests across the state in much the same way as committees in the State Legislature operate. “I have known Elizabeth for over 20 years, and her legislative success is unquestionable. What impresses me most about

Cover Story her, is that there is no moment too big for Elizabeth. She always exhibits grace,” said Roy B. Robinson III 2011-2014, GAC Chair.

for over 100 years. “I never thought I would see a bank in receivership. We all learned a lot of lessons.”

Her long banking career has served her well as business evolved. Uncomfortable conversations that involve gender, for example, aren’t as frequent now as at the beginning of her career. Then, she would sometimes find herself with a group of male lobbyists where the “things people said in front of you would cause females in any other industry to take offense. I learned early on that to compensate you had to be serious about your work and know your subject matter like no one else.” Now Chandler says, when peers see her, they think of banking and not gender.

“Our banks are so much healthier now,” says Chandler. Healthy enough that the GBA can focus on working with Georgia’s congressional delegation to narrow the scope of 2010’s DoddFrank Act that was supposed to improve accountability and transparency in banking.

In particular, bankers came together during the great recession seven years ago. From Jasper to Tifton, more than 90 banks were closed in Georgia during the recession, more than in any other state. Some had been pillars of their small communities

Georgia Bankers Association group at the FDIC

Lawmakers rushed to craft federal legislation designed to protect consumers as banks struggled around the country. But Chandler says “Congress missed; regulators missed.” “It’s too much regulation that harm those it was designed to help.” Bankers, she says, are doing the best they can in an over-regulated environment. Now, the GBA is working “hand in hand” with the Georgia delegation to rework the law. “We take bankers to Washington several times a year

and make sure lawmakers know what’s on our plate.” Post-recession, banking is once again a profitable business. There are fewer delinquent loans and more competition for business. But with regulations, Chandler says bankers are dealing with a “new normal.” Working on modifying Dodd-Frank requires patience she learned during those early days with Senator Nunn. “You have to keep your head down and keep at it. Don’t let the small distractions take you off course.” “I don’t remember a year at the Dome when the national spotlight was on us so much as a state,” says Chandler of the 2016 session. “You don’t realize it until you watch news coverage.” Chandler says she has experienced legislative sessions in the past where the outcome wasn’t ideal, “but this year I felt satisfied. I hope when the dust settles, we did the right thing.”

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FASHION Fashion styles come and go embodying timeless looks, individuality and trends. Under the Gold Dome, fashion spans generations of southern charm, city chic and classic business. Although everyone at the Capitol works on behalf of Georgians, true style can’t be denied. The Georgia Influencer team gives 5 gold stars to this session’s fashion mavens.

Heather Teilhet Georgia EMC Justin Kirnon Georgia Municipal Association

Sam Hill Troutman Sanders

James Tripp Georgia Beverage Association 12

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Howard Franklin Thompson Victory Group Sister Edge AGL Resources

John Barbour Georgia Realtors

Sarah Ralston Pruitt Health

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Turn your workforce into a cyber-security force. Cyber thieves can cost your company million of dollars and damage your reputation. Reduce the risk of a cyber breach with the new Aware Force service for Georgia companies. We teach your employees how to be safer on the job and at home with timely articles, videos, podcasts and infographics that are interesting and easy to understand.

You receive fresh content for employees and management twice a month, custom-branded and delivered via your intranet. Aware Force raises employee awareness, changes behavior and reduces your risk. Email cutrisk@ or call us at 470 448-3887 to see a sample of the latest edition.

HavanA Has N e v er F elt C los er Join the Georgia Chamber on the cultural excursion of a lifetime

Havana, Cuba: Then and Now November 1-7, 2016 Tour exclusive sites from old Havana to new Cuba, taste authentic cuisine, meet new friends and share in colorful conversations.

To register or learn more, please visit

Georgia’s Transportation Future is

BRIGHT By: Seth Millican


s we look back at the 2016 legislative session, advocates for the responsible growth of Georgia’s transportation infrastructure can’t help but smile. Taken in context, the last five years have been some of the most eventful times for building Georgia’s transportation infrastructure in decades. As our agencies have changed and adapted to face challenging economic times, Georgia’s governor and the leadership of the Georgia


The Georgia Influencer

General Assembly have maintained a laser focused approach regarding the critical priority of growing Georgia’s transportation and logistics infrastructure in a fiscally responsible way. Research indicates, Georgia will welcome over 1.9 million people by 2030. Our already busy ports will experience an increase of 75% in freight volume. It is clear, though, that our state’s business and political leaders are up for the challenge.

In 2012, voters across the western, middle, and eastern parts of the state approved local transportation funding mechanisms that will pump over $1.5 billion into local transportation priorities by 2022. These 871 projects, concentrated in rural Georgia, will improve connectivity and aid economic mobility in communities across 46 Georgia counties.

To date, Governor Nathan Deal has committed more than a quarter of a billion in state general fund revenue towards deepening the Port of Savannah. This project spans the joint priorities of transportation and economic development, and will enable Georgia to continue to aggressively compete in the global marketplace. The Georgia Ports Authority also recently announced the location of Georgia’s second inland port in rural northwest Georgia.

Construction crews are currently in the process of adding almost 30 miles of new toll lane northwest of metro Atlanta that will open in 2018. In the fall of 2014, construction crews began work on almost 12 miles of new toll lanes south of Atlanta. These two managed lanes projects will aid commuters in two of the most congested parts of metro Atlanta.

In April, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport yet again declared the title of the world’s busiest airport, and recently announced a dazzling $6 billion expansion and makeover plan, $4 billion of which will take place over the next eight years.

In December of 2015, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced the construction of the I - 285 / GA – 400 interchange. This project, which will be the largest single highway project in Georgia’s history and will dramatically improve traffic flows in one of Georgia’s top corporate centers.

In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly stepped up and approved Georgia’s first major transportation funding reform legislation in decades. The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 will infuse over $1 billion into the Georgia Department of Transportation – each year. This will enable our state to reduce our dependence on federal funding, improve safety on roads and bridges across the state, and fundamentally improve our road and bridge maintenance system across the state.

Finally, in 2016, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation allowing voters in certain metro–Atlanta jurisdictions to provide MARTA with its first significant capital infusion (potentially up to $2.5 billion) in almost 40 years. When voters approve the local funding mechanism, MARTA will be able to undertake the first major capital expansion since its founding.

Georgia’s business and political leaders have recognized the need for improving transportation infrastructure in a variety of modes across our state: freight, logistics, roads, bridges, transit, passenger, air cargo, and ports. An unprecedented level of cooperation and leadership has allowed Georgia to make a giant leap towards preparing for the streams of people and goods that will come to Georgia over the next 15 years. That leadership and cooperation gives no indication of fading away, and so Georgia’s transportation future looks very bright indeed. The Georgia Influencer


Chamber Champions

Towns County Chamber

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This area is a hidden gem, and we’re using social media to tell people about it. — Candice Lee, Chamber President Towns County Chamber of Commerce


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When the state completed the four lane Zell Miller Mountain Parkway, Towns County at the end of the line had a challenge. “Tourists were stopping in Blue Ridge, Blairsville and Helen,” says Chamber president Candace Lee. “We had to find a way to get people to keep going and come over the mountain to see what a hidden gem this area is.” So the Chamber turned to social media. “People want pictures of mountains, lakes and snow. So Facebook and other social channels opened it up for us. We’ll get thousands of impressions whenever there’s a snowfall.”

Fall Sunrise, Lake Chatuge Image courtesy, Towns County Chamber

Waterfalls Image courtesy, Towns County Chamber

Crane Creek Vineyards Image courtesy, Towns County Chamber

Facebook and the new Towns County website are attracting retirees without an ongoing investment in paid advertising. When a new park opened at the former site of a quartz mine, over 20,000 people learned about it via social. “The only time we pay to promote events,” says Lee, “is when we’re doing a fundraiser, like the 10k race in August or the Mountain Tour of Homes at Christmas time.” Located in northeast Georgia Blue Ridge mountains, Towns County is the home of Hiawassee, Young Harris College, waterfalls and Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in the state. The Hiawassee River begins here. The TVA’s Lake Chatuge and a large swath of Chattahoochee National Forest accounts for 75% of county land. With its new planetarium and rec and fitness center, Young Harris college is a growing asset to residents. Lee grew up in Atlanta but instead settled here with her family. “My kids were six and nine when we came here. I’ve never regretted it. Neighbors know each other and watch put for their kids, there’s no traffic, and it’s a calmer life than the city. You’re just instantly happier.”

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A New Name in Georgia Tourism Georgia Travel Association aims to grow the state’s second largest industry

Even though Georgia’s tourism industry is a powerful economic engine linked to over a quarter million jobs,

the state is outspent on marketing and promotion by all of its neighboring competitors. The Georgia Chamber’s newest affiliate, Georgia Travel Association (GATA) aims to level the field by giving restaurants, hotel owners, attractions, local cities and towns a unified voice in coordinating their marketing and advocacy efforts. “Travel and hospitality represents a $53 billion business sector in Georgia and I believe GATA is a critical partner to help galvanize the voice of this industry in our state,” said Russell Jacobs, General Manager of the World of Coca-Cola. “I am honored to serve as GATA’s inaugural chair.” Launched in January, GATA is run by native Georgian and longtime local chamber executive Morgan Law. “Our job is to work across the state with all the local tourism organizations. We aim to be a force multiplier.” Law will have help from Georgia Chamber colleagues who work with state lawmakers. “Most people don’t grasp the importance of tourism across the state. I know I didn’t. It’s eye-opening.” Tourism, in fact, is second only to agriculture in size among Georgia industries.


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Pictured Above: Savannah, GA

Growth will come by raising the state’s visibility among tourists nationwide and from reaching Georgians who choose to vacation in-state. “For example, Atlantans are prime candidates to visit Cumberland Island or the mountains.” Law says his priority for the rest of the year is to establish partnerships with local convention and visitors bureaus, associations, airlines, rental car companies, attractions including Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke and even state parks. He’ll also build a GATA Board of Directors and recruit officers. Throughout 2016, the association will examine data to learn more about how the state is perceived by tourists and companies. “Perception is reality. We’re going to be diligent in studying every aspect of our business climate.” By next January, the association will be able to present a stronger message to state lawmakers about tourism priorities.

Georgia Tourism by the Numbers: $8

Amount tourists in Georgia generate for every tourism marketing dollar spent


Percentage of all payroll jobs in Georgia that are linked to tourism

14 million Number of visitors to Georgia each year 24% Percentage of visitors to Georgia who spend time

along the coast


Percentage of Georgia tourists who are visiting from another area of the state


Percentage of visitors to Georgia who spend time in Atlanta

(Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Chamber, USA Today)

Downtown Atlanta, GA

There’s growing competition for tourist dollars from all neighboring states, particularly Florida, says Law. “Florida is the big boy because they have so many beaches and the Mouse.” One of the first local executives to commit to GATA is Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, who says engagement will be important to the group’s mission. “We need to speak in a unified voice. Now that the legislative session is behind us, we’ll spend the rest of this year growing GATA and engaging with its members.”

Tybee Island, GA

Marinelli urges tourism leaders statewide to get aboard. “The timing is right. We have the right leadership in statewide offices to grow tourism across the state.” Law, who began his career running the Monroe County Chamber north of Macon, says Georgia’s booming film industry is helping increase local tourist traffic. “They filmed ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ there in 1991. To this day, tourists visit the Whistle Stop Café, have lunch…and leave their dollars behind.” The Georgia Influencer


K.P. Reddy K.P. Reddy is a venture capitalist and angel investor with over 20 years of experience in disruptive innovation. He is the CEO of SoftWear Automation, a leading developer of robotic sewing automation that promises to drive down the costs of apparel and textile manufacturing while increasing quality and speed to market for retailers. He also serves as Managing Partner at CTW Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in seed and early-stage technology companies.

ENTRE PRENUE RIAL Edge Atlanta’s K.P. Reddy is changing the way clothing is made. His lessons are valuable for any entrepreneur. Click Here to listen to Richard Warner’s interview with K.P. Reddy


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Softwear Automation Facility

Georgia Influencer: What’s the best reason and the worst reason to become an entrepreneur? K.P. Reddy: The worst reason is — “I want to make a lot of money. The entrepreneurs I know all drive nice cars.” The best reason is — “I want to carve my own path and not be dependent on other people.”

It’s an iterative process. You keep learning from each experience.

GI: Can you learn to be an entrepreneur or is it in the genes? K.P.: I think it’s in everyone’s DNA, but so many of us get stuck with the idea of “my dad did this, so I should, too.” I mean generally, everyone wants to wake up and do what they want to do, but we’re told we have to get married, have 2.5 kids, get a house in Alpharetta. There are options!

GI: You had a company that failed. What’d you learn from that experience? K.P.: Egos are an interesting thing. This was post-2008. The economy was a mess and the company was running out of money and headed into the ground. I just hunkered down and kept working 120 hours a week. I should have put it out of its misery six months or a year beforehand, but I kept working and pushing, moving it along and counting every dollar. And I did that instead of asking — is this the best use of my time? I should have moved on to the next thing. It affected my marital status and my health. I kept saying, “I can’t let it fail. Work harder!” Founders say to themselves, “it’s my baby.” But that doesn’t do it justice because babies have their own personality and grow up. I have a much more balanced life now.

GI: What lessons did you learn early on that were the most important? K.P.: A lot of my early failures involved trusting people. That 30 year-old partner I had may not have known what he was doing, but he was a parent and had soccer games to go to. You have to align yourself with different people at different stages of your career. Be clear about what your motives are and how those motives are aligned with others.

GI: How did you become more effective? K.P.: I learned more from being a parent than being an entrepreneur. I used to be very aggressive with my staff, but I learned you have to coach and mentor, not yell.

GI: You employ millennials at your

company. What’s your take on their work ethic? K.P.: Yes, I have the good fortune to work around many of them. Millennials are all about hacking the system and finding a better way. I tell my teams not to do things the way they’ve always been done. Technology is about solving problems in a different way. Success used to require working 40-60 hours a week, paying your dues. Millennials don’t buy that. GI: Talk about your company, Softwear Automation. K.P.: My partner, Raj Palaniswamy and I spun it out of Georgia Tech. It’s a robotics company that’s automating the apparel industry. We got government grants from Georgia Tech, the Wal-Mart Foundation and our firm CTW Venture Partners invested in it. This industry hasn’t innovated very much because the technical problems that are hard to solve. I’m passionate about sweatshops and child labor. The way we work now, we make fabric in this country, ship it across the world where someone makes clothing and gets paid 20 cents an hour, and then the finished product gets shipped back to the US. Softwear Automation uses technology to do it better. After all, what we wear is our single greatest form of expression. Because of the limitations in manufacturing, brands have to target specific shapes and sizes, but I want to wear clothes that are my body type. One size doesn’t fit all. So this is actually more than manufacturing; it’s a social agenda because people’s self-worth is tied to their body image, and that’s a The Georgia Influencer


Proud Cornerstone Member of the Georgia Chamber

Veritiv Corporation (NYSE: VRTV), headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is a North American leader in business-to-business distribution solutions. Serving customers across virtually every industry, Veritiv provides print, publishing, packaging, and facility solutions, as well as logistics and supply chain management services, that provide our customers a competitive edge and help shape their success. For more information about Veritiv and its business segments visit

arts& culture Rutabagas and Refugees: A Trip to Your DeKalb Farmers Market By: Jason O’Rouke For those who follow the history of Atlanta from small railroad town to international hub of commerce a handful of dates stand out as bellwethers. The founding of Atlanta University in 1865 established the city as a hub of education for newly freed slaves and their descendants. The incorporation of the Coca Cola Company in 1892 began the growth of a beverage empire recognizable in every corner of the world. The expansion of Candler Field in 1946 turned a war surplus hanger into what would eventually become the world’s busiest airport. And about a hundred thirty years after the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, the International Olympic Committee selected Atlanta to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. All these events are indeed critical, but for a small pocket of loyal customers in DeKalb County, and anybody who loves access to fresh produce and seafood, this history leaves out the day in 1977 that Robert Blazer opened a small produce stand at the corner of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road. It was on that day that Blazer, who left his family’s dry goods store in Rhode Island to open up shop in the South, spent the last of his life savings to buy produce directly from farmers and resell directly to consumers in a ramshackle storefront. It could have gone poorly, but Blazer accurately predicted that nearby residents were interested in access to groceries and they would tolerate a slightly different buying experience to get it. Almost 40 years later, Your DeKalb Farmers The Georgia Influencer


arts& culture DeKalb Farmer’s Market Seafood Counter

Ethiopia. A closer look at any given employee’s nametag usually lists additional languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, Berber, and Somali. Separating YDFM from an average grocery store, the typical employee here is more likely to be a lawyer or an engineer from a war-torn portion of Africa supporting their family than they are to be an American high schooler working for gas money. The experience of shopping here is as much cultural as it is culinary.

Market (YDFM) is in the process of becoming the largest single-location grocery store in the United States. A site plan for an expansion scheduled to be completed in 2023 plans for a retail space of over 500,000 square feet (an average grocery store is ~50,000). If you’ve ventured into YDFM on a Saturday afternoon, you already know the expansion is necessary. The current location of YDFM prioritizes produce and baked goods over aisle space, giving preference to varieties of greens and peppers in lieu of elbow room for shoppers. On any given day, you’re likely to come across fruits and vegetables you normally only see on Food Network and you’ll hear more languages spoken in the meat department than you would in Disneyworld during Spring Break. In fact, sometimes navigating the aisles among other shoppers isn’t far off from the feeling you might get inside Epcot Center. It’s sometimes a little bit hectic, but the prices and variety make it worthwhile. YDFM is the perfect example of the modern Georgia economy: a marketplace where people of diverse backgrounds purchase goods produced by local Georgian’s, alongside commodities shipped from nations across the Globe. The store showcases the efficiency of just-in-time delivery, utilizing a logistics network that maximizes floor space and freshness. The YDFM workforce, notable by their identical blue uniforms and white aprons, also stands out as unique among other stores in the Atlanta area. The employees here can address you not only in English, but most speak Amharic, the official language of


The Georgia Influencer 03.16

In addition to the produce, YDFM also maintains a stable of inexpensive dry goods like oils, vinegars, and spices. They bake their own bread and pastries daily, with options like standard baguettes to pita, cornbread, and everything in between. The seafood market has the cheapest and largest cold water lobsters south of Boston, along with a selection of fishes that often borders on overwhelming. In addition to the groceries and staples, YDFM also boasts a hot bar that contains cuisine from countries across the world, in case you’re curious about how to properly sautee the greens in the produce aisle, or how to roast the fish from the seafood section. If you’re the curious and adventurous type, this is a good place to start your culinary journey. The history books may never actually mark the date that Robert Blazer started selling tomatoes in suburban Atlanta. And maybe that date doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. After all, despite the legions of loyal fans, it’s still just a grocery store. But for any foodies out there who drive an hour to find duck breast and blood oranges, for a refugee who fled an entire continent and found a job stocking shelves, or for an immigrant family looking for quality turmeric to replicate a taste of home, it’s more than that. YDFM shows what is possible when a dedicated business is able not only to tap into an existing market, but also to create a market that didn’t even exist before. It’s a place to buy food, a place to learn more about other cultures, and a place that is unlike any other marketplace around. It’s a place that is uniquely Georgia.

Proud Cornerstone Member of the Georgia Chamber




A Get-Rich-Quick Scheme for Georgia Plaintiffs’ Lawyers

By: Chris Clark and Lisa A. Rickard


The Georgia Influencer

Georgia personal injury lawyers have a new plan for enriching themselves from mega lawsuit settlements: unlimited electronic discovery. In a court case, discovery is where the parties can request documents from the opposing side in order to obtain evidence. Producing and reviewing documents in the discovery process is one of the most significant expenses of a civil case. That’s because computers have made creating and storing documents so easy, that there is practically a limitless trove of information. When that information is requested in discovery, a lawyer must review each page before it is turned over. Just complying with this process can cost some companies tens of millions of dollars. While 40 states have recognized the need for limits on electronic discovery (e-discovery) requests, Georgia laws on discovery have not changed in 40 years. In fact, Georgia is trying to go even further. A bill that came before the Georgia House of Representatives in the 2016 legislative session (HB 1017) would have essentially made e-discovery unlimited. Think of the final scene in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indy delivers the recovered Ark to a warehouse that seems to stretch on for miles and miles with countless crates of material. Except in today’s digital age, all of this data isn’t stored on paper in huge warehouses. It’s on servers. And because the electronic age makes creating and saving documents easier than ever, you have a ton of it. Over 200 billion emails are transmitted each day. Combing through years of this data in an effort to fulfill e-discovery requests is a huge burden, and often unnecessary. The average cost to produce the reams of paper and then have lawyers review every document is outrageously expensive and makes defending a case prohibitive.

Yet that’s the genius of it for the plaintiffs’ bar. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are deliberately burdening defendants with unmanageable and costly e-discovery requests in order to push defendants into quick and excessive settlements that further line the lawyers’ pockets. The bigger the potential cost of the lawsuit, the easier it is for personal injury lawyers to bully you into a settlement. A 2009 report surveying members of the American College of Trial Lawyers found that 71% believe discovery is used as a tool to force settlements. Recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – the rules governing how federal civil cases are managed – have tried to limit discovery requests to what is proportional to the needs of the case. But HB 1017 would have gone the other way. Further, the bill would have imposed strict penalties on companies of all sizes who make the judgment not to keep all electronic data stored forever, regardless of intent, adding more to the price of defending the case – just imagine the cost of saving every document and email forever.

Georgia ranks 31 out of 50 in the Institute for Legal Reform’s 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey of the best and worst lawsuit climates – a seven-spot drop from the state’s 2012 position. HB 1017 would have made things worse. Fortunately, businesses, hospitals, and other organizations across Georgia united in opposition to the proposal. Thankfully, the Georgia Legislature agreed and the bill failed. Georgia’s discovery rules have been in place since 1966, and they surely need updating. Changes like making discovery costs proportional to the amount of damages and requiring a showing of intent before casedeterminative penalties are placed on parties for their accidents or mistakes would be a good start. Creating unlimited discovery would be going in the opposite direction. Georgia should make commonsense reforms to its discovery process, not give the plaintiffs’ bar another tool to extort money from lawsuits and force settlements because the cost of a day in court is prohibitively expensive. The Georgia Influencer


Leading the Future The state of Georgia is blessed with a vibrant economy and unparalleled quality of life however, in an ever changing global marketplace in order to compete, Georgia must lead. The Georgia Chamber has launched a new initiative to lead the future of this great state, Georgia 2030.

Why Georgia 2030? Economic Growth


134,000+ Flights

1 Million New Jobs

6.5 Million+ Containers To keep pace with the rest of the country, Georgia’s economy must grow nearly 40% by 2030.

We will add 1.9 million people that will fill over 1 million new jobs.

Fortunately, the 1.9 million people will help us process over 2.8 million new containers at Georgia’s ports –which equals about 75% more volume.

There will be over 134,000 new commercial take-offs and landings at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

What Does This All Mean? We’ll Need


Senior Population

Rise 50%



1.5 Million+ Cars New Georgians could also add over 1.5 million new cars to our roads, use more water and 16% more energy.

To keep our economy humming, we’ll need nearly 18% more postsecondary degrees and 38% more primary care physicians.

More Diversity New Georgians will also make Georgia a more diverse place to live.

Our new majority-minority state will see millennials in the workforce grow by 20% while our senior population rises over 50%.

So How Will the Georgia Chamber Respond? Georgia 2030 is an ambitious plan to 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. To pull it off, we need your help. Participate in our town hall meetings, listening sessions or focus groups. Ask how you can be part of leading the future.


This user friendly platform offers the business community and Georgia voters the ability to track how legislators vote on important economic issues. Visit to find out how your legislator voted.


Keisha N. Hines SVP, External Affairs Georgia Chamber

Jason O’Rouke SR. Director Public Policy & Federal Affairs Georgia Chamber

Ian Rutan Senior Sales Manager Georgia Chamber

Jasmine Davis Communications & Social Media Coordinator Georgia Chamber

Seth Millican Executive Director Georgia Transportaion Alliance

Richard Warner CEO Aware Force

The Georgia Chamber thanks our Georgia Influencer Team: Executive Editor Contributing Graphics Designer Contributing Writers

Georgia Transportation Alliance Georgia Chamber Influencer Team

Keisha N. Hines Jaun Mims, Vastmpressions Keisha N. Hines Jason O’Rouke Richard Warner Seth Millican Seth Millican, Executive Director Keisha N. Hines, SVP, External Affairs Jason O’Rouke, SR. Director Public Policy & Federal Affairs Ian Rutan, Senior Sales Manager Jasmine Davis, Communications & Social Media Coordinator

The Georgia Influencer Summer 2016  
The Georgia Influencer Summer 2016