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May 2018

GREAT WOLF makes a

h s a l p S Keith Furnas, General Manager


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1514 Vernon Road LaGrange, GA 30240 May 2018

May 2018 VOLUME V, ISSUE II A publication of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce 111 Bull St./P.O. Box 636 LaGrange, GA 30241 (706) 884-8671 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Casey Smith, Chair – Calumet Bank

Candy galore in the Great Wolf Candy Company

John Asbell, Past Chair – Georgia Power Marlene Rhodes, Chair-Elect – Renasant Bank Bill Stankiewicz, Secretary/Treasurer – William & Mary’s Antiques Page Estes, President – Chamber George Bailey, Vice Chair for Public Policy Council – City of Hogansville Monica Barber, Vice Chair for Leadership Development – City of West Point Dale Jackson, Vice Chair for Resource Development – Jackson Services Vice Chairs for Talent & Workforce Development Partnership Jason Ransbottom – Powertech America & Loraine Allen – The Home Depot Rob Goldstein, Vice Chair for Marketing & Advertising – Wild Leap Brew Co. JJ Kuerzi, Vice Chair for Tourism & Visitor Council – Troup County Parks & Recreation Patricia Rogers, Vice Chair for Membership Development – WellStar West Georgia Medical Center Jake Ayers, Vice Chair for Hogansville Business Council – Pioneer Project Chris Beirne, Vice Chair for West Point Business Council – Point University

DESIGN Jayme Ogles

CONTENTS 28 | Spotlight on Hogansville

4 | A Letter from the President

Hollywood comes to Hogansville

6 | Cover Story

Great Wolf Makes a Splash

32 | Movers, Shakers, Risk-Takers

10 | State of the Community

34 | Chamber Events

Through a different lens...

38 | Healthcare

12 | Workforce Development Troup Works update 16 | Business Spotlight

The Opioid Crisis and its Impact in the Workplace

West Georgia Technical College

20| Tourism

40 | Spotlight on West Point

Visualizing a Bright Future for Downtown West Point

Athletes, community shine during 42 | Non-Profit Spotlight WellStar West Georgia Medical USA South Spring Sports Festival Center joins Mayo Clinic Care Network 24 | Mystery Traveler Callaway Auditorium 46 | HYPE 26 | Small Business Cyber Safety - Tips for a Safe Summer Vacation

EDITOR Shelley Strickland This publication is produced by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written permission is prohibited. All claims, materials and photos furnished or used are, to the publisher's knowledge, true and correct. Publication of any article or advertisement is not an endorsement by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.

Troup Trends is published quarterly by the LaGrangeTroup County Chamber of Commerce. Please send news items, suggestions, advertising requests and comments to:

ON THE COVER Keith Furnas, General Manager Great Wolf Lodge Cover photo by Ashley Blencoe Blencoe & Co. Photographic Arts

Dave Marler P.O. Box 636 • LaGrange, GA 30241



Dear Friends,

Though I love my adopted home in Georgia, I do miss the land of the Bluegrass and my ole Kentucky home in springtime. It is during this time of year that frisky yearlings are frolicking in the soft pastures. Breeders are hopeful that one will be a champion—a majestic athlete who will ignite the crowd of Churchill Downs by surging ahead as the announcer proclaims, “and down the track they come!” While there is much science involved in breeding a champion, there also has to be a bit of luck and a whole lot of nurturing and training. Thoroughbreds are athletic, agile, fast and spirited. Their deep, wide chest provides lots of room for lungs and their heart. The renowned Secretariat’s heart was more than twice the size of an average horse! But there is a mare in Paris, Kentucky, that one day may exceed his standard, and her name is Maizelle. In late February, Maizelle, a 15-year-old mare, lost her foal at birth. A few days later, a little colt was rejected by his mother. The colt is the son of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. With a white facial marking that looks like a heart with a bite taken out, one Kentucky newspaper noted it was “perhaps a reminder of the bite his mother took out of his own heart when she rejected him.”

At the recent funeral of First Lady Barbara Bush, presidential historian Jon Meacham told the story of Mrs. Bush’s meeting with a 63-year-old son of sharecropper that had just learned to read. JT Pace was scheduled to read the Preamble to the US Constitution at a large event, and he was terrified. Meacham said Mrs. Bush offered to read it with him. “Soon the two of them stood on stage reading in unison. As Mr. Pace grew comfortable, Mrs. Bush lowered her voice and lowered it again, and then again, until at last JT Pace was reading entirely on his own.” Her work was complete. Meacham believes that “JT Pace had found his voice, not least because Barbara Bush had lent him her heart.” We need lots of Maizelles and Barbara Bushes in our community if we are to create and sustain a talented workforce. A summary of our “Troup Works” action plan is included in this issue, and much of it centers on ways that all of us help model behavior for the younger generation. These are the men and women that will be greeting our customers, troubleshooting our manufacturing lines, teaching our children and leading our companies. The tagline of Great Wolf Lodge® is “Everybody in.” Can we count on you? Join our wolfpack so we can win the talent race.

When Maizelle was taken into the foal’s stall where he was lying alone in the straw, the farm owner said “she [Maizelle] looked in and instantly it was like, ‘this is my baby.’” This substitute mother immediately went to work--feeding her adopted son and beginning the important job of preparing him for his future job on a race track.

Warm regards,

Maizelle and the colt will only stay together until he is weaned, so she is more “mentor” than mother. A coach. A life tutor.

Page Estes, President LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce




Special thanks to our top level 2018 corporate sponsors.

May 2018




GREAT WOLF LODGE Rising out of the wooded terrain adjacent to I-85,

Great Wolf Lodge stands as an imposing symbol of change, destined to transform Troup County in a manner unlike any other in recent history.

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May 2018 May 2018



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ith 457 rooms, 100,000 square feet of Water Park, adventure attractions, a conference center, restaurants, shopping and more, Great Wolf stands ready to welcome more than 500,000 visitors per year to Troup County. With a number of new water features and enhanced dining experiences, the LaGrange property will serve as the flagship location for the entire Great Wolf network. As one may expect, management of such an enterprise is left in the hands of an experienced leader with a keen understanding of the Great Wolf Lodge culture. Keith Furnas was named as the first General Manager (GM) for Great Wolf-Georgia in May 2017. Keith became intrigued about the Great Wolf organization as he watched the construction of a new facility near his home in Texas. “I would drive by every day and wonder, what is this place all about?” he recalled during his presentation at the Chamber’s April 2018 Early Bird

Breakfast. After a while, his curiosity got the best of him and he joined the company in September 2007. He eventually worked his way up to GM roles at locations in Williamsburg, VA and Kansas City, MO prior to assuming the role here. While he has extensive experience opening and operating Great Wolf locations, this is the first property Furnas has opened as GM and it has been a completely new experience. Whether offering insights on the project or providing suggestions for design modifications to enhance operational efficiency, he has helped to shape the finished product. “It’s been really fun watching the resort take shape. Now that we have a full team in place, it’s exciting to watch the resort come to life!” Creating memorable experiences for 500,000 guests per year requires a different approach to hospitality and guest service. For Great Wolf, that begins at the top with their decision to forego a mission statement and instead operate with a purpose that permeates the organization. “Our purpose is to bring joy to families,” notes Furnas.“ That purpose means that the focus of every single pack member at Great Wolf LodgeGeorgia, is to provide families with an exceptional experience that leaves them grinning from ear to ear. It’s rewarding to watch families come together and have the time of their lives when they come to Great Wolf Lodge.” The Great Wolf tagline is “Everybody In” which embodies that sense of togetherness that families enjoy when they visit Great Wolf Lodge-Georgia. The diversity of offerings available at Great Wolf Lodge-Georgia will provide enjoyment for every age, from toddlers to grandparents. Families are the focus at Great Wolf, and Furnas has his own family consultant to offer guidance and advice on what is best. His 14-yearold daughter, Aly, is his biggest supporter. She has grown up around the Great Wolf Lodge brand, and she might be the only person more excited than her father about the opening of this resort and the chance to experience two new water slides. Asked her opinion of the new location, Aly was happy to share her thoughts. "I think that the Georgia property is going to be a huge success with its new additions. It looks great inside and out (of course it’s great; it comes with the name),” says Aly. “Compared to other properties I believe that it has a mixture of the same modern looks and fun as the more recent properties in Los Angeles and Colorado Springs. It will be a huge addition to the Great Wolf Lodge family.” Speaking of new water slides, those are just two of the new features that will set Great Wolf-Georgia apart from its sister properties. “Our Triple Thunder and Rapid Racers slides are going to be huge hits with our families. We’re also introducing Camp H.O.W.L., a special area where kids can gather to participate in a variety of complimentary activities such as craft-making, character sketching, coloring activities, interactive games and more. In the evenings, Camp H.O.W.L. will transform into a secured, parent-free environment – so parents can leave their children and go enjoy some of the areas of the resort more geared towards adults,” explains Furnas. There are also new features designed to give parents a break. One area to visit after dropping off the kids is the new Northwoods Springs area, an adult-only oasis adjacent to the outdoor pool that features a private hot tub and relaxing lounge chairs. Another popular place sure to be a hit for adults is Barnwood, the farm-to-fork, elevated dining experience with a menu featuring dishes that include local ingredients.


May 2018



Committed to enhancing their community through collaboration, Great Wolf-Georgia is including a variety of local products in Buckhorn, their retail gift shop. Kimble’s, Wild Leap Brew Co., River's Bend Winery, New Ventures' line of Portl bags are just some of the local vendors providing goods for a "Made in Georgia" section of the store. “Our hope is that Great Wolf Lodge will attract more visitors to the LaGrange community – which should help have a positive impact on local businesses,” says Furnas. “We’re also very active in the community, supporting local charities and organizations that share in our commitment to bring joy to families.” The Great Wolf employee team, known as the Wolfpack, will be responsible for ensuring that guests enjoy their stay. Hiring began in earnest around March with senior-level pack members coming on board. April brought a series of hiring events that have resulted in a number of quality hires. “We had such a strong response to our job fair, and we’re excited to have so many talented individuals from Troup County join the Great Wolf Lodge pack," says Furnas. One of the senior pack members, Kash Lakhlani, Director of Sales, joined the Great Wolf-Georgia team from the Williamsburg location. Kash has worked with Keith at previous stops and is excited about his move to LaGrange. “The chance to open and be a part of this flagship property, while working again with Keith, is one I couldn’t pass up,” says Lakhlani. “Keith is a very driven leader, who works with an intensity and energy level that is unlike anyone I’ve seen. He is honest, direct and caring and makes it a priority to ensure each of our pack members have the tools they need to do their job successfully.” Although Kash is new to the community, he has been impressed by the close-knit nature, the warm welcome and support from both the Chamber and other local businesses. And he feels the sense of excitement that has enveloped the property, the new pack members and the community. Furnas echoed the feelings shared by his fellow pack member. “We’ve received overwhelming support from the community. The number of calls and messages I’ve received welcoming us to LaGrange has been remarkable. Even though we’ve not yet opened our doors, we already feel like a longstanding member of the community.” Kash shares, with his fellow pack members, a sense of anticipation and excitement about finally opening the doors of Great Wolf-Georgia. “Every pack member is taking the most effective role to ensure their area is ready. We all are working with high intensity and high energy to be ready." Furnas is ready for show time.“We’re very, very excited the Grand Opening is just around the corner. We’re ready to welcome our first guests and bring joy to families!” Great Wolf Lodge-Georgia will officially open its doors to the public on May 25. TT



Through a different lens… A

s the President of the Callaway Foundation, Fuller E. Callaway Foundation and Charitable Services, Inc. since 2003, Speer Burdette has helped to shape the evolution of his hometown, LaGrange, and Troup County. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor’s degree in math and earning his master’s degree in accounting from the University of Alabama, Speer worked for a time as a Certified Public Accountant with Arthur Andersen in Atlanta. But home was never far from his mind and, when the opportunity arose, he was quick to return to LaGrange with his high school sweetheart, and wife, Debbie.

Speer Burdette checking on the clock at the Callaway Memorial Tower

You’ll Be Surprised to know… one of Speer Burdette's primary responsibilities as President of the Callaway Foundation is to keep the clock in the Callaway Memorial Tower running right on time.

“I had a great relationship with my father. He was one of the founding partners of JK Boatwright & Co. I wanted to get away from home after graduate school to gain some experience but I always wanted to return to LaGrange to work with my father,” explained Burdette. “He died in 1994 but I had the pleasure of working with him from 1979 - 1994. Also, Debbie and I are both from LaGrange and there were many of our high school friends still here. We were just starting our family and we wanted to be in LaGrange to raise our family....which we have done.” The community has certainly experienced many changes through the years but none, in Burdette’s view, was more important than the purchase of Callaway Mills by Milliken. “Many new people came to town with Milliken. I think we are on the cusp of another big change as the influence of Great Wolf, KIA, Sentury Tire and others bring more people to LaGrange and Troup County.” With more than 6,000 jobs coming to Troup County over the next five years, there will be opportunity to attract more families to the community. One potential source of workforce is those young adults who go off to school and, for whatever reason, decide not to return home. “While we don’t have as many of the amenities of Atlanta, we also don’t have the negatives of traffic congestion. When you go someplace in Atlanta, you are surprised to see someone you know. When you go someplace in LaGrange, you are surprised if you don’t see someone you know,” he explains. For potential newcomers to the area he offered his reasoning for why they should consider Troup County. “We are small enough so that you feel like you know your neighbors. You see your coworkers in church, at the ball fields, at the grocery store or other places. Also, we are close and convenient to the Atlanta airport. I-85 makes Atlanta close, but not too close. We are also an easy drive to either the mountains of North Carolina or the white sand beaches of the gulf coast.”

Speer with the keys to the clock room in the Callaway Memorial Tower


May 2018

With his pending retirement just months away, the father of three and grandfather of two, who is an avid golfer and will always be a community advocate, is open to what the future brings. “I am not yet sure what I will be doing. That remains a work in progress.” Family, progress, and commitment to community are consistent threads woven throughout this view of Speer Burdette through a different lens. TT

State of Giving


the historic home of the Fuller E. Callaway Family. The foundation also administers two scholarship programs – the Hatton Lovejoy Scholarship Plan and the Hatton Lovejoy Graduate Studies Fund. Additional funds have been provided to support the George E. Sims, Jr. Nursing Scholarship Program at WellStar West Georgia Health. Many past recipients of the Sims scholarship are graduates of the LaGrange College School of Nursing.


n the first State of The Community luncheon of 2018, presented by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Jackson Services, Speer Burdette, President of Callaway Foundation, Inc. spoke on the state of giving in our community. In his introduction, Burdette provided a general overview during what he called Foundations 101. “There are several types of foundations,” he explained. “The most recognized include independent foundations, family foundations, corporate foundations (or company-sponsored foundations) and private operating foundations.” Fuller E. Callaway Foundation is a family foundation that evolved from Fuller Callaway Sr.’s early philanthropic initiative known as Relief Association. Mr. Callaway took an active interest in the charitable work of the Association. The primary work of Relief Association was for the benefit of the people who worked in the mills. In the mid-1930s, the assets of Relief Association were divided evenly into two parts, with each of Mr. Callaway’s sons participating. One part of these assets was used to start Ida Cason Callaway Foundation named in honor of their mother, which would be led by Cason J. Callaway. The remaining assets were kept in the Association and it was renamed Fuller E. Callaway Foundation, in honor of their father. This foundation would be led by Fuller E. Callaway, Jr. In the case of the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation (family foundation) and Callaway Foundation Inc. (independent foundation), they both are governed by family members. Currently, there are seven trustees who consider and vote on grant requests. Speer Burdette also serves as President of Fuller E. Callaway Foundation. With assets of $50 million and approximately 10,000 acres of timber, its primary purpose is to support operations at Hills & Dales Estate,

Originally funded by Callaway Mills with an initial corpus of $1.4 million in 1943, assets of Callaway Foundation Inc. (CFI) have grown through the years to its current level of about $230 million. CFI has made grants totaling $380 million over the past 75 years with annual giving now averaging approximately $10 million per year. Even as the endowment decreased during the recent financial crisis, CFI demonstrated once again its commitment to the community, by not reducing grant dollars but, in fact, increasing their giving to compensate for the difficult financial challenges the grantees were facing. Today, CFI actively pursues programs that fit the mission and vision of live, work, learn and play. While there is no stipulation on how the money can be spent, Mr. Callaway always said, “the money was primarily made in Troup County, so the intention was for most of the money to be spent here.” However, CFI does make gifts outside of Troup County noted Burdette. “We have provided support to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Shepherd Center because these institutions provide services that cannot be obtained in Troup County and we know local citizens have benefitted from treatment received in those facilities.” “The Foundation splits its giving based on two operating ideals. About half of our giving is proactive – supporting the vision of CFI and its efforts to enhance the community and quality of life, while the other half can be classified as reactive – supporting the vision of the requesting organizations.” The Foundation funds one-third of the operating budgets of Arts, Culture and Humanities organizations “because those amenities are important to the community and enhance the quality of life,” notes Burdette. Other major beneficiaries of foundation grants include education, environment, health, public works/government and religious institutions. Reflecting on the day-to-day aspects of his work Burdette added, “We are not a community without problems, but the good news is almost every problem has someone or some organization working on the challenge. The Foundation strives to provide assistance to those organizations who want to be part of the solution.” TT

The Callaway Memorial Tower erected in 1929 to honor the memory of Fuller E. Callaway

CALLWAY FOUNDATION, INC. HISTORICAL GIVING ($ millions) Arts Education Environment Health Human Services Public /Government Religious Institutions

$ 23.4 $ 131.5 $ 3.7 $ 47.7 $ 33.9 $ 99.1 $ 36.0

The State of the Community series will continue with sessions focused on health care, higher education and economic development.





he legacy of manufacturing in Troup County is one of hot, dirty jobs requiring manual labor to be productive. Today, the world of advanced manufacturing offers extraordinary career opportunities in clean, climate-controlled conditions with state-of-the-art equipment. With job growth of 18 percent forecast over the next five years, Troup County will be ripe with opportunity for recent high school and college graduates seeking careers in advanced manufacturing. Seeking to address the coming workforce challenges, Cynthia Culbreath, former human resources professional at Duracell, took the lead last spring to organize an important initiative known as SLAM – Students Learning About Manufacturing. Open to rising 9th grade-11th grade students, SLAM is a one-week summer camp that offers hands-on experience with robotics and visits to local manufacturing facilities so students can learn for themselves what it’s like in today’s manufacturing environment. “The first half of each day, students learn about robotics and get to work on their own robot. The second half of the day is spent visiting participating manufacturing plants. At the end of the week, they compete against their fellow students for the robotics championship,” explains Culbreath. “We want students to understand that today’s manufacturing facilities today are not similar to their Grandpa’s factory. The workspace is very clean with high-end technology involved at every position.” Applications are accepted from all students in Troup County and then reviewed by a committee consisting of education and business leaders. The program began in June 2017 and included 12 students in its inaugural session. For the 2018 session, there are 35 applicants for 25 seats. Culbreath attributes the increased enrollment to students who participated last year sharing their experiences with their peers, and to teachers who attended the LIFT program, another manufacturing–focused educational experience, sharing what they learned with their students during the school year. Feedback from students who participated in last year’s session


May 2018

was overwhelmingly positive with many expressing surprise at the level of manufacturing activity in the community, the technology that is integrated into the work and the clean environment within the plants. Acknowledging the favorable response, Culbreath says they hope to grow the program so that more students can participate and be exposed to manufacturing, helping to create the workforce of the future. “We hope this program may also serve as a filter for apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning programs as they develop. The end result has to be formation of a symbiotic relationship between the talent pipeline and the pool of jobs for students to have somewhere to go work.” In addition to increased interest from students, the number of companies who want to participate has increased. “The level of corporate support has been tremendous,” notes Culbreath. “The program could not take place without Duracell, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and Mountville Mills serving as host facilities last year. I also appreciate the support from Development Authority of LaGrange and Troup County Schools.” Participating companies for the 2018 session are being finalized. Careers in the field require a willingness to learn new skills, critical thinking, and adaptability to change while completing the daily processes and procedures that are more taxing mentally than physically. And the pay is not bad either. “Our goal is to help students realize that, whether it is right out of high school, or after they go away and earn engineering degrees and return home to work, there are enormous opportunities to go to work and for everybody to make a good living,” says Culbreath. TT For more details on the program or how to get involved, contact Cynthia Culbreath at or 513-484-8389.


Teachers Explore New Career Paths for Students


ith 6,000 new jobs expected in Troup County in the next five years, many in advanced manufacturing, it has never been more critical to train and retain our future workforce. That’s why the LaGrange Industrial Fellowship for Teachers (LIFT) was launched in 2017. The partnership between the LaGrangeTroup County Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority of LaGrange, the Troup County School System and THINC College & Career Academy took educators to the front-line of local manufacturers to help them better understand their employee needs so that they can better prepare their students for a career. Twenty-three teachers participated the first year and it has greatly impacted the way they teach. Stacie Bulloch, a middle school teacher at Gardner Newman Middle School said, “The LIFT program made me realize the importance of soft skills. I’ve incorporated the whole concept into my teaching methods. This includes the way I teach, how the activities are planned, as well as how the projects entail problem solving.” Bulloch was also a part of a delegation that made a presentation on LIFT to the state Board of Education and to the state legislature last year. The teachers were assigned to teams which spent a week learning about one of the advanced manufacturers located in Troup County. They spent time touring the plants, interviewing managers and front line employees about what types of skills and education their jobs required, built a toolbox of ideas to take back to their classrooms and on the last day, made a presentation about their LIFT experience. “It was amazing to hear how their mindset about manufacturing jobs had changed after just one week participating in LIFT. Before, many had preconceived notions that manufacturing was a hot, dirty job, but after touring these high-tech, airconditioned, spotlessly clean manufacturing environments, they realized what an incredible opportunity this was for their students to one day work here,” said Kathy Carlisle, CEO of THINC.


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For the manufacturers participating, it’s a way to open the door to the thousands of students who could one day be their employees. “Teachers who participate in the program can help students understand there are different avenues and job opportunities within manufacturing. They don’t understand the breadth of the jobs. Whether their interest is in finance, HR, marketing or other areas, there is opportunity for growth and advancement,” said Shannon Garner of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. Bulloch says since she implemented what she’s learned in her classroom, she’s seen her students’ communication skills grow as well as their ability to work together and show respect for one another.

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In June, the next round of teachers and counselors will spend a week closely studying Milliken, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Duracell, Powertech, Jindal Films and Interface. And in the fall, they will take what they’ve learned and experienced back to their classrooms and continue to impact and influence Troup County’s next generation of workers. TT



Troup Works Update – talent is the currency of success


olving the “Workforce Issue” is the number one concern currently facing our community. New companies will not invest in a community unless they are confident that they can find the talent they need to be competitive, and existing employers are finding it more difficult to sustain their operations with a tightening labor market. No longer is talent a company-specific issue. Communities have to respond in innovative ways to help these firms attract, train and retain talent. The “Troup Works” Strategic Planning Process was launched in January 2017.  The process included gathering information from more than 125 stakeholders from critical sectors including industry, education, housing, arts and young professionals. In addition, personal interviews were conducted with leaders of eight large employers, and data was gathered from more than 450 persons through an online survey.  The process was managed by a 27-person steering committee comprised of representatives from small business, advanced manufacturing, education and government. The study, conducted by Avalanche Consulting, a national economic and workforce development consultancy based in Austin, Texas, generated specific recommendations under three areas of focus – Attract, Train and Retain – to

14 May 2018 14 May 2018

address Troup County’s needs for workforce development, talent recruitment and talent retention. The in-depth analysis of available workforce and educational capacity in Troup County identified the full labor shed from which local employers draw workers and compared the output of graduates from regional educational institutions against the projected new jobs created by local employers. The data shows a 13% gap between projected job growth (18%) and projected population growth (5%) in Troup County over the next five years.  Identifying resources to provide skilled workers to fill this expected gap is essential to the future success of Troup County and its neighboring counties.   A town hall meeting was held on February 12 at the Callaway Conference Center.  More than 160 persons were in attendance. Attendees were divided into seven work groups to review Avalanche recommendations. “I was delighted with the number of stakeholders that responded to the call to participate in this effort,” said Jason Ransbottom, Senior Manager, HR & Admin at PowerTech America, Inc. and co-chair of the Troup Works Initiative. “We recognize the immense challenge ahead of us.   Stakeholders from across the community will play an important role in this project.”

“The Troup Works work groups, consisting of leaders from business and industry, education and other sectors, considered all options and strategies to help ensure our local business climate continues to thrive and succeed,” added Loraine Allen, a retired Human Resources executive, serving as co-chair with Ransbottom. “Troup County has consistently demonstrated an ability to respond to challenges and I expect this time to be no different.” The seven work groups met in February and March to review the recommendations made by Avalanche. To date, the partnership has raised $350,000 of which $110,000 was used to engage Avalanche Consulting to conduct the initial study.  A grant of $240,000 was awarded to the Chamber by Three Rivers Regional Commission as part of the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative.  These funds are developing the three key pieces of technology upon which many of the initiatives will be built upon, including the Talent Portal, Career Headlight, and Headlight database.  Based upon the priorities established by each work group a three-year plan of action has been developed with estimated costs totaling $1.62 million.  An overall summary of these activities is listed here. TT


FY19-21 PROGRAM OF WORK 1. Attract talent to Troup County by • Partnering with a creative firm to develop a marketing campaign based upon the “Be Surprised” tag line; implementing campaign through digital, print, radio, SEO and social media outlets • Expanding the talent portal to reflect the branding/imaging of the talent attraction campaign and providing a centralized hub to connect job seekers and employers • Utilizing video, e-news and Laurie Rowe Communications to tell our story throughout the region and to targeted national audiences • Implementing an internal/local marketing campaign to engage residents in telling our story • Activating the regional HR community with recruitment materials and services Year 1: Year 2: Year 3: TOTAL:

$ 112,500 $ 59,000 $ 59,000 $ 230,500

2. Develop talent within the region through alignment of education and workforce systems to business needs by • Maintaining thINC as the central hub for talent pipeline development • Aligning soft skills instruction and assessment from elementary to postsecondary, public to private that is based upon thINC’s 13 soft skills • Mapping all current educational programs from birth to post-secondary and assessing quality of services through engagement of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) • Establishing the Troup County Path to Success based upon the GPEE project to include expansion of workbased learning, internships and apprenticeships • Expanding the Career Headlight site to guide parents/students through the education and career exploration path

business and education at both K-12 and higher education levels through reestablishment of a formal education and workforce collaborative and reintroduction of annual career fair for middle school students • Hosting a summit on Education & the Manufacturing Workforce of the Future Year 1: Year 2: Year 3: TOTAL:

$ 109,500 $ 52,500 $ 52,500 $ 214,500

3. Retain talent within the region by creating an ecosystem of opportunity with emphasis on entrepreneurial activities by • Developing more housing options based upon an independent needs assessment, implementing a FAM tour for developers and creating marketing materials for developers and real estate agents that align with the talent attraction campaign • Developing more transportation options based upon an independent needs assessment • Recruiting more retail and restaurants to Troup County through partnership with Retail Strategies

4. Ensure execution of strategies through hiring a Director of Workforce Development (FT with benefits by

January 1, 2019 and/or contract services); operational/training/engagement opportunities for Director will be included in Chamber’s regular budget) Year 1: Year 2: Year 3: TOTAL:

$ 50,000 $ 100,000 $ 100,000 $ 250,000

The Troup Works Steering Committee adopted the plan, and the Chamber Board of Directors approved it serving as the cornerstone of the Chamber’s program of work for the next three years. “With the opening of the Great Wolf Lodge, construction of the Sentury Tire facility and growth in the manufacturing and hospitality sectors, Troup County will have more than 6,000 new jobs to fill over the next 5 years,” says Page Estes, Chamber President. “Our task is clear. We must attract, retain and train the best talent. Some communities will win while others will lose the battle for talent, and Troup County is going to be a ‘Winnerville’ community.” If you or your company is interested in participating on a work group or would like to make a financial contribution to toward the initiative, please contact the Chamber team. TT

• Expanding and promoting entertainment and outdoor amenities through Pyne Road Park facility • Establishing a co-working space in downtown LaGrange that can be replicated in Hogansville and West Point • Advocating for expansion of broadband access through out Troup County, including offering free Wi-Fi access in downtown footprints Year 1: $ 835,000 (includes $600,000 capital project) Year 2: $ 55,000 Year 3: $ 40,000 TOTAL: $ 930,000

• Facilitating information exchange and partnership exploration between 15 15



WEST GEORGIA TECHNICAL COLLEGE Providing a Skilled Workforce for West Georgia in designated programs like automotive technology, air conditioning technology, nurse aide, practical nursing or welding also receive the HOPE Career Grant, which pays the balance of their tuition cost. WGTC now offers 58 programs which qualify for this extra financial aid.


est Georgia Technical College is building strong partnerships in the community that connect graduates to careers right here in West Georgia. Several initiatives are taking place at West Georgia Tech that align with this key focus. Links to Industry In response to new advanced manufacturing in Troup and Coweta counties, West Georgia Tech has invested heavily in Precision Manufacturing and Maintenance labs on campuses in LaGrange and Newnan. Industries continue to demand skilled technicians who can keep their lines running on schedule, and pay for these positions can start at $15/hour or more depending on prior experience. West Georgia Tech has direct contact with these industries and connects them with current students and graduates who are interested in these careers. It’s an important way our community can connect people who want advanced technical careers with the employers who need them. HOPE Career Grant Georgia’s HOPE Career Grant also makes college even more affordable for these students and others in high-demand fields. Students who are eligible for the HOPE Grant and are enrolled


May 2018

school students.

College Courses for High School Students Dual enrollment for high school students is another way West Georgia Tech is taking partnerships to the next level. This Spring Semester almost 1,600 high school students across West Georgia are taking college courses at West Georgia Tech, most of them at no cost. Partnerships with local school systems are allowing WGTC to actually teach college courses on high school campuses, making the opportunity totally seamless for high

New President West Georgia Tech’s new president Dr. Scott Rule was officially appointed April 1. He has over 28 years of experience in technical education, most recently as Assistant Commissioner of Data, Planning and Research for the Technical College System of Georgia. “West Georgia Technical College is such an integral part of the West Georgia community and I am honored to lead the College,” said Dr. Rule. “I am committed to providing students with a world-class educational experience, business and industry with skilled talent, and the community with a trusted partner for years to come.”



If you haven’t visited West Georgia Tech’s campus in LaGrange lately, this is a great time to check it out. Now is the perfect time to apply, register and get financial aid ready for classes to start in the summer or next fall. Email or call 706.845.4323 for more information. Visit to explore programs that lead directly to a career or may transfer seamlessly to a fouryear college or university. TT

Your path



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The Chamber is offering a FREE trolley service to Sweetland concert goers on

May 27, June 22, July 21 Visit our calendar for more information.

TWO TROLLEYS WILL RUN FROM 6 PM TO 11 PM and stop in the following locations:

1) Corner of Cotton Road/ Lafayette Parkway 2) Hoffman Drive between LaQuinta/Baymont 3) Wingate by Wyndham parking lot 4) Lafayette Garden Inn parking lot 5) 307 Church Street (for Sweetland access) 6) in front of Courtyard by Marriott 7) Corner of Main Street/ Byron Hurst (for Wild Leap access) No alcohol allowed on trolleys. Route will run every 20-25 minutes.


May 2018

KICK START YOUR CAREER Find out how WGTC can prepare you for a meaningful career doing what you love!

Apply now for Fall Semester! Classes begin August 13


855.887.9482 |

As set forth in its student catalog, West Georgia Technical College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, disability, age, political affiliation or belief, genetic information, veteran status, or citizenship status (except in those special circumstances permitted or mandated by law). The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Equity (Title IX) coordinator is V.P. of Student Affairs. ADA (Section 504) coordinator is V.P. of Administrative Services. Both are located at 401 Adamson Square, Carrollton, GA 30117. 678.664.0400









Athletes, Community Shine During 2018 USA South Spring Sports Festival


ore than 950 student-athletes competed during the recent 2018 USA South Spring Sports Festival held in LaGrange and West Point. From Wednesday to Sunday, competition was underway all across the community. Lafayette Square, Sweetland Amphitheatre and the competition venues were decked out with team flags from each of the USA South schools to help create a welcoming atmosphere. Many merchants also displayed signs welcoming the athletes and their families to LaGrange. While weather wreaked havoc on the Sunday schedule, causing the postponement of softball to Monday and forcing the tennis finals to be played at the Bill Moore Tennis Center on the campus of Georgia Tech, overall the sports festival was a big success for the second year in a row. The festival included an awards banquet at Sweetland Amphitheatre where athletes and coaches enjoyed musical entertainment and a barbecue dinner provided by Kimble’s Food by Design. “Under


May 2018

the leadership of Executive Director Keyal Loveland and her staff, Sweetland provided the perfect setting for celebrating the accomplishments of the studentathletes,” says JJ Kuerzi, Facilities Director for Troup County Parks & Recreation. “The festival is not possible without the help of our hospitality partners across Troup County,” says Dave Marler, VP for Marketing and Tourism with the Chamber. “From the hotels to the restaurants to the retail shops, our visitors were treated to the warm Troup County welcome that keeps us at the top of the list for sports tourism. Special thanks goes to JJ Kuerzi and the team at Troup County Parks & Recreation, along with LaGrange College, Point University and Highland Country Club for providing outstanding athletic venues.” The USA South Spring Sports Festival will return to LaGrange in 2019 with competition scheduled for April 24-28. For more information contact JJ Kuerzi at 706-883-1671 or Dave Marler at 706-884-8671. TT









LaGrange College – 2018 USA South Baseball Champions

2018 CHAMPIONS Softball ��������������������������������������������������������������� Maryville College Baseball ������������������������������������������������������������ LaGrange College Men’s Tennis ��������������������������������������������������������� N.C. Wesleyan Women’s Tennis ��������������������������������������������������� N.C. Wesleyan Men’s Lacrosse ������������������������������������������ Huntingdon College Women’s Lacrosse ������������������������������������������Meredith College Golf ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� N.C. Wesleyan

Men’s lacrosse makes its debut in 2018 Spring Sports Festival


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Olumide Ajayi, MD WellStar Medical Group Family Medicine 1497 Lafayette Parkway LaGrange, GA 30241 706.880.7335

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WellStar Medical Group Gynecology 1555 Doctors Drive, Suite 102 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7266

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Callaway Auditorium P


eople who visit LaGrange almost always leave saying the same thing: “I was surprised by all the city has to

Third grade students enjoy LSO Children’s Concert

Their surprise doesn’t surprise me. As your mystery traveler, I’ve had a ton of pleasant surprises visiting all sorts of local attractions. You just don’t expect to find showplaces, like Sweetland Amphitheater and Wild Leap Brew Co., and significant places, like Hills and Dales Estate and the Biblical History Center, all within the same small town. But even I was surprised by my latest assignment: Check out a month’s worth of events at Callaway Auditorium. Callaway Auditorium? Yes, for many it is a major surprise to find a world class concert hall smack in the middle of LaGrange College’s Callaway campus. Almost every month features an impressive array of diverse and first rate programming. Come along with me for a few recent high notes. But first, a touch of history. Like so many good things in LaGrange, the auditorium 24

May 2018

started out as an idea in the fertile brain of textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway. Chagrined that the city lacked a suitable venue for a speech by his friend, the famous orator William Jennings Bryan, Callaway championed the need for a “proper auditorium” in the years before his death in 1928.

by J.J. Chase, was completed in 1942 under the leadership of his son, Fuller E. Callaway Jr. As part of the former Callaway Education Association, the auditorium’s classic exterior enclosed a “gym with a stage” that was the cherished setting for decades of dance recitals, basketball games, roller skating sessions and more.

The stately auditorium building, designed

Through the years, it hosted hundreds of


memorable gatherings, from graduations to concerts, lectures by luminaries like Ambassador Andrew Young, newsman Edwin Newman and Olympic champion Edwin Moses and even the Junior Service League’s first Attic Sale. The nationally prominent Azalea Storytelling Festival was born there. The Callaway Foundation presented the auditorium to LaGrange College in 1992, and together they transformed it with a $5.5 million renovation into an acousticallysuperior concert hall in 2005. Theater-style seats replaced the old folding chairs, elegant maple panels and a sophisticated acoustical shell replaced walls that had held basketball goals and the sounds of violins and woodwinds replaced the whirring of roller skates. Which brings us to April 24, and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s (LSO) stirring season finale, “The World’s Embrace.” The title draws on a quote from composer Gustave Mahler, whose heroic “Titan” Symphony No. 1 the orchestra performed. “A symphony is like the world: it must embrace everything,” Mahler said in 1910. The LSO showed it’s still true.

world should hear and heed. The following day, Savannahbased Velvet Caravan, an unorthodox, high-energy, acoustic-based quintet, brought their “gypsy jazz,” to the Callaway stage. Who wouldn’t be surprised to hear rousing “gypsy jazz” a day after the moving and elegantly solemn “Sanctus,” “Benedictus,” and “Agnus Dei” of the celebration mass? On April 16, the auditorium hosted a screening of Tamlin Hall’s award-winning film, Holden On, based on the life and death of LaGrange teenager Holden Layfield and his hidden struggle with mental illness. Local audiences saw, for free and in total comfort, the film that has been hailed at prestigious film festivals from Woodstock, N.Y. to Breckenridge, Colorado.

On April’s last day, the college’s band and percussion concert again filled the Callaway stage. You’d be surprised by the wealth of young talent in the LC music program. One month, one auditorium, many surprises. Take a bow, Callaway Auditorium. You deserve it. TT

The concert opened with the orchestra accompanying guest violinist Richard Cho, an award-winning veteran though barely old enough to drive, in an astonishing performance of a Mendelssohn concerto. The sizable audience cheered the splendid music and the welcome news that gifted Conductor Richard Prior of Emory University has extended his contract with LSO for five more years. During intermission, I checked out the spacious lobby, where concert-goers from the 1950s and 60s would feel right at home. Architectural details, including the distinctive tile floors, were carefully preserved. So was an impressive silver plaque recognizing dozens of Callaway Mills employees who served in the military during World War II. The LSO performance was a highlight of a month of standout concerts that began April 8 with a Celebration Mass performed by Americolor Opera Ensemble in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The free public event was presented by the LaGrange College Department of Music and Our Living History, an initiative that aims to create a “living museum that will chronicle the rich history of African Americans in Troup County.” I’m no expert, but excellence was abundantly evident. The talented soloists and ensemble were richly deserving of their standing ovation. The message was one the whole

MEET MISTY REE My tourist gene runs deep. I love to go, to see, to do. I am always ready to eat, shop, play, listen, view, wander or try something new. I want you to go along with me, at least in spirit. We’ll visit some familiar places and others off the beaten path, from one end of beautiful Troup County to the other. To make our journeys more interesting, I am going incognito. You won’t see me coming. You won’t know where I am going next. If you have a suggestion of a place I ought to visit, just drop a line to my buddy Dave Marler, VP of Marketing and Tourism at the Chamber. ( Tell him you have a message for Troup’s Mystery Traveler, or use my nickname: Misty Ree.





Tips for a Safe Summer Vacation


ummer time is upon us! All you should be worrying about are barbecues, relaxing by the pool, and family vacations, not worrying about someone stealing your identity. Not so long ago, the main concern when traveling was being pick pocketed and having your wallet stolen. The tip was to always place your wallet in your front pocket to protect yourself. In today’s world, a person doesn’t even have to be in the same state or country to steal your information. Summer time should be about barbecues, relaxing by the pool, and taking family vacations not worrying about someone trying to steal your personal identity or access sensitive information. Here are four tips to protect yourself:

masks the IP address and internet information of the user and hackers aren’t able to trace it. It provides a way for you and your family to use public Wi-Fi without the threat of having someone hack into your phone, laptop, or other mobile device. 3) Install the latest updates on your phone. Keeping your phone updated with the latest versions, which typically have the latest security updates to fix bugs in the system and holes in the security firewalls. Hackers will pry on the vulnerabilities of the older versions of the operating systems.

1) Consider placing a credit freeze at all three reporting agencies. The three reporting agencies are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The Equifax breach in 2017 exposed sensitive information of 145 million Americans. Having done this myself, the process is very simple and takes less than 10 minutes for each of the reporting agencies. You can remove the freeze at any time. If you decide to work through the process they will give you a pin number. The pin number is your “password” to unfreeze your credit. Freezing your credit does not suspend access to current credit cards, lines of credit, or other credit mechanisms. It blocks the ability for someone to apply for new credit such a loan, buying a car, or getting a new credit card.

4) Use multi-factor authentication. It is an additional step to ensure you are indeed who you say you are. It goes beyond having a strong username and password. Most social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, email providers like Google and Outlook, and bank platforms provide access to multi-factor authenticators. For example, if you want to make changes to your Gmail account, Google will ask for a username/ password and a 5-6 digit code. Once you have entered your username/password Google, depending on what option you choose, will send a text message to your phone with a 5-6 digit code. You will enter the code and then you can start making those changes. Even if the hackers were able to determine your username and password, they would still need to enter the 5-6 digit code into the website to access your data. This is the beauty of using multi factor authentication.

2) Consider using a paid VPN when using public Wi-Fi. Be extremely mindful of using public Wi-Fi access. When using Wi-Fi outside of a location you feel that is secure, consider using a paid Virtual Private Network or VPN for short. The VPN encrypts and

Implementing these tips may not protect you against too much fun in the sun, but they can help protect you against someone stealing or accessing your personal data. TT

Todd Carlisle, consultant with the UGA Small Business Development Center, is housed in the Chamber office and is available to meet with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Contact Todd at 706-569-2651 or for more information. 26

May 2018


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Hollywood Comes to Hogansville


n case you haven’t noticed, something magical is happening in Hogansville. A group of young, forward-thinking entrepreneurs who call themselves the Pioneer Project are slowly and quietly transforming the town into a creative hub to help people develop their dreams. First, they worked their magic on the historic train depot, turning it into a coffee shop, gathering space and pub. Now they’ve set their sights on a much larger stage with a film production company they call Latch & Key Film Co. They hope to tap in to the burgeoning film industry that is slowly making its way south of Atlanta. Their goal is to bring cinematic quality to companies and brands to help them tell a

story. Networks like National Geographic and companies like IBM have taken notice. Latch & Key produced the special effects scenes for the title sequence of the NatGeo documentary on Picasso starring Antonio Banderas which premiered in April. They partnered with the company Imaginary Forces out of New York on the sequence and they created those meandering rivers of paint in their studio in Hogansville. For an IBM THINK Conference promotional film, most of it was shot in and around Hogansville, including a quick scene inside the Hogansville Library. They collaborated with another New York production company, Dress Code, on this project. It may sound like an overnight success story,

but it didn’t happen quite that fast. In 2010, the group wrote and produced a film called A Band of Rogues about a group of American musicians who are arrested for drug possession in Argentina. When the film won rave reviews at several film festivals, the die was cast. The film production team consists of producer/actor Jake Ayers, writer and director Tim Morgan and his brother, Matthew, who are cofounders, Christian Haberkern, who is a master at visual effects, David McClone, production supervisor and Stephen Stumberg, who is the executive producer. Haberken has an impressive resume’ that includes visual effects for Captain America, RoboCop and Transformers. Stumberg has worked on The Fast and Furious 6,7 and 8, and currently has three film projects headed to the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. He also filmed a documentary on the person who developed the “I ♥ NY” logo which was selected as one of five entries, out of 46,000 submissions, chosen for the Tribeca Film Festival. Their most recent projects include a series of mini-documentaries for an outdoor fashion brand shot in Hawaii. Ayers explained they wanted to do something out of the ordinary for the clothing line, not just a typical commercial, so they brought in Josiah Gordon, an outdoor adventure photographer with hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, and shot a series of three minute videos to better tell the brand’s story. When


May 2018


Gordon is not travelling to remote areas of the world, he hangs his hat in Hogansville. “We want to connect the product’s identity to the customer, by telling a more meaningful story and strategically targeting a certain audience,” Ayers explained. Just as the Pioneer Project’s dream has been to transform Hogansville, their film production company is transforming dreams into creative content for its customers. Next on the horizon, more films, including the possibility of one about the last battle of the Civil War, which just happened to have occurred at West Point, after the South had surrendered and the war had officially ended. With these recent projects, Hogansville has opened its doors to the film industry with hopes to attract even more business in the future. TT











The Opioid Crisis and its Impact in the Workplace


he misuse of opioids (pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and the synthetic version fentanyl) are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands Americans, from everyday people to highprofile celebrities including music legends Prince and Tom Petty. Millions more in the United States suffer from opioid addiction, which experts say was started by the overprescription of legal pain medications like oxycodone, but has intensified more recently with an influx of cheap heroin and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. The devastating effects of this crisis are becoming more evident in the workplace. On average, employees who use prescription opioids non-medically are absent from work about three extra days per year. An employee with an addiction changes jobs more often, resulting in the cost of hiring a replacement. Other related costs to employers are excessive healthcare costs from claims due to opioid use. Opioids are a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy plant, that can be divided into two broad categories: legally manufactured medications and illicit narcotics. They act on the nervous system to relieve pain, and are the most widely prescribed pain reliever and most highly abused prescription drug. Commonly prescribed for conditions including back injuries and chronic pain, they come in tablets, capsules or liquid. Opioid drugs prescribed under brand names include Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Percodan®, Tylox®, and Demorol®.

Bob Carlson

Continued use and abuse of opioids can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Opioids can become highly addictive for several reasons. Opioid drugs dull a person’s perception of pain. That’s why they are routinely prescribed for people recovering from serious injuries or surgery. Opioids also make people feel euphoric, leading to addiction just to feel high. The consequences of overdosing can lead to death because opioids can slow down a person’s breathing, and an overdose on prescription opioids can completely stop a person’s breathing. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels. In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, opioid overdoses killed more than 42,000 people, or more than six times the number of U.S. military service members killed in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The best way to avoid opioid addiction is to take opioid pain medications only as prescribed by a doctor, and only for as long as you need them.

Bob Carlson, M.P.A., Director WellStar Medical Group


May 2018










According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, "overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels. A national initiative toward reducing opioid misuse and overdose was initiated in 2015 to promote more cautious and responsible prescribing of opioid medications, with the following guidelines: •

following the directions as explained on the label or by the pharmacist

being aware of potential interactions with other drugs as well as alcohol

never stopping or changing a dosing regimen without first discussing it with the doctor

never using another person’s prescription, and never giving their prescription medications to others

storing prescription stimulants, sedatives, and opioids safely

Additionally, patients should properly discard unused or expired medications

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In addition to describing their medical problem, patients should always inform their health care professionals about all the prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and dietary and herbal supplements they are taking before they obtain any other medications. TT Learn more about the risks of opioid use, proper drug disposal, safe prescribing practices and addictive prevention programs at




Phillips joins Point University

Leonard Phillips recently joined Point University as vice president of church and business partnerships. In this role, Phillips works to create relationships with these organizations that specifically promote the accredited, affordable, and flexible online programs at Point. Phillips believes that leaders are learners, and that helping churches and businesses identify solutions to develop their people intellectually, professionally and spiritually is an honor.  A native of Chicago, Phillips earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Illinois at ChampaignUrbana, and a Master of Arts degree in leadership from Luther Rice University in Lithonia, Georgia. He will complete his Master of Divinity degree at Luther Rice in 2019.

Senn named Public Services Director

Dion Senn was recently named Public Services Director for the City of LaGrange. Senn has been employed with the City of LaGrange for over twenty years. For the past seven years, he has worked as an Engineering Project Manager. As the Public Services Director, Senn will oversee the City of LaGrange’s Vehicle Maintenance, Sanitation, Wastewater, Streets, and Landscape divisions.

Dresselhaus joins Aspinwall Chiropractic Clinic

Dr. David Dresselhaus has recently joined Dr. Jim Aspinwall and the Aspinwall Chiropractic Clinic in LaGrange. Dresselhaus holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Tampa and Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida. Although his formal education is complete he stays current with the considerable amount of treatment and nutritional research published each month and looks forward to being able to serve and care for the people of LaGrange and the surrounding areas.

McFarland joins Emory at LaGrange

Emory at LaGrange welcomes a new cardiologist, Dr. Kathryn A. McFarland. Dr. McFarland did her residency at Wake Forest University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC and a fellowship at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, KY. She has spent 14 years as a boardcertified cardiologist. Dr. McFarland says her passions are taking care of patients with heart disease, women and heart health, and helping people change those risk factors that can be modified so they can live the best possible life. She is a frequent speaker on these topics. She is the mother of two six-year-old boys.


May 2018


JJ Kuerzi earns Certified Sports Event Executive credential

JJ Kuerzi, Facilities Director for Troup County Parks & Recreation and Chamber Vice chair for tourism, recently earned the Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) credential. The certification is presented by the National Association of Sports Commissions and recognizes sports tourism professionals who have completed a rigorous curriculum.

Agents from Coldwell Banker Manor Realty honored

Agents with Coldwell Banker Manor Realty, were recently recognized by the Coldwell Banker Corporate Office with a Sterling Society Award for Achievement in Residential market in Troup County for 2017. (l-r) Corey Wiles, Peggy Wiles, and Teressa Scott, pictured with the certificate from Coldwell Banker.

Heard honored as CEO of the Year

Zsa Zsa Heard, CEO for the LaGrange Housing Authority, received the Georgia Minority Business Award CEO of the Year as its recent awards banquet. One of her goals as the CEO is to add value to the lives of the residents to create a platform that allows them to flourish and grow.

Marianna Reynolds joins Mack Reynolds Realty, LLC.

LaGrange Arts Directors Attend Leadership Summit

Mack Reynolds Realty is proud to announce the addition of their newest team member, Marianna Reynolds. Marianna is a native of Troup County and is a graduate of LaGrange High School and Auburn University. Prior to moving back home to Georgia, Marianna taught third grade in Charleston, South Carolina. Having grown up in a real estate family, with her father a broker, and three agent siblings, real estate is a natural fit.

The first Southeastern Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit was held March 15-16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tennessee with local arts organization leaders Kerri Vice and Laura Jennings in attendance. This two-day conference welcomed arts and cultural leaders, public officials, community leaders, organizational decision makers and municipal and economic planners from the Southeast to learn about enhancing their communities and improving the quality of life for their citizens.




Chamber Names Large Business, Manufacturers of the Year The Chamber recently recognized two outstanding companies with the 2018 Large Business & Manufacturer of the Year Awards. Members were recognized for their excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations, and they were honored for their contributions to the region’s economy and overall community spirit.   Chamber Board Chairman Casey Smith (Calumet Bank), Chunk Newman (Batson-Cook) of the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia and Leigh Newman (West Georgia Technical College) presented the awards.


(L-R) Smith, Leigh Newman, Duracell’s Harley Ballew, Tanya Pullie and Patrick Bowers, and Chunk Newman Duracell has been an employer of choice in Troup County for 38 years.   Despite heavy competition from global competitors, volume increased 10% over the previous year with an additional 5% growth expected this year.  With an economic impact of $160 million to our local economy, this company not only provides generous monetary contributions to local nonprofits and schools, but also requires employees to volunteer their time to local schools and nonprofit organizations.    In the past year, the company has almost doubled their local footprint, including recent acquisition of a neighboring manufacturing site.  They have moved production of their #1 volume category product from  a South Carolina site to LaGrange to the South Atlanta area to be in close proximity to the plant.  In 2017, Duracell created a summer robotics camp to encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing and was a founding participant in the LaGrange International Fellowship for Teachers program.  For their outstanding efforts to  make great products and their commitment to helping us create a great workforce, Duracell earned designation as the 2018 Large Business & Manufacturer of the Year. 


May 2018


(L-R) Smith, Leigh Newman, Jackson Services’ Ben and Dale Jackson, and Chunk Newman Jackson Services was recognized as our Small Business of the Year in 2014. Since then, the company has grown 30% while its industry as a whole grew at a 6% pace.  Their industrial and commercial division has grown by 300% since 2015, and their team has grown to 72 employees.  Jackson Services has been doing business in Troup County for 45 years and is becoming one of the most innovative in customer service delivery.  Despite the rapid growth, the company remains committed to philanthropic and educational causes.  For their transformation from a small business to one of the state’s leading heating and air providers, Jackson Services earned designation as the 2018 Large Business of the Year.





The Chamber was pleased to partner with the Development Authority of LaGrange, City of LaGrange and Troup County Commission to host Sewon Chairman Moon-Ki Kim, his wife Haeim Chung as well as son and Vice Chairman Andy Kim during their recent visit to the United States. A dinner was held at Hill & Dales Estate Visitor Center.  Pictured (l-r) are Nate Jung (Sewon America), Vice Chairman Kim, Pam Crews, Mrs. Chung, Troup County Chairman Patrick Crews, Chairman Kim, Sewon America President Jong Woo Jung and wife Young Sun Park, LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, Corinne Thornton, Development Authority Chairman and Callaway Foundation President Speer Burdette and wife Debbie (Troup County CLCP). 

L-R Thornton, Clopp, Crews, Rodriguez, Goldstein, Tramell, Bailey Each year, the Chamber accepts nominations for two awards that recognize our tourism partners, and a committee selects the winners.  LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton announced this year’s awards which were presented by West Point Mayor Steve Tramell, Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews and Hogansville City Councilman George Bailey. The Service Star Award is awarded to an individual who has exhibited legendary customer service. Whether it’s the dead of winter or the busy spring and summer travel season, the West Point Visitor Information Center (VIC) is the first stop for thousands of visitors to Troup County, Georgia.  Throughout her ten years with the VIC, Rebecca Clopp has time and again shown demonstrated legendary customer service as she greets visitors with a smile and shares information about our many great attractions and hospitality partners.  Because of her passion for customer service, enthusiasm for tourism in Troup County, and willingness to roll up her sleeves to assist our community wherever possible, Rebecca Clopp, Manager of the West Point Visitor Information Center, is the recipient of the 2018 Tourism Service Star Award. The Tourism Visionary Award is presented to an individual or organization who has played a vital role in tourism product development.   A few years ago, two entrepreneurs were looking outside of Atlanta for a new location to host a Craft Beer Festival. After conducting extensive research on possible locations, Anthony Rodriguez and Rob Goldstein took a leap of faith to organize and produce the inaugural LaGrange Craft Beer Festival in October 2015.  The event was a rousing success and helped to convince Anthony and Rob that the best site for the new brewery they had been planning was right here in LaGrange.  Two years later, Wild Leap Brew Co. opened on Bull Street and the rest, as they say, is history. Visitors to the brewery have exceed expectations and sales of their products have followed suit, sparking plans for expansion of brewing capacity over the next year or so.  Along with operating a successful brewery, Anthony and Rob have been very active in the community, serving on a number of boards including Rob’s role as Vice-Chair of Marketing for the Chamber of Commerce.  For their vision of what is possible, their investment in downtown LaGrange, and their commitment to enhance tourism for all of Troup County, the 2018 Tourism Visionary Award was presented to Wild Leap Brew Co.


With 1000 t-shirts to fold and athlete bags to fill with information and local swag, the Chamber Board of Directors (and spouses) were put to work. The networking event was held at Sweetland Amphitheatre in preparation for the USA South Sports Festival.  Pictured (l-r) are Past Chairman Eric Blackman (Emory at LaGrange), James Emery (Troup County Commission), George Bailey (City of Hogansville), O’Livia Meeks (Retired), Patricia Rogers (WellStar West Georgia Medical Center), Dana Countess (ADIENT), Casey Smith (Calumet Bank) and Stuart Countess (Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.).





Troup County native and former Georgia Tech football captain, KeShun Freeman was the keynote speaker at the February Early Bird Breakfast with Jackson Services sponsoring the networking coffee. Pictured (l-r) are Bill Hunnicutt (Downtown LaGrange Development Authority), Freeman, Mike Angstadt (Angstadt Consulting and Teambuilding Services), and Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank).

Elia Baltes (DASH of LaGrange, Inc.) won the door prize provided by Creative CallIns. Also pictured are Mr. Freeman and Mrs. Smith.


May 2018


Jamie Jordan from the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative encouraged our employers and educators to continue to collaborate at our March Early Bird Breakfast. He commended Troup County on our partnership with Three Rivers Regional Commission to take a regional approach to our workforce challenges.  Pictured with Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank) and Jordan (center) are Three Rivers’ Robert Hiett, Stephanie Glenn and Kirk Fjelstul.

Mike Angstadt (Angstadt Consulting and Teambuilding Services) won the Creative Call-Ins basket and is pictured with coffee sponsor John Cipolla (Lafayette Christian School) and Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank).


Chamber members had a howlin’ good time at April’s Early Bird Breakfast that featured Great Wolf Lodge’s General Manager Keith Furnas (left) and Director of Sales and Catering Kash Lakhlani (right). All attendees received an invitation to the water park and resort’s soft opening in May.

Communities in Schools served as the coffee sponsor and provided door prizes, along with the monthly Creative Call-Ins basket to lucky winners (l-r) Kathy Burns (Office of US Senator David Perdue), Raylene Carter (LaGrange Symphony Orchestra), Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank), Spencer Aldridge (Mobile Communications) and Mable Smith (Mable Smith State Farm Insurance).



STATE OF THE COMMUNITY The first of the 2018 State of Community Luncheons, sponsored by Jackson Services and represented by Dale Jackson, focused on the “State of Giving” and featured Callaway Foundation President Speer Burdette. Flowers from Hills & Dales Estate decorated each table. See page 11 for more information.

CHAMBER UNIVERSITY The Chamber has partnered with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to offer a series of informative webinars throughout 2018. The Digital Education Series launched with “2018 Tax Reform—A Guide for Business” followed by “Marketing Strategies to Achieving Credibility & Influence.


The Chamber hosted a Candidate Academy on February 20 for persons interested in seeking public office. Andy Harper (Troup County Elections Board), Mayor Bill Stankiewicz (City of Hogansville), Markette Baker (Troup County Solicitor General) and Mayor Jim Thornton (City of LaGrange) shared the “do’s and don’ts” of running a campaign.


Patty Youngblood, President of the United Way of West Georgia, was the keynote speaker at the quarterly West Point Business Council on February 27 which was hosted by Point University.

Malone Workforce Solutions is sponsoring an HR Compliance Series, also in conjunction with the Georgia Chamber. The first two webinars provided insight on “Key Employment Law Updates for 2018” and  “Preventing & Addressing Harassment in the Workplace.”  All attendees receive one hour of SHRM/ HRCI credit.

The Hogansville Business Council enjoyed breakfast at Pioneer’s Station Coffeehouse on March 16. For their quarterly meeting, the Chamber’s Renae Willis discussed surprising facts about Troup County, and the group toured the coffeehouse.




Join us in celebrating our members!


Arbor Day Celebration in West Point J. Smith Lanier Park, West Point

Boutique on Main 106 Main Street, LaGrange

Curl Up and Dye Salon 307 S. Greenwood Street, LaGrange

Georgia Water and Fire Restoration 1344 New Franklin Road, LaGrange

Sharon J’s Boutique 108 Main Street, LaGrange

The Thread—Phase II Eastside Park, LaGrange

May 2018

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Visualizing a Bright Future for Downtown West Point


*Disclaimer: This map illustrates a general overview of the development of property for discussion purposes only.

he Chattahoochee River gave the city of West the surrounding area, and nearby larger markets, as Office of & Economic Loca� | 770.563.0028 Point first life as aECG means ofCommunity water supply andDevelopment it’s |truly a unique asset. West Point’s riverfront has the commerce. Later came the railroad, which had opportunity to serve as downtown’s “welcome mat,” a major impact on growth, followed by the textile especially with an additional amenity and destination industry – both of which allowed Downtown West Point on the riverbanks.” to serve as a commercial and manufacturing hub. The woodyard and riverfront areas were discussed Today, plans for revitalization of Downtown West Point in the City’s 10th Street Area Redevelopment Plan and the riverfront are under review. Representing in April 2011 and the Downtown West Point Master the most viable opportunity for downtown access to Plan in July 2013. Plans for both were designed the river, the woodyard property on 2nd Avenue was through a process of demographic analysis, interactive purchased by the Downtown West Point Development community meetings and workshops. The Riverfront Authority with financial support from the City of West Conceptual was provided by Electric Cities of Point Forward Fund and West Point Development Georgia’s (ECG) Economic & Community Development Authority. The desire is to develop the property to a technical solutions team. ECG’s team utilizes the similar land use as the downtown area, which could latest technology and offers insightful and strategic include residential, retail and commercial. assistance with member communities to enhance community development efforts. According to City of West Point Economic Development Director Meghan Duke, “The key to Not a final development plan, the drawings are meant sustainable development in Downtown West Point is a to serve as concepts and visualization for the potential diversity of goods and services to appeal to the widest the site offers. Currently, the site is being cleaned of customer base feasible. Leveraging the riverfront debris and cleared for whatever development the property along the Chattahoochee River can be a future may hold. No schedule has yet been established differentiating factor for West Point in comparison to for actual development. TT


May 2018


*Disclaimer: This map illustrates a general overview of the development of property for discussion purposes only.

ECG Office of Community & Economic Development | Loca� | 770.563.0028

Conceptual ECG Office of Community & Economic Development | Loca� drawings| 770.563.0028 for revitalization project in West Point

*Disclaimer: This map illustrates a ge overview of the development of proper discussion purposes only.

*Disclaimer: This map illustrates a general overview of the development of property for discussion purposes only.

LEAD Workforce Consulting ECG Office of Community & Economic Development | Loca� Your local| 770.563.0028 provider of human capital and organizational management solutions. Do you... want to get more out of your team? need to understand how engaged your employees are? need leadership coaching or training? need to understand your culture and how to shape it? If so, call us today and learn how LEAD Workforce Consulting can help you maximize the human capital and strengthen the organizational management within your company.

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WellStar West Georgia Medical Center joins Mayo Clinic Care Network


Ruki Odiete


May 2018

hysicians at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center now have access to the resources of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a national network of likeminded organizations who share a commitment to better serving patients and their families. “At WellStar, we are focused on finding innovative ways to improve patient care,” said John A. Brennan, M.D., executive vice president & chief clinical integration officer.  “WellStar is home to some of the most accomplished and preeminent physicians in the Southeast. By collaborating with Mayo Clinic, we are giving our physicians and patients another resource that can improve the health of our community.”   Through digital technology, physicians in the network can collaborate and share the latest medical information. Experts from WellStar and Mayo Clinic work together to further enhance the delivery of healthcare, allowing many patients to receive answers to complex medical questions, close to home.   “WellStar’s membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network is a great example of their dedication to providing the best care, close to home,” says Ryan Uitti, M.D., Mayo Clinic Care Network SE Medical Director. “Sharing Mayo Clinic’s knowledge, resources and expertise with WellStar Health System physicians provides great peace of mind for their patients. Now with the expansion of WellStar in the care network, even more patients will benefit from our collaboration.”      Specialists across WellStar can now have access to Mayo Clinic’s knowledge and expertise using a variety of electronic tools and services and can consult directly with Mayo Clinic experts on complex diagnosis and treatment plans. These tools and services include:   • eConsults: WellStar Clinical Partner physicians use electronic consulting to connect directly with Mayo Clinic specialists on complex patient cases, which is included at no cost to the patient. • AskMayoExpert: All members of WellStar’s medical staff have 24/7 access to Mayo-vetted medical information and guidelines through AskMayoExpert, which is a web-based resource created for physicians and other healthcare providers. • Healthcare Consulting: Related to clinical and business processes, this relationship allows WellStar providers to accelerate patient care innovations.   Since launching in 2011, the Mayo Clinic Care Network has grown to include more than 40 healthcare organizations across the country including China, Mexico, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.   About WellStar Health System   WellStar Health System, the largest health system in Georgia, is known nationally for its innovative care models, focused on improving quality and access to healthcare. WellStar consists of WellStar Medical Group, 250 medical office locations, outpatient centers, health parks, a pediatric center, nursing centers, hospice, homecare, as well as 11 hospitals: WellStar Atlanta Medical Center, WellStar Atlanta Medical Center South, WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center (anchored by WellStar Kennestone Hospital), WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, and WellStar Cobb, Douglas, North Fulton, Paulding, Spalding Regional, Sylvan Grove and Windy Hill hospitals. As a not-for-profit, WellStar continues to reinvest in the health of the communities it serves with new technologies and treatments. For more information, visit TT

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Page 47

The essence of Italy with the charm of Georgia. Stroll through boxwood gardens in the shadow of the century old Fuller E. Callaway villa. Lovingly preserved for over 175 years, they offer a distinctive Italian feel paired with a welcoming Southern charm. Plan your visit at: Home and garden tours offered year-round. 706-882-3242


H Y P E – H E L PI NG Y OU NG P ROF ES SI ON ALS EN G AG E HYPE is a high impact group of diverse young professionals working together to showcase Troup County as a unique and fun place to work and live. HYPE provides its members with opportunities for building relationships with community and business leaders and cultivates an atmosphere for building personal relationships and a sense of purpose within the community.


Henry Jacobs

Current Employer: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Current Title: Middle Chattahoochee Outreach Director How long have you lived in Troup County? 8 years Why does living in Troup County work for you? Troup County and LaGrange make for a fine home base. There are good people here and it’s a strong and growing community. There are also issues that need to be addressed. So, I’m thankful to have a job and to be here working with others to keep things moving forward. When you’re not working, what do you like to do? Music, photography and film. That’s everything from playing drums with my good friends of the Front Porch Collective or the Rhythmkeepers; sharing photos of my current whereabouts on the Chattahoochee River or at a juke joint to hear Jontavious Willis; and working with my father and others on social documentary films like our current project about the late Southern author, Lillian Smith.


May 2018

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Drop by drop, a river is formed What is your best personal achievement? Working for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, we established the West Point Lake Floating Classroom in 2015: an on-thewater environmental education program that has since served nearly 10,000 students and adults (one of Georgia’s only two floating classrooms). All-Time Favorite Movie & Why: Rather than movie, the most notable thing I’ve watched so far is the HBO series, The Wire. There’s a reason why it’s been compared to the work of Shakespeare and that some colleges focus entire classes on the five-season show. If you won $1 million, what would you do with the money? I’d like to help start an endowment for the West Point Lake Floating Classroom so we can provide scholarships to all students that want to experience the program. Favorite “after work” spot in Troup County: Anyplace Downtown LaGrange, Pioneer/Great Southern Pub in Hogansville, Chattabrewchee in West Point, and the soonto-be hotspots in the Hillside Neighborhood of LaGrange. Favorite Place to Visit outside of Troup County? For the distinct culture, community and music/art scene; New Orleans, LA. For a nice quiet spot, the Florida Panhandle (Apalachicola, FL) or Joyce Kilmer National Forest (outside Robbinsville, NC).

MOVING FORE-ward in 2018!

HYPE members recently took to the links for an evening of fun, food and fellowship at The Fields Golf Club. The 2018 HYPE Board was introduced as follows: Co-Chairs:  Trae Long (Gay & Joseph, CPA, PC) and Cheryl Magby (City of West Point) Secretary:  Holly Williams (Synovus) Vice Chair for Programs:  Ameia Cotton (Individual) Vice Chair for Marketing:  Jessica Brannen (Kelsey Advertising) Vice Chair for Membership:  Anna Willis (Parmer Monument) At Large Members:  Chase Hall (Edward Jones), Teresa Taylor (City of LaGrange), Henry Jacobs (Chattahoochee Riverkeeper), Meghan Duke (City of West Point), Anabeth Ivey (LaGrange College), Brent Addison (Emory at LaGrange), Andie Kinsey (Synovus), Kipper House (LaGrange Daily News)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR Watch you “inbox” and visit the Chamber calendar for more information about these upcoming events:

MAY 15: Lunch on The Thread with Natalie Hale & Leigh Threadgill JUNE TBD:  Sneak Peak of Your Pie JUNE 21: West Point Lake Cruise on the Miss Sally JULY 12:  Wild Leap Private Tour & Tasting JULY 17:  Networking Lunch at Gus’ Grill JULY 26:  Dodgers v. Braves with after-concert by Avett Brothers


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Emory at LaGrange welcomes new cardiologist to medical staff,

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May 2018

May 2018 Troup Trends  

The May 2018 issue features an introduction to Keith Furnas, General Manager of Great Wolf Lodge-LaGrange along with some new details on wha...

May 2018 Troup Trends  

The May 2018 issue features an introduction to Keith Furnas, General Manager of Great Wolf Lodge-LaGrange along with some new details on wha...