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May 2017




May 2017


May 2017 VOLUME IV, 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 John Asbell, Chair – Georgia Power Eric Blackman, Past Chair – Emory at LaGrange


Casey Smith, Chair-Elect – Calumet Bank

4 | A Letter from the President

28 | Movers, Shakers, Risk-Takers

Marlene Rhodes, Secretary/Treasurer – Renasant Bank

6 | Bold Vision, Proven Results

30 | Spotlight on West Point

12 | Mystery Traveler

31 | Chamber News

Page Estes, President – Chamber of Commerce Chunk Newman, Vice Chair for Public Policy Batson-Cook Company Phillip Alexander, Vice Chair for Leadership Development – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Dale Jackson, Vice Chair for Business & Entrepreneurial Development – Jackson Heating & Air Jason Ransbottom, Vice Chair for Talent & Workforce Development – Powertech America Loraine Allen, Vice Chair for Talent & Workforce Development – West Georgia Society for Human Resource Managers JJ Kuerzi, Vice Chair for Marketing & Tourism Troup County Parks & Recreation Patricia Rogers, Vice Chair for Marketing & Tourism WellStar West Georgia Medical Center Richard Ennis, Vice Chair for Membership Development New York Life

LaGrange hits a grand slam with USA South Sports Festival

14 | Spring Sports Festival

33 | Ribbon Cuttings

Join us in celebrating our members!

16 | Healthcare

34 | Chamber Events

Bringing medical talent to Troup County

38 | Community Care

Making a difference one prescription at a time

18 | Non-Profit Spotlight

Biblical History Center

40 | Calendar

21 | Education

Things to see and do

THINC students have vision for LaGrange

42 | Business Spotlight

Wilkinson Real Estate Advisors

24 | Small Business

45 | Customer Service

Atlas Turf named Georgia Rock Star

Meghan Duke, Vice Chair for West Point Business Council – City of West Point

26 | Spotlight on Hogansville

Jayme Ogles

Chamber receives state award

USA South Champions and VIP

George Bailey, Vice Chair for Hogansville Business Council – City of Hogansville


Take it outside with GLL

Tourism boom in Georgia

Putting soft skills to work

46 | HYPE

The Pioneer Project: Big vision for a small town

Helping Young Professionals Engage

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.


May 2017

Nathan Deal, the 82nd Governor of Georgia, with the 2017 Tourism Visionary Award.

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

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







Dear Friends,

Texas Capitol Building in Downtown Austin

Everything is bigger in Texas . . . except opportunity. That’s what I learned on a recent trip to Austin. The Chamber team ventured to the Lone Star state for a power session with our workforce development strategists, Avalanche Consulting. We met with many of the people who are making things happen in the fastest growing city in the United States. And guess what? They were just as bullish about the opportunities we have in Troup County as they are in their own community! To be honest, I knew what to expect from our workforce study: we will have many more jobs than we have people to fill them. But when you look at the data and review the consultants’ recommendations in a few weeks, I think you will be surprised about how big of a challenge—how much of an opportunity!—we have before us. To be successful, we as a business community are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to try new things; we will need to work with unexpected partners, and we will have to trust each other in ways we have not in the past. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that we humans have two sides: an emotional side (the elephant) and an analytical side (the rider). According to his model, the rider is rational and can plan ahead; the elephant is driven by emotion and instinct. To shape our path, we must find the balance between the two. Renowned business strategist and speed skating Olympian Vince Poscente develops a parable around this concept that he believes can transform the life of an organization—or an entire community. Poscente’s The Ant and the Elephant tells the story of a determined little ant (conscious mind) and a habitdriven elephant (subconscious mind). We make lots of decisions every day—mainly without thinking—because

the elephant is charging forward and running our life. Yet these decisions put most of us on safe, predictable paths. We’re comfortable with the here and now and only tackle incremental change. With ant-like determination, we can overcome inertia so our potential can begin steering the elephant to forge a new path. Imagine what a herd of charging elephants can do when we are headed in the same direction with the same destination programmed into our GPS. Like Adir the ant and Elgo the elephant trying to reach their Oasis in the African savannah, we must work together in order to reach our full potential. Are you ready for the adventure?

Warm regards,

Page Estes, President LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

Special thanks to our top level 2017 corporate sponsors. CHAIRMAN LEVEL


May 2017





Bold Vision, Proven Results

Governor Deal (center) and Deputy Commissioner Langston (far right) celebrate the announcement that Great Wolf Lodge will open its first southeastern location in LaGrange with local and state partners.

Did you know

that the travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of more than 7.6 trillion US dollars in 2016? The US travel and trade industry generated nearly $1.6 trillion in economic impact in 2015, accounted for 11 percent of all US exports and represented 2.6 percent of gross domestic product. One out of every 18 Americans is employed, either directly or indirectly, in a travel or tourism-related industry. Tourism is also an economic engine in the State of Georgia and in Troup County. Locally, tourism supports 1160 local jobs, generates $156 million in direct tourist spending and generates $4.5 million in local tax revenues each year. The economic impact will grow exponentially with new tourism products, including the downtown LaGrange hotel and Great Wolf Lodge. In 2013, Governor Nathan Deal signed HB318—Georgia’s Tourism Development Act. The bill provides a state sales and use tax refund program for tourism development projects that preserve or create jobs that would not


May 2017

exist if not for the refund offered by the state and local government. Each project is required to meet the following criteria: must cost a minimum of $1 million; must attract at least 25 percent of its visitors from out of state by its third year and must not directly compete with existing Georgia businesses. Governor Deal and his team from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Department of Community Affairs approved this incentive for the Great Wolf project because they recognize that it will create hundreds of new jobs, attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors from 200+ miles from LaGrange, and will be an attractor for additional business expansion in the area surrounding the lodge. For his vision and commitment to helping Troup County become one of the best tourist destinations in the state, the 2017 Tourism Visionary Award was presented by the Chamber to Governor Deal. Recently, Governor Deal and Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development for Tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, reflected upon the industry’s impact.


In 2015, Troup County’s tourism industry: SUPPORTED









TT: What role does tourism play in the state’s overall economic development strategy? Governor Deal: With a total economic impact of $59 billion, the tourism industry is an integral part of Georgia’s dynamic business sector and continues to be a major economic driver. Today, this industry sustains more than 439,000 jobs across the state, making up approximately 10.3 percent of our total workforce. Following last year’s “Year of Georgia Music” theme, this year we are celebrating the “Year of Georgia Film,” as Georgia is now the third-busiest hub for film production in the country. The impact of tourism benefits both the state as a whole and local communities, and we are proud of all Georgia has to offer to visitors from around the world. TT: Tourism is big business in Georgia, and we’ve seen its impact to the state increasing. What accounts for this tremendous growth?


Mr. Langston: There are many factors, of course, but the fact that we have fantastic sites that people want to see, have many partners involved in helping to get the word out to folks about them, and that we continue to develop new sites, are all contributing factors. TT: What sectors hold the most promise for the next 3-5 years? Mr. Langston: We see a lot of growth potential for outdoor adventure, music tourism, Civil Rights history, and for film tourism. Georgia has a wealth of sites that have figured prominently in movies and TV shows, and people will travel from around the world to experience them. That’s also an area that we can “own” – no one else has seen the type of growth we’ve seen in movie and tv filming, so we look forward to working with communities to capitalize on that potential. Troup County has been the site of several movies, so you all can join in on this trend.



In 2015, Georgia’s tourism industry: SUPPORTED











Movies filmed in Georgia clockwise from top: Flight, 42, Hunger Games: "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay" parts 1 and 2, and Anchorman: The Legend Continues



S T O R Y TT: Is there a key tourism success story that you are most proud of your team accomplishing? Mr. Langston: Our team made a conscious effort to be a leader worldwide in social media, and we have been tremendously successful on that front. A year or so ago, Skift (a tourism news service) released a ranking of the world’s top destinations on social media, and ExploreGeorgia was ranked #9 in the world – in the company of organizations like Visit Britain, Visit Australia, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Social is a platform that changes rapidly and constantly, so it requires constant attention, but we have a team that is second to none – and their expertise is available to communities across the state to help them make the most of their own opportunity. TT: HB318 (Georgia’s Tourism Development Act) provides state sales and use tax refund incentives for new products, such as the Great Wolf project. Why is this such an important tool to recruit new products to our state?

Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development for Tourism, and Chamber Board Chairman John Asbell discuss the industry’s impact on Troup County at the Chamber’s April Early Bird Breakfast.

Governor Deal: This legislation bolsters one of Georgia’s most important industries. With these new incentives, we hope to grow the industry even more by encouraging the construction of new attractions. We are excited that Great Wolf Lodge has chosen LaGrange. Creating more than 600 jobs and investing more than $150 million, the economic impact from the Great Wolf Lodge Georgia operation will be felt immediately, and we anticipate additional investment in the region as operations ramp up. So, this bill is about more than any one location. It is about creating jobs for Georgians and taking another step toward making our state the best place in the nation in which to do business.

Mayor Jim Thornton at the building site of Great Wolf Lodge


May 2017



Governor Deal signs HB 44, the FY18 budget, at West Georgia Technical College’s LaGrange Campus on May 1. TT: What impact do you believe Great Wolf Lodge will have on our region? Mr. Langston: Great Wolf is a tremendous project that will have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact on the region. It will draw visitors to the community who have never been here, and the majority of them will spend dollars in the community beyond what they spend at the resort itself. It will also be a great anchor that will bring with it the potential for future development. Assuming these visitors have a great experience in Troup County – and I feel confident they will – the word-of-mouth marketing and awareness-raising you will experience will be powerful. Your challenge will be to capitalize on that higher awareness to continue to draw them back for new experiences, and to get them to sell their other friends and family on visits to your region. The potential is enormous.

TT: What can a community like Troup County do to stay on the cutting edge of changing tourist expectations? Mr. Langston: It takes constant attention, but you are doing all the right things. You’re working on bringing new attractions, doing a great job of marketing the ones you have, and keeping your finger on the pulse of the changing consumer. Keep up the good work! TT: Governor Deal, you mentioned Georgia’s ranking as the #1 state to do business in the US. This year’s designation marked an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. Why is this ranking so important?




Businesses in Troup County

Governor Deal: Making Georgia the premier state in the nation for business has been a strategic goal from day one of my administration. With our economic and workforce development initiatives, Georgia leads the way in providing a business-friendly environment and a highly qualified workforce to support growing businesses. This ranking is not only a testament to Georgia’s business climate, but it also speaks to the commitment and support from our industry partners, communities and the people of Georgia. When I took office, unemployment was 10.4%. Some states raised taxes—any many of the businesses that were in those states are now residents of the State of

30 international firms...


May 2017

"Making Georgia the premier state in the nation for business has been a strategic goal from day one of my administration." – GOVERNOR DEAL Georgia. Why? We cut taxes. We decided early on that we could not tax our way out—we had to grow our way out. And now, since January 2011 when I became Governor, we have created almost 700,000 new jobs— many of them here in Troup County. If we continue to do things right—and with a little luck—I’m hopeful that we earn this designation for a fifth year. TT: Troup County is home to international-based firms from 13 countries around the globe, and we are excited about our first Chinese project. What role does the Sentury Tire project play in the state’s effort to recruit additional Chinese investment? Governor Deal: Sentury Tire’s commitment to locate in LaGrange speaks to Georgia’s business-friendly climate, the strong relationship we maintain with our economic partners in China and the great partnerships we have in Troup County. You know, China has a lot of money, and a lot of it comes from Georgians because we buy their products. It’s time we got some of those dollars back by having China invest in our state. I am excited about Sentury Tire and look forward to other companies like them choosing to do business in Georgia. TT



SERVICE PROFESSIONAL HONORED For more than 20 years, Jennifer Maione, the 2017 Tourism Service Star Award recipient, has been serving diners with her professional style and a smile.

“I enjoy meeting new people and taking care of people when they are out for a meal,” says Maione. “I enjoy my work because there are new people and new experiences every day.” Talk to Jennifer’s regular guests and a consistent pattern quickly emerges. “She is the best;”“she knows the types of dishes I enjoy and always make suggestions based on the day’s menu;”“Jennifer always provides the highest level of service, regardless of the situation.” These are just a few of the many compliments she has received. As in any profession, there are the occasional challenges. “It’s hard when you have a bad day in this business because you always have to be on. Even with the troublesome guest, the one you can never do enough for; I can be blunt but friendly and let them know I am doing the best I can,” she says with a smile. A mother of two, Jennifer has been with Mare Sol for 6 years and says she feels like part of the family. “This is the best place in LaGrange. I enjoy working with The Hudsons (Owners Charles and Chase) and watching as Devin (Devin White, Executive Chef) continues to display his creativity in the kitchen. It is an exciting time here as we are growing and I am proud to be involved in the process.” Although the service industry always requires hard work and long hours, opportunities for fun often come along. “We cater a variety of offsite events that I really enjoy,” Maione says. “I love working the events at Sweetland Amphitheatre. I’ve met a lot of great artists and it’s rewarding to know that we are catering to famous people who are performing in LaGrange.” Serving guests is what she loves about the business but, when asked the one thing she hopes for in return, Maione is quick to respond. “Serving is a profession. In a field where many customers are reluctant to offer respect, I want to be known and accepted as a professional in the industry.” TT

Service Star Winner Jennifer Maione and C’sons/Mare Sol Executive Chef Devin White




LaGrange Hits a Grand Slam with USA South Sports Festival


nticipation – and softballs – filled the air as I hurried past an impressive line of chartered buses in the rapidly filling parking lot at Shuford Fields. Opening games of the USA South Sports Festival softball championship were just a few warm-up pitches away. It was easy to catch the excitement. A colorful array of banners lined the walkway, each representing one of the 16 schools in the conference, which includes LaGrange College. An equally colorful assortment of uniforms identified the players – college women from across the Southeast, their game faces on, braids and ponytails flying, as they whipped practice swings and tossed bright yellow balls. The games promised to be exciting – and they were – but this mystery traveler had come to soak up the atmosphere. My assignment was to watch the folks who watch the games, the fans whose visits to Troup County’s outstanding sports facilities help make sports tourism a multi-milliondollar business here. What’s it like to spend a day at the ballpark? Well, for starters, you are not alone. Last


May 2017

year, softball and its big brother, baseball, brought about 12,000 players and more than 30,000 spectators to 20 tournaments at Shuford and nearby George Harris Baseball Complex. The largest tournament had 64 – yes, 64! – teams and more than 2,000 spectators. They buy a lot of gas and Gatorade, fill up restaurants and hotel rooms. So do players and fans who come here for competitions in tennis, basketball, soccer, golf and, on this day, lacrosse.

to fill a small store.

A lacrosse tournament at Callaway Stadium in LaGrange! Think about it.

On a neighboring field, as Ferrum College from Ferrum, Virginia, takes on Salem College from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a dark-haired woman in a Ferrum jersey paces back and forth. “Nervous?” I ask. “Not yet,” she said. “Three of my daughter’s high school teammates play for Averett. I’m trying to keep up with both games.”

The overall economic impact of sports tourism is significant, but I’m an observer, not an accountant. The PA announcer is introducing the first batter. Come with me for a day at the park. The first thing I notice about softball fans is they are smart. And prepared. Passing up the metal bleachers, they seek out every possible speck of shade, settling down in well-worn folding chairs, surrounded by a jumble of coolers, backpacks, cameras and carrying bags filled with enough sunscreen, snacks and sodas

Most appear to be couples or family groups. My favorites are a congenial pair in T-shirts proclaiming “Softball Mom” and “Softball Dad.” The backs of the shirts explain why they have driven hundreds of miles to watch the Averett College Lions of Danville, Virginia, play the Huntingdon College Hawks of Montgomery, Alabama: “That’s Our Girl, #2!”

I realize I can follow the games without actually watching the action. From the dugouts, players chant enthusiastically and non-stop. There’s a chant for every batter, every pitch, every situation. These rhythmic mini-cheers tell the story. “We believe in you, 0-8, we believe in you!”



“Engine, engine #9, hit it down the baseline!” “We want a rally, rally, rally, rally!” “Let it fly, fly, fly!” Fans do their part, too, calling out encouragement (“You got this!”), instructions, (“Anything close, make contact!”), delight (“Attagirl!”). I soak in sights that make softball distinctive: a very pregnant first base coach, rubbing her belly while whispering instructions to a runner; long blonde hair, caught up in a bow, cascading from a catcher’s mask. You can spot veteran fans by the ways they pass the time between innings. They mingle, telling inside jokes or reviewing previous plays. They loan or borrow things, share food, admire each other’s photos, compare tans. “It’s like a family,” one fan explains. Some stop to chat up the locals, thanking a volunteer with welcome words: “Nice facility you have here.” Several fans keep paperback books in their laps, sometimes reading between pitches. “My daughter teases me about reading during the game,” said a Huntingdon fan. I watch admiringly as, head buried in his book, he manages to look up at precisely the right moment to see a close play at second base. “Got ‘er!” he yells, pumping his fist, then calmly returns to his reading. Between games, when time permits, teams board their buses and fans pile into cars, heading for “someplace cool” to grab a bite or a little rest. Other times, lunch is served right at the field. Averett parents set up an enviable mini-buffet behind the team dugout. Sandwiches, chips, watermelon and bananas appear out of coolers. “I brought a big jar of dill pickles,” announces one mom. “So did I,” chimes another, shrugging sheepishly. “Well, one for today and one for tomorrow.” Across the way, “Softball Mom” and “Softball Dad” spread out a blanket under a tree for their picnic, shared by a victorious “That’s our Girl, #2!” They are the picture of family contentment. A slight breeze is blowing through trees sporting a million shades of green. Cleats crunching on concrete provide a lively background sound. I suddenly realize I am enjoying myself. How long before the next game starts? TT

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. (dave@lagrangechamber. com). Tell him you have a message for Troup’s Mystery Traveler, or use my nickname: Misty Ree.




or one week in April, LaGrange was the hub of NCAA Division III athletics as more than 850 student-athletes competed in the 2017 USA South Spring Sports Festival. At the end of the competition, conference champions were crowned in baseball, softball, golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis. The festival began with an awards banquet at Sweetland Amphitheatre. The athletes enjoyed musical entertainment and a barbecue dinner provided by Country’s Barbecue. Following the meal, they took their seats for the presentation of awards by USA South Commissioner Tom Hart. By all accounts the festival was enjoyed by coaches, athletes and their parents. “We found LaGrange to be a beautiful city full of welcoming, friendly people including everyone we met on the street and all of the many restaurants we visited. Congratulations to USA South, LaGrange, Troup County, and the many people who I’m sure worked tirelessly to pull off the best conference tournament we’ve had the pleasure of attending,” wrote one parent in an email to Mayor Jim Thornton, Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews and Commissioner Hart. “The festival was a tremendous success,” proclaimed Hart. “The city and county really stepped up to make everyone feel welcome. The signage on storefronts and conversations at the checkout stands conveyed the appreciation of all for the festival. We look forward to returning to LaGrange for the 2018 festival.” TT

2017 USA SOUTH CHAMPIONS Baseball: LaGrange College Panthers Softball: Averett University Cougars Golf: Methodist College Monarchs Lacrosse: Meredith College Avenging Angels Men’s Tennis: North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishops Women’s Tennis: Methodist University Monarchs 14

May 2017

STILL IN THE GAME Growing up in Highland Home, 35 miles south of Montgomery, Billie Floyd Addison was a lifelong fan of the Montgomery Rebels minor league baseball team. Today, at 102 years of age, he has become the number one fan of the LaGrange College Panthers baseball team. In recognition of his devotion to the team, Addison had the honor of throwing out the first pitch for the tournament championship game at the recent USA South Spring Sports Festival at Cleaveland Field on the campus of LaGrange College. “I enjoy coming to see the games,” Addison remarked following the first pitch ceremony. “Throwing out the first pitch is something I have never done before.” As a young boy, Bill Addison enjoyed the game of baseball like so many of his friends. One day during recess, the baseball coach was hitting ground balls to the kids and he asked Bill if he was planning to try out for the team. Knowing that he was not old enough and that there were only nine uniforms to go around, Bill declined the offer. He would not, however, get out of playing on the team so easily. “The coach said forget your age, and he called my friend James over and told him ‘give Bill your uniform’,” recalled Addison with a chuckle. He went on to be a three-year starter at shortstop and third base for Highland Home School, instilling a love for the game that has endured for decades. Fred Jones, a fellow resident of Bill’s at Vernon Woods, organized a men’s group to share fellowship and activities. “We have been coming to the baseball games all season,” says Jones. “This is a great chance for Bill and the others to get out and enjoy some fresh air and watch these young athletes compete.” On the day of the most important game of the season, it was only fitting for Bill Addison, their biggest fan to see the LaGrange College Panthers clinch their first USA South baseball championship. TT

Office Building For Sale or Lease 3,000 SQ. FT of Prime Professional Space 200 North Lewis Street, LaGrange, GA

Conveniently located in the Downtown LaGrange Business District, just two blocks from the new Courtyard by Marriott on the square, the Troup County Government Center and Sweetland Amphitheatre and just steps away from Emory Clark-Holder Clinic, this brick building has a quality roof still under warranty. Inside you will find six offices and two bathrooms, one with a shower. With a large conference room, adjoining full kitchen and laundry, and shaded patio, the space is perfect for use as a law office or medical practice.

For more details or to arrange a private showing, contact Alfred F. Zachry at 706-881-9400 or

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We offer the best selection of clothing and accessories to meet your fashion needs. 803 3rd Avenue West Point, GA 31833 (706) 501-1315 Open 11am - 6pm, closed: Wednesdays and Sundays Shop anytime online at











IN GOOD HEALTH Bringing Medical Talent to Troup County


ompared to what our growing and aging population may need, the United States is predicted to have a shortfall of 34,600 to 88,000 doctors by 2025, according to a recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges. While a future shortage could have a major impact on patient care, many experts agree that changes in healthcare and technology could positively affect these projections. In more rural areas, the physician shortage is especially problematic, with more than 20 percent of the U.S. population residing in such areas, but only 10 percent of physicians practicing there, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Recruiting and retaining medical staff at rural hospitals and clinics can be a challenge, especially primary care and emergency physicians, internal medicine subspecialists such as oncologists and interventional cardiologists, and surgeons in various specialties. Many physicians become accustomed to larger cities where they may have attended medical school and served residencies – and had access to city conveniences, attractions, entertainment, restaurants and shopping. As physicians and their families review their job placement options, especially in smaller cities, many considerations go into the decision-making process, such as: • What will my workload be like and will there be a large number of patients to see and patients who require more care? • Will I be able to easily take time off? • Are there opportunities for continuing education? • Will there be job opportunities for my spouse? • Are there quality schools and daycare programs for my children? • What housing options are available? • What amenities and entertainment does the location offer? Fortunately, here in Troup County, we have a lot going for us to help recruit physicians to our area. While cities bigger than ours may boast more amenities, we can offer candidates rewarding work and personal experiences including stronger relationships with patients and the community, a lifestyle with a slower pace and greater access to the outdoors. The LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce works closely with WellStar West Georgia Medical Center and Emory at LaGrange to help bring medical staff here, highlighting all that our community has to offer. Following are a few success stories of physicians who recently chose LaGrange and why they now call Troup County home.

The Chamber offers talent recruitment services to member organizations. Contact Renae for more information.


May 2017

Dr. Shaundre Brown Hospitalist at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center Married to Curtis Brown, Owner of Build the Crowd, with two children (ages one and two) While living in Kansas City, we first visited LaGrange in December of 2012, with a welcome tour that included a visit to the Chamber. The Chamber actually played a strong role in our decision to move here. LaGrange has so much more to offer than you can glean from any marketing piece, internet search or drive-through visit. When we decided to relocate to the southeast, our initial focus was on the northern Atlanta suburbs. After our visit, we were impressed by LaGrange's cost of living, access to Atlanta and Montgomery (my hometown), and lifestyle amenities like the lake, art museums and symphony. We also were impressed by how welcoming everyone was who we were introduced to during our visit. In addition to meeting the Chamber staff, we were invited to the Rotary Club lunch and had a chance to meet business and community leaders who were eager to keep in touch and extended themselves as resources for our move. Since we have been here, many of the people we initially met have become friends, and clients or business partners for my husband. We did not receive the same introduction to other places we visited - the people we met in LaGrange immediately made us feel part of the community.










Dr. Robert Martin Dr. Joseph Rand

Family Medicine Physician at Emory at LaGrange on Davis Road

Endocrinologist at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center

Married to Casey Martin, with three children (ages one, three and five) and a fourth on the way

Married to Debby Rand We became aware of LaGrange when the consulting company WellStar was working with presented the endocrinologist opening to me. We were then set up with a weekend interview in LaGrange in July 2016, which included a meeting with Page at the Chamber. That November, we closed on our house here, and I started working at the hospital in December. During our initial visit to LaGrange, Page spent several hours with us on a Saturday morning, providing us with a welcome kit with information on the town, the whole community and the surrounding area. She took the time to drive us all over the city showing us the neighborhoods and businesses, and stopping for lunch together at a local restaurant. In the end, one wonderful impression we came away with was the community support and affection the residents of LaGrange have for each other and the community as a whole.

When I first visited LaGrange in September 2013 while interviewing with Emory, the Chamber of Commerce was kind enough to arrange a tour of the town and a presentation about some things we could expect to find upon moving to the area. My wife and I found their help to be very informative as neither one of us knew much about LaGrange at the time. We were pleasantly surprised at how LaGrange was still growing and bringing new businesses to town. The Chamber gave us the feeling that we would be able to enjoy the perks of small town life with several exciting possibilities in the future and nearby. We’ve found that to be true as we’ve settled into living in the community. My family played an enormous role in the decision to move to LaGrange. It’s our family’s aim to follow and trust God. Casey and I prayed about where we should move and knew that the Lord would faithfully direct our path. We had never considered LaGrange a possibility for our family until Emory reached out to me, but we are so thankful that God saw fit to place us in this community. I enjoy the community we have found in LaGrange. I have a wonderful job with Emory that allows me to help individuals every day. My entire family has grown to love LaGrange and call it home. TT




ANCIENT ISRAEL, RIGHT HERE IN LAGRANGE Every year, more than 15,000 visitors flock to the Biblical History Center (formerly Explorations in Antiquity Center) to explore daily life in ancient times. Touring this archaeological museum is like taking a trip to ancient Israel.

The founder, Dr. James W. Fleming, had a center like this in Israel for 30 years, but because of strong interest in sharing this experience in the United States, the decision was made to move to the States. The Callaway Foundation learned about the Center’s plans to move to the U.S., believed in its goals, and offered to become a partner in the relocation to LaGrange. Construction on the Center began in 2004 and it opened in 2006. AN UNUSUAL STEP BACK IN TIME BHC is different from other biblical centers in that it combines the facts of archaeology with the history found in Scripture to give a complete understanding of what life might have been like for everyday people living in ancient Israel. Accuracy is extremely important.

“This is not an amusement park – it is not kitschy, nor flashy and flamboyant. It is wonderful, experiential, educational and inspiring.” – Trip Advisor Review

Members chosen to be the focus of the Nonprofit Spotlight are selected quarterly from those who have attended the previous Early Bird Breakfasts. Be sure to register for future Early Bird Breakfasts to be included in the next drawing. 18

May 2017


The artifacts gallery is what really puts BHC on the map. It houses 250 artifacts, which is the largest United States collection of artifacts from the government of Israel. BHC stands among the ranks of Paris’ Louvre and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art when it comes to artifacts from the Israel Antiquities Authority. One example of the unusual items you’ll find in the artifacts gallery is a 4,700-year-old game board. Imagine a father and son, almost 5,000 years ago, playing on a stone game board, just like families do today. SOMETHING EXCITING IS ALWAYS UNFOLDING The Biblical History Center hosts several special events throughout the year. One of the most popular events is Roman Army Day, held the first Saturday of May. Dramatic presentations from Legio XI, a group of Roman soldier re-enactors are featured. Other activities include bread making, mosaic tiling, weaving, a Roman marketplace, catacombs and much more.

In the spring the Follow the Cross Walks focus on Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem in one of the most authentic settings this side of Israel. Follow the Shepherds Walks are a popular choice in December. They follow the journey of Joseph and Mary as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Space can also be reserved for private events including birthday parties, confirmation classes, youth overnights, district meetings, retreats, reunions, vacation bible school, private lectures and conferences. WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO While walk-ins are always welcome, it is best to make reservations. If there are 10 or more people in a group, you’ll have a guided tour to bring the stories to life. If you don’t have 10 people, the reservationist will work with you to join another group. Most every program offered – from a Biblical meal to a shepherd’s bread making activity – requires reservations. TT FOR RESERVATIONS: email or call 706-885-0363

Biblical History Center is located at 130 Gordon Commercial Drive in LaGrange.


Delightful downtown lagr ange There’s nothing more delightful than downtown LaGrange. From rockin’ concerts at the 2,000-seat Sweetland Amphitheatre to splendid celebrations at Del’avant Event Center, LaGrange is teeming with activity from dawn to dusk. Downtown LaGrange offers stylish boutiques, acclaimed art galleries and museums, a state-of-the-art cinema complex, farmer’s market and a vibrant blend of restaurants and bars.

Scobey Photography



May 2017












THINC Students Have Vision for LaGrange

Their four visionary ideas were:


hat can be done to make LaGrange more appealing to 18 to 35 year olds? That was the question posed to Aidan Blackwell’s History class at THINC College & Career Academy. As part of their project-based learning curriculum, the students were tasked with researching and developing a “big idea” focusing on a vision for LaGrange.

1. LaGrange River Walk, which included a multi-use area in a lake-front setting, with shops, restaurants, housing, nature trails and a small amphitheater.

“Project-based learning is student-centered,” explained Blackwell. “So for this project, their only requirement was to conduct a survey relating to the question of how to make LaGrange more appealing for millennials. And then they worked toward a solution based on what the survey results told them. Cost and feasibility were not considerations – they were simply tasked with coming up with a grand idea.”

3. Square Project to address traffic flow and safety in downtown LaGrange, with pedestrian-only areas, food trucks, more boutiques and restaurants, and a trolley traveling a 10-block route.

The class broke into four groups to tackle the assignment. Each group created their own online surveys and then polled approximately 50 people, age 18 to 35. Based on their responses, the students created presentations and models for their own ideas of how to address this need. Turning the project into a competition, the students presented their ideas to two groups of community representatives who provided feedback and selected two finalists and then a winning project.

2. Baseball Stadium and Event Center, which would provide a venue for minor league baseball games and other events, as well as restaurants and shops.

4. QUADZ Mall and Entertainment Center, with four special themed areas for shops and restaurants, as well as an entertainment space in the center, and a three-story driving range. The River Walk and Square Project were selected as finalists from the first round of presentations. After the second round of presentations, the River Walk idea was selected as the winning project to be presented to the LaGrange City Council planning session. “I’m so proud of these students for all the hard work they put into their projects. Plus, they were able to receive feedback from their presentations and incorporate improvements that made their ideas even better,” said Blackwell. TT


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Atlas Turf Named Georgia Rock Star

Local and state officials celebrate Atlas Turf International. Pictured (from left to right): Chamber’s Dave Marler and Page Estes; LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton; Corinne Thornton from GA Department of Community Affairs; Scott Malone of the Development Authority of LaGrange; Georgia Department of Economic Development Region IV Representative Maggie Laton; Troup County Engineer James Emery; Atlas Turf’s Jennifer Emery, Catherine Holmes and John Holmes; Mark Lupo from UGA SBDC; Chamber Board Secretary/Treasurer Marlene Rhodes; Georgia DCA’s Christopher Nunn; Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews and Chamber’s Renae Willis.


he Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), along with the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA), has recognized Atlas Turf International as one of four 2017 “Small Business Rock Stars” for the state of Georgia. “Georgia’s more than 650,000 small businesses have a huge impact in every community in our state,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “These companies keep our economy thriving, and help Georgia maintain its status as the number one state in the nation in which to do business. This is an incredible opportunity to put a spotlight on Georgia’s small businesses and highlight some of our fastest growing companies. It is an honor to congratulate this year’s winners for their hard work and dedication.” Established in 2011 and based in LaGrange, Atlas Turf International provides turfgrass solutions for golf courses and sports fields worldwide. The company not only operates debt free but is experiencing steady and controlled growth in the international market, shipping to more than 40 countries.


May 2017

In accepting the award, John Holmes, President of Atlas Turf International, spoke on the importance of having a great team of staff members and partners from across the community. “Page Estes and the team at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce have played an important role in the success of Atlas Turf. It was Page who introduced us to Mark Lupo with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. From our first meeting with Mark and his colleague, Todd Carlisle, the SBDC team has provided us with exceptional guidance and advice.” In addition to Atlas Turf International, other Small Business Rock Stars winners include: Atlanta Movie Tours in Fulton County, Ecolink Inc. in DeKalb County and Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomas County. The four companies were selected by a panel of judges from 135 nominations. “With almost 98 percent of Georgia companies employing fewer than 100 people, small business has a tremendous impact on Georgia’s economy,” said GDEcD Director of Entrepreneur & Small Business Mary Ellen McClanahan. “The Rock Star recognition provides the perfect

opportunity to showcase how important small businesses are to the state.” These companies have shown increases in revenue, sales, exporting, product lines, jobs and economic impact. Additionally, the Small Business Rock Stars have shown dedication to their entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and a unique approach to conducting business to take them to the next level. “Small business is the backbone of the American economy and is one of the common denominators of all communities and is where most jobs are created,” said GEDA President Kevin Shea. “GEDA is proud to support small businesses through our members and their organizations all over the State of Georgia. We are pleased to spotlight these small businesses and congratulate all the winners.” The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s small business efforts and outreach are directed by GDEcD Director of Entrepreneur & Small Business Mary Ellen McClanahan. To access more information about these programs and more, visit TT

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THE PIONEER PROJECT: Big vision for a small town


hese days community doesn’t happen naturally, but everyone is naturally desperate for it. True community happens when people realize that life is about how we contribute to one another.” Bold words for a website touting this upstart startup, but if the founders have their way, the Pioneer Project could be the impetus to transform downtown Hogansville. And many other small towns around the country. What is the Pioneer Project? A place where dreams are born, where creativity can take flight and where ideas become reality. Co-founders Jake Ayers, Matt Fleuriet and Tim Morgan, the only Hogansville native, want to revitalize this quaint little town by thinking outside the box.


May 2017

While many small towns across America have seen their population dwindle as residents go searching for bigger cities, more job opportunities and better amenities, the Pioneer Project believes that everything is cyclical. This team of dreamers believes that the next explosion in growth won’t happen in the megacities, but in small and medium-size towns, as people search for a sense of community, a place to belong. “We started thinking, what if we pursue those things we’re passionate about, in this raw platform, and we realized we could do almost anything here,” Ayers said. And that’s how the Pioneer Project was born. “We felt that what we were trying to do here embodied the spirit of the early pioneers. They weren’t satisfied with the status quo, they wanted to explore new territory and ideas,” Ayers said of their original vision. “That’s what we want to do here in Hogansville. Young

SPOTLIGHT ON HOGANSVILLE families are looking for options outside of the big city.”

Hogansville Depot

Mayor Bill Stankiewicz can hardly contain his excitement. “We’re excited to have a group of young, energetic people who are committed to the city bringing their big ideas to life,” Stankiewicz said. It’s such a big idea, that it’s almost hard to wrap one’s brain around, so they’re launching it in stages. Stage one is their creative space and business incubator headquartered in the old police station building on East Main Street. With their ties to the film and music industry, this space has served them well for their creative endeavors. Stage two is even more ambitious as the group plans to open a cafe and event space in the old railroad depot. In fact, the first Hogansville Market Day will take place in the depot on May 13 as part of the big unveiling. “In the 1900’s, Hogansville was known for bringing lots of farmers and craftsmen in to sell their produce and wares once a month. We want to bring that back,“ Fleuriet said. They’ve lined up artisans, craftsmen, musicians and local foodies to encourage locals and others to eat, shop and socialize in the historic depot.

Hogansville Market Day Saturday, May 13, 2017 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. 100 E. Main St, Hogansville

As the weather heats up, they plan to hold the event on the second Friday evening of every month through the fall. As their vision gains momentum, they see great things for downtown Hogansville. They picture more lofts for people to live in, a co-working space that will provide inexpensive office space to young entrepreneurs, a community garden, micro-schools, and to become a bigger player in Georgia’s $6 billion film industry. “We think that in Hogansville, we can create a model for small towns that can be replicated anywhere. This is a space where we’re intentionally cultivating a community of leaders, thinkers and doers that can reach their potential, and in the process revitalize one of America’s forgotten towns,” Morgan said. TT Pioneer Project founders (l-r) Matthew Morgan, Tim Morgan and Jake Ayers


MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS AMK9 – West Point receives 2017 GLOBE Award AMK9 was among 24 businesses presented with a GLOBE (Georgia Launching Opportunities By Exporting) Award by Gov. Nathan Deal, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), at the 2017 Go Global reception. This state-led awards program recognizes companies that entered into a new international market in the previous year.

Law Enforcement, Government Agencies, Commercial Services, K-9 Training, and the latest in K-9 Science and Technology. AMK9 is committed to excellence and exceptional customer service, while offering the best in canine security in a world that demands effective and flexible solutions.

Bailey serves as Senate Chaplain

“The Go Global event highlights innovative businesses and the enormous impact trade has on Georgia’s economy, while providing industry leaders an opportunity to network and strengthen relationships with international partners,” said Deal. AMK9 has become the world-class leader in K9 Security Services, Sales, and Training, offering industry-intelligent expertise for

Dr. John L. Ratz joins Dermatology Specialists of Georgia

Dr. John Ratz

Amy Ward

Dermatology Specialists of Georgia (formerly West Georgia Dermatology) welcomes Dr. John L. Ratz to the LaGrange practice. Dr. Ratz is a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Fellowship Trained Mohs surgeon with over 35 years of experience. Certified Physician Assistant Amanda “Amy” Ward remains an experienced option for your dermatologic health-care needs. Please call 706-882-5119 or visit us online at to schedule an appointment.

BHC’s Jennings earns TMP designation

Biblical History Center's Laura Jennings successfully completed the required courses in travel and tourism marketing to become one of only 1,013 travel industry professionals who have made the three-year commitment to earning this designation. The Southeast Tourism Society's Marketing College is held annually at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. The director of marketing and development is now a Travel Marketing Professional (TMP). 28

May 2017

John Johnson, Vice President of Business Development, AMK9, Governor Nathan Deal and Mrs. Deal

Jamey Jackson,

President of JC Malone Associates, recently joined the Quick Start Advisory Committee (QSAC). Quick Start is part of the Technical College System of Georgia and is offered to companies as a discretionary incentive to attract investment to the state. In his role with the QSAC, Jackson will join other representatives from industry and economic development to provide the professional insight, advice and guidance that will help Quick Start continually improve its training capabilities to meet the current and emerging needs of business and industry. “I’m honored and excited to be appointed to the QuickStart Advisory Committee,” noted Jackson. “I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from my experiences with QSAC to continue to add value to workforce development not only for Troup County but our region and state of Georgia.”

Hogansville Mayor Pro Tem, George Bailey, served as Chaplain of the Day in the Georgia Senate chamber on February 27 at the State Capitol in Atlanta. He is pictured here with State Senator Matt Brass.

Dr. Guy named chair of AAOS Board of Councilors

Georgia orthopaedic surgeon Daniel K. Guy, MD, became chair of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) Board of Councilors (BOC) at the organization’s 2017 Annual Meeting in March. The BOC consists of more than 100 members elected by state and regional orthopaedic societies including Puerto Rico, the U.S. military, Canada, and four regional societies. The Board serves as an advisory body to the AAOS Board of Directors and committees. The BOC also manages the Academy’s relations with state and regional orthopaedic societies and conducts a wide range of programs to strengthen and support the societies.

Jennings promoted to account manager

Camp Jennings was promoted in April 2017 to account manager with Carolina Handling. The LaGrange native is responsible for several counties and accounts ranging from Troup County south to Mobile, AL. He will continue focusing on selling the entire Carolina Handling portfolio including equipment, service, rentals, & warehouse products. Jennings joined Carolina Handling in November 2015.


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Take it Outside with GLL


here’s nothing like the great outdoors! That’s the motto of Great Lakes & Land, and one that’s come to life down on the river, right in the middle of downtown West Point. Great Lakes & Land recently opened its new location, GLL Outdoors, along the banks of the Chattahoochee River in West Point. It’s a beautiful spot to paddle a kayak and enjoy the outdoors. And the store is the perfect place to find all your watersports and fishing supplies – or even have a picnic lunch under the shade of the large pavilion. Located at 730 1st Avenue, GLL Outdoors held its grand opening April 22, with plenty of food, fun and kayaking for visitors. The new West Point store is a smaller version of GLL Marine in LaGrange, which offers a full line of fishing, kayak and paddleboard gear, with brands like FeelFree, Bote, NuCanoe, Wahoo and G Loomis. Both stores also rent kayaks and paddleboards. Unique to the West Point store, GLL offers a shuttle service to transport paddlers to and from kayak launch sites. “West Point is a great location and opportunity for us to expand and further promote the river and lake,” says GLL Owner Matt Headrick. “We’re really interested in getting people outside, as well as promoting and protecting our environment. With incredible fishing and boating here, we’re so fortunate to have West Point Lake.” That interest in the lake extends beyond the GLL stores, Headrick is president of the West Point Lake Coalition, the West Georgia Bass Club and Chattahoochee Kayak Anglers. A deep passion for the outdoors, especially our rivers and lakes, has always been at the heart of Great Lakes & Land, which Headrick started as a teenager. In the beginning, the company focused primarily on lakefront needs including docks, boat lifts and seawalls. Offering state-of-the-art designs and construction, GLL has expanded this part of their business over the years with both residential and commercial docks and seawalls, including large projects around the country – even one for Universal Studios in Orlando. TT


May 2017



Chamber Receives State Award

Chamber Board Chairman John Asbell (center) accepts the Four for the Future award from (left to right) Georgia Trend’s Ben Young, UGA Vice President for Public Service & Outreach Jennifer Frum, UGA Provost Pamela S. Whitten and UGA President Jere Morehead.


he Chamber’s strong commitment to leadership development through programs including Leadership Troup, Youth Leadership, and HYPE: Helping Young Professionals Engage, was recently recognized by the University of Georgia (UGA). Now in its fifth year, the “Four for the Future Awards,” co-sponsored by UGA and Georgia Trend magazine, celebrate communities and regions that have worked across public-private sector and nonprofit boundaries on challenging issues in ways that will lead to improved quality of life. These partnerships demonstrate effective collaboration, leadership and innovation, and offer the promise of long-term community benefits. Faculty from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development worked with the Chamber to incorporate more adaptive leadership skills development into the Chamber’s leadership programs as well as evaluated ways to engage underrepresented and minority constituencies in leadership programs. The Fanning faculty continues to support the programs by helping expand the community awareness and engagement with individual skill-based leadership instruction. In addition to receiving the award at a luncheon on the UGA campus, the chamber was featured in the April issue of Georgia Trend magazine. Other “Four for the Future” recipients include: Richmond County School District and Business Community Collaboration, Cordele-Crisp County Inland Port and Downtown Revitalization Planning and Moultrie-Colquitt County and the High Potential Leaders Program. TT


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May 2017



Join us in celebrating our members!

Beauty Mark’D 721 3rd Avenue, West Point

Bluffton Funeral Services 1011 North Lanier Avenue, Lanett, AL

The Fuller Agency – Farmer’s Insurance 37 South Lafayette Square, LaGrange

Holley’s Closet 803 3rd Avenue, West Point

Lafayette Christian School’s “A Joyful Noise Playground,” 1904 Hamilton Road, LaGrange

PWG Granite Design Group 1618 Hamilton Road, LaGrange

Paula J. Waldron Agency – State Farm Insurance 112 Kia Drive, Suite B, LaGrange

Southern Charm – A Vintage Marketplace 300 East Bacon Street, LaGrange

West Georgia Boat Center 225 E. Render Street, LaGrange

Principle Construction Company 51 New Hutchinson Mill Road, LaGrange

The Thread Haralson Street and Granger Park, LaGrange




Chamber Names Large Business, Manufacturers of the Year The Chamber recently recognized three outstanding companies with the 2017 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 John Asbell (Georgia Power), Chunk Newman (Batson-Cook) of the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia and Chamber Vice Chair for Public Policy and Jason Ransbottom (Powertech America), Chamber Vice Chair for Talent & Workforce Development, presented the awards.

(L-R): Ransbottom, Asbell, LCS’s John Cipolla and Rene Gomez, Newman

LAFAYETTE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL has grown from humble beginnings to a thriving business employing 95 people and generating more than $2 million in annual payroll. Last year, the school invested $2.7 million in their athletic complex, utilizing all local contractors for the project, and created a special program for those with autism. When federal regulations made it cost-prohibitive to offer medical and retirement benefits for their employees, LCS took a free-market approach. They increased pay so employees could have personal control over their health care decisions and personal saving goals. This creative business approach and their dedication to the students and families they serve earned their designation as 2017 Large Business of the Year.


May 2017



DURACELL has been an employer

(L-R): Ransbottom, Asbell, Duracell’s Patrick Bowers and Cynthia Culbreath, Newman

of choice in Troup County for 37 years. Despite heavy competition from global competitors, volume increased 10% over the previous year with an additional 5% growth expected in 2017. With an economic impact of $160 million to our local economy, Duracell not only provides generous monetary contributions to local nonprofits and schools but also requires employees to volunteer their time at local schools and nonprofit organizations. In the past year, the company almost doubled their local footprint, including acquisition of a neighboring manufacturing site. They are moving production of their number one volume category product from a South Carolina site to LaGrange, and a new packaging facility is coming to the South Atlanta area to be in close proximity to the plant. Duracell is committed to Troup County and earned the designation as the 2017 Large Business & Manufacturer of the Year.


(L-R): Ransbottom, Asbell, KMMG’s Stuart Countess, Corinne Hodges and Taylor Kim, Newman

exemplifies that you can have quality and quantity. Celebrating the production of 2,000,000 vehicles in 2016, creating more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributing almost $6 million to workforce development projects at our local schools, KMMG also won J. D. Power’s Highest Ranked Brand in Initial Quality in 2016. Their products were selected as top safety picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Top Pick by Consumer Reports, Best Buy Award from Kelley Blue Book and one of the Top 10 Family Cars of 2016. Plus, their corporate brand set a company record for U.S. sales with more than 647,000 vehicles sold in 2016. Quality, quantity and great corporate citizenship earned Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. designation as our 2017 Large Business & Manufacturer of the Year.






Dr. Tutterow presented Corinne Hodges (far right) with the door prize from Creative Call-Ins. Also pictured are Bob Carlson (far left) from West Georgia Worx that sponsored the morning’s networking coffee and Chairman Asbell.






Distinguished scholar and economist Roger Tutterow, PhD, from Kennesaw State University was the featured speaker at the March Early Bird Breakfast. Dr. Tutterow discussed regional, state and federal projections for economic prosperity over the next 12 months. He is pictured with (L-R) Maggie Laton (Georgia Department of Economic Development Region IV), Tutterow, Chamber Board Chairman John Asbell (Georgia Power), Jason Ransbottom (Powertech America) and Chunk Newman (BatsonCook).

Troup County Commissioner Richard English was the lucky winner of a basket promoting good dental health from the team of Childress Dental Center, the morning’s coffee sponsor.

Dwayne Fuller (Striffler-Hamby Mortuary) won the monthly basket, sponsored by Creative Call-Ins.

Tourism took center stage at the April Early Bird Breakfast. Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner for Tourism of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GEcD) served as the keynote speaker. He is pictured with the local tourism team (L-R): Chamber’s Dave Marler, Holly Winner (GDEcD Regional Tourism Project Manager), Rebecca Clopp (West Point Visitor Center Manager), Langston, Board Chairman Asbell and Chamber’s Brittany Simmons.

ATLANTA DRIVE-IN Members of the Chamber Board of Directors joined representatives from chambers across the state for a Day at the Capitol. In addition to meeting with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and Georgia Chamber Legislative Staff, the group enjoyed a photo with Governor and Mrs. Deal plus lunch and discussion with Representatives Randy Nix, Bob Trammell and John Pezold as well as Senator Josh McKoon. The lunch was hosted by Rep. Nix. GACCE with Governor Deal


May 2017







L-R Jean Crocker, Marlene Rhodes (Renasant Bank), Mary Stewart (Hogansville Hummingbird Festival)

Dr. James Parker tours the GLL Marine store with Bill Golden.

Greg Panzer

Chris Beirne addresses Council

Greg Panzer, Field Representative from US Congressman Drew Ferguson, reviewed Capitol Hill activities and opportunities for constituents to interact with Congressman Ferguson during recess. Mayor Bill Stankiewicz also provided an update on city projects.

The West Point Business Council enjoyed a picnic lunch at the River Overlook. Chris Beirne from Point University provided an overview of upcoming campus events and activities. Bill Golden from GLL Marine discussed the new retail store, kayak adventures and other opportunities to enjoy the Chattahoochee River. Following lunch, Council members toured the retail store.

CHAMBER OPENS WEST POINT OFFICE The Chamber opened the door to new opportunities with the grand opening of the West Point Business & Visitor Center at 707 3rd Avenue in downtown West Point on March 23. The office is a joint venture with the West Point Development Authority and UGA Small Business Development Center. Brittany Simmons serves as Visitor Center Manager. West Point Office




Making a Difference One Prescription at a Time


he U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forecasts that total drug spending will grow to $535 billion in 2018 and represent about 16.8 percent of all healthcare spending. A continuing topic of interest on a national level, the high cost of prescription medication is a concern for many residents right here in Troup County. Where there’s a problem, there’s always someone in our community working toward a solution. Through the Community Care program, First United Methodist Church (FUMC), along with Holmes Pharmacy, is on a mission to help ensure those in need in our community have access to prescription medication. To receive assistance, clients complete an application and, upon approval, receive a voucher for the cost of their medicine, which can be redeemed at Holmes Pharmacy. To serve as many applicants as possible, the program does have a set limit per voucher and a waiting period before being eligible for repeat assistance. A group of dedicated church volunteers, along with staff, administer this wide-reaching program, funded by generous donations from FUMC church members, Sunday School classes and other groups. According to FUMC Director of Food Services Rick Free, “Our Community Care fund has been around in one form or another for over 30 years. It was once called the Pastoral Care Fund. We used it to help with everything, including rent, utilities, groceries, etc. Back around 2005, we saw that the money was just not going very far. We’d help a couple of folks with rent or large utility bills, and we were out of money. So, a group was created that decided to shape Community Care into its present form, with its primary goal of helping people with prescription meds. And we’ve been going strong ever since.” For their part, Holmes Pharmacy does much more than just fill prescriptions. According to Pharmacist Perry Prather, they work closely with the clients in several ways:


May 2017

Holmes Pharmacy pharmacists, Perry Prather and Kim Storey, provide assistance to those needing help with their prescriptions through First United Methodist Church’s Community Care program.

1. Figuring out which medications the patient needs. Most patient have not been taking their medications, so they may be confused about their prescribed therapy. A call to their physician is often required. 2. Containing the costs. When filling their prescriptions, generic medications are used whenever possible, and recommendations are made to help contain the cost within their therapy. 3. Monitoring the medications patients receive. Only medications pertinent to the patient’s health needs are paid for through the program. (For example, cosmetic medications that are not life threatening are not included.) 4. Setting up money-saving options. To help pay for medications and reduce costs, patients are often set up with discount prescription cards. 5. Filing with insurance. Before medications are filled, the patient’s insurance (if available) is monitored and applied to the costs. “We’ve taken on these responsibilities to help the program serve as many patients as it can each month,” says Prather. “We try our best to get the patient the best

care, while saving the program as much as possible. The FUMC Community Care Program makes a huge impact on patients’ lives in this community.” Through the Community Care program, FUMC has earned the seal of Station of Hope from the Healing Communities of Georgia. This network of communities around the state is based on the principles of acceptance, forgiveness, grace and restoration. Stations of Hope are faith-based organizations, dedicated nonprofits, and government agencies that are implementing Healing Communities principles within their communities and joined under a collective covenant. As a network, Stations of Hope share best practices, support each other, and work collaboratively to advocate for policy reform. “The seal lets people know we are a friendly place that provides a specific service and that you will not be judged by your past,” says Free. Located on the first floor of the Methodist Ministries Center, the Community Care office is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 to 11 am. Application forms are located at the main entrance of the Methodist Ministries Center. TT










THINGS TO SEE AND DO LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce DOWNTOWN LAGRANGE

LAGRANGE ART MUSEUM (706) 298-4534

(706) 882-3267

HILLS & DALES ESTATE (706) 882-3242

Hydrangea Sip & Shop May 19 5-9 pm Stroll from shop-to-shop in downtown LaGrange, enjoy street musicians and VAAL’s pop-up mini art fest. Sample wine & food in the downtown shops. Downtown LaGrange shops Wine tasting for a $25 donation

Tenth Annual Picnic in the Garden May 13 11 am-2 pm

In the Land of Pasaquan, The Story of Eddie Owens Martin through August 5

Join us in the Pecan Grove for the tenth annual Picnic in the Garden. This enjoyable familyfriendly tradition is a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day with your loved ones. This year activities include an old-fashioned cake walk, flower potting, face painting, pony rides and a hula hoop competition. Additionally, picnickers will enjoy live music from local artists, and prizes will be awarded to those with the best picnic spreads. Admission to the garden is free to anyone who brings a picnic basket and blanket.

Regular Museum Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9am5pm and Saturdays from 1pm-4pm In the Land of Pasaquan: The Story of Eddie Owens Martin chronicles the eccentric life of St. EOM – the creator of Pasaquan, a 7 acre brightly painted, visionary art site. From his birth in rural Georgia to his life as a hip character in New York and his later life as an artist in Georgia, the exhibition provides a complete interpretation of Pasaquan and the life of the artist who created it.

Market on Main Opening Day June 2 8-10 am Shop LaGrange’s longest running local farmer’s market. It pops up each Saturday morning during the summer. Know your farmer! Purchase directly from the local grower. Enjoy the freshest produce available in Troup County. Carmike Cinema parking lot at the corner of E. Depot Street and Main Street Open to the public


136 Main Street, LaGrange (706) 884-1829

Hill View Cemetery Tour June 4 2 pm Join Historian, Clark Johnson, for a tour of Hill View Meet in the parking area of Animal Health Clinic, 311 Old Morgan Street $20 for Troup County Historical Society Members, $25 for non-members


May 2017

Art in Bloom May 11 11:00 am The LaGrange Art Museum will once again celebrate spring with Art N’ Bloom, a benefit luncheon that combines fresh floral arrangements and the fine art that inspired the arrangements. This year’s event, a floral Interpretation of the Museum’s Permanent Collection and Luncheon will take place on Thursday, May 11th at 11:00am and will feature women in the arts, inspiring speakers who will describe how the creative process and art have enriched their lives and contributed to their achievements.

Toddler Thursdays May 18 10:00am-11:00am Toddler Thursday, our early childhood museum programs are designed just for 1-5 year olds and their favorite adult. Each class will introduce children to art and the museum through ageappropriate short stories, gallery activities, and an art activity. Workshops last one hour and are led by specially trained museum educators. Who: Children ages 1-5 and their favorite adult Fees: $15.00/per child, $12.00/members










Downtown LaGrange (706) 298-5434

Kool & the Gang Concert May 28 Gates open at 7 pm, Concert starts at 8 pm Sunsets at Sweetland – Free Music & Movie – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story June 2 6-11 pm Bring your picnic and enjoy a free concert & movie under the stars on the great lawn at Sweetland Amphitheatre. Outside food & beverages are permitted. Limited concessions available on site. Free

Vince Gill in Concert June 9 Gates open at 7 pm, Concert begins at 8 pm

Red, White & Blue Friday – Free Music & Movie – SING (animated film) June 30 Gates open at 6 pm, Concert at 8 pm, movie at dusk

Sunsets at Sweetland – Free Music & Movie – Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them August 4 6-11 pm

Bring a picnic to enjoy on the great lawn. Listen to a patriotic concert by the LaGrange Community Band at 8 pm. At dusk, settle down on the great lawn to watch a movie under the stars. Outside food & beverage are permitted. Free

Bring a picnic and enjoy live music & a movie under the stars on Sweetland’s great lawn. Outside food & beverage is permitted. Limited concessions will be available. Free

The Molly Ringwalds & The Return: A Beatles Tribute Band July 1 Gates open at 7 pm, Concert starts at 8 pm




WILKINSON REAL ESTATE ADVISORS Providing property management services for:

Lee’s Crossing Apartments Cameron Crossing Apartments Laurel Crossing Apartments WHO WE ARE Founded in 1985, Wilkinson Real Estate Advisors is a privately held property management company based in Atlanta. We currently manage more than 7,000 units at 30 apartment communities in four states. Our business has been built around providing best-in-class service to our residents, employees and investors. Here in LaGrange, we manage Lee’s Crossing, which was built in 1985, and Cameron Crossing and Laurel Crossing, both purchased by Wilkinson in 2009.

WHY WE LOVE DOING BUSINESS IN LAGRANGE Simple, the people of Troup County and LaGrange! We find that the community comes together bringing businesses, government, education and citizens together for strong partnerships with one common goal and that is to make LaGrange a thriving welcoming city to all. And with the exciting economic growth coming to LaGrange, we are pleased to be a part of it. We’re looking forward to continuing to bring a higher standard of apartment living to current and future residents in our area. TT

WHAT WE DO We offer one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, along with a long list of amenities including a pool, clubhouse, gym and playgrounds. We also offer washer and dryer connections, fireplaces (in some units), 24-hour emergency maintenance service, and some of our apartments are pet-friendly. We offer a variety of spacious floor plans suitable for individuals and families. WHERE WE ARE LOCATED All of our apartment complexes are conveniently located to shopping, restaurants, recreation, entertainment and schools. Lee’s Crossing Apartments are located at 119 Old Airport Road near the industrial park and Interstate 85, Laurel Crossing is located at 1700 Park Place off of North Greenwood Street, and Cameron Crossing is located at 1600 Meadow Terrace, off Mooty Bridge Road. WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING PROVIDERS IN OUR AREA? The sense of community that we are able to create for our residents. Through our Cares Apartment Life team we are able to connect our residents by welcoming newcomers, visiting our existing residents and offering monthly social events. We’re also utilizing technology to provide our residents with the best possible service. We recently invested in new operating software that will allow our residents and new customers an array of new convenience features such as a total online leasing experience; access to their accounts 24/7 with the ability to pay online, send service requests, receive alerts for packages and more.

Members chosen to be the focus of the Business Spotlight are selected quarterly from those who have attended the previous Early Bird Breakfasts. Be sure to register for future Early Bird Breakfasts to be included in the next drawing. 42

May 2017


Lee’s Crossing Apartments 119 Old Airport Road LaGrange, GA 30240 (706) 884-1120

Laurel Crossing Apartments 1700 Park Place LaGrange, GA 30240 (706) 883-6291

Cameron Crossing Apartments 1600 Meadow Terrace LaGrange, Ga 30240 (706) 883-6224

Wilkinson Real Estate Advisors provides superior service and value to the residents at our communities. We know people have many choices when making the decision where to live. At a Wilkinson community, the difference is the level of personal service and attention residents get from our staff.


119 Old Airport Road LaGrange, GA 30240 706-884-1120


1600 Meadow Terrace LaGrange, GA 30240 706-883-6224


1700 Park Place LaGrange, GA 30240 706-883-6291


SBA lending solutions you can build on. As a designated Small Business Administration (SBA) Preferred Lender, we are well-positioned to be your go-to source for an SBA loan. Our team of experts provide a customized, personal, streamlined approach through the entire process – from the first line on your application to your final signature at closing. So, when growth and expansion are on your horizon, let us provide the SBA lending expertise you can build on. 706.880.2200 Banking products are provided by Synovus Bank, Member FDIC. Divisions of Synovus Bank operate under multiple trade names across the Southeast.


YOUR VIDEO PRODUCTION SOLUTION We Shoot. We Edit. We Deliver. Corporate Communications Orientation/Safety/Training • Educational • Broadcast •


May 2017

Branding/Marketing Recruitment • Capital Campaign • Documentary •




Here are the top 10 soft skills in demand for today’s job market:


oday, many employers are faced with something like a perfect storm. Soft skills — which are needed to effectively communicate, problemsolve, collaborate and organize — are becoming more important for success as the workplace evolves socially and technologically. The rub is that human resources professionals report a “soft skills gap,” especially among young workers more accustomed to texting than talking, that forces organizations to hire many candidates who fall short on interpersonal abilities.   Also known as a "strong work ethic," soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Employers are looking for employees who take initiative, are reliable and can do the job right the first time.

What Are Soft Skills? All the skills you’ve learned from past jobs, responsibilities and life experiences combine to make you the person you are today. Soft skills is a term to describe the kind of essential personal and social skills people need to do most jobs. Sometimes called 21st century skills, they are so important to the emerging workforce that THINC College & Career Academy has adopted 13 essential skills that count as 30 percent of each student’s grade. Learning and practicing these skills at school will help better prepare students for college and work. Without these skills, they will not be able to successfully participate in the global economy. “It’s a cliché that people are hired for hard skills and fired for soft skills,” says Bruce Tulgan, chief executive of the management consulting and training firm Rainmaker Thinking in New Haven, Conn., and author of Bridging the Soft Skills Gap. “But without prioritizing soft skills, companies can encounter more internal conflicts, have customer service suffer and see good people leave.”

Communication Skilled communicators get along well with colleagues, listen and understand instructions, and get their point across without being aggressive. They can change their style of communication to suit the task in hand – this can be invaluable in many different situations, from handling conflict to trying to persuade a customer of the benefits of buying your product. If you possess good communication skills, you should be able to develop constructive working relationships with colleagues and learn from constructive criticism.


Making decisions While there are differing styles when it comes to decision making, one thing is clear: decisiveness is essential. Gathering all the important facts, seeking advice, looking at the big picture, considering alternatives, being aware of repercussions – these all go into making a good decision. 


Showing commitment Employers want people who are dependable, reliable, enthusiastic and enjoy hard work. Employees who are committed need very little supervision or motivation to do their best and get the job done. 


Attitude Staying positive at work, even when things get challenging, is a highly sought-after employability skill. Using your initiative to help people out, even when you haven’t been asked to, goes a long way in impressing your employer and your coworkers. And good attitudes have a way of rubbing off on others.



Leadership skills Even if you’re not managing staff yet, leadership qualities are valued by employers. They look for people who lead by example, constantly look to improve, motivate themselves, are positive, and know when to follow instructions and when to show initiative.


Creativity and problem-solving skills The ability to apply both logic and creativity to solve problems is extremely important to employers. They need the kind of people who can see the solution as well as the problem. 


Being a team player A good team player has the team goals clear in his or her mind and works with others to achieve them. They are open and honest, get along with their coworkers, offer constructive suggestions and listen to others.


Accepting responsibility Employers are on the lookout for people who take pride in their work, and are confident enough to put their name to it. They also respect people who can hold their hands up when things go wrong, and don’t pass the buck. Everyone makes mistakes - it’s how you react and learn from them that counts.


Ability to work under pressure Whether you’re trying to hit a challenging deadline or an urgent job has just landed in your lap, employers want to know you can put the stress to one side and focus on the job at hand. Can you decide quickly which approach will achieve the maximum results in a short period of time, and then get the job done? TT


Time management Showing up for work on time and doing your work in a timely manner are critical soft skills. When deadlines are looming, good time management is about prioritizing the most important tasks, and then deciding which actions will produce the maximum output with the minimum effort.


H Y P E – H E L P I 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.



Eric Blackman

HYPE members enjoyed networking in a classroom and social setting during recent events. Shelley Strickland from The Strickland Group provided insights on the “Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Use” while Bill Graham of Graham Corporate Communications helped participants learn how to make their story go viral through the tips in “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Young professionals gathered for Happy Hour at the Brickhouse and on the patio of Highland Country Club plus enjoyed a casual networking lunch at Mighty Joe’s Pizza.

Current Occupation: Healthcare Management Current Employer: Emory at LaGrange Current Title: Administrator, Clinical Operations How long have you lived in Troup County? 7 years Why does living in Troup County work for you? Small town comfort with convenient access to big city offerings When you’re not working, what do you like to do? Have fun with my wife, 3 girls and son What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? My dad rehearsed this Charles Swindoll quote with me constantly growing up: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” What is your best personal achievement? Becoming a husband and father Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Whatever my kids get so I can steal a bite!


May 2017

All-Time Favorite Movie & why: Forrest Gump! Forrest obliviously participated in some of history’s greatest moments but was content with just being a simple guy from Greenbow, Alabama. Favorite “after work” spot in Troup County: My house Married/Single/Kids? Married with 3 little girls and baby son Favorite Place to Visit outside of Troup County? My hometown: Mobile, AL



The Care You Expect. Professionals You Know. A Name You Trust. Our constantly growing roster of local medical specialists are part of the world-renowned and respected Emory Healthcare System and they have access to the same technologies and resources as their colleagues in Atlanta and around the world. You don’t have to travel to enjoy the healthcare you expect – just make an appointment right here in LaGrange. More options, close to home, & the largest multi-specialty group practice in Troup County. • • • • • • • •

Emory Clark-Holder Clinic 303 Smith Street LaGrange, GA 30240 706.882.8831


May 2017

Davis Road Primary Care 380 South Davis Rd., Ste E & F LaGrange, GA 30240 706.882.8831

• • • • • • • •

Bariatric Surgery Cardiology Cosmetic Treatments ENT Facial Plastics Family Medicine Gastroenterology General Surgery

West Point Family Practice 1610 East 10th St. West Point, GA 31833 706.882.8831

Gynecology Internal Medicine Oncology Ophthalmology Orthopedics Pulmonary Medicine Radiology Sports Medicine

Emory Southern Center for Orthopedics 1805 Vernon Rd. LaGrange, GA 30240 706.884.2691


May 2017 Troup Trends  

The May 2017 issue of Troup Trends includes a Q&A with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, an update on tourism, a look at ongoing talent recruitm...

May 2017 Troup Trends  

The May 2017 issue of Troup Trends includes a Q&A with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, an update on tourism, a look at ongoing talent recruitm...