Troup Trends | May 2021 Issue

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Mask up, West GA

Not just for superheroes

Not all superheroes wear capes, but these days, they all mask up. If you wear a mask, you can have the special power to save lives, too (plus, the cool ability to go undercover at the grocery store). And, while you may not be hiding a secret identity under your face covering, Wellstar recognizes you for being a hero and protecting the health and safety of every Georgian. As Wellstar begins working to get the COVID-19 vaccine out to our community, it’s important we all continue to do our part to keep everyone safe. That means wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance around others. Together, let’s mask up and take COVID-19 down.

wellstar.org/makewellhappen 2

May 2021


A publication of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Andie Freeman

May 2021 VOLUME VIII, ISSUE II

111 Bull St./P.O. Box 636 LaGrange, GA 30241 (706) 884-8671 www.lagrangechamber.com EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair: Dale Jackson, Jackson Services Past Chair: George Bailey, Salvation Army Chair Elect: Jamey Jackson TalentKinect Secretary/Treasurer: John Westmoreland, CPA Boatwright

CHAMBER STAFF President: Connie Hensler Director of Member Engagement: Leslie Traylor Communications Manager: Sara Grace Todd Accountant: Melanie Key, CPA

CONTENTS 4 | A Letter from the Chairman

25 | Non-Profit Spotlight

6 | Cover Story

26 | Healthcare

12 | Spotlight on LaGrange

27 | Business Spotlight

A Community of Doers

Continued Relief

The Business of Brides

Women’s Health Center Accredited Refresh Me Center

14 | Community A Homecoming for LaGrange’s Millennials

28 | History

Hatton Lovejoy Scholarship

17 | Spotlight on West Point

30 | Chamber Events 35 | Environment

The Power of Expansion

18 | Spotlight on Hogansville A City with a Vision

Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve

19 | Education

37 | Small Business

20 | Movers, Shakers, Risk-Takers 25 | Spotlight on Troup County

39 | Business

School Visit & Summer Tips

All for One

Being a Boss

Scoring Big

40 | Marketing

5 Budget-Friendly Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

42 | Young Professionals

TO CONTRIBUTE Troup Trends welcomes your ideas. Please send inquiries to info@lagrangechamber.com for consideration.

HYPE – Keeping Troup Connected May 2021

DESIGN

Jayme Ogles

ON THE COVER

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.

Cover photo by YO Owner/Photographer Grapefruit Photo

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

P.O. Box 636 • LaGrange, GA 30241 lagrangechamber.com

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FROM

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CHAIRMAN

Contributors

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CURTIS BROWN, JR., BTC Brands

t’s a beautiful spring day here in our community as I sit near the fountain at Lafayette Square. Nearby you can hear the excitement of local students coming and going as they pick out their prom attire in downtown shops. And, all around me, it seems people are moving about with a spring in their step. I can’t help but think back to this time last year when those same students were being told that their prom had just been cancelled, businesses were asked to close and events postponed. It seemed as if we had all come to a standstill of sorts.

students preparing for prom get to feel that excitement because someone came up with creative solution for a location. We can do the same in other areas of our community where opportunities abound. As our community continues to grow, I’m asking everyone to look for ways to make improvements and spend less time pointing out problems in hopes that someone else will do something. Let’s continue to be a community of people who DO THINGS and solve problems.

LAURA JENNINGS, LaGrange Art Museum

Thankfully these days in and around Troup County, life seems to be returning to more of what we consider normal. Instead of what is not happening, the news is more focused on what IS happening! And what I see happening is a community coming together to do things, to solve problems and to work collectively. That leads me to share with you what I am most excited about today and that is the people of my beloved community!

At the end of the day, I am proud to say that we are a community of DOERS not just complainers and frankly, that is what I love most about Troup County.

SHANNON JOHNSON, Legacy Museum

MEGHAN DUKE, City of West Point BRANDON ELEY, EleyDigital

CAROLINE JOHNSON, Troup County

ANDREA LOVEJOY, Community Member JONATHAN LYNN, City of Hogansville KIM MYERS, Get Troup Reading

What I love most about our community and the people who live here is that we DO STUFF! Yes, like all communities, we have those who simply point out problems – more often than not on social media. However, more importantly, we have an even greater number of people who go beyond just complaining about a problem. We identify the problem, come up with a solution and take action to make improvements. I encourage everyone to keep your energy focused on what we can do, not what we cannot do. Let’s continue to think creatively and make good things happen. The

TODD CARLISLE, UGA SBDC

YOLANDA STEPHENS, Troup County School System SHELLEY STRICKLAND, Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center

Dale Jackson Chairman, Executive Committee LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

KATIE VAN SCHOOR, City of LaGrange PATTY YOUNGBLOOD, United Way of West Georgia

Special Thanks to Our 1911 Society Presenting Sponsors!

KIA MOTORS MANUFACTURING GEORGIA

KIA OF LAGRANGE

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Business od Brider THE

Bride-to-be Mackenzie Skinner stood at the counter in Plum Southern, a weddingfocused gift shop on Main Street in LaGrange, balancing a stack of smartly-wrapped presents and beaming from ear to ear.

with weddings believe most people “would be amazed“ at how much Troup County’s economy benefits from the “business of brides.”

“I should get married more often!” she said happily. “It feels like Christmas morning every day.”

That includes, for starters, event venues, retail shops, florists, caterers, photographers, musicians, jewelers, hotels, printing companies and equipment rentals.

Indeed, for local businesses with connections to the bridal industry, weddings are every bit as important as Christmas to their bottom lines. Troup County issued 481 marriage licenses in 2020 and 456 the year before. Chamber members who work 6

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“A lot of people make their living or a significant portion of their living off weddings,” said Tulla White of Tulla White Cuisine and Catering.

“Weddings have been an absolutely huge boon for our downtown,” said Bill Hunnicutt, director of the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority. Perhaps the biggest impact – and another

factor that surprises many – is the impressive number of out-of-town brides who choose Troup County locations for their weddings. Highly successful venues, like Victoria Belle in Hogansville and Del’avant in LaGrange, stay booked year round with mostly out-of-town weddings. “Local people have no idea how important it is to bring weddings from out-of-town. They come in, use local caterers, local florists, photographers, hotels and restaurants. It’s very big for the local community,” said Mechelle Wheless of Sweet Peas Floral Designs of Distinction. From a business perspective, another benefit of out-of-town weddings, said


C O V E R Anna Knight, event/wedding coordinator at Del’avant, is that the wedding party, family and guests often spend an entire weekend here, patronizing local lodging, restaurants, shops and attractions. Peggy Scott, owner of Plum Southern, sees that routinely. “I can always tell when there’s a wedding. Guests come into the store, buy a gift from the registry and take it to the wedding,” she said. “Weddings are our bread and butter. During the pandemic, when few people were coming out to shop, we had 35 brides on our wedding registry. It was a lifesaver.” Cathy Winslow of Splash Kitchens and Baths said her Broad Street business started an online wedding registry when they realized guests staying at the nearby Courtyard by Marriott were coming in to look for gifts. Now local brides also use the registry and Splash stocks items suitable for hostess gifts, showers and more.

“Buying a wedding dress is an emotional purchase. It’s where your heart meets your mind, a momentous life moment that we get to be a part of,” she said. Indeed, the happy nature of the wedding business is a big part of what makes it satisfying for local vendors.

“We had our best year ever in 2020, despite the pandemic,” Warren said. She attributes her success to location, a strong team and a focus on treating people “with love and kindness.”

“Staging weddings is hard work. You have to have a passion for it,” Brown said. Caterer White said he manages the stress of serving at weddings by reminding himself and his staff that “every wedding is somebody’s most special day of their life.”

The daughter of a photographer, Bray opened her business in 2012 and now has a studio on Daniel Street. This time every year, Bray shoots a lot of graduation pictures and has had the pleasure of seeing those grads come back for wedding photos, too.

White marvels that he’s now getting calls from brides in towns where he’s never done an event, including Griffin, Carrollton and even Blue Ridge. Often, the callers have attended a wedding in LaGrange and liked his food. “That’s been an unexpected benefit of our community being a destination for weddings,” he said. Wheless, who says weddings make up about a third of her business at Sweet Peas, enjoys developing relationships with brides, some of whom she keeps in touch with long after the flowers have faded.

Amy Warren, whose formal-wear boutique, Affair to Remember, features eye-catching, frequentlychanging window displays on Lafayette Square, said her 14-year-old business has definitely become a “regional destination for brides.”

Warren recently renovated the upstairs of her store into an elegantly-appointed bridal salon and offers an array of choices in multiple price categories.

Mansion and Vintage White Barn in Hogansville into an ultra popular wedding destination, said “giving brides the event they have envisioned for years” is her primary motivation.

“I like the love that’s displayed and the excitement of the couple,” said Tiffani Bray of Tiffani Bray Photography.”It gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to capture the moment.”

“It’s really blossomed,” Winslow said. “Gifts are a huge part of the wedding industry. People look online and when they come in, we can have something wrapped, well presented and ready.”

Social media “is huge,” Warren said, and brides from Atlanta, Columbus and all points in between shop with her. Many of them are getting married in local venues and find it more convenient to buy their bridal and bridesmaids attire and rent tuxedos and other wedding apparel here. It wasn’t typical, but this spring Affair To Remember even sent a wedding gown to Uganda for the sister of a local resident.

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“Weddings are important for revenue, but also because I enjoy doing them. I like the challenge,” she said.

At Traylor’s Jewelry, a family-owned business on Greenville Street, rings and wedding-related engraving are not just a year round source of revenue but an opportunity to be part of a joyful event. Sheena Whitten, whose father Darrell Traylor owns the business, likes their being one of the first stops couples make when deciding to wed. “Many brides today want something a little different in an engagement ring. “ she said. “Some are choosing nontradtional stones, like opals. We enjoy working with them to find exactly what they want.” Vickie Brown, who has built Victoria Belle

Troup native Mallory Jeter DeNuzzia of Wildflower MJ started working as a wedding and event florist in 2014 while still a horticulture student at LSU. She liked helping her college friends with their weddings so much, she continued it after moving back to LaGrange and fulfilled a longtime dream by opening her shop on Hill Street last year. “We pride ourselves on freshness. It’s one of the things I love, and we mainly do ‘designer’s choice,’ which allows us to use whatever flowers are most seasonal and beautiful each week,” she said. “If a bride has a specific idea, we definitely accommodate that, but many times it makes it easier for them to have us come up with something. They select a color palette and let us take it from there.” DeNuzzia also promotes other small businesses by providing space in her shop for vendors who make custom items for weddings, like matching clay earrings

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for bridesmaids or T-shirts and hats for bachelor and bachelorette outings. Rehearsal dinners have become a niche for C’Sons and Mare Sol, downtown restaurants that will close on occasion to host rehearsal dinners. “We customize the menus with the bride and offer an intimate evening for the guests. It’s so sweet seeing the magic of the families coming together,” said Lauren McClung, event manager for the restaurants. Affordability is a huge advantage for Troup County venues in attracting out-of-town weddings, said Ed Yeargan, who with his wife Ann has been operating Crème Fraiche Catering in Lafayette, Ala. for 31 years. About 75 percent of their work is in LaGrange. “It’s dollars and cents,” Yeargan said. “People from other places find out they can get really high quality events for much less money.” After more than three decades as caterers, the Yeargans are now doing second generation weddings. “We did the wedding food for the mothers, and now we are doing it for their daughters’ weddings,” Ed Yeargan said. Yeargan works frequently at Hills and Dales, the Callaway estate and historic garden, which doesn’t host wedding ceremonies, but provides a spectacular and comparably affordable setting for rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. The estate’s historic gardens have also become a popular photo destination for

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out-of- town couples.

distinctive look.

“It always amazes me how far people come to have their engagement or wedding photos made in the garden,” said Carrie Mills, Visitor Center manager at Hills and Dales.

Coniglio, who has a background in design set up, hopes to fill a need in the West Point community and recently hosted a “Merry Market,” featuring area vendors. She holds monthly open houses for potential brides to check out the facility without appointment.

Amy Lipham Rhodes, catering manager at Kimble’s Events by Design, says Troup County’s impressive array of affordable wedding venues is a big advantage. A local native who came back last year after 20 years working in the catering and hospitality industry in Athens and Atlanta, Rhodes said outof-town brides “are getting such a deal to get this level of venues at a fraction of the cost.” “I’ve been awed by the way LaGrange has blossomed in what it has to offer, in general, but especially the venues that create opportunities for a business like ours to work destination weddings,” she said. Rhodes has also found “very good networking,” among the vendors who recommend each other and look for ways to be sure revenue stays local. “The wedding industry here is growing and growing fast.,” Rhodes said. “It’s really good for us and for a lot of people.” Troup County’s abundance of widely varying wedding venues includes several new ones that hope to emulate the longevity and success of Victoria Belle, Highland Country Club, Hills and Dales, the Fields, Del’avant and others.. Newer venues in the Chamber membership include Burrow Warehouse in West Point and CreekLodge, an 18-acre wooded site located 1.5 miles from downtown. Kesha Edwards Coniglio opened Burrow Warehouse last year in a renovated industrial space in downtown West Point. Located near I-85, “right in the center of Newnan/Columbus/Auburn,” she expects to draw customers who want something a little different and like the opportunity to take the “blank slate” of the 10,000-square -foot facility and give it a oneof-a-kind look. A popular feature of Burrow is its “something borrowed” room where brides can select props, ranging from whiskey barrels to Victorian chairs, to give their weddings a

“I really don’t do a sales pitch,” she said. “Brides come and see our look and decide if the vibe is right, and they can envision their wedding here.” Marlon and Kay Stargell, who opened CreekLodge about two and a half years ago, call it LaGrange’s best kept secret. The facility does not host weddings, but provides a comfortable and attractive private home for families and wedding party members to stay. The.facility sleeps up to 16 and is available for short term rentals through Airbnb. “We are unique,” Marlon Stargell said. “We have a 900- square- foot deck, a pond, rustic barns that make great photos, fruit trees, azaleas. It’s a country feel but close to everything.” Troup County will have a new wedding venue on West Point Lake when the newly-announced Oakfuskee Conservation Center is completed at Pyne Road Park. “Weddings are a part of the plans for that facility,” said tourism director Kathy Tilley. “It will be a gorgeous place to get married.” Tilley sees destination weddings as an important piece of the tourism puzzle in Troup County, with significant potential for growth. “It’s definitely a market that should continue to be cultivated. It really is big business, and it also helps small businesses, so it makes a difference. As tourism promoters, we love weddings and we want them here.” Grapefruit Photography

Grapefruit Photography

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Victoria Belle t’s been more than 20 years, but Vickie Brown remembers the exact moment she first saw the “big house on the hill” that is now known as Victoria Belle Mansion, a popular wedding venue in Hogansville.

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certainly not easy because Roger Brown was in the remodeling business. They spent 18 months getting the facility ready, gutting the interior, rewiring, repairing, repiping, restoring, refinishing, replacing.

Then a hairdresser in Cobb County, Brown had a thriving business but an itch to follow a lifelong dream of planning weddings. Her husband, Roger, had leased hunting property in Meriwether County, and she came down with him one day and, at his suggestion, they rode over to Hogansville. As the couple drove along East Main Street, there it was, a white-columned, 1897 neoclassical Greek Revival home with a For Sale sign on the spacious lawn.

“My mother is a brave soul,” Brown remembers, “but when she saw it, she said,’What have you done?’”

Brown’s wheels started turning. She called and learned the selling price was below her expectations. She stewed on it for a few days, prayed about it, then made an offer. It both thrilled and terrified her when the offer was accepted.

Brown’s timing was perfect, but bookings came slowly. She continued doing hair, praying that her business would take off.

“It was a brave thing to do,” she admits, two decades after envisioning an event center in the stately, but rundown, residence. “I marvel every day that I took a chance, and it worked out. Sometimes you just have to step out.” Step out, she did. The home required major renovation, made possible but

What she had done was open the first event facility of its kind on the south side of the Atlanta metro area. It offered what she likes to describe as “timeless elegance with a touch of rustic grace.” The classic interior features antique décor, a baby grand piano, brilliant crystal chandeliers, ornate mantels and gleaming hardwood floors.

Her big break came when Adam Wright, nephew of country superstar Alan Jackson, booked Victoria Belle for his wedding to Shannon Tanner. It was a big deal, and a major success. “They were brave to book with us. It really helped. The trust they put in me helped me get off to a good start,” Brown said. She’s never looked back and she’s never stopped improving the facility. The

biggest addition was the rustic-chic Vintage White Barn,, added in 2012. “The barn has been a huge asset. It gives us more coverage and works for both elegant and rustic events,” Brown said. Other amenities, including a vineyard, gazebo and waterfall, create multiple options for outdoor settings. About 90 percent of her couples choose to marry on the front lawn, with the mansion as backdrop, then have the reception in the barn or garden. Victoria Belle offers a variety of packages, depending on budget and what the bride wants, and even has an elopement package for couples who want a simple but lovely wedding with fewer than 20 guests. Victoria Belle also hosts parties, corporate functions and charitable events. And while the gorgeous facility is what attracts many brides, Brown believes it’s the personal attention that makes the business successful. (Continued on page 38) www.lagrangechamber.com

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Del’avanp G

enerations of LaGrange residents cherish memories of going to the Kress and McLellan stores on Main Street “way back” in the 20th Century. Now descendants of those early shoppers make their own cherished memories at Del’avant, a charming adaptation of the historic five-and-dime stores that is marking its 10th anniversary as an event center this spring. During its first decade, Del’avant hosted thousands upon thousands of guests for more than 2,000 special occasions – from weddings to cotillion balls, corporate functions to charity fundraisers, gardening lectures to rooftop galas.. Last month, in a single week, Del’Avant welcomed more than 1,000 people: a Chamber breakfast, several meetings, a scholarship program, Greenville High School’s prom on Thursday and two weddings, one on Saturday and another on Sunday.

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“We average between 280 and 300 events a year, including about 60 weddings,” said Anna Knight, who has been event/ wedding coordinator for all but the first six months of Del’Avant’s history. A majority of the weddings and many events are for outof-towners, bringing people who spend the night or weekend and patronize local businesses. The benefit to the community is hard to exaggerate, said Bill Hunnicutt, executive director of the LaGrange Downtown Development Authority (DLDA). “The out-of-town weddings are a game changer. I can’t think of one business in LaGrange that doesn’t benefit,” he said. Today, the decision to develop Del’avant seems like a slam dunk. It’s hard to imagine downtown LaGrange without it, said Speer Burdette, former president of the Callaway Foundation, but the choice to create a beautiful and versatile event facility from the century-old stores was not at all obvious at first.


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Burdette explains how the project came to be: “Del’avant was part of the Foundation’s commitment to the revitalization of downtown LaGrange. When the Kress building came up for sale, we knew it was integral to our mission, but we didn’t know what to do with it.” Several possibilities were explored, including retail and restaurant options, but nothing clicked. One day, almost off the cuff, Burdette recalls, then-downtown manager Suzanne Foody said, “We ought to do an event center.” Bingo. Well, not exactly, but foundation and downtown leaders recognized it as an idea worth considering. They’d also been looking to add residential space downtown and saw the opportunity to create loft condominiums above the possible event center. “We put the two ideas together and thought, ‘Wow! This might work,” Burdette said. Work it did, but not without a lengthy process and much creative planning by architect Skip Smith and project manager Rick Waterhouse, then with the Callaway Foundation. It was a huge challenge to bring two old buildings together, modernizing and adding amenities, while preserving the look and feel of the vintage structure. They had a lot to work with. Originally built in 1913, the former five-and-dimes featured the fine craftsmanship associated with the period – tin ceilings, an iron balcony, hardwood floors and handsome brick. Kress stores, in particular, were known nationwide for their architecture, a point emphasized in 2000 when a traveling exhibit on the architectural heritage of the S.H. Kress Corporation was displayed at Troup County Archives. As it has done with other projects, the Callaway Foundation covered the costs,

then donated Del’avant to the LaGrange Downtown Development Authority, which operates it and uses the proceeds for ongoing revitalization of downtown. Community events, like Sunsets at Sweetland, the Farmers Market and Mingle with Kringle, are supported by proceeds of DLDA properties. Downtown businesses also can apply for façade grants to help with signage and awnings. Being debt-free allows Del’Avant to offer more affordable rentals than many facilities, Burdette said, but “why we are different,” adds Knight, is that brides or others can hire their own vendors, use whoever they want, thus managing their costs. “Most venues make money from the food and beverage side,” she said. “We don’t do that.” That’s not an accident. “Keeping Del’Avant affordable, especially for our community, is part of our commission from the Callaway Foundation,” Hunnicutt said. They offer a weekday non-profit rate, for example, that benefits many organizations. All of which adds to a win win – good for the community, good for the customers, a debt-free, first class facility built with the high quality and commitment to excellence that characterizes all Callaway Foundation projects, Hunnicutt adds. Even the choice of the name Del’avant reflects the dedication to detail that went into the project. The Foundation hired brand strategist Andy Fritchley and his associates to research and recommend a name. After developing multiple “threads,” based on research into the history of the buildings, the town, the hospitality industry and more, they eventually were intrigued by the French phrase “avant-garde” often used in English to mean forward-looking.

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those who are forward-looking,’” Fritchley said, “a most fitting description of such a revitalization project.” The first decade has brought continued forward-looking to Del’avant. A recent upgrade enhanced the rooftop garden, used for a variety of parties and wedding celebrations, and added lighting visible to passers by. “People tell me they look up and go, ‘Ah!’” Knight said. The large number of out-of-town weddings prompted the 2015 addition of Knight’s services as “weekend wedding coordinator,”as an extra option for brides and families. As coordinator, she directs the rehearsal, ceremony and reception and handles endless details. “A lot of times it just makes sense to hire me as coordinator. I know all the vendors, know the town, know every inch of the building,” Knight said. “It takes a lot of stress off the family.” One of her more memorable experiences was the wedding of a couple of Indian background, a two-day affair featuring elaborate dress, Indian cuisine and much ceremony. “I learned so much,” Knight said. “Every single event is different, but with weddings, the one thing in common is that each is a happy event.” Burdette, who credits Knight and former DLDA director Bobby Carmichael with launching and maintaining Del’avant on the path to success, considers the 10th anniversary as a time to celebrate. “It’s so rewarding when you come up with an idea, take it to completion and see it succeed as one of the major anchors of downtown. It’s a true feel-good moment.”

“Del’avant has been translated as ‘from

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SPOTLIGHT ON LAGRANGE

City of LaGrange Crews Assist in Storm Recovery

Petco Love Awards $20,000 Grant

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ity of LaGrange utility, electric and fire crews assisted in the Coweta County storm recovery.

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ity of LaGrange Animal Services recently received a $20,000 grant from Petco Love to improve the quality of life for the cats and kittens. According to Chris Bussey, LaGrange Animal Services Supervisor they will be using the money to build an outdoor catio, an enclosed patio for cats. “This enclosed patio will give the cats and kittens the ability to sunbathe and play. Potential adopters will be able to meet their new family members outside of the cat room too.”

Petco Love is a nonprofit leading change for pets nationally by harnessing the power of love to make communities and pet families closer, stronger, and healthier. Since their founding in 1999 as the Petco Foundation, they’ve empowered organizations with nearly $300 million invested to date in adoption and other lifesaving efforts. And, they’ve helped find loving homes for more than 6.5 million pets in partnership with Petco and more than 4,000 organizations, like ours, nationwide.

Severe storms caused widespread damage in Newnan and the surrounding area March 26th and city crews spent the week helping the community recover. “The City of LaGrange is always willing to help our neighbors in times of need. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with those affected by the storm and I’m also glad that we could deploy electric crews, tree crews, and fire personnel to assist,” said LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton. “Like LaGrange, Newnan is a MEAG electric city and therefore we have specific resources that will be especially valuable to them in a time like this.” City of LaGrange sent a line crew made up of five utility employees to assist in power restoration and a tree crew made up of five electric employees to assist in tree removal and storm cleanup. “Our electric and utility employees are a great representation of our community,” LaGrange Utilities Director Patrick Bowie said. “We will continue to provide mutual aid to help restore service to other utilities whenever there is a major storm event because you never know when our community will be the one asking for help.” The LaGrange Fire Department sent an engine company with three personnel to assist in running calls following the overnight storm. Fire crews were stationed at the Coweta Fairgrounds ready to assist. “We are always happy to assist in helping communities in their time of need,” said LFD Chief John Brant. “We’ll be available as long as our crew is needed.” The City of LaGrange remains committed to assist in helping surrounding communities following major storm events.

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A HOMECOMING FOR LAGRANGE’S MILLENNIALS Community assets attracting young adults

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ike nearly every community, Troup County leaders desire youth to return to their hometowns once they finish their higher education. Younger residents bring the vitality needed for economic vigor and are the long-term talent pipeline needed to attract future generations. However, it does not always work that way. Many don’t come back while they are single, citing that small towns don’t have enough going on for single people.

Summer had no intentions of settling in LaGrange after graduating from Auburn University. “I was able to get a job here and slowly realized how wonderful this town and community are to reside in at any age.” When she was ready to open her own business, she chose an historic home on Church Street in downtown to renovate into an office. “When our property became available we knew it would take a lot of work, but it was a way to preserve a piece of LaGrange’s history,” the mother of two children added.

Or sometimes they just desire working in an urban market to further their education, gain skills learned from metropolitan-sized businesses or are just simply drawn to a faster paced lifestyle. Studies reveal that young adults are more likely to move back to their hometowns after having their first child—due to the lower cost of living, proximity to family and friends, and other benefits, such as better opportunities for entrepreneurial endeavors.

“LaGrange has been a great place to start a business because of the wonderful, supportive community we live in,” she said.

More than 70 percent of young people want to own a business; 17 percent already do. Brandon Todd, who started The Mind Clothing at 108 Main Street in downtown LaGrange, fits that bill. A 2011 graduate of Troup High, Brandon moved to Columbus to attend Columbus State College. After earning his degree in business management he worked in that city as a sales associate with WRBL News. He then moved to Atlanta, where he worked from 2017-2019. Brandon opened his retail store one year ago and has prospered thanks to a built-in clientele of family, friends and college friends. The foot traffic in downtown brings a steady stream of walk-in customers, too. The peace and serenity of the area, including Callaway Gardens and West Point Lake, have made this a good place to do business and live, Brandon said. The addition of Sweetland Amphitheater and other entertainment venues have given young adults places to socialize. Summer Deal, owner and financial advisor of True North Investments, echoes Brandon’s sentiments. “The recent growth is the main thing attracting young people. The breweries, winery, The Thread and Sweetland Amphitheater have really made LaGrange a great place to live, work and play,” the 2003 LaGrange High graduate said. 14

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Lindsey Robinson, a 2011 graduate of LaGrange High School and 2015 graduate of LaGrange College, agrees with Summer that opening a business in your hometown is bound for success.

Brandon Todd

Lindsey Robinson

“I’ve have been completely overwhelmed by the support from the community. I have friends who have opened businesses all over the country and they are all blown away at how our town has come out to support me and my dream,” said Lindsey, the owner of the recently opened The Local Chiropractic at 104 Church Street. Lindsey and her husband lived in Marietta for four years while she attended chiropractic school. She said living there solidified the decision to live in a small town. “Of course there’s the obvious things like less traffic and shorter commutes, but while living there we realized how much we love the relationships of a small town — seeing people you know at the grocery store, supporting the restaurants and businesses of people you know personally, knowing your neighbors by name, having people to call on when you need help... you don’t get those personal touches in a bigger city,” Like Summer and Brandon, Lindsey chose to locate her business in the downtown LaGrange footprint. “I love the downtown area and being a part of the action. I’m excited to participate in events on the Square and support my neighboring downtown businesses. My assistant and I walk to lunch downtown. We’re excited to see more businesses coming to downtown and love

Summer Deal

seeing all of the foot traffic and people out and about,” the chiropractor shared. Lindsey’s husband, a West Point native, restores houses professionally so they are attracted to LaGrange’s inventory of older homes that are full of character. Lindsey, Summer and Brandon all say that while they maintain friendships from their childhoods and college days, they have also made new friends here, adding to their satisfaction of returning home.


Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve is located on land with a historic past, a restorative presence, and a sustainable future. The preserve is nestled upon the gently rolling hills of West Georgia. Visiting the land brings a feeling of serenity reminiscent of the time before recorded history.

Memorial Nature Preserve

3550 Mooty Bridge Road LaGrange, GA 30240 www.whisperinghillspreserve.com info@whisperinghillspreserve.com 706-884-7435

Within the preserve is the region’s only natural green cemetery where loved ones can be interred amongst old growth trees, native plants, and natural meadows. This end-of-life passage creates a comforting connection with nature. Tours: Sat & Sun 10 am-5 pm or by appointment.

Trusted. Committed. Banking Forward. South State Bank and CenterState Bank have joined together to create one of the leading regional banks in the Southeast. As trusted partners, we are committed to providing more locations, enhanced products and services and innovative digital banking technology to make our customers’ lives easier and more convenient. We’ve provided financial solutions to individuals, families and businesses throughout the Southeast for more than 100 years. Both companies were built on the same founding principles of relationship banking and investing in the communities we serve. It’s the commitment to these values that made us the strong and successful companies we are today and these values will continue to guide us in the future.

Together, we’re Banking Forward.

555 South Davis Road • LaGrange, GA 30241 South State Bank and CenterState Bank, N.A. have merged to become South State Bank, N.A. Please visit BankingForward.com to learn more.

www.lagrangechamber.com

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May 2021


SPOTLI G HT ON WEST P OI N T

Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System, LLC Expands Manufacturing Operations in Georgia

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n April, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System, LLC, a world-renowned producer of automotive parts, will invest $9 million in expanding their seating manufacturing operations in West Point, Georgia. This expansion will create more than 150 jobs in Troup County. "Georgia's highly skilled workforce continues to attract manufacturing jobs in every corner of the state, and Hyundai TRANSYS' continued investment in West Point shows that the hardworking people of west Georgia have proven they're up to the task," said Governor Kemp. "I thank Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System for continuing to invest in Georgia, and I look forward to seeing the opportunities this expansion creates in Troup County." Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System manufactures seats and seat foam pads for the Hyundai Santa Fe, KIA Sorento, and other models. In addition to providing seating structures for automobile manufacturers, the company also supplies seats to leading electric vehicle makers.

"We are excited for the new opportunity ahead as we expand our presence in the West Point community," said Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System's President and CEO Sangkil Jung. "We are proud of our partnership with the State of Georgia." This expansion will take Hyundai TRANSYS’ employment total in Georgia to more than 1,890 jobs. Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System, is continuing to hire for careers in production seat assembly, foam, quality, and logistics. "On behalf of the West Point Development Authority, we want to thank Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System for its continued investment," said Chairman of the West Point Development Authority Kevin Patrick. "Our automotive and existing industries are the backbone of our economic success, and we look forward to working with Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System as they undertake this latest expansion." Senior Project Manager Amanda Fields represented the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Global Commerce division on this competitive

project in partnership with the West Point Development Authority, Georgia Power, and Georgia Quick Start. “Contributing more than $3 billion to Georgia’s economy, the state is committed to growing Georgia’s robust automotive ecosystem and creating solid manufacturing jobs of the future,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “I extend my thanks to Hyundai TRANSYS and Hyundai TRANSYS Georgia Seating System for their continued investment in Georgia. I also thank our partners at the local, state, and federal levels who have worked to foster Georgia’s pro-business environment, which has undoubtedly helped give our automotive partners the confidence they need to continue to invest in the state.”

West Point Business Council, June 24, 2021. For more information, contact Leslie Traylor at leslie@lagrangechamber.com or 706-884-8671

www.lagrangechamber.com

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SPOTLIGHT ON HOGANSVILLE

Recapping 2020 as a City with a Vision

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n 2020, Hogansville won the Visionary City Award in the small city category for its collaboration with Georgia Historical Society and Hogansville community members in developing the Isaiah H. Lofton historical marker. The marker is now part of the historical society’s Civil Rights Trail. This year, as a way to expand recognition of the historic marker and Mr. Lofton’s many contributions as Postmaster of the city, the Hogansville City Council voted to authorize bidding for a “pocket park”. The Isaiah Lofton Park will be located at the corner of Boozer Street and West Main Street and construction is due to begin this summer. But that’s only part of what Hogansville accomplished last year and continues to do in 2021. Some of the other improvements didn’t come with an award but are significant to the community. Using 2019 Community Development Block Grant funds, along with matching dollars from the City, a water system improvement for the west side of Hogansville was completed last summer. This project included replacing 2,900 linear feet of PVC pipe from 6-inch pipes to 8-inch pipes to help increase water pressure. In addition to the water system project, Hogansville also finished construction on a new Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Hogansville Business Council June 29, 2021 For more information, contact Leslie Traylor at leslie@lagrangechamber.com or 706-884-8671

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May 2021

After receiving a grant to add lighted crosswalks to four pedestrian crossings on Main Street, the project was completed in October 2020. Now, crosswalks in front of City Hall, at Hogansville Elementary School, in front of the Post Office and at the Special Event Center on West Main Street have solar-powered, lighted signs making it safer for citizens to cross the busy street and easier for drivers to see crossing pedestrians. Another exciting project for Hogansville is a new location for City Hall. The former PNC Bank at 111 High Street is being readied as the future location. The project got a head start this past March when city leaders and officials attending a dedication ceremony were given an opportunity to help with the demolition of an inside wall. Remodeling and construction is expected to take 12 weeks with a move in date in June.


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ecently, State School Superintendent Richard Woods made a special trip to Troup County to visit Callaway Elementary School fourth grade classrooms. He handed out mini booklets of the Constitution to each student along the way. There to help him was: • Senator Matt Brass, District 28 • Georgia State Representative Randy Nix, District 69 • Helen Rice, State Board of Education Third Congressional District • Dr. Brian Shumate, TCSS Superintendent • Dr. Penny Johnson, TCSS Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum • Chip Medders, TCSS Assistant Superintendent of Operations Before passing out the booklets, Woods talked with each class and said, “In this Constitution booklet is also the Declaration of Independence, “The Star Spangled Banner”, and a copy of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each one of you will be able to take this book with you as you go throughout school and each word pertains to you.” The students were excited to receive their signed copy before asking him questions about his cat, Mittens, and about what he actually does as the State School Superintendent. “Well, I go around to schools all across the state of Georgia and talk to different kids. I also make decisions about things that may affect you, like school lunches and school buses… How many of you ride the school bus,” Woods asked before half the classroom raised their hands. He related his job to the students and they enjoyed finding out about how he makes decisions for students. He ended each session with the students proudly holding their booklet high as he stood in the middle or back of the classroom smiling.

Instead of Taking the Summer Off, Take the Summer On!

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he summer slide is a term used to identify the learning loss students experience in June, July, and August due to summer break. The slide this year will be even greater due to the Pandemic. It is imperative that schools, summer camps and any organization working with children during the summer provide learning opportunities to keep students engaged and moving forward academically. The Troup County School System is doing just that by offering a very in-depth summer program this year to address not only learning loss but to fill the gaps socially and emotionally that have developed due the school closures and virtual learning during the Covid-19 crisis. Get Troup Reading is offering free resources and literacy instruction opportunities to youth programs outside of the school setting this summer. Troup-Harris Regional Library will have their regular summer reading program in full swing this year. Troup County Parks and Recreation Department have already slated a wealth of opportunities to keep our kids physically active. In Troup County we are fortunate to have so many opportunities for our youth and parents should take full advantage of these programs. However, the single most important thing for parents to do is make a conscious effort to provide time for their children to read and to be read to while at home. A child’s first and longest teacher is their parent. Parents can engage with their children in fun creative ways to model and implement reading through various activities at home. Building a strong vocabulary is essential to academic success and that vocabulary begins at birth. Reading together with your child increases fluency and comprehension skills that are so important to developing readers. Get Troup Reading

encourages parents to get their kids involved in programs that allow them to take the summer on instead of taking the summer off while making reading a part of their child’s day at home. TIPS TO MAKE READING A PART OF YOUR CHILD’S DAY AT HOME. • Read aloud to your child each day. Ask question about the story and allow the child to ask questions, summarize or ask the child to summarize, and reread hard to understand passages. • Always keep books handy for independent reading. Provide books that are on the child’s reading level. Use the 5-finger rule to determine what books are on the child’s reading level. Simply have the child read aloud a page from the book. Each time they come to a word that they cannot read have them raise one finger. If all 5 fingers go up by the end of the page, then the book is too difficult for them to read by themselves. • Cook together; allow your child to read the recipe and help write out the shopping list. Have them read the menus at restaurants or drive thru windows. • Lead by example; turn the TV off, shut down the computer and put your phone down! Let your kids see you behind a book instead of a screen! www.lagrangechamber.com

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MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS

MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS Dr. Julie Post, West

Georgia Technical College Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Greg Dozier announced that Dr. Julie Post, Vice President of Student Affairs at Gwinnett Technical College, will be the next president of West Georgia Technical College. Post holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Education from Northern Kentucky University, a Master of Arts in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College and a Doctor of Education from the University of Georgia. She began her duties at West Georgia Tech on April 16. “Thank you to the Commissioner and the State Board for putting their trust in me to

lead West Georgia Technical College,” Post said. “I am passionate about changing lives through technical education and excited about building on the incredible work already being done at West Georgia Tech. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving the citizens and businesses of Georgia through the great work of the Technical College System of Georgia.” The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia approved Commissioner Dozier’s appointment of Post on Thursday, April 1.

to have a man with Coach Page’s experience, expertise, passion and energy leading our football program and working alongside all our coaches as the Director of Athletics. We are anticipating a new level of community engagement, participation and enthusiasm in Springwood Athletics through Coach Page’s leadership.” "

Kurt Page, Springwood

School Director of Athletics and Head Football Coach "Kurt Page joined the faculty and staff at Springwood School in March 2021. Coach Page recently earned his Ed.D with a focus on Educational Leadership from Travecca Nazarene University. He also holds a Master’s in Education from Texas A&M and a Bachelor of Science from Vanderbilt Univeristy. Coach Page founded his own company, SOAR Athletic Training Inc. and has served as Head Football Coach with a career record of 130-83. Page was selected by the legendary Vince Dooley to serve as the Inaugural Head Football Coach at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School in Athens, GA where he led the program to the playoffs in its second season. Springwood School Head of School, Lowrie McCown stated, “We are blessed 20

May 2021

DR. DEEMA RASLAN

Dr. Deema Raslan, Refresh Me Center

Dr. Deema Raslan is a fervent believer in preventative dentistry and has been lauded by her patients, colleagues and constituents in her devotion to her practice. Dr. Raslan is a proud Syrian who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and graduated from the University of Sharjah with her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2017. Upon her arrival to the United States she attended the University of Boston and graduated with her DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) in 2020. Post-graduation she relocated to West Central Georgia to be with her husband, Omar Raslan, and begin her career in Preventive and Cosmetic Dentistry.

Deborah Xavier,

Troup County Extension Agent The Troup County Board of Commissioners is pleased to announce that Deborah Xavier has been named Troup County Extension Agent, effective March 1, 2021. After graduating with a B.S. in Agronomy from the Federal University of Viçosa, a major university in Brazil, Xavier earned her M.S. in Plant Pathology from Louisiana State University (LSU). She then worked in the LSU Nematode Advisory Service Lab as a Research Associate for over six years before moving to Georgia with her family. However, Xavier first began cultivating her passion for agriculture during her childhood. Having grown up on her family’s dairy farm in rural Brazil, Xavier has a true understanding of what it means to serve agricultural communities. She is in touch with the needs of farmers, landowners, and stakeholders, and has stated that her first priorities will include, “working with growers to assess their needs, assisting them in a timely manner, and continuing to build a strong program here in Troup County.” As Extension Agent, Xavier will collaborate with community leaders, public officials, and advisory groups to identify needs, analyze data, and assist in developing educational programs to improve our community’s quality of life. She will also conduct promotional efforts to spread awareness on topics ranging from water quality and safe pesticide usage to family wellness and consumer skills


MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS affordable, sustainable housing and community development. We have accomplished a lot in eighteen years, but the need for affordable housing still exists.” Nate and his wife, Allie, live in LaGrange with their two children and look forward to raising their family in this town that they love. Their hope is that residents of LaGrange take pride in their city and make it the kind of place that they want to live.

Bryce Sillyman,

WellStar West Georgia Medical Center

Nate Crawford, DASH,

Executive Director

The Board of Directors of DASH for LaGrange, Inc., is pleased to announce the appointing of Nate Crawford to the position of Executive Director of Dash for LaGrange. Nate is the fourth director of the affordable housing non-profit organization since its establishment in Troup County in 2002. The Board was not only impressed with Mr. Crawford’s credentials, but also with his passion for service and knowledge of the community. Mr. Crawford, a native of Thomaston, Georgia, attended LaGrange College as an undergraduate student where he was selected to be in the first cohort of the LaGrange College Servant Scholars Program. In this capacity, he immersed himself in the LaGrange community by serving in a variety of volunteer positions. Nate graduated in 2014 and continued his education to receive his master’s degree in Philanthropy and Development from LaGrange College. After working as a Development Officer of LaGrange College, Nate joined his family’s business at Hannah’s Mill Animal Hospital serving as the Practice Manager where he rebranded the company and oversaw a large office renovation. Mr. Crawford started at DASH in 2019 as the Project Manager where he has overseen the renovation of the DASH offices and the building of three homes in historic Hillside which meet the highest standards of building construction while providing affordable housing options for potential homeowners. Ricky Wolfe, founder of DASH and Chairman of the DASH board said, “We could not have found a better person to lead our organization as we continue our work focusing on dependable,

Nader Dbouk, MD, Emory at LaGrange

Emory at LaGrange welcomes Dr. Nader Dbouk to the Department of Gastroenterology. Dr. Dbouk’s special areas of clinical interest include transplant hepatology, treatment of viral hepatitis, as well as preventing and managing complications associated with end stage liver disease and recipients of liver transplantation. Dr. Dbouk earned both his bachelor's and medical degrees from the American University of Beirut. After completing a residency in Internal Medicine at the University, Dr. Dbouk moved to the United States where he completed an additional residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Dbouk then completed both his fellowship in Gastroenterology and fellowship in Transplant Hepatology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Dbouk's research has focused on outcomes in liver transplant recipients, management of Hepatitis C in difficult to treat patient populations, and the management of complications of cirrhosis. He has co-authored several textbook chapters, and has been published in various peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Dbouk is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a member of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the American Society of Transplantation.

Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center has hired Bryce Sillyman as their new chief operating officer. Beginning March 1, 2021, Sillyman (pronounced Sil’man), will be responsible for West Georgia Medical Center’s daily operations and system performance, as well as sustaining an environment where doctors, nurses, and other caregivers can provide high-quality, compassionate care to the residents of LaGrange and surrounding communities. Prior to this role, Sillyman served as the Chief Operating Officer at Pottstown Hospital |Tower Health in Pennsylvania where he assisted in the transition of a newly created health system by planning and implementing best practices and organizational accountability. Previously, he held roles at University of Tennessee Medical Center, Vanderbilt University, and Emory Healthcare. Wellstar West Georgia President Coleman Foss said, “With 20 years’ progressive leadership roles, Bryce knows how to develop teams that build reliable, valuedriven, and patient-centric delivery systems. We are very fortunate to have him on board as COO at West Georgia Medical Center.” Outside of work, Sillyman is an active volunteer and leader in professional, civic, and faith-based organizations in addition to being a long-standing adjunct faculty member at Emory University and Lipscomb University, where he instructs students in the subjects of healthcare finance and organizational behavior. He’s a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and trained in LEAN process improvement techniques. Sillyman holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration, both from the University of Missouri. He and his wife Mindy have four children, two of whom have already started careers in healthcare. (Movers & Shakers continued on page 38) www.lagrangechamber.com

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NEED HELP FINDING A PHY Wellstar Medical Group offers you a choice. Our physicians and advanced practice providers are part of Wellstar Medical Group, one of the largest multispecialty medical groups in Georgia made up of more than 1,150 providers representing 40 specialties. Wellstar Medical Group provides healthcare services, including primary and specialty care, acute care and ambulatory care in convenient and accessible locations. Wellstar Medical Group is committed to taking care of you, and your family’s health care needs.

Olumide Ajayi, MD

Wellstar Medical Group Family Medicine 454 LaGrange Street Greenville, GA 30222 706.845.3599

Joy Baker, MD, FACOG, PMH-C, C-EFM, MT (ASCP)

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Wellstar Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology 1602 Vernon Street Suite 200 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7252 WellStar Medical Group Gastroenterology 1551 Doctors Drive LaGrange, GA 30240 Phone: (706) 880-7311

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Jennifer Carter, MD

Tom Gore, MD

Wellstar Medical Group Hematology & Oncology 1514 Vernon Road LaGrange, GA 30240 706.812.2426

Wellstar Medical Group Cardiovascular Medicine 1602 Vernon Road Suite 300 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.242.5100

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Torey Harden, MD

Wellstar Medical Group Family Medicine 1497 Lafayette Parkway LaGrange, GA 30241 706.880.7335

211 East Broad Street Pine Mountain, GA 31822 706.845.3494

May 2021

211 East Broad Street Pine Mountain, GA 31822 706.845.3494

Srinivas R. Bramhadevi MD, FAAFP, MBA

Wellstar Medical Group Family Medicine 454 LaGrange Street Greenville, GA 30222 706.845.3599

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Martha Clements, MD

Wellstar Medical Group Family Medicine 1497 Lafayette Parkway LaGrange, GA 30241 706.880.7335

Wellstar Medical Group Cardiovascular Medicine 1602 Vernon Road, Suite 300 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.242.5100

Wellstar Medical Group Pediatrics 301 Medical Drive Suite 504 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.812.2655

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Mark Mudano, MD

Wellstar Medical Group Orthopedics 300 Medical Drive, Suite 707 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7320

Vincent Scoglietti, MD

Wellstar Medical Group General Surgery 1600 Vernon Road Suite A LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7343

Ravina Kadam MD, CCD, FACP, CDE

Weredeselam Olango, MD

Richard S. Simmons MD, FACP, FCCP

Robinette King, MD

Ariyo Olobatoke, MD

Ashley Stewart MD, FACS

Wellstar Medical Group Internal Medicine 300 Medical Drive, Suite 704 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7361

Wellstar Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology 303 Medical Drive, Suite 405 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.242.5099

Wellstar Medical Group Neurology 303 Medical Drive, Suite 401 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.242.5161

WellStar Medical Group Pulmonary Medicine 1551 Doctors Drive LaGrange, GA 30240 Phone: (706) 880-7222

Wellstar Medical Group Pulmonary Medicine 1551 Doctors Drive LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7222

Wellstar Medical Group General Surgery 1600 Vernon Road, Suite A LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7321

Gail Knight, MD

James Parker, MD

Robert Taylor, MD

Kevin Knight FNP-C, CFRN

Kalyani Rajeev MD, FAAP

Karin Whitlock Taylor MD, FAAPMR

Shawn Mathews, MD

Eugene Schaufler MD, FACOG, FAAP

Venu Thirukonda, MD, FACP

Margaret Schaufler MD, FACOG

Nick A. Vlachos, MD

WellStar Medical Group West Georgia Hospice 1510 Vernon Road LaGrange, GA 30240-4131 Phone: (706) 845-3905

Wellstar Medical Group Family Medicine 2000 Billy Tucker Cirlce Hogansville, GA 30230 706.880.7188

Wellstar Medical Group Ear, Nose & Throat 300 Medical Drive, Suite 705 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7144

Madhavi Naik, MD, FACOG

Wellstar Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology 106 Lukken Industrial Dr. West LaGrange, GA 30240 706.880.7204

visit wellstar.org

Wellstar Medical Group Family Medicine 1009 Ave.E (U.S. 29) West Point, GA 31833 706.242.5081

Wellstar Medical Group Pediatrics 301 Medical Drive, Suite 504 LaGrange, GA 30240 706.812.2655

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

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

Wellstar Medical Group Radiation Oncology 111 Medical Drive LaGrange, GA 30240 706.845.3544

Wellstar Medical Group Rehabilitation Medicine 1600 Vernon Road LaGrange, GA 30240 706.298.5592

Wellstar Medical Group Hematology & Oncology 1514 Vernon Road LaGrange, GA 30240 706.812.2426

Wellstar Medical Group Occupational Medicine 100 Glenn Bass Road LaGrange, GA 30240 706.845.3075

www.lagrangechamber.com

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May 2021


SPOTLIGHT ON TROUP COUNTY

Scoring Big! development will be located. This expansion will increase recreational space within our community by providing Troup County soccer players with a new place to practice and compete!

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he Troup County Parks & Recreation Department has recently announced their plan to expand the Chris Joseph Soccer Complex by adding new full size soccer fields and amenities to 1700 Whitesville Road, LaGrange, GA. The County is now in the process of taking bids on the demolition of Whitesville Road Elementary School, which is where the new

“We are currently in the clearing stage of this project,” said Troup County Parks & Recreation Director Lance Dennis, “But upon completion, this space will house three full size soccer fields, additional parking areas, and bathrooms for players and visitors.” The school’s gymnasium will remain intact and is set to receive updates to accommodate an indoor soccer area,

an addition that will greatly help with scheduling during inclement weather or on particularly eventful days. In order to fully utilize Troup County’s newly acquired property, some of the Whitesville Road Elementary School classroom spaces will be salvaged and refurbished to serve as offices for Parks & Recreation staff. Independent soccer clubs will be able to rent these office spaces and fields, if they are seeking a place to practice or play, for a set fee. Plans are also underway to dedicate additional classrooms to the Youth Art Program in the near future. No Grand Opening date has been set at this time, but we do look forward to keeping our citizens updated on the progress of this development as the project continues!

NON-PROFIT SPOTLIGHT

Continued Relief the United Way of West Georgia website. This provided individuals and businesses a way to contribute to the fund and for 501(c)(3) organizations to apply for grants to assist the most vulnerable in our community who were being affected by the Coronavirus.

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n March 2020, when the Coronavirus really arrived on the scene and started making big changes in our lives, many local United Ways began creating funds to allow them to assist those who had been most affected in their communities. Locally, the United Way of West Georgia began conversations with The Callaway Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley about creating such a fund for Troup County. The Callaway Foundation pledged a $50,000 match for the first $50,000 raised. In May of 2020, the Troup County Emergency Relief Fund was launched on

The generosity of the community has been amazing. In addition to many generous individuals, the fund received contributions from Truist Financial Foundation, the United Way of West Georgia, The Charter Foundation, the LaGrange Rotary Club, Georgia Power, United Way Worldwide, the Troup County Center for Strategic Planning and the generous Callaway Foundation match. In all, the Fund raised over $161,000 by the end of the year.

Vincent de Paul, Troup County School System and many others. Through these organizations rent, utilities, food, PPEs, air purifiers, a blood drive, setting up telehealth and tele-mental health equipment and much more have been provided for those in Troup County who have been most adversely effected by the consequences of the Coronavirus. In all more than 16,000 people in Troup County has received assistance through the Troup County Emergency Relief Fund. As of April, there are still funds available for additional grants, see www. unitedwaywga.org for information.

The Grant Committee for the Fund made their first grant awards on May 15, 2020. As of March 31, 2021, over $130,000 in grants have been awarded to 20 local organizations. Some of the organizations assisted include Troup Cares, Circles of Troup County, God’s Bread Basket Salvation Army, Ark Refuge Ministries, St. www.lagrangechamber.com

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Women’s Health Center Accredited as Breast Imaging Center of Excellence

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ellstar West Georgia Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center recently received accreditation as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This “designation is awarded to breast imaging centers that achieve excellence,” offering worldclass, quality breast care for people served by Wellstar West Georgia. A facility is eligible to receive the ACR Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation if it is fully accredited by the ACR in the following modalities: • Mammography (by the ACR or by an FDA-approved state accrediting body) • Stereotactic breast biopsy • Breast ultrasound, including the ultrasound-guided breast biopsy module • Breast MRI “We have worked towards this level of accreditation for the last eight years and are extremely proud and excited to achieve the ACR Breast Center of Excellence designation,” says Chief Technologist for Mammography Ashley Wilson. “Our breast imaging machines and modalities including diagnostic and high-risk screening breast MRIs, diagnostic and screening 3D mammography, diagnostic ultrasound, and both stereotactic and ultrasound-guided biopsy have all been reviewed and accredited. Our staff is also fully registered and accredited. We are extremely happy that we can provide the highest level of care in one department for WellStar West Georgia Health System patients. Our newest addition, which will be our second tomosynthesis mammography unit, utilizes the latest imaging technology that could potentially diagnose more early-stage cancers. The Women’s Health Center is also now able to perform pediatric ultrasounds, thanks to the addition of a certified technologist.”

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May 2021

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Hatton Lovejoy Scholarship a long-time member of LaGrange First United Methodist Church. As counsel to Fuller E. Callaway, Lovejoy grew to be a trusted confident and a family friend. As Mr. Callaway’s attorney, it was Lovejoy that applied for and received the charter for the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation in 1917. From that point forward, Lovejoy played an integral part of the Foundation, serving as legal counsel and Vice President from 1933 until 1964 when he died. In an address to the Lawyer’s Club of Atlanta, Mr. Lovejoy stated that a wise man, “…does not measure men by their age, their race, their position, or their money. He is attracted to men by their intellect, their knowledge, their experience, their friendliness, their character, their interest in life...” Lovejoy believed in the education needed to develop those traits. In 1964, the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation created two scholarship programs intended to “encourage and assist worthy young men and women to prepare themselves through college training for positions of community leadership and service.” He named the scholarships in honor of Hatton Lovejoy.

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obert Hatton Lovejoy was born in 1877 in White Plains, Georgia. In 1896, he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and the following year graduated with a law degree, both from the University of Georgia. Although he graduated with highest honors, he still found time for other activities; he played fullback on an undefeated Bulldog football team and was the star right fielder on the baseball team. He was admitted to the bar in June 1897 and started a law practice with his brotherin-law, Frank Harwell, in LaGrange that same year. A prominent attorney, Hatton Lovejoy served as both director and attorney for LaGrange National Bank, LaGrange Savings Bank, Unity Cotton Mills and Manchester Cotton Mills among other significant industries. His practice included both civil and criminal cases with individual clients from all walks of life, rich and poor. Mr. Lovejoy served as Troup County superintendent from 1901 to 1908 and a member of the Georgia State Legislature from 1909 to 1912. He was active in several civic organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Masons, was a charter member of the LaGrange Rotary Club, and

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Since then, over 500 scholarships totaling more than $10.4 million have been awarded to local students pursuing undergraduate and graduate educations. Doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, businesspeople, have been the beneficiaries of the tuition funding. Entire families, like that of Dr. Richard and Judy Freeman, and her children, John Wagner and Lauren Wagner, all received Hatton Lovejoy Scholarships, and have been greatly impacted by the scholarship. Dr. Freeman, who received one of the first scholarships in 1965 to attend Georgia Tech, and later the Medical College of Georgia, has stated that the financial impact was significant given that his parents were


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unable to help with college tuition. Others, like Randyl Cochran, have used the scholarship to return education to others. Dr. Cochran, who received the scholarship in 2008 for a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Mercer University, in 2012 to earn a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Georgia, and in 2014 to complete a PhD in Health Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is now a professor of Health Sciences at Towson University in Baltimore. The scholarship’s impact is apparent not only in Troup County, but across the country. Hatton Lovejoy’s legacy may be best summed by his own words, delivered in his 1951 Alumni Day address at the University of Georgia: “It seems to me the greatest reward in life should come to a man who aids a young man in developing his powers and ability, in training in the ability to think, and in the inculcating of those qualities which make for a fine character, so that these young men may become the greatest men possible in their professions and in their communities.”

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C H A M B E R

E V E N T S

Join us in celebrating our members! Ribbon Cuttings, Anniversary Celebrations and Grand Openings

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Cell Wiz, LLC 519 New Franklin Road, LaGrange

CheesyMac Deli 120 Bull Street, LaGrange

Goodwill and Career Center Groundbreaking 311 Commerce Avenue, LaGrange

Habitat for Humanity ReStore 333 Main Street, LaGrange

Hogansville City Hall 111 High Street, Hogansville

Lazy Lizard Furniture 109 Cleveland Drive, LaGrange


C H A M B E R

Refresh Me Center 307 Church Street, LaGrange

The Local Chiropractic 104 Church Street, LaGrange

The Thread: New Segment Completion @ Hillside

Webb’s Heating and Air 1508 Whitesville Road, LaGrange

E V E N T S

UGA Cooperative Extension Groundbreaking 2168 Pegasus Parkway, LaGrange

Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve 3550 Mooty Bridge Road, LaGrange

Wicked Wrench Automotive 2726 West Point Road, LaGrange

Yippee Machine & Fabricating 1213 Bartley Road, LaGrange

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C H A M B E R

E V E N T S

SAFETY COUNCIL

Presented by Hyundai Transys Georgia Powertrain Inc., the Troup County Safety Council met on Wednesday, March 17 at Hyundai Transys Georgia Powertrain Inc. for a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events/Active Shooter training for business & industry featuring Senior Police Officer with the LaGrange Police Department, Jim Davison.

CHAMBER BUSINESS COUNCILS The Chamber meets quarterly in Hogansville and West Point so members that are unable to attend events in LaGrange can "be in the know." We focus on topics of interest to general membership as well as community­specific issues.

Hogansville

The Hogansville Business Council met for their first quarterly meeting on Tuesday, March 30. Caleb Stanley, CEO of Pioneer Georgia gave our group a tour of the Pioneer’s Artist Collaborative located at 306 E. Main Street. Pioneer’s Artist Collaborative is a gathering space and business incubator for creatives and startups in the south Atlanta area. Tapping into Atlanta’s growing film industry and small tech startups – to starting coffee shops and online plant stores, leather makers and potters, the artist collaborative is sure to attract creators from all across the country.

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West Point

The West Point Business Council met on Thursday, March 25 at American Smokehouse in Downtown West Point. Coleman Reeves was our featured speaker from the Downtown Development Authority. He provided an overview on new growth and opportunities for new businesses to invest in downtown. Coleman also mentioned ways for businesses to take advantage of resources available for tax incentives and state funding.


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EARLY BIRD BREAKFASTS February Our featured speaker for Early Bird Breakfast on Tuesday, February 9 was Troup County School System Superintendent, Dr. Brian Shumate. Special thanks to our Gold Sponsor, Childress Dental Center.

Left: Passing the Golden Gavel: George Bailey, 2020 Past Chair with Dale Jackson, 2021 Chamber Chairman

March On Tuesday, March 9 at Early Bird Breakfast we heard from LaGrange Mayor, Jim Thornton as he delivered his State of the City speech. Special thanks to our Gold Sponsor, The Yard on Mill Apartments.

Door prize winners: Tabitha Coverson, Communities in Schools of Troup County (Splash Kitchens & Bath basket from The Yard on Mill) Katherine Morefield, Great Wolf Lodge (handcrafted cutting board from Tuck’s Traditions)

April Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney, Herb Cranford was our guest speaker for Early Bird Breakfast on Tuesday, April 13.

Special thanks to our Gold Sponsor, Goldens Bike Shop.

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E V E N T S

LEADERSHIP TROUP LITTER CLEANUP

Every year the Leadership Troup class votes on a service project for their class to work on as a way to give back to their community. Katie Van Schoor, from the City of LaGrange, came and spoke to the class in the January session about the City’s litter cleanup. The 2020-2021 Leadership Troup class then voted to participate in the Saturday, March 6th litter clean up as their service project

for the year in the Calumet Park neighborhood. The class partnered with the City of LaGrange, Calumet Park Neighborhood Association, Kiwanis Club of LaGrange, Ark Refuge, LaGrange Fire Department, and many more volunteers, for a record-breaking cleanup crew of nearly 120 people! Approximately 8,000 pounds of litter was collected.

NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION New member orientation connects members with leadership, advocacy, networking, professional development, and learning the benefits of chamber membership. The goal is to engage new members so that they feel supported and engaged. On March 16, a group of new members gathered at the chamber to learn about the tools and resources available with their membership and the ways to make their investment last! We discussed the advantages of chamber membership and the group met other new members and learned about their businesses as well! Also in attendance was Todd Carlisle with the Small Business Development Center, Chamber Diplomats and members of the Board of Directors.

STATE OF COMMUNITY

presented by Jackson Services: The first quarter State of Community luncheon featuring Economic Development was held on Monday, March 22 at Del’avant. The program was led by John Asbell with Georgia Power and guests had the opportunity to hear from two panelists who were there in person and two who joined via Zoom. The panelists provided information on current trends, COVID effects and future plans with economic development.

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Featured panelists included: Amanda Fields, Sr. Project Manager, Georgia Department of Economic Development Jim Lovett, Regional Project Manager, Georgia Power Scott Malone, President, Development Authority of LaGrange Kelley Bush, Senior Economic Development Manager, Development Authority of LaGrange


E N V I R O N M E N T

Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve Features Natural Green Cemetery

LaGrange family’s strong ties to historic land helps to ensure its perpetual conservation

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alph Howard recalls growing up as a young boy exploring the rocky streams, forests and daisy-covered meadows dotting the 140 acre homestead his parents purchased north of LaGrange, Georgia in 1946. Seventy-five years later, Howard, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, walks this familiar and cherished land and is happy to know he and his family have now conserved the acreage for future generations to come, as they unveil Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve. “We have been fortunate and blessed as a family to grow up and live on this beautiful land, but you can’t take it with you,” Howard said with a grin. “So we have opened this property to registered guests who enjoy the great outdoors and to those who prefer to honor loved ones who’ve passed with an environmentally-friendly, natural green burial.” Howard pointed to walking trails, horse stables, streamside benches, and bird watching stations, which are among the amenities of the 140-acre preserve that also features a state registered and licensed 20-acre green cemetery. Visitors won’t find rows of headstones, but instead natural stones are engraved and placed graveside to pay tribute to those who are buried in fabric shrouds and a wide range of biodegradable containers. Cremated remains can be interred or scattered on these sacred grounds where Native Americans hunted thousands of years ago and settlers began farming in 1830. Kemp Freeman, a longtime resident of Troup County is among the first to memorialize loved ones at Whispering Hills after years of keeping cherished cremains of his mother Kathleen Harmon, grandmother May Raby, and Uncle Alan Raby in urns at his home. “I always knew the right place would come around someday. Whispering Hills is the perfect place to honor my family members who truly loved the outdoors,” said Freeman,

whose uncle was good friends with the Howards. “He enjoyed walking that land, and even told me years ago, long before plans for Whispering Hills, that he’d like to be laid to rest there one day.” Jean Howard, Ralph’s younger sister who has run the horse farm since 2002, is a big supporter of a more natural farewell. “Whispering Hills represents a wonderful new perspective on traditional funerals and cemeteries. We work closely with regional funeral directors to offer affordable green burial options in a natural setting and a simpler way to honor our loved ones and commemorate their lives in a scenic place,” Jean said of the land she knows well from a childhood spent exploring every acre. MORE AMERICANS CONSIDERING GREEN BURIALS “Higgins Funeral Home in LaGrange, Georgia is aligned with Whispering Hills to offer a range of green burial options to families everywhere,” said Jeff Higgins, who is among a growing list of experienced funeral providers adapting to meet the increasing trend and interest in green interments. With more than half (62%) of Americans considering a green burial, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, both Ralph and Jean Howard believe families from across Georgia, Alabama, and the South will include Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve among their choices for a final resting place. Jeannette Little, a retired judge in LaGrange, has already secured a burial site at Whispering Hills. “It’s a subject we

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all have to think about of course, and I like the idea of a green burial and farewell at a beautiful place like Whispering Hills,” explained Little, a cousin of Ralph and Jean Howard who also explored the land as a kid. “I’m fairly environmentally green minded in life, why not be in death.” Whispering Hills is the first-of-its-kind preserve in the region, featuring the third green cemetery in Georgia, part of a growing national movement toward more eco-friendly burials. “Whispering Hills is a memorial nature preserve,” Jean explained. “When a family member purchases an interment here, they are helping to preserve the land for future generations.”

Restore Pressure Washing & Soft Washing, LLC LeaderSci, LLC Daeha-America, Corp. Fog Squad GA A & W Tax Service The Exchange at 1105 Teachable Moments Inc., Early Learning Center Crave Cookie Company, Inc. 36

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The Howards find it very satisfying to be among the early green cemetery pioneers. “The green burial movement serves so many purposes. Families can find a special final resting place, a more fulfilling experience, and at the same time help conserve this land forever,” Ralph explains, as he stands beside the larger-than-life metal sculpture at the entrance to Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve. The art installment titled “The Resting Plow”, by artist Gordon Chandler of Carrollton, Georgia, commemorates the farming heritage that runs deep throughout Troup County, the region, and across the Whispering Hills Memorial

Nature Preserve at 3550 Mooty Bridge Road (Ga. Hwy 219) north of LaGrange. GREEN BURIAL MOVEMENT Natural burials offer environmentallyfriendly alternatives to traditional funerals by eliminating the use of embalming, metal, concrete burial vaults and large stone monuments. Green burials are generally more affordable than traditional funerals and are considered an eco-friendly alternative to cremations.

Welcome New Members!

Mike Gilmartin, Individual

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Victoria Jewelry & Repair

Signode - ITP

Mixon Products

Elite Marketing Company

Providence Staffing, LLC

Destiny Church LaGrange

TalentKinect

The Local Chiropractic

Wicked Wrench Automotive

Cell Wiz, LLC

Whispering Hills Memorial Nature Preserve

Yippee Machine & Fabricating Inc.

John Carden, Individual

Webb’s Heating and Air

Circles of Troup County

Goodwill of the Southern Rivers

Timberwolf Axe Throwing Bob Carlson, Individual

CheesyMac Deli TWFG Insurance Services Lavish Luxe Bridal Boutique Little Lions Preschool


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All for One.

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hether in sports or business, it takes a team to be successful. One of the biggest challenges for coaches, managers, and business owners can be creating cohesion within those teams. What are some of the ways to create cohesion within a team? Glad you asked! Below are a few thoughts that might help: 1. UNDERSTANDING the different personalities and communication styles of your team members. If you are looking for ways to identify these, there are various types of test depending on one’s needs. Some are more superficial in nature and provide a generic overview while others provide more in-depth insights. If we can know and understand the preferred communication style of a person, and communicate the task or objectives in that format, it can help create a more effective and efficient team. For example, an individual might fall underneath one of the following types: analytical, social, or detailed. Each one of these types can provide context into the preferred communication style of an individual. If the social type is approaching a detailed type about a project how should the conversation go? There may be a tendency for the social type to use their preferred style of being communicated with to explain the situation. This might be detrimental as the social type might begin by discussing their weekend and the project from a 30,000-viewpoint level. Whereas the detailed type is looking to understand and identify each step of the project. If the social type had known this, they could have changed their delivery, ensuring the detailed type was given the information in the most efficient and effective way.

2. HAVING TEAM MEETINGS OR FUNCTIONS WHEN APPROPRIATE. How often does the team get together? Whether the meetings are conducted virtually or in-person, being able to see and interact with one another can be a big boost to morale and idea generation within the company. If doing it virtually, have everyone turn on their cameras and actively engage in the meetings. 3. OVER COMMUNICATE. Having an active line of communication with your team members can be of benefit. If you have team members working remotely, the ability to have the “water cooler” conversations in the office that are sometimes used to bounce ideas off one another or simply ask a question is not possible. Actively talking with your team members daily can help provide them with the opportunity to have these type conversations. Whether it is in business or in sports, building a strong cohesive team is part of the journey to success. Some of the ways you can build that cohesion is by understanding your team members, spending time with them, and making sure the message is understood and clear to all.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR SMALL BUSINESS? Contact Todd Carlisle with the UGA Small Business Development Center at (706) 569-2651 to schedule a complimentary consultation in our LaGrange office.

www.lagrangechamber.com

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MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS (Continued from page 9)

V ICT O RIA BELLE “The place is beautiful, but when the bride walks in the door, it’s all about her,” Brown said. The goal is to make every wedding exactly what the bride has envisioned.

Nathan Gaskin,

LaGrange Councilman Congratulations to LaGrange Councilman Nathan Gaskin for being awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) for completing 120 hours of training from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. LaGrange May Jim Thornton presented the honor to Councilman Gaskin on behalf of GMA where he serves as the 1st Vice President. The Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute is a series of training programs designed to help city officials enhance their knowledge and skills in municipal related matters. With the exception to the state mandated Newly Elected Officials Institute, the courses offered are voluntary and offer city officials the opportunity to obtain additional training beyond what is required by state law.

Katie McGinty,

Sweetland Amphitheatre General Manager Katie McGinty accepted the position in March and began working on plans immediately. “I am so excited music is coming back to our stages! The music industry has suffered so much during the past year, and we’re finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For as far back as I can remember, music has been a life force, ever-present and indispensable. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing artists, producers, engineers, A&R departments, and so many more, and it’s been an absolute dream. Everything about music, from its creation to its consumption, brings so much happiness to my life.” McGinty has lived in LaGrange for many years. She and her husband, Josh, have three children. McGinty began her new role April 6th. 38

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Thanks to online presence, out-of-state weddings are a mainstay at Victoria Belle. Brown has had bookings from as far away as Minnesota and often has brides from South Carolina and Alabama. “I love to do local weddings, but my biggest business is destination weddings,” she said. Her favorite part of the job is “seeing all the elements come together.” She and her staff pride themselves on meticulously managing every detail, giving the bridal party a stress-free day. They aim to make it look easy, though it truly is work.. “We do not do cookie cutter weddings.

It’s a labor of love, but it’s still prodigious labor. I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have a passion for it,” she said. Brown has seen many changes in the wedding industry over the years, including an explosion of wedding venues across the area, but has held her own, won multiple awards and continued to grow. She takes it as a compliment when she’s referred to as a “pioneer.” “It’s amazing how huge the wedding industry has gotten to be, and how it’s changed. I just delight in it and am grateful to have been among the first and still be going strong.”


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BEING A BOSS

Remember The Reason You Got Into Business No matter what industry you are in, your business is in the problem solving business

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uccessful businesses are good at solving problems.

The larger the problem to solve, the more rewards you will reap. We instinctively know this is true, even if we can’t articulate it. Just look at our spending habits. Our favorite coffee shop solves our lack-of-energy-in-themorning problem. Music streaming soothes our rush hour stress with our favorite tunes. A food delivery app removes the hassle of driving to a restaurant. Your brands of choice provide you value by solving your problems. The more they fix, the more you love them! So, imitate your favorites. Explore the problem you’ve identified until you’re an expert. Next, develop a solution that crushes the problem. Training your sights on providing value won’t magically

make you successful. But it can serve as a guiding light when you feel directionless and unsure of your next steps. Can’t find your target market? Brainstorm which companies or agents would gain the most from implementing your solution. Be as specific as possible in explaining the benefits. Struggling to discover a niche in a saturated market? Look for issues that competitors and industries have ignored or missed. It might be something they’ve accepted as cost of business. Trying to scale up? Diligently research the obstacles your new clients face and tailor your solutions to their specific needs. If you don't currently own a business but are hungry to start one, think about the problems facing some of the largest industries in the world and how you can provide much needed solutions. Your ideas may provide the opportunity you need to get started. www.lagrangechamber.com

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n today’s challenging economic and business environment, getting your small business in front of more potential customers is critical to your long-term success. Advertising can be expensive and it’s often hard to track whether it’s successful or not. So how can you reach more customers without breaking the bank? Here are five budget-friendly marketing ideas you can try: EMAIL MARKETING Email marketing is still an incredibly effective form of marketing. Even though most of us are inundated with promotional emails, average marketing email open rates are between 20–25% depending on industry. The secret trick to success with email? Don’t just send a monthly “newsletter.” Send frequently, and send personalized, contextual emails. Email automation has come a long way in the last few years, and now even small businesses can configure emails based on your customer’s browsing and shopping habits. You could send a customer an automated email a few months after the purchase

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to see if they need to buy again, or you could automate an email to visitors that left a product in their shopping cart without finishing their order. Any time a visitor or customer clicks a link in an email or on your website, you can add them to a different list or segment. One of my favorite email campaigns is an onboarding flow. When someone signs up for our email newsletter, we send them a series of several emails, each a few days apart. We use the emails to educate potential customers about our brand and what products we offer, to build social proof with customer testimonials, and to convert them into customers by offering a first-time customer discount. What are some emails you could send to potential customers? EMBRACE SOCIAL MEDIA Social media is a powerful marketing platform, but too many small businesses don’t know how to effectively utilize it. Instead of only posting about products and sales, post content that your customers might find interesting. Post about events happening in the community. Post about your employees, customers, and even other businesses in the community.

For an excellent example of how a small, local business can effectively utilize social media, check out Jackson Services on Facebook. Their posts rarely have to do with actual HVAC or plumbing services. A lot of small businesses are afraid of how it will look if they “toot their own horn” too much, but if you don’t, who will? Get out there and let the community (and your potential customers) know what’s going on, and do it frequently. You should be posting on a regular schedule… it doesn’t have to be daily but it should at least be regularly (i.e. twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays). The best thing about social media is it’s effectively free to use, takes very little time, and long-term has an amazing return on investment (ROI). THE POWER OF VIDEO Video is a powerful communication tool. You don’t have to be a professional videographer to use video to grow your business. In fact, most of us have a high-quality 4K video camera right in our pockets. You can record high-quality video content right on your mobile phone. The key isn’t the video production quality, but rather the content. Video is a great


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way to educate potential customers, to enhance customer service, and to build your brand on social media. An example of this could be a car salesman. When a new car comes onto the lot, it takes a while to take photos and get it on the website, but you can do a quick 2-minute video walkthrough and post it to Facebook immediately. What kinds of video content could you post once or twice a week? RUN A CONTEST OR GIVEAWAY Contests are a great cost-effective way to build a following on social media or build your email list. You could post a contest to Facebook organically or spend a few dollars to boost the post to get even more exposure. Gleam.io and Outgrow are platforms that can manage entries, randomly pick winners, and encourage viral social sharing for just $10–15/month. GET INVOLVED LOCALLY People don’t do business with “companies,” they do business with other people. Building your network is one of the best ways to grow your business locally.

Being involved in the community builds your brand and raises awareness of your business. When someone gets asked for a recommendation for your product or service, you want to be the first company that comes to mind. Chamber of Commerce events like the Early Bird Breakfast, annual meeting, golf tournament, and other networking events are a great way to meet people and spread the word about your business. BONUS - DIRECT MAIL Direct mail may not seem that budgetfriendly at first, because of the higher up-front printing and postage costs, but if we’re talking about bang for the buck, you should still consider direct mail. Targeted direct mail campaigns can have a higher ROI than just about every other traditional marketing channel. The key to a successful direct mail campaign is two-fold: narrow down your target audience and send them an offer they can’t refuse. Narrow Down Your Audience - Who are your target customers? With high printing and postage costs, you don’t want to send a generic ad to everyone in

the county. You have to narrow down your list. You could create a campaign targeted to customers who haven’t shopped with you in the past 6–12 months, or frequent customers that have ordered 3 or more times. The key is to limit the scope of your campaign and target a specific list of people. Create a Compelling Offer - Once you have a specific segment of customers, you can create a compelling offer just for them. You could send a “win back” campaign with a coupon for customers who haven’t shopped with you in a while, or start a “VIP” loyalty program for frequent shoppers. Lastly, you want to be able to track the success of the campaign. Traditional advertising campaigns are hard to track, but you can create a special landing page on your website and/or a special phone number to include in the ad so you can track the number of visits/calls. If you come up with a compelling offer and send it to a small, targeted list of potential customers, the print mail campaign will be affordable and should have an excellent return on ad spend (ROAS).

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YOUNG

PROFESSIONALS

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.

HYPE BOARD MEMBER PROFILE

HYPE LUNCH WITH LEADERS HYPE hosted a Lunch with Leaders session on Wednesday, March 17 at the Chamber of Commerce.

Brandon Adams Current Employer: Airforce Heating and Air Current Title: Business Manager How long have you worked in Troup County: 18 Years When you’re not working, what do you like to do: Play baseball with my son, listen to and play music What is your best personal achievement: Other than my children, successfully initiating and running a political campaign What are your future plans: Continuing to serve the community in various philanthropic ways, perhaps running for public office again Favorite Ice Cream: MINT CHOCOLATE DIPPIN' DOTS All-Time Favorite Movie and Why: The Shack, it moved me spiritually and inspired my faith. If you won $1 million, what would you do with the money: Donate some, spend some, invest a lot Favorite “after work” spot in Troup County: Juanito’s 42

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Lunch with Leaders provided an opportunity to grab lunch and listen to Troup County’s top leaders representing diverse industries in a small group setting.

Our featured guests included:

Tabitha Coverson, Executive Director Communities in Schools of Troup County Jennifer McCutchen, Executive Director CASA of Troup County, Inc. Kim Myers, Director Get Troup Reading Patty Youngblood, President United Way of West Georgia

What is HYPE?

• A group of young professionals in Troup County looking to network with each other. • An opportunity for professional development and career growth. • An opportunity to get involved in the community and develop leadership skills.

How do I join?

• Contact the Chamber of Commerce to get an application, fill it out, and return it to them so you can be added to the HYPE contact list. • There are no ‘fees’ if you are employed by a Chamber member. • Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and be on the lookout for emails and posts about upcoming events!


A Place for Every Kid

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Nader Dbouk, M.D.

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the care you expect. the professionals you know. a name you trust. 303 SMith Street, lagrange ga 706.882.8831 www.emoryatlagrange.org facebook.com/emoryatlagrange

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