LEADING THE WAY www.lagrangechamber.com
John Cashen, LaGrange, GA
John Cashen is a survivor in more ways than one. In 2005, the New Orleans resident lived through Hurricane Katrina and later reunited with his family in Georgia. He summoned that fighting spirit again when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in summer of 2019. Although specialist after specialist recommended surgery, John - determined to find a non-invasive solution - found a true partner in his health journey at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center. There, Dr. Robert Taylor used stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) to deliver precise, targeted radiation in high doses, eliminating Johnâ€™s cancer without surgery. These days, John relishes time spent with his grandchildren and builds authentic, Mardi Gras parade floats, bringing a festive bit of New Orleans to his adopted hometown, LaGrange, Georgia. wellstar.org/peoplecare
Wellstar West Georgia Enoch Callaway Cancer Center 111 Medical Drive | LaGrange, GA 30240
(706) 812-2191 More than healthcare. PEOPLE CARE 2
November 2020 VOLUME VII, ISSUE IIII A publication of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce 111 Bull St./P.O. Box 636 LaGrange, GA 30241 (706) 884-8671 www.lagrangechamber.com EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chairman: George Bailey, Salvation Army Chairman-Elect: Dale Jackson, Jackson Services Secretary/Treasurer: John Westmoreland, CPA, Boatwright
Past Chairman: Marlene Rhodes, Barr H Properties West Point Representative: Jamey Jackson, Individual Member
OTHER COMMITTEES Chairman for Membership Development Norma Tucker, Individual Member Chairman for Programs and Events Jamey Jackson, Individual Member Chairman for Leadership Development Zsa Zsa Heard, LaGrange Housing Authority Chairman for Small Business and Business Advocacy Brandon Eley, Eley Digital Chairman for Education/Workforce Development Opal Hogg, Jindal Films
4 | A Letter from the Chairman
23 | Education
6 | Cover Story
24 | Small Business Spotlight
10 | Healthcare
25 | Spotlight on West Point
12 | Spotlight on LaGrange
26 | Movers, Shakers, Risk-Takers 28 | Spotlight on Entrepreneurship
It’s a Wonderful Life
Women in Leadership
2020 Small Business of the Year
Wellstar’s Renovated Cancer Center
Abbott Makes Investments
14 | Spotlight on Troup County
29 | Chamber Events 32 | Spotlight on Tourism
UGA Cooperative Extension
16 | Future Works
On the Horizon
33 | Small Business
17 | Spotlight on Innovation
34 | Marketing
18 | Spotlight on Hogansville
Search not Found
35 | Business
Being a Boss
Chairman for Diversity and Inclusion
38 | Young Professionals
Monica Barber, City of West Point
HYPE – Keeping Troup Connected
Chairman for Total Resource Campaign Dale Jackson, Jackson Services
Christine Gatlin, Jameel Dixon
Jayme Ogles This publication is produced by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written permission is prohibited. All claims, materials and photos furnished or used are, to the publisher's knowledge, true and correct. Publication of any article or advertisement is not an endorsement by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.
Troup Trends is published quarterly by the LaGrangeTroup County Chamber of Commerce. Please send news items, suggestions, advertising requests and comments to:
P.O. Box 636 • LaGrange, GA 30241 lagrangechamber.com
ON THE COVER Photo Courtesy of Blair Bush, Kelsey Advertising & Design
LEADING THE WAY www.lagrangechamber.com
For social distancing purposes, the cover photo was shot individually and photo-shopped.
s George Bailey, I hear this a lot and now, more than ever, it certainly rings true! It’s a Wonderful Life!
When I started this year as Chairman of the Board for the LaGrange Troup County Chamber, one of my primary goals was to ensure we provided the support our members needed. I encouraged everyone to get involved, attend events and stay connected. My focus was to make sure that every business in Troup County was ready for a great year. We were off to a good start - we had one of our most successful annual meetings, we had great speakers and programs lined up and we had just hired a new president. Then, the pandemic happened and life as we knew it changed. But, much like the movie character George Bailey, I knew:
I am also honored that we get to once again kick-off the Christmas season with our 44th annual parade. This year’s theme “Christmas to the Rescue” couldn’t be more appropriate. We look forward to recognizing our first responders and health care professionals across Troup County for their amazing efforts this past year in keeping our community safe. I am excited about the work behind us, the work still ahead of us and the future of Troup County and the LaGrange Troup County Chamber of Commerce. It has been a year of learning, growing and adapting for everyone. Through it all, it’s been a privilege to serve as Chairman. It truly is a wonderful life!
“We can get through this thing all right. We’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.” And, that is what we did at the Chamber. We worked together to bring information and support to our business community. We found ways to bring our members together so that they could continue to network and, we continued to believe in what we were doing. I am proud of what we have been able to do this year.
George Bailey Chairman, Executive Committee LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce
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C O V E R
S T O R Y
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP
What traits make a good leader? Local bosses offer these observations: “A leader is someone who appreciates the talents of coworkers and inspires them to work together to move the organization forward.” “A leader must be willing and strong enough to ask for help.” “A leader works to build trust and respect. Leading by example is important.” And what do these observations have in common? All were made by women bosses. The look of leadership has changed over the past decades in Troup County, as across the world. While men still hold a sizable majority of leadership positions, it’s no longer uncommon to see a woman at the top. “Times have changed, and the opportunities are there,” said Sandy Lee, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown LaGrange. “But it is not going to come to you. You’ve got to work for it.” This edition of Troup Trends features five of the many women in leadership roles in Troup County, one each from education, the arts, business, government and nonprofits. 6
DR. SUSANNA BAXTER
President, LaGrange College
hile Dr. Susanna Baxter has crossed the first-100-days milestone as the newly appointed president of LaGrange College, it’s certainly not the 100 days she expected when she first began considering a move to west Georgia. Baxter began her time as the 26th president in July, after serving for 10 years as president of the Georgia Independent College Association in Atlanta. “I’ve always worked in higher education and this is another logical step in the course of my career,” she said. “I was attracted to LaGrange College because I love the small, private college. It’s in my DNA. Also, there is the faith-based component. I have a particular sense of calling to this.” Among the earliest lessons Baxter learned growing up was to be in service to others. Her childhood was spent in North Carolina with a father who is a retired United Methodist minister and a mother in education. “It’s hard to divorce who I am from the sense of a creator and a life that has a purpose. It’s ingrained in my core and LaGrange College allows me to speak to that,” Baxter said. “I felt a strong sense of God’s presence in this decision. It was a good match.” Baxter is the second woman to be named president of the college. Mary “Daisy” Davies was president 100 years ago – and dealt with the flu epidemic of 1918 during her tenure. Her strict quarantine rules resulted in keeping her students safe from
the flu with not one case on campus. The parallel to Baxter’s beginnings isn’t lost on her. “It does seem sort of a cosmic joke, but maybe this community needs that perspective again,” she said. COVID – and keeping the students safe – has been at the forefront of Baxter’s first days and months on campus. “It does feel good that we are back open. And we’ve had tremendous success in keeping our COVID load low because our staff worked tirelessly to put protocols in place and we’re adhering to that,” she said. As difficult as navigating a college during a pandemic has been, Baxter has also seen a positive side. “We’ve had to get creative with a lot of things and I’ve been so impressed with how well our faculty has responded. I already knew this place had heart and little pockets of innovations, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn there are more than ‘little’ pockets. I think COVID has pushed some of our innovation as well,” she said. The theater department adapted quickly at the beginning of the semester to be able to provide students an opportunity to perform. Theater Arts director Kim Barber Knoll chose Greek theater for the fall schedule. Students met for sunrise outdoor rehearsals in masks and presented two 30-minute performances of Antigone and Medea. Only 20 people were allowed to attend each performance with instructions to
C O V E R bring-your-own lawn chair and mask. One was performed on the lawn of Sunny Gables and the other at the creek bed at Hills and Dales.
“It was wonderful,” Baxter said. “I felt normal for about an hour. It was a gift.”
Executive Director, Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter
While students and faculty have navigated wearing masks and social distancing, Baxter has had to make adjustments as well. “A college president’s number one job the first year is listening. I wanted my first year to focus on relationship building and listening,” she said. She has succeeded in meeting with every faculty member for a one-hour session, as well as meeting with groups of staff, but she has had to put other meetings on hold. “I had hoped to meet with alumni and community members, but that didn’t happen,” she said. “LaGrange College is a ready partner with the community and I can’t wait to be able to hear from them how we can better serve our community and its businesses.” Her family has also had to shift expectations. Baxter’s family - husband Mark Huffman and sons Inman and Wade – have had a challenge meeting new people. “I’m not sure you can be ‘settled’ in this current context. It’s hard to make friends when you can’t go to restaurants, events, church or even play dates for the kids because it’s just not available. We saw this move as a family affair, but we can’t do that now. It’s dramatically different than what we envisioned,” she admitted. These days may be different than expected, but Baxter has a clear vision of the kind of leader she wants to be. It comes from her own experience as an undergraduate at Pfeiffer College in North Carolina. “My favorite professor was over the philosophy and religion department. He was the kind of professor who ate in the cafeteria with students – with all the students. He took an interest in me and encouraged me. He thought there needed to be more female theologians and he thought I could do it,” she said. Majoring in Christian education and religion, she did intend to go into ministry, but instead fell in love with higher education. “He opened doors for me. When I dated Mark, he insisted on meeting him – and approved,” she said “I keep his picture in my office wherever I go. “It reminds me of the influence we all have.”
S T O R Y
ichele Bedingfield left her metro Atlanta home to attend LaGrange College, expecting to return to the city as an elementary school teacher. Instead she found a permanent home in LaGrange and discovered a different calling. “I completed my student teaching at Mountville Elementary while the school system was going through consolidation, so there was no hiring. My experiences at Mountville made me realize I really wanted to work in the Troup County Schools, so I decided to stay here and wait it out.” With a minor in criminal justice, she found a part time job in the local probation office. That led to other opportunities and, ultimately, a change of career direction. After several years working with offenders, she moved to a contract job with DFACS, working as a counselor with troubled families. A chance conversation with a friend pointed her to the nonprofit world as director of the Pregnancy Care Center, now First Choice Women’s Center. “It was my first nonprofit, so another big learning curve,” she said. Almost 15 years ago, Bedingfield became executive director of Harmony House, a United Way agency that serves victims of domestic abuse and their children. Her responsibilities range from directing a 14bed, 24/7 shelter to teaching teen dating violence prevention in local schools, plus grant writing, fundraising, raising public awareness and working with legislators on laws related to domestic violence. She also sometimes takes out the trash and cleans the bathroom. “You do whatever it takes,” Bedingfield said. “You love it, you care about it, and you want to be a wise steward of resources.” Bedingfield believes each step in her career path has supported the next. “Looking back on it, I can see that a lot of what I did then provided the foundation for what I do now. What I have learned – about addiction, about domestic violence, about unplanned pregnancy - there definitely is a string that connects.” As a nonprofit leader, Bedingfield said the biggest challenge is developing and maintaining relationships, with potential donors, certainly , but also with her co-workers and community partners,
like law enforcement, churches, civic groups, other nonprofits and medical professionals. As a 24/7 operation with just 12 workers, Harmony House staffers are thoroughly cross trained, a practice that has greatly benefited the effectiveness of the operation, Bedingfield said. “I am really proud of our team. Any of them could step up and lead,” she said. Unlike many organizations, which have had to suspend or slow down services during the health crisis, Harmony House has had to step up. Job loss and other stresses associated with the pandemic have sparked a rise in crisis calls. With traditional fundraisers, like the Dragon Boat Race, suspended, they have received emergency help from United Way and the Callaway Foundation. “This town is amazing,” Bedingfield said. “They don’t just show up, they show out.” Bedingfield’s career advice is to “find a mentor and, in return, mentor others.” Her personal mentors include the “strong people” who founded Harmony House in 2005. Wife of Milliken executive Lee Bedingfield and mother of three, one in college and two in high school, Bedingfield urges young people looking for career success to “raise your hand and offer to come to the table.” “A lot times, people, especially women, aren’t brought into leadership because they don’t raise their hand. It’s important to speak up.”
C O V E R
S T O R Y
Executive Director, Lafayette Society for the Performing Arts
erri Vice would have laughed, years ago, if you’d told her she would be leading a nonprofit arts organization devoted to dance, theater, singing and storytelling. She’s an Auburn-trained mechanical engineer, after all, and came to LaGrange as a process engineer with Milliken. She met her husband, radio station owner Coleman Vice, at a Chambersponsored function, and her 13 years with Milliken included stints in marketing and Human Resources. She even ran a home-based catering business for a time.
General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, LaGrange
verything rises and falls on leadership,” said Sandy Lee, a hospitality industry veteran, now manager of the boutique hotel on Lafayette Square.
Lee moved to LaGrange from Washington, D.C. in 1996 to be near her parents and has stayed because, in her words, “I love this town. LaGrange is a small town with a big vision.” Her personal vision of her role as a leader is clear. “Serving is what I do. My personal mantra is ‘I live to serve, and I serve to help others live,’” she said. On the job that means staying “charged up” so she can energize her team. “I aim to motivate and encourage my team and make them leaders, too. A happy team means happy guests.” She joined the Marriott organization after working in information technology and as a church administrator. For more than a 15 years, she commuted to Newnan and then Carrollton while serving as director of sales and then as general manager of a Hampton Inn. She transferred to the LaGrange hotel earlier this year. The Courtyard did not shut down during the pandemic, but business dropped dramatically. Recently, Lee has seen small but significant upticks in bookings. “We’re getting more calls. We’ve gotten some weddings. Seeing the hotel come back to life makes me smile.” Her goal, she said, is to make the Courtyard the “go to” hotel for LaGrange and to recruit more “staycation” business, both locally and from surrounding counties. As a leader, Lee believes it’s important to be active in the community and takes pleasure in supporting local businesses. “I am all about promoting ‘shop local, dine local,’”she said. She encourages anyone interested in developing as a leader to do what she has done: actively look for places to serve. “Don’t wait to be asked,” she said. “Go ask, ‘How can I help?’” Her advice to young women seeking career success is to look for a mentor. “Pick someone you admire and ask them. Most will welcome the chance.”
Vice joined LSPA in 2015 as business manager and was tapped for the director’s position a year later. It has been an ideal fit, she feels. “On my worst day, I am still happy to be here,” she said. LSPA is the “umbrella” organization for Lafayette Dance Center and Ballet Company, Lafayette Theatre and Academy, Young Singers of West Georgia and Azalea Storytelling Festival. Vice believes her varied experience prepared her for the daunting task of melding her talented, passionate colleagues into a collaborative whole. “My biggest challenge is all the different personalities, everyone trying to do good things,” Vice said. “It’s essential to respect that they all know their fields.” Her prior experience also taught her the importance of building relationships, a major component of her outreach to potential donors, parents and the community. Like all leaders, Vice has confronted the Covid-19 pandemic, which all but shut down LSPA operations for months and impacted everything from the chorus line to the bottom line. With careful planning and a commitment to safety, classes and performances have resumed, but smaller and with many changes. “Artists want to be performing. Everyone has been itching to get back. We think of it as our job to bring joy. We have a great team in place and we are going to make it happen.” The mother of an arts-loving teenaged daughter, Vice has this advice for young women looking to make their mark in leadership: “It’s OK to change. Say yes! Step outside your comfort zone to something that could be the best door you ever opened.”
C O V E R
MEG B. KELSEY
S T O R Y
LaGrange City Manager Meg Kelsey and City Councilman Jim Arrington pick up trash during a Leaving LaGrange Better than We Found It cleanup event.
City Manager, City of LaGrange
hen people hear that LaGrange City Manager Meg Kelsey is the daughter of Dick Bolin, Newnan’s longtime, highly regarded city manager, they tend to assume she’s a “chip off the old block.” Bolin, who retired in 2001, is a member of the Georgia Cities Hall of Fame. The council chamber in Newnan is named for him. Kelsey is proud of her father, but he never pushed her and she never planned to be in city management. She went to Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville with multiple career ideas in mind and changed majors several times. A “strengths test” at the college’s career center pointed her to two career paths: hotel management or city manager. “After a good laugh, I thought, ‘Well, I know something about city management,’” she said. She went on to study public administration and discovered her own passion for it. After earning a bachelors at GCSU, she got her master’s in the same field at UGA in 1996. She’s been with LaGrange city government ever since, serving as development specialist, assistant to the city manager, assistant city manager and deputy city manager before being elevated to the manager’s post in 2016. LaGrange operates under the Council Manager form of government, meaning the City Manager reports to the Council as their sole employee. Kelsey has massive responsibilities, but the two most important, she said, are managing the day-to-day operations of the city and carrying out the vision of the elected officials. “I believe it is the Manager’s job to ensure efficient and effective services that add value to the residents of the City. This includes the safety of our citizens, improving their quality of life through our services and programs and managing the resources available to us in a fiscally responsible way,” she said. With such widespread responsibilities, she said, it’s important not to be a “micromanager.” “I have great confidence in my staff to get their work accomplished, but I’m always available to support or help with any guidance needed.” She considers herself fortunate to have had outstanding mentors, including her predecessor Tom Hall, and to have had some 20 years experience in the city’s manager’s office before taking the helm following Hall’s death.
“I have had the opportunity to work with an unusually smart, universally respected and effective management team over the years here in LaGrange. In government and in politics, it’s hard to keep a good team together and work through differing opinions and viewpoints. We’ve been very fortunate here in LaGrange.” The biggest challenge of her position, she feels, is dealing with negativity. “No matter what direction we take as a City, there are always negative people bashing the City or the leadership team.” Her approach has been to launch several initiatives to provide opportunities for engagement and transparency – hiring a public information officer to help make citizens aware of what is being done on a daily basis; starting a youth council to give teenagers a voice and opportunities to serve; and creating LaGrange 101, a six-week program designed to provide participants an overview of the functions of each city department. “My goal is not to boast or brag about the work being done, but to make sure there are no misconceptions about why it is being done...Another goal is to show people how the City operates, allow them to meet the City officials and learn from each other.” Kelsey has found most LaGrange residents to be supportive and interested in improving their community. “Our citizens are family, and we always seem to pull together and press forward.” One example she’s especially proud of is the “Leaving LaGrange Better Than You Found it” litter cleanup initiative.
“I came up with the idea to shut down the government for a four-hour period in April of 2018 and have all city employees pick up litter,” Kelsey said. “The goal was not just to pick up litter, but to send a message to citizens that LaGrange is serious about the problem and to bolster pride in local neighborhoods.” The cleanup has become an annual event and has expanded into monthly cleanups with strong participation from city staff, Council members, neighbors, kids and more. “Personally, I participate each month,” Kelsey said, “and while it is trash pickup, it is a very rewarding experience. It’s a great time to clean up the community and get to know your neighbors.” Kelsey said her advice to a careerminded young person is the same she and her husband, businessman Brant Kelsey, give to their 19-year-old daughter. “We encourage her with three principles to focus on in all endeavors. First, be kind. Kindness does matter. It’s a difficult world out there with lots of negativity. Leave someone with a kind word, thought or deed. Second, effort. Hard work pays off and can be very rewarding. A good work ethic is supremely important in life. Third, gratitude. Be thankful for what you have. Often we complain about what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we do have. I think these three principles would be helpful to any aspiring leader.”
Wellstar’s Renovated Cancer Center Brings Cutting-Edge Care to LaGrange
n West Georgia, Wellstar Health System is taking its commitment to fight cancer to the next level. At the newly renovated Enoch Callaway Cancer Center (ECCC) at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center, patients don’t have to leave LaGrange to find the most advanced cancer care.
care, support and education, all under one roof,” says Wellstar West Georgia President Coleman Foss. “With our expansive facility, advanced treatment options and expert oncology team, we’re able to serve our patients better than ever before, helping them beat cancer without having to go out of town for treatment.”
Since the facility’s inaugural reopening on November 6, 2020, the Enoch Callaway Cancer Center is continuing to fill the need for safe, comprehensive cancer treatment. The local community can find leading cancer services and therapies right here locally.
INNOVATIONS IN CANCER CARE After undergoing a $29 million renovation, the 40,000 sq. ft. facility’s world-class features include:
For many patients, that may mean faster and more effective cancer care just miles from home. “The newly renovated Enoch Callaway Cancer Center allows us to provide compassionate, comprehensive cancer
• A new state-of-the-art linear accelerator with targeting capable of delivering the most advanced cancer treatments • Additional diagnostic technologies and individualized chemotherapy solutions • More patient exam rooms for radiation oncology • An expansion of medical oncology’s practice suite • An in-house pharmacy for chemotherapy
preparation • A boutique filled with wigs and other items for cancer patients • A resource center to learn about cancer, which includes a Children’s Corner with age-appropriate information, technologies and special programs to help children deal with a family member’s diagnosis of cancer • A chapel and public meeting space for support groups, community outreach activities, and complementary therapies such as therapeutic exercise and guided artistic expression classes EXPERT CANCER CARE CLOSE TO HOME The Enoch Callaway Cancer Center has long been recognized for its commitment to quality care. The facility’s oncology program has been accredited by the Commission on Cancer since 1992, earning commendations for its cancer staging, patient guidelines, cancer
H prevention, early detection programs and more. At the Enoch Callaway Cancer Center, experts use a multidisciplinary approach to fight back against many forms of cancer. Led by specialists Dr. Taylor, Dr. Venu Thirukonda and Dr. Jennifer Carter, the experienced oncology team works together to create individualized treatment plans for each and every person. Because no two people are alike, the specialists spend time to provide patients with education, support and personalized care, while offering anticancer treatments including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Innovative, minimally invasive therapies â€“ such as stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy â€“ target tumors with precision. Unlike traditional surgery, these state-of-the-art procedures can treat cancer in the brain, lungs and other parts of the body with minimal pain or discomfort.
By investing in the latest technologies and procedures, the Enoch Callaway Cancer Center is providing a whole new world of advanced treatment options for cancer patients in West Georgia.
Oncology Medical Director Venu Thirukonda, MD, FACP, says: â€œWe strive to bring the most recent and advanced anticancer treatments to people touched by cancer taking into consideration their individual health issues and their goals, at the renovated and expanded Enoch Callaway Cancer Center.â€?
â€œThe newly renovated Enoch Callaway Cancer Center allows us to provide compassionate, comprehensive cancer care, support and education, all under one roof,â€?
SAFE CARE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER Wellstar knows that cancer diagnoses donâ€™t stop, even during a pandemic. Thatâ€™s why the Enoch Callaway Cancer Center is also reopening with strict health precautions in place, in addition to their already stringent safety protocols. From temperature checks at entrances to enhanced cleaning measures, the cancer care team is going above and beyond to protect patientsâ€™ health and prevent infections. That means everyone can get the cancer care they need, safely. For more information about the Enoch Callaway Cancer Center, visit wellstar.org/ westgacancer or call (706) 812-2191.
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SPOTLIGHT ON LAGRANGE
City of LaGrange Awarded $2M Innovative Grant for Community Improvement, Job Training Initiatives for community improvement.” The LaGrange Housing Authority, Callaway Foundation, DASH Neighborhood Revitalization, Circles of Troup County, Ark Refuge Ministries, Fellowship Deliverance Ministries, Troup County School System, West Georgia Technical College, and a host of private construction companies provided letters of support for the application as did the residents who are to be assisted by the project. Christopher Nunn, DCA Commissioner, said, “The City of LaGrange has developed a remarkable community revitalization strategy which will result in housing solutions and workforce training. It is this type of ingenious thinking that will continue to move communities forward.”
he City of LaGrange is the first recipient of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Innovative Grant Program from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). CDBG is a federally funded program for states which focuses on benefitting low to moderate income people by providing resources for livable neighborhoods, economic empowerment and decent housing. The CDBG Innovative Grant program focuses on projects that will result in transformational changes: individual or a series of activities which will support long-term, systemic, and sustainable change. This grant is only eligible for non-entitlement communities (cities with populations of less than 50,000 and counties with less than 200,000). “This grant provides an opportunity for communities to demonstrate and develop forward-thinking, solution-driven initiatives that will enhance the quality of life for residents for generations to come,” Kimberly Carter, DCA’s Office of Community Development Director, said. After a review of preapplications, five communities were invited to submit a final application and three were provided. The City of LaGrange had the highest scoring application.
The $2 million grant will be used to transform an area in the Whitesville Road Corridor by acquiring and reconstructing seven dilapidated homes as rental units. Funds will also be used to purchase and renovate a commercial property that will serve as a Workforce Development Training Center where individuals will be prepared for and work alongside professionals in industries such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC installation and repair. Collectively, this project will help approximately 131 people. LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said several local businesses and community partners connected and developed this approach. He said, “I appreciate DCA offering this opportunity for communities to think creatively and to propose innovative solutions to recurring issues. DCA’s grant will allow us to improve substandard housing, provide job training, and enhance one of our major gateways.” Carter added, “The city’s Comprehensive Plan identified a lack of jobs and poverty as weaknesses in the community, so this project provides a much-needed remedy. The partnershipbased focus also reflects the importance of collaboration
About the Department of Community Affairs: The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) partners with communities to build strong and vibrant neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas through community and economic development, local government assistance, and safe and affordable housing. Using state and federal resources, DCA helps communities spur private job creation, implement planning, develop downtowns, generate affordable housing solutions and promote volunteerism. DCA also helps qualified Georgians with low and moderate incomes buy homes, rent housing and prevent foreclosure and homelessness. For more information, visit www.dca.ga.gov. To keep up with the latest news involving the City of LaGrange, go to www. lagrangega.org or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/lagrangegagov, Twitter at @lagrangegagov, & Instagram at instagram.com/cityoflagrangega
SPOTLIGHT ON TROUP COUNTY
Permanent Home for UGA Cooperative Extension STORAGE 108 165 SF
4H / FLEX 101 215 SF
E/LV 109 64 SF
STORAGE 110 115 SF
11 Ninth Street Suite 120 Columbus, GA 31901 P. (706) 571-6923 F. (706) 571-6928
STORAGE 111 55 SF
OFFICE 102 123 SF MEETING ROOM 112 1267 SF
OFFICE 103 123 SF
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CORRIDOR 107 489 SF
NOT FO CONSTRUC
OFFICE 104 123 SF WOMENS 115 152 SF OFFICE 105 123 SF
OFFICE 106 123 SF
AGRICULT EXTENSI OFFIC
BREEZEWAY 114 122 SF
RECEPTION 113 401 SF
MENS 116 152 SF
TROUP COUNTY, G
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EXTERIOR arlierRENDERING this year, the Troup County Board of AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION Commissioners approvedOFFICE the purchase of approximately TROUP COUNTY, GEORGIA 48 acres of land
on Pegasus Parkway. This site will serve as a permanent home for UGA Cooperative Extension and will allow for a wider variety of agricultural and 4-H youth activities for Troup County residents. Phase 1 of the project involves the construction of a new building, with future plans to include a covered livestock arena and fairgrounds. This phased approach is contingent upon funding acquisition, and there is no specific timeline set for the subsequent phases. Site preparation and grading are currently underway for Phase 1, with construction of the new facility slated to begin in early 2021. It is estimated that the build time will be between six and eight months, with a tentative opening date slated in late summer 2021. The approximately 4,500-square-foot building will include several offices, a reception area, a full demonstration kitchen, a 4-H work room, a large meeting room, and bathrooms accessible from both the interior and exterior of the building.
Along with the interior instructional areas, there will be room outside for additional teaching spaces. Examples of these outdoor educational areas include: a production greenhouse managed by Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, a covered pavilion for a potential Farmer’s Market, and pollinator gardens. Laura Mirarchi, Troup County Extension Coordinator, shares, “This is an exciting time for UGA Extension here in Troup County. Thanks to the generosity of the County, this state-of-theart building will allow us to expand our programming for Troup County residents of all ages. While grateful for our current office building, its location limits our ability to grow our agriculture and youth development programs. Once we move into the new structure, more expansive and engaging 4-H programs for youth; health & wellness programs for seniors; and, agriculture programs for local producers will become a reality. The addition of this facility is a great asset to the residents of Troup County, and Extension looks forward to what the future holds.” UGA Extension is the public outreach arm of the University of Georgia. Extension specialists deliver unbiased, researchbased information to Georgia residents through three main 14
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program areas: 4-H & Youth Development, Agriculture and Natural OCTOBER 2020 Resources, 22 and Family and Consumer Sciences. Trained specialists, also known as agents, assist homeowners, farmers, families, teachers, and other citizens with a variety of topics. The current office is located at 144 Sam Walker Drive in LaGrange.
F U T U R E
W O R K S
ON THE HORIZON
ord of mouth is still a viable means of communication in a small town, even during a pandemic that calls for fewer in-person interactions. Everyone wants to be “in the know,” especially Chamber of Commerce members who depend on news, trends and forecasts to better situate their organizations for sound decision making and planning. Here are some of the upcoming happenings in our community.
MAIN STREET, DOWNTOWN LAGRANGE
Did you ever walk by the building between Mare Sol and the Legacy Museum on Main and wonder what was inside? The company working out of that space at 134 Main Street was Infusion, an engineering firm. Infusion consolidated with an existing location, leaving that building available for lease, said Bill Hunnicutt, executive director of Downtown LaGrange Development Authority (DLDA). The next big project for DLDA is an effort to attract a residential property developer for downtown. “Downtown’s only missing amenity to add to its vibrancy is a residential component. We need people living in downtown,” he said. There are several locations available for such construction, including the southside of the Square at the former location of Ye Olde Red Door Antiques, the section of Main Street which was once home to Loy’s Office Supplies and the Southbend Park area. The public restrooms that will also serve as a storm shelter will soon be open at Southbend Park, according to Principle Construction president Leon Moody. Wild Leap co-founder Rob Goldstein reports they do not have a firm date on reopening, but hope to open before the end of this year. “It has been very unusual switching from operating the taproom seven days a week and throwing large scale events to online ordering and curbside pickup only,” Goldstein said. Over the last six months, his team has worked hard to innovate and create unique offerings that are only available at Wild Leap, which has been a huge part of
making their curbside business viable. In addition, they have continued to expand their production capabilities to meet the growing demand in their distribution markets. “While we are truly grateful for the support we have received, we can’t wait to open up the taproom again,” added Goldstein.
THE SQUARE, DOWNTOWN LAGRANGE
The historic Davis Pharmacy building at 10 North Lafayette Square was completely renovated after its east facing wall caved in. Leon Moody, owner of the building, did the renovation and has leased the downstairs to Ressa’s Unique Boutique. This new women’s clothing store is owned by Terressa Waldrep, who owns a boutique by the same name in Roanoke, Alabama, according to Barbie Watts, director of promotions and marketing for DLDA. A patio for outdoor dining and seating on the east side of the building is coming soon as well as upstairs office space available for lease.
CHURCH STREET, DOWNTOWN LAGRANGE
Two downtown historic buildings, the former Memorial Library built in 1930 at 114 Church Street and the circa 1921 Colonial Hotel at 119 Ridley Avenue, have been beautifully restored and are available for purchase or to lease, Hunnicutt said. The owners are Dave Knight, who grew up in LaGrange and now resides in Carrollton, and Randall Redding of Bremen.
BULL STREET, DOWNTOWN LAGRANGE
Women’s clothing boutique Elliebelle’s relocated from an old house on Church Street to 131 Bull Street, across from Charlie Joseph’s. Co-owner Marcia Hansen said she loves the big windows so pedestrians can window shop and all the foot traffic as people move from fitness center to bank to restaurants. With the retirement of Ellis Solomon, the men’s clothing store side of Solomon’s was consolidated into the main section of the clothing store. This large space at 108 Bull Street is for lease through realtor Ben Yates.
On the same side of the street, Stephen Edelson, owner of the former Kaplan’s Clothing Store at 106 Bull Street, is seeking a tenant. The building at the corner of Bull and Broome streets, once the home to a vape shop, is being considered as an incubator space for micro businesses with an emphasis on locally sourced or produced products. The vendors for the seasonal Market on Main would have year round space for their wares and programs of interest to tourists and locals would be held there, according to Watts. A Waffle House was rumored to be locating on the empty lot next to Big Chic on Vernon Road. However, that deal is off and the property is for sale again.
GREENVILLE STREET BEAUTIFICATION
In addition to a new bridge, Greenville Street is also the site of a new loft apartment development which is scheduled for an early 2021 completion, according to Alton West, City of LaGrange’s director of community development. The former West Point Stevens mill was purchased in 2018 by Dixie Mill Enterprise LLC. There are plans for 102 units of one and two bedroom units. The units will be 624 sq. ft. in size up to as large as 1,493 sq. ft. Landscaping is being installed now. The anticipated completion time is the beginning of 2021. The project is being done by P.R. Contractors out of Greenville, SC.
Just before the pandemic hit, locals were abuzz about the possible coming of a Chicken Salad Chick restaurant. Construction did come to a halt but plans are still underway for a location in an outparcel at the LaGrange Mall parking lot near Belk’s, where the former Ryan’s Buffet Restaurant was located.
SPOTLIGHT ON INNOVATION
WHAT'S NEW ON THE RAY
he Ray is a living laboratory on Interstate 85 in Troup Co., testing the technologies that will transform the transportation infrastructure of the future. The Ray also stands proudly on the shoulders of its namesake, Ray C. Anderson, a West Georgia native and the world’s pioneer of corporate sustainability, who founded and headed Interface Inc., a global carpet and flooring manufacturing company. In 2013, two years after Ray’s passing, his youngest daughter, Harriet Anderson Langford, joined the board of the Georgia Conservancy, a role Ray had himself filled for decades. The following year, Langford asked State Rep. Randy Nix to sponsor a resolution designating a memorial highway in Ray’s name—the special stretch of Interstate I-85 between West Point and LaGrange. After joining Nix and then-Gov. Nathan Deal for the bill signing ceremony, Langford realized that her family had a unique opportunity to translate some of her father’s sustainability and “circular economy” methods and practices in the manufacturing sector - into the transportation sector. Langford founded The Ray in 2016, a nonprofit organization committed to finding and testing the technologies that will help us achieve zero carbon, zero waste, and zero deaths on our highways. It’s been five years since The Ray set out on its Mission Zero Corridor, so where is it now? Times have certainly changed, and in a short period of time! The same holds true for The Ray. Over the past year, and
even during the pandemic, The Ray has continued to build real projects on the interstate and to pioneer technologies that will shape the future of transportation -- “to prove that the technology exists…for transportation to clean up its act.” The Ray has made remarkable progress on a half dozen new and innovative pilot projects: 1. RIGHT OF WAY (ROW) SOLAR The solar array located on Exit 14’s roadside repurposes a previously empty, grassy shoulder to generate solar energy. Operated by Georgia Power under a 35year license for use of the property from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), this project pilots the use of native flowering plants as ground cover in test plots within the solar array, making Georgia the first in the nation to build pollinatorfriendly, right-of-way solar. Perhaps what’s most notable about this project is that it transforms a maintenance liability into a renewable energy generating asset. 2. EV CHARGING Located at the Georgia Visitor Center off the northbound lanes of The Ray Highway in West Point, the solar-powered EV charging station was the first of its kind in the Southeast, the very first project on The Ray Highway, and it was sponsored by KIA Motors. The charger, initially equipped to charge at a rate of 50 kW, has been upgraded recently to 175kW, which is a 300% improvement. Extreme fast charging at 175 kW helps today’s EV drivers to take the open road with more confidence and less range anxiety. In fact, the ABB EV charger on The Ray will power most EVs to an 80 percent charge or more in less than 20 minutes. And it’s a modular EV charging
station, which means that we can double the charging rate again, to 350kW, in the coming years to service larger and more advanced EV battery technology. What’s more, the charging station is grid-connected, ensuring its functionality regardless of the time of day or year, and is connected to a twelve-panel Solar LIFT, supplying clean, renewable energy to the charging station and grid. Charging on The Ray has always been and continues to be free of charge (pun intended). 3. VEGETATIVE SMART PLANTING LAB In collaboration with GDOT and the University of Georgia’s College of Environment + Design, the diamond interchange at Exit 6 features a “landscape lab” of groundcover plantings on the roadsides, including three wildflower test plots that will help us to identify a seed mix that will produce blooming, native flowers from early spring to early fall. More pretty blooms over many months help drivers to appreciate a taller, meadow aesthetic for our interstate highway roadsides, as opposed to short-mown lawn grass. In turn, native, roadside meadows require less maintenance, which reduces costs. Additionally, the site attracts pollinating insects, which are vitally important for our food supply and the long-term success of Georgia’s family farms. Further, the Exit 6 smart planting lab’s testing of a variety of plantbased innovations includes a carbonsequestering perennial grain called Kernza that has a 10 foot root structure known for sequestering carbon deep into the ground, producing grain that is edible, and straw (Continued on page 36) www.lagrangechamber.com
SPOTLIGHT ON HOGANSVILLE
Hogansville Celebrates its Sesquicentennial The title of this article could more appropriately come from Robert Burns’ 1785 poem, “To a Mouse.”
But Mouse you are not alone. In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid plans of mice and men Go oft awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain. For promised joy!
ast year, the City set about planning for the 150th anniversary of Hogansville which was celebrated on October 12, 2020. A committee headed by Wanda Lowe was appointed. We planned a huge celebration to be done in coordination with the annual Hummingbird Festival. Those plans included a 150 day lead-up to the date with activities scheduled for each of those days, a parade to be led by the City’s recently discovered 1953 Chevy pumper fire truck which we restored, a contest to discover the oldest living person born in Hogansville, a beard growing contest and a barbershop quartet contest to name just a few. We planned to celebrate the anniversary in tandem with the opening of our new City Hall and the unveiling of a new logo for the City. In moving to the new City Hall, we could begin the work of restoring the Royal Theater to its 1939 splendor. But then, sometime late in 2019 a microbe escaped from a petri dish in Wuhan, China that wound up infecting almost the entire planet with something called, “COVID 19,” and the rest was and is history. Not only was the Hummingbird Festival cancelled, but our celebration had to be drastically curtailed. We went from wearing period costumes to wearing masks; from getting together amass, to socially distancing; from dancing in the streets to sheltering in place. We did manage to do a few small things and even, thanks to our City Manager, erected a rather attractive sign commemorating the anniversary. But alack and alas, when people look back on 2020 they won’t be remembering the sesquicentennial, but rather a virus that will change the world. But this too shall pass, and life will go on notwithstanding the plans of “Mice and Men.”
Hogansville Business Council December 15, 2020 For more information, contact Leslie Traylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-884-8671
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Christine Gatlin, GNMS Cafeteria Manager, Takes Serving Up a Notch system for five years. Since joining TCSS, she has worked in elementary, middle and high school settings. Most recently, she was named Cafeteria Manager for Gardner Newman Middle School. “For me, it’s the people I work with. It’s the students, staff…everything! Middle schoolers are like grown little people. They are great. The students are respectful and responsible like the GNMS Way. I love them,” smiled Gatlin as she shared what makes her come to work every day.
hen Christine Gatlin’s friends told her about the family friendly work environment in Troup County School System (TCSS), she had to see it for herself. She left her job as a receptionist for a local haircare company and has been with the school
matter where I ended up working. I always saw members from the Gardner Newman staff helping and volunteering with meals and anything else that needed to be done. It was amazing how everyone banded together.”
The shutdown that took place in March due to the pandemic didn’t deter Gatlin and her crew of cafeteria employees. She said they just pulled together even more, “They closed down Gardner Newman’s cafeteria, but it didn’t
Jameel Dixon Steps into the Driver’s Seat in seeing the kids grow over time,” he laughed as he remembered when, “they were younger, some of them were trying to jump over the seats and you had to teach them how to behave on a school bus. It’s different from riding in a car. Now, we have meaningful conversations that we won’t forget. It stays with us and we help each other.”
our years ago while Jameel Dixon was an Assistant Manager at Buddy Home Furniture, he decided to do something to help lead kids on the right path. He was already a scout leader with Boy Scouts of America, but he wanted to do more. “I do a lot of camps during the summer time and I’m active with children throughout the year. I was riding around Troup County and I saw an advertisement for bus drivers so I applied. The next day, I got a phone call. I’ve been here ever since.” Dixon drives the bus, keeping kids safe as he does so, and he loves it. “The best part about what I do every day is the joy
He continued, “I love being around them; they make me feel younger and it’s a joy to be with them each day. You want to be a positive influence in their lives because some kids may not have that in their life; to be the light they need to see early in the morning as they are getting to school is a great way to do that.”
There have been a few changes since he started, but Dixon says his students have adjusted well, “Sometimes they want to take their masks off but I have to remind them that it’s for their safety and mine. I joke and challenge my students all the time by telling them if Mr. Jameel can do it, so can they.”
SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
Chamber Announces 2020’s Small Business of the Year
ach year, the Chamber recognizes small businesses—those members with 50 or fewer employees—that have been in business for at least 24 consecutive months, been a member in good standing of the Chamber and that have a solid business plan that assures solid company performance. Todd Carlisle from the UGA Small Business Development Center leads an independent review of all nominations to select the award winner. All of the applications received this year were outstanding and I know that each business nominated could tell so much more about their growth, their business plans and what they do to support our community. Competition is fierce for small businesses to succeed but throw in a pandemic and the challenge is even more daunting! This year’s 2020 Small Business of the Year is Your Pie LaGrange. Since first opening the doors in June 2018, Your Pie has become a dining favorite – or
as some would say a dining destination – for families, visitors to LaGrange and sports teams alike. In fact, their outdoor dining space has been recognized by LaGrange Daily News as the best outdoor dining two years in a row. Your Pie is committed to LaGrange – investing money to restore a historical downtown building, using as many local businesses and vendors as possible, hosting community events, and contributing to many local charitable organizations. Not only do they support the LaGrange community but they also support their staff for their commitment to excellence with rewards and quarterly recognitions. It’s no surprise that their first year in business saw profits 33% higher than expected. The first month of this year also saw the business exceeding profits compared to the same month last year. But as we mentioned earlier, and as we all know, COVID-19 hit and business was off by about 90%.
Not giving up, they pivoted to offer curbside pick-up and dinners that could be prepared at home. They also spearheaded “feeding the frontlines” to continue to support the community. Your Pie reports that while there is still work to do, they are recovering and are optimistic about returning to prepandemic levels. Mr. Carlisle is available to meet with business owners, large and small, and provides complimentary consultations through the UGA SBDC. Contact him at 706-569-2651 to schedule an appointment.
Members may reserve one of four Small Business Spotlight articles during the 2021 Total Resource Campaign scheduled for November – December 2020.
SPOTLI G HT ON WEST P OI N T
Ten New Communities Designated as Rural Zones Tax incentives, economic development at core of annual program
he cities of Colquitt, Donalsonville, Hawkinsville, Hiawassee, Leesburg, Moultrie, Stone Mountain, Thomson, West Point, and Woodbury have recently been designated as Rural Zones. This program is a collaboration between the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Since its creation in 2017, this initiative provides tax credits to individuals creating jobs and making qualifying investments within historic downtown areas that have been designated as Rural Zones. Each designation lasts for five years, and activities to begin earning tax credits within these 10 new Rural Zones begins Jan. 1, 2021. Communities are encouraged to develop strategies and share information about the benefits to businesses and investors. The program includes the following Georgia state income tax incentives which are utilized for job-creation activities, investment in downtown properties, and renovation of properties. The credits can be layered, but none are available without the job creation element being present. The Job Tax Credit is equivalent to $2,000 per new full-time equivalent job per year for up to 5 years. The Investment Credit is equivalent to 25% of the purchase price of a property within the designated Rural Zone (not to exceed $125,000). The Rehabilitation Credit is equivalent to 30% of the qualified rehabilitation costs of a building located within a designated Rural Zone (not to exceed $150,000).
Applications for Rural Zones are available each year. For more information, visit dca.ga.gov.
West Point Business Council, December 10, 2020. For more information, contact Leslie Traylor at email@example.com or 706-884-8671
MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS
MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS
The American Red Cross is proud to announce Holly Winner as the new Executive Director of the Central Midwest Georgia Chapter. Holly is a Development and Marketing Professional who is passionate about serving communities and individuals. She believes service is an important component to living a full life and is grateful to move into a role that provides humanitarian services on a large scale to individuals navigating emergencies. Prior to becoming a Red Crosser, Holly worked for a variety of public and private organizations, including Georgia’s Department of Economic Development and Biblical History Center, and participated in DCA’s Academy for Economic Development and Young Gamechangers’ Spring 2017 session. She serves on the executive board for the LaGrange Art Museum, attends Southcrest Church, and is a member of Junior Service League.
Chad Simpson is Point University’s tennis coach, former student-athlete, and author of The Freshman: 15 Lessons to Ace the Next Semester of Your Life. After a couple of his players received bad marks on their transcripts during their first semester, Simpson decided to find a way to help not just his athletes but students across the country. He wrote the 104-page book that followed his own path, moving across the country as a walk on for a small Division II basketball team, studying to earn his college scholarship, and the bumps in the road his freshman year adjusting to being on his own in a new chapter in life. The books helps freshmen learn the importance of finding the right circle of people to surround themselves with and learn how to deal with their priorities.
After a 20 year career in the private sector, Lisa Kelly was fortunate enough to come to work for the City of Hogansville, now 17 years ago. As the new Hogansville Assistant City Manager, Lisa describes herself as a home-town girl and so blessed to work for the community she loves. It is exciting to see Hogansville’s growth and new direction and she looks forward to being a part of that.
LaGrange resident Judy Cowart Gilliam is receiving positive reviews for her debut children’s book, Florence and her Fantastic Family Tree. Published in September by Familius Publishing, the book is a “celebration of family in all its forms.” Gilliam is a retired educator who has served as teacher, principal, superintendent and college professor. The book was inspired, she said, by her own family and is dedicated to her five grandchildren, a niece and nephew. Favorably reviewed by several sources, including School Library Journal, the book is intended for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. It is available locally at Plum Southern and at most online sources, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Sandy Lee was recently promoted to general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott on LaGrange’s Lafayette Square. The Washington D.C. native has been with Paramount Hospitality for 10 years. Prior to this position she was the general manager of the Hampton Inn in Carrollton. The highlight of her work is to meet guests from all over the country and overseas. She also enjoys working with her talented team. Lee transferred to LaGrange in 1996.
MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS
Dr. Myles Jerdan
The Dermatology Specialists of Georgia Lagrange office welcomes Dr. Myles Jerdan. Dr. Jerdan’s experience includes building and working as a partner for a large Georgia dermatology practice for nearly 30 years. He also developed and ran his own dermatopathology laboratory. His experience has made him a true advocate for early detection and treatment of skin cancer, as well as, diagnosing and treating a wide variety of skin conditions and diseases. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he was a distinguished Avery Brundage scholar. He went on to complete his residency and fellowship training in dermatology, pathology and dermatopathology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is a former chief resident in the Department of Dermatology, lecturer and the author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles. He is also board certified in both dermatology and dermatopathology. Dr. Jerdan is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a past member of the American Society of Dermatopathology, Cobb County Medical Society, the Society for Investigative Dermatology, the Medical Association of Georgia as well as the Atlanta Association for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, of which he was past president and secretary. In addition, he was recently invited to become a member of the Leading Physicians of the World in dermatology and dermatopathology. As a former All State and Big Ten basketball player, who attended Northwestern University on a full athletic scholarship, Dr. Jerdan enjoys sharing his sports knowledge and coaching skills with local Georgia communities. His love of sports has kept him highly involved for many years as a coach, manager and director of multiple baseball and basketball youth sports organizations.
Dr. Megan Lisset Jimenez
Dr. Megan Lisset Jimenez, an Orthopeadic surgeon and Sports Medicine physician, has joined Emory at LaGrange Southern Orthopaedics. Dr. Jimenez joins Dr. Daniel Guy, Dr. Robert Comerford and Dr. Tomas Kuprys. Dr. Jimenez earned her medical degree from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ after graduating from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. She completed her residency at Rowan University/Inspira Medical Center Orthopaedic Surgery, Vineland, NJ. Dr. Jimenez completed her Sports Medicine fellowship at Washington University Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. Dr. Jimenez is a member of the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Jimenez looks forward to partnering with local high schools, LaGrange College, Point University and all competitive athletes in achieving the best possible outcome after a sports injury. She specializes in evaluation and treatment of sports-related injuries for athletes of all ages, at all levels, in all sports. She specializes in arthroscopy of the shoulder, knee and hip; commonly treating ACL tears, meniscus injuries, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, femoroacetabular impingement, and many more. Dr. Jimenez enjoys spending time with her family, jiu jitsu, weight lifting, boxing, football, fishing, surfing, and traveling.
Render McLeod & Haylee Ward Georgia’s State School Superintendent Richard Woods Selects 2020-21 Student Advisory Council Render McLeod, sophomore at LaGrange High School and Haylee Ward, senior at Troup County High School, were among the 64 students selected all across Georgia, which included representation from every Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) district, for the State’s 2020-2021 Student Advisory Council. There were over 1,400 applicants so it is an honor for Troup County to be represented by these students. Students were chosen based on the strength of their essay answers, which focused on their ideas for public education.
Victoria Slagle was awarded first place in the Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange’s (VAAL) exhibition in late August at the LaGrange Art Museum. Her colorful multimedia piece entitled “Alicia” depicts a summer intern at the museum. Slagle is the education coordinator and instructor for the LaGrange Art Museum. www.lagrangechamber.com
SPOTLIGHT ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP
ABBOTT MAKES INVESTMENTS IN HOME TOWN
aGrange native Philip Abbott is a young man with the passion, vision, ambition and drive to transform his community. His portfolio of businesses is a tremendous example of how entrepreneurs can thrive in a smaller market, thanks to the reach of technology and proximity to several major urban areas.
• Tax Services • Financial Review / Auditing
Troup Trends had a Q&A with Philip in mid-October.
Cpak - Technology Solutions • Managed IT Services • Managed IT Security Services • IT Infrastructure Support
What are your company names? Abbott Solutions Group and Highland Hospitality Group. What is your title? CEO Where did you go to college? The University of Georgia. What service does Abbott Solutions Group provide? Abbott Solutions Group is made up of four divisions: Abbott & Associates – Accounting Solutions • Managed Accounting Services
Adminitor – HR Solutions • Payroll • Time Keeping • HR Services such as new employee onboarding & hiring tools • Cyber/Risk Management
Preservation Properties - Workspace Solutions - three locations: The Abbott Building, Ridley Place and Parkside Place. • Fully Custom Spaces • Flexible Private Offices • On Demand Workspaces Each specialize in areas that complement one another. Bundling our services allows us to stand apart from our competition. Our customers, regardless of size or industry, appreciate the personalized service they receive from each of our companies. We pride ourselves in our ability to develop long lasting relationships with each customer.
LOCAL GROUNDZ COFFEE COMPANY TO OPEN IN 2021 The historical 1920 house at 407 N. Greenwood Street is being transformed into a coffee shop with leasable office space. Abbott says the focus is to provide organic, fair trade coffee and locally sourced delicacies in a family oriented atmosphere. Local Groundz will be the first food/ beverage establishment along The Thread trail system. Featured will be a spacious indoor coffee shop and outdoor seating on a large covered, pet friendly porch. Customers can walk or ride a bike from The Thread to grab a quick lunch or have an impromptu client meeting in a relaxed setting, or just hang out and drink a cup of coffee. Its proximity to downtown and area neighborhoods provide an enhancement to the walkable communities focus of modern living. Website: localgroundz.com IN CLOVER EVENT CENTER READY FOR BUSINESS IN 2022
Highland Hospitality Group currently has two divisions Local Groundz Coffee Company & In Clover Event Venue.
In 1974, the home was purchased from Mrs. Walter Dallis and carefully restored and adapted to become a restaurant by Johanna and Daniel Stark and the Newman Construction Company of LaGrange. The Starks owned and operated the regionally well-known restaurant In Clover until early 1988 when it was sold to Christina and Richard Womack. The building was then purchased by Beverly and Michael Locke, who used it for a real estate office.
When you aren’t doing your day job, what do you like to do? Bike riding, spending time with family and friends, reading, and travel. What is your vision as you make these investments in LaGrange? Enhance walkable communities and create destinations within the community for enjoyment November 2020
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Patience. Cast your vision and step toward it every day. Learn to enjoy what you do.
The town is all abuzz about your very visible acquisition of property, namely the house on North Greenwood Street and the former In Clover Restaurant on Broad Street. What are your plans for these two buildings?
When will these businesses open? First half of 2021 on the coffee shop, 2022 for In Clover.
by residents and visitors alike.
The ornate Victorian house at 205 Broad Street was erected in 1892 and completed in 1893. Built for Mr. Leslie Wellington Dallis, the Dallas family occupied it until 1974.
In 2022, In Clover will reopen as an elegant event center, perfect for intimate ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners and other special occasions. The charm and beauty of the Victorian home is being enhanced to include a covered back porch, bride and groom suites, a caterer’s dream kitchen and a spacious bar room. Website: inclover.events
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
Airforce Heating and Air 100 Corporate Park E Ct., LaGrange
Design Group Exhibits 114 Westside Drive, LaGrange
Heart & Vascular Care of Georgia 505 Jenkins Street, LaGrange
LaGrange Republican Headquarters 104 Church Street, LaGrange
LaGrange Housing Authority, Phoenix Landing 1200 Whitesville Rd., LaGrange
LaGrange High School Athletic Facility 516 N. Greenwood St., LaGrange
Discovery Cottage Drop-off at Lafayette Christian School 1904 Hamilton Road, LaGrange
Burrow Warehouse 709 4th Avenue, West Point
LaGrange Fire Training Center 1111 Lukken Industrial Dr. W, LaGrange
Ressa’s Unique Boutique 10 N. Lafayette Square, LaGrange
C H A M B E R
E V E N T S
SAVE THE DATE HOGANSVILLE BUSINESS COUNCIL
HBC met on Tuesday, September 22 at Roger's BBQ in Hogansville for our third quarter business council. Jonathan Lynn, the city's new manager, was our featured speaker.
WEST POINT BUSINESS COUNCIL
CHRISTMAS PARADE 2020 L A G R A N G E ,
G E O R G I A
Presented by Kimberly-Clark
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3RD STATE OF COMMUNITY presented by Jackson Services:
WPBC met on Thursday, September 24 at The Burrow Warehouse in Downtown West Point. Special thanks to our 3rd Quarter West Point Business Council Sponsor, Results Property Management.
State of Education, August 2020 Our lunch featured Helen Rice, State Board of Education for Georgia (Third Congressional District), Kirk Hancock, Chairman of the Troup County Board of Education, and Dr. Brian Shumate, School Superintendent.
State of Philanthropy, October 2020 Tripp Penn, President of The Callaway Foundation, Patty Youngblood, President of United Way of West Georgia and Betsy Covington, President of the Community Foundation of Chattahoochee Valley were our speakers for this luncheon.
C H A M B E R
E V E N T S
EARLY BIRD BREAKFASTS AUGUST
2020 Chairman, George Bailey welcomes the group at Sweetland Amphitheater. Kim Myers from Get Troup Reading was our guest speaker, with a special appearance from Mama Jama.
Our featured speaker was LaGrange native, Quay Boddie. Quay is a speaker, author, and community servant. He is a 2013 graduate of Shorter University with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration.
Our featured speaker is Chris Stream, Vice President of Member Relations for SourceAmerica. Chris joined SourceAmerica in 2003 as Deputy Director of the North Central Region and was selected as Executive Director in January 2009.
The annual Chamber Golf Classic Winners: Joe Hill, Tripp Penn, Aaron Power, Lee Washam was presented by J. Smith Lanier and provided an opportunity for players to vie for fun and prizes while making great business contacts. Golfers enjoyed a day of networking and business development as they played through the 18 holes on the spacious fairways and greens of Highland Country Club’s course.
he same content but diﬀerent covers highlighIng Hills and Dales Estate, West Point Lake, Great Wolf odge and Nutwood Winery.
chart in the back of the brochure features a lisIng of hotels and campgrounds with helpful details such s pet-friendly, swimming pool, complimentary breakfast and price points. Tourists and locals may pick p the brochure at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, at area hotels and tourist vital component of SracIons. LaGrange’s economic
VISIT LAGRANGE’S NEW TOURISM BROCHURE
development sector is tourism. Almost 1,300 jobs in LaGrange/ Troup County are in the hospitality industry. Tourists spend $185 million in this community every year. With that in mind, Visit LaGrange, the city and county’s tourism initiative, recently published a new and incredibly informative tourism brochure. There are four versions of the brochure – all with the same content but different covers highlighting Hills and Dales Estate, West Point Lake, Great Wolf Lodge and Nutwood Winery. A chart in the back of the brochure features a listing of hotels and campgrounds with helpful details such as pet-friendly, swimming pool, complimentary breakfast and price points. Tourists and locals may pick up the brochure at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, at area hotels and tourist attractions.
S M A L L
t all begins when the leaves start to change, and the crisp smell of fall is in the air. Football season is upon us! In watching football whether it be “pee-wee” or the NFL, it always reminds us of how important the basics are. Regardless of the players age or level of play, there are numerous examples of missed blocking assignments and tackles. Creating a strong foundation is key irrespective of the subject or industry we are participating in. One aspect of “blocking and tackling” in developing a strong team in business is your company culture. The first step in developing that culture is creating core values for your business. Core values can be characterized as a set of words or phrases that guides the team members on how they should conduct themselves on the company’s behalf. This translates to all aspects of your business from answering the phones, hiring your next employee, or whether to take advantage of an opportunity presented. Like a filter, they are used to help your team sift every decision made to determine whether it aligns with the business’s beliefs. Does your company have core values in place? If so, do you know what they are?
B U S I N E S S
The ones that are truly CORE values. Secondly, it will help you and your team remember them. When decisions need to be made by your team, knowing what the company believes in is important. ARE THEY INSPIRATIONAL: They should be words of phrases that inspire you and your team. They can create a bond between the team members as they are fighting for the same cause or mission. ARE THEY AUTHENTIC: The values should reflect the team and the company. Do not get caught up in the industry buzz words or catchy phrases. When developing core values bring in your key employees and management team and conduct a brain storming session where everyone gives thoughts and ideas. With football season here it is a great reminder to return to the basics. We are in the fourth quarter and the end of the year is fast approaching. It is time to work on the basics and finish the year strong!
Below are a few thoughts on how to test your core values or help you develop them. Take each value and ask these 4 questions: ARE THEY TIMELESS: Regardless of the situation or economic conditions they are the values you would stand by. They will not fluctuate with the times. These are things you live your life by. Even if following them would negatively impact cash flow you would still stay the course. ARE THEY LIMITED NUMBER: This helps with several things. First, it will force you to pick only those that are most important.
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 or West Point office.
Search Not Found
ave you ever worked so hard at something, put so much blood, sweat, tears and exhaustion into it, but didn’t receive the results you had hoped? I believe we all have. This is exactly what most people do when they take on the journey and desire to be found organically in a flooded world of online space, the Google search engine for example. Time and time again, I speak to or work with someone who has built a beautiful website, it has all the bells and whistles aesthetically, but not one result comes from the efforts of design. Why does this happen? Let’s dive in to some possible reasons websites aren’t getting desired traffic. When my company, Cedar Cross Media works with a client, we start with the basics before diving in deeper. First, we have to look at client’s website design and layout to see if it fits their business model. Then, we check if their website provides a good user experience for site navigation. After that, we look to see if their site provides the information the user is looking for in a short period of time. One element we focus on is how long the client’s website has been active. It takes time for a search engine such as Google to discover new websites and web pages, so if a website
was just launched, it probably hasn’t been found yet. Once we have established those answers, we can dig further into the back side of the website to understand what else may be going on.
other reasons why your website is not showing up on search engines, which is why we recommend a complete website audit that will provide a detailed list of all related issues.
It is important to note that when you type something into a search engine hoping to see your website in the results, you’re not actually looking for your website. You’re looking for a specific page on your website. Your website speaks to a search engine in multiple ways, and understanding those ways can be confusing, so let’s water it down.
To put in simple terms, ranking on search engines is like trying to turn the channel on your television when the remote is broken. No matter what you do, until you fix the remote, your television is not going to receive the signal to turn the channel. The same goes for your website, until you fix the technical issues, your site will not communicate with search engines to rank higher on the list.
Other than the few basics mentioned above, another issue could be your site telling the search engine to not index. This is due to a “noindex” Meta tag, which is an HTML code. Your website could be blocking search engines from crawling your site. This could happen if your site does not provide backlinks or it isn’t linked to other sites which provides credibility for searches. A more common reason search engines aren’t finding your website is your site doesn’t rank for the proper key search words. Keyword ranking is a time consuming process and requires constant management. For instance, if you have pictures or videos on your site, but no keywords provided for the media, then the search engine will not know what to look for. Of course there could be a number of
Desiring to be found online in a space everyone is fighting for can be overwhelming but with a little patience and technical knowledge, it is doable. Start with the basics and do a website audit to truly understand what is causing the search ability issues with your website.
Submitted by Corey Faulkner, Cedar Cross Media.
BEING A BOSS Clarifying Your Business Purpose Mission and vision statements may not answer the most important questions about your company
f there’s one question that has always gotten under my skin it’s the cocktail party favorite - “What do you do?” This irritates me for two reasons - first, because it’s usually a (poor) attempt to size me up. Second, it doesn’t give any information that leads to a meaningful interaction - unless my expected generic answer happens to align with an immediate need. In the past responses like “Investment Banker,” “Product Manager” and “Marketing Consultant” have been met with various levels of politeness and a cursory exchange of business cards. As a business owner “what” we do is a manifestation of “why” and “how” we do it. Now, I get a kick out of telling people that I am an “Entrepreneurship Evangelist” because it forces an opportunity to explore many different ways that we can work together. This generates revenue for BTC Brands. Many large and small companies go through exercises to develop statements about their mission, vision and/or values. Often, the result is a string of public relations focused sentiments that sound nice, but don’t have much substance. Earlier this year at the onset of the COVID pandemic, Build The Crowd (now BTC Brands) took dramatic client and revenue losses. As the boss, I took ownership of the situation and knew I would have to better clarify my businesses value to clients - especially in the “new normal” era. Instead of putting fluffy words on paper, I wanted to keep it simple and clear and went back to the 5W framework we all learned in elementary school. WHO does your company serve For many business owners the first instinct is to say “everyone!” While I’m sure you will sell to any paying customer, thinking deeply about who you will target will help better manage advertising dollars and your brand’s expectations. Both Wal Mart and Neiman Marcus will sell goods to anyone who pays. However, by clearly defining WHO they target, Neiman Marcus can offer a different customer experience and price point. WHAT does your company do This can be another tricky one. The temptation will be to state “We sell X” or “Our company provides Y” service. If I were
to throw a rock in the Square of downtown LaGrange, I could hit at least four companies that would tell you “We sell insurance” - they may even sell to the same “WHO.” A large part of the decision to patronize one over the other may be their WHAT. One may issue policies from only one carrier, another may broker products from several, and yet another may offer securities or other financial services. WHERE does your company operate Are you locally focused, or will you take clients or customers from around the world? Do you cater to a specific neighborhood region?
“sells soda” (or “pop” or “cold drink”), but when you learn that their “why” is to “refresh the world and make a difference,” many of the moves they have made for the last 130+ years are more clear. If you would like to learn more about how BTC Brands answered these questions, visit http://btcbrands.xyz
WHEN does your company operate This is especially important for “mom and pop” businesses who may not have large staff. If you prioritize family time, it’s important for customers to know that you are only available at certain times. Perhaps your “WHO”, “WHAT” and “HOW” require you to be accessible at all times - or not! WHY does your company exist In my opinion, this is the most important question to ask as a business owner. WHY your business exists will be a clarifying point for all the others. You decided to go into business to solve a problem. Effectively answering this will be the driving force behind who you partner with, position your messaging, seek financing and manage operations. Everyone loves a cold Coca Cola, and most people would say that Coke
Submitted by Curtis Brown, Jr. General Manager, BTC Brands www.lagrangechamber.com
What's New on The Ray (Continued from page 17) fiber that is perfect feedstock for single use, disposable goods like paper towels, napkins, and baby diapers. The landscape laboratory on The Ray Highway will continue to expand with new research and groundcover innovations this fall, including non-chemical weed treatments and strategies for stabilizing and beautifying the steep, eroded, red clay slopes that line many Georgia highways and exit ramps. 4. REPAVING WITH RUBBERIZED ROADS The first mile of The Ray Highway starting at the Georgia-Alabama border, on all four lanes, has been repaved using rubber-modified asphalt. It’s quieter, it’s crack-resistant, and it’s a benefit to public health because it reduces noise pollution for the driver as well as the surrounding communities. Above it all, rubber-modified asphalt is more resilient: these longer lasting, more durable roads unlock the opportunity for us to use looser rock mixtures that drain water off the surface of the road, reducing dangerous driving conditions such as hydroplaning and the “rooster tail” rainwater spray behind large trucks and SUVs.
5. AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE LANE STRIPING GDOT and The Ray were determined to provide the most visible road striping on The Ray Highway after the 13-mile asphalt resurfacing project was completed in Fall 2019. Today, in partnership with 3M, our “Connected Roads” lane striping is the most visible in the nation - in all weather conditions, day or night - for human drivers and also for computer driving systems, like Tesla’s Autopilot. Faded lane stripings can cause frustration and even confusion to the most experienced drivers, not to mention for autonomous vehicles (AVs). Even the most advanced “smart cars” function based on their ability to read the lane markings. Without legible lane markings, AVs struggle to maintain their lane. By installing Connect Roads striping on The Ray Highway, we’re looking ahead to the deployment of more AVs on our interstates and highways, providing a simple, yet critical, piece of infrastructure for the road ahead.
6. VEHICLE TO EVERYTHING (V2X) Working with GDOT and Panasonic, we’re building a data management platform for connected vehicle data streams. In simpler terms, we’re building a communication network for smart cars to trade information with each other, so that drivers can be notified of crashes and other potentially dangerous situations ahead. Not only will this help minimize crashes, but we hope to see that it will help manage the traffic more safely and efficiently, and prompt a faster and more intelligent response to roadway incidents. The Ray is proud of the progress we’ve made, together, over the past year. We keep forging ahead, toward revolutionizing the world of transportation technology so that highway travel can be a world of zero carbon, zero waste, and zero deaths! To learn more about the technology we’re looking at for next year, check out The Ray’s “Launching Soon” page.
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You Serve Our Community, Let Us Serve You!
At CenterState we believe in the spirit of community. The vital role that you play in our community is very much appreciated and respected. It’s our pleasure to salute you, our Community Hero, by offering a special checking account to those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Come in today and let us know that you’re a Community Hero!
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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.
Save the Date! February, 2021 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.
Special thanks to our sponsors: Bark at the Park Presenting & Dog Walk Sponsor: Thornton & Graham Finish Line Sponsor: Results Property Management Gold Sponsor: Emory at LaGrange Silver Sponsor: Mallory Agency, Colony Bank 38
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!
New Voice, New Vision, & New Opportunities The LaGrange Housing Authority has a lasting vision of improving communities through quality housing and self-suďŹƒciency. We take great pride in providing excellent curriculums that make everlasting, positive changes in the lives of those we serve. Our platforms are designed to equip our community with the vision, motivation, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to lead a successful life. We apply a strengths-based, person-centered approach to services and engages family, as permitted and appropriate throughout the family self-suďŹƒciency training process.
LaGrange Housing Authority 201 Chatham st, LaGrange Georgia 30240 t 706-882-6416 f 706-882-0781 web phalagrange.net
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the care you expect. the professionals you know. a name you trust. 1805 vernon road, lagrange ga 706.884.2691 www.southernorthopedics.org facebook.com/emoryatlagrange
Leading the way