Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Governor proposes tax reforms to give Georgia competitive edge in jobs

Deal aims for No. 1 business climate

At the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast this morning, Gov. Nathan Deal put forth a list of agenda items to distinguish our state as the best place in the nation to do business.

“In these challenging economic times in which jobs are portable, we must do more to compete,” Deal said. “It is my goal to make Georgia the No. 1 state in which to do business. The Georgia Competitiveness Initiative Task Force developed a set of tax structure proposals that we believe will give Georgia an edge over other states. We believe this will result in more Georgia companies expanding their footprint here.”

Deal proposed the following:

· The removal of the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing. “In an age of much higher energy costs, this will impact a large component of manufacturers’ overall cost structure and vastly improve the competitive position of our producers,” Deal said. “Today, in executive offices right here in Georgia, business leaders are making the business decision to expand manufacturing activity and facilities in neighboring states. Every time they make that decision, we miss out on new investment in our communities and new job opportunities for Georgians.”

· Sales and use tax exemptions for construction materials used in projects of regional significance. “The result is simple but powerful: local governments have more options to incentivize investment and job growth. When it comes down to Georgia versus Virginia or Florida, the competition is tight. It often goes down to the wire -- even into overtime -- and this is one field goal Georgia can’t afford to miss.”

· Modernize Job Tax Credits and Quality Jobs Tax Credit program. “We are proposing to decrease the quality job creation threshold from 50 jobs to 15,” Deal said. “This will reshape the landscape in Georgia for small business owners. This will help start-ups get off the ground in those critical early stages.”

“The competitiveness initiative was tasked with improving our business climate,” Deal said. “We have to couple these reforms with infrastructure improvements and solid steps toward training our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The governor touted elements of his 2013 budget that make additional investments in the Savannah Port and in building capacity for water supply.

The Deal budget for next year includes $46.7 million in bonds to continue deepening the harbor. This builds on the more than $136 million already invested for harbor deepening over the last three years – another big step toward the state’s 40 percent share.

“A deeper Savannah Harbor means greater efficiency for 21,000 U.S. companies, 75 percent of which are headquartered outside of Georgia. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study has shown that the deepening will reduce shipping costs for private companies by at least $100 million a year. Neither Georgia nor this nation can afford to delay a project that provides customers with a tool that reduces their costs. Savannah is now the second busiest port for containerized exports in the United States. In a challenging 2011, exports from Savannah grew a full 12 percent.”

The budget also includes $45.7 million for reservoirs, the second installment in a four-year plan.

“Local governments can now apply for the low-interest loans and state direct investment and we are one step closer to enhanced water security in this state,” Deal said. “With our state’s population projected to grow by an additional 4.6 million people over the next two decades, it is imperative that we expand water supply.”

Lastly, the governor emphasized the need for ratifying the TSPLOST across the state this summer. “We are falling behind, and local communities have put together project lists that are worthy of support. We have to get our people and goods moving again. Georgia can either go forward with this wise investment or our transportation system will be stuck in the past while we’re stuck in traffic.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deal: Augusta company creates 100 jobs

FPL Food expands Richmond County food processing operation, opens new facility

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Augusta-based FPL Food, LLC, will expand its beef processing operation in Richmond County by opening a new processing facility, creating up to 100 new jobs. The company will also invest $3 million in this expansion.

“Georgia has historically been a strategic home for food processors, and this industry continues to provide a great foundation for our state’s economy by employing more workers in our state than any other sector of manufacturing,” Deal said. “We work diligently to be sure food processors such as FPL Food can expand in Georgia and remain competitive in markets around the world.”

FPL Food is the largest privately held beef processor in the Southeast. The company serves a range of customers including food service, retail, military and export operations, with capabilities ranging from traditional beef cuts to value-added retail products such as ground beef, cube steak, and marinated and sliced beef products. With the opening of its third facility, FPL Food can meet the growing needs of its current customer base and create opportunities to reach new customers.

“Augusta and the State of Georgia have been great supporters of our growth, and too, offer a dedicated workforce allowing us to meet the needs of our customers and continually provide the highest standards in food safety and product quality,” said Steve Hixon, FPL Food director of marketing. “We also consider Augusta a strategic location allowing us to efficiently reach our core customer base in the Southeast and coastal ports for exporting product worldwide.”

FPL Food has called Augusta and Richmond County home since 2004 and operates its corporate headquarters out of the former Shapiro Packing facility. The company now operates out of three facilities, including its Augusta corporate headquarters, a value-added facility in Columbia, and its new value-added facility in Augusta.

“FPL Food has been a major part of the Augusta economy for years. It is a testament to the company and to Augusta that both are growing and prospering together,” said Henry Ingram, chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. “This new facility will allow FPL Food to add more employees and strengthen the local economy even more.”

In addition to the Development Authority of Richmond County, the Georgia Department of Economic Development also collaborated with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to manage this expansion opportunity for FPL Food. The company’s third facility is located in the Augusta Farmers Market, which is managed by the Department of Agriculture.

“We are happy that FPL Food is expanding its presence at the Augusta Farmers Market. This private-public collaboration benefits FPL and the taxpayers of Georgia,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “The expansion of FPL also strengthens the Augusta Farmers Market’s position as an agricultural hub for large businesses, in addition to small businesses, vendors, farmers and consumers.”

FPL Food is a contributing member of Georgia’s vast community of food manufacturers and processors that employ nearly 70,000 Georgians. In addition to the state’s welcoming business environment, manufacturers in the food processing sector can also leverage Georgia’s highly skilled workforce backed by the Technical College System of Georgia and Quick Start, which ranks as the nation’s best workforce training program.

“FPL Food’s expansion is a great example of how Georgia’s progressive business environment and other competitive resources create significant growth opportunities for existing industry in our state,” said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “I am encouraged by the growth FPL is experiencing, and look forward to the additional opportunities we can work together to create in Georgia.”

Adela Kelley, GDEcD senior project manager, led this project for the state.

About FPL Food, LLC
As one of Augusta’s major employers, FPL Food is home to nearly 800 employees residing in Augusta, and the surrounding areas. Along with benefiting the local economy of Augusta, FPL’s presence in the Southeast supports local and regional cattle farmers as well as additional agricultural resources by providing them and their staff with consistent economic growth. On average, FPL Food procures $175 million worth of cattle per year from local farmers. Additionally, FPL Food contributes to the surrounding community and industry organizations through charitable contributions while continually maintaining high standards associated with food quality and safety systems and environmental welfare. FPL Food sponsors $5,000 to agricultural majors in scholarships. Combining both economic impact and sustainable practices, FPL Food continues to be an instrumental organization in the state of Georgia and the Southeast region.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fayette: Want to Meet Lots of People in a Short Time? Try Speed Networking

If you have a business, finding potential customers may be your most difficult chore – especially if you are shy in front of crowds, or have very little opportunity to meet others.

The Fayette Chamber of Commerce has a solution. At 7:30 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month, the chamber hosts a speed networking group.

Experienced facilitators keep the sessions flowing smoothly and help even inexperienced networkers feel at ease. You’ll sit across the table from someone, tell them a little about your business and then listen as they reciprocate. After a minute of back and forth, you move on to the next person and repeat the process.

Networking exercises are often part of the morning event. One exercise involves each attendee using the chamber member directory to find businesses they would like to contact. Often, introductions can be made through someone in the room who has a connection to the business.

So take a couple hours before you start your day and join the chamber’s monthly speed networking session. It’s the fastest, most efficient way to make business connections. Who knows? You may meet the one person who can help you boost your bottom line.

Not sure you can make it every month? Come once and try it. If you like the experience, come when you can. Have a cup of coffee. Meet lots of people. You may even find the person whose product or service you’ve been seeking for a long time. It’s a great way to expand your network.

Speed networking begins at 7:30 a.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Fayette Chamber, 200 Courthouse Square in Fayetteville. Call 770-461-9983 for more information. Or, visit www.fayettechamber.org and click on Chamber Calendar for speed networking and other chamber events. Remember, networking is meeting and greeting with a purpose. Speed networking maximizes your efforts in the quickest, most efficient way, and it’s open to non-chamber members. Join us at the Chamber next month.

About the Chamber: The Fayette Chamber is a strong, vibrant network of businesses and organizations working together to promote economic prosperity and strengthen our community. Through the chamber, important connections are made that provide the framework for our community to grow and prosper. With the goal of maintaining and enhancing our excellent quality of life, the chamber provides strong leadership, networking, education and programs that encourage partnerships between businesses and the community.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Westmoreland to Host Small Business Workshop August 8, 2011

Columbus Public Library 10:00am – 12:30pm

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland will be hosting a small business workshop entitled “Back to Business.” This will be an opportunity for business owners in Georgia’s Third Congressional District to get information on programs that various federal agencies offer. The “Back to Business” workshop will be held at the Columbus Public Library, located at 3000 Macon Road in Columbus. The event will be held on Monday, August 8, 2011 and will run from 10:00am until 12:30pm.

“Small businesses are the bread and butter of our economy and make up 70% of all jobs in this country,” stated Westmoreland. “While unemployment continues to hover at almost 10 percent in Georgia, we need to focus on helping small businesses expand and create more jobs. I am dedicated to pulling our economy out of this slump and getting Georgians back to work. I would like to invite anyone who owns a business or who is considering starting a business to join me at my Back to Business workshop.”

Representatives from the Small Business Administration, The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture Loan and Grant Programs, the Georgia Tech Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the Service Core of Retired Executives, and the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute will all be in attendance at the workshop. Following opening remarks, there will be a question and answer session with them and with other business leaders, including representatives from local banks, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Department of Community Affairs, River Valley Regional Commission, and Columbus Technical College’s Economic Development Division, plus more. For questions about the event, please contact Robb Nichols in the Newnan office at (770)-683-2033.

Windstream Expands Business Service Into Columbus, Ga.

Full Suite of Advanced Voice and Data Communication Solutions Now Available

(GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Windstream Corp.(Nasdaq:WIN) announces the expansion of its next-generation voice and data services into Columbus, Ga., giving local businesses a new choice for advanced communication services.

Columbus business customers may now benefit from a robust portfolio of voice and data solutions, including dedicated high-speed Ethernet Internet, VoIP converged communications systems, MPLS networking, managed services, and data centers, all designed to help businesses increase productivity and run more efficiently.

Windstream's cost-effective solutions also include business bundles that can help improve a customer's bottom line, saving business customers on Internet and phone service.

"Windstream understands the growing demand for our voice and data solutions and has expanded our product availability into Columbus," said Don Perkins, vice president of business marketing. "Our customized solutions can help businesses improve productivity and connect with their customers."

Windstream already serves business customers in markets across Georgia including Atlanta, Buena Vista, Manchester, Perry, Milledgeville, Dawson, Moultrie and Thomasville.

Windstream is the exclusive sponsor of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Eye Opener Breakfast on Thursday, July 28 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. Businesses who attend the event will receive giveaways and can register to win an iPad, courtesy of Windstream.

For more information about Windstream's converged communication solutions, or any of Windstream's next-generation data services, visit www.windstreambusiness.com.

For the latest news, events and information on advanced communication services, follow @WindstreamBiz on Twitter or Windstream Business on Facebook and WindstreamBiz on YouTube. Visit the Windstream Business Blog for telecom industry trends and tips on improving your business communications.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Facebook and LinkedIn Expert and Author Helps Businesses Leverage Web 2.0 in New Webinar Q&A Series

PRNewswire/ -- Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) invites business owners and business professionals to participate in a free webinar with Facebook and LinkedIn expert Jason Alba. Taking place on July 21 at 11 a.m. E.D.T., the webinar will give attendees a platform to learn insider secrets to success and ask questions on how to use Facebook and LinkedIn to achieve their marketing goals. To register, visit http://www.smmu.com/series.

Jason Alba is the author of "I'm on LinkedIn - Now What???" and "I'm on Facebook - Now What???" As the CEO of JibberJabber.com, a sought-after speaker, and a Social Media Marketing University instructor, he helps business owners and business professionals leverage Web 2.0 to enhance their personal brands, launch and re-launch careers and increase their online visibility and overall marketing reach.

During the webinar on July 21, Jason Alba will provide leading-edge advice on how to get the most out of LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. He will also share insights on how to fix broken brands, how to create high-profile online visibility campaigns and the components of a compelling online presence.

"Jason Alba is one of the country's foremost experts on LinkedIn and Facebook," said John Souza, chief strategist and founder of Social Media Marketing University (http://www.smmu.com). "This is a must-attend session for businesses who are new to social media, and for those who have LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, but need guidance and expertise to help them take their social media presence to the next level."

Social Media Marketing University is the training arm of Social Media Magic, recognized as one of the top five social media services for businesses by the Mashable Awards. The Q&A webinar with Jason Alba is the fourth session in the training firm's newly launched "No Holds Barred: Ask the Expert" series.

The series was launched in conjunction with the unveiling of the firm's newly expanded curriculum, which now includes 11 courses on social media and online marketing. Course topics include blogging (http://socialmediamarketinguniversity.com/blogging/), Facebook marketing (http://socialmediamarketinguniversity.com/facebook/), mobile marketing (http://socialmediamarketinguniversity.com/mobile-marketing/) and video marketing with YouTube (http://socialmediamarketinguniversity.com/video-marketing/).

In addition to offering social media courses, free weekly webinars and opportunities for certification, Social Media Magic also provides "done for you" services for companies and organizations of all sizes, including small businesses, colleges and universities and global enterprises.

To sign up for the webinar Q&A with Facebook and LinkedIn expert Jason Alba on July 21 at 11 a.m. E.D.T., visit http://www.smmu.com/series. Registration for the webinar is free. Space is limited.

Lancope and Cisco to Host Webinar on Leveraging NetFlow to Combat Advanced Persistent Threats

Flow-based behavioral analysis significantly improves network visibility, security and resiliency for government agencies and enterprises

PRNewswire/ -- Lancope, Inc., a leader in flow-based security, network and application performance monitoring, will host a complimentary webinar with Cisco Systems on Tuesday, July 26 at 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT. Also hosted by the Digital Government Institute, the webinar will discuss how government agencies and enterprises can leverage NetFlow to gain increased network visibility for combating advanced persistent threats (APT).

By collecting and analyzing flow data from existing network devices, organizations can cost-effectively obtain the end-to-end insight needed to vastly improve network security, resiliency and compliance efforts. To register for the free webinar, please go to: http://www.lancope.com/news-events/webinars/combat-cyber-threats/.

"Today's threat environment is constantly evolving and maturing in levels of sophistication and capabilities," said Adam Powers, CTO at Lancope. "Perimeter security is no longer enough to protect prominent government and corporate entities from damaging cyber attacks. Instead, organizations must begin to leverage the flow data inherent in their network infrastructure to create an always-on sensor grid for proactively detecting and thwarting attacks that bypass external defenses."

Lancope's StealthWatch®System collects and analyzes flow data to provide the in-depth, actionable intelligence required to troubleshoot a wide range of network and security issues across both physical and virtual networks. The system fills in the gaps left by other network and security solutions to dramatically reduce the time from problem onset to resolution.

Not relying on signature updates, StealthWatch detects both zero-day attacks that bypass perimeter defenses, as well as insider threats including device misconfigurations, network misuse, unauthorized access and data leakage. Through new security functionality, StealthWatch will now also combine internal network insight with intelligence from the perimeter for even greater contextual awareness.

"Due to the extremely sensitive information they harbor, government networks are highly prone to cyber security attacks," said Chris Coleman, technical leader of Cyber Security Solutions for Cisco Systems. "The recent rash of high-profile attacks on government entities and corporations makes it clear that organizations require new levels of protection to survive in today's threat landscape. Together, Cisco and Lancope provide the in-depth situational awareness needed to significantly bolster the network defenses of frequently targeted environments."

Join Lancope, Cisco and the Digital Government Institute for this free webinar and learn how to increase your network resiliency using flow data from existing infrastructure:

Adam Powers, CTO, Lancope
Chris Coleman, Technical Leader, Cyber Security Solutions, Cisco Systems

"Stealth Tactics for Continuous Visibility: Establishing Trust, Visibility and Resilience to Combat Cyber Threats"

Tuesday, July 26– 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT


Attendees will learn how to:
Create a distributed sensor grid for continuous network visibility
Unify visibility inside and across the distributed network
Use flow-based network behavioral analysis to detect Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)
Demonstrate compliance (NIST 800, CNCI, TIC)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vega Biofuels Secures Engineering Firm Hunt, Guillot & Associates, LLC for Georgia Bio-Coal Plant

/PRNewswire/ -- VEGA BIOFUELS, INC. (Pink Sheets: VGPR) announced today that the Company has entered into an Agreement with Louisiana based engineering services firm, Hunt, Guillot &Associates, LLC (HGA).

HGA will provide various services and personnel to the Company, including plant design, project management, and engineering services.

Vega recently announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in Cordele, GA that when completed will produce green energy bio-coal for use in existing coal fired power plants around the world.

HGA's engineers have extensive industrial experience in a variety of fields including chemical process engineering, mechanical engineering, piping design electrical engineering, instrumentation, control system integration, civil engineering, and structural design. In addition to engineering services, HGA will also provide on-site professional staffing services to the Company.

"We look forward to working with HGA and their staff of engineering professionals. This is a very important step in the implementation of our Business Plan in South Georgia," stated Michael K. Molen, Chairman/CEO of Vega Biofuels, Inc. "The expertise they bring to the project will be invaluable. In addition, HGA will provide us with various candidates for a permanent manager for the Cordele bio-coal plant."

Bio-coal is made from a process called "torrefaction". Torrefaction is a partial carbonization process that takes place at temperatures between 475 - 575 degrees in a low temperature environment which makes the physical and energetic properties of the biomass much more comparable to traditional coal. The biomass is then compressed into briquettes to be sold to the end user. Torrefaction has the added benefit of reducing or eliminating undesirable volatiles, such as nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxides and is considered carbon neutral to the environment.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

American Textile Company Opens Manufacturing Facility in Tifton, Ga.

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, American Textile Company (ATC) officially marks the opening of its new Tifton, Ga. manufacturing facility with a grand opening celebration. As a major manufacturer of basic bedding, ATC chose Tifton as a manufacturing location to strategically service the Company's customers in the Southeast. The 218,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility will manufacture bed pillows, one of the key product categories for future product expansion by the Company. The opening of the Tifton facility finalizes ATC's nationwide pillow manufacturing strategy.

The facility will employ 65 people initially. "In a remarkably short time, the Company has completed facility renovations and brought manufacturing capabilities online. The efforts of these dedicated employees have enabled us to begin manufacturing pillows immediately," commented Mark Bachner, Senior Vice President of Operations for ATC.

"Today's grand opening symbolizes American Textile Company's commitment to providing quality service to our customers throughout the U.S. and Canada," said Lance Ruttenberg, President and Chief Operating Officer. "By manufacturing and shipping pillows from strategically planned locations throughout the country, we have reduced transportation costs for many of our customers and reduced delivery times."


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Friday, April 8, 2011

Wingstop to Add 20 Restaurants in Atlanta Area

/PRNewswire/ -- Just months after being acquired by Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group, Wingstop has announced plans to aggressively expand its presence in the Atlanta area. The fast-growing national chicken wing chain plans to add 20 additional locations in Atlanta over the next several years.

The growth will be accomplished through franchising, and to help local entrepreneurs get into business, the company is offering introductory incentives for new franchisees that join the Wingstop system.

The expansion effort begins with an Atlanta open house April 20-21 where franchise candidates will have an opportunity to learn about Wingstop's plans and meet one-on-one with company executives.

Wingstop has 480 locations throughout the U.S. and Mexico. Based on the success of those stores, the award-winning chain believes Atlanta is an ideal market for growth.

"Our restaurants have a very loyal fan following with a lot of potential for expansion," said David Vernon, vice president of franchise sales for Wingstop. "That, coupled with the simple operating platform of cooked-to-order wings and fresh-cut fries makes Wingstop an ideal concept for entrepreneurs and multi-unit operators in Atlanta."

The Texas-based company was founded in 1994 with a sole focus on cooked-to-order chicken wings sauced in nine proprietary flavors and began franchising in 1997. Today 95 percent of Wingstop's restaurants are franchise owned and operated, and the company has experienced more than seven consecutive years of same store sales increases.

Event registration:

To schedule a one-on-one meeting in Atlanta to learn more about development opportunities, please contact Steve Sweetman at ssweetman@wingstop.com , 919-870-7860 or visit www.wingstopfranchise.com .


A minimum net worth of $400,000 and liquid capital of $200,000 is required. 

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