Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nonemployer Business Receipts Near $1 Trillion

In 2006, more than 20.7 million U.S. businesses without a payroll had a total revenue of more than $970 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today.

These results are published in Nonemployer Statistics: 2006, an annual report on businesses without paid employees classified in nearly 300 industries for the nation, states, counties and metropolitan areas. The report has data on 18.2 million sole proprietorships, 1.4 million corporations and 1.2 million partnerships, which together comprise the total number of nonemployer businesses.

Three economic sectors accounted for almost half of all nonemployer business receipts: real estate and rental and leasing ($193 billion); construction ($159 billion); and professional, scientific and technical services ($124 billion). About 7.9 million businesses were in these three sectors, representing nearly 38 percent of all nonemployer businesses.

The child day care services industry reported 683,861 nonemployer businesses in 2006, with receipts totaling almost $8.5 billion. Los Angeles County, Calif. (32,762), Cook County, Ill. (24,293), and Bronx County, N.Y. (18,939), had the most nonemployer child day care businesses, accounting for 11 percent of the businesses and 10 percent of the receipts in this industry. Of the larger counties in this industry, Norfolk, Mass. ($25,409), Middlesex, Mass. ($24,791), and Palm Beach, Fla. ($24,707), were among those with the highest receipts per establishment.

Taxi and limousine service also reported a large number of nonemployer businesses. Four of the five top counties in this industry were in the New York City area: Queens, Kings, Bronx and New York. There were 43,530 nonemployer taxi and limousine businesses in these counties, 29 percent of the 151,567 reported nationwide, and 84 percent of the 51,525 reported in New York state.

Other highlights:

-- California (2.6 million), Texas (1.7 million) and Florida (1.5 million) had the most nonemployer businesses, making up more than 28 percent of all nonemployers nationwide. These states made up more than 31 percent of all receipts from nonemployer businesses.

-- Nationally, nonemployer businesses reported average receipts per location of $46,724. However, nonemployer businesses in Connecticut ($60,455), Nevada ($58,404) and New Jersey ($55,628) reported average receipts per businesses higher than the national average.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

J.D. Power and Associates Study Ranks Kaiser Permanente Highest in Member Satisfaction in South Atlantic Region

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- J.D. Power and Associates announced that Kaiser Permanente of Georgia has the "Highest Member Satisfaction among Commercial Health Plans in the South Atlantic Region" according to the 2008 National Health Insurance Plan Study(SM).

This is the first J.D. Power and Associates award for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. The J.D. Power and Associates study evaluated seven plans in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina on coverage and benefits; choice of doctors, hospitals and pharmacies; information and communication; approval process; claims processing; insurance statements; and customer service.

"The J.D. Power and Associates study demonstrates how we're working to satisfy our members and offer what they're looking for from their health plan," said Peter Andruszkiewicz, interim President of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc. "By helping our members manage their health plan -- as well as their health -- and effectively communicating with them about their benefits, we can provide a highly-satisfying health care experience."

Kaiser Permanente received the highest numerical score among large commercial health plans according to the study, which was based on 37,060 total member responses surveyed in November and December 2007.

SBA Revises Small Business Size Standards To Account for Fluctuating Oil Prices and Inflation

The U.S. Small Business Administration has revised its small business size standards for small businesses in the Heating Oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Dealers industries and restored small business eligibility to those firms that may have exceeded their existing size standards due to higher receipts generated by higher oil prices.

In addition to the rule changes for the Heating Oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Dealers industries, the SBA has finalized the December 2005 Interim final rule that amended monetary-based small business size standards for inflation.

The SBA announced the revision of the size standard in a Final Rule published on July 22, 2008. The new rule will convert the existing receipts-based size standards from $11.5 million in average annual receipts in the Heating Oil Dealer industry and $6.5 million in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Dealers industry to a 50-employee size standard to provide a more stable size definition for small businesses and provide an accurate measure of their operations.

Before the rule change, many small businesses in the Heating Oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Dealers industries were exceeding their existing size standards due to large and unpredictable increases in oil costs but continued to deliver the same quantity of fuel products. The dealers in these industries supplemented the higher costs by increasing prices for their customers.

“We recognize that these are challenging economic times for small businesses, so we made these changes to the size standards to help small businesses reduce the impact of volatility in hearing oil prices and ensure their continued eligibility to receive help from SBA’s financial and contracting assistance programs,” said SBA Acting Administrator Jovita Carranza.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, heating oil and propane average weekly prices have increased by 95.9 percent and 74.5 percent and have fluctuated by more than 35 percent between 2002 and 2007. Besides determining eligibility for SBA assistance, a firm’s small business status determines the cost of the registration fees that small businesses in these industries have to pay to the U.S. Department of Transportation for transporting hazardous materials. Before this rule change, small businesses that exceeded their current size standard and encountered higher heating oil and propane prices would also have been subjected to higher registration fees.

The inflation adjustments were applied to SBA’s dollar‑based small business size standards, which are based on receipts, net worth and financial assets, to reflect inflation that has occurred since December 2005, when SBA last adjusted them for the same reason. Since the 2002 inflation adjustment in 2005, prices have generally increased 8.7 percent. With this new rule change, SBA increases the familiar “anchor” size standard from $6.5 million to $7 million. Size standards that are higher than $7 million also reflect similar percentage increases.

The Final Rule for the Heating Oil Dealers and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Dealers Industries will become effective on August 21, 2008 and the final rule for the inflation adjustment for size standards and the EIDL loan program will become effective on August 18, 2008. For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, visit and click on “What’s New about Small Business Size Standards.”

Hodges Ward Elliott Announces Sales of Rockland Radisson and Milford Sheraton

ATLANTA, Ga., July 30, 2008—Hodges Ward Elliott (HWE), the nation’s premier hotel brokerage and investment banking firms, today announced the sales of the 127-room Rockland Radisson Hotel and the 173-room Milford Sheraton Hotel. Both properties are located in Massachusetts and were sold to the Linchris Hotel Corporation on behalf of Ashford Hospitality Trust.

“The Massachusetts marketplace remains much in demand among hoteliers, with its high barriers to new entry and top-tier destination locations,” said Bill Hodges, principal of Hodges Ward Elliott. “While the economy has cooled, we continue to see large numbers of interested buyers and sellers in the hotel industry, with our firm’s transactions exceeding $1 billion through June. The expectations gap between buyers and sellers has begun to narrow, which should positively impact the level of sales going forward.”

“The transaction was complicated by several factors, not to mention the challenging economic environment, but the buyer and seller worked through them in a highly professional manner,” said Hodges Ward Elliott's Tim Southard, who worked closely with the buyer.

Founded in 1975, HWE is the world’s leading hotel brokerage and investment firm, completing more than $21 billion in hospitality real estate and investment banking transactions over the past 11 years. The company provides brokerage and investment banking services through four divisions: the HWE Full-Service/Luxury Hotel and Resort Division, which concentrates on assets valued at greater than $10 million; the International Division, which provides hospitality real estate services through its London office, the Focused-Service Division, which concentrates on hospitality transactions up to $10 million and the Golf Division.

Allied World U.S. Expands Distribution into Southeast Region; Opens Atlanta Office

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd (NYSE:AWH) today announced the opening of a new Allied World U.S. office in Atlanta, Georgia. The office, located at 3424 Peachtree Rd., N.E., was opened to expand distribution within the Southeast region of the United States as part of Allied World's strategy to show commitment to its trading partners.

The Atlanta office will serve as a distribution point for Allied World Brokerage, a recently launched division of Allied World U.S. that primarily trades with retail broking channels. Johnathan Brutlag, Vice President of Allied World Brokerage, will oversee Healthcare products and serve as Branch Manager; Cathy Jakubowicz, Vice President, will oversee General Casualty products; and Tom Meyer, Vice President, will oversee Management Liability products with help from Christine Cordo, Senior Underwriter.

Scott Carmilani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Allied World, commented, "Atlanta is an important strategic location, and our Allied World office is well-positioned to meet market demand in the Southeast. I look forward to the opportunities this office will present our company and our clients and brokers."

John McElroy, President of Allied World Brokerage, added, "Setting up our Atlanta office is a major step in establishing our new Brokerage division. The office will offer a wide range of insurance products for middle to upper middle market buyers."

To contact the Atlanta office, email

Allied World has its corporate headquarters in Bermuda and offices located in Boston, Chicago, Dublin, London, New York and San Francisco.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

EarthLink Announces Second Quarter Results

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- EarthLink, Inc. (NASDAQ:ELNK) today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2008. Highlights for the quarter include:

  -- Income from continuing operations of $57.7 million, or $0.51 per share
-- Net income of $53.3 million, or $0.48 per share
-- Adjusted EBITDA (a non-GAAP measure) of $80.5 million
-- Free cash flow (a non-GAAP measure) of $78.5 million
-- Increased full year Adjusted EBITDA (a non-GAAP measure) guidance to
$275 million - $290 million

"With our focus on customers' full internet access lifecycle, the strength of the EarthLink brand and our aggressive cost management, we delivered better than expected results across the board," said EarthLink's chairman and chief executive officer Rolla P. Huff. "We are seeing favorable trends in many areas of the business including better than expected passive subscriber additions, lower customer churn from a more tenured customer base and significantly reduced operational costs. As a result, we are once again raising guidance for the full year."

"As our revised guidance also indicates, while we expect to see continued improvements in the business, we do not expect them to be at the magnitude of the prior quarters. We have successfully implemented the vast majority of the larger scale cost reduction initiatives in the restructuring activities initiated last August to optimize our business."

Total company revenues were $245.6 million, a 21.2 percent decrease compared to the second quarter 2007. This result was consistent with management's expectations, strategy and prior public comments that the company focus would be on loyalty and retention of its tenured Internet access subscribers. While this focus on higher value, but fewer subscribers resulted in a decline in revenues, these tenured users also demonstrated significantly lower support cost profiles as compared to newer subscribers. This contributed to the company generating significantly better operating margins and free cash flow (a non-GAAP measure), as noted below.

Profitability and Other Financial Measures

EarthLink continues to focus its business on a more profitable and tenured customer base. This allowed the company to realize a significant decrease in sales and marketing, as well as back office support expenses. EarthLink's sales and marketing expenses were reduced to $25.8 million in the quarter, versus $75.8 million in the second quarter of 2007. Also contributing to the year-over-year expense decrease were benefits realized from our 2007 restructuring activities.

Operations and customer service expense decreased 43.8 percent to $33.6 million compared to the second quarter of 2007. With the strategic focus on more tenured subscribers, EarthLink also benefited from lower bad debt and billing expense. This contributed to a decline in general and administrative expense to $23.8 million for the quarter, down 19.2 percent compared to the second quarter of 2007.

EarthLink reported $57.7 million, or $0.51 per share, in income from continuing operations in the second quarter of 2008, compared to a loss of $(7.0) million, or $(0.06) per share, in the second quarter of 2007. The significant improvement compared to the second quarter of 2007 was due to the revised strategy and focus noted above as well as $40.1 million in equity losses related to Helio that were recognized in the prior year quarter.

EarthLink generated Adjusted EBITDA (a non-GAAP measure, see definition in "Non-GAAP Measures" below) of $80.5 million for the second quarter of 2008, compared to $43.8 million in the second quarter of 2007. This increase was the result of the significant improvement in income from continuing operations noted above.

Net income was $53.3 million, or $0.48 per share, for the second quarter of 2008, compared to a net loss of $(16.3) million, or $(0.13) per share, for the second quarter of 2007. The company's second quarter 2008 results include a loss of ($4.4) million from discontinued operations for the municipal Wi-Fi assets, compared to a loss of $(9.3) million during the second quarter of 2007.

Balance Sheet and Cash Flow

Free cash flow (a non-GAAP measure, see definition in "Non-GAAP Measures" below) was $78.5 million during the second quarter of 2008 compared to $29.6 million during the second quarter of 2007. This improvement reflects the significant increase in Adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter 2008, coupled with a $12.2 million decrease in capital expenditures and subscriber acquisitions in the quarter compared to the prior year quarter.

EarthLink ended the second quarter with $441.6 million in cash and marketable securities, an increase of $121.6 million from March 31, 2008.

Non-GAAP Measures

Adjusted EBITDA is defined as income (loss) from continuing operations before interest income (expense) and other, net, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, stock-based compensation expense under SFAS No. 123( R ), net losses of equity affiliate, gain (loss) on investments in other companies, net, and facility exit, restructuring and other costs.

Free cash flow is defined as income from continuing operations before interest income (expense) and other, net, income taxes, facility exit, restructuring and other costs, stock-based compensation expense under SFAS No. 123( R ), net losses of equity affiliate, gain (loss) on investments in other companies, net, and depreciation and amortization, less cash used for purchases of property and equipment and purchases of subscriber bases.

Adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow are non-GAAP financial performance measures. They should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to measures determined in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Please refer to the Consolidated Financial Highlights for a reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial performance measures to the most comparable measures reported in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles and Footnote 3 of the Consolidated Financial Highlights for a discussion of the presentation, comparability and use of such financial performance measures.

Business Outlook

These statements are forward-looking, and actual results may differ materially. See comments under "Cautionary Information Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" below. EarthLink undertakes no obligation to update these statements.

For the full year 2008, management is increasing its previously issued guidance. During the first six months of 2008, EarthLink's reputation for world-class customer service contributed to higher than expected passive subscriber additions and better than expected improvements in average monthly customer churn. Additionally, efforts to improve the company's cost structure have surpassed original expectations. As a result of these favorable developments but recognizing that the magnitude of cost improvements will be lower in the remainder of 2008, management now expects to generate income from continuing operations of $180 million to $195 million, Adjusted EBITDA of $275 million to $290 million, and free cash flow of $250 million to $270 million for the full year 2008.

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. Names Steve Cahillane President, North American Group and Hubert Patricot President, European Group

BUSINESS WIRE --Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE: CCE) announced today that Steve Cahillane will assume the role of President, North American Business Unit, effective immediately, following the departure of Terrance M. (Terry) Marks from the company. The company also announced the appointment of Hubert Patricot as President, European Group. Previously, Cahillane served as President of the European Group for Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Patricot served as General Manager of Great Britain, Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Terry has made the decision to leave CCE to pursue outside interests, said John F. Brock, chairman and chief executive officer. Coca-Cola Enterprises has benefited enormously from his leadership and contributions over the last twenty years, and we wish Terry well in his future endeavors.

Over Steves 20 year career in the beverage industry, he has developed a powerful combination of beverage sales, marketing and distribution experience working in complex markets in the U.S. and Europe, said Mr. Brock. Steve passionately believes in teamwork and accountability for delivering results.

Hubert is one of our most talented and experienced operators, continued Mr. Brock. His strong knowledge of our European operations and customer and consumer landscape make him uniquely qualified for this critical leadership role as we continue to capture opportunities in this important market.

Mr. Cahillane, 43, has spent his entire career in the beverage industry in both North America and Europe. Prior to joining CCE in 2007, Mr. Cahillane served as Chief Commercial Officer for InBev, where he led the company's global commercial strategy, marketing and sponsorships, innovation, and research and insights. Mr. Patricot, 48, has been with the Coca-Cola system for 22 years. During this time, he has served in a variety of roles including Marketing Director for The Coca-Cola Company, France, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, CCE France and Vice President and General Manager CCE France.

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. is the worlds largest marketer, distributor, and producer of bottle and can liquid nonalcoholic refreshment. Coca-Cola Enterprises sells approximately 80 percent of The Coca-Cola Companys bottle and can volume in North America and is the sole licensed bottler for products of The Coca-Cola Company in Belgium, continental France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, and the Netherlands.

Imperial Sugar Defends Safety Record, Challenges OSHA Citations, Allegations

BUSINESS WIRE --With the Senate poised to address the issue of combustible dust standards this coming week, Imperial Sugar today challenged public statements made by OSHA in their release of citations and allegations against the company late last week. Imperial has already filed a notice of contest of the citations, but also wanted the public record to reflect Imperials ongoing and steadfast commitment to workplace safety.

Imperial shares a mission with OSHA: the safety of our employees in the workplace, said CEO and President John Sheptor. Imperial has and will continue to prioritize improving safety at our facilities.

OSHA released its citations and held a press conference just two days before the Senate hearing on combustible dust standards. During the media event, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. and others made a number of accusations about Imperial Sugar and its commitment to safety in the workplace. Sheptor responded as follows: We do not believe the facts support OSHAs allegations. We are extremely disappointed in the remarks made by OSHA as they failed to appreciate the measures taken by the Company prior to the February 7 tragedy to address hazards, including combustible dust. OSHAs comments also do not reflect the commitment the Company has made to create the safest workplace possible.

Sheptor specifically took issue with OSHAs remarks about the Companys Gramercy facility. Although OSHA suggested Imperial Sugar had done nothing to improve safety at the Gramercy facility after the event in Port Wentworth, in fact, Imperial quickly worked to address concerns, including preemptively shutting down the powdered sugar operations, which remains closed while the Company ensures that it has taken all appropriate measures to ensure safe operation.

Sheptor noted that OSHAs National Emphasis Program on combustible dust was first published in October of 2007, and that Imperial Sugar implemented an action plan at Port Wentworth in response to the program, much of which was completed prior to the February 7 explosion. While we believe that the Company did respond appropriately to the National Emphasis Program, we also think a clear and comprehensive OSHA standard that specifically addresses combustible dust would further workplace safety by placing employers and employees on appropriate notice of what the hazards are and the means to prevent them.

Imperial Sugar has spent millions of dollars in capital investment to enhance safety programs and to reduce the threat of combustible dust. We will commit millions more to further enhance safety. We disagree strongly with OSHAs claims and we look forward to presenting the facts that show our commitment to safety both before the February 7 accident and afterwards. At the same time, we also welcome the opportunity to work with OSHA to improve safety at our facilities and other employers, including assisting OSHA in promulgating a combustible dust standard, said Sheptor.

AirTran Airways Introduces New E-Ticketing Capabilities for Corporate Travelers

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AAI) , today announced on the floor at the annual National Business Travel Association convention held in Los Angeles, Calif., that the airline has introduced new e-ticketing capabilities to simplify the booking, ticketing and reporting process for corporate travelers through select global distribution systems (GDS). The airline is adding this new enhancement to save corporations time and money when booking AirTran Airways through the GDS.

This enhancement is another step in AirTran Airways' ongoing commitment to make it easy to do business with the airline. Effective today, e-ticketing will be available initially through the Sabre GDS and will enable corporations and travel management companies to book AirTran Airways in the same fashion as any other airline.

The benefits of e-tickets are reduced documentation costs, enhanced passenger check-in options, reduced fraud, and the elimination of lost, stolen and pre-paid tickets.

In the coming months, the airline will be announcing additional capabilities through the GDS systems, such as improved seat assignment and Business Class upgrade functionality, frequent traveler recognition, and expanded corporate program integration.

AirTran Airways pioneered ticketless travel fifteen years ago and will continue to offer ticketless travel while adding e-ticket travel. Ticketless travel, available through or 800-AIRTRAN, is a reservation with a confirmation number and payment is settled through the airline. E- ticketing is a reservation which includes a ticket number, an accounting and reporting trail, inventory management, and other airline interline options, and payment is settled through the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). E- ticketing will give corporate travelers more ticketing and interline capabilities.

"We are committed to building our corporate business, and the introduction of e-ticketing is a major step forward for AirTran Airways," said Paul G. Clements, general manager of sales for AirTran Airways. "While we will continue to be a ticketless airline, AirTran Airways will work to improve GDS functionality for our corporate partners."

"Moving to a 100% e-ticketing environment is a very significant industry initiative," said David Gross, senior vice president of Airline Distribution for Sabre Travel Network. "AirTran Airways is a valuable partner of Sabre's and we are delighted to be to the first GDS to launch e-ticketing with them. We look forward to launching additional functionality that will continue to streamline and enhance the booking process."

Monday, July 28, 2008

United States and Cities Fare Well in a KPMG Report on Business Tax Costs

PRNewswire/ -- San Juan, Puerto Rico, Baltimore and Atlanta have the most favorable tax structures for businesses among U.S. cities/locations with populations exceeding 2 million, according to a study released today by KPMG International (KPMG).

Of the 35 large international cities highlighted in the study, San Juan, Baltimore and Atlanta all rank in the top ten -- first, eighth and ninth, respectively. And among the 10 countries in the study, the U.S. ranked fifth in terms of the favorability of its overall tax structure for business.

KPMG's 2008 Competitive Alternatives: Focus on Tax study is a global comparison of the total tax burden that may be faced by companies in 102 cities throughout 10 countries including corporate income taxes, capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, miscellaneous local business taxes and statutory labor costs. The study is intended to provide a guide for companies wanting to compare the tax burden they may incur in different cities around the world.

"Cities across the United States recognize that attracting and retaining businesses of all sizes is important for a vibrant local economy," said Hartley Powell, national leader of the Strategic Relocation and Expansion Services practice at KPMG LLP, the U.S. member firm of KPMG International. "As the survey results indicate, certain cities are leaders in developing a tax environment that encourages business development, and tax costs are a key consideration in the site selection process."

According to the study, San Juan had a total tax index of 46.6 representing tax costs 53.4 percent below the U.S. national average of 100.0. San Juan was followed by Baltimore and Atlanta at 92.1 and 95.1, respectively.

Other high-ranking large U.S. cities included Tampa, Fla. (98.1), Detroit (98.6), and Phoenix (98.8).

Industry Classifications

The results of the study also vary depending on the type of business. As a location for R&D operations, the three cities with the most cost-effective tax structure in the large-sized city category were San Juan (61.8), Baltimore (88.4), and Portland, Ore. (88.5).

For manufacturing operations, where property taxes and taxes on equipment and capital are of interest, the three, large-sized U.S. cities with the most cost effective tax structure were San Juan (42.4), Baltimore (91.3), and Atlanta (95.3).

The services industry, on the other hand, tends to be most affected by statutory labor costs. The top three, large-sized U.S. cities with the most favorable tax structure for services included San Juan (65.5), Atlanta (92.7) and Baltimore (94.2).

Mid-sized Cities

In the mid-sized city category (populations between 500,000 and 2 million), the top cities included Omaha, Neb. (94.2), Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. (95.2), Little Rock, Ark. (95.7), Milwaukee, Wis. (96.0), Youngstown, Ohio (97.1), Raleigh, N.C. (98.1), McAllen, Texas (98.5), Buffalo, N.Y. (98.9), and Salt Lake City, Utah (99.1).

Small-Sized Cities

In the small-sized city category (populations between 100,000 and 500,000), the top cities included Saginaw, Mich. (92.0), Cheyenne, Wyo. (92.1), Cedar Rapids, Iowa (92.1), Sioux Falls, S.D. (92.8), Shreveport, La. (92.9), Lexington, Ky. (93.0), and Montgomery, Ala. (95.2).

The full text of the 2008 study by KPMG International is available online at

The total tax index is a measure of the total taxes paid by corporations in a particular location and industry, expressed as a percentage of total taxes paid by similar corporations in the United States. Thus the United States has a total tax index of 100.0, which represents the benchmark against which the other countries and cities are scored.

More Than 700 Students to Complete Internships At More Than 100 Atlanta Companies, Organizations and Government Agencies This Month

For the third year in a row, more than 700 high school students and returning college students from Atlanta Public Schools are completing internships at top Atlanta companies and organizations. Last year, more than 1,000 students received summer internships in more than 200 organizations in the public and private sectors.

This program is a joint effort between Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce with the support of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ajcjobs and others.

“The Mayor's Youth Summer Employment and Training Program is made possible by our corporate partners who contribute so generously to Atlanta's youth by offering summer internships that provide them with an opportunity to grow and gain experience in an array of industries,” said Mayor Franklin. “As a result, students are better prepared for the real world, and the next phases of their lives.”

The Chamber worked with the mayor to recruit companies, non-profit organizations and city agencies to provide summer internships. In all, more than 100 organizations in the public and private sectors volunteered to provide internships, which began June 2 and ran through July 25. Organizations were asked to provide 35 to 40 hours of work per week and pay $8 to $12 per hour.

“The internships offered students real-world experiences that will help them compete in the world today,” said Tom Hough, vice chairman and southeast area managing partner for Ernst & Young LLP and chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Atlanta Public Schools Education Committee. “Education is the key to success, and in order to help our youth be successful in life, we must continue to encourage them to receive an education.”

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall said internships offer Atlanta Public Schools the opportunity to connect classroom learning to career exploration, which students say is an important part of their educational experience.

“The business and civic community has a history in Atlanta of consciously engaging in efforts that make a difference in the lives of children,” she added. “The mayor’s internship program is an example of the larger community’s all-hands-on-deck approach to educating our students.”

This internship initiative is part of the Mayor's Youth Program, which helps Atlanta Public Schools’ graduating seniors map out a plan for success after high school. The Mayor's Youth Program is administered out of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA). AWDA assists students with unmet needs that may hinder their entrance to the training and/or institution of their choice. The Metro Atlanta Chamber has been involved with public schools for decades through the Atlanta Partners for Education -- a joint venture of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Atlanta Public Schools.

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. Publishes 2007 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report

BUSINESS WIRE --Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE: CCE), the worlds largest marketer, distributor, and producer of Coca-Cola products, has published its third company-wide Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) Report, Shape TomorrowToday. To access CCEs 2007 Report in its entirety, please visit Comments and feedback related to the 2007 Report are welcome at

The Report follows the G3 guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and announces the companys first-ever goals and commitments in its five strategic CRS focus areas: water stewardship, sustainable packaging/recycling, energy conservation/climate change, product portfolio/well-being, and diverse and inclusive culture. The Report is a comprehensive look at Coca-Cola Enterprises business in the communities in which it operates.

For the first time, we are announcing a clear roadmap with targets and goals to help us deliver on our commitment to Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, said John F. Brock, chairman and chief executive officer. As we continue to embed CRS throughout our business, it is playing an increasingly important role in helping us to capture operational efficiencies, drive effectiveness, and eliminate waste.

CCE has established a goal and targets for each of its five strategic CRS focus areas, including:

  • Water Stewardship: Establish a water sustainable operation in which we use one liter of water for every liter of product we produce what we call water neutrality.
  • Sustainable Packaging/Recycling: Maximize our use of renewable, reusable, and recyclable resources, ultimately recycling the equivalent of 100 percent of our packaging.
  • Energy Conservation/Climate Change: Reduce carbon emissions in our manufacturing, fleet, sales and marketing equipment, and facilities.
  • Product Portfolio/Well-Being: Offer every consumer the right product and package in the right place, at the right moment, in the right way.
  • Diverse and Inclusive Culture: Establish a diverse, winning, and inclusive culture.

Highlights from the Report include:

  • Achieving the companys target of a three percent improvement in water use ratio over previous year, using 1.77 liters of water to produce one liter of product
  • Launching Coca-Cola Recycling with a mission of recovering or recycling the equivalent of 100 percent of the packaging materials used by the Coca-Cola system in North America
  • Installing more than 20,000 energy-saving devices in sales and marketing equipment, reducing CO2 by 28,000 metric tons
  • Adding glacéau, FUZE, and Campbells products to the companys product portfolio
  • Increasing the number of light sparkling and still beverages in the companys portfolio to 47 percent of our sales volume
  • Spending more than US$150 million with minority- or women-owned business enterprises
  • Contributing US$31.5 million to community investment programs

Coca-Cola Enterprises will continue to improve its reporting capabilities and data-gathering systems. The company is committed to developing greater transparency in reporting and improving the quality and quantity of the data reported.

Coca-Cola Enterprises is the world's largest marketer, producer, and distributor of bottle and can liquid nonalcoholic refreshment. CCE sells approximately 80 percent of The Coca-Cola Company's bottle and can volume in North America and is the sole licensed bottler for products of The Coca-Cola Company in Belgium, continental France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, and the Netherlands.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Georgia Plastics Company to Expand in Thomaston

InnoWare Plastics announced today that it plans to retain 134 jobs and create an additional 45 jobs at its Thomaston manufacturing facility. The company will invest $9.7 million.

“Manufacturers like InnoWare find a welcoming home in Georgia, where our strong workforce and transportation network create an ideal place to grow,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “By fostering partnerships between state and local entities, we help companies retain workers and increase jobs in our communities.”

InnoWare, based in Alpharetta, plans to add a new production line to its Thomaston facility. The company is planning to add logistics operations in Thomaston. Currently all logistics are handled at a facility in Nashville, Tenn. The company manufactures plastic takeout containers for the restaurant industry.

The Thomaston-Upson County Industrial Development Authority was recently awarded a $500,000 OneGeorgia grant to help build a rail spur to the InnoWare facility. This infrastructure investment helped prevent the closure of the plant and aided in the retention of 134 jobs.
“The officials from the State of Georgia, Thomaston and Upson County have demonstrated this is a business-friendly place that supports local employers and looks out for the interests of its local workforce,” said Nick Clementi, chairman of the board and CEO of InnoWare.

“The Thomaston Upson Industrial Development Authority is extremely pleased to have been able to partner with InnoWare to provide rail access to their manufacturing facility,” said Jim Edwards, chairman of the Thomaston-Upson County Industrial Development Authority. “The new rail spur will allow InnoWare to continue to grow and provide even more high quality jobs for our community as well as helping to attract additional manufacturers to our industrial park who need access to rail.”

Greg Wright, project manager with GDEcD, assisted InnoWare in its expansion.

InnoWare is a leading manufacturer of distinctive, high quality takeout containers and paper tableware products. The company designs and manufactures plastic food containers in Thomaston, Georgia, and paper tableware products in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. InnoWare’s complete in-house design, converting, thermoforming, printing and embossing capabilities enable it to offer innovative, on-trend products to its customers within the foodservice and retail markets.

High-Impact Firms Create Georgia’s Jobs And Growth

“High-impact” firms create Georgia’s new jobs and growth, according to a study recently released by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Distributed across all industries, high-impact firms account for almost all employment and revenue growth in the national economy, the study concludes.

Of the 376,604 high impact firms identified by researchers nationwide, 12,267 are located in Georgia. That number represents 1.99 percent of Georgia’s firms.

The study High-Impact Firms: Gazelles Revisited, defines high-impact firms as those whose sales have at least doubled over a four-year period and which have an employment “growth quantifier” (the firm’s absolute change in employment multiplied by the percent change) of two or more.

The study notes that such firms are found across all industries and in all geographic regions. It ranks regions, states, metropolitan statistical areas, and counties by their percentage of high-impact firms. The study finds, with some data limitations, that high-impact firms are not start-ups but are on average around 25 years old, and that they come in all size classes. The report also documents that over the periods studied, nearly all job losses came from large, low-impact firms.

“High-impact firms are important to Georgia’s economic growth and development,” said Dr. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the Office of Advocacy. “State policy makers would be wise to consider how their policies can encourage such firms.”

The Office of Advocacy, the “small business watchdog” of the federal government, examines the role and status of small business in the economy and independently represents the views of small business to federal agencies, Congress, and the President. It is the source for small business statistics presented in user-friendly formats, and it funds research into small business issues.

For more information, a complete copy of the report and rankings of high-impact firms by region, state, MSA, and county, visit the Office of Advocacy website at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

EarthLink Announces Changes to Board of Directors

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- EarthLink, Inc. (NASDAQ:ELNK) today announced the appointment of M. Wayne Wisehart to EarthLink's Board of Directors. Mr. Wisehart will serve on EarthLink's Audit Committee, its Finance Committee and its Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee. Rolla P. Huff, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors commented, "Wayne brings a wealth of technology, telecommunications and financial experience to EarthLink and we are excited to have him on board as we continue to focus our company on customer retention and satisfaction while creating shareholder value."

Mr. Wisehart served as Chief Financial Officer of aQuantive, Inc., a digital marketing services company, from March 2006 until September 2007. aQuantive was acquired by Microsoft in August 2007. Prior to this position, Mr. Wisehart served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Western Wireless Corporation, a cellular phone service provider, from January 2003 until September 2005. Western Wireless was acquired by Alltel in August 2005. Prior to that time, Mr. Wisehart served as Chief Financial Officer of iNNERHOST, Inc., a web hosting services company, from October 2000 through February 2002, and as President and Chief Executive Officer for Teledirect International, Inc., a marketing automation software company, from February 1999 through October 2000. In addition, Mr. Wisehart spent more than 15 years in the telecommunications industry serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Price Communications Wireless, now part of Verizon Wireless, and Chief Financial Officer of Palmer Communications and its subsidiary, Palmer Wireless, and subsequently for Price Communications Wireless after it acquired Palmer Wireless in 1997.

EarthLink today also announced the retirement of Robert (Bob) Kavner and William (Bill) Harris, Jr. from the Board of Directors effective July 25, 2008. Mr. Kavner served on the Board of Directors of EarthLink (and its predecessor EarthLink Network) since 1996. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from March 2005 to January 2008, and was independent lead director from January 2008 to July 2008. Mr. Harris served on the Board of Directors of EarthLink since October 2003. Mr. Huff added, "Bob's service and commitment to EarthLink for over a decade has been an inspiration to us all. We are grateful for Bob's and Bill's many contributions to the company."

In addition to Mr. Wisehart, the EarthLink Board of Directors includes Susan D. Bowick, Sky D. Dayton, Marce Fuller, Rolla P. Huff, Terrell B. Jones, David Koretz and Thomas E. Wheeler. Ms. Fuller is succeeding Mr. Kavner as independent lead director.

McRae Adds Three New Staff

Will Nobles and Barbara Hofmann have joined McRae as Information Technology Manager and Executive Assistant, while Darcy DeWitt has joined as Traffic Manager.

Nobles manages all of McRae’s in-house information technology functions, overseeing all of McRae’s in-house technology objectives, projects, policies and processes. He joins McRae as former President and Partner of NS1/LatusPoint IT Consultant Services, where he oversaw all strategic and operational management of company sales, marketing, engineering, and technology development.

Hofmann works directly with McRae President Joe Snowden and Executive Vice President and Partner Mary Chris Murry. She is the former Executive Assistant to the President and Owner of Gibraltar Homes in Sarasota, Florida, and has a wide range of experience assisting corporate executives in various business enterprises.

DeWitt is responsible for internal trafficking and all proofreading for McRae’s traditional advertising projects. She has worked as Traffic Manager for several companies and brings nearly 20 years of experience to McRae.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Delta Air Lines Gets Ready for a Grand Entrance into Tegucigalpa with a Brand-New Boeing 737-700

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) will launch the first-ever nonstop daily flights between Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Toncontin Airport in Honduras’ capital city of Tegucigalpa, starting Dec. 18, 2008 (subject to foreign government approval). The new flights will be operated using brand-new Boeing 737-700 aircraft being delivered to Delta this year that will allow the addition of service at unique airports such as Tegucigalpa with short runways, extreme temperatures and high altitudes.

“We’ve been looking forward to flying into Tegucigalpa for a long time, and the brand-new 737-700 aircraft makes it possible, complementing the long list of Central American destinations Delta serves,” said Delta’s Christophe Didier, vice president of Sales and Government Affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Our flights to San Pedro Sula and Roatan have consistently performed well, and we are immensely optimistic to see Tegucigalpa become a great addition to our Honduras service.”

Delta inaugurated service to San Pedro Sula and Roatan in March 2006.

ProLogis Leases 540,000 Square Feet to JVC America, Inc. in Atlanta

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ProLogis (NYSE:PLD) , the world's largest owner, manager and developer of distribution facilities, announced today that it has leased 540,000 square feet in Atlanta, Georgia to JVC America, Inc., a leading manufacturer of home, mobile and automotive electronics equipment and accessories.

JVC will occupy the entire space at New Manchester Distribution Center, located two miles south of Interstate 20 on Camp Creek Parkway. The company will use the facility for creation and distribution of media products. This is JVC's first lease agreement with ProLogis.

"We are excited to enter into this new relationship with JVC in Atlanta," said Rodney Davidson, first vice president and market officer for ProLogis in Atlanta. "The company's brands are recognized worldwide, and we hope to leverage our global platform to serve their future distribution space needs. We believe this location will enhance JVC's distribution network in the region, especially with its close access to national highway systems."

New Manchester Distribution Center is a freestanding distribution facility with easy access to both Interstate 20 and Interstate 285. Building features include an energy-efficient, T-8 lighting system, which helps to greatly reduce operating costs and energy expenditure.

JVC America, Inc. is a division of JVC Americas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of JVC Victor Company of Japan, Limited. JVC is a leading developer and manufacturer of sophisticated audio and video products that use superior technologies to deliver high quality sound and images.

ProLogis is the largest owner of industrial distribution space in Atlanta, with approximately 19 million square feet in 122 facilities owned, managed or under development. Customers in the area include Home Depot, LG Electronics, Petco, APL Logistics and Subaru.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Emory University Signs 10 Year Deal Valued at up to $10 Million; Will Provide Real Time Backup of Data to AtlantaNAP in the New Data Center Expansion

/PRNewswire/ -- Emory University signs a 10 year, up to $10 Million deal with AtlantaNAP ( to provide backup services for the university and hospital systems. Emory University will provide real time backup of their data to the servers in the Atlanta colocation facility. Emory has extended their 10G ring from Atlanta Gas Light Networks to the facility for high capacity online backup and archival.

AtlantaNAP is a premier Atlanta colocation facility implemented by Global Net Access, LLC ( that is located in West Atlanta. AtlantaNAP just finished the expansion of their new Enterprise Data Center in May 2008 which has added 12,500 additional square feet of cage colocation, cabinet colocation and rack colocation space. Emory University was the first client to reside in the new Data Center with up to 5,000 square feet of cage colocation space and fully redundant power feeds as part of their deal.

President Jeff Hinkle is delighted to have Emory University as a customer. "They are great to work with and add to our growing list of high-end enterprise users choosing the NAP for their mission critical data center needs," said Hinkle.

DataPath Awarded SeaPort-Enhanced ID/IQ Prime Contract by U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center

PRNewswire/ -- DataPath, Inc., a leading provider of satellite and wireless communications networks around the world, has been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) prime contract under the SeaPort-Enhanced (SeaPort-e) contract vehicle by the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The SeaPort-e prime contract provides a streamlined electronic procurement process through which DataPath can submit bids and receive task orders to provide satellite and wireless communications network solutions, services and software to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. DataPath's award has a one-year base period and includes additional terms for up to 10 years total. Through this vehicle, DataPath will be able to provide products and services in all seven regional zones covered by the Seaport-e electronic procurement process.

"This award is the result of our efforts to continue to expand our offerings across key user communities within the U.S. Department of Defense and civilian government market," said Dave Helfgott, president and CEO of DataPath. "Based on our proven capabilities to deliver vital communications networks, software applications, and technical support services, we were selected as a prime contractor that will serve the U.S. Navy and our long-time customer the U.S. Marine Corps for years to come."

"Navy and Marine users of network-centric communications systems and advanced network control software will benefit greatly from this procurement vehicle," said Steve Lindeman, vice president of Business Operations at DataPath. "We will be able to deliver the right solutions very quickly into the hands of Sailors and Marines operating around the world."

The government estimates that a maximum of $5.3 billion of services will be procured per year via contracts maintained under the SeaPort-e contracting vehicle. The SeaPort-e contract vehicle was established to create a performance-based Navy-wide electronic procurement process. It is a multiple award contract with more than 1,000 contractors that deliver products and services for the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Naval Supply Systems Command, Military Sealift Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Strategic Systems Programs, Office of Naval Research, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and U.S. Marine Corps.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Steven Luxenberg, M.D., Named Chief Medical Information Officer

Steven N. Luxenberg, M.D., has been named chief medical information officer for Piedmont Healthcare. Effective July 1, 2008, Dr. Luxenberg became responsible for leveraging clinical data to reduce variance in care processes and quality and using information technology systems to help Piedmont Healthcare incorporate new medicines, techniques and research-driven ideas to improve care.

“Steve is an expert when it comes to hospital information systems, with more than 14 years of experience in the field,” said R. Timothy Stack, president and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare. “His expertise will be an asset to our senior executive team at Piedmont.”

Dr. Luxenberg’s healthcare background and experience is extensive. He spent the past five years with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., working first as a physician informaticist before being promoted to deputy chief information officer of clinical informatics three years ago. Prior to working at NIH, he served as medical director of informatics at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

“Piedmont has a well-deserved reputation as a system committed to providing high quality healthcare,” said Dr. Luxenberg. “I look forward to contributing to the continued advancement of the progressive clinical data management systems already in place within the organization.”

Dr. Luxenberg received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va. He completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in medical informatics at Columbia University in New York City.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hooters of America, Inc. Concerned About Chanticleer's Acquisition Attempts

PRNewswire/ -- Today, Hooters of America, Inc. (HOA) stated that it has concerns over Chanticleer Holdings' announcement that it plans to acquire Texas Wings. Texas Wings is HOA's largest franchisee. It operates 45 Hooters Restaurants in the state of Texas under franchise agreements with Atlanta-based HOA. Texas Wings' franchise agreements require Texas Wings to obtain HOA's consent before it enters into any transfer agreement. The franchise agreements also require Texas Wings to grant HOA a right of first refusal. Although Chanticleer announced that Texas Wings has signed an asset purchase agreement with Chanticleer, Texas Wings has not requested or obtained HOA's consent, nor has it recognized HOA's right of first refusal, in violation of its franchise agreements with HOA.

HOA is also concerned that Chanticleer is announcing yet another acquisition when Chanticleer has apparently not yet closed a transaction with Hooters Inc. (HI), an HOA licensee. HI operates 22 Hooters locations in Chicago, New York City and the Tampa Bay area. In March, Chanticleer announced plans to acquire HI and close no later than July 31. Chanticleer holds no rights to acquire franchisees without HOA's consent, and it appears Chanticleer may not be able to close announced transactions in a timely fashion.

Coby Brooks, the President and CEO of HOA, stated, "Although I am pleased that our franchisees may be in a position to monetize the equity they have built under years of HOA leadership, I do not want anyone to distract our system with promises that may not be fulfilled. Hooters is performing well, even during challenging economic times. However, our success is not guaranteed, and it can be threatened when operators start thinking about cashing out versus taking care of our guests. We are concerned that Chanticleer may be attempting to create an illusion that it has certain rights and understandings that extend beyond what it actually has."

Hooters franchisees are concerned as well. "Hooters of America is the standard bearer for the Hooters concept. The Franchisees are very happy with the direction HOA has taken the brand over the past few years under Coby Brooks' direction. We have spent 25 years building the Hooters Brand with Hooters of America and have just completed an agreement for a new 20-year extension for all franchisees. Our focus is on the long run," stated Gary McCully the President of Hooters Franchisee Association.

The Board of Directors of the Coca-Cola Company Declares Quarterly Dividend; Elects Two Officers

BUSINESS WIRE--The Board of Directors of The Coca-Cola Company today declared a regular quarterly dividend of 38 cents per common share. The dividend is payable October 1, 2008, to shareowners of record as of September 15, 2008.

The Board also elected Alex Cummings executive vice president and David Taggart senior vice president of the Company. Mr. Taggarts election is effective immediately; Mr. Cummings election is effective October 15, 2008, upon his relocation to the U.S.

Mr. Cummings is the Companys chief administrative officer, responsible for oversight of key corporate functions that support business operations including, Legal, Public Affairs and Communications, Human Resources, Global Community Connections, Strategic Planning, Information Technology, Product Integrity, Research & Innovation and Science.

Prior to this newly created role, Mr. Cummings served as president of the Africa Group for seven years. He joined The Coca-Cola Company in 1997 as region manager, Nigeria and, in 2000, was named president of the Company's North & West Africa Division. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Cummings held several positions with The Pillsbury Company in the U.S., including vice president of finance for Pillsbury International.

Mr. Cummings has a bachelors degree in finance and economics from Northern Illinois University and a masters degree in finance from Atlanta University. He is chairman of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and serves on the Boards of the African-America Institute, Africare and Clark Atlanta University.

As treasurer, Mr. Taggart oversees the Companys global treasury operations, including management of its foreign currency, commodity, interest rate hedging and risk programs. He has more than 28 years experience with the Company. Mr. Taggart was elected assistant treasurer in 1985. In 1990, he was named president of The Coca-Cola Trading Company and established global procurement for the Company. He was elected vice president and treasurer in 1993.

Mr. Taggart has a bachelors degree from Princeton University and a masters degree in general management from Harvard Business School. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Inc.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SAIC Awarded $55 Million Contract by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Science Applications International Corporation (NYSE:SAI) announced today that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- Savannah, Ga., District to design, engineer and construct an Advanced Metal Finishing Facility (AMFF) and a Ground Support Equipment (GSE) facility at Robins Air Force Base (AFB), Ga. The award has a 39-month period of performance and a contract value of more than $55 million. Work will be performed by SAIC's design-build subsidiary, The Benham Companies LLC, and is scheduled for completion in 2011.

The contract includes the architectural design, engineering and construction of two facilities -- the AMFF, which will be approximately 93,000 sq. ft., and the GSE facility, which will be approximately 29,000 sq. ft. These facilities will support finishing processes for several parts of the F-15, C-130, C-17 and C-5 aircrafts.

The project includes all elements of building design and will incorporate information systems, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, DoD Force Protection/antiterrorism measures, workstation layout, and fire protection and alarm systems.

"We look forward to building a state-of-the-art metal plating facility that will facilitate a flexible and modular plating process and support the emerging needs of the military aviation industry for many years to come," said J.T. Grumski, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager.

New Energy Company, Solid Recovered Fuel, Offers Combined Energy, Waste Solutions

BUSINESS WIRE--As businesses and governments struggle with the twin challenges of energy costs and solid waste disposal, a new company headed by leaders in the energy and solid waste industries offers technology and expertise to turn waste into energy.

Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF), headquartered in Atlanta and led by former CEOs of Louis Dreyfus Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas, and the president of a leading waste management company, will design, build and operate facilities to convert municipal solid waste (MSW) to clean, efficient, renewable synthesis gas, called syngas.

Ronald Bertasi, former president and CEO, Southern Company Gas, and former president and CEO, Southern Company Energy Solutions, is CEO of the new business and serves on its board. Simon Rich, who is former chairman and CEO of Louis Dreyfus Natural Gas, former president of Louis Dreyfus Holding Corp. and currently chairman of Fuqua Rich Weeks private equity firm, is chairman and serves on the board along with Norbert Hector, president of MRR Southern, a Raleigh-based solid waste management company.

Other investors and SRF board members are: Ray Weeks, chairman of Weeks Robinson Properties; Rex Fuqua, president and CEO of Fuqua Capital; Ed Weisiger, Jr., president and CEO of Carolina Tractor; and David Griffin, Jr., CEO of D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co., Inc.

SRF takes a technically advanced yet pragmatic approach to converting MSW into cost-efficient, cleaner energy. By utilizing 70% of the MSW stream, the SRF process greatly reduces the need for landfill capacity while producing a clean, renewable fuel.

Market conditions are driving innovation in waste to energy conversion and applicability, said Bertasi. We put the pieces together to give a business, utility or a public facility the ability to convert MSW, including its own waste stream, into syngasa form of energy that is adaptable to a range of uses, and is also carbon neutral. This system is good for companies because it reduces their costs and helps them reduce their carbon footprints, and its also good for the environment because it recycles waste while replacing fossil fuels.

The SRF solution:

  • Receives and processes MSW at a material recovery facility;
  • Recovers recyclables from the waste stream;
  • Creates a low-cost RDF as loose or pellet feedstock;
  • Converts RDF to clean-burning syngas using a patented, proven fluidized bed gasification technology;
  • Supplies syngas to customers new or existing facilities for co-firing with other fuels or firing on a stand-alone basis;
  • Provides a carbon-neutral, renewable fuel;
  • Reduces fuel costs substantially relative to natural gas and syngas produced from coal or biomass;
  • Produces syngas that can also be utilized as a feedstock for downstream production of chemical products, synthetic natural gas or liquid fuels.

Environmental and business benefits

By eliminating 70% of the MSW entering a landfill, SRFs process greatly reduces landfill emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and dramatically reduces the need for landfill space. SRFs process captures all recyclable material from the waste stream for re-use. Syngas produced by SRF is renewable and carbon neutral, and when replacing fossil fuels greatly reduces emissions of carbon dioxide.

SRF gives businesses access to energy at much lower cost than natural gas or syngas produced from other sources, such as coal, sawdust, waste wood or other biomass. In addition, SRF can provide long-term, fixed price contracts, eliminating the price volatility of fossil fuels. Customers gain the benefit of an environmentally sound fuel at reduced cost, with price certainty.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Delta Announces Senior Team to Lead Airline Following Closing of Delta-Northwest Merger

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today (July 15, 2008) announced to employees the senior team responsible for leading the company after the closing of its merger with Northwest Airlines (NYSE: NWA), marking another important milestone toward the successful integration of the two airlines. Delta will combine the strengths of two best-in-class airlines to create an industry-leading management team and ensure the seamless transition of Northwest’s operations into Delta over the next 12-24 months.

The team of officers will be led by Delta CEO Richard Anderson, an 18-year industry veteran, and will be comprised of highly experienced operational, corporate and strategic leaders selected from both companies to represent the respective strengths of Delta and Northwest. In addition, Delta announced the senior officers who will be members of its Corporate Leadership Team (CLT). The CLT will have overall responsibility for the strategy of the airline, including major decision-making and overall supervision of the merger process. The CLT, which will be effective upon the closing of the merger, includes:

Richard Anderson, CEO – Delta Air Lines
Ed Bastian, President and CFO - Delta Air Lines; CEO and President - NWA
Mike Becker, EVP, Chief Operating Officer - NWA
Mike Campbell, EVP - HR, Labor & Communications
Steve Gorman, EVP - Operations
Glen Hauenstein, EVP - Revenue & Network
Ben Hirst, SVP - General Counsel
Laura Liu, SVP - International
Theresa Wise, SVP – Chief Information Officer

By naming its entire officer team in advance of the closing of the merger, Delta has laid a strong foundation for the combined airline to immediately begin capturing and exceeding the merger synergies expected following the close of the transaction.

“We have assembled an incredibly talented officer team,” said Anderson. “Their diverse backgrounds and extensive experience, both in and out of the airline industry, provide a solid foundation for building a world-class airline focused on taking care of our people, serving our customers, and giving a good return to our shareholders.”

Upon closing, NWA, Inc. will be an operating subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. Ed Bastian, who is Delta’s current president and CFO, will also become CEO and president of Northwest. Mike Becker, who is currently senior vice president of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Northwest, will become the new executive vice president and chief operating officer of Northwest during the transition period. As previously announced, Northwest’s current president and CEO, Doug Steenland, will leave to assume his seat on the new Delta Board of Directors.

Each of the officers of the new NWA structure will be officers of both NWA and Delta upon closing. “The officers named for both Delta and NWA are leaders of the new Delta,” said Bastian, who will have leadership roles in both organizations. “The final organizational structure will evolve over time, as the transition to a single operating certificate is achieved. We will not sacrifice revenue or cost-synergies by moving too quickly to integrate. Combining these two great airlines will be a well-planned, deliberate process.”

The new Delta will be headquartered in Atlanta and will maintain a significant long-term presence in Minnesota that includes both operation and staff functions beyond the 12-24 month transition of Northwest operations into Delta.

Anderson said, “We are already making great progress on our integration planning and are well ahead of previously attempted airline mergers in anticipation of gaining approval by the Department of Justice later this year. Today’s announcement is another important milestone in solidifying the leadership of the new Delta and accelerating the planning efforts that are essential to achieving a seamless integration after the closing of the merger. In light of the industry’s current challenges, including record high oil prices, it is clear we were smart to proceed when we did because this merger will provide the necessary revenue and cost synergies to better position the combined carrier for success over the long-term.”

Northwest’s CEO Steenland concluded, “As the planning continues and the transformation evolves, we ask that all Delta and Northwest people remain focused on operating our respective airlines. Thanks to the caliber of our people, we are confident we will complete the most successful merger in airline history.”

Delta in April announced that it is combining with Northwest in an all-stock transaction to create America’s premier global airline. The new company will be called Delta and will be headquartered in Atlanta. Combined, the company and its regional partners will provide customers access to more than 390 destinations in 67 countries. Together, Delta and Northwest will have more than $35 billion in aggregate annual revenues, operate a mainline fleet of nearly 800 aircraft, employ approximately 75,000 people worldwide, and have one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry. The merger is subject to the approval of Delta and Northwest stockholders and regulatory approvals, which are targeted for completion later this year.

Clayton State Goes Public… on GPB-TV

Clayton State University is going public… on Georgia Public Broadcasting, that is.

During the month of July, Clayton State’s message is going out throughout the state via Georgia Public Television. Starting July 7 and ending July 31, a Clayton State “spot” will run a total of 32 times in conjunction with some of public broadcasting’s most popular programming… including Nova, This Old House, Wild!, Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives, Masterpiece Mystery!, and even Sherlock Holmes. Clearly, the game is afoot.

Christopher Kunney Named Chief Information Officer and Information Services Leader for Piedmont Healthcare

Christopher Kunney has been named chief information officer and vice president of Information Services for Piedmont Healthcare. Kunney’s responsibilities include planning and directing Information Services across Piedmont Healthcare, developing long-term strategies to support and enhance Piedmont’s business strategies, and assessing and ensuring infrastructure and resource requirements across the system.

“Christopher joined Piedmont Healthcare in 2003 and as the former chief of operations for Information Services has played a vital role in our IS programs, which have received several awards including Most Wired for Piedmont Hospital, Piedmont Fayette Hospital and Piedmont Mountainside Hospital,” said R. Timothy Stack, president and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare. “He will continue the good work begun by John Hilliard, Piedmont’s CIO since 1998 who will remain on board to help with the transition, the IS team and other PHC leaders.”

“The role of information services in health care is constantly changing and advancing,” said Kunney. “I’m looking forward to this new position with Piedmont Healthcare and playing an active role in the system’s IS plans for the future.”

A graduate of Fort Valley State University and Georgia Institute of Technology, Kunney has held various senior level IT managerial positions during his tenure with technology companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Verso Technologies and also as a consultant for Worldsites Network International.

He is an adjunct professor for DeVry University and was recently named recipient of the first annual Minority Scholarship Award from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, of which he is a member. Kunney is active in the Atlanta chapter of the National Black MBA Association and is a member of the Georgia Association of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Healthcare Executives. Christopher and his wife, Marion, reside in Atlanta with their two children, Jordan and Brian.

Delta Air Lines Reports June 2008 Quarter Financial Results

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today reported results for the quarter ended June 30, 2008.

Key points include:
• Delta’s net income for the June 2008 quarter excluding special charges was $137 million, or $0.35 per diluted share, despite a more than $1 billion year-over-year increase in fuel input costs related to higher prices.1,2,3 • Including special charges of $1.2 billion, Delta’s reported net loss for the June 2008 quarter was $1.0 billion, or $2.64 per diluted share. • Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines is targeted to close during the fourth quarter of 2008. The company expects approximately $2 billion in annual merger-related synergies by 2012 with cash integration costs of approximately $600 million over three years. • As of June 30, 2008, Delta had $4.3 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $1 billion available under its revolving credit facility.

Click here to download the file.

Brightree Secures Significant Investment from Battery Ventures to Finance Growth and Extend Leadership Position

BUSINESS WIRE--Brightree LLC, developer of the fastest growing business management solution for the Home Medical Equipment (HME), Durable Medical Equipment (DME), Orthotics & Prosthetics (O&P) and Sleep Therapy markets, today announced that it has received a significant investment from Battery Ventures. Brightree intends to use the new capital to accelerate its growth, consolidate the markets it serves, and expand into new markets.

Brightree has all of the elements we look for in our later stage investments: a profitable, fast growth business, a market-leading product with happy customers, and an experienced management team at the helm, said Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at Battery. The company is in an excellent position to continue to grow organically as well as to acquire complementary companies to extend their leadership position.

Brightree was the first Software as a Service (SaaS) solution developed specifically for the HME/DME market, fully automating the unique workflows and complex requirements of the industry. The combination of its intuitive, easy-to-use Internet-hosted software and its superior customer service has driven it to a market-leading position. Since 2005, the company has enjoyed rapid growth, doubling revenues each year. In the last 3 years, Brightree has contracted with over 700 new customers and has systematically expanded into the O&P and Sleep markets.

While we could continue our growth without outside investment, we see an opportunity to consolidate the markets we serve today by investing more in our customers success than our competitors do, and taking our successful business model into complementary markets such as Home Health, Retail Pharmacy, and Long Term Care, said Dave Cormack, Brightree president and CEO. We could not have picked a better partner than Battery to embark upon this next phase. Their investment is a ringing endorsement of what we have accomplished. My team and I are very excited and fully engaged to build upon the phenomenal success weve achieved.

Independent surveys in 2006 and 2007 established Brightree as the fastest growing business management solution in the industry, outpacing all competitive products combined. Brightree is now the 2nd largest filer of Medicare claims in the USA. This year, Brightree users will process over 13 million claims totaling over $2.4 billion. As part of Brightrees growth strategy, the company signed an exclusive 10-year partnership in 2008 with VGM Group, the preeminent member service organization in the industry, to deliver an array of revolutionary Internet-centric services to providers via a virtual ecosystem.

Ameris Bancorp Reports Net Income of $3.1 Million for Second Quarter of 2008

PRNewswire-FirstCall -- AMERIS BANCORP (NASDAQ:ABCB) , reported net income of $3.1 million, or $0.23 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2008, compared to net income for the same quarter in 2007 of $5.4 million, or $0.39 per share. Net income for the year-to-date period totaled $6.1 million, or $0.45 per share, compared to $10.4 million, or $0.76 per share for the same period in 2007. Continued weakness in general economic conditions in several of the Company's markets led to higher levels of loan provisions and negatively impacted the results for both the quarter and year-to-date period. Commenting on the quarter's results, Edwin W. Hortman, Jr. said, "Given the current operating environment, I am encouraged by our Company's performance. During the most recent quarter, we dealt quickly and aggressively with credit quality issues and recorded provisions at levels that should not persist. We continue to experience dilution from the investment in our De Novo strategy and expect profitability to improve significantly as we move forward. Lastly, despite four quarters in this difficult environment, Ameris Bank has protected its capital base and remains well capitalized with approximately $30 million of excess capital."

The Company's provision for loan losses during the second quarter amounted to $3.7 million, an increase of $2.8 million over the $936,000 recorded in the second quarter of 2007. Similarly, provision for loan losses for the year-to-date period increased $5.5 million to $6.9
million for the first six months of 2008 compared to 2007. The high levels of provision for loan losses reflect the Company's efforts to quickly address problem credits and are the result of very weak real estate conditions in a few of the Company's markets. As in previous quarters, the majority of the deterioration in credit quality is concentrated in a small number of larger credits. The Company continues to benefit from a loan portfolio that is well diversified over four states and various loan categories.

Non-performing assets increased slightly during the current quarter to 2.08% of total loans, compared to 2.00% for the first quarter of 2008, and 1.57% at December 31, 2007. Net charge-offs on loans during the second quarter of 2008 were similar to levels experienced during the first quarter of 2008 at 0.75% of total loans. The Company's reserve for loan losses at June 30, 2008 was flat compared to December 31, 2007, at 1.71% of total loans.

Trends in Net Interest Margin

In spite of drastically lower short-term rates and intense competition for core deposits, the Company's net interest margin declined only slightly during the second quarter of 2008 to 3.98%, compared to 4.03% in the same quarter in 2007. For the six-month period ending June 30, 2008, the Company's net interest margin was 3.95%, compared to 4.08% in the same period in 2007.

Loan yields during the quarter decreased to 6.97%, compared to 8.46% in the same quarter in 2007. In the most recent quarter, loan yields decreased from the 7.56% reported in the first quarter of 2008. This decline in the most recent quarter was partially attributed to accelerated renegotiation of interest rates in the Company's fixed rate loan portfolio as customers have opportunities to significantly reduce expenses or accelerate repayment of principal.

The Company's cost of funds during the current quarter was 2.72%, compared to 3.84% in the same quarter in 2007, and 3.30% in the first quarter of 2008. During the quarter, deposit costs declined to 2.78% from 3.68% in the same quarter in 2007 and from 3.25% in the first quarter of 2008. The decline against the linked quarter resulted from continued repricing of all deposit accounts but the majority of the savings resulted from material savings on time deposit maturities. Non-deposit borrowing costs also declined in the second quarter of 2008 to 2.10% from 5.81% in the second quarter of 2007 due to the Company's restructure of these borrowings and the use of interest rate floors on several of the advances. Efforts continue to reduce interest expense and are focused primarily on time deposit maturities and improving the Company's overall funding mix.

Operating Income and Operating Expense Trends

For the year-to-date period ending June 30, 2008, net interest income increased 1.6% to $37.5 million, when compared to net interest income for the year-to-date period ending June 30, 2007. Non-interest income increased 17.4% to $5.3 million during the second quarter of 2008, when compared to the same quarter in 2007. Continued growth in service charges and mortgage fees led to the increase in non-interest income. Service charges on deposit accounts increased 19.3% to $3.7 million in the current quarter, when compared to the second quarter of 2007. Income from mortgage loan activities also increased primarily as a result of hiring and training efforts during the last half of 2007. Mortgage income rose to $855,000, an increase of 6.9% over the second quarter of 2007. The Company's mortgage lending activities do not subject the Company to appreciably higher levels of risk, as all loans are closed with guaranteed takeouts and are underwritten by the purchaser.

Operating expense increased during the quarter by 16.6% to $16.0 million, when compared to the same quarter in 2007. Year to date, operating expenses increased to $31.6 million, an increase of 11.9% when compared to the same period in 2007. As stated in past quarters, increases in salaries and benefits as well as in occupancy and equipment are largely the result of the Company's expansion efforts. While meaningful accretion to profitability levels and earnings per share are not expected for the next several quarters, the Company does not foresee additional dilution to current profitability and earnings levels.

Ameris Bancorp is headquartered in Moultrie, Georgia, and at the end of the most recent quarter, had 48 locations in Georgia, Alabama, northern Florida and South Carolina.
Ameris Bancorp Common Stock is quoted on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "ABCB".

The preceding release contains statements that constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The words "believe", "estimate", "expect", "intend", "anticipate" and similar expressions and variations thereof identify certain of such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the dates which they were made. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties, and that actual results may differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

Precision Aviation Group Begins Work on 12,000 Square-Foot Facility Expansion

PRNewswire -- In its continuing effort to provide the best products and value-added services to the worldwide aerospace and defense industry, Precision Aviation Group (PAG) -- the exclusive provider of ISMRO (Inventory Supported Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) -- began work on expanding its headquarters at 495 Lake Mirror Road in Atlanta, GA.

The rapid growth of PAG's four companies -- Precision Heliparts (PHP), Precision Avionics & Instruments (PAI), Precision Heliparts-Canada (PHP-C) and Precision Accessories & Instruments-Canada (PAI-C) -- necessitated the 12,000 square-foot expansion. The work will include renovations of PAG's sales and service areas and is expected to be completed in six months, said PAG President David Mast.

"We are excited about the expansion of our headquarters in Atlanta. We have expanded our current facility twice during the last 10 years, but had reached maximum capacity as our business and employee ranks have grown by 80 percent over the last 3 years," Mast pointed out.

PAG processes thousands of accessories, avionics, instruments, and other rotable items for repair and overhaul each year. PAG companies have FAA, EASA and Transport Canada certifications.

"After an exhaustive search, we decided that an expansion and renovation of our existing facility would best suit our requirements," Mast added, "We are expanding our existing facility by 40 percent (from 30,000 square feet to more than 42,000 square feet), and are taking this opportunity to renovate our existing shops and offices and make large capital investments in tooling, equipment, technology and logistics to better serve our customer base, and provide a solid foundation for continued growth."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Emory Rated as 'Great College To Work For'

Emory University has been recognized in an online survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the 2008 "Great Colleges to Work For."

Emory was rated among the top five in 13 of 27 categories in the survey of 15,000 respondents at 89 colleges and universities. Results are reported for small, medium and large universities, with Emory included among the large universities with 2,500 or more employees.

"This is a very satisfying affirmation of Emory, but our real goal is not recognition -- it's being a community that values the needs and contributions of every individual. In that sense everyone at Emory helps to make this a positive place to work," says Emory University President James Wagner.

Emory ranked among the top five universities in the nation for:

• Healthy faculty/administration relations
• Teaching environment
• Facilities and security
• Job satisfaction
• Work-life balance
• Confidence in senior leadership
• Internal communications
• Connection to institution and pride
• Physical workspace conditions
• Supervisor or department chair relationship
• Perception and confidence in fair treatment
• Respect and appreciation
• Engagement index

The assessment process, which also included an analysis of demographic data and workplace policies at each participating college or university, was administered by ModernThink LLC, a human-resources consulting firm that has conducted many "Best Places to Work" surveys.

With 21,129 employees (and approximately 3,200 faculty), Emory is the largest employer in DeKalb County and the largest private employer in metro Atlanta. The total includes Emory University, Emory Hospital, Crawford Long Hospital, The Emory Clinic and Wesley Woods, Inc.

Denise Ray Named Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Piedmont Hospital

Denise Ray has been named chief operating officer and senior vice president of Piedmont Hospital. Ray’s responsibilities include planning, coordination and implementation of hospital clinical operations.

“Denise brings more than 20 years of progressive healthcare experience to this executive leadership position,” said Robert Maynard, president and CEO of Piedmont Hospital. “She has spent her career working in various administrative and clinical leadership roles in the five-hospital, 728-bed Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, Tenn., and we know she will be a great asset to Piedmont Hospital.”

Ray said, “Piedmont is an exceptional healthcare institution, and it is important for me to work with an organization that values quality and service excellence. I can’t go anywhere in Atlanta without people talking about what a wonderful place Piedmont is. They have done it right at Piedmont all these years, and I am proud to build upon its greatness.”

As senior vice president of operations at Erlanger, her responsibilities included operational responsibility for the Baroness Erlanger Hospital, the main tertiary hospital and Academic Medical Center, and the East Campus. As chief nursing officer, her system-wide responsibilities included overseeing nursing and the various clinical service lines as well as other administrative functions. She held roles as senior vice president, Patient Care Services at Erlanger Hospital, and Administrator of CONTINuCARE Home Health Services.

Ray received her associate of science degree in nursing from Dalton State College in Dalton. She earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain and a master’s in business administration from Southern Adventist University in Chattanooga.

She lives in Buckhead with her husband, Bill. Her daughter, Katie, is a clinical pharmacist in Chattanooga at Erlanger.

Griffin MarCom Inc. Returning to Atlanta

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Griffin MarCom Inc., a fast growing strategic marketing and communications agency, today announced its return to the Atlanta market, where it was originally founded in 2000. The firm and its founder, well known for business leadership in Atlanta, return after a 5-year hiatus.

In conjunction with its return, Griffin MarCom will provide free, and discounted strategic marketing and communications support to a select group of Atlanta area nonprofits and small businesses. Nonprofits and corporate sponsors needing support should email, to submit requests – which will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

“We are very excited about returning to this market,” said company founder and president, Russell Griffin. “The Atlanta market is unlike any other. With the potent mixture of Fortune 500 and established corporate enterprises – and the vibrant small business, technology, and nonprofit arenas, as well as the entertainment industry, and quality of life - we have long felt this market to be the best location for our headquarters,” Griffin said.

Griffin MarCom re-opened its doors for business in January of this year, after Griffin’s 5-year return to the corporate executive ranks, with MetLife. Griffin served as Head of eBusiness for MetLife Auto & Home, and as Head of Diversity for MetLife Individual Business. The company re-launched in Rhode Island - where Griffin has resided since 2003 - and will maintain its New England base of operations.

Griffin MarCom, and its president, came to prominence in Atlanta in the late 90’s. In addition to founding the firm, Griffin was the Executive Director of the successful technology think tank – Minority Technology Entrepreneurs, MiTE. He also supported a number of high profile for profit and nonprofit initiatives. The firm currently partners with a number of Atlanta businesses, to provide support to area organizations.

The firm will announce the area nonprofits selected to receive support in early September.

“We’ve always found that nonprofits have the greatest need, and the least amount of resources, together with significant opportunity for positive impact. We intend to be of service,” says Griffin.

Additionally, Griffin will resume volunteer work with the United Way African American Partnership, and other select programs. Griffin MarCom currently supports a number of corporate, small business and nonprofit clients.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Clayton State SBDC to Hold Entrepreneur Development Series, Starting July 17

The Clayton State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will be holding its Entrepreneur Development Series (EDS) at the School of Business in July. The series will include courses on starting a business, writing a business plan, marketing, and obtaining finances for your business.

“Planning and knowledge provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and this popular series of programs has helped launch hundreds of businesses,” notes SBDC Business Consultant Donna Kelsick. “The four-part EDS includes valuable recommendations, research ideas, and an overview of the important areas of business operation from a practical perspective. The EDS focuses on the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs and owners of new businesses.”

The EDS begins on Thursday, July 17 with “Starting a Business.” On Friday, July 18, “Writing an Effective Business Plan,” followed by “Marketing Your Small Business” on Thursday, July 24 and “Financing Your Small Business” on Friday, July 25.

All classes will run from 9 a.m. until noon. Each class is $69 for those who may want to attend a single class for specific informational needs. The entire series is available for a discounted price of $229.

Individuals can sign up online or to find out more about the Small Business Development Center at, or by calling (678) 466-5100.

Scott Tigchelaar, President, Riverwood Studios Featured Speaker at Chamber's Early Bird Forum

The Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce will feature Scott Tigchelaar, President of Riverwood Studios, at its upcoming Prosperity Happens Here Series Early Bird Forum on Tuesday, July 22 at 7:45 a.m. at the Central Educational Center. This month’s emcee is Rod Griffith with Griffith Financial Group. Admittance to the Forum is $15 for Chamber members and $20 for nonmembers and includes breakfast. There is a networking time from 7 – 7:30am.

Scott Tigchelaar and Riverwood Studios have played two lead roles for Coweta County. For starters, Riverwood offers state-of-the-art production facilities in Senoia to attract Georgia’s growing film industry. But an added attraction is Riverwood’s involvement in their role of Historic Development Ventures (affiliated with Riverwood Studios) in preserving and revitalizing downtown Senoia as both a vibrant 21st Century town center and an authentic early 20th century movie set. Riverwood offers a great example of how modern technology and historic preservation add up to economic prosperity, which earned them a 2008 Prosperity Award from the Chamber.

The Early Bird Forum is a monthly Chamber event that provides networking opportunities and eye-opening information from business leaders throughout Coweta County. To RSVP, contact the Chamber at 770-253-2270 or The deadline to make a reservation is Friday, July 18th by 5pm.