Monday, March 31, 2008

Chamber Golf Tournament Participants Big Winners!

Two hundred golfers enjoyed a beautiful day on the course last week at the Fayette Chamber’s 20th annual Business on the Green Classic. The golfers competed for prizes including low gross, low net, and $1000 for the AT&T Big Putt contest winner.

Held at Flat Creek Country Club in Peachtree City, the Chamber tournament is one of the largest in the County and provides an excellent networking opportunity for members. Proceeds will be used to benefit the local business community through educational programs, advocacy, and leadership development.

Many local businesses helped support the Tournament as Sponsors and Tournament Donors including the Presenting Sponsor, The Southern Federal Credit Union. Other major Sponsors included: Allan Vigil Ford; AT&T Georgia; Champion Construction Systems, Inc.; Comcast Spotlight; Coweta Fayette EMC; Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center; Delta Community Credit Union; Dolce Atlanta-Peachtree; Inside Trucking Services; MD Publishing; Mercedes-Benz of South Atlanta; State Farm Insurance, Mark Gray.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

“Getting the Job 101” Workshop Helps Teen Job Seekers Brush Up on Etiquette and Interview Skills

As a complement to the Teen Job Fair taking place at the Fayette County Public Library on Saturday, April 5, from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m., the library has just added a free preparatory workshop on job interview skills and workplace etiquette for teens. The “Getting the Job 101” workshop takes place at the library on Thursday, April 3, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Offered with the support of the Friends of the Fayette County Public Library, the workshop, like the job fair, is open to everyone between the ages of 15 and 18, and admission is free.

The workshop will be presented by Susan Dean, local entrepreneur and past president of the Friends of the Fayette County Public Library. Ms. Dean will cover topics such as How to Win the Job, Dress for Success, How to Keep the Job, and On-the-Job Behavior. Teens who attend “Getting the Job 101” will be well prepared to meet employers at the job fair on April 5.

Local businesses in attendance at the Teen Job Fair on Saturday, April 5 will include Barnes & Noble, Chick-fil-A, Chuck E. Cheese, Cinemark Movies 10, DixieLand Fun Park, McDonalds, Old Navy, Stevi B’s Pizza, and others. Every participating employer will have job application forms ready to fill out, and will be prepared to conduct interviews with job seekers on the spot. Adding an element of fun to the event, many businesses will be providing free samples and other giveaways.

The Fayette County Public Library is located behind the Fayette County administration complex in downtown Fayetteville, at the southwest corner of Highways #85 and #54. For additional information about the Teen Job Success Workshop and the Teen Job Fair, please contact the library at 770-461-8841 or visit online at http://www.fayettecountyga.gov/public_library.

Kia Georgia Training Center Opens in West Point

Governor Sonny Perdue and Euisun Chung, President, Kia Motors Corporation, joined other company officials and local and state dignitaries today to cut the ribbon and celebrate the opening of the first building that will be part of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.’s automotive assembly complex in West Point, Ga.

“The opening of the Kia Georgia Training Center demonstrates the commitment and effectiveness of Georgia’s partnership with Kia,” Governor Sonny Perdue said. “This center is the linchpin in providing both an opportunity for Georgia’s citizens and a quality workforce for Kia that will guarantee the success of this project.”

“The state of Georgia and especially Georgia Quick Start have provided exceptional support for our project,” said President Chung. “The quality of this training center is the best we have ever seen.”

The Kia facility, its first in the U.S., will eventually produce 300,000 vehicles a year. The economic impact to the state of Georgia is expected to be approximately $4 billion per year, according to a Georgia Tech study commissioned by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Ceremony participants include Byung-Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.; Randy Jackson, director of human resources for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.; Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; and, Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE). Commissioner Jackson, whose agency led development of the center and will operate it through its QuickStart program, also served as master of ceremonies.

“We are proud to provide a tangible link between the community and company with this facility,” said DTAE Commissioner Jackson. “This center is much more than a just a building – it’s a major step on the journey to a successful company and thousands of secure jobs our citizens can count on.”

The Kia Georgia Training Center is designed and equipped to provide pre-employment assessment training and job-specific training for team members at Kia’s $1.2 billion assembly facility which is scheduled to begin production in 2009. The center houses robotics, welding and electronics labs, classrooms, and equipment for training on state-of-the-art programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio designed the building, and its construction was overseen by the Department of Technical and Adult Education and GSFIC.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Newnan-Coweta Chamber’s Second Industry Roundtable Targets Retail

The Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce is hosting a roundtable discussion for members of the County’s retail community. The roundtable discussion for larger retailers will be held on Thursday, March 27, from 3:00 -4:30 p.m. at the Chamber. The smaller retailers will meet on April 17, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the Chamber. The roundtables will be facilitated discussions about the needs and challenges specific to large and small retailers in Coweta, the assets and opportunities that are available in our community, the ways in which retail establishments can become more integrated into overall quality of life in Coweta, and ways in which the Chamber of Commerce might be of greater assistance to retailers in the community.

This roundtable is the second in a series of industry-specific roundtables the Chamber is hosting in 2008. The first roundtable focused on the banking and financial services industry, and was attended by several representatives from the financial community. Other industry roundtables will include: hospitality (restaurant/hotel), real estate/development, manufacturing and healthcare. Dates for these roundtables will be available on the Chamber’s website (www.newnancowetachamber.org) or by calling or emailing the Chamber: 770-253-2270 or info@nenwancowetachamber.org.

“We developed this series of roundtables to help determine the specific needs and desires of Coweta’s major industry groups. In addition to exploring specific services that the Chamber might provide to each, we also hope to uncover some broader issues across the board that we might address together to improve the business environment for everyone,” said Vicki Kaiser, Piedmont Healthcare, and vice chair of the Marketing & Membership Value Committee at the Chamber.

The roundtable is open to Chamber members and nonmembers and is free of charge. Please RSVP to Valerie Ward, 770-253-2270 or Valerie@newnancowetachamber.org.

About the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce
With more than 700 members throughout Coweta County, the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing economic prosperity for all Coweta’s citizens. As the county’s largest business organization, the Chamber works to provide business leadership to foster an economic and cultural climate favorable to all business, in order to create a higher quality of life for all residents.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

National Workplace Survey Reveals American Professionals Overwhelmed, Headed for “Breaking Point”

A national workplace survey reports that more than seven in ten American white collar workers feel inundated with information at their workplace, while more than two in five feel that they are headed for an information “breaking point.” The survey of 650 white collar and knowledge workers found that employees across virtually every industry are affected by information overload, but that the problem is particularly acute in the legal profession – with almost eight in ten legal professionals saying they are increasingly overloaded with information.

The 2008 Workplace Productivity Survey, commissioned by LexisNexis – a leading global provider of business information solutions – is the first of this scope to look at the rising problem of information overload for the U.S. legal and professional fields.

Broad findings point to trouble
According to the survey, a majority of employees in the professional and legal fields feel they are close to a breaking point, where they will be unable to effectively process or handle any increase in information flow. The survey also indicates that companies have not provided the right tools employees need to cope with this growing information burden. Survey results reveal:

• Sixty-two percent of professionals report that they spend a lot of time sifting through irrelevant information to find what they need; 68 percent wish they could spend less time organizing information and more time using the information that comes their way;

• Workers admit that not being able to lay their hands on the right information at the right time impedes their ability to work efficiently; 85% agree that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a huge time-waster;

• More than 40 percent of the survey participants indicate an inability to handle future increases in information flow;

• While an average workday for white collar workers is 8.89 hours, the survey finds that on average, 7.89 working hours are used conducting research, attending meetings, and searching for previously created documents, and;

• White collar professionals spend an average of 2.3 hours daily conducting online research, with one in ten spending four hours or more on an average day.

“The information age has brought the American professional workforce to an information overload,” said Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis U.S. Legal Markets. “The results of the survey clearly suggest opportunities for American businesses to ease this growing burden by providing workers with the right technology, training and tools. Companies that take action on this issue will realize higher employee productivity and satisfaction.”

Legal Professionals Seek Answers
In the legal field, the issue is even more pressing. Eighty percent of legal professionals feel overloaded with information, and 70 percent say they spend a lot of time sifting through irrelevant information. Nearly half say that research takes up so much of their time that they occasionally omit billing clients for this work.

Other survey findings that demonstrate challenges for the legal industry and point to some solutions include:

• 90 percent of legal professionals agree that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a huge time-waster;

• 95 percent of legal professionals believe that a legal research tool designed for their specific area of practice is important;

• 79 percent think it is important to have a legal research tool that integrates research into workflow;

• 78 percent feel that it is important to have a legal research tool that provides analysis and expertise, and;

• On average, legal professionals say they handle 36.7 emails daily, with 22 percent reporting that they receive 50 or more work-related emails in a typical day.

“While the LexisNexis study points out that legal professionals are even more inundated than your average white collar professional, the results also suggest some possible ways technology can help them cope with the ever-increasing amount of information coming through their doors,” said Allan McLaughlin, senior vice president of research, litigation and business information solutions for LexisNexis. “In particular, online and software solutions in the area of legal research help professionals retrieve the most relevant information faster and within the context of their normal workflow.”

About the Workplace Productivity Survey
LexisNexis sponsored the 2008 National Workplace Productivity Survey. The national study included 650 white collar and knowledge workers in more than 23 different sectors, including 250 professionals from the legal industry and 400 non-legal white collar professionals. It was fielded by WorldOne research, an international market research agency, specializing in the collection and analysis of data for leading market research organizations, consulting firms and corporations. The findings are available online at (www.lexisnexis.com/literature/pdf/Workplace_Productivity_Survey_Results).

About LexisNexis
LexisNexis® (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of business information solutions to a wide range of professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting and academic markets. LexisNexis originally pioneered online information with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. A member of Reed Elsevier [NYSE: ENL; NYSE: RUK] (www.reedelsevier.com), LexisNexis serves customers in more than 100 countries with 13,000 employees worldwide.

Monday, March 10, 2008

PKF-HR Revises 2008 Lodging Industry Outlook in New Report

PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) today announced that it has lowered its 2008 forecast for a key hotel industry metric, revenue per available room or RevPAR, from up 4.5 percent to up a below-average 3.0 percent. The new RevPAR forecast appears in the firm's recently released first quarter 2008 Hotel Horizons(SM) report. The change was based on revised projections by Moody's Economy.com, PKF-HR's primary economic forecasting agency, which now is calling for a U.S. recession this year due to deteriorating economic fundamentals.

Declining economic fundamentals, fueled by the turmoil in the capital markets and the escalating price of oil, portend a much weaker domestic economy for the months ahead, according to Economy.com. Its 2008 estimate of Real Personal Income Growth, a key measure of lodging industry performance, now is only 1.6 percent, down from an estimate of 2.6 percent as recently as the fourth quarter of last year. While this is certainly not good news for lodging industry participants, PKF-HR still believes that the typical U.S. hotel will enjoy increases in both revenues and profits, but at a more modest pace.

"Our econometric forecasting model focuses on Real Personal Income and Total Employment as the primary indicators for lodging demand," said Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research. "These economic measures are forecast to exhibit minimal growth during the first part of 2008, but start to climb back to their equilibrium levels during the latter months of the year. Accordingly, we are forecasting the demand for lodging accommodations to inch up 0.9 percent in 2008. This pace of demand growth is approximately half of the long-term annual average, but still represents a net gain in accommodated room nights for the year. When looking at 2008, we believe that U.S. hotel owners and operators will struggle to grow their revenues and profits, but market conditions will not be as damaging as we saw back in 1991 or 2001."

Woodworth noted that the 2008 first quarter is expected to be moderately positive for hotels, but added that lodging performance will deteriorate as the year progresses. He suggested that the downswing should be relatively short-lived, however, with a turnaround expected in the 2009 first quarter.

Supply and Demand

Unfortunately for U.S. hotels, the forecast of sluggish demand growth occurs during a period of increases, albeit modest ones, in lodging supply. In 2008, PKF-HR estimates that a net count of 115,000 new hotel rooms will become available. With the demand for hotel rooms lagging the supply of new inventory, the U.S. national average occupancy rate is expected to decline a full point, from 63.2 percent in 2007 to 62.2 percent in 2008.

"The pipeline for hotel development has swelled in recent years to extremely high levels, but the high cost of building materials and disciplined lending has limited the number of projects that actually made it to the construction stage. The increase in supply we are observing in 2008 and into 2009 is related to hotels begun prior to the onset of more restrictive lending practices," Woodworth said.

Further tightening within the lending community, combined with the continued strength in commodity prices, will once again be a formidable hurdle for developers in most markets in 2008 and 2009. Therefore, looking down the road, PKF-HR is projecting a lull in new supply openings from 2010 through 2012. "Forecasts of economic recovery, plus a slowdown in the pace of new supply, will lead to increasing occupancy levels beyond 2009," Woodworth explained.

Inflation

Despite the increased competition and declining occupancy levels in 2008, PKF-HR is forecasting average daily room rates to rise above the expected rate of inflation. "After analyzing historic periods of economic recession and rising inflation, PKF-HR found that hotel managers have been able to pass along inflationary increases to their guests," Woodworth observed. "Accordingly, we are forecasting room rates to rise 4.7 percent in 2008. This exceeds both the 2.7 percent projected pace of inflation for 2008, and the 3.5 percent long-term annual average change in room rates."

While inflation will help to boost room rates, it also will play a role in the rise of hotel operating costs. With fewer occupied rooms, hotels will not benefit from the ancillary revenue generated in the restaurant, lounge, retail shops, and recreational facilities. Dampened revenue growth, combined with rising operating costs, will result in a fairly dramatic slowdown in the pace of profit growth. "The forecast RevPAR gain of 3.0 percent should translate into an equal 3.0 percent gain in total revenue for the average U.S. hotel in 2008. Hotel managers will do their best to control costs, but we are projecting operating expenses to rise 3.5 percent on average. The net result will be an anemic 1.7 percent increase in unit-level profits for the year," Woodworth said. "Owners are not going to be happy with such listless gains in their bottom line, but the current downturn actually looks rosy when compared to what was experienced during the past two economic recessions."

Winner and Losers

In the lodging industry, performance is heavily influenced by local economic conditions, as well as the segment orientation of properties. Therefore, it is not surprising that the outlook for major cities across the U.S., as well as the different chain-scale segments, varies greatly.

Of the 50 major U.S. markets for which PKF-HR prepares a Hotel Horizons(SM) forecast report, the properties in 29 of these cities are expected to achieve RevPAR growth in 2008 at or above the pace of inflation. On the other hand, hoteliers in 21 of the nation's largest market areas will struggle to achieve profitable gains in revenue. "We realize that news of national gains in demand and profits will not appease the owners of hotels in competitive markets like Fort Worth or Long Island. However, if you are a lodging investor in Austin or Phoenix, strong increases in ADR should lead to profitable gains in revenue," Woodworth pointed out.

Among the different industry chain-scale categories, properties in the popular Midscale without Food and Beverage segment are forecast to achieve the greatest increases in revenue. "Properties in the Midscale without Food and Beverage chain-scale possess both market and operational characteristics that we believe enhance their ability to withstand an economic recession. Modest room rates will be attractive to travelers looking to control their travel budgets. In addition, the limited scope of operations makes these properties less vulnerable to increases in labor and commodity costs," Woodworth observed. PKF-HR forecasts RevPAR for the Midscale without Food and Beverage segment to increase 3.4 percent in 2008.

At the top end of the market, luxury hotels are forecast to suffer the greatest decline in occupancy, but benefit from the strongest increase in room rates. "Companies will be looking to control their travel costs and, therefore, will institute policies that may prevent their employees from staying at luxury hotels. However, this segment has some of the most loyal guests that will only settle for five-star service. These people typically have the personal or professional wealth to pay the price, so management can continue to increase room rates even in times of an economic recession," Woodworth noted. PKF-HR forecasts that a 5.8 percent increase in average daily room rates will offset a 3.8 percent decline in occupancy within the Luxury segment.

"From a market and financial perspective, we believe the U.S. lodging industry is in a healthier position entering this economic recession than prior recessions marked by sliding income and employment. External factors such as inefficient tax legislation or lax underwriting standards have not spurred excessive new construction, and hoteliers in most markets have, and will continue to, benefit as a result. Therefore, we believe the underlying foundation for the solid market and operational conditions that exist in the industry today are steadfast enough to withstand this recession," Woodworth concluded.

Hotel Horizons reports are prepared for 50 major U.S. markets, as well as six national chain scales. Each report contains a six-year forecast of supply, demand, occupancy, ADR, and RevPAR, as well as other valuable economic and hospitality information. To purchase Hotel Horizon reports, visit the PKF-HR website at www.pkfc.com/store, or call (866) 842-8754.

PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR), headquartered in Atlanta, is the research affiliate of PKF Consulting, a consulting and real estate firm specializing in the hospitality industry. PKF Consulting has offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas, Bozeman, Sacramento, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

U.S. Hotels
Forecast Change - 2007 to 2008

Supply 2.6%
Demand 0.9%
Occupancy -1.6%
ADR 4.7%
RevPAR 3.0%
Unit Level Total Revenue 3.0%
Unit Level Operating Expenses 3.5%
Unit Level NOI* 1.7%

Note: * Before deductions for capital reserve, rent, interest, income
taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Source: PKF Hospitality Research, March 2008 Hotel Horizons Report

U.S. Hotels
Forecast RevPAR Change By Chain Scale
2007 to 2008

All U.S. Hotels 3.0%
Luxury 1.8%
Upper-Upscale 2.5%
Upscale 2.3%
Midscale with F&B 2.6%
Midscale without F&B 3.4%
Economy 1.2%

Source: PKF Hospitality Research, March 2008 Hotel Horizons Report
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Georgia’s Centers of Innovation join state’s Department of Economic Development

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) announced today that the Centers of Innovation (COI), a program designed to accelerate the growth of technology-based companies in five strategic industries, is now a part of the Global Commerce division at GDEcD.

“Bringing the Centers of Innovation into the department allows us to better align resources and initiatives around the strategic industries established by the Commission for a New Georgia,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “By providing direct support for people and companies in these industries with innovative ideas and new ways to apply technology, we already have one foot in the future.”

The Centers of Innovation program, created in 2003 by Governor Sonny Perdue, is comprised of five centers for strategic industry growth and development: agriculture, aerospace, life sciences, logistics and manufacturing, located respectively in Tifton, Warner Robins, Augusta, Savannah and Gainesville. Among the services they provide to Georgia businesses are access to university-level research and development, product commercialization, industry-specific business counsel, and client connections to research grants and potential investor networks.

The program, a partnership with the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia (DTAE), the OneGeorgia Authority and Georgia Research Alliance, was formerly managed by the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Partnerships are the core strength of the COI program,” said Heidi Green, GDEcD’s deputy commissioner for Global Commerce. “This program’s ability to ‘connect the dots’ between business, academia and government creates a business climate perfect for growth. By bringing the Centers into GDEcD, we can ensure companies we recruit and assist have all the tools they need to develop the new ideas that are key to our long-term economic growth.”

During its initial three years, the COI program accomplished significant milestones, including creating a new Logistics Development Center; establishing the first comprehensive, statewide logistics industry database and map; sponsoring the first bio-energy conference, and forging the first Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the State and Warner Robins Air Force Base.

The COI program provides a critical piece to the array of services already provided through GDEcD’s Small Business and Innovation division. The department’s small business resources and services, as well as industry relocation and expansion services, offer direct assistance to help businesses succeed.

More information about Georgia’s Centers of Innovation is available at www.georgiainnovation.org.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state's sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a location for film, video and music projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development. For more information about the entire scope of services offered by Georgia Department of Economic Development, go to www.georgia.org.
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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Business Spending on Technology Infrastructure $250 Billion in 2006

U.S. businesses spent $250.7 billion on information and communication technology equipment and computer software in 2006, an increase of 6.3 percent from 2005, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report, Information and Communication Technology Survey, presents annual data on noncapitalized and capitalized business spending for information and communication technology equipment and computer software. It serves as a supplement to the broader Annual Capital Expenditures Survey report.

Noncapitalized expenditures are expenses for assets that have a useful life of more than one year and are written off in the same year in which they are made. Capitalized expenditures are expenditures for assets that have a useful life of more than one year and are usually depreciated.

Of the total spending in 2006 on information and communication technology equipment and computer software, sometimes referred to as e-business infrastructure, noncapitalized spending accounted for $90.8 billion (36.2 percent), and capitalized spending accounted for $159.9 billion (63.8 percent). Noncapitalized spending in 2006 was unchanged from 2005, while capitalized spending increased 10.9 percent.

Rapid technological advances in e-business equipment, such as computers, telephones, fax machines and electromedical apparatus, have resulted in these assets being replaced much more quickly than other types of equipment. Many companies write off the full cost of these assets during the year of purchase rather than depreciating the cost over two or more years.

In the three categories of noncapitalized spending on e-business infrastructure, purchases of equipment accounted for $18.6 billion; operating leases and rental payments, $18.2 billion; and computer software expenditures, $54 billion.

-- The largest share of noncapitalized equipment purchases, $13 billion, went for computers and computer peripherals, a 6.4 percent increase over 2005.

-- The largest share of noncapitalized operating leases and rental payments, $11.8 billion, went for computer and computer peripherals.

-- The largest share of noncapitalized computer software expenditures, $30.7 billion, went for purchases and payroll for developing software. The rest, $23.3 billion, went for software licensing and service/maintenance agreements.

Two categories accounted for total capitalized spending on e-business infrastructure in 2006: purchases of equipment, $100.6 billion, an increase of 6.8 percent from 2005; and purchases and payroll for developing software, $59.3 billion, an 18.4 percent increase over 2005.

Other highlights:

-- In 2006, about 77 percent of noncapitalized spending and about 75 percent of capitalized spending was concentrated in five business sectors: information; finance and insurance; manufacturing; professional, scientific and technical services; and health care and social assistance.

-- The information sector spent $62.7 billion on equipment and computer software in 2006, an increase of 13.7 percent from 2005. That represented 25 percent of all spending in e-business infrastructure in 2006. Of the sector total, 22.3 percent went for noncapitalized expenditures; 77.7 percent went for capitalized expenditures.

-- Spending in the finance and insurance sector for equipment and computer software totaled $48.3 billion. Of this amount, $20.8 billion went for noncapitalized spending and $27.5 billion for capitalized spending. The finance and insurance sector accounted for 19.3 percent of total e-business infrastructure spending in 2006.

-- The manufacturing sector spent $34.9 billion for equipment and computer software in 2006, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2005. Of this amount, $16.9 billion was for noncapitalized expenditures and $18 billion for capitalized expenditures. Manufacturing accounted for 13.9 percent of total e-business infrastructure spending in 2006.

-- Spending for the professional, scientific and technical services sector totaled $25.9 billion in 2006. Of this amount, $12.2 billion went for noncapitalized spending and $13.6 billion for capitalized spending. This sector accounted for 10.3 percent of total e-business infrastructure spending in 2006.
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Local Employers to Participate in Job Fair for Teens at Fayette County Public Library on Saturday, April 5

School will be out before we know it, and many teenagers will soon be looking for summer jobs. The Fayette County Public Library is hosting a Teen Job Fair on Saturday, April 5, from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. Offered with the support of the Friends of the Fayette County Public Library, the job fair is open to everyone between the ages of 15 and 18, and admission is free.

According to public services librarian Christy Dyson, the teen activities coordinator at Fayette County Public Library, the Teen Job Fair provides an opportunity for job-hunting teenagers and area employers to meet in a relaxed and non-threatening atmosphere. The library meeting room will be filled with tables representing the employers, featuring information on each business and a person ready to answer questions. Every participating employer will have job application forms ready to fill out, and will be prepared to conduct interviews with job seekers on the spot. Adding an element of fun to the event, many businesses will be providing free samples and other giveaways at their tables.

Local businesses in attendance at the Teen Job Fair will include Stevi B’s Pizza, McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, Chuck E. Cheese, DixieLand Fun Park, Old Navy, Cinemark Movies 10, and others. Job seekers aged 15-18 are encouraged to dress neatly, put on their best attitudes, and show up at the library on April 5 between 2:00 and 4:00 to get a head start on their summer employment plans.

The Fayette County Public Library is located behind the Fayette County administration complex in downtown Fayetteville, at the southwest corner of Highways #85 and #54. For additional information about the Teen Job Fair, please contact the library at 770-461-8841 or visit online at http://www.fayettecountyga.gov/public_library.
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Friday, March 7, 2008

State of Georgia Hires its First International Business Concierge

The Georgia Department of Economic Development today announced the hiring of the state’s first-ever International Business Concierge, Nico Wijnberg.

“We are so excited to welcome Nico to our International Operations team,” said Heidi Green, Deputy Commissioner for Global Commerce with GDEcD. “This position will help raise Georgia’s profile among international businesses, and his international experience will be key to helping us roll out the welcome mat to companies and executives that are new to Georgia and the U.S.”

The International Business Concierge (IBC) is a newly-created role within GDEcD’s International Operations team. The IBC in cooperation with project managers will help business executives surmount challenges in the relocation process. Services may include assistance with driver’s licenses, banking options, housing and real estate, schools and cultural opportunities among others.

Mr. Wijnberg comes to GDEcD by way of the Netherlands, where for the past three years he served in the Dutch Federal Department of Economic Development as a specialist in Russia and Central Asia. His background also includes stints working in Latvia and France.

He received his Masters degree in international affairs from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and also studied European and international law, international economics and business. Mr. Wijnberg speaks Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state's sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a location for film, video and music projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development.
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Governor Perdue Announces $14.5 million in OneGeorgia Awards

At the OneGeorgia Authority board meeting today at the historic Hawkinsville Opera House, Governor Sonny Perdue announced over $14.5 million in grant awards administered or financially supported by the OneGeorgia Authority aimed at spurring economic development in rural Georgia.

“The OneGeorgia Authority is a key asset for rural Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The investments we are making today will help retain and create jobs, stimulate private investment and enhance regional competitiveness.”

Governor Perdue and members of the OneGeorgia Authority Board approved grants from the OneGeorgia Authority’s portfolio of financing programs including EDGE, Equity, BRIDGE and ESB as well as Centers of Innovation Research Grants, Entrepreneur Friendly Implementation Grants and “Entrepreneurial Friendly” community recognition. These awards will assist with a variety of economic development projects in rural Georgia aimed at creating jobs, stimulating new private investment, supporting the retention of existing jobs and enhancing regional competitiveness. These projects, along with their respective local leadership and company representatives, were recognized at the OneGeorgia board meeting.

The EDGE (Economic Development, Growth & Enterprise) Fund is designed to provide financial assistance to eligible applicants that are being considered as a relocation or expansion site and are competing with another state or country for the location of the project. The four EDGE awards, totaling $3,419,000, are leveraged against more than $74.5 million in total project costs and are projected to create just under 1100 jobs within the next two years.

Dodge County/Eastman Development Authority / Standard Candy Company, Inc.

EDGE grant and loan funds totaling $1,005,000 ($385,000 grant and $620,000 Loan) will be used to assist with the purchase of machinery and equipment to support the expansion of Standard Candy Company located in Eastman. Standard Candy Company is a privately held manufacturer of confectionery items based in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1901, the Company’s most well known product is the “Goo Goo”, a round mound of caramel, marshmallows, roasted nuts and pure chocolate. A major cereal company recently awarded Standard Candy a contract for producing a granola bar product that currently is being produced in California. The Company will accommodate production of the new product by retooling one of its existing production lines. The Company employs 232 people at its Eastman plant and expects to create 77 new jobs in two years.

Development Authority of Richmond County / T-Mobile USA, Inc.

EDGE grant funds of $1,500,000 will be used to purchase equipment in support of the location of a 78,000 SF customer-care facility for T-Mobile USA, Inc. in Augusta, Georgia. This will be the first customer care facility in Georgia and there are currently 22 centers in the United States. T-Mobile is one of the top four carriers in the U.S. followed by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. The Company’s U.S. operation, T-Mobile USA, Inc., serves over 27 million mobile customers, employs over 29,000 and is capable of serving all Americans through its established network. Deutsche Telekom Group AG, the parent company, is ranked #56 on the Forbes Global 2000 listing of the world’s largest public companies. The U.S. subsidiary is based in Bellevue, Washington. The Company has created 240 new jobs to date at the Augusta facility. The company has created 280 jobs to date and expects to create a total of 700 new jobs within two years. Total project cost: $25.5 million.

Development Authority of Harris County / Xpress Materials, LLC

EDGE grant funds of $150,000 will be used to assist with road improvements in support of the location of Xpress Materials, LLC, a concrete manufacturer to West Point. The Company has chosen a 47.76-acre site in the new Northwest Harris County Business Park due to its close proximity to the new KIA plant which it intends to serve. Xpress Materials, a subsidiary of the Graham Family of Companies (GFC), is a privately-held company engaged in cement and concrete manufacturing. The company expects to create 72 new jobs within two years. Total project cost: $13. 7 million.

Barnesville-Lamar County Industrial Development Authority / General Protecht US, Inc.

EDGE grant funds of $764,000 will be used to assist with land acquisition, site, water and road improvements to support the location of General Protecht US, Inc., a Chinese manufacturer of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), to a 211-acre site in Barnesville. GFCI is an electrical outlet device that prevents severe or fatal electric shocks that occur around water and are often used in bathrooms and kitchens. Presently, there are only four GFCI manufacturers in the world, representing a $2 billion industry. The company expects to create 240 jobs within two years. Total project cost: $34 million.

The Equity Fund is designed to assist communities and regions in building the necessary infrastructure to support economic development. The program’s flexibility also provides financial assistance to enhance publicly-owned tourism initiatives, workforce development opportunities and downtown revitalization projects. In addition, loan funds are available through the Equity Revolving Loan Fund to assist small business owners with business growth and expansion opportunities.



Seven Equity awards totaling over $4.5 million were made today. These awards include:

Valley Partnership Joint Development Authority

Equity grant funds of $1 million will be used to assist with the construction of public water and sewer improvements to the 376-acre Northwest Harris Business Park, located at the intersection of Davidson Road and GA Highway 103 in the northwest corner of Harris County. With the KIA auto assembly plant being constructed less than three miles north in West Point, other manufacturers and suppliers are interested in locating to the park. The park will significantly increase economic opportunity in Harris County and the Valley Partnership Region which consists of Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Talbot, Marion and Taylor Counties. The park is expected to provide strong regional impact. Total project cost: $6.3 million.

City of West Point

Equity grant funds of $500,000 will be used to assist with the construction of a one million gallon water storage tank to serve Hyundai-owned Mobis Georgia, LLC and Glovis Georgia, LLC. Both companies will serve as suppliers for Kia Motors America. The two facilities will be constructed adjacent to the new Kia plant on the 2,200-acre Webb Road mega-site on the west side of I-85. Mobis will construct a 310,000 square-foot facility that will fabricate chassis, front-ends, bumpers and cockpit modules for Kia. Glovis will construct and operate a consolidation and vehicle processing center where they will be responsible for pre-delivery inspection, cleaning, undercoating, wheel installation and shipping Kia vehicles. By the end of 2010, both expect to create 1,300 well-paying jobs that will positively impact a multi-county area and bring new residents to the region. Total project cost: $123 million.

Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County, and Walton County

Equity grant funds of $1,000,000 will be used to support publicly-owned road improvements to serve Stanton Springs, a 1,500-acre technology park located at the junction of Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties on I-20 and Highway 278. Stanton Springs is a great example of public-private partnership involving four counties with a private partner, Technology Park/Atlanta, Inc. (TPA). Morgan, Newton, and Walton Counties have land within the development area. Jasper County will contribute 10% of costs toward development even though the county will not own land within the development. All four counties will share costs/revenues according to an intergovernmental agreement. TPA is a private developer experienced in the planning and development of similar projects including Johns Creek Mixed Use Park. At full build-out, the project will be able to support 20,000 workers. Total project cost: $19 million.

City of Andersonville

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to assist with the replacement of the 30 year old wastewater treatment system. This replacement will help the City of Andersonville retain a major employer and support its thriving tourism industry. The failing wastewater treatment plant threatens to shutdown the City’s sewage and water systems which would result in a loss of both Plant One, which produces aluminum silicates, and the associated administrative buildings of Mullite Company of America (Mulcoa). Mulcoa mines and processes over one million tons of kaolin and bauxite ores annually. In addition, without water, the Andersonville National Historic Site and the National Prisoner of War Museum would be required to shut down.

Cartersville-Bartow County Airport Authority

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to assist with the construction of 30 T-hangars at the Level III Cartersville-Bartow Regional Airport. Currently the airport houses 120 private aircraft permanently based at the airport, spread among 60 T-hangars, 50 tie-downs and corporate hangars. There are currently no vacancies for T-hangar space and a waiting list of 100. The new hangars will add economic development capacity, meet an airport need, generate new taxes and encourage tourism. The airport is ranked by the DOT as number one in the nine airports within Region One and 7th highest in economic activity compared with all 94 general aviation airports in Georgia. Phoenix Air Group, a worldwide airline services company and fixed based operator at the Airport, will handle the rental of the hangars. The Company provides many services including electronic warfare training to militaries, air charter, fuel, and advanced flight school services. Total project cost: $1.5 million.

Thomasville Payroll Development Authority

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to assist in the construction of two 100-foot by 100-foot box hangers at the Thomasville Regional Level III Airport. New hangers will replace existing 40-foot by 46-foot wooden hangers which are over sixty years old. The current hangars are too small to house corporate aircraft and in need of replacement. Four corporate jet aircraft can be housed in the new hangars. The airport houses 62 aircraft with 24,150 square-feet of corporate hanger space with no vacancies and a waiting list of nine. The runway and terminal building make the airport an excellent economic development resource for Thomasville and the region. Total project cost: $1.7 million

Development Authority of the City of Manchester

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to acquire 22 acres and a 350,000 square-foot building located on the 37-acre former Goody’s plant location at 1000 West Main Street. The building was originally built in 1969 and expanded in 1979. The Development Authority of the City of Manchester (DA) already owns 15 acres of the site and seeks to own and control the entire plant site. The DA has a prospect that is currently considering the site. If the company locates to Manchester, then it would mean 140 new jobs immediately and 300-400 after five years. Total project cost: $1.7 million.

Governor Perdue and the board recognized the most recent recipients of technology grants from the BRIDGE (Broadband Rural Initiative to Develop Georgia’s Economy) Fund.



Southwest Georgia Technology Authority

BRIDGE grant funds of $38,700 will be used to assist with the cost of a feasibility study needed to determine the economic benefits and costs of providing wireless Broadband assistance to underserved parts of a four-county area that consists of Clay, Quitman, Randolph and Stewart Counties. The study will consist of a business and marketing plan and the development of a request for proposal (RFP) that will implement a Carrier Class High Speed Back Haul Network. The region seeks to incorporate technology applications in education, healthcare, public safety as well as tourism.



The board also reviewed the latest ESB Loan Guarantees made since the last board meeting. The Entrepreneur-Small Business Loan Guarantee Program was created over two years ago to support the growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses in less developed areas. The ESB Loan Guarantee Program is the Authority’s first public-private partnership, providing a shared risk with Georgia lending institutions for loans ranging from $35,000 to $250,000.



Six ESB Loan Guarantees in the amount of $437,857 were approved by the board today:



KAB Furniture, Inc. dba Badcock Furniture /United National Bank (Cairo)

KAB Furniture, Inc plans to re-open a Badcock Furniture store in Quitman. The business currently employs 2 and expects to create four (4) additional jobs. ESB Loan guarantee: $112,500.

Pulaski Paint and Decorating, Inc. /Planters First Bank (Cordele)

The business sells paint, floor covering, wallpaper and window treatments. The loan proceeds were used to purchase the land, building, inventory and furniture, fixtures and equipment. The business currently employs 3 and expects to create one additional job. ESB Loan guarantee: $75,000

Allen’s BBQ/Pinnacle Bank (Elberton)

Allen’s Famous BBQ is located in Elberton. The recipe used is a closely held old family recipe and has been handed down through the generations. Loan proceeds were used to purchase real estate on which to place the BBQ building. The restaurant will employ 2 at start-up and expects to create three (3) additional jobs. ESB Loan Guarantee: $25,000

Hydraulic.Net LLC/FNB South (Alma)

Hydraulic.Net LLC is a manufacturing company started in 1997 in Culpepper, Virginia. The company recently relocated to Folkston. The company currently employs 12 and expects to create eighteen (18) additional jobs. ESB Loan Guarantee: $112,500

Big Slough Farms, Inc. /Planters & Citizens Bank (Camilla)

Big Slough Farms, Inc. is a family owned and operated sod business located in Camilla, specializing in residential and commercial sod and turf installations. The major top-quality brands available include Tif Blair Centipede Grass, Emerald Zoysia, and Meyer Zoysia and many more. The loan proceeds were used to purchase an Auto-Slab II, a sod cutting machine to assist in the company’s expansion. The company currently employs 6 and expects to create one (1) additional job. ESB Loan guarantee: $100,000.

Kip Cravey dba KC Enterprises /Colony Bank of Dodge County (Eastman)

KC Enterprises is a tree surgery company started in August 2007. A tree surgeon (arborist) works in the management and maintenance of trees by taking down trees when necessary or removing them when damaged during storms. Loan proceeds will be used to purchase additional equipment – a Bobcat Loader and Diesel truck. The company currently employs 2 and expects to create one (1) additional job. ESB Loan Guarantee: $12,848.



The OneGeorgia Authority announced research grants today supporting the Centers of Innovation program totaling $394,862. The Georgia Centers of Innovation program, launched by Governor Perdue in 2003, builds on the state’s world-class assets and home-grown industries to provide support for researchers and entrepreneurs in the areas of aerospace, agriculture, biotech, information technology and maritime logistics.

“The centers work together in a seamless network connecting state leaders, academic research, business experts and entrepreneurs to nurture innovative ideas and forge new relationships,” said Governor Perdue. “The objective is to grow long-term economic opportunities, create jobs and attract new companies all across rural Georgia.”



The eight recipients of the Centers of Innovation Research Grant program were recognized at today’s board meeting. These awards will provide matching research funds to support the following entrepreneurial research projects:

SoftWear Automation: An Innovative Concept in Apparel Manufacturing

Phase I of this project will be proving the concept of micro-manipulation for commercial sewing based on advances in robotics and very advanced sensors, machine vision and computation. The objective of the proof of concept phase is to carry out initial survey of the state-of-the art in garment sewing and a demonstration analysis of technical solutions involving motion measurement in the thread count sense and micro-manipulation of fabric. Additionally, this project will provide for the further refinement of methods for motion planning relative to the global motion of fabric around the heads. It is anticipated that the achievements in Phase I will lay the foundation for the development of the prototype.

Research Grant $100,000; University Partner: Georgia Tech; Industry Partner: Softwear Automation, Inc.

Law Enforcement Vehicle Ergonomics

The overall goal of this research is to design the driver and passenger compartments for a law enforcement vehicle, optimized for human factors and ergonomics considerations. Research Grant $100,000; University Partner: GA Tech; Industry Partner: Carbon Motors, Inc.

Production of Ethanol from Sweet Sorghum

The goal of this project is to provide AgStrong, Inc. with data to assess the feasibility of a commercial operation to produce ethanol from sweet sorghum. AgStrong and its partners have selected three varieties of sweet sorghum based on their own studies. Research Grant $5,000; University Partner: University of GA; Industry Partner: AgStrong, Inc.

Alternative Crop/Camelina Study

The objectives of this project include studying potential uses of camelina as a bioenergy feedstock when grown in Georgia environments. Research Grant: $7,680; University Partner: University of GA; Partner: Alterra Bioenergy

Fermentation Strategy for Removing Key Inhibitor to the use of Lignocellulosic Biomass

The project seeks to overcome significant hurdles affecting commercial realization of lignocellulosic biomass such as trees and grass. Trees and grass yield a complex mixture of sugars as opposed to a starch based crop like corn that yields a single sugar. Research Grant $58,000; University Partner: University of Georgia; Industry Partner: Synergy Parametrics, LLC.

Optimal Production of Ethanol from Unique Sugar Sources

The purpose of this project is to develop and optimize the fermentation process that U.S. Ethanol will use in their plant currently under construction in Cordele U.S. Ethanol seeks to commercially produce ethanol from unique sugar sources such as expired beverages like Coke and Pepsi and waste sugars like molasses and corn syrup. This project will vet the technology of using a fed-batch fermentation process. Award Amount $23,978; University Partner: University of Georgia; Industry Partner: U. S. Ethanol.

Heating Poultry Houses with Wood Pellets

The purpose of this project is to study the cost effectiveness of a wood pellet heating system for poultry houses. The COI project will support additional research related to the use of a wood heating system to provide supplemental heat to broiler houses. COI funding allows for study expansion of the research conducted under Phase 1, USDA project. Research Grant: $66,500; University Partner: University of Georgia; Industry Partner: FRAM Renewable Fuels, LLC.

Imaging Based Inspection & Control of Baked Goods

The purpose of this project is to aid Bake Tech in the commercialization of an imaging based inspection and control system for high-volume baking operations. This system will improve the yield and quality of the product by automatically controlling the oven based on color. This project will allow for field testing and deployment of the system in a plant for an extended period of time. Research Grant: $33,704; University Partner: Georgia Tech: Industry Partner: Baking Technology Systems, Inc.



The board also received an update on the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s community-based Entrepreneur Friendly program. Warren, Jones, Madison, Candler, Coweta, Harris, Lincoln, Polk, Gordon, White, Stephens, Franklin, Irwin, Liberty, Evans, Effingham, Screven, Lumpkin, and Morgan Counties were recognized as the most recent communities to earn the Entrepreneurial Friendly designation. To date, 82 communities have earned this designation, and more are working toward this important certification.

Once a community has earned the Entrepreneur Friendly designation, they have the opportunity to apply for entrepreneur and small business implementation grants of up to $25,000. At today’s meeting, grants from the Entrepreneur Friendly Implementation Fund (EFIF) were awarded to: Sumter County (benefiting Sumter and Schley) $15,000; Tri-CREST (benefiting Toombs, Montgomery and Tattnall) $25,000; Spalding County (regional resource expo benefiting Spalding, Butts and Lamar) $13,940; and Habersham County $25,000. The grant program is funded by the OneGeorgia Authority and is only available to communities who have successfully earned the designation “Entrepreneur Friendly.”

The OneGeorgia Authority was created utilizing one-third of the state’s tobacco settlement to assist the state’s most economically challenged areas. The OneGeorgia Authority is expected to receive about $1.6 billion over the 25-year term of the settlement.
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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mike Garrett, Georgia Power President & CEO, Appointed to Piedmont Healthcare Board of Directors

Piedmont Healthcare is pleased to announce the appointment of Georgia Power President and CEO Michael D. Garrett to the Piedmont Healthcare Board of Directors. The Board oversees all Piedmont entities including Piedmont Hospital, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, Piedmont Newnan Hospital, the Piedmont Heart Institute, Piedmont Hospital Foundation, Piedmont Physicians Group, and the Piedmont Clinic.

A Georgia native, Garrett was named president and CEO of Georgia Power in 2004. Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s leading generators of electricity.

Previously, he was president and CEO of Mississippi Power, from 2001-2003. Prior to that, Garrett held a number of leadership positions at Alabama Power from 1998-2001.

“Mike will be a great asset to the Piedmont Healthcare Board," said R. Timothy Stack, Piedmont Healthcare president and CEO and Board member. "His business expertise along with his strong leadership skills will help us continue to build a highly regarded healthcare provider system that surrounds Georgians with world-class care."

Garrett is a leader in Atlanta's business community as well as throughout the state. He will chair the 2008 Georgia Chamber campaign and is chair-elect of the Georgia Chamber. Governor Sonny Perdue appointed him to a five-year term on the Georgia Department of Economic Development Board in 2005, and Garrett was named its chairman in 2007. He is currently chairman of Lead Gifts for the Woodruff Arts Center annual campaign and campaign chairman for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta.

“Piedmont has a great reputation throughout the Southeast,” Garrett said. “I look forward to supporting and advancing the vision and mission of the organization to bring the best patient care to the communities it serves.”

Garrett is a Morehouse College Board trustee and is on the executive committee and board of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. Other board service includes the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Woodruff Arts, Central Atlanta Progress, Georgia Cancer Coalition, and the Buckhead Coalition.

Garrett earned a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in management from Georgia College. He also holds an associate degree in mechanical engineering technology from Southern Polytechnic State University and attended the Oxford University Advanced Management Program. A native of McRae, Georgia, he and his wife, Karen, have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
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Governor Perdue Announces Oldcastle Materials, Inc. Sets Its Sights on Warren County

Governor Perdue announced today that Oldcastle Materials, Inc. plans to begin the approvals process to build a state-of-the-art facility in Warren County. Pending successful approvals, the paving materials company will invest more than $50 million and create approximately 30 jobs.

“Georgia has a long history of providing natural resources to support a growing United States,” said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “Whether it was the first gold rush in Dahlonega or stone in Warren County, our state is rich in the materials that help businesses grow.”

Oldcastle Materials, Inc., which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., acquired an approximately 1,800-acre site near Interstate 20 and Camak in Warren County. The company plans to build a state-of-the-art facility to extract stone for use in road construction.

“We are excited that the investment has been well-received as part of the community’s overall economic development plans,” said Sean O’Sullivan, regional president, Oldcastle Materials. “We appreciate the support and close cooperation we are receiving from the local community in these early stages and we are encouraged that we will have mutually-beneficial, long term growth in the region. Our plans represent a long-term, significant investment that will also contribute to a well-trained workforce, an enhanced quality of life and environmental stewardship.”

“We are very excited to welcome Oldcastle Materials to Warren County, and we want to give them every bit of encouragement and any assistance they need to make this significant economic development possibility a reality,” said O.B. McCorkle, executive director of the Development Authority of Warren County. “We appreciate how the company has approached us, and their development goals are consistent with our goals for planned growth.”

Oldcastle Materials is a nationwide leader in the production and supply of aggregates, asphalt, ready mix concrete, and construction and paving services. The company is a division of CRH plc, the international building materials group. Oldcastle Materials, with more than 25,000 employees in 41 states, generated over $6 billion in revenues in 2006.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Delta Announces Internal Promotions in Key Operations Roles

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today announced it has promoted three key leaders in operations who are integral to the company’s operational success and named an industry veteran to lead the airline’s Airport Customer Service division.

Tony Charaf, 60, has been named president of Delta TechOps, the airline’s maintenance division. This promotion signals the steadfast commitment of the Delta leadership team to further expand its multimillion dollar maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business. In this role, Tony will continue to lead the entire Technical Operations maintenance organization.

“The MRO business offers a boost to Delta’s bottom line and under Tony’s visionary leadership, the people of Delta TechOps have grown it into the largest airline MRO operation in North America, earning more than $375 million in revenues last year alone,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “The flexible and proven TechOps team continues to build its business by focusing on high-skilled work such as engines, components, line and base maintenance – and they are energized by the prospects of further cementing their leadership position in the growing global MRO market.”

In addition, John Laughter, 37, who had been serving as vice president – Maintenance Operations is being promoted to senior vice president – Maintenance Operations. In this position Laughter will expand his responsibilities in Delta’s day-to-day maintenance operation as Tony Charaf dedicates more time to the growing MRO business. He will continue to report to Charaf.

In recognition of Delta’s top-tier operational performance, fuel conservation results and industry-leading work towards real solutions for the capacity-strained Northeastern U.S. airspace, Neil Stronach, 42, who had been serving as vice president – Operational Control and Reliability will be promoted to senior vice president – Operations Control.

“Delta is an industry leader in operational performance and that is in large part thanks to the thoughtful and strategic way John Laughter and Neil Stronach conduct their business every day,” said Steve Gorman, Delta’s executive vice president - Operations.

Another critical role in the operations team also will be filled by Gil West, 47, as the company’s new senior vice president – Airport Customer Service. West will join the team on March 10 and will be responsible for all of Delta’s more than 300 airports and 15,000 airport employees who work as airport agents, baggage handlers and customer service specialists.

West joins Delta with a diverse and extensive background, having most recently worked as president and chief executive officer of Laidlaw Transit Services. Prior to that, West served as CEO for a private equity firm, president and COO of TIMCO Aviation Services and has held leadership positions at Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and The Boeing Company.

“I am very pleased to welcome Gil to the Delta operations team,” Gorman said. “His skill set and background will bring to the ACS team a depth of business experience that will build on Delta’s reputation as a customer service airline.”

“We are highly confident in the senior team we have assembled in Operations at Delta Air Lines and together we will work to achieve industry-leading performance in providing on-time, reliable and positive experiences for our customers,” said Gorman.

Delta TechOps is the largest airline MRO in North America, earning more than $375 million in revenue in 2007. In addition to providing maintenance and engineering support for Delta's fleet of 440 aircraft, Delta TechOps serves more than 100 aviation and airline customers from around the world, specializing in high-skill work like engines, components, hangar and line maintenance. Delta TechOps employs more than 6,500 maintenance professionals and is one of the most experienced MRO providers in the world with more than seven decades of aviation expertise.

Delta Air Lines operates service to more worldwide destinations than any airline with Delta and Delta Connection flights to 315 destinations in 59 countries. Delta has added more international capacity than any major U.S. airline during the last two years and is the leader across the Atlantic with flights to 36 trans-Atlantic markets. To Latin America and the Caribbean, Delta offers more than 650 weekly flights to 65 destinations. Delta's marketing alliances also allow customers to earn and redeem SkyMiles on nearly 14,000 flights offered by SkyTeam and other partners. Delta is a founding member of SkyTeam, a global airline alliance that provides customers with extensive worldwide destinations, flights and services. Including its SkyTeam and worldwide codeshare partners, Delta offers flights to 744 worldwide destinations in 151 countries. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes and check flight status at delta.com.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Consensus Water Plan is Good for All Georgians

By Charles K. Tarbutton
2008 Chair, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Sandersville, Georgia
2/20/08

Standing beside West Point Lake in the spring of 2004, Governor Perdue signed House Bill 237 into law, establishing the State Water Council, and requiring it to present to the Georgia General Assembly a statewide water management plan for its approval in the 2008 Session. And approve they did: by overwhelming margins, members of Georgia’s House and Senate - rural and urban, Democratic and Republican, from every part of Georgia - voted “yes” to establish Georgia’s first Statewide Water Management Plan.

The Statewide Water Plan is the result of a lengthy, yet open process, in which all interested parties had the opportunity to participate in numerous public meetings throughout Georgia. The Water Council - led by Dr. Carol Couch, Director of Georgia EPD, our Legislators, and Governor Perdue are to be commended for their hard work and leadership on this complex issue. They have put into place a meaningful plan, good for all Georgians.

As Gov. Perdue noted that day four years ago near LaGrange, “As Georgia continues to grow and prosper, it is incumbent upon us to develop a comprehensive statewide plan that addresses our long-term water needs and conservation efforts. Water nourishes our environment and is a major driving force of our state’s economy.”

True to legislative intent, the Water Plan will ensure “Georgia manages water resources in a sustainable manner to support the state’s economy, to protect public health and natural systems, and to enhance the quality of life for all citizens.”

Yet, I have read articles and editorials from newspapers across Georgia critical of the Water Plan as one that will benefit Metro Atlanta to the detriment of the rest of the state. While Metro Atlanta may be an easy target for writers more interested in selling newspapers than promoting solutions, such divisive criticism is unproductive and completely unfounded. To be sure, Metro Atlanta, as the largest metropolitan area in the Southeast and the primary engine of Georgia’s economy, is growing, and growth consumes resources.

But when it comes to water, some pertinent facts about Metro Atlanta never find their way to print. For example, Metro Atlanta’s water use ranges between just 1-2% of the average water flow at the Florida line; 1% in years with normal rain fall, rising to 2% in periods of sustained drought, as we have experienced in the last year. If all water use ceased in Metro Atlanta, the impact on water flow at the Georgia-Florida line would be an increase of 1-2%!

Likewise, it is rarely reported that the main sponsors of HB 237, which resulted in the Statewide Water Plan, are from rural Georgia (Rep. Bob Hanner of Parrott, Rep. Tom McCall of Elberton, Rep. Richard Royal of Camilla, and Rep. Lynn Smith of Newnan, all still serving in the House and all voted for the plan), as is Governor Perdue, who signed the enabling legislation into law. The four Chairs of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees in the House and Senate-each of whom voted to approve the Water Plan- represent rural districts in East, South, Central and West Georgia. The Georgia Water Council, the fourteen member panel of state officials and private citizens that crafted the Water Plan, reads like a “who’s who” of rural Georgia.

The fact is nothing in the plan favors one part of Georgia over another. The plan is truly statewide in scope. It is the first step in a multi-year process of assessing Georgia’s water resources and the demands placed on these resources by cities, agriculture, business and industry. The Plan promotes sustainable water use and lays the foundation for economic growth and prosperity for the state and its nine million citizens, while protecting our environment.

No, Metro Atlanta is not the cause of Georgia’s water woes, but rather the result of the simultaneous occurrence of a multi-year, historic drought gripping the Southeastern U.S. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ operations of Lake Lanier, which allowed significantly larger than normal releases of water from Lanier to meet artificially high minimum flows at the Florida line, without ever allowing the reservoir to refill. Sadly, as a result, many Georgia businesses have laid off workers; some have filed bankruptcy.

As Chair of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, I am proud of the constructive role our members and we played working with the Water Council, the Legislature and the Perdue Administration in shaping this plan. We strongly support and endorse the Water Plan, for we recognize that a balanced water management regime is critical to the long-term viability of Georgia’s economy and the quality of life we all cherish. We support the concept of regional water councils, and we encourage local business and civic leaders to serve on these bodies. We are absolutely convinced that the Water Plan is good for all of Georgia, our communities, our environment and our economy.
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Governor Perdue Calls for Applications for Second Round of Certified Work Ready Community Commitments, Grants

2/26/08 Governor Sonny Perdue today announced the state has launched the second round of Certified Work Ready Community commitments and will award grants to a limited number of counties committed to accelerating the certification process.

“Work Ready is transforming our state and making Georgia’s workforce our number one competitive advantage,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “More than 70 counties have already made the commitment to earning Certified Work Ready Community status and my goal is to soon have all 159 on board.”

To be designated a Certified Work Ready Community, counties must drive current workers and the available workforce to earn Work Ready Certificates, demonstrate a commitment to improving public high school graduation rates and build community commitment for meeting these goals.

Each community must create a team of economic development, government and education partners to create programs to meet the certification criteria. Communities are given three years to meet their specific goals.

Those counties willing to complete the process in 18 months will be eligible for the state-funded grants. These counties will serve as a model for the initiative, showcasing successes and best practices for other communities to follow.

“These accelerated counties are leading the way,” said Governor Perdue. “By jumpstarting the process, they can drive additional momentum and participation in the Work Ready initiative throughout the state.”

To further encourage communities’ efforts, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development (GOWD) has created the “Road to Readiness” award for those counties who exceed expectations and beat their individual goals for citizens earning Work Ready Certificates while they are pursuing certified status. The first three counties to earn Road to Readiness awards are Elbert, Jefferson and Upson Counties.

“We set aggressive goals and have found that Georgia’s communities are equal to the challenge,” said Debra Lyons, GOWD director. “The Road to Readiness award recognizes these communities’ extraordinary efforts and encourages them to continue to strive to meet their goals.”

Those communities that would like to begin the process of becoming Certified Work Ready Communities should complete and submit the Notification of Intent to Participate form located at www.gaworkready.org by April 30, 2008. Information about accelerated community grants is also available at the Work Ready Web site.

Georgia’s Work Ready initiative is based upon a skills assessment and certification for job seekers and a job profiling system for businesses. By identifying both the needs of business and the available skills of Georgia’s workforce, the state can more effectively generate the right talent for the right jobs. Since January 2007, more than 5,000 Georgians have earned Work Ready Certificates, bringing the state’s cumulative total to more than 12,000 Certificates attained.

For more information on the Work Ready initiative please visit the Web site at www.gaworkready.org
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Governor Perdue Awards Covidien State’s First Certified Work Ready Plant

Governor Sonny Perdue awarded Covidien’s Macon facility the state’s first Certified Work Ready Plant. More than 350 hourly employees of the global healthcare products company earned Work Ready Certificates.

“Covidien’s employees made a commitment to build their skills, guaranteeing a more successful, competitive and profitable future for this company, for themselves and for their families,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “My vision is for Georgia to be a state where great companies flock to succeed and grow, and Covidien is proof that we’re headed in that direction.”

Work Ready Certificates are awarded to individuals who successfully complete a four-part assessment of skills in applied mathematics, reading for information, locating information and work habits – skills employers consider essential to on-the-job success. The Work Ready Certificate gives employees a powerful tool to demonstrate their skill level and commitment to work. It can also provide them with a roadmap for gaining new skills for promotions and career development.

Covidien implemented the Work Ready program last spring and worked with Central Georgia Technical College to profile and identify the specific skills needed to successfully perform in its plant. The company used those profiles to encourage employees to earn Work Ready Certificates as a means to develop improved training programs and to make more informed decisions regarding promotions.

Job profiling is conducted by certified profilers located at each of the state’s technical colleges. The profiles are free for companies meeting minimum hiring criteria.

Since implementing Work Ready, Covidien has seen a positive impact on its operations including:

200 percent improvement in training entry-level employees
67 percent reduction in cost and time to hire qualified candidates
35 percent improvement in production efficiency
58 percent reduction in waste
“These accomplishments are thanks to the dedication of our employees and their willingness to take on new challenges,” said Naomi Stifter, Covidien human resources manager. “I am looking forward to even greater successes in the future as we continue to grow with Work Ready.”

Georgia’s Work Ready initiative, a partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, is based upon a skills assessment and certification for job seekers and a job profiling system for businesses. By identifying both the needs of the business and the available skills of Georgia’s workforce, the state can effectively develop the employee’s skills and match them with the right jobs.

For more information on the Work Ready initiative please visit the Web site at www.gaworkready.org.

About Covidien

Covidien is a leading global healthcare products company that creates innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes and delivers value through clinical leadership and excellence. Covidien manufactures, distributes and services a diverse range of industry-leading product lines in four segments: Medical Devices, Imaging Solutions, Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Supplies. With 2007 revenue of nearly $9 billion, Covidien has more than 43,000 employees worldwide in 57 countries, and its products are sold in more than 130 countries. Please visit www.covidien.com to learn more about Covidien.