Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deal: Augusta company creates 100 jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Westmoreland to Host Small Business Workshop August 8, 2011

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

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

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

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

Windstream Expands Business Service Into Columbus, Ga.

Full Suite of Advanced Voice and Data Communication Solutions Now Available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

American Textile Company Opens Manufacturing Facility in Tifton, Ga.

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

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

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


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Friday, April 8, 2011

Wingstop to Add 20 Restaurants in Atlanta Area

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

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

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

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

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

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

Event registration:

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


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

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SBA Disaster Loans Available in Georgia Following Secretary of Agriculture Disaster Declaration

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. Small Business Administration announces today that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes located in Camden, Charlton, Clinch, Echols and Ware counties in southeastern Georgia as a result of drought that began on January 1, 2011.

“When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to assist eligible entities affected by the same disaster”

“These counties are eligible because they are contiguous to one or more primary counties in Florida. The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at county or state lines. For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

“When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to assist eligible entities affected by the same disaster,” said Skaggs.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the disaster. With the exception of aquacultural enterprises, agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers are not eligible to apply to SBA, but nurseries are eligible to apply for EIDLs for losses caused by drought conditions.

Loan amounts can be up to $2 million, with interest rates of 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses. Terms can be up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. The agency sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

To obtain information on the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, application forms or to apply online visit www.sba.gov, call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech and hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or send an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than December 5, 2011.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Postmaster General Continues Efficiency Improvements

/PRNewswire -- Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe today announced a newly redesigned Postal Service, one that is better positioned for growth, reflects further alignment within the organization to achieve core business strategies and, when fully implemented, will help realize approximately $750 million of annual cost savings.

"I am confident that we have developed a strong plan that takes a key step toward a leaner and less bureaucratic structure. One that is fair to our employees and one that will meet the future needs of our customers and the mailing industry," Donahoe said.

About 7,500 positions will be eliminated across the organization through the redesign that also includes the closing of seven district offices and offers limited financial incentives to those who meet specific qualifications.

The seven district offices that are closing are Columbus, Southeast Michigan, Northern Illinois, South East New England, South Georgia, Big Sky and Albuquerque. District offices house only administrative functions and do not affect customer service, mail delivery, Post Office operations or ZIP codes. The functions of these seven districts will be assumed by district offices within close proximity.

A Voluntary Early Retirement and financial incentive programs will be offered to eligible employees. Employees must be 50 years old, with at least 20 years of service; or any age with at least 25 years of service to qualify for the incentive. Employees who accept the VER offer or already meet existing retirement qualifications will receive $20,000 paid over two fiscal years to separate from the Postal Service.

"It's critical that we adjust our workforce to match America's changing communications trends as mail volumes continue to decline," Donahoe said. "At every step and with every change, our focus remains on our customers and continuing to provide outstanding customer service."

Today's announcement focused on the administrative and executive corps. Additional staff reductions will occur as the Postal Service makes necessary changes to its network and retail operations. The full scope and financial impact of these personnel actions should be realized in one calendar year – March 2012.

While cost savings will be realized, the main objective of the restructuring is to enhance and strengthen customer service and relationships. The realignment flattens the organization, enabling flexibility to more quickly adapt to changing market forces and continuing mail volume decline.

The Postal Service is streamlining operations and improving efficiencies across the organization in order to protect its ability to provide affordable, universal mail service. By modifying networks, consolidating functions and restructuring administrative and processing operations, the Postal Service is adapting to meet the evolving needs, demands and activities of its customers.

"Mail remains valuable. It is at the heart of a $900 billion industry that continues to drive commerce and the American economy," Donahoe said. "We will continue to work with Congress and our employees to achieve the long-term, structural and legislative changes we know we need to remain a viable organization."

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $67 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world's mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 29th in the 2010 Fortune 500. Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency six consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Walmart Realignment Puts Atlanta in the Spotlight

/PRNewswire/ -- Walmart announced today that the new eastern business unit will be headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. Walmart's eastern business unit is comprised of nearly 1,600 stores in 20 states spanning from Florida to Maine with approximately 560,000 associates. The eastern business unit will be led by Atlanta veteran Rosalind Brewer, president of Walmart East and executive vice president of Walmart U.S.

"With the busiest airport in the world and a central location, Georgia is the ideal destination for our eastern business unit," said Rosalind Brewer, president of Walmart East and executive vice president of Walmart U.S. "Atlanta has a strong history of corporate and divisional headquarters and we're delighted to join this group and spotlight the city within our global organization."

In her new role, Brewer is responsible for establishing the strategic direction for the eastern business unit, including growth opportunities in store innovation, people development, supply chain and real estate. Rosalind joined Walmart in 2006 as regional vice president, responsible for operations in Georgia, and was quickly promoted to president of the southeast operating division. She later led the south business unit of Walmart U.S. as executive vice president and president before being appointed to her current role. Prior to joining Walmart, she worked for Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Molson Coors Brewing Company. She serves on the board of trustees for Spelman College and the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. And, in 2010, she was named one of FORTUNE magazine's "50 Most Powerful Women."

Walmart's eastern business unit headquartered in Atlanta will manage stores in the following states:

* Florida
* Georgia
* Alabama
* South Carolina
* North Carolina
* Virginia
* West Virginia
* Ohio
* Michigan
* Maryland
* Delaware
* New Jersey
* Pennsylvania
* New York
* Vermont
* New Hampshire
* Massachusetts
* Connecticut
* Rhode Island
* Maine

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOTO Launches Wholly Owned Subsidiary in Brazil

/PRNewswire/ -- TOTO, the largest plumbing manufacturer in the world with $5.1 billion dollars in annual sales, today announced the launch of its newest subsidiary, TOTO do Brasil Distribucao e Comercio Ltda, which will be overseen by its operations in the Americas, TOTO USA, Inc. TOTO's expansion into the Brazilian market is a part of the company's "Vision Plan 2017." TOTO, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in six years, has set the growth of its international operations as a primary focus for its goal to reach $7.3 billion in annual sales by its centenary. With the launch of TOTO Brazil, the company plants its flag in the South America and will increase its market share aggressively as it has done successfully in North America by creating a fast-growing demand for its products.

"Brazil is one of the world's most exciting markets today, with a population approaching 200 million people," said David Krakoff, Senior Vice-President, Sales Division, TOTO USA. Krakoff, who has been tapped to serve as President of TOTO Brazil, continued, "We recognize the tremendous growth potential and opportunity that Brazil presents, and we are pleased to bring its consumers the very best luxury plumbing products available. As TOTO has done in every market that we have entered, we will quickly establish ourselves as the leader in the premium plumbing products sector with a prestigious line that combines high design, technological innovation, unparalleled performance, and sustainability to transform the bathroom from a simple, utilitarian room to a vibrant, comfortable, luxurious area of the home or commercial installation."

The TOTO Global Group, which began in 1917 with the founding of TOTO, Ltd., in Kitakyushu, Japan, has produced more than 60 million plumbing fixtures to date. Today, this international company maintains 23,500 employees in 69 offices around the world and owns manufacturing facilities in Japan, Mexico, the United States, China, and Europe, with an affiliated network of more than 80 production facilities worldwide. With over 1,500 engineers on staff and three centers devoted solely to research and development, TOTO is the acknowledged global leader in product innovation, high design, and precision engineering.

Headquartered in Sao Paulo, TOTO's newest business venture is just the first step in a significant investment in the Brazilian economy, a strategy that TOTO employs throughout the world. "Investing in the local economy sets TOTO apart from other manufacturers that simply import their products," said Krakoff. "In North America, for example, TOTO is owner/operator of three major manufacturing plants and two large assembly and logistics/warehousing facilities, providing employment for more than 1,100 people." To gain market share rapidly throughout Brazil, TOTO will introduce its products to consumers by presenting them in the leading bath boutiques and showrooms, such as Sao Paulo's Armazem Design Banho e Cozinha, QuartzoBras, Vallve, and Metalbagno. TOTO will also work closely with architects, designers, contractors, developers and others who wish to distinguish their projects by offering the very best in technology, luxury, performance, and sustainability. The company's premiere in the local market will be its major presence at Brazil's leading kitchen and bath industry trade show, the Kitchen & Bath Expo, held in Sao Paulo from March 22-25, 2011.

Brazilians will be delighted to find that TOTO is introducing a line of products that will meet the aesthetic preferences specified by its design leaders and consumers. These products will utilize TOTO's cutting-edge technology and world-class precision engineering. Connecting people with water in ways that enrich the flow of their daily lives through elegant products that save water and energy with every use without sacrificing an ounce of performance is the company's stated mission. As a result, Brazilian consumers will experience the highest levels of luxury and performance in a full line of products, which includes toilets, sinks, residential faucets, showers, accessories, as well as TOTO's signature lines—Washlet and NEOREST.

Owners of Brazil's commercial establishments may look to their global peers who have selected TOTO products for their prestigious installations. On every continent in which the company does business, TOTO's technology-rich products are found in high-end hotels, luxury condominiums and apartment buildings; international and domestic airports; famous arenas, stadiums, and convention centers; hospitals, nursing homes, and trauma and rehabilitation centers; premier office buildings and world-famous museums; prestigious schools and universities; and chic restaurants and retail centers.

"We trust that TOTO will add a new dimension to the luxury plumbing sector and significantly influence bath design in the local market," concluded Krakoff. "We are confident that we have the global market experience and expertise to make this new subsidiary very profitable for TOTO and its Brazilian partners."

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Aflac Japan Corporate Offices Fully Operational, Employees Sustained No Injuries, Expected Impact on Japan Sales Minimal; Aflac Incorporated Affirms 2011 Operating EPS Target

/PRNewswire/ -- Aflac Incorporated today announced that its operations in Japan are up and running and ready to assist policyholders following the recent earthquake in the Tohoku area, which includes the cities of Sendai and Minami Sanriku. Aflac Japan's main offices, including the corporate offices in Tokyo and operational centers in both Tokyo and Osaka, are undamaged and fully functional.

Aflac Japan's employees are safe, and the company continues to reach out to their independent sales force to assess their needs. The Aflac leadership teams from both the U.S. and Japan remain in close contact.

While the hardest-hit areas were Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, less than 5% of Aflac Japan's new sales and in-force premiums are derived from these prefectures. Only two of Aflac Japan's 82 sales offices have been negatively impacted; these two offices, located in a single building in Sendai, have minimal damage, but will be closed temporarily due to power outages.

About this natural disaster, Aflac Japan President and Chief Operating Officer Tohru Tonoike commented: "First and foremost, our thoughts go out to all those affected here in Japan. We are very grateful none of our employees were injured. We are working with our sales force to ensure that we provide them with assistance and help them take care of our customers. We remain ready to respond to the needs of our policyholders by paying claims swiftly, and will prioritize our response to those in the affected areas. We successfully executed our disaster preparedness plan and as a result, our operations stand ready to serve our policyholders and claimants."

Aflac Incorporated Chairman and CEO Daniel P. Amos added: "In addition to sending our thoughts and prayers to each and every Japanese citizen, we want all of our Aflac Japan employees, sales agents and policyholders to know that your Aflac family here in the U.S. sends our support in every way possible. On Friday, we made an initial donation of 100 million yen to the International Red Cross to help with the start of the relief effort. Additionally, funds have been established by both our U.S. and Japanese employees and sales forces for our friends in Japan, including fellow employees and sales associates that have been most impacted by the disaster. Most importantly, we want our policyholders to know that we are here to deliver on our promise – we will be there when they need us most. Having operated in Japan for almost four decades, we know Japanese citizens are incredibly resilient and we want to help in any way possible as they work through this difficult time.

"As we look to the remainder of 2011, we expect Aflac Japan sales will only be minimally impacted by these events. Our earnings guidance for the year remains unchanged: we will likely be at the low end of the 8% to 12% range for operating earnings per diluted share growth in 2011, excluding the impact of currency."


The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a "safe harbor" to encourage companies to provide prospective information, so long as those informational statements are identified as forward-looking and are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those included in the forward-looking statements. We desire to take advantage of these provisions. This document contains cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected herein, and in any other statements made by Company officials in communications with the financial community and contained in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Forward-looking statements are not based on historical information and relate to future operations, strategies, financial results or other developments. Furthermore, forward-looking information is subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties. In particular, statements containing words such as "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "goal," "objective," "may," "should," "estimate," "intends," "projects," "will," "assumes," "potential," "target" or similar words as well as specific projections of future results, generally qualify as forward-looking. Aflac undertakes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements. We caution readers that the following factors, in addition to other factors mentioned from time to time, could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements: difficult conditions in global capital markets and the economy; governmental actions for the purpose of stabilizing the financial markets; defaults and downgrades in certain securities in our investment portfolio; impairment of financial institutions; credit and other risks associated with Aflac's investment in perpetual securities; differing judgments applied to investment valuations; subjective determinations of amount of impairments taken on our investments; limited availability of acceptable yen-denominated investments; concentration of our investments in any particular sector; concentration of business in Japan; ongoing changes in our industry; exposure to significant financial and capital markets risk; fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; significant changes in investment yield rates; deviations in actual experience from pricing and reserving assumptions; subsidiaries' ability to pay dividends to Aflac Incorporated (the Parent Company); changes in law or regulation by governmental authorities; ability to attract and retain qualified sales associates and employees; decreases in our financial strength or debt ratings; ability to continue to develop and implement improvements in information technology systems; changes in U.S. and/or Japanese accounting standards; failure to comply with restrictions on patient privacy and information security; level and outcome of litigation; ability to effectively manage key executive succession; catastrophic events; and failure of internal controls or corporate governance policies and procedures. 

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Franchise Event Southeast Expo in Atlanta is this weekend March 12th & 13th 2011

/PRNewswire/ -- The Franchise Event Southeast Expo is designed to connect you with top franchise, licensing and business opportunities from all over the United States in one location in Atlanta.

Host: http://www.thefranchiseevent.com

When: Saturday March 12th 2011 Noon – 6:00 PM & Sunday March 13th 2011 Noon – 5:00 PM

Where: North Atlanta Trade Center - 1700 Jeurgens Court Norcross, GA 30093

Cost: $10 at the door – If you order online now at: http://www.thefranchiseevent.com/Southeast-Expo.html and use Promo Code: "CHA" you will get half price tickets plus we will donate half to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta .

Meet face to face and speak directly to industry professionals to learn about their exciting offerings and see if it is a fit for you and your goals as an entrepreneur such as:

All at Home, Avion Energy, Barton's Laundry, Beef Jerky Outlet, Beef O' Brady's Brewster's Chicken, Buff & Coat Hardwood Floor Renewal, Carla's Sandwiches & Burgers, CMT Mentors, Cresco Montessori Schools, DePalma's Italian Cafe, Dickey's BBQ, EMT USA (Non Emergency Medical Transport), Fantastic Sam's, Franchise Gator, Frannet of Atlanta, Gentle Rain Marketing, Great American Cookie Co, Griffin Waste Management, Home Video Studio, Ikor (Senior & Disabled Patient Advocacy), Italian Joe's, Jantize America, Lenny's Subs, Maggie Moo's, Marble Slab, Novus Glass, Papa-N-Son's, Pretzel Maker, Quickie Coupons, Scoop Wizards, Shoebox NY, Send Out Cards, Southern Automatic, Sportclips, The Athletes Foot, Tranquility Coffee &Tea House, WIN Home Inspection, World Market Express Convenience Stores, Wow Cafe & Wingery and more…

You can also attend one or all of our four great seminars included this Saturday & Sunday:

* How to Avoid Franchise Failure
* The 7 Stages of Small Business Success "From Startup to Seven Figures in Three years or Less"
* How to Market your Franchise
* Creative Funding - With and Without Loan Payments

So if you ever wanted to be your own boss, you are already a seasoned franchise owner or anywhere in-between... plan now to spend March 12th and 13th 2011 with us at The Franchise Event Southeast Expo.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Lockheed Martin Urges IAM Employees to Vote in Favor of New Contract

/PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has urged employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to vote in favor of a new three-year contract Sunday.

Company and union negotiators failed to reach tentative agreements in three separate sets of contract negotiations that concluded March 3 in Point Clear, Ala. The proposed agreements would cover the nearly 6,000 IAM represented employees at Marietta, Ga.; Palmdale and Sunnyvale, Calif.; and several field locations.

"We are disappointed that the union bargaining committees rejected what we feel is an industry leading offer that would provide substantial wage and benefit improvements over the life of the contract and maintain Lockheed Martin's ability to deliver affordable solutions to our customers in an increasingly challenging budget environment," said Greg Karol, corporate vice president of labor relations. "This is a fair and equitable offer and we strongly encourage the union membership to review the proposed agreement and vote in favor of ratifying the new contract."

The Company's Best and Final Offer includes a competitive wage package that provides guaranteed pay increases over the next three years through a combination of three general wage increases totaling 8.5 percent over three years, a $2,500 ratification bonus and continuation of the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula and supplements.

Current employees to retain industry-leading pension with substantial increase:

Current represented employees, hired before March 6, 2011, will maintain their defined benefit pension plan with an increase of $11 to $88 per-month, per-year of service, representing a 14% increase in their pension. Current employees will also continue to accrue service under this plan as they have under prior agreements.

Employees hired on or after March 7, 2011, receive new retirement plan:

New hires and rehires as of March 7, 2011 will be able to save for retirement with a new plan: the Hourly Capital Accumulation Plan (HCAP) with a guaranteed quarterly company contribution of $350 for their retirement. Employees eligible for HCAP are immediately vested in the plan, which has multiple investment options and is portable if employees leave the Company.

Lockheed Martin must remain competitive in increasingly challenging marketplace:

The transition to an Hourly Capital Accumulation Plan for new hires is an important step Lockheed Martin is taking to remain competitive in our industry. The vast majority of companies, including many of Lockheed Martin's competitors, do not offer defined benefit pension plans. The Corporation is taking action to position itself for the future with similar changes for newly hired and rehired employees while maintaining and improving the defined benefit pension for current employees.

Represented employees urged to exercise right to vote on new contract:

The proposals now go to the union memberships for consideration and are scheduled for votes on Sunday, March 6, 2011. Employees are urged to carefully review this information to have a full understanding of the facts of this offer before voting on Sunday.

"Lockheed Martin has had a long-standing partnership with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers," Karol said. "We value all the success we've had together and will continue working to strengthen that relationship while ensuring Lockheed Martin remains competitive. That means more jobs well into the future. We urge all IAM employees covered under these agreements to exercise their rights to vote on Sunday."

Find information about the proposed agreement at www.lockheedmartin.com/negotiations.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 132,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Shipping Industry Leaders Announce Clean Air Partnerships With Top U.S. Ports

/PRNewswire/ --The Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT) announced today that three of the nation's largest ports—the Georgia Ports Authority, the South Carolina State Ports Authority, and the Virginia Port Authority—have joined CRT as Charter Port Members.

This announcement marks the first time that CRT's membership has expanded to include public sector representatives, and will allow CRT to serve as a forum for ports around the country to collaborate with leading cargo owners, trucking companies, ocean carriers and CRT's partner organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, to identify and implement best practices to reduce port-related diesel emissions.

CRT is a national coalition of importers, exporters, trucking companies and ocean carriers who share the belief that by partnering together, ports and their customers can improve the environmental quality of port communities while ensuring that the ports remain an engine for job creation and a thriving economy.

"CRT's mission is to develop public-private partnerships to solve air quality problems, and today's announcement is the next step in CRT's efforts to create a national venue to share best practices, build clean air partnerships between America's ports and their customers and service providers," said CRT President Rick Gabrielson, who is the Director of International Transportation for Target Corporation.

CRT's Charter Port Members share a commitment to environmental sustainability that has been demonstrated by their significant capital investments in air quality improvements across port operations and their development of innovative programs to reduce diesel emissions.

For example, through the Georgia Ports Authority's crane electrification, use of refrigerated container racks, rubber-tired gantry crane repower project and use of fuel additives, the Port of Savannah avoids use of more than 4.5 million gallons of fuel annually, resulting in tremendous emissions savings.

Curtis Foltz, Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority, commented, "Our commitment to being a leader in environmental stewardship is a key tenet of our fundamental mission at the GPA. We look forward in working with the CRT to identify collaborative industry solutions to improve overall air quality."

The South Carolina Ports Authority's award-winning environmental program, its "Pledge for Growth," includes voluntary efforts to address land, air, water and community impacts of the port. For example, air projects range from crane electrifications and energy efficiency projects to more than $5 million in public-private, voluntary initiatives that include using cleaner fuels, installing cleaner engines and reducing emissions from four tug boats, 57 port stacking cranes, a dredge and more than 170 trucks.

"The Port of Charleston shares CRT's commitment to practical solutions for improving air quality, while also enhancing the flow of commerce," said Jim Newsome, President & CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority. "We look forward to continuing our productive relationship with CRT and its member companies, delivering programs that make environmental and economic sense."

Jerry Bridges, Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority commented, "For more than a decade the Virginia Port Authority has voluntarily engaged in—and developed—diesel emission-reduction programs. The CRT is an industry leader in the development of clear-air programs that engage the critical players within the transportation logistics supply chain. It is that industry-wide influence and leadership that led the VPA to seek a charter membership in the organization."

Among its many environmental initiatives, in 2007 the Virginia Port Authority launched its Green Operator (GO) program, which is one of the first voluntary clean truck programs at a U.S. port. The VPA's dedication to this program, the cooperative efforts of the Federal, State and non-profit GO partners, and the support of Virginia's trucking industry have led to the replacement and/or retrofit of over 200 trucks within the last 18 months. The program continues to gain momentum, as currently 120 additional trucks are awaiting funding for replacement and "GO" is serving as a model for a larger regional program currently under development in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Today's announcement was made at the Retail Industry Leaders Association Logistics Conference in Orlando, Florida, where over 1,000 shipping industry leaders are gathered to discuss topics including ways to promote environmental sustainability in the supply chain.

CRT looks forward to additional ports around the country joining this partnership in coming months.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

FedEx Ground plans Norcross facility

New site will be FedEx Ground’s fourth distribution center in metro Atlanta

Gov. Nathan Deal joined with officials from the Gwinnett Chamber and the city of Norcross today in a groundbreaking ceremony for FedEx Ground, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., at the future site of its new distribution facility. The company will invest $55 million in the construction of this facility. The company’s initial workforce for the new facility is projected to include 240 full-time and part-time employees and 75 independent contractor opportunities, drawn from the existing Norcross workforce.

“As a global logistics hub, Georgia provides FedEx Ground with a high-performing, interconnected logistics infrastructure that helps the company provide the superior level of service to which its customers have become accustomed,” said Deal. “FedEx Ground will find Gwinnett County is a strategic home for its distribution operation as the company seeks to expand and thrive in Georgia.”

FedEx Ground’s Norcross distribution center will be a 215,000-square-foot facility on Atlantic Avenue near Jimmy Carter Boulevard. The facility is slated to open in the fall of 2012 and will feature the latest automated material-handling technology, designed to process 15,000 packages per hour, with the capacity to dispatch as many as 75 pickup and delivery vans each day.

“Enhancing FedEx Ground’s distribution capability in the Southeast is critical to increasing the size, speed and efficiency of our network,” said Robert E. Holcombe, vice president of the southern region for FedEx Ground. “This new facility is evidence of the Southeast region’s increased presence in the distribution and logistics business and the growing confidence of local shippers that we are their best choice for their ground shipping needs.”

As a key business hub in Georgia, Norcross was selected as the site of the distribution center due in large part to the community’s access to major highways and other logistics benefits, such as its proximity to the FedEx Ground’s customers’ distribution operations and an extensive pipeline of talent for this industry.

“FedEx Ground is a strong representation of companies in Gwinnett that are choosing to remain and expand in the metro Atlanta region,” said Jim Maran, President and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber. “Bringing jobs and capital to the community is a collective goal for Gwinnett and Atlanta, and we appreciate FedEx Ground and its contribution to our community’s vision and goals for the future.”

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson added, “The fact that FedEx Ground chose Norcross for its consolidation and expansion is a reflection of strong partnerships from the city and Chamber to the Gwinnett Village CID and the state of Georgia. Norcross welcomes FedEx and we look forward to a future with them as part of our community.”

Georgia’s logistics and transportation network is one of its most formidable assets, supporting all industry in the state. Georgia’s advanced system of logistics enables companies to quickly and seamlessly reach domestic and international markets through interconnected airports, seaports, rail and roads. Companies in the state can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market within a two-day truck haul or a two-hour flight, and the port of Savannah is the fastest-growing container port in the country. This industry is a strategic focus for the state, and is uniquely backed by the Georgia Center of Innovation (COI) for Logistics, which provides the statewide framework, connections and university resources to address the constant challenges of a complex industry. As an industry-focused component of the Department of Economic Development, the COI for Logistics provides Georgia companies with industry expertise, information tools and assistance in creating new products and services to help fuel logistics competitiveness.

About FedEx Ground
FedEx Ground specializes in cost-effective, small-package ground shipping, offering dependable business-to-business delivery or convenient residential service. With a network of more than 500 distribution hubs and local pickup-and-delivery terminals, FedEx Ground has a workforce of more than 70,000 employees and independent contractors and 20,000 motorized vehicles delivering over 3.6 million packages daily throughout the United States and Canada. The company reported annual revenue of $7.4 billion in fiscal year 2010.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UGA Report: Georgia forests provide $37 billion in ecological benefits to state

 A University of Georgia researcher has found that Georgia’s forestlands provide essential ecosystem services to the state worth an estimated $37 billion annually. This is in addition to the value of timber, forest products and recreation. This is the first time these indirect benefits of Georgia’s private forests have been estimated.

Rebecca Moore, an assistant professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, studied the 22 million acres of privately-owned forestland in Georgia to estimate the benefits of water filtration, carbon storage, wildlife habitat and aesthetics.

“People value these things,” Moore said, “but because they aren’t like other goods in that people don’t go out and buy them, it’s difficult to estimate just how much we value them. The purpose of our research was to do just that—estimate the value of the ecosystem services provided by private forests in Georgia.”

Moore’s study was conducted with funding from the Georgia Forestry Foundation. The findings of her study were announced at the state capitol on Feb. 9.

“We have had studies for some time that tell us what the economic benefit of wood and fiber manufacturing in the state is,” said Steve McWilliams, executive director of the Georgia Forestry Foundation. “This new study allows us to place a dollar value on those services we receive from the standing forests, and they are many.”

Moore’s final report, which can be found at http://www.warnell.uga.edu/news/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Final-Report-1-24-11.pdf, focused on six types of ecosystem services forests provide: gas and climate regulation; water quantity and quality; soil formation and stability; pollination; wildlife habitats; and aesthetic, cultural and passive use.

Moore and her collaborators—graduate students Tiffany Williams andEduardo Rodriguez and Warnell Assistant Professor Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymmerman—analyzed Georgia forestlands by identifying key forest characteristics that affect ecosystem services and estimating per-acre values for each different type of forest.These values were estimated from survey data the team collected and from the results of previous published studies. What Moore found upon concluding her three-year study is that Georgia’s private forests provide an estimated $37 billion annual benefit to Georgia residents. The values can vary widely—between $200 to $13,000 per acre—depending on the location and ecology of the land, Moore said.

“Understanding the value of these benefits of forestland is important,” Moore said, “because it allows us to make better land use decisions. The ecological services forestlands provide are incredibly beneficial to Georgia, and you receive these benefits whether or not you own forestland. Many people think of them as free. But if we lose forestland, we risk losing these benefits.”

McWilliams said he hopes the results of Moore’s study focusing specifically on Georgia will result in public policy decisions that help us conserve Georgia’s working forests. “It carries a lot of weight when we can talk about Georgia forests to Georgia legislators and Georgia opinion leaders,” McWilliams concluded.

The Georgia Forestry Association is a conservation organization based in Forsyth. It works with landowners to adopt sound land management practices so that their forests will help provide clean air and water, soil conservation, wildlife habitats, recreation and timber products.

For more information on the Georgia Forestry Association, see www.gfagrow.org.

For more information on the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, see http://www.forestry.uga.edu/.


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Vision Airlines Sells 12,000 Tickets in 120 Hours

/PRNewswire/ -- Vision Airlines, the nation's newest big jet, low-cost carrier reports it sold more than 12,000 tickets during its first 120 hours of e-commerce operations at www.visionairlines.com.

On Tuesday, January 18, Vision Airlines unveiled its 23 city mega-expansion plan and its $49* introductory fare sale for its first flights to Florida, which are scheduled to take-off on March 25.

Vision Airlines says within 48 hours it sold-out of all $49 seats. Now, in response to immense customer demand, the airline is adding more $49 seats on every flight to Florida. The airline is also extending its introductory $49 fare sale, which was slated to end on Sunday but is now continuing through January 31, 2011.

Vision Airlines' chief operating officer David Meers says, "We received hundreds of calls from disappointed customers who did not understand that only a limited number of specially-priced $49 seats were available on each flight."

Meers adds, "At this juncture, Vision Airlines believes it is more important to satisfy first-time customers rather than turn them away because they missed-out on a fare sale. So, we put more $49 seats in our system."

Meers emphasizes, "Our first goal is to get passengers on Vision Airlines' jets so they can experience our fast, friendly and efficient service. After their first flight we are confident that we will earn passenger's repeat business."

"Running out of $49 seats was not the only glitch during our first week of operations," says Vision Airlines' spokesman Bryan Glazer.

"Once the morning TV and radio newscasts reported our story; once people read their local morning newspapers; once the headlines hit the internet we were overwhelmed by interested customers," says Glazer. "Vision Airlines website has recorded upward of 50,000 hits to date. And, on the first day of operations the website crashed several times and our reservations center was unable to handle the flood of customer phone calls."

Vision Airlines' Sales and Marketing Director Clay Meek says, "To remedy these technical problems, Vision Airlines has increased its web server capacity and added more customer call center representatives."


After 16 years of building its reputation as one of the world's most-successful charter carriers, Vision Airlines is now expanding into regularly-scheduled commercial passenger service.

Most of Vision Airlines' flights depart from southern U.S. cities that lack low-cost, direct jet service to destinations in Florida.

Vision Airlines Cities

* Asheville, NC - Atlanta, GA - Baton Rouge, LA - Birmingham, AL - Chattanooga, TN
* Columbia, SC - Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, FL - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
* Greenville/Spartanburg, SC - Gulfport/Biloxi, MS - Houston, TX - Huntsville, AL
* Knoxville, TN - Little Rock, AR - Louisville, KY - Macon, GA - Miami, FL
* Niagara Falls/Buffalo, NY/Toronto, Canada - Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers, FL
* Sanford/Orlando, FL - Savannah, GA - Shreveport, LA
* St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Tampa, FL

Vision Airlines' Hub

Most Florida-bound flights are to and through the airline's hub at Northwest Florida Regional Airport near Destin/Fort Walton Beach.

Florida's Governor Expects Vision Airlines will Revitalize Post Oil Spill Economy

Working with Florida Governor Richard Scott and local officials in Northwest Florida, Vision Airlines is expected to play a pivotal role in the revitalization of the state's gulf coast tourism economy, which was destroyed by last year's BP oil spill.

Destin/Fort Walton Beach, also known as Florida's Emerald Coast, is the most-effected area.

"It wasn't pollution that destroyed our tourism economy, it was the wave of negative publicity," says Northwest Florida Regional Airport Director Gregg Donovan. "Unlike neighboring gulf coast states to the west of us, there were no tar balls on our beaches, no oil slicks in the water and no petroleum-scented sea breezes. Yet, the tourists stayed away."

Mark Bellinger, Director of Okaloosa County's Tourism Development Council, says, "We forecast that Vision Airlines will deliver thousands of passengers to the Emerald Coast each week. That means tourists will be able to see first hand that our beaches are still sugary-white and the Gulf waters are still emerald green."

Bellinger adds, "Because airfares to our area have been so expensive, most tourists drive here for long vacations. Now they can afford to fly here -- even for weekend getaways."

Meek says, "Making air travel affordable means more tourist dollars, which will create jobs at resorts, restaurants and even miniature golf courses."

According to Governor Scott, Vision Airlines' passenger traffic will create upward of 4,000 jobs in related industries.

Florida Cities

Vision Airlines also offers direct flights from several cities to Ft. Lauderdale; Miami; Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers; Sanford/Orlando and St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Tampa.

Intrastate Florida Flights

The airline is now linking Northwestern Florida with other areas of the state with flights to and from Southeastern, Southwestern and Central Florida.


Vision Airlines also provides twice daily non-stop service between Atlanta, GA and Louisville, KY.

Mississippi's Casino Coast

Another Vision Airlines destination is Mississippi's Casino Coast. The carrier offers flights from Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX and St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Tampa, FL to Gulfport/Biloxi, MS.

Business Model

Vision Airlines' business model is based on offering non-stop and direct flights to Florida from secondary U.S. cities that have been ignored by the major airlines.

People in these cities are currently forced to fly in cramped regional jets, endure long layovers while connecting through other cities and they must pay extremely high airfares.

Vision Airlines now offers Boeing 737 jet flights on direct routes that other airlines do not fly.

"Essentially, Vision Airlines has no competition," says well-known aviation industry analyst Michael Boyd. "Therefore, Vision Airlines is likely to be very successful."


*Fares shown exclude Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9.00, September 11th Security Fees of up to $2.50 per enplanement and US segment fee of $3.70 per segment. A segment is defined as a takeoff and a landing. All fares are one-way. Round trip purchase not required. All fares are non-refundable and a $100 fee per person applies to change made after purchase, plus any applicable increase in airfare. Baggage Fees of up to $30 each way per checked bag. Seats are limited and subject to availability and may not be available on all flights. Fares, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Delta Kicks Off 70th Anniversary Year as Atlanta's Hometown Airline

/PRNewswire/ -- When Lynda Lloyd boarded her first Delta Air Lines flight in Atlanta as a flight attendant in 1964, the airline had recently become the first commercial carrier to fly across the country in less than three hours and had just launched the industry's most sophisticated electronic reservations system, all under the watchful eye of company founder and then-chief executive C.E. Woolman.

Today, Lloyd, Delta's most senior employee who lives and works in Atlanta, will join hundreds of her fellow Atlanta-based employees as well as elected, community and business leaders from across Georgia to mark the airline's 70th anniversary as Atlanta's hometown airline.

A Delta Boeing 777-200LR aircraft used to connect Atlanta nonstop to cities such as Tokyo, Dubai, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv, will be christened as the "Spirit of Atlanta" during a celebration at Delta's massive Technical Operations Center, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and in the shadow of the $1.4 billion Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal currently under construction.

Delta (NYSE: DAL), today among the largest airlines in the world, was a small carrier focused on the Southeast when it moved its headquarters from Monroe, La., to Atlanta in 1941. In the decades that followed, Delta built the world's largest connecting hub in Atlanta, and for more than two decades has remained Georgia's largest private employer and a major economic force in the region.

With 25,000 employees based in Atlanta, Delta is estimated to pump more than $25 billion into the local economy, and is a major contributor to key community organizations, including the Grady Health Foundation, the Woodruff Arts Center, AID Atlanta, Hands On Atlanta, Habitat for Humanity, CARE, the Carter Center and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

"Delta Air Lines and Atlanta have a unique partnership that has been inextricably linked to the success and prosperity of our city and our airport for nearly three quarters of a century," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. "The strong relationships among companies such as Delta, state and local elected officials and civic organizations are what make Atlanta not only a global, dynamic city, but a great place to live and do business. Congratulations to Delta Air Lines, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and all employees on the company's 70th anniversary as Atlanta's hometown airline."

"Delta is truly an economic force for Georgia," said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. "It is our biggest employer and its presence here plays a key role in helping us attract new investment and jobs. I look forward to partnering with Delta as it sets out on the next 70 years."

"The success of Delta and the city of Atlanta have been intertwined for seven decades, and it's hard to argue with the results," said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive. "Atlanta has grown into a major international city while Delta built the world's largest hub at the city's airport. Central to this success has been the historic partnership between Delta, the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and our thousands of Atlanta-based employees and customers."

Recognizing one of Atlanta's longest and most successful business partnerships, the "Spirit of Atlanta" will be christened at the celebration with a bottle of Coke. Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive of the Coca-Cola Company, will be honored and make remarks at the celebration.

In addition, Lloyd will be honored as the Delta employee who has lived and worked in Atlanta the longest. The airline also will recognize its most frequent Atlanta flyer, Ed Robinette, who has flown nearly 7 million miles on Delta over the past 30 years, and Cheryll Davis, Delta's most active Atlanta-based community volunteer, who has dedicated thousands of hours during her 20-year Delta career to the airline's preferred local charities.

"As a longtime Atlanta resident it's been so exciting to be part of this airline, which is such a positive force for the community," Lloyd said. "It was the very best decision of my life, to come to Atlanta, remain here, and be a Delta Flight Attendant. I am still enjoying the very best job in the world. It always makes me proud when I tell people I work for Delta."

"Two years ago, I moved my business to Atlanta because of the great flights and service offered by Delta, and I'm not the only one, we have so many businesses based in Atlanta solely because of Delta," said Robinette, who has been a member of the Delta SkyMiles frequent flier program since its inception in 1981. "I've flown 7 million miles on Delta, and I can honestly say I don't remember a single bad experience."

"Delta has always encouraged its employees to become involved in our communities, and service is a big part of being a member of the Delta family," said Davis. "As an Atlanta resident, it's great that Delta is so supportive of our community, and it's one of the benefits of being Delta's hometown."

"It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Delta on its 70th anniversary as Atlanta's hometown airline," said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. "Delta Air Lines has come a long way since its beginnings in Monroe, La., to the international commercial airline it is today. For seven decades, Delta has thrived, employing thousands of Georgians and becoming an integral part of our communities. Delta has established itself as an economic engine not only for Georgia, but for the entire Southeast. I am grateful that such a company calls Atlanta its home."

"As Georgians, we are all proud to be recognizing Delta's 70th anniversary as our hometown airline," said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. "Over the past seven decades, Delta has become an integral part of the community, bringing jobs, businesses and great opportunities to the state of Georgia by connecting us to cities across the country and the world."

Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 357 destinations in 67 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs more than 75,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta participates in the industry's leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 13,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline's service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, the world's largest airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Delta is investing more than $2 billion through 2013 in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at delta.com.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dollar Tree expands Savannah distribution operation

Company to invest $18 million and create 68 new jobs

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Dollar Tree will expand its existing Savannah distribution operation, representing an $18 million investment and the creation of 68 jobs. Based in Chesapeake, Va., Dollar Tree is a Fortune 500 company and is the nation’s leading operator of discount variety stores selling everything for $1 or less.

“Georgia’s highly networked logistics infrastructure is the centerpiece of our state’s vast range of competitive resources that make it possible for companies such as Dollar Tree to locate and expand here,” said Deal. “Georgia has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Dollar Tree since its initial location in Georgia in 2000, and I am excited to see the company expand and have continued success in our state.”

Dollar Tree has an existing 600,000-square-foot distribution center in Savannah. This expansion will add up to 400,000 square feet to accommodate the company’s rapid growth.

“Dollar Tree has grown steadily for nearly 25 years,” said Bob Sasser, president and CEO of Dollar Tree, Inc. “The expansion of our Savannah Distribution Center will support the continued growth of our business in the Southeastern United States and will provide additional long-term employment opportunities at the Savannah Facility. We are proud to be a part of this community.”

Dollar Tree’s existing distribution center is a significant user of the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah. The company brings approximately 8,000 containers through the terminal annually. This expansion is expected to increase the company’s annual volume to almost 15,000 containers by 2014 through the Port of Savannah, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing port in the nation.

“Dollar Tree's decision to expand its operations near the Port of Savannah is a great testament to service and efficiencies that the Georgia Ports Authority provides,” said GPA’s Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz. “This is a confirmation that Dollar Tree’s decision to locate its distribution center here was not only the right decision then, but continues to be the right choice for today and tomorrow.”

The Savannah region plays an integral role in attracting new locations and the expansion of existing companies in Georgia. This region serves as a focal point of Georgia’s highly networked system of logistics, with the Port of Savannah providing companies with global access to their customers in markets around the world.

“We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Dollar Tree for the past 10 years, first through their initial location and then through our established business program,” stated Thomas H. Hester, chairman of the SEDA Board of Directors. “Dollar Tree, like so many others, has discovered first-hand that Savannah is not only a place where a business can make it, but a place where one can truly thrive and grow, even in these difficult economic times.”

Tom Croteau assisted the company with this expansion on behalf of the Georgia Department of Economic Development in collaboration with the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

About Dollar TreeDollar Tree, a Fortune 500 Company, is the nation's leading operator of discount variety stores selling everything for $1 or less. To learn more about the Company, visit www.DollarTree.com.
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Shortage of Skilled Workers Primary Reason for Offshoring Jobs

Most American companies engaged in offshoring say a shortage of skilled domestic employees -- not cost cutting -- is the primary reason why they move some job functions overseas.

Also, manufacturers and high-tech/telecommunication companies are less likely to establish offshore operations and are moving increasingly toward the use of third-party providers of offshore labor.

These are among the findings of the sixth annual study on corporations' offshoring trends by the Center for International Business Education and Research's Offshoring Research Network (ORN) at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and The Conference Board, an independent research association. The study is part of ongoing research into the effects of offshoring trends on American competitiveness and reflects the sentiments of business managers.

"Over half of the participants in our survey say offshoring has resulted in no change in the number of domestic jobs in most functions," said Arie Lewin, Fuqua professor of strategy and international business. "The finding that the U.S. software sector has the highest ratio of offshore to domestic employees -- almost 13 offshored jobs per 100 domestic jobs -- may be a reflection of a scarcity of domestic science and engineering graduates in the U.S."

Survey respondents are broadening the range of factors that influence their selection of an offshore site to include the location of the best service provider and the quality of infrastructure. In spite of placing a high priority on cost savings and labor arbitrage, the survey finds average achieved cost savings offshore have declined at many companies.

For example, IT services and software development have experienced consistent declines over the past five years, while average achieved savings have increased for administrative and innovative functions such as research and development and sales/marketing.

According to the researchers, survey participants have lower expectations than previous respondents for average cost savings in several offshoring functions. Contact center, IT and software development have seen the largest declines among all offshoring functions as companies new to offshoring discover a number of hidden costs involved, including expenses for training, staff recruitment and retention, and government and vendor relations.

"The potential for cost reduction alone is no longer enough to justify moving operations," said Ton Heijmen, senior advisor to The Conference Board. "One survey respondent noted it has taken his company several years to discover the impact of labor arbitrage disappears in fewer than three years. Companies are now shifting from cost-driven offshoring to a multidimensional value proposition in creating a global footprint."

As companies expand offshoring activities by increasing scale or by offshoring more diverse and complex functions, most firms see a decline in the overall efficiency. This may be partially attributed to a loss of managerial control as offshoring operations are expanded, requiring companies to improve coordination and management of their global sourcing.

A published report on the research results is available for purchase. Contact jrussell@duke.edu for details.

The ORN database includes cumulative responses collected through an annual survey conducted since 2004. As of November 2010, the database encompassed 2,000 companies (22 percent large, 35 percent mid-size and 43 percent small) and more than 4,300 different offshoring projects.

Source:  Duke University

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chairman Camp Announces Hearing on the Health Care Law’s Impact on Jobs, Employers, and the Economy

Ways and Means Hearing to Examine the Impact of Taxes, Regulations, and Mandates Contained in the Health Care Law on Economic Growth and Job Creation House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) today announced that the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on the impact the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010” will have on the U.S. economy and employers’ ability to hire new workers and retain existing employees. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.

In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing. A list of invited witnesses will follow.


The Democrats’ health care overhaul imposes more than one-half trillion dollars of tax increases and numerous pages of mandates and onerous regulations on employers. Employers of all sizes are expressing concern that the new mandates and regulations will deter them from hiring new employees, threaten their ability to retain existing workers, and harm their ability to increase wages for existing employees. The new health care law compounds the uncertainty employers and entrepreneurs are facing amid the most challenging economic climate since the Great Depression. Making matters worse, some insurance companies and employers have already increased their health care premiums, in part, to comply with the new health care law, exacerbating the drag on the U.S. economy from rising health care costs.

In announcing this hearing, Chairman Camp said, “Employers have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the effects of the Democrats’ health care law. This hearing provides us the opportunity to directly hear from employers about the higher taxes and new mandates that are in this law. This will also serve as a basis for how this Committee, and Congress, can best respond to the concerns of employers and workers and refocus its energy to develop common sense solutions that prioritize affordability, job creation, and economic growth.”


The hearing will examine the economic and regulatory burdens imposed by the enactment and implementation of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (P.L. 111-148) and the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010” (P.L. 111-152). It will explore the impact on jobs stemming from the new taxes and new federal regulatory requirements. It will also analyze the impact of the employer mandate on job creation.


Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word or WordPerfect document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.


The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word or WordPerfect format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.

2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.

The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
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