Yearly Archives: 2014

Source: The North Augusta Star
Author: T.J. Lundeen

In October, the Hull College of Business Augusta Leading Economic Index (LEI) increased 0.8% from September. The index has increased 4.9%% from October 2013. This represents eight consecutive months of growth. All the variables included in the index, except housing permits, moved in a favorable direction. This sustained increase in the LEI is reflected in the strongest labor market in Georgia! In the 12 months to October 2014 Augusta employment has increased by 3.5% from October 2013. 2015 should be a Happy New Year!

 

MSA Employment growth
Augusta 3.5%
Gainesville 3.0%
Atlanta 2.4%
Savannah 2.0%
Rome 1.5%
Brunswick 1.0%
Macon 1.0%
Valdosta 0.6%
Hinesville 0.5%
Athens 0.4%
Columbus 0.2%
Warner Robins -0.2%
Albany -0.3%
Dalton -0.3%
GEORGIA 2.4%

Source: James M. Hull College of Business at Georgia Regents University
Author: Simon Medcalfe/Associate Professor of Finance
Date: 12/11/2014

 

 

 

For the fifth year in a row, the City of Augusta’s Information Technology Department ranked
among the top digital city governments as announced by e.Republic’s Center for Digital
Government and Digital Communities Program.
The Information Technology Department ranked #2 in the mid-sized category for cities with
a population between 125,000 to 249,999. This is the second time that Augusta is the only
State of Georgia municipality to be recognized in this category. Overall, there were only 57
cities in the nation that were named as winners.
“This year’s Digital Cities’ winners brought about impressive change across all aspects of
government by leveraging information technology investments to expand open government,
citizen participation and shared services,” said Todd Sander, Executive Director of the
Center for Digital Government. “Winning cities spanned the nation, indicating a trend that
more and more cities are making it a priority that digital government be easier to access,
navigate and interact with.”
Augusta received recognition because of its open government initiatives that promoted
transparency and open data, mobility, finance management, connectivity, disaster recovery
and infrastructure.
“The Information Technology Department continues to be committed to seeking innovative
ways to promote transparency and enhance citizen engagement, said Tameka Allen,
Director of Information Technology for the City of Augusta. “Our goal is to become number
one in 2015!”
The official award will be presented to the Information Technology Department in
December.

Source: News Release, Augusta Mayor’s Office
Source: Mr. Al Dallas/Mayor’s Office

 

Elanco Announces Major Capital Expansion at Augusta Technology Center
Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company, announced today a $100,000,000 investment in infrastructure and manufacturing enhancements at the Augusta Technology Center, creating 100 new jobs over the next three years. Improvements are already underway at the site.
The plant is currently operating near maximum capacity, prompting Elanco to invest in the capital expansion necessary to meet customers’ growing demand. More than 250 people are currently employed at Elanco’s manufacturing facility in Augusta, producing animal health products used by farmers around the globe. Elanco anticipates that the number of new jobs ultimately created as a result of the expansion will be contingent on new market approvals for Elanco products.

The Augusta plant and its employees play an important role at Elanco and for the company’s customers. VP of Manufacturing at Elanco, Steve Jenison, said, “An investment of this size is a testament to the performance of our operations in Augusta. We have every confidence in our employees at the site and the value our products bring to our customers.”
General Manager at the Augusta Technology Center, Kevin Trivett, said being located in Augusta is an asset to the company’s operations, saying “We feel very fortunate to have partnered with a community whose workforce is highly skilled, engaged and committed to our vision of meeting a global demand for more of our animal health products.”
Henry Ingram, Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said, “The investment of $100,000,000 is significant for our community and soon, more of our neighbors will be employed, thanks to Elanco’s investment in Augusta.”
Mayor Deke Copenhaver also commended the company’s decision to expand its presence in Augusta. “With their yearly efforts to help break the cycle of hunger locally as well as in 100 other communities worldwide, Elanco is a fine example of what it means to be a community partner. I would like to personally thank the Elanco team for this investment and for all that the company does to help make our city a great place.”
As an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) “Star” worksite, the Augusta Technology Center is recognized for its comprehensive safety and health management programs. From a community reinvestment perspective, Elanco provides opportunities for employees to volunteer in the community and supports local sustainability initiatives. The Augusta Technology Center has implemented wildlife habitat initiatives at the site as well as at a farm owned by the company in Burke County. The site donates food and a portion of the crop proceeds to benefit local and global food relief agencies. Expansion efforts at the Augusta Technology Center began this fall, with a groundbreaking dedication for employees and company officials at the site. The company expects the facility to be fully operational by 2017.

Source: Press Release: Augusta Economic Development Authority
Author: Waler C. Sprouse, Jr./Executive Director

 

According to Rick Meyer, director of North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, the City issued a notice to proceed last Monday to Beam’s Contracting.

The Greeneway is a 9-plus-mile, paved recreational trail that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way purchased by the City in 1988.

“We got access to a property to access the Greeneway from the construction area off Brooks (Drive) and Stanton (Drive),” Meyer said. “We got permission to go over a landowner’s property as an access point. That was the last stumbling block we needed – to get their permission – so Beam’s Contracting was ready to go, and immediately they started mobilizing Monday.”

Meyer said the contract gives Beam’s 90 days to complete the project, though that timetable will be altered due to holidays and weather days.

“With the work in progress, we firmly believe, by the first of March, that we’ll be reopened on the Greeneway,” Meyer said.

The low bid for the project, which was approved by North Augusta City Council, was $975,885.08.

Meyer’s department has tried to set up the path of least resistance for the project.

“One of the things we were concerned about was being able to access and make the correction without constantly going through the park,” Meyer said.

“That was because of safety reasons. We also spent good money in the park to renovate it, and we didn’t want them to come through and tear up the park with heavy equipment and trucks constantly going through.”

Now, with construction underway, Meyer stressed the importance of users of the Greeneway to heed the do not enter signs.

“Some folks have managed to come down here, get around the barricades and go through the little path,” he said. “Now it becomes even more of a hazard. We really need folks to respect that this is a construction area, and we understand that people will want to take a look – but don’t try to cross. I imagine at some point soon there won’t be a way to pass.”

The City is also taking measures to prevent this type of failure from happening again in the future. The trail has many other culverts that are around it that have to be monitored so that a second collapse doesn’t occur.

“City Engineer Tom Zeaser and Tom Dunaway with Toole Engineering are doing their homework on a culvert up the way,” Meyer said. “They’re going to hire a firm to run a camera through that culvert, so they can see exactly what they’ve got. It won’t be the scope of the work we’re doing right now. First off, it isn’t a 40-foot downhill area. You’re not going to look at the same cost, but they’re trying to get ahead. We don’t want to have this disruption, and a heavy cost, like it has taken with the current one.”

Source: North Augusta Star
Author: Scott Rodgers/News Editor

 

The Augusta economy continues to improve: in September, the Hull College of Business Augusta Leading Economic Index (LEI) increased 0.3% from August. The index has increased 4.2% from September 2013. This represents seven consecutive months of growth. Employment has followed the lead with the area supporting over 5,000 more jobs in September than in March.  

 

Another way to look at the robustness of the labor market is to examine hires and quits at firms. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the hire rate (new additions to payroll divided by employment) for the South U.S. was 3.8% and the quit rate was 2.2%. During the Great Recession the hire rate fell below 3% and the quit rate hit 1.4%. As the economy improves, not only are firms more confident and increasing hiring, but employees are more confident that if they quit their job they will find another.

Source: James M. Hull College of Business at Georgia Regents University
Author: Simon Medcalfe/ Associate Professor of Finance

 

Nearly a year after the Army announced plans to relocate its Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon, the metro area continues to attract defense contractors related to the mission, even though it’s hard to peg just how many.

“There’s no recruiting the contractors,” said Thom Tuckey, the executive director for the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. “We don’t have to invite them because they’re coming. We just don’t know when they’re coming.

“The area that we’re challenged with is getting our arms around the number of contractors because some of them don’t announce,” Tuckey said.“I’ve talked to a number of them, but because of the competitive nature, they’re not necessarily willing to share how many people they’re bringing or when they’re bringing them.”

Earlier Wednesday, Tuckey spoke at a Technology Association of Georgia conference that addressed the local impact of the Cyber Command at Fort Gordon and discussed steps local businesses can take to avoid data breaches. About 100 people attended the event, titled U.S. Army, Cyber Security and Business Against a Common Foe, and held on Georgia Regents University’s Summerville campus.

Tuckey listed contractors MacAuley-Brown, Sabre Systems, ViON Corp., Aski, Booz Allen and Raytheon as having announced new locations in Augusta or plans to expand since last December. The influx of people associated with those operations continues to generate additional housing activity for area realtors, he said.

“Any defense contractor that is in the cyber business is going to want to have a presence in the greater Augusta area,” Tuckey said. “This will be the center of Army cyber security.”

A 600,000-square-foot office project on National Science Center Foundation property near Gate 1 remains in the works, Tucker said.

Developers are waiting for contractors to sign on board so that they can properly retrofit the new facility, he said.

During his speech, Tuckey also spoke on transportation and education issues in the area that must be solved to meet the growth precipitated by 4,000 military-related jobs on base by 2019. Tuckey said he expects the Cyber Command relocation to bring at least 10,000 people into the community and create up to 16,000 jobs.

Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia, said he can see Augusta becoming a regional hub for information security companies, which will likely even the city’s playing field with Atlanta.

“Ultimately, people that are involved with cyber that work for the military, there will be a lot of ideation there and there will be spin-outs that will create more companies,” Mantella said. “I see what’s happening in Augusta as a real game-changer for both the cyber industry and also for Augusta.”

Source:The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Jenna Martin/Staff Writer

Technology-automation company Unisys announced Monday it will bring 700 customer-service jobs to Augusta.

Gov. Nathan Deal said during the announcement that the idle Fort Discovery on Reynolds Street will be the location, and Mayor Deke Copenhaver also acknowledged that, but Unisys officials later said that the site hasn’t been made final yet.

Company executives decided to make the announcement in Atlanta while they were in town for other meetings. It coincided with Site Selectionmagazine’s announcement that it was naming Georgia the No. 1 state in the country for business opportunity – the second consecutive year.

Deal beamed during the Capitol news conference but told reporters the timing wasn’t aimed to help his re-election bid Tuesday but rather because of the magazine’s tradition of announcing its winner on the first Monday in November.

“It’s a great way to start the week with this announcement of being No. 1 for the second year in a row from Site Selection, and also for our state – and especially for the Augusta area – to have a company like Unisys saying they’re going to provide 700 new jobs to that part of our state,” he said, adding that 2,700 jobs have been announced by various employers in the past two weeks.

Quincy Allen, Unisys’ chief marketing and strategy officer, said the company picked Augusta after a seven-month search of more than 100 sites.

“Why did we choose the state of Georgia and the city of Augusta? The answer is simple,” he said. “The city is the home of a smart and motivated workforce as well as state and local leaders who are eager to jobs for their constituents.”

Since the Army is one of the company’s largest clients, being near Fort Gordon was a factor in Augusta’s favor. The company hopes to attract some soldiers retiring from the giant military-communications installation to work in the 60,000-square-foot, customer-assistance call center.

Another news conference in Augusta on Thursday will provide details about hiring dates, pay rates and qualifications. Allen said they are looking for people with associate’s degrees or comparable experience.

Copenhaver reminded the assembled press corps that Augusta had been named the nation’s No. 2 city for technology-job creation.

“These are the jobs every city in the nation is going for, and we’re winning them,” he said.

He also said customer-service jobs amount to only 7 percent of the local employment, pointing to recent manufacturers’ announcements of jobs, such as Starbucks, Rockwood Pigments and DSM. Every economic sector is growing, he said.

Augusta’s newest bus route began service Monday, rolling along Wrightsboro Road and Gordon Highway to create a connection to Fort Gordon.

Leaders hope the new route, which is being offered as a six-month pilot program to test ridership, will provide military personnel another way to catch a ride to the city as well as open the military installation’s job opportunities to city residents.

Augusta Commission members, transportation planners and Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Sam Anderson gathered at the Augusta Mall on Monday morning to launch the new service before riding the bus route. Few riders were otherwise seen boarding the bus on its first day, although officials hope that changes as more people learn about the Fort Gordon route.

“Weekends will be popular. People are off work and they want to get off (post). This gives them another mode to do that,” said Sharon Dottery, contract manager for Augusta Public Transit.

Route 10 runs Monday to Saturday, beginning early in the morning at the Wal-Mart on Wrightsboro Road and then launching mid-morning from Augusta Mall near the food court entrance. The bus stops at Fort Gordon’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and bus depot, as well as multiple stops along Barnes and Brainard avenues on post.

The bus enters Fort Gordon at Gate 1 at Jimmie Dyess Parkway where riders must have a Department of Defense identification card to stay on the bus. Riders with a driver’s license must get a pass at the visitor’s center at the gate and wait for the next bus to arrive at Fort Gordon.

A 20-seat bus is running the route during the pilot period, Dottery said. The bus system’s electronic monitoring system will count riders and revenue, and paper surveys will be used to collect feedback, she said.

Bus service to Fort Gordon has been discussed for years, with the latest initiative becoming reality after collaboration between several commission members and leaders at the installation.

Anderson said the transit service will enhance interaction between the post and city, while also helping alleviate traffic congestion that’s expected because of growing missions including relocation of the Army Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon.

“The growth that we are experiencing on Fort Gordon creates a lot of opportunities and it also creates some challenges. One of those challenges we have is traffic,” Anderson said. “We are hopeful the use of this transit system will start to take some effect to mitigate some of those challenges while we increase the size of the installation and size of the personnel.”

Denice Traina, vice-chairwoman of the Augusta Public Transit Citizens’ Advisory Committee, lauded the bus route for giving Augusta residents access to jobs at Fort Gordon.

“I have met people who would like to be working out at Fort Gordon. There are jobs from entry-level to professional out there,” she said.

Commission member Bill Lockett said he’s confident the route will be used by many riders, and the city must find a way to fund the service after the pilot program concludes.

“We’ll come up with the money like we do anything else,” he said.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Meg Mirshak/Staff Writer

Four years in the making, a sidewalk beautification project for most of James Brown Boulevard is coming to fruition.

On Tuesday, city officials shoveled sand in front of the old Augusta library building at the corner of Ninth and Greene streets to mark the start of a two-part project that will add sidewalks, brick pavers, benches, trees and signs on Ninth Street, between Jones and Telfair streets and Walton Way and Barnes Street.

Officials spoke about James Brown Boulevard becoming a main artery downtown as revitalization efforts are ongoing in the nearby Laney-Walker neighborhood and the recent Ninth Street additions of the main Augusta library branch and Augusta-Richmond County courthouse.

“We needed Ninth Street to get spiffed up to connect the two,” said Cameron Nixon, the chairman of the city’s Downtown Development Authority board. “It really is a gateway to downtown.”

The first phase will cost $812,500 and is funded by a $650,000 transportation enhancement grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation and $162,500 in matching funds from the city and DDA.

Planned in 2010, the streetscape enhancements are getting underway later than initially expected because of delays in obtaining the funding match and having to rebid the project three times, Nixon said.

DDA Executive Director Margaret Woodard said the first phase should take about a year to complete, and she hopes to secure funding this year to begin the second phase immediately after the first stage of work concludes. The project’s second phase will encompass James Brown Boulevard from Wrightsboro Road to Walton Way.

The entire project should cost about $1.2 million.

Once completed, the street should resemble 10th Street between Broad and Ellis streets, which underwent a similar streetscape project in 2008.

A future $6 million project funded by the 1-cent transportation tax (TSPLOST) to reconstruct James Brown Boulevard won’t affect the restored sidewalks, Woodard said.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said that about $100 million is designated for downtown transportation projects through the Transportation Investment Act. He also noted activity downtown from developments including the 106-unit CanalSide apartment building under construction on Walton and St. Sebastian ways and the recently announced Unisys IT service center, which is expected to create 700 jobs and is rumored to go in the former Fort Discovery space along the Riverwalk.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Jenna Martin/Staff Writer