Category Archives: Augusta Updates

Augusta is second only to Atlanta in leading the state in technology business growth.

That was one of the takeaway messages Tuesday during the Technology Association of Georgias state of the industry presentation, held within the organizations Greater Augusta downtown headquarters at theClubhou.se, the citys hub for innovators and tech entrepreneurs.

TAG President and CEO Tino Mantella spoke of the bright spots seen last year by the states 20,000 tech-driven companies, but also of the challenges moving forward with more than 211,000 jobs expected to open within the industry by 2018. There are 3,500 such jobs in Georgia that need to be filled, he said.

Were going to need more people in this industry, Mantella said. The universities and schools are going to really have to be on their toes to stay up with what the companies are going to need.

Between 2010 and 2020, the Georgia Department of Labor predicts the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields will increase by more than 22,000 positions from the previous decade.

With a foothold in the medical community and future U.S. Army Cyber Command expansion at Fort Gordon, Augusta is expected to play a leading role in the states health IT and information security industries, Mantella said.

The latter the relocation of the Cyber Command will bring hundreds of military, government civilian and contract jobs to the area, but hundreds more positions could be created to provide products and services for the new operation, he said.

This is just the first step for Augusta, Mantella said. Whats going to happen is with the Cyber Command being here, theres going to be a lot of business(es) that want to surround that. Youre going to have 2,000 or 3,000 more jobs here and the bulk of them are in science, engineering, technology and math.

Mantella also said high-tech jobs are the highest paying in the state, earning employees an average annual salary of $83,000.

Over the past three years, Mantella said the number of these jobs jumped statewide to 267,000, or 8 percent, in 2013. Augusta ranked second in the nation in high-tech job growth from 2006 to 2011, according to a study by San Francisco-based research and advocacy group Engine Advocacy.

In addition to being the highest paying, its also the No. 1 growth engine in terms of jobs, Mantella said. Because theres a supply and demand issue where there are more jobs out there than there is supply, its going to continue to drive that number up.

As part of the report, more than 300 business executives were polled in Georgia and nearly 83 percent said that their technology workforce will increase over the next five years, which Mantella said further underscored a need to cultivate talent.

Talent and capital are two of the keys, he said. How do we build the ecosystem here where everybody is working together and its not fragmented?

TAGs Greater Augusta chapter was created in 2012 and serves more than 17 companies and organizations that include the Augusta Economic Development Authority, Georgia Regents University, Zapata Technology, Rural Sourcing Inc., and EDTS, a local IT solutions and technology consulting firm.

The state of the industry report is conducted annually by TAG to highlight achievements, opportunities and challenges faced by the states technology community. The reports data is gathered through research and results from the TAG Technology Decision Makers Survey, which consisted of participation from more than 300 state tech leaders.

Jenna Martin, Staff Writer • The Augusta Chronicle

Augusta, GA is best known as the home of Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters, but the citys economic strength extends far beyond the links. Augusta, GA was recognized by WalletHub as the #3 best city to start a business in the U.S. Augusta has the 19th most industrial variety out of the 150 cities that WalletHub analyzed as well as the 16th lowest corporate taxes, the 18th most affordable real estate, and the 20th lowest average income. It makes sense, after all, considering how much free publicity the city gets each year when April rolls around the worlds best golfers make their way up Magnolia Lane.

WalletHub

In his first visit to Fort Gordon, Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Monday that local expansion efforts could total $240 million over the next five years as the post becomes home to one of the most sophisticated cyber operations in American history.

Speaking during an afternoon news conference, McHugh said the Army plans to spend $170 million on new construction and $70 million on renovations at Fort Gordon by the time the Army Cyber Command and Cyber Center of Excellence complete their arrivals in 2019.

Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson confirmed that discussions have begun to either build a 179,000-square-foot facility or renovate the National Security Agencys complex at Fort Gordon for the Army Cyber Command, but McHugh said it remains to be seen how construction funds will be distributed.

He said what is certain is that Fort Gordon will play a crucial role in defending the U.S. from emerging Internet and computer-based threats, and that it would be a pretty busy place in 10 years.

In my mind, cyber, as important as it is, will only become more critical to national security in the future, he said. We see this as an emerging challenge, and therefore the capabilities of defending and developing our cyber network as important and likely to grow.

During his visit, McHugh said he met with soldiers from Fort Gordon units, observed training at the Signal Center of Excellence and discussed with Pattersons staff planned growth to ensure their plans, including those concerning the Army Cyber Command, are realistic.

By 2019, the command, along with the Cyber Center of Excellence and growth to Army, Air Force and Navy intelligence units, is projected to add 2,600 military, 900 civilian and 200 contractor jobs to the posts work force.

The Cyber Center of Excellence will boost the posts student population by about 500 service members annually, figures show.

The command team has a very solid plan by which to bring these missions to Fort Gordon and provide the necessary training and facilities to go forward and work in partnership with the local community to build an even brighter future for the area, he said.
With the Army decreasing troop levels by 80,000 soldiers after 12 years of war, McHugh said what surprised him most Monday was that fewer Fort Gordon soldiers were worried about job security than at other installations worldwide.

He said local soldiers were more concerned about growth and expansion.

Thats a good thing, he said. It allows them to be mission-focused.

That attitude, paired with a post that has strong community support, helped Fort Gordon win the Armys vote to bring its Cyber Command south. McHugh described the decision as one of the most intense discussions he has had during his time in office.

He said what finally earned Fort Gordon the nod was its ability to join forces with the NSA, a partnership that is expected to save the Army Cyber Command 150 personnel positions and cut military construction costs by nearly 25 percent.

When it came to the final decision, it was one of the easiest I have ever had to make, said McHugh, who signed the directive to bring the operations to the area. It was about as close to a no-brainer as you can get.

McHugh said his staff is working as hard as it can to avoid defense furloughs in the future, but he would not go so far as to say that Fort Gordon is immune to days of unpaid leave like the six that local civilians endured last year.
Ive learned that you never say never, he said.

Wesley Brown, Staff Writer
The Augusta Chronicle

Dr. George C. Bradley, President of Paine College, announced that the new Health Education Activities Learning (HEAL) Complex will open to the public during a weekend of events starting January 4-5, 2013. The festivities will commemorate the long awaited opening of the facility that will change the landscape and skyline of the campus.

The Service of Consecration will take place Friday, January 4th at 11:00 a.m. in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel. Although the Service of Consecration is free and open to the public, a ticketed event will occur later during the evening at 7p.m. inside the new HEAL Complex. For the first time, since the commencement of the construction in October 2011, the public will have an opportunity to tour and experience the new HEAL Complex during the Grand Opening Reception. Admission for the reception is $50.00 per person. The festivities will carry over to Saturday with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 11:30 a.m. followed by the first basketball game that will be played in the HEAL gymnasium at 1:00 p.m.

The new HEAL Complex is a world class facility that will be at the heart of campus life experience, said Dr. Bradley. We wanted to commemorate the opening of this facility in a special way. We are even more excited that the new HEAL Complex will open just in time to welcome the spring 2013 semester and new and returning students.

“The HEAL Complex has the capacity to transform campus life, improve student and faculty retention, increase enrollment and serve as a hub for collaboration that will address many of the contemporary health and wellness-related issues that are facing the community,” said Brandon Brown, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. We are excited to share this edifice and its programming with the Richmond County Community.

The new home for the Paine College Athletic Department, this contemporary structure will house classrooms, laboratories, meeting and conference rooms, and a health and wellness facility. Also accessible to the community, the HEAL Complex will host the College’s intercollegiate competitions for the Lions volleyball, men and womens basketball teams in the new 2,400 seat arena.

The series of events that will commemorate the opening of the new HEAL Complex will be a fantastic opportunity for the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) Community to experience the state-of-the-art facility and will mark a momentous and historic occasion, commented Athletic Director, Tim Duncan. I would like to thank the HEAL Consecration Ceremony Committee, chaired by alumnus, Dr. Roscoe Williams, for their tireless work over the last six months to develop this historic Grand Opening of the HEAL Complex! We are especially grateful to R.W. Allen LLC for sponsoring the Grand Opening Reception that will take place Friday evening. RW Allens generous support helped to bring to life the vision of the committee.

Paine College Press Release

MCGHealth’s new state-of-the-art cancer center celebrated its official grand opening Feb. 5.

A key person in making this huge project a reality is Steven L. Black, the administrative director of the oncology center and associate center director of clinical affairs for the MCGHealth Cancer Center. Mr. Black has worked diligently with the staff and Patient Advisory Council to make this outstanding facility patient- and family-centered. He has done tremendous work in coordinating efforts with the construction team, staff and patients along with other responsibilities.

Also, thanks to nurse Tracey Slagle and all the doctors and nurses for their hard work and dedication at the cancer center.

The CSRA is most fortunate to have this outstanding center that offers cutting-edge cancer research, coupled with a caring environment that offers hope and healing for cancer patients.

Nita Zachow, No. Augusta
The Augusta Chronicle

A year to the day after ground was broken for Augusta’s new judicial center, construction is moving ahead on time and on budget, officials say.

The $67 million building on a lot north of Walton Way between 10th Street and James Brown Boulevard is on target to open in the first few months of 2011, said Rick Acree, Richmond County assistant director of public services.

“Things are moving along,” he said. “They are doing an excellent job.”

Mr. Acree said the structure of the building — to be called the Augusta Judicial Center and John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse — is complete and workers are now installing electrical components and finishing the outer and inner walls. He said the roof is more than 90 percent complete.

There is a possibility employees could move into the building this time next year and that the project could come in under budget, said Chief Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet.

Any leftover money likely would be funneled into another county building project, he said.

“Getting inside is probably going to slow down stuff a bit — it’s much more intricate work inside,” Judge Overstreet said.

Once completed, the 180,000-square-foot building will house 15 courtrooms and hearing rooms and space for the district attorney’s and solicitor’s offices. Sections of the center will be two stories high and others will be four stories.

The increase in space will mean judges can schedule their time better and the justice system should take its course more swiftly, Judge Overstreet said.

“I think it adds a lot of prestige to the community,” he said.

In terms of moving logistics, the biggest challenge will probably be shifting information technology services and the Clerk of Court records, he added.

A committee was first formed to plan a new courthouse in 1994. Richmond County voters approved money for it through several special-purpose sales tax ballots, but various locations were discussed before the final location was chosen.

The Augusta Commission voted in October to officially name the complex to honor Judge Ruffin, a retired state Court of Appeals judge who was the circuit’s first black Superior Court judge.

Erin Zureick, Staff Writer
The Augusta Chronicle

If you drop by Augusta Regional Airport on Saturday, you can enjoy music, an art show, free food, a massage, meet your favorite politician – and maybe even win round-trip plane tickets.

It’s all part of the grand opening for the site’s new, $30 million terminal, completed after three years of construction accomplished while the airport remained in operation.

“The celebration should have something for everyone,” said marketing director Diane Johnston. “We want people to come out and see what’s been done.”

In addition to parachute jumpers who will drop to earth unfurling the American flag, opening ceremonies will include remarks by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Aviation Commission Chairman Cedric Johnson, U.S. Rep. John Barrow and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

“We also have several food vendors who will be out there all day,” Ms. Johnston said. T’s Seafood is bringing the hush puppies, Coca-Cola is bringing beverages and Dunkin’ Donuts is bringing coffee and pastries, she said. Sunrise Bakery & Grill, Kellogg’s and Pet Dairy are also bringing food. If that isn’t enough, local grillmasters will be giving away burgers and hot dogs.

The art show inside the new terminal will include a 3:30 p.m. awards program for an art contest among students in Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Aiken and Edgefield counties. Winners will receive laptop computers and iPods.

Music will include performances by the Garden City Chorus and the Fort Gordon Band, and 11 musicians will be set up to play selections inside the new terminal, she said.

Augusta School of Massage will offer “chair massages,” and rental car companies, restaurants and other vendors will be giving away prizes and gift coupons all day.

The main prize, awarded by drawing, is a gift certificate for two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.

“We think it’ll be lots of fun,” Ms. Johnston said.

WHAT: Grand Opening, Augusta Regional Airport Terminal
WHEN: 1-5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Doug Barnard Parkway
EVENTS: Food, music, art show, paratroopers, giveaways

Rob Pavey/Staff Writer
The Augusta Chronicle

A house sits for sale on Central Avenue in Augusta. The Augusta area finished No. 1 on a list of 95 metro areas.

Housing costs in the Augusta-Richmond County metro area, which includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties, consume only 17.4 percent of monthly income, compared with 27 percent nationally, according to a March 5 Bizjournals article on the study.

“Compared to the rest of the world, (Augusta) is exceedingly cheap,” said Ryan Brashear, the president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors. He said housing prices are likely a little higher now because the data used are from 2005.

Wichita, Kan., was second, followed by Little Rock, Ark.

“I’ve long stressed the affordability of the Augusta housing market,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. He said such factors help attract new businesses and residents to the city.

But even as the area expands, that doesn’t necessarily mean housing costs will skyrocket.

Robert Giacomini, a research consultant in Georgia’s Office of Planning and Budget, said there are other factors, including land availability, regulations on home construction, the strength of the economy and the pace of growth.

Mr. Brashear said that even with significant increases in new residents, Augusta has lower cost of goods, such as gas and lumber, which pushes down building costs. And unlike other dense markets, Augusta has far more land.

“As long as Augusta has the ability to expand, (the growth) won’t have a drastic effect on the area,” he said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals publishes 41 metropolitan journals, including the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

It seems the rest of the country is getting hip to something Augustans have known for years.

No. 1 on a list of 95 metro areas. The online division of American City Business Journals, named Augusta the nation’s most affordable metro housing market after analyzing income and housing costs for 95 metro areas with populations of 500,000 or more.

Housing costs in the Augusta-Richmond County metro area, which includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties, consume only 17.4 percent of monthly income, compared with 27 percent nationally, according to a March 5 Bizjournals article on the study.

“Compared to the rest of the world, (Augusta) is exceedingly cheap,” said Ryan Brashear, the president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors. He said housing prices are likely a little higher now because the data used are from 2005.

Wichita, Kan., was second, followed by Little Rock, Ark.

“I’ve long stressed the affordability of the Augusta housing market,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. He said such factors help attract new businesses and residents to the city.

But even as the area expands, that doesn’t necessarily mean housing costs will skyrocket.

Robert Giacomini, a research consultant in Georgia’s Office of Planning and Budget, said there are other factors, including land availability, regulations on home construction, the strength of the economy and the pace of growth.

Mr. Brashear said that even with significant increases in new residents, Augusta has lower cost of goods, such as gas and lumber, which pushes down building costs. And unlike other dense markets, Augusta has far more land.

“As long as Augusta has the ability to expand, (the growth) won’t have a drastic effect on the area,” he said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals publishes 41 metropolitan journals, including the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

It seems the rest of the country is getting hip to something Augustans have known for years.

No. 1 on a list of 95 metro areas. The online division of American City Business Journals, named Augusta the nation’s most affordable metro housing market after analyzing income and housing costs for 95 metro areas with populations of 500,000 or more.

Housing costs in the Augusta-Richmond County metro area, which includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties, consume only 17.4 percent of monthly income, compared with 27 percent nationally, according to a March 5 Bizjournals article on the study.

“Compared to the rest of the world, (Augusta) is exceedingly cheap,” said Ryan Brashear, the president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors. He said housing prices are likely a little higher now because the data used are from 2005.

Wichita, Kan., was second, followed by Little Rock, Ark.

“I’ve long stressed the affordability of the Augusta housing market,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. He said such factors help attract new businesses and residents to the city.

But even as the area expands, that doesn’t necessarily mean housing costs will skyrocket.

Robert Giacomini, a research consultant in Georgia’s Office of Planning and Budget, said there are other factors, including land availability, regulations on home construction, the strength of the economy and the pace of growth.

Mr. Brashear said that even with significant increases in new residents, Augusta has lower cost of goods, such as gas and lumber, which pushes down building costs. And unlike other dense markets, Augusta has far more land.

“As long as Augusta has the ability to expand, (the growth) won’t have a drastic effect on the area,” he said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals publishes 41 metropolitan journals, including the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

It seems the rest of the country is getting hip to something Augustans have known for years.

Bizjournals, the online division of American City Business Journals, named Augusta the nation’s most affordable metro housing market after analyzing income and housing costs for 95 metro areas with populations of 500,000 or more.

Housing costs in the Augusta-Richmond County metro area, which includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties, consume only 17.4 percent of monthly income, compared with 27 percent nationally, according to a March 5 Bizjournals article on the study.

“Compared to the rest of the world, (Augusta) is exceedingly cheap,” said Ryan Brashear, the president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors. He said housing prices are likely a little higher now because the data used are from 2005.

Wichita, Kan., was second, followed by Little Rock, Ark.

“I’ve long stressed the affordability of the Augusta housing market,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. He said such factors help attract new businesses and residents to the city.

But even as the area expands, that doesn’t necessarily mean housing costs will skyrocket.

Robert Giacomini, a research consultant in Georgia’s Office of Planning and Budget, said there are other factors, including land availability, regulations on home construction, the strength of the economy and the pace of growth.

Mr. Brashear said that even with significant increases in new residents, Augusta has lower cost of goods, such as gas and lumber, which pushes down building costs. And unlike other dense markets, Augusta has far more land.

“As long as Augusta has the ability to expand, (the growth) won’t have a drastic effect on the area,” he said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals publishes 41 metropolitan journals, including the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

It seems the rest of the country is getting hip to something Augustans have known for years.

Bizjournals, the online division of American City Business Journals, named Augusta the nation’s most affordable metro housing market after analyzing income and housing costs for 95 metro areas with populations of 500,000 or more.

Housing costs in the Augusta-Richmond County metro area, which includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties, consume only 17.4 percent of monthly income, compared with 27 percent nationally, according to a March 5 Bizjournals article on the study.

“Compared to the rest of the world, (Augusta) is exceedingly cheap,” said Ryan Brashear, the president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors. He said housing prices are likely a little higher now because the data used are from 2005.

Wichita, Kan., was second, followed by Little Rock, Ark.

“I’ve long stressed the affordability of the Augusta housing market,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. He said such factors help attract new businesses and residents to the city.

But even as the area expands, that doesn’t necessarily mean housing costs will skyrocket.

Robert Giacomini, a research consultant in Georgia’s Office of Planning and Budget, said there are other factors, including land availability, regulations on home construction, the strength of the economy and the pace of growth.

Mr. Brashear said that even with significant increases in new residents, Augusta has lower cost of goods, such as gas and lumber, which pushes down building costs. And unlike other dense markets, Augusta has far more land.

“As long as Augusta has the ability to expand, (the growth) won’t have a drastic effect on the area,” he said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals publishes 41 metropolitan journals, including the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
The Augusta Chronicle

Braye Boardman sees himself as a peacekeeper of sorts in a war that hasn’t yet been declared.

“We’d like to keep from ending up in the same predicament that Florida and Alabama are in with the state of Georgia,” the Augusta businessman said, referring to the protracted legal battle over water resources shared by the three states.

Mr. Boardman was appointed last week to a new committee created by Gov. Sonny Perdue that will focus on how Georgia and South Carolina can jointly share and manage the Savannah River – and ward off potential conflict.

A similar committee was created by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

“This has obviously gotten a lot of attention from the top down, with both governors showing they are very, very interested,” Mr. Boardman said.

So far, there has been no formal conflict, but there have been skirmishes.

Controversy has raged within Georgia over the issue of interbasin transfers that divert huge quantities of water from one region to another. Such transfers already exist in South Carolina.

Mr. Boardman – also a board member for the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy – will work with other appointees including Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Couch, former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Tanner, current DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb and Savannah water systems engineer Gus Bell.

“If we could at least start talking about issues now, we can work toward a water compact between the two states,” Mr. Boardman said. “If that succeeded, it would be a model for other places in the country.”

The river has been widely studied in ongoing efforts to manage its diverse regions stretching from the mountains to the coast.

Those past studies, coupled with the science academy’s three-year “Savannah River at Risk” education and research initiative, should give the states solid information on which to make sound decisions, Mr. Boardman said.

“When you talk about something as complex as a river basin, so often the politicians that get involved don’t have the data to make appropriate decisions,” he said. “We will have that data.”

Issues to be explored could include how to conserve or reuse water taken from the river, which could someday stretch the supply to serve a larger population. Mr. Boardman also predicts a lot of attention will go toward preserving the river’s ecosystem, both above and below Augusta.

“I think what we’ll be doing is important,” he said. “It’s a way to help convince people who think the environment isn’t worth anything that there is an important economic value in it. It is one of the economic engines that drives the community, and we sometimes forget that.”

Rob Pavey, Staff Writer