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Wednesday, January 29, 2020
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Feb.15 – BUSINESS BUZZZZZ: What Savannah's Business Community is Talkin' About

by Editorial Staff,

Does it mean that Broughton St. has finally arrived as a tourism destination? Word is that a McDonalds will open on Broughton St., though no building permit has been filed for renovations, nor has the MPC been contacted about any change to the exterior of any building in that area that identifies the project is a McDonalds. But local bankers say that it’s so… that the golden arches are on their way.


If the rumors are accurate, the fast food restaurant will need to go before the MPC is they want to file for a change in use or a change to the exterior, according to Jack Butler, comprehensive planner with the Metropolitan Planning Commission.  If they want to change the exterior, they will also have to go before the Historic District Review board, as well.


The fast food restaurant could be a corporate-owned store, or a franchisee…there are two companies which own franchises in the area.  The owner of the McDonalds on Montgomery St. says it’s not his store, and calls to Nina Gomples, owner of the very successful McDonalds at Waters and Eisenhower, were not returned.


Brian Robin, owner of Robin Restoration, LLC. took out a permit to restore the exterior of three vacant historic stores at 313, 315 and 317 E. Broughton St. and appeared before the Historic District Review Board. The design was approved, but the client was not identified, according to Robin who said that his client is not ready to go public yet with their plans.  Robin Restoration is located at 570 E. York St. Building permit applications are in the process of being filed, as well, he said.

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Speaking of changes on Broughton St., Canvas Products was the vendor of choice for a new awning at Earthbound Trading Company at 312 W. Broughton St. and Tanner’s Pizza is looking to change its sign, one that will extend from the building at 21 E. Broughton. Good to see some action there. The number of empty storefronts keeps growing.


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The unusually cold winter in Savannah has had an impact on tourism, and on plans along River Street for area businesses.  Wet Willie’s First Friday Fireworks had to be cancelled last week, a decision made by the Savannah Fire Department and supported by the Savannah Waterfront Assn. The fireworks were part a Friday night of events including the Westin First Friday Oyster Roast, which was able to be held. Tourists and locals alike were able to enjoy free on-site parking and free ferry service on the Savannah Belle’s free ferry service to Hutchinson Island from River Street, to make it an easy destination, according to Kenny Hill, director of the Savannah Waterfront Assn.


The First Friday River Street festivals and events are presented by Verizon Wireless and Southern Eagle Distributing this year, hosted by the Savannah Waterfront Association and are sponsored by Wet Willie’s, Coca-Cola, Wachovia and Cumulus Broadcasting.


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The Chatham County Commissione has voted to freeze all positions, except for public safety, to but the budget, but Commissioner Harris Odell urged the county administration to exercise judgment in deciding which other positions must be filled when they become vacant.


“I think this would be a good opportunity to engage the workforce; while a hiring freeze generally is good, there will be some positions that are more crucial. I would hope that we would look at that,” he said.


County Manager Russ Abolt stated that the county uses a consultant to help them make those decisions, and assured Odell that this would take place.


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Under the category of helping make Chatham County a “business friendly” region, the County Commissioners voted this month to streamline the Alcohol & Beverage approval process, reversing a process of approvals put in place by the majority of the prior commission.  Chiefs Lovett and Anderson will now review all applications, and have the power to issue permits, ending the procedure of bringing every license request before the Commission.

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Low Country Machinery, founded in 2001, the authorized JCB dealer for the Coastal Georgia region, has expanded into the Atlanta market.  The expansion gives them coverage across the state of Georgia with the addition of two new locations, Atlanta JCB in Kennesaw and one in Augusta.  Rick Piper, will serve as president overseeing operations at all three locations.

The current slowdown provided an excellent opportunity for expansion, according to Piper. When the market is in full swing, it is more difficult for organizations to focus on training and business processes.“It was important to me that we carried our corporate culture over to Atlanta. I believe that all of our staff, from sales people to service technicians needs to have the same customer focus and ‘can do’ attitude,” added Piper.

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Students at Savannah Technical College will soon have an opportunity to hear from successful business professionals as a part of a new quarterly speakers series Mind Your Business, which will feature Charlie Brazil of Old Town Trolley Tours as its inaugural speaker on Feb. 24.


The concept for the speakers series was advanced by Brendan Ferrara, department head and instructor of Marketing and Hospitality Management. “So many of our students come to us with no idea what it takes to be successful in business,” says Ferrara. “Whether they are entrepreneurs, manage the company or operate a franchise, we know that there are people in our area with great stories to tell.”


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More jobs are coming to Georgia: Novelis, Inc., a world leader in the production of flat-rolled aluminum products, will relocate its North American headquarters from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, adding 80 corporate jobs to Novelis’ Atlanta staff. This will bring the company’s Atlanta office up to 220 people by the end of 2010 when combined with other expected staff additions. Atlanta is already home to the company’s world headquarters, which located to Georgia in 2005.

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The Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta will be the site of the upcoming Annual Heritage Dinner, with State Sen. Lester Jackson (D- Savannah) serving as Chairman of the event this Wednesday, Feb.17 at 6:30 p.m.


“I’m honored to serve as Chairman of the Heritage Dinner,” said Jackson. “This event is vital to our fundraising efforts and a great opportunity for everyone at the State Capitol to learn more about the many contributions that African-Americans have had to our state and to our nation.”

Each year, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (GLBC) puts on the Heritage Dinner that celebrates African- American history by revealing painting, music and dance, as well as acknowledging community activists who thoroughly serve to improve and enhance communities of color in Georgia. All proceeds raised will support the Young Scholars Scholarship and Legislative Internship programs.

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