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Business Buzzzzzzzz

Week of May 17-Business BUZZZZ

It’s been a good news/bad news week around the Savannah business community. The lists of foreclosures continues to rock the community, and residential property valuations are still falling, according to local bank leaders who are selling off foreclosure homes at deep, deep discounts. The declining valuations mean there’s no bottom in site yet for the tax digest, either. Insiders believe there are no escaping plans to seek increases in millage rates by the County and City of Savannah.

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Some good news, the aggressive leadership team running Garden City has landed a $50,000 GATEway Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation for roadside beautification. The roadside enhancement will take place at the interchange of Highway 21 and I-516 beginning Fall 2010. It’s “another step in Garden City’s master plan to continue our city’s ongoing beautification,” said Thomas Griffin, Public Works Director for Garden City. The city will now prepare landscape plans for the required Special Encroachment Permit. Pending permit approval, landscaping and the planting of trees will begin in the Fall 2010 by Public Works.

Grant research for the highway beautification project was conducted by jB+a, inc., an Atlanta-based community development and community planning consultant, specializing in sustainable living. The firm recommended a landscape design that includes magnolia trees, crepe myrtles, sable palms, saw palmetto, oleander, pampas grass, and salkahatchee.

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And, in the world of tourism, rankings and listings for hotel properties in various travel magazines is critical, positive marketing – advertising exposure that is hard to put a price on. The Mansion on Forsyth Park, owned by the Kessler Collection, was just named to Expedia’s prestigious “Insiders’ Select List,”

Two of the company’s other properties also made the list, Beaver Creek Lodge in Colorado and El Monte Sagrado in Taos, NM.

Expedia is the largest online travel agency in the world. Criteria for the selection includes more than one million hotel reviews, the expertise of more than 400 Expedia employees and a comparison formula that assesses the hotel’s value based upon daily rates

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Business leaders were at the head of the guest list at the home of Nan and John Marshall who hosted THE party of the spring recently for Tommy Hill's Savannah book launch for “Red State Rising, The Triumph of the Republican Party in Georgia.”

Hill is currently Chief Financial Office for the State of Georgia, has been named by Georgia Trend Magazine as an outstanding Georgian for five or more years and is on many boards including the University of Georgia Press.

The guests were all the movers and shakers in Savannah, including a sea of bankers and Mr. & Mrs. Howard Morrison, the Paul Pressleys, Mr & Mrs. Craig Barrows, and Dr. and Mrs. W. Todd Groce.

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Always good to keep an eye on the competition, right?  The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) reports that its two-way trade through it’s two ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach will grow by nine percent in 2010, and released a separate report last week showing strong economic and personal ties with China.

According to LAEDC, Southern California’s key international trade industry will see improving activity during 2010 and 2011 after two dismal years in 2008 and 2009. The ports are also completing several expansion projects. And, both railroads serving Southern California have increased their track capacity to important destinations in the Midwest and Southeast.  The Federal government’s economic stimulus package should also help fund key highway and bridge projects in the Los Angeles region, according to LAEDC.

The total value of two-way trade through the Los Angeles Customs District should increase by 9.0 percent to $308.5 billion, while the number of containers moved at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will grow by 10.2 percent in 2010.

“The global economic downturn was a huge problem in 2009, as the economies of four of the Los Angeles Customs District’s top five trading partners dropped into recession,” said LAEDC Chief Economist Nancy Sidhu, Ph.D.  “However, all five economies have now returned to growth mode, which bodes well for international trade activity in 2010.”

Trade growth at the ports was helped by a number of new projects to meet environmental mandates and expand capacity.  At the port of Los Angeles, work is moving on both the Transpacific Terminal and the China Shipping Terminal.  At Long Beach, construction at Pier G continues, and the completion of the environmental impact report (EIR) for the Middle Harbor project cleared the way for construction to begin there as well, which has the potential to create additional jobs.

“All of these projects have a two-part impact,” said Sidhu.  “Jobs are being created today—when they are desperately needed—and capacity will be increased for the future when trade activity revives.”

For the Int’l Trade Trends & Impacts report, visit: http://www.laedc.org/newsroom/Trade-2010.pdf.

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Local non-profit organizations are coming up with inventive ways to engage contributors in this tough economy. The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) will host its first ever Night of Champions, a new community event aimed at recognizing the contributions made by workers with Down syndrome. The event is also designed to celebrate area businesses who are hiring people with intellectual disabilities and to encourage other local employers to do the same.

According to the National Down Syndrome Congress Center, as many as eighty percent of adults with Down syndrome are unemployed.

"People with Down syndrome are just like the rest of us," reminds LDSS Vice President and Night of Champions Chairperson, Brooke May. "We all have special talents, gifts, and skills that can be developed and used in the workforce. I hope Night of Champions gives people that 'aha' moment where you say yes, people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are capable and can do a great job somewhere if given the opportunity. As the mother of a seven year old with Down syndrome, I'm hoping for the day when my child will be a fully productive member of society and that includes finding meaningful employment."

The event will be held on Thurs. June 10 at The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler. Catering will be provided by The Lady & Sons Restaurant.

Night of Champions is open to the public. Tickets are   $15 each. For more information, please contact Brooke May at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A big shout out and thanks to The Home Depot, which donated their time and services last Wednesday, May 12th to help complete the second phase of the Outdoor Unity Garden at West Chatham Elementary School.

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Last and certainly not least, a huge congrats to the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department’s K-9 Team which won the Regional competition by more than 1000 points over the 2nd place team.  In the individual competition, Officer Mike Drayton and his dog Chip finished 2nd overall in Regionals, while Officer Amanda McGruder and her dog DJieno finished 6th.  In all, four teams of officers and dogs from SCMPD qualified for the national police K-9 competition in October.

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