Business climate gives Augusta area much to be thankful for
By Richard M. Franza, Ph.D.
Thursday was Thanksgiving – a time we could all reflect on the things that make us thankful.
As I celebrated my first Thanksgiving as part of the greater Augusta community, I am most thankful for the following things related to business in Augusta and the state of Georgia:
The Augusta business community for its warm welcome to me and its continuing support of Augusta University in general and the James M. Hull College of Business in particular. The support that the business community has provided Hull College through its advisory board and Strategic Planning Committee is extremely heartening.
The outstanding business environment in Georgia, ranked as one of the top states for business in the U.S. for several years running.
The investment in cybersecurity made by the federal government at Fort Gordon and the state government in the new Georgia Cyber Training and Innovation Center.
The new GreenJackets baseball stadium and multi-use development around it in North Augusta that will be both an economic and social stimulus.
The revitalization of downtown Augusta with its many restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that will continue to stimulate economic growth and attract more millennials to town.
The expanding manufacturing base in Augusta, including the continuing growth profile of Textron Specialized Vehicles, the bigger footprint of Starbucks and newcomers such as EdenCrete.
Business/community partnerships such as TSV’s Reaching Potential through Manufacturing program with the Richmond County School System to help students complete their high-school diplomas and provide them with manufacturing skills for future careers.
The burgeoning start-up community in Augusta, led by The Clubhou.se and soon to be joined by the Augusta Innovation Zone and the incubation space within the GCTIC.
The investment of EDTS and Cape Augusta in the new Augusta Cyberworks facility at Sibley Mill, portending the future impact of cybersecurity on Augusta.
The impact that the Masters Tournament has on the Augusta economy and the charitable contributions that the event makes each year to the local community.
The local chambers of commerce and economic development authorities that work tirelessly to support the community and to bring new businesses to the area.
The stability of the Augusta economy, thanks in large part to the significant health care and federal government presence.
The great business leaders in Augusta who are as concerned about their community as they are about their businesses. Their omnipresence in community matters is indicative of their commitment.
In addition to the great business community, I also am thankful for Augusta University and Hull College in a number of ways:
The evolution of the consolidated university into an institution that is clearly now “Better Together” by leveraging its health sciences and research prowess throughout a comprehensive university.
The great leadership of President Brooks Keel, whose focus on students and patients has the university on a steep, upward trajectory.
The outstanding faculty, staff and administrators of Hull College who I am proud to call my colleagues and who make it a joy to come to work each day.
Then there are many things I am personally thankful for, including:
My wife and children, who have made the sacrifice of having me live apart from them during the week so that I can be here. They motivate me to be a better person every day.
A mother who is almost 91 years old, who shows me that age is only a number and not a limitation.
Great role models and mentors who have provided me guidance and advice along the way.
My Wednesday morning fellow “Bible Beaters” who set a great example for me every week.
Finally, I would like to thank Damon Cline and Joe Hotchkiss of this fine newspaper for providing me this space every other Sunday to share my thoughts on Augusta business with you.
The writer is dean of Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.