SBDC schools vet med students in emergency preparedness

Dr. Joanna Davis wishes she had the chance to talk to firefighters, police officers and first responders when she was a University of Georgia student two decades ago.

The veterinarian, who has responded to disasters and animal disease emergencies in the U.S. and abroad, learned on her own how important it is to plan for emergency situations. The UGA Small Business Development Center is helping the College of Veterinary Medicine’s current generation come to that realization much sooner.

“This was not even on our radar back in the early 90s,” said Davis, an adjunct faculty member   at the College of Veterinary Medicine and is Georgia’s Veterinary Emergency Coordinator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Now for each graduating class, we want to instill them with this knowledge and confidence going forward.”

Davis invited Mark Lupo, area director for the Columbus State office of the UGA SBDC, to speak to her class, “Veterinary Emergency Preparedness and Response.” Lupo led a three-hour session for the 45 students on planning and working with local emergency agencies in a disaster situation.

About half the students expect to become small business owners and start their own private practice after earning a degree. That’s where the SBDC’s expertise can be particularly handy. Approximately every dollar spent on preparation leads to $7 in cost savings in emergencies, Lupo said.

“I learned about just how many resources there are for all these disaster situations that we talk about,” said student Emily English. “I’m glad to learn there are resources out there in the community and it sounds like what we need to do to be prepared for these type of situations utilize them ahead of time.”

Lupo’s three-hour lecture ended with students talking their way through disaster scenarios with local law enforcement, fire department and emergency management officials in small groups. The situations included cybercrime, fire, floods and chemical spills.

“It helps knowing beforehand what resources are there for you to contact and being comfortable to reach out to them,” Lupo said. “They’re very open to doing that because they need these veterinarians as a resource for their response plans.”

Students ninth grade through college eligible for art contest at UGA


Athens, Ga. – The State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia is conducting a statewide art competition sponsored by the J.A. and H.G. Woodruff, Jr. Charitable Trust to recognize student talent in Georgia and create items for sale in the garden’s gift shop.

The first-prize winner will receive $1,000, with second place winning $500 and third place with $250. Certificates of merit also will be awarded. Artwork awarded cash prizes will become the property of the State Botanical Garden and will be used to create signature items, such as key chains, totes, stationery, T-shirts, journals and scarves, only sold in the garden’s gift shop.

The competition is open to Georgia students in ninth grade through college and the deadline for submissions is Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. There is no entry fee for this competition. Winners of the competition will be announced in mid-December.

Artwork must be original, two-dimensional and no larger than 24-by-36 inches, in square, horizontal, round, oval or vertical formats. Acceptable forms of media include pencil, pen and ink, paint, photography, collage and computer-enhanced graphics. One-color designs are welcome and encouraged in order to create affordable gift shop products. The artwork does not need to be framed, but it should be signed.

Previous winning entrants have included high school and home-schooled students as well as college students studying art, graphic design, illustration and photography and other subjects not related to art or horticulture.

Submissions may be dropped off in the lower level of the Callaway Building at the Botanical Garden or mailed to Connie Cottingham, 2450 S. Milledge Ave., Athens, Ga. 30605. See the complete guidelines and entry form

A unit of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia provides the general public as well as UGA faculty, staff and students opportunities for recreation, events, research and learning through its natural areas, display gardens and building spaces.


Writer: Lee Redding,

Contact: Connie Cottingham, 706-542-6014,

This release is also online at

SBDC helps Clarkston educational center owner create vision

Alex Cesar knew from an early age that she’d run a school. Inspired by her grandmother, a principal, Alex would sometimes join her in the classroom. She eventually taught special education in the public schools, but felt stuck in the system.

“I always had a vision of running a child-care center that would emphasize learning, but I gave up on it,” she said. “Once you’re in the school system, it’s hard to make it back out.”

Her husband, David, was a Gwinnett County police officer. He, too, had an entrepreneurial vision and would attend seminars on starting a small business. He wanted to run his own business, but felt stymied by the risk involved.

“Starting a small business is very scary. When you are employed full-time, you have that assurance of a salary. To give it up to start something of your own is risky,” he said. “But I also heard in the seminars that you’re either ‘in’ or you’re not. You can’t be in halfway.”

In 2013 Alex was inspired by Oprah to display her goals on a vision board and work hard at them. This act inspired the couple to take a leap of faith to open the center Alex envisioned, an inclusionary day care and after school educational center that would blend autistic students and those with other special needs into typical mainstream classrooms. Alex went to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to start the paperwork for a loan and worked in the evenings for about a year putting together their business plan.

The Cesars needed a $50,000 loan for start-up capital. The SBA referred them to the Gwinnett Office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center for help completing their financial projections.

“We had the vision and the business plan going,” said David, “but we were not able to put together the numbers for the financials. We gave them all the information we had gathered, and they helped us do our Strong Financials Realize Vision for Clarkston Educational Center Owner financial projections. Then we sent it to the bank.”

They received the SBA loan and opened Giselle Learning Academy in Stone Mountain in January 2014 with no employees and no children enrolled. David began marketing the center. Within the year they had enrolled more than 70 students and hired 5 teachers.

By summer 2016, the Cesars needed a larger building that would allow them to accommodate their rapidly growing waiting list. They met with Mark Butler, area director of the Gwinnett office for help in acquiring a second loan to purchase and refurbish a building and land in Clarkston.

“Mark helped us update our business plan, revise our financial projections and secure the funding we needed,” said David. “During the process, I went back to the financial projections that had helped us with the first loan, and they were accurate almost to the number.”

The SBA loan, five times larger than the first, was approved in July of 2015 and the center moved. “Both loans came from Celtic Bank, a long-time resource partner with the UGA SBDC,” said Butler.

By July 2016, Giselle Learning Academy had grown to 14 part-time and 5 full-time employees. Enrollment stood at nearly 100 students from ages six weeks to 15-years-old in the full-time and after school programs, and the school had been accredited by the Georgia Accreditation Commission.

Sales were doing well, and the Cesars had begun working with Butler to secure new funds they will need for a second expansion adjacent to their existing facility.

“Gaining access to capital is always a challenge,” said Butler, “but it is easier for them now because they have a business track record. David and Alex have aggressively and doggedly pursued their vision, and they keep moving forward. It’s working out very well for them.”

“When we did our second budget with Mark, we realized we were right on point,” says David. “That made us work hard and stay faithful to what we were going to do, and all the doors were opened to us.

Marketing strategies launch Hiram medical retailer, growth expands it into commercial realty

Three women shopping during the Great Recession – wife, sister and mom – led young Tyler Wilson and his wife, Marissa, to form what is now a rapidly growing retail business, Superior Scrubs, in Hiram.

“My wife was in school to be a nurse. My sister, Kaley, was in the medical industry as well. And Mom, she’s the shopper. So they’d go out looking for uniforms and, between the three of them, they saw no sufficient choices in the area,” says Wilson.

“When the economy crashed, Marissa and I knew we wanted to own a business together, and the health care market was still strong.” They looked a little deeper into their concept, and Marissa left her job to open Superior Scrubs, their new 1,300 square foot store, in 2009. Tyler worked for his dad days and in their business at night until 2010, when he joined his wife full-time.

Superior Scrubs sells medical uniforms, medical equipment and instruments, nursing shoes and embroidery services to the west Atlanta market. When they opened, the Wilsons realized they needed to actively market the store. A family friend and small business owner recommended Tyler call her consultant, Drew Tonsmeire, of the UGA SBDC at Kennesaw State University.

“At that point we were still new and getting people to know we were there,” says Wilson. “We didn’t know about Google ads, so Drew started us out with that. He gave us a list of contacts in the medical and dental fields, and we sent direct mail to them.” Tonsmeire also suggested they get listed in various business directories and on Google maps.

The response was swift. Customers and sales had grown so quickly that one year later, the Wilsons added another 900 square feet to their store. By 2012 they had purchased property in Hiram. They asked Tonsmeire to help them run numbers on building a mall large enough for their store and some medical offices.

“The biggest challenge we see is when retailers outgrow a location,” says Tonsmeire. “Tyler was reaching that point, so we helped him put together his loan package with financial projections. He sailed through the loan process, built his 10,000 square foot mall, moved his retail business into 5,000 square feet and added other tenants.”

Andy Fried, a business consultant at the UGA SBDC’s Kennesaw State University office with extensive commercial real estate experience, was called in to help Wilson understand his new role as landlord. He coached him on what tenants are looking for, the language of leases and terms, and how to review documents and have these conversations with his attorney.

Seven years after its start-up, Superior Scrubs has 11 employees. First-year sales were $300,000. This year’s projections are over $2 million.

Wilson continues to run his numbers by Tonsmeire, who helps him review his operating profits and efficiencies to support continued growth. He has coached Wilson on personnel development and encouraged Wilson to attend the SBDC’s GrowSmart® program, where Wilson says he enjoyed sharing discussions with like-minded small business owners.

“One thing I’ve fine-tuned over the years is how to run numbers and see whether they work. Part of our success is managing cash flow and repeatedly looking at the numbers. It’s worth the effort to set aside a specific time to look at the business.

“Getting Drew’s second opinion on ideas is always a big help when I’m running financial analyses. The data he’s been able to get for me has been beneficial.”

“Tyler has always taken advantage of taking the skills and processes he needs to make his business successful,” says Tonsmeire. “Many times, he’s had the right ideas and numbers, and we were just confirming them. He and his wife work together as a strong family business – and with two children now, it has been fun to watch their family grow along with their business. They will continue to be successful.”


UGA Small Business Development Center among Georgia Trend’s best places to work

The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center is one of Georgia Trend magazine’s 2016 “Best Places to Work in Georgia.” 

The evaluation, conducted by the Best Companies Group in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, looks at employees’ views on leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, role satisfaction, work environment, and overall engagement.

“Typical of UGA’s outreach programs, SBDC staff are recognized statewide for their expertise and responsiveness to local needs,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA’s Public Service and Outreach unit, which oversees the SBDC. “It isn’t surprising that this UGA unit was named a great place to work. UGA’s strong commitment to outreach has helped build an environment for success.”

 The SBDC program has 17 locations across Georgia and works with about 4,000 individual business owners and prospective entrepreneurs each year. In the past five years, SBDC-assisted firms have created more than 11,000 jobs, acquired more than $600 million in expansion and start-up capital, created more than 1,500 new businesses and are responsible for $8.9 billion in total sales. The most recent economic impact studies indicate that SBDC clients experience annual sales growth of 19.7 percent and employment growth of 19.6 percent.

 Columbus-area office director Mark Lupo cited reasons why employees like working at the SBDC.

“We have a unique environment where we are free to be creative, developing ideas, initiatives and skill sets that contribute to a positive impact in the communities in which we live,” Lupo said. “And we do all of this with the friendship and collaboration of a great team of colleagues across the state.”

“We are very fortunate to have an amazing statewide team,” said SBDC State Director Allan Adams. “All of our staff are hired from the private sector and we help them become business educators. Our employees derive a great deal of satisfaction from helping others learn and see business owners succeed.”

Coordinated statewide by the University of Georgia, six of the SBDC’s 17 regional offices are located on the campuses of other University System of Georgia schools—Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Southern University, Valdosta State University, Clayton State University and the University of West Georgia.

Contact: Allan Adams, 706-542-6626,

The UGA Aquarium depends on volunteers, like Ruth McMullin, to fulfill its mission

Ruth McMullin was teaching a group of children at the UGA Aquarium and Marine Education Center when technology failed.

So, she went to plan B: Ask the children what was the most interesting thing they had learned that day?

The hands shot up in the air.

“Miss Ruth, when you told me about the flounder’s eye,” one young camper said.

“Miss Ruth, Miss Ruth, ” the rest beckoned.

“I asked if any of them wanted to be a marine scientist,” McMullin recalled. “Every hand went up.”

“I get excited when kids learn something.”

For the past 18 years, since she moved to Savannah from Boston in 1997, McMullin has volunteered at the aquarium and marine education center on Skidaway Island.

She first visited the aquarium to learn more about the Georgia coast. While there, she noticed they sometimes had multiple large groups visit the aquarium at one time and needed help herding school groups and summer camp participants. It was easy to want to help.

“I feel like I’m part of the family,” McMullin said. “The educators, staff and volunteers are so knowledgable, so kind, and so much fun.”

Volunteers like McMullin are vital for Marine Extension to fulfill its mission, said Anne Lindsay, associate director for marine education. About 30 volunteers from nearby communities give their time regularly to the aquarium and marine education center, helping employees feed the animals and clean their tanks, monitor water quality, survey plankton populations in the Skidaway River, assist with events at the aquarium, and, of course, teach marine science programs to children in pre-K through fourth grade.

“Their work allows us to do ours,” Lindsay said. “We are inspired daily by their dedication to our work and to giving back to the community.”

McMullin is at the aquarium usually two mornings a week from February to April, when the schedule is filled with school groups from across the state, and she helps with weekly summer camps during June and July.

She also interacts with the Georgia Sea Grant interns, college graduates who spend a year at Skidaway learning about marine science and the Georgia coast.

“It’s so much fun to watch them grow over the year,” she said.

McMullin spent most of her life in New England, earning her bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College and her MBA from the Yale University School of Management. She remains on Yale School of Management Foundation Board of Advisors.

“The School of Management changed my life,” she said. “I am determined to make sure it continues to help others.”

Her professional career included senior positions with major companies, including John Wiley and Sons publishing company, where she was at first executive vice president/chief operating officer and later president and CEO; and then Harvard Business School Publishing Company, where she was president and CEO.

When she and her husband Tom retired, they moved to Savannah, where the marsh reminded her of childhood summers spent on the Maryland coast. The Landings community on Skidaway Island, where they live, is next door to the aquarium and marine education center, so it’s a short commute.

“The Georgia coast is so important to the rest of the state,” McMullin said. “I’m lucky to have found volunteer work that is so rewarding and so important.”

Business essentials steer Cumming auto parts company into the fast lane

Brothers Kevin and Randy Redd make Ford and Chevy street cars both fast and “fly.” Their uniquely designed Concept One high performance pulley systems mount on an engine and drive all of its belts, improving power and maximizing performance.

In 2001 they began selling their systems and other product lines to hot rod muscle car enthusiasts through their Cumming business, Redd Manufacturing and Machining.

“My brother and I grew up pumping gas and washing windshields. We’ve enjoyed cars all of our lives,” says Kevin. His father owned an Amoco station that he transitioned into a Goodyear Tire and Service Center. In the early 1990s, he sold the center and built a business restoring old Corvettes.

While working on the cars, Kevin had an idea for an adapter part for their wheels and had it patented. He then decided he needed to learn how to make it and attended Lanier Tech to study machining. Randy was studying mechanical engineering at Southern Poly in Marietta. They needed machines, though, to make the part.

“We had ideas, but no money to buy the machines. We started designing and making racing parts for a guy in Kennesaw, got the cash flow to buy some machines, and started our business working nights and Saturdays.”

By 1996 they were designing and manufacturing parts for their own company full-time. By 1997 they had turned to the Gainesville office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center for ongoing training and consulting support.

“Even though we grew up with our dad running small businesses, we were craftsmen –an engineer and machinist – and we needed help learning how to run our own,” says Kevin.

The brothers initially worked with consultant Ron Simmons, now a district director, who coached them on reading and understanding financials and how to do different types of cost accounting. “We originally helped them set up shop and do their basic accounting,” says Gainesville Area Director Bruce Cutler.

Through the years, the Redds took advantage of several SBDC courses including FastTrac®, Maximum Money and the SBDC Business Health Check. They also received ongoing consulting advice on adding product lines, accounting support, market research, marketing, social media and web site improvements.

“The SBDC taught us how to pay attention to the numbers by picking out a few we want to watch,” says Kevin. “For me, it was watching our weekly and monthly production, which helped me make sure we’re getting out and meeting the goals we want to meet.”

Sales began to accelerate in 2010. “We were making good products and learned about marketing, how to advertise and use social media,” says Kevin. Their systems are featured regularly in online trade publications like,, and

The Concept One line leads Redd Machining and Manufacturing’s success, with seven full-time employees and more than a million dollars in annual sales. They also added a part-time marketing person. The company was recognized with the 2015 Entrepreneurs-Masters of Innovation Award from Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville, for which Cutler had nominated them.

“If we come upon something we need to do, we’ll certainly call Bruce,” says Kevin. “Over the years when we ran into something, the SBDC was good about being there. I feel they have been a great help and are always accessible.”

UGA Public Service and Outreach graduates 16 from leadership academy

UGA staff and faculty from across the state completed the Vivian H. Fisher Leadership Academy on Friday, earning certificates for their participation in the nine-month leadership development course.

Facilitated by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the academy is a nine-month leadership program designed to build leadership capacity among high-level performers within PSO, who have outreach as the major part of their duties. The academy gives participating faculty-staff an opportunity to cultivate leadership skills while developing a deeper understanding of the scope and reach of UGA’s public service and outreach mission.

Provost Pamela Whitten, who addressed the group at a Friday luncheon, said that as a land- and sea-grant university, outreach is intricately involved with the entire campus but also has a mission to serve the state.

“That’s the role we have as a land-grant,” she said. We’re supposed to leave our campus.”

Six of the 16 participants in the 2015-16 are based in communities outside of Athens-Clarke County.

The leadership academy was founded in 2007 by Vivian H. Fisher, then an associate vice president for Public Service and Outreach. Fisher died in 2008. The academy was named in her honor in 2012.

“Vivian Fisher set an example of strong leadership and her values and standards are what we want to pass on to the future leaders in public service and outreach,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach.

Participants in the 2015-16 Vivian H. Fisher Leadership Academy are:

  • Joseph Allen, Georgia Center for Continuing Education
  • Mona Behl, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
  • Michelle Elliott, Archway Partnership
  • Shannon Ferguson, Carl Vinson Institute of Government
  • John Graham, State Botanical Garden of Georgia
  • Sheldon Hammond, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension
  • Lauren Healey, J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development
  • Kyle Hensel, Small Business Development Center
  • Kris Irwin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
  • Beverly Johnson, Carl Vinson Institute of Government
  • Emily Newdow, Georgia Center for Continuing Education
  • Andrea Scarrow, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Extension and Outreach
  • Kelly Simmons, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach
  • Trina Von Waldner, College of Pharmacy
  • Josh Walton, Georgia Small Business Development Center
  • Theresa Wright, Carl Vinson Institute of Government

Fanning Institute peer court model shows good results, expands to Forsyth

In 2015, Forsyth County became the latest to implement a peer court developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership Development.

Fanning faculty member Emily Boness first designed a customized youth driven model three years ago for Athens-Clarke County to address teenage delinquency.

Peer courts are juvenile court programs for first-time misdemeanor offenses. Trained teenagers from the community hear the cases and serve as advocates, judge, jurors and bailiff.

The programs provide leadership opportunities for youth, while freeing judges’ time to focus on more serious cases. The results in Clarke County have been positive. Cases are heard sooner and the recidivism rate is only 17.5 percent, compared to 53 percent for Georgia’s juvenile court system.

Rebecca Rusk, a Forsyth County Juvenile Court administrator, received a grant from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to support the Forsyth program, which Boness helped launch.

“I think it hits home more when kids my age give the sentence and tell a respondent that what they did was wrong,” said Madison Lavell, senior at Forsyth High School and peer court volunteer. “You have friends promoting what you did wrong and then at peer court there are kids saying, ‘No, you’ve got to shape up and get a handle on it.’”

APC is a collaborative effort of the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Street Law at UGA’s School of Law, the Athens-Clarke County Juvenile Court, and the Department of Juvenile Justice, and is funded by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, through the Federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program.

UGA plant biologist helps build a bridge between academics and service through fellowship

Wendy Zomlefer got fired up whenever she ventured out to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Accustomed to the sometimes abstract world of academic research, Zomlefer was swept up by the enthusiasm the public had for her studies in plant biology.

“I was doing all these activities (with the public) and getting immediate feedback,” she said. “If you have more direct contact with them, you realize how much they love what you do. They do love plants. They do love nature. You kind of forget that when you’re lecturing in a class, the love people have for these topics.”

Zomlefer, the curator of the University of Georgia’s Herbarium and an associate professor of Plant Biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, got to work hand-in-hand with the State Botanical Garden last fall after through a Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellowship. She led a number of projects, from public lectures and a two-day workshop on herbarium techniques to demonstrations for kids and organization of the garden’s own herbarium collection.

Zomlefer saw the fellowship as an opportunity to explore the natural intersection of the garden and her work with the herbarium which is a research collection of preserved plant specimens that have been pressed and mounted with label data. Her proposal focused on the integration of two campus units focused on the study of plants.

“It’s building a bridge,” Zomlefer said. “They know about me more and I know them more. I knew about their conservation program, but I didn’t know how extensive it was.”

That work continues now that her fellowship has ended. Zomlefer will present along with garden conservationist Linda Chaffin at this summer’s Botany 2016 national convention in Savannah. She’s also discussed putting a grant proposal together with Wilf Nicholls, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

“It seems really obvious, but in a place like a university that’s so huge, things get sort of siloed,” said Lisa Donovan, a distinguished research professor who heads the plant biology department. “It takes somebody who is willing to go a little bit beyond their normal duties and make those connections. I’m delighted that she would do so.”

Between lectures and her work at the herbarium, which occupies aspace inside the Miller Plant Sciences Building, Zomlefer doesn’t often get the direct interaction with the public the Garden offers. She returned with renewed enthusiasm and that energizes the students and faculty she works with on the academic side, Donovan said.

While the herbarium supports a wide range of research at UGA, it belongs to the citizens of Georgia. The partnership allowed Zomlefer to add to the Garden’s expertise while promoting a valuable resource.

“Part of our mission is the service associated with the herbarium,” Donovan said. “She’s broadened how we reach the public in one fell swoop.”


Dead-on financial projections lead to success for Atlanta Movie Tours start-up

Moving a small business from start-up to growth mode requires a leap of faith, hard work and difficult, strategic decision-making. Carrie Sagel Burns has the” leap of faith” part down, regularly suspending disbelief in thousands of visitors who ride around Atlanta in buses guided by former zombie extras, an actress portraying author Margaret Mitchell or character actors from The Hunger Games.

She also knows something about running a small business. So within a year of launching Atlanta Movie Tours, she and her partner were pouring over income projections and developing a growth strategy with business consultant Erica Bracey of the UGA Small Business Development Center at Georgia State University.

Burns comes from an entrepreneurial family. So after college and marriage, she joined her husband in starting a website development company from their renovated loft in Castleberry Hill, on the southwestern edge of downtown Atlanta.

On the side, she found herself helping location scouts who came into the historic industrial/warehouse neighborhood looking for gritty, urban film settings. One of the better-known productions to use the area was AMC’s The Walking Dead, which now boasts millions of viewers.

“When friends would visit, they’d ask about The Walking Dead, so I’d take them on tours,” says Burns. “One night at a local restaurant opening, I told Patti Davis what I was doing. Patti’s reply was, ‘Let’s start a business.’”

They built their first Atlanta Movie Tour around the route Burns had developed in 2012. They scripted it, hired extras and actors as guides and hired a charter bus. “We ran our first tour for media on March 21, 2012, and on March 31 for guests. It sold out,” she says.

She and Davis approached the University of Georgia SBDC in 2013. “We had opened our retail shop in Castleberry Hill,” says Burns. “We were definitely seeing growth and were looking for someone who had the tools to help us run our projections, develop our business plan and put us in touch with the right lenders.”

Burns was familiar with the UGA SBDC and had, in fact, referred other friends with small businesses to the Georgia State office. “This time, we needed help,” she admits.

Their first challenge was to put together aggressive, realistic income projections. “They were running such a new, innovative business that there wasn’t really a road map for them to follow,” says Bracey.

“This impacted the projections. They had to ask, ‘How aggressive can we really be? How many tours can we run?’ There’s not a business like it in the Atlanta market. And because there was nothing else to follow, it made it more challenging to create, grow and build.”

In 2013 Atlanta Movie Tours had two employees and $170,000 in revenue. In 2015 it closed with more than $800,000 in revenue – nearly 300 percent growth – and 24 employees. It was named an Atlanta Magazine Best of Atlanta in 2014 and Creative Loafing Best of Atlanta in 2015 and was awarded two TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence. And in 2016 Burns purchased her first tour bus.

Burns continues to work closely with Bracey on marketing and strategic planning. They recently worked together to secure a small business loan for working capital that allowed Burns to expand her office, tour offerings and merchandise.

“Erica has been amazing,” says Burns. “Without a strategy, you’re throwing darts at a dart board. I keep going back to those projections and updating them on a regular basis because they are so helpful.”

“Carrie has survived the start-up phase and is on a rocket trajectory,” says Bracey. “She has figured out how to make this business work. Now I’m simply assisting her as she manages its enormous growth potential. Atlanta Movie Tours is perfectly positioned to take advantage of everything that’s happening in the ‘Hollywood of the South.’”

UGA-sponsored science fair sends winners to international competition

Thirty-seven participants in the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF) will move on to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, including Pinnacle Award winner Animesh Koratana of Northview High School.

Koratana’s project, “Deriving Unsupervised Fluid Intelligence from Unstructured Data,” was already selected for an invitation to ISEF at the Fulton County Regional Fair earlier this year. Five others earned all-expense paid trips to the international competition at GSEF, which was held at the Classic Center and coordinated by the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education, a unit of Public Service and Outreach.

That included the four winners of the Green Power EMC Intel ISEF Award, which provides a trip to Phoenix and the opportunity to compete there. Marietta High School’s Zoe Crisp (Recycling Aluminum in Resource Scare Regions), Milton High School’s Agni Kumar (Canonical Representatives for Divisor Classes on Complete Graphs), Chattahoochee High School’s Eric Wang (Nutrient Starvation-Induced Cancer Cell Death in Leukemia Cells) and the Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology’s Jeffrey Yang (GBP Actuators for Optical Activation of Enzymatic Cascades) earned those awards.

Union Grove High School’s Marissa McDonald captured the Merial Intel ISEF Observer Award, which gives her the opportunity to attend the Intel ISEF Fair and observe, for her project “Galectin-3 and the Innate Immunity against Molecular Mimicry.”

These winners were selected from a field of nearly 800 that advanced to the statewide fair through regional competitions. The GSEF is presented by Green Power EMC, a nonprofit corporation that buys and markets electricity from green Georgia sources and generates awareness about environmental products and services. The fair’s other major sponsor is Burns & McDonnell, a full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental, and consulting solutions firm with a commitment to STEM education and outreach.

Writer: Christopher James, 706-542-3631

Contact: Laura Brewer, 706-542-5654,


Statewide science fair coordinated by UGA coming to Athens this weekend

Nearly 800 Georgia middle and high school students are headed to Athens this weekend for the 68th Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, coordinated by the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Students qualify for the fair by competing in local and regional science fairs across Georgia. The top presenters from each regional fair are then invited to the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, where they have the opportunity to share their research with some of the top scientists in the state.

 Attendees will be competing for more than 100 awards sponsored by businesses, professional organizations and colleges and universities. These include cash prizes, scholarships, plaques and certificates.

The best projects at this year’s fair will earn the Green Power EMC Intel ISEF Award, an all-expense-paid trip to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, in May. That event attracts some of the world’s brightest young minds from more than 70 countries for nearly $5 million in awards and scholarships.

This year’s event is presented by Green Power EMC, a nonprofit corporation that buys and markets electricity from green Georgia sources and generates awareness about environmental products and services. The fair’s other major sponsor is Burns & McDonnell, a full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm with a commitment to STEM education and outreach.

The fair is held at the Classic Center in downtown Athens and is coordinated by the Office of Academic Special Programs at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, a unit of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia. For more details, see

Writer: Christopher James, 706-542-3631,

Contact: Laura Brewer, 678-910-6848,


Digital entrepreneur sharpens own business practices by teaching

Garrett Massey’s web development start-up, Eyesore Inc., is in its fourth office since its 2009 launch, a historic Coca-Cola bottling facility in downtown Griffin. With nine full-time staff and annual sales shaping up to 50 percent growth for 2015, the company would seem to consume all of his time and energy.

It does not.

Massey has mastered the art of working on his business rather than in his business after training and consulting with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. And while expanding his firm’s services, staff and sales, he has grown from a student in the SBDC’s FastTrac Growth Venture® course to an instructor for Maximum Marketing® and a UGA SBDC event sponsor.

“I attended one of the very first Maximum Marketing® classes that Kyle taught in Griffin,” says Massey. Consultant Kyle Hensel is now the area director for the UGA SBDC’s Savannah office. “Later I would travel with him to places including Dublin and present material on search engine optimization at his courses. Kylewanted someone working in the technology business to make these presentations to SBDC clients.”

While teaching, Massey learns. “While my industry experience really helped me teach the SEO components of the course, my participation helped give me a good idea of what entrepreneurs know and need to know. And in working with the SBDC as a marketing professional, it has been good to be reminded that we need to be marketing ourselves. A lot of small businesses tend to overlook that ongoing marketing and networking.”

Eyesore creates and manages web content and marketing to drive sales and increase exposure for companies and nonprofits. The firm now spends half of its time in web development, maintenance and support, and the other half in its newer service, developing custom web applications and mobile apps.

Massey works on his budgeting, cash flow and reviewing year-end numbers with consultant Alisa Kirk, area director with the Clayton State University office.

“Eyesore is expanding quickly, and Garrett has made some strategic decisions about how to grow,” says Kirk. “He has called me in to help him look through his financials and understand the work he’d have to do to sustain a new hire. We’ve also talked about his deciding his best role in the business, like networking and signing new contracts, then finding people to fill his other roles.

“Garrett understands that when you’re going to expand, it makes sense to plan for it financially rather than to just expand and see what happens.”

“It’s good to have an objective point of view, someone expert looking over your shoulder,” says Massey. “I organize data on a daily basis, but working with Alisa and Kyle has been beneficial. They have forced me to look at the big picture, at what’s going to happen in the next year and the next five years, at what areas to expand and what areas to cut back, and in making more strategic decisions.

“The most important thing I’ve learned from the SBDC is that without an appropriate budget and financial plan, you’re in the dark, no matter what you think you know. Without financial goals in place, you’re churning and churning without necessarily moving in the right direction.

“The next thing on my agenda is to reach out to Alisa as we close down our budget year.”

Eyesore will also sponsor the Georgia SBDC Digital Marketing Program in Savannah in February.

“Garrett has developed Eyesore into a high-impact company with jobs and sales, and he continues to support the programs of the SBDC,” says Hensel.

“He will do well.”

Archway Partnership Summit brings together community leaders and students

Former UGA students returned to campus on Feb. 9 to talk about their experience with the Archway Partnership and how it helped them along their career paths.

“I probably can not speak enough to how beneficial my experience at Archway has been,” said Katie Wargo, who now works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “While I was here at UGA I was able to put into practice what I was learning in the classroom with my Archway projects. … I believe the skills and experience I gained from my Archway projects, I’ve been able to contribute on a greater scale at the CDC and it’s definitely allowed me to be successful in my role.”

Wargo and alumnus Charlie Simpson joined Lenie George, now a doctoral student at UGA, for a panel discussion during the annual Archway Partnership Summit, which brings together Archway professionals and community leaders to discuss projects in Archway Partnership counties.

The summit, held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Hotel and Conference Center, highlighted student projects, and provided a setting for group discussions on topics including workforce development, community leadership, tourism, and health and wellness.

Archway Partnership Director Rob Gordon said the summit is designed to help Archway participants from across the state share best practices and discuss ways in which they successfully tackle common problems in their communities. It also provides an opportunity to showcase the impact Archway has on people throughout the state and on UGA students.

“It’s wonderful to hear that (the students’) experience in Archway Partnership both enhanced their instruction while they’re a student at the University of Georgia but also translates to their success in their careers,” Gordon said. “They can use the lessons they learned in the Archway Partnership and apply them directly to what they’re doing now.”

The Archway Partnership, a unit of Public Service and Outreach, began in 2005 as a way to connect the resources of UGA with areas of the state that had economic and community development needs. Archway Partnerships have been formed in 12 Georgia counties with nine still active.

Free, comprehensive business coaching leads online machinery sales start-up to growth

At age 15, Carl Davis opened an eBay account to sell household items, a hobby he continued while studying chemistry at the University of Georgia. Upon graduating, he worked in chemical manufacturing. But he never lost his interest in online sales.

One day, Davis’s employer asked him to resell the company’s random surplus equipment. “These items sold quickly, and a light bulb went off in my head,” Davis said.

His knowledge of the opportunities in this area led Davis to form his own online sales business, The Equipment Hub, at home in Decatur in the fall of 2011. “I knew manufacturing companies often put old machinery in the corner and let it sit. It had no value to them.”

Davis got started by making cold calls before going to his manufacturing job. On his second day, he found his first client. He took photographs of the equipment, posted them on eBay, and they sold. “The first one sold for $5,000. He paid me $750 and I thought, ‘Wow! That was the easiest money I ever made.’ After that, I knew I had to do it full time.”

That December, Davis went to UGA SBDC consultant John Ernst for advice on forming a corporation. “We walked through my business plan, and John challenged me on thoughts about the process that were incorrect. He’s good about that.”

“Carl is a startup. I’ve helped him with everything,” said Ernst. In addition to reviewing the business plan together, he helped Davis develop a competitive advantage list and marketing lists of potential clients with distinct profiles using Reference USA. They worked on using QuickBooks for accounting, website design and function, and vendor relations.

When Davis’s brother, Mark, came on as a 50-50 partner in 2012, Ernst talked to them about running different parts of the organization. “In partnerships, it helps if you have very narrowly focused duties. They tend to last longer,” Ernst said.

The company grew from Davis’s basement to a leased warehouse in Tucker. A year later they moved to a larger warehouse in Stone Mountain. All the while, Ernst advised Davis on his expansion plans, hiring and job descriptions, and getting a line of credit.

“John has given us a lot of generalized business advice. But the most important thing I’ve learned from him is to focus,” said Davis. “From the very beginning, I could sell any kind of machine, but I was struggling to get traction. John kept telling me I had to focus on key areas. That was great advice.”

This focus narrowed with the guidance of three semi-retired machinery dealers. “Bumpy and Charlie were 84 and 83 years old. When we met them in 2012, they had hundreds of thousands of dollars of metalworking equipment in their warehouse, but couldn’t sell it. All of their contacts were retired or dead,” said Davis. “They let us broker all the equipment.”

They sold it all in record time, providing them with the experience and knowledge they needed to pursue this niche.

In January 2013 they had a similar experience with a woodworking machinery dealer. “We were becoming known as the internet pros in the machinery business.”

For 2012 the brothers posted $201,252 in revenue for their company. By the end of 2015, the Equipment Hub had six employees and is planning to hire another. They expect to post of $2 million in sales and were looking at warehouse spaces ranging from 50,000-100,000 square feet to move their operation into. “It’s crazy to think how our initial $20,000 investment is now worth millions,” said Davis.

“We have an unbelievable team, and I feel the sky is the limit. I feel we could do $10 million next year. We’re going to grow to $100 million in sales, and I have some creative ideas on getting to that point.”

Davis also credits Ernst for helping him work through the processes necessary to run a profitable business.

“You’d be crazy not to take advantage of something like the SBDC. What an awesome thing,” he said. “Paying for a business consultant is very expensive. John is extremely knowledgeable. I think of him as a partner. I don’t think I’d be where I’m at now if it wasn’t for him.”


UGA conference to focus on community leadership

A year ago, the staff at the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development imagined a conference that would bring together people with a common interest in community leadership development.

Those early brainstorms led to the upcoming inaugural Community Leadership Conference to be held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education on Feb. 10 and 11.

“We were dreaming about it this time last year,” said Jenny Jordan, a program coordinator with the Fanning Institute. “‘Wouldn’t it be cool if?’ Then, we had to think about, ‘What did that really mean? What kind of conference would that be? What did we want the goals to be?’”

What Jordan and her colleagues came up with was a conference that will bring together practitioners, community leaders and scholars to talk about best practices and explore innovative ways to bolster community leadership development efforts. The two-day event will allow participants to take a broad look at the meaning of community, offering workshops that can assist groups centered around a geographical location as well as a common interest or cause.

Karen Rackley, who holds a number of leadership positions in Worth County, said events like this are huge for smaller communities like hers. Rackley is attending along with the entire steering committee of Leadership Worth, which is preparing to launch a youth leadership program. Each of the Leadership Worth committee members will attend two of the 16 sessions offered so they can bring a wealth of new ideas back home.

“When we’re able to go to these things and find ideas it helps us tremendously to stay ahead of the curve,” Rackley said. “This opens the doors up for us.”

Attendees will hear from Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach; Johnelle Simpson, UGA Student Government Association President; and Mathew Hauer, a demographer with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA. The conference’s second day will feature exhibits showcasing the work of Public Service and Outreach’s eight units.

The workshop schedule allows participants to create a customized agenda that meets their individual needs. Each session has been coordinated by a faculty member at the Fanning Institute, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. The workshops are led by community practitioners that are experts on the topics as well as faculty from other Public Service and Outreach units like the Small Business Development Center and the Archway Partnership.

Fanning Director Matt Bishop said the institute directly serves 40 communities across the state while its curriculum is being used by more than 100 communities. In recent years, communities that have worked with Fanning have expressed interest in getting together to share best practices.

“It certainly is a way for us to more or less talk about the resources that we have here at UGA, but more importantly it’s a way to call attention to community leadership development and bring people together around the topic,” Bishop said. “Let’s look at some latest trends. Let’s look at some good things that are happening out in the state and learn from each other.” 

For information or to register for the conference, go to


Writer: Christopher James, 706-542-3631,

Contact: Matt Bishop, 706-542-6201,

Georgia Power gift will bolster programs in underserved communities

A gift from Georgia Power will help the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development launch youth and adult leadership programs in underserved Georgia communities. Lenn Chandler, Northeast Region Vice President for Georgia Power, presented the funding to Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop on Friday. The Fanning Institute, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, provides leadership training to youth and adults in more than 100 communities each year.