Saturday, January 31, 2009

GNB Weekend Update--Super Bowl Edition

Welcome to your Super Bowl weekend...Might be late, but better late than never...And now the news.

It's an opportunity to "close a very painful chapter" in Georgia history.

Those were just some of the remarks State Senator Seth Harp made to the Georgia Alumni Association of Black State Universities during its meeting in Atlanta Thursday. Just the day before, Harp introduced resolution S.R. 84. It would lead to the merger of two historically black public universities, and two predominantly white institutions. Those schools are Albany State University and Darton College in Albany, and Armstrong Atlantic and Savannah State Universities in Savannah. Any merger of public colleges and universities must be approved by the Board of Regents. But Chancellor Erroll Davis is opposed to Harp's proposal. He says it would be detrimental to the students.

The ongoing economic downturn now has an effect on the bus manufacturing industry. reports the Fort Valley-based Blue Bird Corporation has laid off an undisclosed number of its employees, which were mostly adminstrative personnel. But the news wasn't all bad, as Blue Bird announced plans to add 100 more jobs to the 1,800-employee facility.

Finally, there was both good and bad news for economic observers in Milledgeville. The bad news came in the form of Shaw Industries leaving town earlier this week. The closing of the carpet manufacturer will result in the loss of 150 jobs. On the bright side, Rheem announced that it's recalling the 700 workers that were laid off last year. They'll be back on the job February 16.

That's the news. Remember to log on to for fresh news all weekend long. In the meantime, may the best team win Super Bowl XLIII, whether it be the Pittsburgh Steelers, or the Arizona Cardinals.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

GNB Update

Here's the Thursday edition of the GNB Update...

We start off with more bad news from Columbus. Cessna is cutting 100 jobs from its facility there. It currently has 650 employees. Nationwide, the Wichita, Kansas-based aircraft manufacturer plans to eliminate up to more than 4,600 by the end of March. Just last week, Columbus lost a major supplier for Kia when DongNam Tech announced it was no longer coming to the Chattahoochee Valley.

By now, you've heard that the House of Representatives passed President Obama's stimulus package for $819 billion late Wednesday night. But ecomonists at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business say southwest Georgia won't see the fruits of the President's work, at least not yet. In fact, Selig Center for Economic Growth director Jeffrey Humphreys says Albany will be especially hard hit because of the impeding loss of Cooper Tire. He expects that things won't "bottom out" until the middle of 2010.

Lawmakers may soon give Georgia's cities a choice: either cut spending or raise property taxes. They proposed legislation that could force the state's cities, counties, and school boards to resort to that no-win situation. The proposal would make it all but impossible for the state to fund a property tax worth over $400 million.

Finally, the state Senate by a unanimous vote passed the Zero-Based Budgeting Act. Georgia Legislative Watch reports the senators voted 50-0 to approve "SB-1", which calls for approriators to eliminate ineffective programs, as well as wasteful spending.

That's the news. Don't forget you can log on to GNB at And tell as many people about GNB. Enjoy your Thursday night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

GNB Update

It's Wednesday...Time for another GNB Update...

The economic stimulus package proposed by President Barack Obama is still being debated at this hour, but most congressional Republicans are opposed to the bill, saying there's too much spending in it. Still, Jim Wooten of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes the GOP may be fighting a losing battle on the stimulus issue.

When disaster strikes, even animals can be at risk. has more on how veterinarians in Athens are preparing pets for such worst-case scenarios.

Two more deaths are reported in the salmonella investigation at the peanut butter plant in Blakely. WALB reports that the Peanut Corporation of America had knowledge of products being contaminated with the bacteria, but sent them out anyway. The Food and Drug Administration identified at least 12 instances of salmonella. It also reported at least four different strains of the bacteria. More than 390 products are being recalled at this moment.

Finally, there may be some divine intervention coming to Albany soon, in the form of a 40-foot cross. Albany landowner Peter Studl wants to put the cross on top of a building he owns in the city's downtown district. But his proposal has sparked controversy in the past. Studl was forced to remove some smaller crosses from another building earlier this month because they violated city ordinances.

That's the news. Don't forget to log on to for non-stop news all day and all night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

GNB Update

Here's what going on in Georgia for Tuesday...

Has Georgia become the "Hollywood of Christian movies"? Officials at an Albany church think so. Find out why by clicking here.

In a story reported on the "GNB Twitter" Monday night, the investigation into salmonella contamination is complete, and federal officials have mutliple violations at the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely. WALB in Albany reports that sanitation problems contributed to the contamination of products containing peanut butter. The Georgia Department of Agriculture also reports 27 violations at the plant within a two-year period. So far, salmonella contamination has been blamed for at least seven deaths nationwide.

There could be an end in sight for Georgia's agricultural woes. Specialists from the University of Georgia spoke in Gainesville Tuesday morning for third annual Georgia Agriculture Forecast. They say that 2009 could be "a turning point" for the state's farmers in terms of overcoming the drought conditions of years past. But Scott Angle of UGA's agricultural school says the struggling economy made agriculture unpredictable. UGA agribusiness center director John McKissick did say that vegetables and fruits will do better this year, urging farmers to stay optimistic despite the economy.

Finally, the new CEO of the Macon Symphony Orchestra officially started work this week. Sheryl Towers main focus for the orchestra is continued growth. She wants to appeal to a more diverse audience throughout middle Georgia.

That's the news for Tuesday. Remember to check the "GNB Report" for the news that interests you throughout Georgia all day, all night. Also, check the new "GNB Twitter" for any breaking news of interest. It's all available at

NOTE: Corrected at 10:07 a.m. EST January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

GNB Update

Here's to Monday...and here's what's going on right now on GNB...

This week starts off with news of more layoffs. Home Depot announced it's eliminating more than 7,000 jobs, and 34 EXPO stores nationwide. The Atlanta-based home improvement retailer says it's also freezing officer salaries in the wake of the cutbacks. The restructuring moves will cost the company more than $500 million.

As if there wasn't enough bad news on Georgia's economic front. Columbus-based insurance company AFLAC, Inc. defended its capital position after seeing its stock plunge 36 percent late last week. Company officials say it didn't see a need to raise more cash, nor make any changes to their cash dividend payments for this year. It reaffirmed an expected 15 percent increase in earnings.

The Macon Symphony Orchestra has a new CEO this week. Sheryl Towers was recently appointed to the post. She is the author of "Seeds of Success: Nurturing the Greatness Within You". The symphony is currently in its 32nd season.

And Georgia once again comes up short in its quest to bring home its first Miss America title in more than 55 years. Miss Georgia 2008 Chasity Hardman of Columbus finished as first runner-up in the 88-year-old competition in Las Vegas Saturday night. Katie Stam, Miss Indiana, is the new Miss America for 2009. The lone winner from the Peach State was Neva Jane Langley of Macon in 1953.

That's the news for now. Remember to visit for the latest news from around Georgia all day, all night.

Friday, January 23, 2009

GNB Weekend Update

Well, the weekend is here! What better way to go into finding out what's going on statewide right now.

A state lawmaker who has received criticism for wanting to merge two of Georgia's historically black public universities will speak at a conference in Atlanta next week.

State Senate Higher Education Committee chairman Seth Harp will be the featured speaker at the Georgia Alumni Association of Black State Universities legislative conference, which starts next Wednesday, and continues into next weekend. His plan to merge Albany State University and Darton College in Albany, as well as Armstrong Atlantic and Savannah State Universities, both in Savannah, has received opposition from alumni from both ASU and SSU. Savannah State's national alumni association is the sponsor of the conference.

Georgia doesn't have the authority to close a visitor's center for a former president.

That's the response State Senator George Hooks of Americus gave to state economic development officials during a budget hearing Thursday. He cites a law passed in 1977 saying the state can't close any facility that's near the home of any Georgian elected President. The Georgia Department of Economic Development wants to eliminate more than $186,000 for former President Jimmy Carter's visitor center in Plains as part of the state budget cuts. Economic Development chairman Ken Stewart says he and his department "will certainly look at other options".

The Georgia Department of Transportation is also a target of statewide budget cuts. Transportation commissioner Gena Evans appeared before approriators Thursday to convince them to raise taxes in hopes of closing her department's budget hole. But the Georgia Legislative Watch reports it could be sometime next year before lawmakers take action.

Finally, the ongoing investigation into salmonella contamination at the Blakely peanut plant has resulted in job losses. WSB-TV in Atlanta reports that nearly all of the 46 individuals employed at the plant were laid off Thursday. The three managers that still work in Blakely were in the process of putting together records to FDA officials at this moment.

Remember to visit the "GNB Report" section at for the latest statewide news all day and night. In the meantime, have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

GNB Midday Update

It's Thursday...Time for another GNB Update...

One Atlanta blogger says that video machines won't help Underground Atlanta...Read on to find out his views on the matter.

Meanwhile...the salmonella probe continues in southwest Georgia. Federal officials say a peanut processing plant in Blakely may be the main source of the outbreak. That resulted in 125 products containing peanut butter being recalled. Close to 500 people have gotten sick due to salmonella. Also, the outbreak is to blame for six deaths so far. Even dog biscuits containing peanut butter are on the recall list at this hour.

While economic development officials in Columbus continue to assess the fall-out from the sudden departure of a major Kia supplier, another local company has reported losses on Wall Street. reports that stock for AFLAC fell to $24.53. The Columbus-based insurance company's numbers have dropped by 60 percent in the past year alone.

Finally, the Dougherty County Commission Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing the Southwest Georgia Regional Development Center to apply for an annual federal transit grant. Also, new Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission CEO Ted Clem was introduced to county commissioners at the regular meeting.

That's the news. Remember to keep up with the latest news from around the state of Georgia, 24/7, via the "GNB Report" link at And please spread the word about GNB to everyone you know.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

GNB Update

With Barack Obama having finished his first full day in the White's what making news right now...

Columbus has suffered a major blow to its economic development efforts. It lost Kia supplier DongNam Tech Wednesday, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. The South Korea-based company announced it was being bought by another company, NVH Korea. DongNam would have created 350 jobs in the Columbus area. Kia hopes to open its plant in nearby West Point by the end of this year.

Another Columbus-based company has made a change in leadership. The board of directors at Carmike Cinemas Wednesday removed Michael Patrick as its CEO. The national movie theater operator has struggled financially since filing for bankruptcy in 2000.

Expect the recession to continue well into 2010. That's what Georgia's top ecomonist told state lawmakers Wednesday. State ecomonist Kenneth Heagney told the House and Senate approprations committees that both Georgia and the U.S. are "mired in a fairly deep recession", adding that "we're a long way from getting back to normal. Governor Sonny Perdue projects a decline more than four percent for the rest of fiscal year 2009, and a small growth of less than two percent for next year. Georgia faces a shortfall of more than $2 billion in its budget.

Finally, some rare good economic news, sort of. reports that central Georgia's economy hasn't taken the hits that other parts of the nation have. Mercer University economics professor Roger Tutterow says a diverse mix of industries has helped protect the region from the massive job losses that the rest of the U.S. has suffered. Still, University of Georgia Terry College of Business dean Robert Sumichrast warns that the state's economic struggles are far from over. He says that the recession will be "severe rather than mild, and prolonged rather than short".

Remember, you can always with what's going on statewide, anytime, anywhere, at

Monday, January 19, 2009

GNB Update

Here's an abbreviated edition of the GNB Update...on this MLK Day...

Martin Luther King Day was observed all over Georgia and nationwide Monday, including Warner Robins. A civil rights pioneer from Albany says he's looking forward to seeing Barack Obama become America's 44th president Tuesday. Of course, the celebration started Monday morning from Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Speaking of the inauguration, an Albany restaurant is offering its own special while history is being made. Meanwhile, a Democratic activist from Columbus will contribute reports from the nation's capital for a local television station.

And Governor Sonny Perdue owes his creditors a huge debt. The price tag? $21 million. He must pay back that debt by March 1.

That's the news. Remember to check the "GNB Report", and the "Blog Roll" for the latest news you can't get anywhere else.

Friday, January 16, 2009

GNB Weekend Update

Here's some goings-on in the Georgia economic landscape for an otherwise chilly weekend weather-wise...

The continuing recession has claimed yet another victim. Electronics retailer Circuit City plans to close all of its remaining stores, including at least 20 in Georgia. The company filed for bankruptcy protection last November.

A large utility company plans to reduce its work force in hopes of not resorting to layoffs. Georgia Power is offering a buyout package to many of its employees in exchange for retirement. The Atlanta-based company must cut at least 400 jobs, citing the struggling economy. Current employees who choose to take the buyout could get up to a year in pay, but there are restrictions in place.

The new face for economic development in Albany finished his first day on the job Friday. New Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission CEO Ted Clem says one of his priorities will be to "determine where we are and how we can best leverage our community's unique assets to create jobs and grow the economy." Clem was named to the commission's top post almost two weeks ago.

One northwest Georgia county hopes to benefit from new housing. Catoosa County is one such community that's applying for HUD's new stabilization program. It provides state and federal assistance in acquiring foreclosed properties nationwide. The Catoosa County News reports the program could bring more than $530,000 to the county.

Have a good weekend, and keep warm, as Saturday morning temperatures are expected to be in the teens.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

GNB Update

Another day, another GNB Update...

Governor Sonny Perdue delivered the State of the State address under the Gold Dome in Atlanta Wednesday morning. And to no one's surprise, the big topic of discussion was Georgia's budget shortfall, which currently stands at more than $2 billion. He urged lawmakers to tap into the state's reserves for $50 million now, and more than $400 million in the next fiscal year. Perdue also urged Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson to devise an effective transportation plan with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

There's some resistance to Governor Perdue's proposal to fund Medicaid for hospitals and insurance companies. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that both Republicans and Democrats oppose the fee proposal, which calls for a 1.6 per cent fee on hospital revenues and insurance plans in hopes of covering a hole for Medicaid that totals more than $200 million. The proposal also would provide a $60 million statewide trauma network.

In other health care news, there'll soon be more options for expectant mothers delivering children in Albany. The Georgia Department of Community Health recently approved Palmyra Medical Center's certificate of need to provide obsteric services. But Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital plans to appeal that decision, saying that competition will be stifled.

Finally, Gwinnett County has a problem with leaks. Only these leaks come from grease instead of water, which Gwinnett's water resources department has already fixed six times so far this year. A leak earlier this month in Norcross saw more than 12,000 gallons of effluent disappearing from the sewers.

Remember, the GNB Report has all the news that's fit to browse on the Internet all day, all night. Have a great day.

Correction on MillerCoors Albany announcement

Here's an error to report from Tuesday's "GNB Update". WALB-TV reported Tuesday there was an announcement that MillerCoors (formerly the Miller Brewing Company) would partner with Georgia Quick Start in Albany. The actual announcement will be held Thursday, not Tuesday, as originally reported in the update. GNB regrets the error.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

GNB Nightside Update

Good evening. Here's what making news in Georgia right now.

There's bad economic news out of middle Georgia at this hour. Eddie Wiggins announced that he's closing his car dealership in Warner Robins. He won't re-open it. Wiggins filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on New Year's Eve, but remained open while seeking relief from creditors. The Buick, Pontiac, and GMC dealership officially closed Friday.

Almost a month after the announcement of Cooper Tire closing its doors, one current Albany plant will see increased business. The Miller brewing plant will now produce the Coors brand of beer under the merger of Miller and Coors. Training of new employees will be done through the Georgia Quick Start program. There's no word on how many new jobs created as a result of Tuesday's announcement.

Atlanta could be taking on a big gamble, literally. That's what developers with Underground Atlanta are hoping for soon, as they plan to start a casino-style gaming facility. The Delaware-based Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment plan to bring in video lottery terminals as part of the proposal, pending approval by the Georgia Lottery Corporation. But that effort faces opposition from Governor Sonny Perdue, who's a devout Christian.

Finally, northeast Georgia saw significant improvement in its adult literacy rates. The Athens Banner-Herald reports that more residents in that part of the state have the basic skills to read and understand a newspaper than 10 years ago. Adults in Jackson and Barrow Counties had the biggest increase during the last decade, with Jackson's illiteracy rate dropping from 26 to 16 percent, while Barrow's fell from 23 to 14 percent.

Don't forget to check the GNB Report for the latest news statewide, 24/7. Have a good evening, and keep warm.

GNB Morning Update

Here's another GNB Update...

Georgia comes up empty in the latest battle over water usage.

Florida Environmental News reports that the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by Georgia dealing with the flow of the Apalachicola River.

A district court ruling from 2003 says that a deal between Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was illegal. Alabama and Florida sued to block that deal. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue expressed his disappointment over the high court's decision in a written statement, but added that he would continue to work with Alabama and Florida to reach consensus on a plan that would protect the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint River basins.

Get ready for cold, chilly weather later this week. The National Weather Service says that temperatures are expected to drop into the low 20's by Thursday. Meanwhile, one Albany business is doing what it can to help a few people that are less fortunate keep warm this winter.

And with less than a week remaining until Barack Obama becomes President, a former commander-in-chief recently fell victim to thieves. Earlier this month, former President and Plains native Jimmy Carter, and his wife, Rosalynn, had their bikes stolen from inside the Carter Center in Atlanta earlier this month. A local bike shop owner donated the bikes to the Carters due to the poor condition of their previous bikes. Atlanta police say they have made no arrests.

Monday, January 12, 2009

GNB Update

This is the first-ever edition of the "GNB Update", a quick recap of select news events of the day in Georgia, as it happens. So, without further ado, let's get started.

The Georgia General Assembly convened its 2009 session Monday morning in Atlanta. The biggest issue is how Georgia will get through these tough economic times, with the state facing a deficit of more than $2 billion. Also, Glenn Richardson once again was named the speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.

Poultry farmers in Georgia are finding the going rough, too. The Athens Banner-Herald reports that corn prices rose to $7.50 a bushel last year. That will result in production being reduced. To make matters worse, the Pilgrim's Pride plans to reduce 10 per cent of workforce in Athens next month.

Prosecutors statewide will now have an easier time in getting gangs off the streets. That's because the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state's "Gang Participation Act" is constitutional. That ruling could have a huge impact on a case where an Albany police officer was shot while questioning a gang member last year.

And Macon gets some positive cash flow in its budget. But it may not last long. That's what a recently released audit for fiscal year 2008 shows. The audit reported the general fund increased from a deficit of more than $3.5 million, to a surplus of $2.1 million. Macon Mayor Robert Reichert called the surplus a "very positive development", but urged caution, as the tax funding used for the budget expires in March.

General Assembly opens today

It's January, and another session of the Georgia General Assembly opens today in Atlanta. Scroll down to the "Georgia News Media" and "GNB Report" to read and view the top stories in the 2009 legislative session. Also, check the "Blogroll" for unique perspectives on what lawmakers are doing this year.

Friday, January 9, 2009

UGA ranked in top 10 in "Best College Value"

Georgia's flagship university begins the new year with a top 10 the academic arena.

The University of Georgia was ranked ninth on the "Best Value Colleges" list for 2009. That's according to the Princeton Review.

The "Best Value" choices were based on the surveys of administrators and students at more than 650 institutions nationwide, covering more than 30 factors in three areas: academics, cost of attendance, and financial aid.

Aside from UGA, other Georgia colleges & universities selected for the "Best Values" were Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia College & State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

This year's survey came out in Thursday's print edition of USA Today, as well as its online version. The complete list of "Best Value Colleges", which features 50-50 split of private as well as public institutions, is listed online at, and

Monday, January 5, 2009

Clem named new Albany EDC CEO

Photo: Ted Clem
Courtesy of Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission

The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission finally has its man.

In a special called meeting Monday, the commission's board of directors named Ted Clem as chief executive officer. He comes to Albany from the Florida Panhandle, where he currently works with the Bay County Economic Development Alliance. During his tenure in Panama City Beach, Fla., he helped create more than 5,000 jobs.

Clem is no stranger to economic development in the Southeast, as he graduated from what is now Troy University of Alabama. In 1995, he was selected as the vice president of business development for Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Georgiana, Ala. native will face a huge challenge as the new face for economic development in Albany, as he attempts to fill the void left by the immiment departure of Cooper Tire Company. The Findlay, Ohio-based tire manufacturing company announced last month that it would close the Albany plant by the end of this year.

His first day on the job is January 16.

About the Georgia News Beat

If you're reading this page for the first time, you're probably asking yourself, What is the "Georgia News Beat"?

As the name at the top of the blog indicates, GNB provides a unique, inside look at what's making news in the state of Georgia, from business to politics, higher education to the business of sports, to general features and profiles, and even the occasional feature story or profile, GNB will cover it.

Why "Georgia News Beat"? In journalism terms, a "beat" is a term where a journalist covers a particular subject or neighborhood of a city, such as business, politics, features, high school sports, media relations, new media, etc. In other words, it's a mixture of news and features you can't get anywhere else on the Internet.

In this case, the so-called "beat" for this blog will be the entire the state of Georgia. All of those subjects mentioned will be covered as often as possible on GNB. Also, expect a few profiles on some of the people who not only influence economic development, but also the unsung heroes who help get the word out on their companies to media outlets statewide, i.e., the media and public relations professionals.

Whether it's a large industry or small business closing, a new business coming to your city, suburb, or small town, or even critical pieces of legislation affecting your job, career, or even how you pay for basic necessities, GNB hopes to cover it. We'll even cover subjects such as how population growth and decline affects economic development throughout Georgia.

So, sit back, and enjoy GNB at, and feel free to send comments, news tips and other information by clicking here. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Welcome to the Georgia News Beat, and to 2009!!! More to come!!! Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!