The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Florida has the beaches, Pennsylvania has the Pocono Mountains, and California has the movie studios. Looking for a place where you can experience all three attractions and still get a taste of southern hospitality? The Peach State is your best bet and the tourism statistics prove it. Georgia welcomed more than 111 million international and domestic visitors in 2018, a record-breaking year for the state’s tourism industry, Gov. Brian Kemp and economic development leaders announced in January during the annual Tourism, Hospitality and Arts day at the Georgia State Capitol.

Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development, calculated that visitors spent close to $40 billion in communities throughout the state and supported 478,000 jobs. The billions in tourism-related expenditures generated $3.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.

“As visitors continue to discover Georgia’s unexpected destinations that range from the North Georgia Mountains to Cumberland Island, our economy continues to grow, new jobs are created, and our communities thrive,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Without the jobs created by the tourism industry, Georgia’s unemployment rate would be 10%, nearly twice as high as the record-low average, Explore Georgia said in a press release. 

The announcement follows Georgia’s consecutive recognition as the best state to do business by different business publications, solidifying the Peach State’s live, work and play attraction. “The tourism, hospitality, and arts industries are constantly propelling our state’s places, culture, stories, and people to the forefront – showing the world why Georgia is the best place to vacation, live, and do business,” Wilson said. 

To learn more, visit:

Exploregeorgia.com

Georgia Wraps Up Decade as Top State for business

Georgia Wraps Up Decade as Top State for business

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020Development and growth in Atlanta remain strong as the decade comes to an end, and the economic activity and favorable business climate characteristic of Atlanta looks just as peachy for the entire state of Georgia. In November, Georgia was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the top state for business for a record-breaking seventh year in a row. Similarly, Area Development Magazine also named Georgia as the top state for business for the sixth-consecutive year. 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said continuing to foster a thriving business climate has been a major part of his vision for the state since assuming office in January 2019. “From Day One of my administration, we have been laser-focused on creating opportunities for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state,” Kemp  announced at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia in November . “Our efforts to cut burdensome regulations, continue developing a world-class workforce, and market all regions of the Peach State through the formation of a Rural Strike Team have not gone unnoticed, and this announcement affirms that.” 

 

The state’s workforce training program, Georgia Quick Start, was also recognized as one of the best in the nation. The state reported around 29,000 new jobs were created for fiscal year 2019. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, 2.5 million residents are expected to move to the region by the year 2040, bringing the total population to 8 million. 

 

Heading into the new decade, technology will be a key area of growth for the region and state. The Metro Atlanta Chamber identified bioscience, financial technology, supply chain and Internet of Things as economic segments poised for growth. Additionally, Georgia’s logistics hub legacy is one of the state’s main competitive advantages. Logistics hubs like the Port of Savannah and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connect businesses to their customers with ease. The workforce training programs, and logistic hubs, coupled with the state’s pro-business policies make Georgia a frontrunner for companies looking to relocate. 

“The nation’s leading site consultants see opportunity for growth across our state. Our top-ranked workforce development initiatives – combined with a conservative, pro-business policy approach, world-class higher education system, and a logistics network that puts the global economy within arm’s reach – make Georgia a top competitor for investment from businesses large and small – across the country and around the world,” Kemp said. 

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.metroatlantachamber.com 

https://www.georgia.org https://atlantaregional.org/

Truist completes merger to create country’s sixth-largest commercial bank

Truist completes merger to create country’s sixth-largest commercial bank

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read December 2019The banking industry welcomed the nation’s sixth-largest commercial bank earlier this month as regulatory authorities completed the merger between BB&T and SunTrust banks, now officially known as the Truist Financial Corporation. The new bank will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Atlanta retains its corporate and investment banking division. The conversion to the Truist brand will be phased out over two years as systems are integrated and will serve approximately 10 million U.S consumer households and businesses. The Truist brand will keep its predecessors’ philanthropic culture by contributing close to $100 million annually to various metro Atlanta community organizations over the next three years.  

“This is a historic moment for Truist – a financial services organization created from two companies with shared values and a deep commitment to building a better future for our clients and communities,” said former BB&T Corporation CEO and Truist Chairman Kelly King in a press release. “The completion of this merger of equals is a tremendous achievement and a testament to the thousands of Truist teammates who have diligently worked to ensure its timely conclusion.”

Truist will have the largest market share of any bank in metro Atlanta and will rank as one of the leading commercial banks in most of the major markets in its territory. Prior to the merger, SunTrust had been Georgia’s largest bank. “We have much work ahead of us, but we’re well-positioned to create meaningful change for the clients we serve and the communities where we live and work,” said former SunTrust CEO and Truist President William Rogers in a press release. 

To that end, its leaders announced a $60 billion community benefits plan in July earmarked for lending or investment in low- and moderate-income communities from 2020–2022. The commitment includes monies slated to help customers with home purchase mortgages and small business loans, as well as creating affordable housing developments and investments in local community redevelopment agencies across its markets.

Metro Atlanta can expect close to $100 million in community investments annually for the next three years. The community investments will support varying initiatives each year aimed at addressing the diverse needs of the region. Previously, SunTrust supported nonprofit organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta, YMCA of Metro Atlanta, as well as investing more than $10 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to help construct 175 units of affordable senior housing in greater Atlanta, according to its website.

As for the Atlanta Braves’ newly built home, SunTrust Park will keep its namesake for now.  Much like the systems integrations, the rebranding efforts, including BB&T and SunTrust sports related facilities, could take close to two years to bear the Truist name, per different reports. 

For now, clients can continue to use their perspective BB&T or SunTrust branches, websites, mobile apps, financial advisers and relationship managers, as well as use BB&T and SunTrust ATMs to make withdrawals without incurring out-of-network fees, Truist officials said. 

 

To learn more, visit: https://www.thepremierfinancialinstitution.com/

Decatur embraces “hipsturbia”

Decatur embraces “hipsturbia”

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — Downtowns throughout the nation are popular among millennials for their walkability and myriad retail, recreation and lifestyle choices. But as millennials settle down and begin to outgrow their trendy Downtown apartments, the need to find a suburban neighborhood that is affordable, yet vibrant and walkable, has solidified itself as a trend to watch out for in 2020. Aptly described as “hipsturbia,” millennials across the nation are trading their city lifestyle for the suburbs, without losing their affinity for walkability and access to cool, a-la mode restaurants, retail and recreation options. Developers are tapping into the hipsturbia trend as seen by the proliferation of affordable, multi-use suburban communities in cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta. As a result, in October, The Urban Land Institute named “hipsturbia” one of the top emerging trends for 2020. 

In essence, “hipsturbia” suburbs are characterized by their vibrant downtowns that offer walkability, public transit and a variety of “hip” restaurants, retail and recreation. In the Atlanta Metro Area, Decatur, located In Dekalb County, is quickly embracing “hipsturbia.” Approximately one-third of Decatur residents could be considered millennials, according to the population figures on Decatur’s official website. This year, Niche.com, the neighborhood ranking and review site, rated Decatur as the No. 1 place, and suburb, to live in Georgia. Downtown Decatur offers a bevy of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, that add to its “cool” factor. The area has an urban-suburban feel that fits in with the “hipsturbia” trend. According to the Urban Land Institute, people living in communities like Decatur, are discovering that smaller communities can have the same appeal as big cities. The institute predicts that millennials will continue to move to communities that offer walkable spaces and “hip” amenities. 

Once touted as cash-strapped and debt-ridden, millennials are making an impact in the national housing market. According to the institute, “hipsturbia” is happening in major cities like San Francisco and Chicago, as well as smaller cities such as Charleston and Phoenix. As the lack of home affordability draws young families away from big cities and into the suburbs, it is possible that it will not take long for “hipsturbia” to transform from a trend into the preferred suburban development style of the future.

For more information, visit:

https://www.decaturga.com/

https://ulidigitalmarketing.blob.core.windows.net/emergingtrendspdfs/ET2020FallMeeting.pdf

How Did Thanksgiving Become Game Day for the NFL?

How Did Thanksgiving Become Game Day for the NFL?

By: Sara Warden

2 min read NOVEMBER 2019 — On Thanksgiving, there is only one thing that comes close to turkey in importance for Atlanta sports fans, and that’s the NFL’s game schedule. This year, the Atlanta Falcons will be one of three teams hosting the Thanksgiving Day games, facing off again the New Orleans Saints. 

This will be the Falcons’ fourth Thanksgiving Day game, and having lost against the Saints last year on their home turf, this one is sure to be a must-watch. Those fans going to watch the game live could also feel a little pain in their wallets: Last year’s Saints-Falcons game was the most expensive Thanksgiving Day game for fans, with an average ticket price of $518 on the secondary market.

No doubt, Thanksgiving football is big business for the NFL. In 2018, NBC’s primetime viewing of the Falcons-Saints game brought in an 11.4/24 rating, up 18% from 2017’s Washington-New York Giants primetime game on NBC and the network’s best Thanksgiving night NFL performance since 2015. For the rights to a selection of high-profile games that includes the Thanksgiving game, Super Bowl Broadcasts and Thursday Night Football, NBC is paying $1.1 billion a year to the NFL.

That explains why the tradition stuck, but why did it start? Although it doesn’t quite go back to The Mayflower, the Thanksgiving game is a long-standing tradition spanning back as far as 1920. Political upheaval during the time meant the games were sporadic, but eventually in 1934, George A. Richards bought the Portsmouth Spartans, renamed them the Detroit Lions and gave Thanksgiving another try. 

This was largely a solution to the problem of low attendance during the year, but the Thanksgiving game became a rousing success. First, people already had the day off work and second, it became an escape for those looking to perhaps spend less quality time with family. More than 26,000 people booked tickets weeks in advance and reportedly thousands more were turned away at the gate.

In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys saw the success of the “Detroit Lions vs…” games and decided to get in on the action. Since then, both teams have played each year, with one additional game added to the roster. This year’s Falcons-Saints game will be played in the new, state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz stadium – “the finest sports and entertainment facility in the world,” according to Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council.

The stadium was funded by a largely taxpayer-based system, in a $2.4 billion investment based on bonds and hotel taxes. And Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms believes the stadium may allow Atlanta to host many more high-profile sporting events, including these popular Thanksgiving games. “I think it’s well worth the investment, and when you look at the long-lasting impact and our ability to showcase Atlanta, sometimes you have to spend a little money to make a little money,” she told USA Today.

To learn more, visit:

https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/mayor-s-office/meet-the-mayor

Tyler Perry’s new 330-acre film compound is the largest in the nation

Tyler Perry’s new 330-acre film compound is the largest in the nation

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read November 2019 — Hollywood and the movie industry have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship since the days of Charlie Chalpin, Humphrey Bogart and Bela Lugosi. However, in the 21st century, multi-hyphenate film mogul, Tyler Perry, has been keen on proving that successful movie production outside of California is possible. In October, Perry unveiled his new 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios, built on the grounds of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, a former military base in Atlanta that Perry purchased in 2015. While the state of Georgia has consistently attracted new movie and TV productions to the region via tax incentives, the man behind Madea’s crazy family adventures has been busy on and off the camera promoting Georgia and the Atlanta Metro Area as a venue for productions of all sizes. Now, with his new studio in full swing, Perry has a new base to challenge Hollywood for the audience’s attention, praise and profit. 

Tyler Perry Studios is the largest film production studio in the nation. It also makes Perry the first African-American to have sole ownership of a major film production studio. “We are a major player in film and television, and now we have the facilities to rival Hollywood – so come, bring your productions,” Perry told Atlanta Business Chronicle in late September. Georgia’s current tax credit system, in which studios can earn up to 30% tax credits on total production costs, has led to a boom in movie business in the region. It estimated that Georgia’s film and television industry generated close to $2.7 billion in economic impact in 2018 with over 300 productions in the region.  

 

It is likely that you have seen a show or movie shot in Perry’s former studio, also in Atlanta. Several top productions have used his facilities to wow audiences, including Marvel’s “Black Panther,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and “Pitch Perfect 3,” aside from Perry’s bevy of brand-name shows and movies. The new studio features 12 state-of-the-art sound stages, 200 acres of picturesque green space, over 40 Victorian style homes and even a replica of the White House. Perry, who is an avid lover of architecture, still has 200 acres of space to continue to build elaborate stages suitable for any type of production. 

 

Perry’s most recent productions, “The Oval” and “Sistas,” have drawn over 3.3 million viewers at night on BET+, the network’s streaming platform. In October, along with the grand opening of his studio, Perry announced two more series are set to premiere in BET+ in 2020. Fans can add the new series “Bruh” and “Ruthless” to their watch list sometime in the new year. Aside from being a world-class movie production site, the new studio will also serve as host to global events, concentrating the world’s eyes on the Atlanta Metro Area. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:  https://tylerperrystudios.com/

Local MVP: Atlanta United FC season may be done but its value is rising fast.

Local MVP: Atlanta United FC season may be done but its value is rising fast.

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read November 2019 – In the world of sports, soccer has long been the most popular game on Earth with over 4 billion aficionados who all want their favorite team to win. In the United States, however, the checkered round ball does not roll as far as it battles footballs, baseballs, basketballs, and even hockey pucks, for fans’ love, attention and attendance. But in Atlanta, the beautiful game is quickly becoming a fan favorite thanks to the success of the local and 2018 Major League Soccer Cup Champion Atlanta United FC.  

For the last three years, Atlanta United FC has broken multiple league records both in performance and attendance since joining Atlanta’s sports realm in 2017. Recently, the team topped the Forbes list of most valuable MLS teams with an estimated value of $500 million, up from $330 million from last year’s ranking. Trailing behind Atlanta United FC are LA Galaxy with a value of $480 million, and the Los Angeles FC valued at $475 million, both of which are clubs with established fan bases. 

The reigning champion’s hopes of defending its title were crushed after a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC in October. Though defending a title is hard in any sport, on average 52,000 fans flocked to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to cheer on The Five Stripes this regular season. In an August home match against the LA Galaxy, 72,548 people came out to support the team, the most ever in an MLS regular season match. In comparison, according to ESPN statistics, the Atlanta Falcons, who also claim the Mercedes-Benz Stadium as their home, have averaged close to 72,000 fans per home game, proving that soccer is quickly gaining popularity among fans in a town with a historied sports legacy. 

 

Though the 3-year-old franchise did not hoist the championship trophy this season, it did grab other remarkable accolades usually reserved for more established franchises. The World Football Summit named club President Darren Eales the Executive of the Year, and gave Mercedes-Benz Stadium the award for Best Venue. The Sports Business Awards named the Atlanta United FC as the Sport Team of the Year beating out teams in all pro-leagues, and further recognized the Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Sports Facility of the Year. Additionally, Atlanta United’s star forward Josef Martinez finished No. 2 on the MLS list of top-selling jerseys, behind legendary striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was acquired by the LA Galaxy from Manchester United in 2018.  

 

Off the field, Atlanta United FC is active in the community and champions different efforts to make the game of soccer accessible and inclusive for individuals across the state of Georgia. 

The Atlanta United Foundation promotes the importance of physical fitness and sportsmanship, and has made sizable soccer-related donations to the YMCA of Metro Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools. 

 

And if you think you have what it takes to be the next Atlanta United FC star player, here is your chance. The club is hosting its Dream Tryouts where aspiring athletes will battle it out for a professional contract with Atlanta United on Nov. 16.  

For more information, visit: https://www.atlutd.com/

James Fox, President, Maddox Group

James Fox, President, Maddox Group

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read October 2019 — To be successful in the construction industry, a company needs to be flexible and cognizant about the sector’s constant state of change. A construction company also needs to be wary that even with new technologies in the market, at the end of the day, there is no way to control unforeseen issues and challenges. James Fox, president of Maddox Group in Boca Raton, discussed these ideas with Invest: as well as how his company is ensuring it remains as recession proof as possible in preparation for an eventual economic dip. 

With which business sectors are your services most in demand?

 

The sector where we’re seeing the most demand is, first and foremost, corporate interiors. Second would be medical offices, then industrial and finally retail. The demand for medical offices seems pretty self-explanatory: retired people relocate to Florida and enjoy the weather, which ultimately increases the need for more medical services. In regards to the demand for more corporate offices, the trend seems to be going toward Palm Beach County due to the simple fact that, in comparison to Miami, there’s more land and more opportunity here now.

 

How have you seen the demand for office types change? 

 

Traditionally a typical build-out would consist of new ceilings, new flooring, new lighting and specified work stations. Today’s young entrepreneur is building offices that aren’t really offices; rather, they are 360-degree workspaces where there isn’t an emphasis on a desk or workspace belonging to any one individual.

 

How has new technology changed the construction industry? 

 

In our industry there are always new technologies popping up to make construction quicker, but at the end of the day it’s still construction. The fact is that you’re building things, and issues are going to arise that are out of anyone’s control. What we do is tell our clients that this is our schedule and barring any unforeseen challenges you’ll be able to move in by this date. But like I said, things happen, and technology can’t always help avoid them.

 

How do you best protect your business in the case of another economic slowdown? 

 

Everybody wants to talk about when things are going to come back to reality in the construction market. People can theorize but no one actually knows. My thought process is to stay recession proof. Doing interior build-outs has been the key to this. When the economy dips, businesses don’t have the capital to relocate and build a new office; instead, they will take the space they are working out of and change the interior. Instead of going out into the market and claiming we do 20 different things, we focus our efforts on interiors and it works for us.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://maddoxgc.com/

Top 5 Haunted Happenings in Tampa Bay

Top 5 Haunted Happenings in Tampa Bay

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 The month of October is known for seasonal change, pumpkin-spiced everything and the nationally celebrated horror day, Halloween. While the actual day is regarded as a time for candy, treats and Halloween scares, the weeks leading up to it have been appropriately dubbed “spooky season.” This is an exciting time for thrill seekers and Halloween enthusiasts in the Tampa Bay area as there are a variety of haunted happenings and spooky activities to experience. The following are five of the best and scariest events and places to make this Halloween a memorable one. 

 

 

Tampa Theatre

Regarded as Tampa’s most historic and most haunted movie palace, the Tampa Theatre has embraced its haunted lore for this year’s spooky season. The theater is known for haunted happenings involving former employees whose spirits seem to have never left the theater, like the theater’s old projectionist Foster “Fink” Finley whose footsteps are thought to still be heard from time to time. Not only has the theater showcased 14 nights of frightening films from Oct. 18th until Oct. 31, it is also featuring ghost tours and a special Halloween-themed happy hour event called PAUSE-O-WEEN on Oct. 31. 

For more on Tampa Theatre visit: https://tampatheatre.org/

 

Howl-O-Scream

Carrying the title as Tampa Bay’s No.1 haunted attraction, Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has been a staple of the community for 20 years. Not only does the event offer horror-heads the opportunity to walk through terrifying “scare zones,” it also features multiple haunted houses, access to many other twisted terrors and some of Busch Gardens most iconic rides. This weekend event runs from Sept. 20 to Nov, 2, and promises to “twist daydreams into nightmares.” 

To read more about Howl-O-Scream visit: https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/howl-o-scream/

Undead in the Water

Undead in the Water is an annual haunted house with a twist. It is the only authentic nautical haunted attraction in the region and takes place on the historically famous 1945 WWII vessel the American Victory Ship. Thrill seekers will rejoice in the challenge of venturing through the multiple decks of this historic vessel as they avoid consumption by an infected zombie hoard onboard the ship. Undead in the Water is infamous for being one of the scariest annual attractions that the region has to offer. This event runs every weekend from the beginning of October until Nov. 2. 

For more on Undead in the Water visit: https://www.undeadinthewater.com/

Ybor City Ghost Tour

While it is known for being a National Historical Landmark District in Tampa Bay and one of the preeminent spots for tourists and residents to frequent, Ybor City is also known as one of the top destinations for hauntings. With a deep rooted history in the development and emergence of the Tampa Bay region, Ybor City has seen its fair share of diverse demographics settling in the region and calling it home. According to urban legend some of these souls just decided to never leave, which is why Ybor City is home to the critically acclaimed Ybor City Ghost Tour. Rated as the No. 1 haunted tour in the United States by US City Traveler and rated in USA Today’s 10 best lists, this tour promises an informative and scary walk through the ghostly history of Ybor City. 

For more information on the Ybor City Ghost Tour visit: http://www.yborghosttour.com

Cuban Club

Located in Ybor City, the historic Cuban Club has a history that spans over a century and includes shows by world-renowned entertainers, weddings, parties and the occasional haunting. The club itself is a wonderful multipurpose rental facility with amenities like a grand ballroom, theater and courtyard. With numerous reports of ghostly sightings and paranormal activity, it is not a surprise that this location was named by The Travel Channel as one of its Top 10 most haunted places. The Club leaves it up to guests to decide whether they believe it to be haunted or not as stated in the FAQ on its website: “We are reputed to be haunted, but we will let you make up your own mind on this subject…”

To see more on the Cuban Club visit: http://cubanclubybor.com/