Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NCR Chairman and CEO Bill Nuti to Speak at Special Edition Success Lives Here on November 12

William (Bill) Nuti, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of NCR Corporation, has a knack for achieving and finding success. Nuti's ability to find success is what led him to relocate and expand the global technology company's headquarters to Gwinnett County.

Nuti was recently quoted on the relocation of NCR by saying that the decision to consolidate functions in Georgia and build a technology-focused corporate headquarters campus is right in line with their business strategy to drive growth, improve their innovation output, increase productivity and continually upgrade their focus on the customer.

By expanding the company's existing Southeastern presence, NCR will create 1,250 new jobs for the Gwinnett community. In addition, the expansion represents yet another project win for the Chamber's nationally-recognized, award-winning, community and economic development initiative, Partnership Gwinnett.

Gwinnett is proud to welcome NCR Corporation, a global technology company with 22,400 employees and 2008 revenue of approximately $5.32 billion, to a community where success lives. Join us for a Special Edition Success Lives Here on November 12 at Gwinnett Center where Nuti will discuss his early successes that prepared him for NCR, what led him to decide to relocate NCR's corporate headquarters to Gwinnett and how he is transforming NCR into a self-service giant.

Registration is at 8 a.m. and the program begins at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $45 for Chamber members; $55 for non-Chamber members. Pre-payment required. Deadline is November 9, 2009. No-shows will be billed. Walk-ins not guaranteed a seat. To RSVP, email Melissa Britt at melissa@gwinnettchamber.org. REGISTER ONLINE: gwinnettchamber.org/slhregistration.

Monday, October 12, 2009

ARC Chairman Charles "Chick" Krautler to Address Region's Infrastructure Challenges at Gwinnett Chamber Luncheon

Krautler to discuss his views on how infrastructure is critical to long-range viability of our region at the October 21 General Membership Meeting

Duluth, GA- The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Presenting Sponsor Rocket IT will host Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Director Charles “Chick” Krautler at its General Membership Meeting on October 21 at 11:30 a.m. at The 1818 Club. Krautler will discuss his views on how infrastructure is essential to long-range viability of our region and ways that the ARC is working to ensure that water supply, water quality and transportation systems are ready to handle the demands of the region’s growing population.

Krautler directs regional planning programs in the areas of transportation, air quality, the environment, land use, water supply and quality, along with aging services and workforce development. The ARC is the official metropolitan planning organization for the 10- county, 68 city Atlanta region.

General Membership Meetings are held once a month providing an opportunity for Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce members to stay abreast of important issues in Gwinnett and Metro Atlanta, network with other business professionals and have a chance to listen to renowned speakers from all types of industries.

Additional sponsors for the event include Media Sponsor Gwinnett Daily Post, Gold Sponsor Merrill Lynch- David Cross, and Silver Sponsor Olympus Media, LLC. The cost to attend is $45 for members and $55 for non-Chamber members. Advanced registration is required. Walk-ins at the event are not guaranteed a spot at the luncheon. RSVP to Melissa Britt at 678-957-4958 or melissa@gwinnettchamber.org or visit http://www.gwinnettchamber.org/gmmregistration.

General Manager/ CEO of MARTA Dr. Beverly Scott to Present at GLOW: Gwinnett's Leadership Organization for Women

October 16 Breakfast to Feature Presentation from Dr. Beverly Scott on How to Succeed in a Male-Dominated Industry

Duluth, GA- Jump off the platform and on the train of success that is now racing down the tracks of your career. Join Dr. Beverly Scott, general manager/CEO of MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), as she helps to conduct an empowering topic on “Big Things That Move: A Woman’s Perspective in a Male-Dominated Industry” at the October 16 GLOW: Gwinnett’s Leadership Organization for Women meeting Presented by Gwinnett Medical Center. The event will be held at 7:45 a.m. at The 1818 Club, 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, Ga 30097.

“This seminar is a great chance to hear and learn from a woman who has won in a male-dominated industry,” commented Nicole Wright, program manager, Gwinnett Chamber. “Backed by her tremendous experience, Dr. Scott will address how to accomplish your goals by working together and reaching a consensus.”

Those interested in the October 16 meeting are encouraged to visit GLOW’s blog and write about how they thrive in their industry. “Every woman has her own tried and true ways to flourish,” said Wright. “We would love to hear your ideas. Make sure to check the blog regularly to read all the perspectives of your fellow women and peers.”

Dr. Beverly Scott is the first female general manager and CEO of MARTA with a seasoned and distinguished career in the public transportation field. She is known in her profession as a progressive leader with extraordinary skill and foresight. Dr. Scott was named the 2008 Woman of Excellence by the Atlanta Business Chronicle Magazine. She earned her doctorate in Political Science with a specialization in Public Administration from Howard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Fisk University graduating Magna Cum Laude.

The event is also sponsored by Gold Sponsor Saint Leo University. The cost to attend is $35 for Chamber members and $45 for non-Chamber members. All no-shows will be billed. Walk-ins are not guaranteed a seat. To RSVP, please contact Nicole Wright at 770-232-8816; e-mail nicole@gwinnettchamber.org; or visit www.gwinnettchamber.org/glowregistration.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gwinnett Student Leadership Team: A Community of Leaders

Each year, the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, Inc. (GSLT, Inc.) graduates approximately 60 students into the community. While the student leaders are in school, they enhance and develop the function of leadership throughout their school in various roles spreading their knowledge and skills. Upon entering the real world, they go on to achieve great things.

One of many GSLT success stories is that of Captain Daniel Hwang who graduated with honors from South Gwinnett High School in 2002. Captain Hwang, who participated in GSLT from 2000-2002, went on to graduate in the top 3 percent of his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point. His rigorous work at West Point and in the military eventually landed him a promotion in January 2009 to captain for Charlie Company while serving in Samarra, Iraq.

Captain Hwang’s story goes beyond his high accolades with an act of kindness that reflects deep principles and strong leadership skills. While in Iraq, the U.S. Commander in Samarra requested commissioned officers to restore essential services. Captain Hwang chose education.

With deep ties to Gwinnett, Captain Hwang reached out to his home community for help in providing learning materials for 25,000 children. Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City schools responded to his challenge by collecting materials to fill 520 boxes which are now ready for shipment to Iraq.

GSLT Executive Director Nancy Ward said that Captain Hwang has inspired the students and adults alike who are involved in GSLT. Ward reported Captain Hwang specially arranged his annual leave from the military so that he would be in Gwinnett during GSLT’s Fall Retreat to speak to the current class. Ward said that Captain Hwang told students at the Retreat that he traces his success back to Gwinnett and GSLT. He left the students with a special message to explore the world, but to come back to Gwinnett, which is where he plans to return one day.

GSLT, with graduates including Captain Hwang and many other like him, began by chance or by fate when Nancy Ward, Gwinnett County Public Schools, and David Seago, Georgia Power, were seated next to each other in their first class of Leadership Gwinnett in 1993. During the program, they both discussed the fact that there was a leadership program for every community member with the exception of students. After they graduated from Leadership Gwinnett in 1994, Ward contacted Seago and said, “Let’s begin a class for students.” From there, GSLT was born.

The Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, Inc. (GSLT) is a two-year student leadership program that provides a learning experience for high school juniors and seniors in Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools. The program is sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public School System and Buford City Schools in conjunction with other community agencies, institutions, and businesses. GSLT, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt initiative, is under the direction of a ten-member Board of Directors: David Seago, President, of Georgia Power Company; John Upchurch, Vice-President, of Scholastic Images/Balfour; Randy Dellinger, Treasurer, of Jackson EMC; Nancy Ward, Executive Director, of Gwinnett County Public Schools; Peter Boyce, Attorney-at-Law; Thomas Boyce, Innovative Outdoors; Renee Byrd-Lewis, Cisco; Dr. John Green, Gwinnett County Public Schools; Gail Macrenaris, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce; and Dale Robbins; Gwinnett County Public Schools.

“GSLT provides an opportunity for students to develop personal and organizational leadership skills and an awareness of issues facing the community in which they live,” said Ward.

“The success of the program is truly measured by the success of the students upon entering the real world,” said Ward. “Their accomplishments say it all.”

Although GSLT began in 1995, the program is just now beginning to see dividends. “Many of the students who went through the programs in the early 90’s are just now getting settled into the workplace after completing post-graduate and medical degrees,” said Ward. “The payoff we are seeing is truly amazing. You can find GSLT graduates all over the country and the world. They are running businesses, producing award-winning films and operating non-profits in third world countries.”

From the fall of 1995 to June of 2009, 13 GSLT classes have completed the two-year leadership development experience with 379 graduates. During 2005-2009, over 18,000+ students participated in 700+ leadership development sessions designed and led by GSLT students and high school principals.

“Our hope is that students go back to their schools and communities to spread their knowledge and skills. The numbers show that this is occurring and that it is paying off in so many different ways,” said Ward.

Whether producing films, serving our country, attending acclaimed universities, starting businesses, or leading communities, GSLT graduates are leading the way and achieving greatness in Gwinnett County and beyond.

For more information on how you can support and get involved with the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, contact Gail Macrenaris, Director of Leadership and Education, Gwinnett Chamber at 770-232-8803 or gail@gwinnettchamber.org.

Business After Hours: Put Your Networking Skills to Work

Networking is all about being a good listener, according to veteran Business After Hours attendee David Brackman who is the president of Self Defense ATL. Brackman advises business owners to listen to what other people say about their business and personal lives and to also share your story when time permits.

“It is important to put yourself out there and expose your business as much as possible,” said Brack­man. “You never know who you may meet that could develop into a personal relationship that could help you personally and profes­sionally.”

Brackman puts his network­ing skills to work at the Chamber’s Business After Hours where he purchases a display booth almost every month. “By having a booth at Business After Hours, I have been able to make a tremendous amount of contacts who have provided me with business leads,” said Brackman. “By having a display booth and just by attending the monthly networking events, I have increased the amount of people to share my product with while also learning about other people’s businesses.”

Business After Hours, Gwinnett’s largest networking event with an average of 250 people in attendance, offers the perfect opportunity to develop business relationships and sharpen your networking skills in an atmosphere that is new, fun and ever-changing.

For Brackman, Business After Hours allows him to meet as many people as possible, learn about other businesses, and share his business with fellow business professionals. “I always look forward to Business After Hours,” said Brack­man. “Being involved in Business After Hours and in the Chamber makes a difference for me personally and profes­sionally.”

Held on usually the third Thursday of every month, Busi­ness After Hours is the perfect event to generate exposure for your company and is ideal for promoting new locations and grand openings. It provides a way to develop new business contacts and gather business ideas and network with fellow Chamber member. It is also the perfect opportunity to show off a new business and gain valu­able leads in a relaxed, after-work setting.

BAH is hosted by various members around the county at a different location each month from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. The member company that hosts the event provides food, bev­erage and entertainment for Gwinnett Chamber members and guests.

A limited number of display booths are also available for members to purchase for $125 to display their products and services to the attendees.

For additional information on attending a Business Af­ter Hours or to help sponsor one, contact Kim Jones at 770-232-8805 or kim@gwinnettchamber.org

This Chamber is in Business For You

Each fall marks the beginning of our volunteer-driven total resource campaign for the Gwinnett Chamber and we are excited to have nearly 40 teams and more than 200 volunteers participating this year. These volunteers are being led by our 2009 Campaign Co-Chairs Ron and Laurie Garrard with Garrard Construction and will be recruiting new members and sponsors to the Chamber as we continue our successful efforts to enhance Gwinnett and metro Atlanta’s reputation as one of the best places to live and work in the U.S.
Considering Gwinnett averages more than 20,000 new residents each year and there are more than 400 new firms that are members of the Chamber since January alone, it’s important from time to time to share what many may not know about their Chamber and our vision for the future.

So, if you’re reading this and not a member, we hope you’ll join us and invest in your business growth and the community in which you live or do business. If you already are a member, we hope you enjoy what you’ve helped to create and we look forward to our continued partnership.

The Gwinnett Chamber’s vision is simple – it’s about success. To help you as an individual succeed, help your company succeed and help our community succeed. That’s why our community’s motto is “Success Lives Here.” And the Chamber’s servant-leadership role in creating opportunities for success is evident in our motto, “In Business For You.”

Named one of the top three metro chambers in the United States by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Gwinnett Chamber is one of the largest and most dynamic business and regional economic development organizations in the Southeastern United States. In fact, the Gwinnett Chamber is the 6th largest Chamber in the Southeast.

With more than 2,500 companies representing a combined employment of more than 750,000 employees and more than $200 billion in revenue, the Gwinnett Chamber is a leader in job creation and retention, community development, and in growing local businesses for Gwinnett County, metro Atlanta and the Innovation Crescent regions of Georgia.

Unlike most Chambers our size, we are focused on entrepreneurial and growth-stage companies and nearly 85 percent of our members are small businesses with less than 50 employees. We are also regional in scope with approximately 32 percent of our members headquartered outside of Gwinnett County.

The Gwinnett Chamber works in six key areas: economic development, small business and entrepreneurial development, education, public policy, membership development and communications. Community development efforts also include programs to promote the arts, revitalization, law enforcement and leadership development.

The Gwinnett Chamber leads what has been recognized nationally as one of the best job creation efforts in the nation, the community’s long-term, public-private economic and community development strategy called Partnership Gwinnett. Since its launch, more than 100 companies relocated or expanded major new facilities in Gwinnett including the corporate global headquarters for two Fortune 500 firms – NCR and Asbury Automotive. These announcements accounted for more than 6,000 new high-wage jobs and hundreds of millions in new capital investment in spite of the current recession.

The biggest benefits to membership include networking opportunities, community involvement, image enhancement, political advocacy, information access, numerous discounts, and heightened credibility. Most of the 200+ programs offered each year to members are focused on these areas.

All of this could not have been accomplished without the voluntary investments of our members and as a non-profit all revenue is re-invested back into membership or community development programs.

More detailed information about the Chamber can be found on our award-winning Web site at www.gwinnettchamber.org. We hope you’ll take the time to explore and discuss new opportunities to become engaged with your Chamber with our staff or campaign volunteers.

Join the Chamber, get engaged, and let us help you become Gwinnett’s next great success story.

By Jim Maran

Engage Gwinnett

Much of Gwinnett’s future lies in the hands of 42 people who are involved in the citizen-led initiative called Engage Gwinnett: Citi­zens Committee for the Future of Gwinnett County where they will spend approximately six months looking at the community’s needs for current and future government services and proposing funding strategies to pay for those services over the next five years. The Engage Gwinnett Citizens Committee, which includes representatives of 30 stakeholder groups and 10 self-selected citizen leaders, will prepare budget recommendations to be presented to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in early spring 2010. Co-chaired by busi­ness leaders McKenna Long & Aldridge’s Michael Levengood and Cisco’s Bill McCargo, Engage Gwinnett could be one of the most im­portant initiatives Gwinnett has ever undertaken.

According to McCargo and Levengood, the county is in good hands. “As I observed the process at the first public forum, I was very impressed with the level of discourse among the attendees,” said Le­vengood. “They were respectful of their neighbors and they listened to each other.”

Commenting on the committee and the first public forum held on September 9, McCargo said that he was excited about the diver­sity of people who attended as well as those who were selected to serve on the committee. “The people who were selected by their peers to serve on the committee are strong leaders who are engaged in the community in a variety of ways.”

Now that the committee has been formed, the task at hand, ex­plained McCargo, is to decide what services the county should pro­vide and at what level.

“Engage Gwinnett is an opportunity to inform county citizens about how the county budget works, including revenues and mandat­ed expenses, and get their views on how government should prioritize county services and spend tax dollars,” said McCargo. “Our objectives are to serve as a collaborative group targeting both broad-based and specific constituency groups and audiences to offer a means to help citizens understand complex problems and engage those who normally don’t become involved in policy debates. The constitu­ency or stakeholder groups were identified as a ‘broad stroke’ attempt to ensure that the committee was a general reflection of our community. Now that we have the publicly self-selected members, we feel good about beginning our educational and citizen-led public involvement process.”

Part of the mission of Gwinnett County is to “deliver supe­rior services in partnership with our community” and included in its vision is a “commitment to partnering with others in our community who share a dedication to making life better for our citizens.” The Engage Gwinnett process will be an effective tool in accomplishing those objec­tives.

“We believe that Engage Gwinnett will prove over the next several months to be an impressive piece of democracy,” stated Levengood. “The com­munity input we gained from the first public forum - what our citizens think about how Engage Gwinnett should go about doing its work and assuring the public that its recommendations are reasonable and fair - was invalu­able. To observe citizens groups select their committee represen­tatives was truly inspiring and gave me even more confidence that Gwinnett citizens do have a sense of shared responsibility in planning for the future.”

Praising the efforts of Gwinnett County’s leadership and staff, McCargo commented that “Gwinnett County is an ex­ceptionally well-run county government. You don’t get a triple AAA bond rating by accident. It is something to appreciate when a job is done well.”

“Engage Gwinnett is an attempt find out what we can do now to maintain our world-class quality of life in Gwinnett while providing Gwinnett County’s leadership and staff with the opportunity to succeed with our limited resources,” contin­ued McCargo.

Levengood added that the staff at Gwinnett County has done a great job under difficult circumstances. “Engage Gwin­nett will serve to provide recommendations of what services the citizens want that can be provided under these circumstances.”

For those who are not serving on the committee, McCargo encouraged those interested to attend the committee meetings which will be open to the public and will be held at Gwinnett Center. In order to provide Gwinnett residents with the oppor­tunity to follow the process at their own convenience, materials and presentations given to the committee will be made available to the public on the Web at www.engagegwinnett.com and on TVgwinnett, the County’s government access cable channel. The Engage Gwinnett Web site also feature Facebook and Twitter links as other ways to follow the process.

The general public will have opportunities to provide input online during certain times throughout the process. Engage Gwinnett will also host several more public meetings during the next six months to give the community an opportunity to review preliminary committee findings and offer feedback.

“We have asked the stakeholders and the citizens serving on the committee to keep an open mind and to listen to each other and to our citizens so that Gwinnett can achieve its full potential,” said Levengood. “In addition, we are determined to do the best job we can to reach out to public.”

“I look forward to listening to the committee members’ thoughts, dreams, and aspirations for Gwinnett County. I am especially looking forward to learning from them,” con­cluded Levengood.

Getting More From Your Web site

This morning Giant Impact Metro Atlanta Council for Entrepreneurship (MACE) Strategic Partner, Network Solutions, conducted an interactive and informative presentation on the best practices for your Web site. The discussion provided many insights that small businesses can use in order to address the ever changing world of the Internet. There were five key categories to enhancing Web site, so start taking notes…

Domain Name- This is the first identifying mark of any company. The domain name creates the branding for your company so you want to make sure it gives the right message. Two helpful tips…register multiple domain names and extensions, this way you can stop the competition from encroaching on your territory. Tip two; register your domain name for multiple years because it makes you more credible to search engines like Google.

Hosting- This is when you need to be prepared to answer questions like where is your file server going to be located? How much space will you need? How graphically intense will your Web site be? How many visitors will the site be able to handle? Helpful tip, try a hosting company for a month to make sure that they have incredible customer service, support and reliability. If your Web site ever crashes you will be glad to have them on your side.

Web site Design- Of course, great website design is the most important aspect of any Web site. Four seconds…that is all the time you have to sell somebody to continue looking at your website. Better make it good! How do you keep people’s attention then?

Don’t try to entertain. People do not want to be bombarded with sounds, flashing lights, videos and graphics flying over the screen. Keep it simple. Show that you are credible and trustworthy. Provide clear and organized information in a pleasing easy to read format.

People do not want to hunt down information. Make sure that any information is only four to five clicks away from the home page. Also, make sure there is an easy way to get to the home screen and other important screens at all times. The most important tip is to keep it easy, simple and engage the public.

Purpose- The purpose of the Web site should be decided on long before the Web site is live. Make sure that the “Call to Action” is front and center. This is what the entire Web site is for, so do not make it hard to find.

Marketing- There are two primary methods to marketing your Web site. The first method is search engine optimization and the second is pay-per click advertising. Search engine optimization is the most effective method because you can control the process and it is free. However, you will need to do successful work in encoding keywords throughout your Web site.

The key is consistency and repetition. Uniformity in the title tag, description tag, keyword tag, headline, alt text, body copy and even in links will increase your search engine results. A helpful tip in keywords is to make sure they all target the end of the buying cycle. This means make the keywords as specific as possible.

Links are extremely important. Seven out of 10 reasons for rankings on search engine result sites are because of how many links a Web site had. Links that are rich in keyword anchoring are the most effective.

Remember that you are not against the search engines, but against your competitors. So keep a watchful eye on their Web sites and make sure to stay one step ahead of them. If you have any additional questions you can ask them at events@networksolutions.com. Now take all these tips and make your Web sites stronger and more effective.

Sorry you missed this incredible event! To learn more about MACE, so that you don't miss out again, visit http://www.atlantaentrepreneurship.com/.