Monday, December 14, 2009

Georgia House of Representatives Majority Leader Jerry Keen Speaks at the Gwinnett Chamber's Legislative Luncheon

Keen to Discuss Key Issues, Including Water, Education, Transportation and Economic Development, at the December 16 Legislative Luncheon Presented by Rocket IT

Duluth, GA- The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Presenting Sponsor Rocket IT will be hosting Georgia House of Representatives Majority Leader Jerry Keen for the annual Legislative Luncheon on December 16 at 11:30 a.m. at the Atlanta Marriott-Gwinnett Place. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear important issues that the Gwinnett Chamber will help to address in order to continue a prosperous business environment. The issues discussed will include water, education, transportation and economic development.

"The Legislative Luncheon is a great opportunity for our members to hear an influential voice on the issues that will affect our business climate the most in the upcoming year," said Jim Maran, Gwinnett Chamber president and CEO. "The Gwinnett Chamber wants to help serve as our members' voice while advocating to our elected officials."

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen was unanimously elected to be the first Republican House Majority Leader in over 130 years in 2004. He just completed his fourth term and running for his fifth representing House District 179 in Glynn County. He has authored legislation to eliminate state income tax on capital gains and provide state income tax credits for private donations of green space property to qualified land trusts. He played a major role in passing tort reform, the Voter ID bill and the Women's Right to Know bill. Keen serves on the Rules, Appropriations, Ethics, Insurance, Energy, Utilities and Telecommunication committees. Georgia Trend Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians.

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, network with other business professionals and have a chance to listen to renowned speakers from all types of industries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

5 Ways to Grow During Down Times

What business owner does not want to try and grow their business? Some might say it can not be done right now due to the recession we are still in. Roger W. Reak of StratAlli would disagree though. Reak spoke at the GiANT Impact Metro Atlanta Council for Entrepreneurship (MACE) this morning about "5 ways to grow during down times."

If you missed it, don't worry because you can still catch the cliff notes version...

1) Commit to Change
Change is not as scary and intimidating as people think. A common reaction with the topic of change is to simply shrug it off and say "why change? We have always done it this way." Or some say "I can't try to change anything now, I'm trying to hold onto the clients and services that I have now in this bad economy."

The truth is a bad economy actually can help to present new lines, customers and employees, geographical expansion, inventory purchases, potential company acquisition and streamlining the organization. Just to name a few.

First, YOU have to change your attitude and get enthusiastic by becoming the company's biggest cheerleader. Second, commit to innovation, improvement and growth. John Wooden, a former coach at UCLA once said, "Don't confuse activity with progress."

2) Plan and Get Help
Reak recommends companies have a strategic outlook over a tactical one. He suggested that companies create a one page living strategic and business plan. This will provide focus and force companies to set extremely specific goals. Make sure to get help from everybody around you and then be sure to educate all the employees on the details of the priorities set before them.

Find out how your business is different than your competition. Reak says "be different in a way that matters to your customers." He also believes that a business expert and/or consultant can provide an outsider's view that can help provide valuable guidance.

Reak believes that a major problem with small businesses is they think like small businesses. Instead, develop an advisory board. This can help to spread the pressure of the company around while gaining important insights and other perspectives.

3) Get Your Finances In Order
A must do is establish your financial stability ad funding for growth. First, you must honestly asses your current status. Then, question every expenditure and decide if it is a worthy cost. Next, maintain a cash flow plan with and without additional financing and stick to it.

4) Improve Your Organization
The big word to remember under this tip is SIMPLIFY. Most businesses are overly complicated because they believe that is the best way to do business, it's not. Start simplifying your organization by having fewer layers, streamline all your systems and focus on your primary business function and outsource non-core functions, such as human resources and legal.

Train every employee on the business plan and strategies, products and services, procedures, responsibilities, importance of innovation, etc. Make sure to establish accountability with all employees by providing incentives, raises and promotions based on specific performance of personal business plan goals. Also, start empowering your employees by shifting some responsibility for elements of the company plan onto them.

5) Market and Sell
This is probably one of the biggest ways to help grown in a down economy. First, develop a marketing plan aimed at your target client. Then make sure you have a consistent message on all marketing materials (social media, Web site, brochures, etc.).

Take advantage of the free social media available today. Creating a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter an blog accounts is a great way to spread your message to an enormous amount of people without costing money.

Selling, obviously, is the way to grow a business during any time of the economy. So, train all employees to be able to sell your products/services. Always have something to leave behind to a potential client. Make sure that all employees are enthusiastic.

So, do you think you have all of the tools to be even more successful and really grow your company despite the economy? If you have any more questions feel free to contact Roger W. Reak at or at 770-689-6261.

Sorry you missed out, on this great event! To learn more about MACE and other exciting events, so you are not missing out again, visit

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

GLOW: Gwinnett's Leadership Organization for Women---Helping Gwinnett Women Walk Tall

Women of Gwinnett have a reason to walk tall, and it's not just because of their great shoes. According to the Center for Women's Research the majority of women-owned businesses increased by 42 percent from 1997-2006. Women in management, professional and related occupations now account for 50.6 percent of the total population. A third of women believe that being a woman is beneficial to their business success. So now is the perfect time to celebrate being a woman and Gwinnett's Leadership Organization for Women (GLOW) is the perfect way to help put an extra bounce in your step.

"GLOW empowers women by giving them the opportunity to come together as one and talk about what we face in life," said Wendy Frank of Rocket IT. "As crazy as the world is today we lose touch with what is right and wrong and having GLOW is a big help to getting us back on track."

The organization was created in August of 2008 as a way to bring professional women together in a relaxed space. GLOW has a focus on six areas of interest to women in business, finance, communication, leadership, life-balance, marketing and innovation.

"The scene is already set for empowering women and you can unabashedly talk about balancing motherhood and work or just gush over where to find good shoes," said Amy Bray of Andersen, Tate & Carr, PC. "The folks that attend GLOW seem genuinely interested in meeting new people, in a laid back way."

GLOW is not your ordinary networking event. Every meeting has a different topic and speaker so that you walk away having learned something and having met new people. "I love all the GLOW events, I was able to input something from all the speakers and use it in my business to grow," said Cynthia King of Sam's Club. "GLOW helps me to stay focused on all my goals and achievements for my business. Having other women in business to talk to allows us to feed off each other's thoughts and solutions."

"I attend GLOW for two reasons --- to be a part of a leading organization for women and it's a comfort to be able to sit down with other women and talk about what we face in the workforce from climbing the corporate ladder to having a baby and learning to balance our life," said Frank.

GLOW speakers come from diverse backgrounds and fields, bringing unique knowledge and wisdom. "Speaking at GLOW was an amazing experience. The women involved are engaging and enthusiastic, hungry to embrace new information and eager to help each other succeed," said Paige Havens of Spitfire Media Group.

Other speakers have included Kelly Greer with Tillman, Allen, Greer, LLC; Wendy Kinney, creator of the Ready...Set...Go Make Money networking methodology; Dr. Beverly Scott with Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; and Dr. Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength.

The success of GLOW can be attributed not only to the amazing line-up of speakers but also to supporters such as Gwinnett Medical Center. "Gwinnett Medical Center has been the proud presenting sponsor of GLOW for the past two year because of the direct impact it makes to the target audience we want to reach. Women make 95 percent of the health care decisions in their household and that means we want them to know about the quality of care provided in their backyard," said Andrea Wehrmann of Gwinnett Medical Center. "The benefits we have seen from GLOW are dynamic and overwhelming. From networking, to community support, to new friendships and word of mouth efforts, GLOW helps GMC continue to prosper in spreading the latest and greatest about what we offer the community."

GLOW was created in an effort to cultivate and empower this important segment of the economy. The Gwinnett Chamber and Partnership Gwinnett developed strategies to raise awareness about small business support services and resources for women in business while working to more effectively integrate the female population into leadership positions in the public and private sectors.

"GLOW is helping women to achieve in their inner personal and professional lives," said Wehrmann. "This group of women that encompasses GLOW are the movers and shakers in Gwinnett County and we are proud to serve this group each year. Also, GLOW empowers women by helping them to define their individual success not society's success. GLOW gives women the chance to sit back, relax, find empowerment and then get up and kick butt!"

For more information about this exciting initiative designed to advance women in the workplace and the community, contact Nicole Wright at 770-232-8816 or at or visit www.glowgwinnett.ocm. We hope you will join us as we "learn, laugh, network and leave glowing!"

AT&T Connecting People with Their World

AT&T's vision is to connect people with their world; everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else. AT&T is bringing it all together for their customers by driving innovation in the communications and entertainment industry and consistently demonstrating a passionate commitment to customer care.

For more than a century, AT&T has provided reliable, high-quality products and services. They work with peer organizations to provide technology solutions to a wide variety of customers. Firms like Cisco, for example, may provide the additional equipment and technical support required to meet the needs of a customer while companies like Georgia Power will work with AT&T's construction engineers in establishing placement on power and telephone poles throughout the county.

AT&T Regional Manager and Gwinnett Chamber Vice Chair of Marketing and Communications Delores Crowell commented that AT&T also believes in strengthening the communities where they live and work by providing good jobs. "We donate our time and talents, and support programs, such as the Gwinnett Chamber's Government Relations program, that create economic opportunity including local education and economic development projects throughout Gwinnett County."

"The Gwinnett Chamber helps AT&T to promote our brand throughout the county by delivering best-in-class events, supporting smart public policy initiatives and providing access to key decision makers," said Crowell. "In addition, the Chamber's staff and leadership are always looking for new opportunities for its members and often seek feedback for improvement."

Crowell's favorite Chamber event is the Success Lives Here Business Leadership Series. "I believe that the true measurement of an effective chamber is their ability to provide high quality events and services and also educate and inspire their members on a variety of topics and subjects. I am able to find this at the Gwinnett Chamber through programs like Success Lives Here."

With the Gwinnett Chamber's Legislative Kick-off fast approaching in January and as presenting sponsor of the Kick-off and number of other Government Relations programs, Crowell also noted that the Chamber's Government Relations efforts are the best in the state. "Participation is important because of their reputation both locally and across the country, the Gwinnett Chamber always has a significant presence of elected and public officials at meetings and events," said Crowell. "The high participation levels are the result of planning, execution and also because these political leaders realize that we have a lot of public support from key business leaders. They seek out our advice and support on critical issues that impact the county."

Offering a piece of advice to fellow Chamber members, Crowell said that it is important to identify your firm's strengths and commit to develop the areas that need improvements. 'This is the only way to measure success. You must be honest about where you are today, before you can establish a plan for the future."

Visit for more information.

62nd Gwinnett Chamber Annual Dinner, A Celebration of Gwinnett's Success

A Year Marked by the launch of the region's first comprehensive entrepreneurial development initiative, the Metro Atlanta Council for Entrepreneurship, the successful completion of the second full year of the Partnership Gwinnett Economic and Community Development Strategy, the recruitment of two Fortune 500 global headquarters Asbury Automotive and NCR, and the hosting of the first Gwinnett Day at the Capitol are just a few of the many Chamber and community accomplishments that Kerry Armstrong, senior vice president, Duke Realty Corporation and Gwinnett Chamber 2009 Chair, looks back on as the highlights of a phenomenal year.

"Other accomplishments, such as the creation of the Diversity-Supplier Forum and the Meet the Purchasers Forum, the announcement of more than 115 relocated or expanded companies in Gwinnett, and the initiation for Gwinnett County to become a Certified Work Ready Community, have helped Gwinnett to reach new levels of success," said Armstrong. "Also, the continuous growth, and the prominence and effectiveness of our Chamber, not only regionally, but nationally is worthy of celebration as well."

On February 5th, the community will have the opportunity to commemorate the successes of 2009 and the people who made it possible at the 62nd Annual Dinner Presented by Gwinnett Medical Center. The Dinner will serve as a celebration of the people of Gwinnett, who by their service, volunteerism and commitment, allowed Gwinnett to reach new heights and set goals to strive for in the future.

"Gwinnett's most visionary leaders are honored at The Chamber's Annual Dinner for all they do to benefit our community. Their work is reflected in Gwinnett County's impeccable education, health care services, business environment and government, which is the reason that Gwinnett County is the envy of so many communities, not just in Georgia, but throughout the region," said Philip Wolfe, president and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center.

Looking towards the future, Bartow Morgan, CEO and chairman, Brand Banking Company, and Gwinnett Chamber chair-elect, commented that in "2010 the Chamber will continue to thrive as the place for leaders in commerce, education, health care and government to work together to build an even higher quality of life in our community."

"Our economic development efforts, centered in our highly successful Partnership Gwinnett initiative, will continue to advance our mission of job growth and wealth creation, education and workforce excellence, quality of life enhancement and marketing and outreach," said Morgan. "Though economic conditions will clearly challenge our community and our nation in the coming year, the Chamber and its members will build upon Gwinnett's strong foundation and remain committed to finding solutions for continued success."

The black-tie optional spectacular serves as an opportunity for more than 1,000 of Gwinnett's finest to celebrate those that have made significant contributions to enhance our quality of life, make Gwinnett a better place to live, improve our education, medical and public service communities.

Join us in recognizing several Gwinett pacesetters. The highlight of the gala will include presentations of Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Public Service, and Ambassador of the Year honors, and the presentation of the D. Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award to the charitable institution best embodying the spirit of compassion and generosity to which Hudgens was so deeply committed. Held at the Thomas P. Hughes Grand Ballroom at Gwinnett Center, on February 5th, the cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. dinner.

Now is the time to get involved with the 62nd Annual Dinner. Members wishing to learn more about sponsorship opportunities or to register for this event should contact Alicia Krogh at 770-232-8809 or or visit

GLOW Panel to Show Women Business Executives How to Care For Mind, Body and Image

Gwinnett's Leadership Organization for Women's December 4 Panel to Feature an Image Consultant, Nutritionist and a Fitness Consultant

Duluth, GA- Women need to take time to relax, network and learn how they can take care of the person that is usually on the bottom of their to do list- themselves. Join the Gwinnett Chamber's Gwinnett's Leadership Organization for Women, GLOW, and Presenting Sponsor Gwinnett Medical Center for a panel discussion of "I Don't Sweat...I GLOW" on December 4 for the opportunity to get pampered while learning how to take care of your body. The event, held at The 1818 Club, will begin at 7:15 a.m. with networking and a breakfast buffet followed by the panel discussion at 8:15 a.m.

"This is for all of the multi-tasking modern day superheroes who navigate the hurtles of the business world as well as their personal lives in 3" pumps, a pencil skirt and a matching handbag fondly known as the 'black hole,'" said Nicole Wright, program manager. "To all of my women who do it all without breaking a sweat because we all know we don't sweat...we GLOW...this event is for you!"

The event will feature a diverse panel on how to take care of your body. The panelists will include Sarah Hathorn from Illustra Image Consulting, Connie Jeon of Elements Diet & Fitness and Althea Lawton-Thompson from Aerobics, Yoga & More Fitness Studios. The panel will feature a 40-minute open discussion where attendees will have the opportunity to ask any and all questions about the important details on how to take care of themselves inside and out.

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 register, please contact Nicole Wright at 770-232-8816 or To register online, visit

The mission of GLOW is to assist in the success of business women within the community. The series helps women to become more competitive in the business arena, establish a network of business contacts and address areas of personal and professional growth, by learning from accomplished women who are making an impact. The program creates and fosters an environment where women can gather and openly address the unique challenges women face in today's business environment.