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Capitalist Sage: Bill Frey’s Architect of Illuminations [Podcast]

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Have you ever wondered who’s in charge of designing and setting up those amazing holiday light displays? Well, this week, Karl and Rico sit down with Bill Frey – entrepreneur and owner of Illuminating Design, a local business event, holiday and specialty lighting company. Bill talks about his path into creating a business and how he found a niche in the holiday lighting market during the 2008 economic recession. Additionally, he shares about his struggles and solutions to working in a seasonal industry, as well as the joys of using his lighting designs to create and evoke holiday memories.

“I like to think about it in a theoretical way, where we really just provide the backdrops of people’s memories. You have your holidays, you have your holiday pictures and all the memories that you have. We’re the lighting behind that. We’re what brings about the emotion, we’re the ones that bring about the feelings of the season. By seeing our lights in different areas, it really brings about that Christmas spirit and gets people in the mood – whether they need to shop or come in and spend more time with their family – again, to create those memories. And that’s – that’s really the main point of where – what we do and what we like to do.”

Bill frey

Resources:

Illuminating Designs
Website: https://www.illuminating-design.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IlluminatingDesign/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/illuminating_design/
Phone: 404-454-8944

Podcast Transcript:

Karl [01:33 ]: Welcome to the Capitalist Sage podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasons pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Trans World Business Advisors. My cohost is Rico Figliolini, with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing and publisher of the Peachtree Corners Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico [01:50 ]: Good, Karl. Lots of things going on.

Karl [01:52 ]: Absolutely. Why don’t we start off by introducing some of our fabulous sponsors?

Rico [01:56 ]: Sure. So the first thing I should say is Atlanta Tech Park, which is where we are in this podcast studio. We’re doing the recording here in the city of Peachtree Corners. Atlanta Tech Park is an accelerator, right? Go to from a startup place – that’s the incubator – to an accelerator. That’s the next step for a growing company. And they have, I don’t know, how many thousands of square feet here. But they have enough event facilities, they run workshops, they run things with funding and venture capitalists.

Karl [02:28 ]: Absolutely. There’s a cyber – cyber event coming up I think later on. Thin-tech. It’s coming up later this week. Fabulous stuff to get connected in technology and business community here.

Rico [02:38 ]: That’s Peachtree Corners. So anything you need to fund your business, you can – I mean they do some of that pitch stuff.

Karl [02:44 ]: Yup – Friday morning. Pitch Fridays.

Rico 02:46 []: So then our other sponsor is GMC, or Gwinnett Medical. Just got bought out by Northside Hospitals, by the way. So – but it’s the place that just opened. It’s the GMC Primary Care and Specialty Center on Peachtree Parkway, next to Planet Smoothie and QT. And it’s a great place. We just interviewed Dr. Barbara Joy Jones just last week. Find our podcast, by the way, online. But they’re a sponsor as well.

Karl [03:11 ]: Oh, fabulous, fabulous. And I think in the next week we have –

Rico [03:15 ]: Smart City Expo.

Karl [03:17 ]: Smart City Expo coming up. I’m excited about that.

Rico [03:19 ]: It’s going to be great. You, me, Patricia Wenzburg, who’s a writer for Peachtree Corners Magazine. We’re all going to be attending that expo.

Karl [03:27 ]: Absolutely. And it’s kind of going to be looking at smart technologies and cities. And I think Peachtree Corners is going to be featured there.

Rico [03:35 ]: That’s right. So the first day, which is the 11th. It’s the 11th, 12th, and 13th. So the first day is gonna be – we’re gonna have – and it’s probably, I think it’s the only off-demo site for that expo. And there are gonna be people from all over the world and the country visiting, and we’re gonna be showing off our 1.5 mile autonomous vehicle track. Along with a couple of special surprises and stuff like that going on. But there’s quite a few things. I mean, we – to be having that in this city when they do a world conference of this in Barcelona. First time in the United States, so…

Karl [04:12 ]: So much fun stuff happening here. Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners highlighting technology, showing how a city can continue to grow and innovate on itself. And one other thing that’s great about this business community here – we’ve got lots of entrepreneurs in the business community, and today we’re just – it’s an absolute pleasure to have Bill Frey from Illuminating Design – a local entrepreneur, business owner here – that combines technology and art to create amazing lighting displays for holiday seasons, for a variety of cities, commercial customers. Just help them really celebrate the holiday season or whatever festivity they may be having through innovative lighting displays and design and display. So really glad to have you, Bill. Tell us a little bit about how you do that and how you’re able to make clients super happy with their displays and help attract people to come see them. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little bit about yourself?

Bill [05:18 ]: Alright. Well first of all, thank you for having me. I appreciate the time and being out here. This is a great thing that you guys do, and I’m very happy to be a part of it. Well – I graduated from Clemson University and went back to Georgia State to get a Masters degree in marketing, and found that the corporate world wasn’t really for me. I had the advantage of being in a management position at a very young age, however, when you’re dealing with people that are older and have been in the work environment a lot longer than you have, they tend not to take your ideas so seriously. So at that point, I’d always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and that kind of pushed me to do it. I was young, didn’t have any kids, didn’t have a family, didn’t have any responsibilities, so I was able to easily take the jump. I worked for a gentlemen that had a holiday lighting company and saw an opportunity where the market really wasn’t being taken care of. So opportunities for better customer service, better pricing, and really just a better know how on doing the holiday and event lighting. There were a lot of missed opportunities before, and this is back in 2004, so back then, there were maybe a handful of companies out there. Now, recently, there’s been more people jumping into the industry because they see what a good industry can be and the opportunities that are there.

Karl [06:38 ]: Fabulous. Well, for those that do not know, describe what holiday lighting is and how businesses like yours help clients.

Bill [06:45 ]: Well, in – I like to think about it in a theoretical way, where we really just provide the backdrops of people’s memories. You have your holidays, you have your holiday pictures and all the memories that you have. We’re the lighting behind that. We’re what brings about the emotion, we’re the ones that bring about the feelings of the season. By seeing our lights in different areas, it really brings about that Christmas spirit and gets people in the mood – whether they need to shop or come in and spend more time with their family – again, to create those memories. And that’s – that’s really the main point of where – what we do and what we like to do.

Karl [07:25 ]: So what made you choose to go into this industry? You saw – you worked for a company that did that before, but how did you feel that you could make it different or make a difference in this industry?

Bill [07:36 ]: Umm, for a long time, it was kind of like, Henry Ford’s saying – “You can have any color, as long as you want it black.” And that’s not really the way the design and the lighting goes. We saw – if you drive up and down, and you look at different Christmas displays and holiday displays, a lot of them are very similar. They use the same products, same techniques, and we found ways to be a little more creative. To use an artistic side to it. To add pops of color here and there. To add different elements that people wouldn’t necessarily think of. By being Christmas – 365 days a year, versus the other companies that are really doing it as seasonal job, we have the ability to research and work with worldwide vendors, find the best products, and really find what suits you. As a client. We don’t – we use multiple vendors, and we find the best fit for the client. We don’t lock you into proprietary software. We use all open-sourced software. And it’s really giving the client the options again. Giving them their voice in what they want. And a lot of people might not know what their voice should be saying, but we help bring it out what they want. So we have about 20 questions or so that we start our conversations with our clients to get them to kind of relax a little bit and to get into their own design mind and what they like. Are they symmetric people? Do they like the right and left to balance? Do they want – do they want heavily daytime decor? Do they want nighttime decor? Are they a less is more person? A more is more person?

Rico [09:07 ]: Do you have the things, like – also, like – you know how the fireworks, you can do that electronically now? Is it all app-based? How do you set up on something like that?

Bill [09:17 ]: There are some app based programs. What we find is a lot of those are limited. We actually use a program for our programming side – an open source software called x-lights. It’s based loosely on, my opinion, it’s based loosely on madrix, which is used for stage lighting. And that’s what I originally started with. So our philosophy is – we take the stage lighting and event lighting and everything and bring that into holiday shows. We go to concerts and say, “You know what, that’s cool. We like that. How can we bring that out? How can we make that relate to the holidays?”

Rico [09:52 ]: So you’re creating as you’re going, almost in a way – because every year it’s a little different?

Bill [09:58 ]: Right. And that’s the one thing that we want. Our philosophy is that, if you dream it, we can make it happen. And that’s what we try to do. We’ve had some wild concepts come to us that we’re working through – a fun project we’re working on now is, we’re working with a couple of people to create art pieces with LED background lighting for it. So they actually, as you’re – it’s not a stagnant picture any longer. So you’ll have color flashes that’ll change. Say, it’s a series of umbrellas, and the umbrella will change colors. 

Rico [10:25 ]: So you find the technology useful? I mean, you’ve been in the business for a while and stuff. Has technology helped you do your work better, do you think?

Bill [10:33 ]: I think so. I think it’s really cool, some of the stuff that we’re putting out. We work with – on one of our big displays, we made – gosh there were 15 by 25 foot light panels that we broadcast massive displays across. So imagery, and it’s the motion and imagery. So it’s not as stagnant. It used to be the only movement you had was twinkle lights. Every now and then, one would twinkle in. If you had your strand of incandescents, put the wrong bulb in, they all start twinkling on you. They didn’t like that.

Rico [11:04 ]: Do you do other things besides the lighting as well? Like mechanical stuff or other inflatables?

Bill [11:10 ]: Yeah. Some of the pieces we have, we can add motion to it if need be. Haven’t had the opportunity to – in our warehouse, yes we have plenty of that. Haven’t found the client yet that wants something with that much movement. With more movement comes sometimes more issues, and they’re afraid of that for a short term installation.

Karl [11:29 ]: I remember growing up in New York – we – the Rockefeller Center display was always a centerpiece, and people would, for years, you’d go and visit, and it would attract people to that display. You fast forward 20, 30 years later, you see more places using lighting and holiday kind of spirit to attract people to there. Do you find that clients get a lot of success by investing in these kind of displays to help attract folks?

Bill [11:59 ]: Definitely. It’s funny that you bring up Rockefeller Center, because that is one of the reasons I’m in the business. My grandparents lived in New York, and I would go see it as a child, and it’s one of my fondest memories as a child. And I’ve always said if I get the Rockefeller Center tree, I’d be done.

Rico [12:15 ]: You’ve reached the pinnacle.

Bill [12:17 ]: Yup – I’ve reached the pinnacle. What more can I do at that point? But yeah. We see – you know, it’s interesting because the first exposure I had to that, where it was really helping to increase revenues and things like that was during the recession – 2008. And when I – I noticed a lot of people were cutting back on what they were doing. Obviously, they were concerned about what was going on in the world, and with the market and everything like that. But what it did was allow me to kind of recenter our company and to see what’s going on out in the world. And neighborhood fronts – you had homes that were diminishing massively in value, and people were fighting against each other to sell their houses. So the first exposure was – we started decorating neighborhoods – neighborhood fronts. And by giving the exposure to those neighborhoods, it gave them more name recognition, allowed the home values to – I’m not gonna say they stayed where they were in 2006, but they did not decrease as much because you had the talk about – the word of mouth going around about what they were doing, and that the community looked nicer. People were doing a lot of cutting back, so we worked for our clients at those points to allow them to have that exposure. And also – you see a definitive difference in shopping centers. You know when you go out during the holidays, a shopping center that is not decorated, it’s like any other time of the year. You go in there, you spend what you would. Holidays are all about excess, you know? And that’s for – a lot of people it’s about, they eat too much, they shop too much, they drink too much. They do everything too much. And that’s what – having the lighting really evokes that feeling of peace and euphoria and good times and cheers.

Karl [13:58 ]: Especially, during the holiday season, if you think about, if you live up north where it’s snow, you feel Christmas coming around, you feel the holiday. If you live in warmer climate, you don’t have the snow, so the lights is something that could still connect people, that you could tell it’s a different time of year. If you have little kids, I know during the winter, people don’t go out as much. But if they’ll drive around the neighborhoods and see the houses that are doing better displays – 

Rico [14:27 ]: So do you find then that – because I totally agree with you. Living in New York or Brooklyn, everyone hung their lights and stuff, but it didn’t matter. If it snowed, it was Christmas – you knew it was coming. Down here, it’s so different. The hurricane’s coming, God forbid. So, but, you know, your lighting during – are you lighting throughout the year as well?

Bill [14:46 ]: We do most of our work during the holiday season. We do still work with events and facilities and things. If they have larger events going on, we’ll go out and help them. What we can do is year round. We’ve really created a niche in the Christmas market, though. We’ve worked on some of the largest areas around the Southeast. And we have really made our names for ourselves in the Christmas area. There are a lot of companies out there that do events. They have a lot of big products, and it’s kind of a different product base that we have, but it is still possible. We have a lot – maybe 50% of it transfers over, which allows us the opportunity to go and decorate for some weddings, or big corporate parties or Fourth of July. We got to go up to – one of the really neat things we got to do is, we went up to Knoxville and lit up the Sun Sphere for the World’s Fair. It was, I want to say, their 250th anniversary. And we had the lights rotate around, red white and blue, and they rotate around the Sun Sphere. It just happened to be the year that Pat Summit passed away, and we were able to dial in the Tennessee orange and light up the Sun Sphere in honor of her, which is a really, really neat and impactful moment for us.

Karl [15:56 ]: How did you get command over the technology? Cause it sounds like you gotta know a little bit about design – artistic design – but also to program, to figure out what pieces to go together, to integrate and all that.

Bill [16:11 ]: You hire the right people. To be honest with you. I dabble in the programming. I like to say I’m good at it, but I brought somebody into the company that has extensive background in it, and he – Tim Griffith – and he is phenomenal at what he does. And he – we work together, and it’s very – it’s kind of we’re yin and yang. I’m the artistic side, he’s the detailed process side. So we balance off each other in very, very great ways.

Rico [16:40 ]: So you can envision what you want, and he sort of implements it.

Bill [16:44 ]: Yeah. I come to him all the time and say, “I wanna see this!” And he kinda looks at me and goes, “Alright, give me an hour.” And it’s great, because you know, it takes him out of his comfort zone and I’m asking for elaborate things, and we kind of bounce ideas off, and I know enough to give suggestions about different ways to look at it rather than the engineering side. Look at it from this direction, see if it changes some things.

Rico [17:07 ]: Are you seeing the technology and lighting itself? Like, LED’s been around for a while, right? Are you seeing that changing? Are you seeing anything new coming out?

Bill [17:16 ]: Actually, yeah. And that’s one of the things that’s – and we’ve had to kind of adapt our company because of it. It’s, you know, LED’s – incandescents and LEDs are the first change in lighting in how many years? Forever. So then, so what do you think? Okay, well LEDs are gonna be here for a while, and this is how it’s gonna be. Well now they’re moving onto low voltage. So low voltage gives you – obviously, you’re running less amps, thus you’re having less – when you have a power spike because of rain or something like that, there’s less fluctuation. So it doesn’t trip your GFI. So low voltage lighting is exactly which landscape lighting runs on. So you don’t have problems with that normally when it rains, but your holiday lights, occasionally you do. And that’s honestly a problem. If you have a GFI, and it’s put in there, and it’s working right, and your lights go out because of rain, it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to. But nobody wants their lights out. And you can’t tell somebody – “Well, you know what? Sorry your lights are out, but that’s doing exactly what you want.” So we figure out ways to work around that. And we at – when we were working at Atlanta Botanical Gardens for four years, we had – I’ll never say 100%. So, 99.999% on rate. I don’t – I cannot remember or do not recall or was not told of any situation when the lights went out with low voltage.

Karl [18:31 ]: So you can use technology to help make them more robust and bring all that. When you think about the business side of this, when you started this out, anything that you learned along the way that you think would help someone else that was thinking of starting a business?

Bill [18:46 ]: Yes. A 22 year old does not know everything. I learned that one very quickly. And, you know, you learn to trust your support system. And that’s the foundation of how you’re gonna be successful in business. If you don’t have a strong support system with you, with family, friends, people that believe in you and are going to pick you up when you get knocked down and say, “You know what? Let’s get up tomorrow and try again.” That’s crucial. If you don’t have that, you’re off on an island. And it becomes extremely difficult.

Karl [19:17 ]: What is it like doing business here in Georgia or at least in this part of Georgia area? Have you found there being any advantages of being in a community like Peachtree Corners?

Bill [19:28 ]: Yeah. Well, one, it’s a newer city. So there’s a lot that the city’s doing that we can help out with. We’re actually working in the new City Center this year, which will be great. We’re very happy about that. I was actually – as soon as I heard it was starting to be built, I started calling. Because it’s a project I wanted to be part of. To me, the community is important. The community’s giving me, myself, my family so many opportunities. My children go to school here. Their friends go to school. I coach soccer here. So being part of this community is a great, great thing. I even moved my office here from Norcross so we’d be a little more local and tied more into the business community in Peachtree Corners.

Rico [20:08 ]: Are you part of any of the business associations here locally? 

Bill [20:11 ]: Yes.

Rico [20:12 ]: What are some of the things you’ve been able to gain through a relationship you’ve built through those?

Bill [20:16 ]: Some contacts. That’s really important. You find out – moreso business contacts, it’s personal contacts. People who have gone through what you do. As an entrepreneur, it’s very difficult for people to understand your day to day. What you wake up dealing with, what you go to bed dealing with. What problems you have. And you know what? None of us here are recreating the wheel. Whatever business process we’re working on – whatever situation we’re dealing with – somebody else has dealt with. We’re not the first ones to go through it, so why not ask for feedback? Why not say, “Hey, let’s go get coffee. Let’s talk about a couple things. What’s troubling you? What’s troubling me? What can we help each other work through?” And you never know who’s gonna have that opinion or that little nugget of advice that really helps you out.

Rico [21:03 ]: Let me ask you something, if you don’t mind. It’s a seasonal business. So the one thing that struck me – like urban growers, you know? They have the cycle – the season. Although they, if I remember, they said there’s really no season because they can keep growing throughout the year. How does that work in a business where it’s more seasonal? How does that impact revenue, income – how do you budget the company out? How do you keep staff where they need to be, I guess?

Bill [21:30 ]: That’s one of the harder pieces. That’s – if I knew all the answers to that, it would uber successful. You know, we’re not doing bad. But, it is difficult. The seasonality of the business makes it difficult for staffing. You have – so what we do is, we have a core group of people. That those are our people that we bring in. Then, we wind up bringing in revenue producers that – the guys are doing the actual install. But we bring the team of leaders in before that. We spend about a month with them and training them on what we are, who we are, going around and seeing the jobs. So we catch them up to speed on what’s being produced. Then we bring the next team in and do our OSHA training and those things. So, a lot of times, it’s recreating the wheel each time. It’s restarting the process each year. But we’re fortunate enough that each year, we have some residual people that come back. We try to find business owners that may have another business. That their seasonality goes a little bit lower in time, so we kind of work together in that aspect. And you find – you do have a lot of guys that are out of work over the holidays. So generally, finding labor in the actually installers is not that difficult. Because you have all the other season out – like, the non-winter jobs – pool companies, painters, landscapers, that aren’t doing as much. They all lay off, we hire them in.

Karl [22:51 ]: I’m curious, you know, if you were to advise – whether it’s neighborhood that’s deciding holiday lighting or retail areas and so on. What are top things they should consider if they’re thinking on doing this? Where do people get it wrong? When you go out there and you look at people trying to do it, what do they get wrong about it?

Bill [23:11 ]: A lot of the time, it – you wind up with inconsistencies. Where it doesn’t – it doesn’t flow. There’s – it kind of, it’s sporadic, where they’re not actually – they’re saying, “Okay, let’s light every tree.” Well, lighting every tree, while nice, doesn’t always give you the best visual impact. I like to work in negative space. So it’s not where the light is, it’s where the light is not. Because if you constantly have a wall of light, it’s a blur. It doesn’t give a good visual image. If you’re selective in what you liked – so really, I guess the answer’s editing – I guess, what exactly to do. Anybody can throw stuff up anywhere, but it’s systematic in that type of editing in the overall design that makes everything better. And the consistency in the products. You can’t have one color bow in one area, another color in another area. Or have weird colors. If – I’ve noticed a lot, they try to go with festive colors and things like that now. But it starts looking a little like Mardi Gras. Which is awesome for the Mardi Gras time, but it doesn’t really flow with what most people think of Christmas.

Karl [24:17 ]: And things that will create those memories that you were describing. If you do a blur of lights, it just remembers it’s a blur. But if you can create art with that and create it, that’s what create memories.

Bill [24:29 ]: Our lighting philosophy is, we believe every light is important. You can make a very impactful statement with a single light. So it’s all in the editing of how you edit those lights down.

Karl [24:38 ]: Fabulous, fabulous. Well, I’m curious, you know – as this time of year, we’re getting into the fall season. What’s it like for you this time of year? What do you have coming up? What do you do over the next few months as you gear up for the holiday season?

Bill [24:52 ]: First thing is not sleep. It’s – this is really the busy time. But we’ve set ourselves up over the past few months, and basically, since we’ve finished last year to be ready. So we’ve dotted all the i’s, crossed all the t’s. We’re just ready to go now. We have – we’ve tested all the products. We’re gonna be out. Within the next month or so, we’re gonna be working on some of the bigger installations. We’re gonna be at the battery for the Atlanta Braves, decorating out there. We’ll be building a 35-foot walkthrough ornament at World of Coca Cola. And working on some of the really large displays downtown Atlanta. We put all the garland on Peachtree street. So really finalizing what we’ve worked on for so long. It’s – you’ve had your spring training, and now it’s time to get to action. 

Karl [25:41 ]: You remember when Christmas season used to start the week after Thanksgiving? And now, I remember – I think in August, I saw Halloween stuff start to show up, and I’m pretty sure it’s happening with the season. When is Christmas really starting now? Is it October? Early November?

Bill [26:02 ]: November 1st is when a lot of the turn on dates. And you know – it’s understandable. If they’re spending good money on the displays, it makes sense. Go ahead and get them up. Yes, it mixes Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the idea is to spread the joy. To get people out there.

Karl [26:19 ]: So if they’re starting November 1st, that means if you want to have a spectacular display, you probably should be starting now having conversations with folks like you.

Bill [26:28 ]: Very much so. If not a few weeks ago. We’re – it’s time now. We’re locking in most of our bigger installations. And there are still some slots open that we’ll take as we go through. But yeah, there’s plenty of opportunity to still get decorated and for us to work with you.

Karl [26:45 ]: Fabulous. So how do people reach you? If they want to know more about what you do and how you do it, what’s the best way to reach you?

Bill [26:50 ]: First thing I suggest is to go onto our website and take a look at some of the projects we’ve done. See if it’s something you’d like to do and see if there – we can work together. We like to create a union with our clients. It’s – we’re not a one and done type company. We like to create relationships. So go onto the webpage. It’s www.illuminating-design.com. Or you can give us a call at 404-454-8944.

Rico [27:25 ]: We can also find you on instagram on @illumin. I’m assuming there’s lots of pictures there too.

Bill [27:32 ]: Yes there are.

Karl [27:33 ]: Fabulous. Well it’s great to see a local company here in Peachtree Corners. Entrepreneurs that are doing really fun business. I gotta imagine, when you complete a project, you get a big smile on your face, on your client. Who doesn’t like a business that helps create smiles?

Bill [27:48 ]: Oh, it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing.

Karl [27:50 ]: It’s fabulous for that. We want to thank you for being our guest today. Bill Frey, from Illuminating Design for being our guest. Taking time out and sharing your experience and journey on this, and giving some advice to folks that are looking to start in their own businesses that may not be as traditional as others. Maybe taking a different look in providing a different service for clients. And we also want to thank Atlanta Tech Park for hosting the Capitalist Sage podcast. If you’re starting a business and looking to network with other people, like minded folks in there, there’s no better place to start in a community designed around supporting entrepreneurs and business owners. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. We help people – help business owners understand their business. When they’re ready to sell their business, when they’re ready to buy a business, when they’re ready to grow their business. We offer services to help them all throughout their business life cycle. And Rico – why don’t you tell them a little bit about what you’ve got going on?

Rico [28:49 ]: Sure. I publish Peachtree Corners Magazine. Just launched that this year. Cities – hopefully of what’s going on in the city on a bi-monthly business. We’ve got a lot of traction on it. We’re planning the three major stories that are coming in this forthcoming issues. One is – the cover story is a Pat and the People story. So submit your – this can be a contest giveaway starting Friday. You’ll find that on Facebook. So we’re gonna be giving away some prizes. But that’s one of the main features. The other one is Great Spaces for your Corporate and Holiday Events. We have a writer out there, and she’s already on the 8th or 9th or maybe 10th place. So she’s putting out there – she’s putting together the article as well. But that’s Patricia Windspur. And we have a third piece on technology in the school system, which is cool. So the magazine, of course, you can find my work also at MightyRockets.com. I handle social media, social media content, videography, product videos, a whole bunch of things that different types of companies may need. And that’s where you can find me.

Karl [29:54 ]: And follow us on Facebook. Peachtree Corners Life on Facebook if you want to get an update.

Rico [30:00 ]: That’s right. So, like us there because once you like us there, then you get notification of these live Facebook feeds. You can find the podcast, Capitalist Sage, on iTunes, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher – almost anywhere that – FM, that’s another one – almost anywhere you can find podcasts. Find this, listen to the drive, 25 minutes, and you’re good. And LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com is the website for the magazine, the podcasts, and all that.

Karl [30:28 ]: If you want to keep up with what’s going on, a fabulous job of keeping up, you go in there, you’ll see articles in there, it’ll give you highlights on what’s going on around Peachtree Corners and greater Gwinnett in general. But just lots of ways to get connected back to the community. And please do tune into the Capitalist Sage podcast, and all of the other podcasts that highlight local people in your community. About business owners, political leaders, community leaders, schools.

Rico [30:58 ]: We have two other podcasts – Prime Lunchtime with City Manager which is once a month. And we have Peachtree Corners Life which is a whole host of things, and we do interviews.

Karl [31:08 ]: So thank you very much for tuning in, and looking forward to bringing you more great guests on the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Thank you everyone, have a great day.

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Business

During COVID-19 City Implements Measures to Assist Businesses

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Peachtree Corners City Hall

With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Peachtree Corners has been challenged as never before to demonstrate what it means to be a community. From households to businesses, many in our city are struggling and will soon be facing hardship.

Although some will be impacted more than others, the city will all be hurt if there are vacant storefronts and empty office buildings. To assist the business community, the Mayor and Council have approved several measures to help businesses by:

  • Implementing a 60-day deferral period on all business license fees. The annual fees, normally due by March 31, are now due May 31. There will be no penalty fees assessed during this period.
  • Temporarily waiving the convenience fees charged for online and/or internet transactions.
  • Deferring payment of alcohol excise tax for 60 days. No penalty fees will be assessed during this period.

Additionally, the city is asking landlords to join the city as Community Partners by offering:

  • tenants a 60-day deferral on rent payments
  • banks to work with their customers by offering a 60-day penalty-free deferral on loan payments

Additionally, the city is asking landlords to join the city as Community Partners by offering tenants a 60-day deferral on rent payments and banks to work with their customers by offering a 60-day penalty-free deferral on loan payments.

To identify and showcase our Community Partners, the city is creating a page on its website to identify and showcase its Partners and will promote those who help our community during these difficult times. Those that can help in any way, will be included as a Peachtree Corners Community Partner

“None of us in our lifetime have had to encounter the circumstances we are now facing,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “Be assured the Council and I are committed to doing everything we can as a city to ensure all who live and work here are safe. And we are committed to doing all we can do to ensure our businesses survive and are able to return to operating as they were before the outbreak of the coronavirus.”

For questions regarding business licenses or alcohol excise tax fees, please contact City Hall at 678-691-1200.

The Peachtree Corners City Council has pledged to do all that can be done to protect the city’s residents and to ensure our business community continues to thrive. Please join us in supporting our local businesses.

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Business

City Extends Deadline for Businesses to Renew Business Licenses

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60-day deferral business license

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus began, the City has endeavored to find the best balance between providing service at City Hall to its residents and the business community. After considering the continued spread of the coronavirus in the metro area, the decision was recently made to close City Hall to the public. 

Until further notice, Peachtree Corners City Hall will not be open during regular business hours. However, you may request in-person meetings by appointment. The staff is also available by telephone and email during regular City Hall hours (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

The staff telephone numbers and email addresses are located on the city’s website, www.peachtreecornersga.gov. Use the “Contact Us” link at the top of the homepage to access contact information. Use the filter to access by department.

Understanding that this may cause a hardship on many companies’ ability to renew their business license, the Mayor and Council are extending the deadline for renewals until May 31, 2020. 

During this time, the City strongly encourages businesses to renew their licenses online at: https://cityofpeachtreecornersga.governmentwindow.com/start.html or by mail. 

The City is temporarily waiving the $5.00 eCheck fee and reducing the processing fee from 5% to 2.5% when using a credit card.  If you have questions regarding renewals, please send an email to businesslicenses@peachtreecornersga.gov or call 678-691-1208 to speak with the City’s business license officer. 

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Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners Wins Smart Cities Award

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Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

City’s project wins IDC Government Insights transportation category.

The city’s 5G-enabled 1.5-mile autonomous vehicle test track and smart city laboratory, Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, was named the winner in the transportation category in the third annual IDC Smart Cities North America Awards (SCNAA) for its connected and autonomous vehicles project.

Curiosity Lab was one 11 category winners receiving awards for a wide range of categories including civic engagement, smart buildings, adaptive signal control technology and transportation. The awards recognize the progress North American communities have made in executing smart cities projects. The award recipients were selected following more than 2,500 votes.

“We are extremely proud that our city’s Curiosity Lab has been recognized for its efforts in advancing transportation through connected and autonomous vehicles,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “We have created an environment where new AV and smart city technologies can be tested and perfected. Our city is the first in the United States to offer a real-world test track for autonomous vehicle research.”

Winners in the SCNAA illustrate best practice examples of urban innovation with a particular focus on the use of technology (cloud, platforms, analytics, IoT, mobile solutions) and data, unique partnerships, funding models and/or community involvement.

“Curiosity Lab is a unique economic development investment that helps advance new technologies and grow the employment base of the city,” said Betsy Plattenburg, Curiosity Lab’s executive director. “We have had interest in testing from both startups and Fortune 500 companies.”

The winners illustrate how forward-thinking municipalities are effectively leveraging technology and innovation to offer new services and economic opportunities and to meet the needs and expectations of citizens and residents.

“It is clear from the overwhelming number of impressive responses we received, government
officials across the country are committed to implementing innovative Smart City Initiatives
designed to bring about meaningful changes to the way we live, work, play and interact,” said
Ruthbea Yesner, Vice President IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities Strategies.

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