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Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager: Smart City Expo, Curiosity Lab, the city’s first craft brewery and more.

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This podcast also includes information about hosting a special event for the first day of the Smart City Expo Atlanta 2019, the opening of the city’s first craft brewery, upcoming developments in the city and the city’s response to urban camping.

About Smart City: “It won’t be long until, literally, you could be walking down the street and your phone’s talking to the cars driving by, talking to the phones of other pedestrians, talking to the buildings, talking to the light pole. I mean – it’s a both amazing and sometimes scary environment we’re going to be in.”

On the Chattahoochee River (Fiserv) development: “So it’s a very complicated site both from an environmental standpoint, as well as because of its sheer size, there’s a lot of, you know, back of house negotiations that the master developer has to do with lining up the team that’s going to develop it. Because this is a mix of uses, so you’ve got different contractors that specialize in different types of housing.”

On expanding the Town Green: “Essentially, the eastern side is currently in development. The city owns it, and we have wanted the town green to be activated and to watch kind of how it’s playing out, and take feedback from our citizens on what we could do on that six acres to be a value add to the town green. So that discussion will be happening over the next three to six months…”

Transcript of the podcast:

Rico [00:00]: Hey! This is Rico Figliolini, host of Prime Lunchtime with Brian Johnson, city manager. We do this every month, and we have great discussion of all things going on here in the city on Peachtree Corners. Before we start, Brian, do you mind saying hi?

Brian [00:15]: Oh absolutely! 

Rico [00:16]: Excellent. So a couple of sponsors. So first off, Prototype Prime, which is – we’re using the studio here – the podcast studio we’re at. They incubate here in the city Peachtree Corners, which is part of the Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.

Brian [00:30]: It is. Curiosity Lab is really three things. It’s a mile and a half-intelligent mobility and smart city laboratory which has an autonomous vehicle test track. It’s a 25,000 square foot technology incubator. And it’s all the technology within both the building and the one and a half mile for you to test anything from drones to, you know, autonomous, you know, vehicles to on the uh, you know, to smart city connected vehicle. I mean, anything you could think of.

Rico [01:03]: So, this place has grown since I’ve been doing this podcast. This is unbelievable growth over the next few months than we’ve probably seen. Companies coming here from all over, not only the metro area, but the country and the world. We’re gonna be on the map. Peachtree Corners will be known, hopefully as well as Atlanta in some ways. So Prototype Prime, Curiosity Lab, sponsor of the podcast. And also want to thank a new sponsor that’s coming on – Gwinnett Medical Center. They’re now going to be insuring Peachtree Corners. You can learn more about their premier services. They’re gonna be conveniently located where the old Ippolito’s Restaurant used to be, and people know where that is. That’s the shopping center south of the QT on that side of the road on Peachtree Parkway. So they’re entering. They’re going to be having first-rate primary care services and specialty services. You can find out more about that at gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/PTC. So that out of the way, there’s just a lot to talk about.

Brian [02:03]: Sure there is!

Rico [02:05]: And in fact, the third sponsor on the radio – we’re a media sponsor – Peachtree Magazine. Peachtree Corner Magazine. Smart City Expo, Atlanta. So that’s just the – let’s start off with that.

Brian [02:16]: Sure!

Rico [02:16]: It’s such a huge thing.

Brian [02:19]: It is.

Rico [02:18]: You were in Barcelona last year. This is the first big expo on the North American continent for this.

Brian [02:24]: So, the Smart City Expo World Congress is the largest Smart City conference in the world. And, annually, it’s in Barcelona, and it has 35 to 40,000 attendees. And it got so big that they decided to create regional, kind of affiliate or feeder ones. You know, they have an Asian one, a European one, and the North American one, which started this year because of the work that Metroland and Chamber and others did. We are lucky enough to have the very first North American version here in Atlanta. And then, given that it was here, we were able to, um, kind of brief the powers that be about what Curiosity Lab is, and they were like, “Wow! We’re doing a Smart City conference and you have this living laboratory for Smart City testing and demonstration. Let’s make it an official demonstration site.” So we’re also a partner of Smart City Expo, and we’re going to be a demonstration site the morning the conference begins which is September 11th. 

Rico [03:29]: Right. Three day weekend. Three day conference. And it’s the first of three years that they’re going to do this in such a place. And the whole idea is to be able to, not only show off Smart City IMT, you know, Internet and Memory Thing – Internet talking tower thing. Um, but it’s also to bring it down to a more usable level for the common man and woman. And how sustainability, smart technology, how it affects everyone. 

Brian [03:58]: Right?

Rico [03:59]: Right, not just corporations.

Brian [04:00]: No, we’re at the cusp of really – the way we do, you know, anything, changing because of the ability to have, you know – to create that internet of things, which is everything being able to communicate with everything else. And we’re, you know, especially with 5G rolling out, we now have a wireless environment where it can happen. And so, it won’t be long until, literally, you could be walking down the street and your phone’s talking to the cars driving by, talking to the phones of other pedestrians, talking to the buildings, talking to the light pole. I mean – it’s a both amazing and sometimes scary environment we’re going to be in.

Rico [04:43]: And it’s kind of interesting because if you go onto the basic, let’s say, warehouse for example, where the sustainable – what they’re doing is, as you walk the warehouse floors and the warehouse – the lights come on as you walk through. Heat and other sensitivity things come on as this human person walking that area, occupying it. These are all things that can happen in a 5G world.

Brian [05:08]: They can! I mean, you literally can control everything wirelessly and not have latency issues where it’s lag time. All the controls – you could have so much more on the wireless environment. We’re used to 4G or even your conventional 4G LT – you could put so much on it that it starts to get, you know, have a little bit of lag, get slow. And 5G we just – we have so much more to work with. So it’s an exciting time!

Rico [05:40]: So now – because we’re demo aside – the Expo is in September. We’re not that far where we – 

Brian [05:47]: 48 and a wake up.

Rico [05:49]: Yeah, 48 days.

Brian [05:50]: Who’s counting?

Rico [05:52]: How far are you going to be. Is it going to be, like, complete almost past city hall? I mean I know the whole stretch won’t be completely – 

Brian [06:01]: Right. With every aspect of the lab on this one and a half mile section – for every single thing to be done by then, probably not. So what we’ve done is – all the work we’re doing, we’ve had them do it in a linear fashion. Normally, if some contractor is putting something in, they would – entire projects – they get to choose what order they do. In this case, we’re like, “No, we need you to start at the technology parkway 141 intersection. The Marriott. And then work north and, at a minimum, we’ve got to get it past City Hall, because that’ll be the main stretch for the Smart City Expo that people will both be coming to the demonstration site and where the demonstrations will take place. So that’ll – that’s the stretch we’re concentrating on.

Rico [06:55]: So there’ll be shuttle buses coming from the expo for people attending the demo?

Brian [07:00]: We’re gonna be – we’re gonna facilitate two things. You know – for those conference attendees that sign up to do this, we will have buses available to bring them up from the Georgia World Congress Center. But for attendees who are – who live close by, they won’t have to go all the way and cut back. They can just go right to the site.

Rico [07:22]: So what are you planning? What demonstrations? Anything particular yet?

Brian [07:28]: Yes. So, I don’t want to share the companies yet, but I can share the type of stuff. We’re gonna have everything from fully level 5 autonomous vehicles, driving a track or a portion of the track. Tele-operation vehicles. We’re gonna have drone autonomy – and these are autonomous. These are not, you know, done by human. Drones showing off capabilities of package and food delivery. You know, some of those kind of things. Also – other package delivery robot components. Let’s see, what else have we got? We’ve got some connected vehicle demonstrations to show how vehicles talking to each other can actually alter the way that the car drives itself, even with a human in it. So we’re wanting these companies to come in, and, again, we’re kind of inviting anybody who – we got a couple of like, one company – we’re not sure we can get them. But they actually have a vehicle that is – it’s kind of like the smart car, you know that really small – their vehicle contracts or expands for purposes of urban use. So when you’re driving it, it can – when you get in, it expands so that the wheelbase and everything is stable. But when you go to park it, you can actually – you can park it in the same size space that you could put a Harley Davidson.

Rico [09:07]: Really? All by itself? So you get out of it and itself – it’s like the Jetsons.

Brian [09:14]: Yes! I mean – so, that one we’d like to have. So those are some of the things we’re gonna have at this demonstration. And so it’ll be, uh, interesting.

Rico [09:24]: Excellent. Lots of stuff. There’s a lot of things happening here in the city, too, so we should probably talk about – besides the autonomous vehicle tries. So, I know we have a city council meeting. Um, the mayor also had a state of the city on Tuesday night.

Brian [09:44]: Monday night. Tuesday night was the city council.

Rico [09:47]: That’s right. So there’s a lot of things that Mike Mason talked about.

Brian [09:53]: 72 slides worth.

Rico [09:54]: Right, yeah? But he went through it fast. I gotta say.

Brian [09:57]: Oh, I mean, you know – look. We’ve learned, you know, we being staff have learned where the mayor’s real, um, his real strength is. And he is phenomenal when, you know, you put him in that environment and he’s talking with, not to, the citizens of the city. And so, yes, he knows how to, you know – we all warned him this was a lot of slides. But he went through it quick. I mean he got it done in an hour, and it was good. But he’s amazing, how he can interact and just make everybody feel like they’re part of the discussion.

Rico [10:36]: Oh yeah, you could see, I mean, he’s not a politician per se. He came from a corporate environment, so you can see how that works. And he – there was a lot of things that he talked – he talked about the infrastructure improvements. Over 2[0 million dollars since 2[015. About the town center, about the pedestrian bridge coming online soon, probably within a month or so. We might even see ground –

Brian [10:59]: Oh yeah, I mean it’s underway.

Rico [11:01]: Okay so, we’ll see – and I saw – I wish I had the slide on this. I saw the picture of the newest picture, um, where the work clock. It looks fairly good, actually.

Brian [11:12]: Just saying – now you were – you were a part of all of it to begin with, so you may be better positioned than me to comment. But I, you know, our hope was – we went from the initial versions – 

Rico [11:24]: The double spires – 

Brian [11:26]: And to one that is maybe, you know, it’s more modest, but it’s not, you know…It still has a distinctiveness that you won’t be like, oh yawn another pedestrian bridge. Distinctiveness, but it’s not over the top.

Rico [11:43]: No. And it looks really good now, from what I saw on it. And then I saw something else somewhere about the botanical gardens that might be an offshoot walk through the bridge – 

Brian [11:53]: There is. So when you go in, you know, on the south side of Lazy Dog, um, you’ve got the creek. And so for – we will have a path that goes along the creek but elevated. Kind of in between the creek and Lazy Dog, or the parking deck. So it’ll have to be elevated. And then we’re wanting to put a section that allows you to go down to that level, and then maybe put some other plant material there, make it a unique section.

Rico [12:23]: If you want to get to a cool place on a hot day, that’d be the perfect place to go. So you have that, and of course the mayor wants to talk about Georgia Tech, professional education, the on site. And we came just before, saw kids walking – they must be walking to the uh –

Brian [12:41]: Well that’s the coding for kids. That’s not Georgia – Georgia Tech is on the evening or weekend. This is a summer camp, so we actually have coding for kids camps that have been conducted here over the summer.

Rico [12:54]: It’s cool. So you have the young kids, the high school, middle school kids, and then you have the professionals who are coming back to learn a bit more.

Brian [13:01]: Well, yeah, they are officially coders when they are done with that with the Georgia Tech diploma.

Rico [13:06]: Absolutely. There’s only two – I didn’t realize there’s actually three Georgia Tech – 

Brian [13:12]: Well that’s all professional education. So Georgia Tech only teaches professional education in three locations. Their main campus, then they have their Savanna campus, and then here.

Rico [13:25]: It’s amazing. I mean Georgia Tech – everyone wants Georgia Tech. The other thing that the mayor talked about and we featured in the upcoming Peachtree Corners magazine is the, uh, Anderby Brewing that just opened. We’ll be up there – 

Brian [13:41]: Tomorrow night is their grand – their little grand opening.

Rico [13:45]: Gotta go. This is a great craft brew – 

Brian []:13:47 Craft brewery?

Rico [13:49]: Yeah! First one in Peachtree Corners. I mean, brewing their own stuff.

Brian [13:52]: Right on the end of Curiosity Lab.

Rico [13:54]: We passed them coming in. I mean, this is great stuff. I mean it’s just – the funny part was the mayor saying, “We know it’s near the high school, but it’s far enough so it’s okay.”

Brian [14:05]: We had a few people bring that up. But yeah, there – you know, all that stuff said, like state law in some cases and locally and it meets all the requirements-

Rico [14:17]: Um, so there was that, um, that – we saw the things that the mayor talked about. Then we had the city council meeting on Tuesday night. So I just want to go through a couple of things. I know Lazy Dog is going to be up pretty soon. They just, um, applied for their – 

Brian [14:34] Liquor license, yeah.

Rico [14:36]: And that got passed. The other thing is that uh this – I don’t know what this is. The MRPA – I should know what this is.

Brian [14:45]: Metropolitan River Protection Act.

Rico [14:46]: Ah. Okay. That was for the 55 law – 

Brian [14:50]: Fiserv property.

Rico [14:52]: So they got approved? Or was that public hearing?

Brian [14:54]: It did. Well, and action items. So they got it approved.

Rico [14:59]: So what does that mean to them? Because people have been asking, what is that – 

Brian [15:02]: Right. So, this is a hundred plus acres of development in the Chattahoochee River corridor. So it’s a very complicated site both from an environmental standpoint, as well as because of its sheer size, there’s a lot of, you know, back of house negotiations that the master developer has to do with lining up the team that’s going to develop it. Because this is a mix of uses, so you’ve got different contractors that specialize in different types of housing. They’ve gotta line those up, they’ve gotta line up financing, they’ve gotta come up with the timing. Because, you know, they can go as high as – and I think it’s 916 total units on the…And let’s just say that they did that, and they may not, but you don’t – at something that big, you don’t build 916 units just…You tend to do it in phases and you’ve gotta master plan it out, so there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes. But the first thing they have to do is, they have to get a certificate allowing them to develop within the protected river corridor. That’s the Chattahoochee River. So that’s what this was. The city and the Atlanta Regional Commission, the ARC, together we regulate state law. Which is the Metropolitan River Protection Act. This was us approving the fact that they’ve met the requirements when it comes to things like – how many trees that they want to remove, or how close to the river they can add impervious surface – 

Rico [16:50]: So this is going to be different size buildings. From what I understand, at least going to be four or five story buildings towards the river because that’s the lower end – 

Brian [16:56]: That’s correct. I think they can go as high as six stories up the other end that – where no one other than, like, Country Club of the South residents could see it, which is, you know, across the river, but – 

Rico [17:07]: But they’ll be able to see the river. It’s a great view for, I mean, no matter how you look at it – living in a place like that it’s a great view. And that’s – 

Brian [17:16]: And I think they recognize that. I mean, look. When you’re 20 miles from downtown, show me another location where you can go on a property and literally be outside the view of anything else like you can on that property. You get in off of East Jones bridge and you wouldn’t even know that you’re not in the middle of nowhere. Along the river. And so I think they recognize that it’s kind of – it’s a unique place to build residential. And so your’e right. They’re going to build everything from two-story detached residential to stacked flats, to townhomes, to condos, to multistory, you know…

Brian [17:58]: What they’re doing is – I think it’s supposed to be 55 and older. And as you get Ricoolder, there’s memory centers, supposedly will come on three years into the development and stuff like that.

Brian [18:10]: So it’s moving. I mean there’s no doubt about it. It’s just that, sometimes people have to have a lot of talk and public hearings for them to get their first special use permit. They think that as soon as it’s approved they’re gonna go. That was merely for the developer to know that they can do it, then they have a lot of work behind the scenes.

Rico [18:29]: Same thing with the apartment building and boutique hotel on Town Center. I mean that was approved over a year ago or longer, and they haven’t done anything.

Brian [18:39]: Well they haven’t done anything that we can point to. But there’s lining up financing, there’s deciding who’s going to build this, there’s the design of what is the building exactly gonna look like.

Rico [18:51]: Right, which they still have to come back and share. Um, Instant Mechanicsville – that area is also getting rezoned from M1, which is industrial office to residential.

Brian [19:03]: Yup.

Rico [19:04]: Um, what’s going on there as far as – 

Brian [19:07]: Well the request – so that was just the first rating. But that said developer wants to come in and build townhomes.

Rico [19:11]: In that area?

Brian [19:13]: In that area. 

Rico [19:14]: Which is the oldest part of the city, isn’t it? Mechanicsville is fairly old.

Brian [19:19]: It is. As a residential area, it is. You know, Pinckneyville and the Term is, you know, older as it relates to when it was referred to back in time. I mean the intersection and Spaulding and Medlock bridge – that’s, like a corner that has existed when the Pony Express came through. I mean, so, there’s some older sections of – But as far as a currently existing residential community, Mechanicsville is our oldest.

Rico [19:49]: So is that taking – that’s only converting – it’s converting about 20 acres.

Brian [19:53]: It’s converting 20 undeveloped acres but that were zoned for an industrial use.

Rico [19:59]: So is that all empty land?

Brian [20:01]: It is undeveloped, just tree, just wooden land.

Rico [20:04]: So obviously no one’s looking to do industrial there. There’s no demand for it, but there is for townhomes.

Brian [20:11]: I mean, there is a demand for it, actually. I mean you get out there, go along Buford highway. You know, in that area. You’ve got – there’s new recycling’s got a big wing. So there’s demand, but sometimes the demand is one thing, but the political, you know, interest in facilitating that is sometimes uh – and this, these parcels are at the edge of this neighborhood, so I would imagine…I mean they haven’t voted on it yet. But normally, cities very – look very favorably on somebody wanting to rezone on an intensive use like manufacturing, you know, industrial to a residential. Because most people are like, okay.

Rico [21:00]: I’m actually surprised that it was M1 to begin with and it butts up to residential – it almost never happens that way.

Brian [21:07]: It has probably happened because it was industrial to begin with and some parcels got residential.

Rico [21:14]: Um, the next thing was the consideration of ordinance for the city. Nuisances – urban camping – that’s the first that caught my eye. So let’s go on about that. Are we having urban campers?

Brian [21:28]: Well, I mean, so urban camping is just, you know, a municipal way of talking about people who are sleeping out in public spaces. For various reasons – probably, you know, most of the time it’s done by people who are homeless and they’re moving around. But, yes, we have had some problems of late in the town green. 

Rico [21:54]: Oh really? In the wooded area, likely?

Brian [21:59]: Yeah, or just out on the town green itself. And so we’ve had, you know, fortunately, there are instances where there are people who, you could argue, make a living from moving from location to location, and begging for money from those who are frequenting establishments there. So now we’ve got a bunch of retail and restaurant space and a location that people are going to. And so you’ve got the panhandling and…so they’ll do that, and they’ll sleep there overnight. And so we needed to have something so it’s in violation – doing so is in violation of local law because it is public property. So somebody can say “I have a right to be here.” We’re saying, “You do, but you can’t camp there.”

Rico [22:51]: In Simpson Park – because it’s a park and that’s a camping park – I think they allow camping.

Brian [22:58]: I’m not sure they do. I mean it’s because – you know – I’m not sure they do. 

Rico [23:01]: You know they let the staff – 

Brian [23:05]: Yeah, but that’s probably under special – part of a special event permit. Jones Bridge I think has done the same – but I think you apply and they give you a special event permit for that particular thing. They say, “Hey, we’re gonna be doing this.”

Rico [23:23]: Yeah, I mean you can’t just show up and camp. They’re pretty good about controlling some of those things like that. Alright, so there’s that. There was also resolution about the call for an election qualifying and all those things that have to be done on a regular basis.

Brian [23:39]: I mean, you know, so we all know that our staggered terms are every two years. So you know, this year, four of the seven are up for re-election. And so when that’s the case, we have to set certain dates um and locations for our election within the guidelines of the state sets. And so that’s what that was. Was setting the qualifying period, setting the location where you would go to the polls, setting the election dates.

Rico [24:12]: So is that – these – so this election won’t be part of the county.

Brian [24:16]: That’s correct. This is – there will not be any county vote in November. Unless they, you know, decide to hold some special election for something. If not, it will just be at City Hall.

Rico [24:30]: Do you see that changing next year during presidential election where – because I know there was a rule passed that allows cities to approach the counties that include the same election name to save space?

Brian [24:43]: Well, so, what you’re referring to is the Gwinnett County board of elections had an actual prohibition of running, managing, the election for a municipality within Gwinnett County. Which we – I know absolutely for sure that no other metro-Atlantic county is that way. I think that, of the 159 counties, Gwinnett County was the only one that had that prohibition. So you’re referring to the fact that that was removed. So now, Guinnett County board of elections could provide election services for municipality for a fee.

Rico [25:26]: Right. It’s a governmental arrangement system.

Brian [25:29]: Right – what hasn’t happened since then is there has not been a negotiated rate and all that stuff hammered out so that a city could say, “Yep, we want you to run ours.” There’s a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of details in that because there’s a lot of differences between if the county already had to open a precinct versus they didn’t have to but a city wants them to open one special. So, like, you know, if the county is already going to be holding an election anyway at a certain location, you know, I think some cities are like, “Why can’t we pay you based on whatever additional cost it would be to just add a line or add a, you know, to the ballot that they’re already having to –

Rico [26:21]: Because right now, essentially, next year for example, nothing changes. Most people know you go to vote for your local precinct, you go to vote for the presidency, the Senate, Congress, whatever. And for me, that would be let’s say at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church is my precinct. But then I’d have to go to City Hall separately to vote for my city council people. Which is, like, really – 

Brian [26:47]: Well it really came up last November when the city and Gwinnett County has a special referendum. On – well actually it was earlier this year, it wasn’t last November.

Rico [26:57]: Are you talking about the March Martyr thing?

Brian [26:59]: No no no, the Sunday alcohol sales. So they held a special referendum to change the start date – was it back from 12 to 11. And we did too. We wanted to put it to our residents. So, to go and vote for that, you had to go to your county precinct. And that was going to determine whether unincorporated Gwinnett County. And that – and then you had to go to the city – to City Hall to vote on whether the city could – and that kind of is what prompted this movement to say, “Wait a second, why is this prohibition in there? We’re not saying any city has to use Gwinnett County board of elections, but if there’s a fair price to pay to have, you know Gwinnett County board of elections, couldn’t that option be there?” And that’s where we’re headed, but that has not been negotiated yet. So in our case, November and Gwinnett County Board of Elections doesn’t have an election this November to do right now. So it’ll just be City Hall and it’ll just be municipal elections. We have four positions.

Rico [28:16]: Not bad.

Brian [28:17]: Which actually – four positions are up. There may not be candidates. In which case, they would not be on the ballots.

Rico [28:24]: Qualifying is going to be next.

Brian [28:26]: It’s middle of August.

Rico [28:27]: Middle of August? Long way off, but if you’re thinking about something, it’s time to do it I guess. Um, anything else new? I know that you had a chance to speak, but I don’t know if there’s anything else from your department, from the city manager?

Brian [28:42]: I didn’t have any updates at that meeting, no.

Rico [28:44]: Anything else that we should be aware of that’s, uh, maybe coming up?

Brian [28:48]: I mean, you know, we’re gonna be talking shortly about locations to put the video cameras that we budgeted for out. You know, we’ve talked about here soon – 

Rico [29:02]: Security cameras – 

Brian [29:03]: Right. The license plate reader video cameras that we’d like to make available to police department if we’ve got a crime that’s been committed and they want to – 

Rico [29:14]: So that’s all budgeted and now you’re just gonna decide – 

Brian [29:16]: Yeah it’s all budgeted. We’re just gonna decide which intersections we want to put it in. You know, that’s coming up, um…

Rico [29:24]: The – I know that the mayor also talked about the acreage. Um, several different options for that – almost six acres or –

Brian [29:33]: Yes. So you know, if you go to the town green, you know, two of the four sides if you consider the green a square, even though it’s a circle, but you know, two of the four sides are developed. Center Vista on one, all the shops on another. Then the north side of it will have the townhomes. They’re getting ready to go vertical. But the – essentially, the eastern side is currently in development. The city owns it, and we have wanted the town green to be activated and to watch kind of how it’s playing out, and take feedback from our citizens on what we could do on that six acres to be a value add to the town green. So that discussion will be happening over the next three to six months as we again keep activaty – because this Saturday night we’ve got the Journey cover band. You know, so, we’ve got some – right. We’ve got some good events that have happened out there already and some more to follow. And we’re learning and we’re taking feedback and, well, we’ve got some things that are, you know, will be here before – 

Rico [30:49]: So Alex Wright – city councilman Alex Wright actually pointed out a few things that people pointed out that you guys may be adjusting. For example, the playground area, which may be adding some more, um, onsite playground equipment.

Brian [31:06]: There will be. We’ve just gotta decide which type and of course how much.

Rico [31:13]: And shelter from the heat.

Brian [31:15]: Well yeah, so correct. The slide – that one’s already done. And that one’s gonna be here soon. But yes, a shade structure over the side. But those are the kind of things, you know, feedback we’re taking. Even having them manage the crowds over there. Talked about we may need to rope off an aisle or two to walk, you know, across it. Because we had the Queen Nation, literally was just – 

Rico [31:43]: Six thousand people. That place was jammed with people.

Brian [31:47]: It was. It was great to see, but little things – little things that we’re learning and our residents are telling us. “Hey, think about this.” So we’re gonna continue to improve it.

Rico [31:58]: I think some of the – I think there was some landscaping where they thought maybe – a slight hill where they could do some seating actually.

Brian [32:05]: Yup. We’re looking at that. 

Rico [32:07]: And I think the mayor also discussed either – those six acres could either be expanded into – discussed it at one point – either part of the town green maybe becomes, or it might be a pavilion that might be able to handle a hundred people at some party – 

Brian [32:22]: It could be a mix of uses. It could be on the ground floor. You could have maybe covered event space or more seating. And then higher up, you could have, you know, anything from the commercial performing art center, more seating to overlook the green. I mean, the sky’s the limit.

Rico [32:40]: And I found that interesting, you know, one of the options you pointed out was that someone actually – one of the companies actually approached the city to say, “What if we did, like, a four-story building and two stories down below would be the art center, and two stories above would be office space?” And I thought that would be a great way to actually help finance – 

Brian [33:00]: That’s correct. And that’s why we will have and will entertain some sort of potential public/private partnership on that. Because it takes what investment we make and it, you know, it – 

Rico [33:13]: Maximizes and leverages – 

Brian [33:15]: It does. Just a force multiplier to let us do more with less money coming out of our budget to go to it.

Rico [33:22]: That was exciting. That part was a decent way to go actually. Earth Fare – the empty store. Anything new on that?

Brian [33:29]: Um, well actually, there is – I mean, other – the owners just contacted us recently to say they think they may have got a scenario to where they’re, you know, prepared to take over the lease from Earth Fare. And have it go to another tenant. So, that’s about as far as I can – 

Rico [33:49]: Can’t tell us? Big boss – 

Brian [33:51]: It would – it would occupy the whole thing. If this one plays out.

Rico [33:58]: Okay. Part of the entertainment district, it is?

Brian [33:59]: It is.

Rico [34:01]: And related to that, maybe? Just curious.

Brian [34:03]: Potentially.

Rico [34:06]: I have to push.

Brian [34:08]: Oh, I don’t blame you. I mean economic development is a tough one. You know, sometimes you get excited, but you have to be cautiously optimistic because some of these things fall through.

Rico [34:19]: Oh, for sure. For sure. We’ve – I’ve kept Brian long enough. I think he has real important meeting to go to after this regarding Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. So, great and local – well not a local, international company, really. And they have a local office. So he’s heading out that way. So we want to say thank you to Brian for coming out, sharing his time with us. And also to say, look out for Peachtree Corner Magazine. It’s going to be hitting the post office Friday, which means you should be getting it in your mailboxes early next week, if the post office delivers it on time and it’s not three weeks late. But look forward to a cover story on Titan Pictures, on the movie industry in and around Peachtree Corners. The boy scouts, the Gwinnett swim local team won the Gwinnett swim championship, which is cool. And a lot of other stuff that we have packed in there. So that’s coming out and, that’s it. Thank you all, appreciate it.

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Capitalist Sage: Business Leadership in Your Community [Podcast]

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Summary

On this episode, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini sit down with Lisa Proctor and Brad Kluesner, leaders within the Peachtree Corners Business Association. We discuss the benefits of joining the PCBA, how it can turn the city into a home and community, and how businesses can get involved and give back to their communities.

Resources:

Peachtree Corners Business Association: https://www.peachtreecornersba.com/

“And all I can say to people is, plug in. There are some things that I would not have known, that there’s business opportunities in the future that maybe didn’t give me that immediate sale. Or that – you know, I always say to people because I work nationally and locally, or internationally, I may not give a direct sale because I went to a meeting. But the relationships that I built were invaluable.”

Lisa Proctor, President, PCBA

ABOUT LISA PROCTOR, President, PCBA

Lisa Proctor is the President and CEO of Sanford Rose Associates – Lake Lanier Islands providing executive search and consulting services in the placement of mid to senior level executives, C-Level Management, and high-level individual contributors across multiple industries including Financial Services, Banking, Insurance, Technology, Business Services and Professional Services on a national level.

Lisa is an Executive  Founding Member of the Peachtree Corners Business Association.  She served two years as the Membership Chairman and now serves as the President of the PCBA.  Her primary focus for the PCBA includes Member Engagement, Business Networking and Growth, and continued support and growth of Community Outreach.

Lisa and her husband Jay have lived in Peachtree Corners for over 25 years.  When they are not volunteering or working on JP’s fishing jigs, they enjoy spending time at Lake Lanier boating, fishing and relaxing. 

ABOUT BRAD KLUESNER, Chair of Community Outreach. PCBA

Brad Kluesner is a Financial Advisor here in Peachtree Corners with an office in the Forum.  He and his wife Amy moved to the area from Indiana when she was recruited to an Atlanta law firm.  Brad’s career focus has been financial services and education in different states around the country.  After running schools for the past seven years, he became excited for the opportunity to return to finance and run his own business.  He attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN  and graduated with bachelor’s degree in philosophy and earned two master degrees from the University of Notre Dame in education. 

Brad has been active this past year in the Peachtree Corners Business Association, the Friends of the Gwinnett County Public Library, Inc. and the Rotary Club of Peachtree Corners.  He also volunteers through the Catholic Charities Leadership Class 2017, St. Pius X Advancement Committee, and different ministries at St. Brigid’s and Mary our Queen Church.

Podcast Transcript:

Karl [00:00 ]: Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets digital marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico [00:17 ]: I’m doing just great.

Karl [00:19 ]: Why don’t you tell folks about our sponsors?

Rico [00:22 ]: Absolutely. We – they just opened this week. Gwinnett Medical Center’s primary care and specialty center here at Peachtree Corners. So they just opened on the – just Tuesday, I think it was. So they’re joining this community. They’re going to be providing premier services, and they are a sponsor of the pod – of this family of podcasts – Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners life. So we want to welcome them as part of the one. Atlanta Tech Park of course. This is the place that we’re doing this podcast out of. This is a great place. I mean – I – it’s just phenomenal. The activity that’s here, the amount of workshops and – there’s something that’s actually going to be staged tonight that’s here also.

Karl [01:05 ]: Yeah. They’ve got events here all the time. I think it’s one of their cyber events. Fintech – and I think they have coming up – Women in AI – is coming up. And in a couple of months we’re gonna have cryptocurrency workshops here. And if you’re really interested there are even a little bit of improv professional free workshops offered every month.

Rico [01:28 ]: Really? There you go. So this is a really hopping place and a great place to do these podcasts, which we do twice a month here. And as well – the third sponsor – well, it’s more of a media sponsorship for us because we are a media sponsor for Smart City Expo Atlanta. That’s coming in September. It’s the first North American expo and offshoot of the Barcelona World Congress Expo that happens. And Curiosity Lab, Prototype Prime, will have for the first time here, an offsite demo of the 1.5 mile stretch that’s going to be the autonomous vehicle lab. So we’re proud to be a sponsor of the Smart City Expo Atlanta, and you can find more information just by googling that or go to SmartCityExpoAtlanta.com and that’ll take you there.

Karl [02:21 ]: For folks who don’t realize what Smart City – if you think about what information and data do cameras and so on is able to do in a city – improve service, helps us direct traffic if there’s an accident and so on. The companies that are leading in developing the technology for the next generation of cities are coming into Atlanta and we’re being featured here at Peachtree Corners for that, which is fun and great to know.

Rico [02:45 ]: Yeah. And that stretch of land, well at least up until City Hall, will be completed to a degree, so there will be a lot of things going on on the day – on the first day of the expo here.

Karl [02:55 ]: Fabulous. And that’s in September, right?

Rico [02:58 ]: September 10th – well actually 11th through the 13th.

Karl [03:02 ]: Okay, that looks good. Well, today’s guest is Lisa Proctor and Brad Kluesner from Peachtree Corners Business Association. They’re here to talk to us a little bit about what these associations due to help local communities – business communities – the community overall. And let’s start off by just having you guys introduce yourselves and maybe some of the roles you play in the organization. Lisa?

Lisa [03:27 ]: Sure. My name is Lisa Proctor, and I’m the president of the PCBA. I started with the organization as a founding member when the organization was created in 2012, and made the – volunteered to be the membership chair and did that for a couple of years and then stepped into the role as president. So I’ve been doing the president role now for a couple of years and always love to continue to build and grow the town and the organization.

Karl [03:56 ]: Fabulous. Brad, how about you?

Brad [03:58 ]: Yes – a couple years ago I joined the Peachtree Corners Business Association and I just said to myself, “I want to meet people who live and work and play here.” And the best way to do that is, I’m just going to go to every meeting every month. And I didn’t know anybody and eventually, I knew one, and another person, and a year later, Lisa asked me to volunteer to be the chair of the community outreach. So this is my first year on the board connecting businesses to the community.

Rico [ 04:24 ]: Wow. You mentioned something about volunteering. The organization – how is that structured around the members?

Lisa [04:30] : The organization is all 100% volunteer. Which creates its own little challenges because trying to coordinate everybody’s schedules and everything, but the great things about Peachtree Corners and the greater metro Atlanta area is – we actually recruit volunteers, and we say to people, “You don’t have to recruit or be part of the organization 100% every day, every month, every – tell us what you can do, but what you commit to, please do what you commit to. And if you can only do it for one month, if you can – if you want to be on a committee – if you want to just help check people into an event. Tell us that’s what you want to do, we’d love to have your help.” But that way, I think it’s a great way for engagement. The reason I volunteered to do the membership is – I have lived in Peachtree Corners for over 25 years, and because I work nationally and internationally with my day job, what happened is, I discovered I didn’t have children in school, I didn’t know people, so it was a great way for me to get to know the community. So just sitting at the membership, checking people, seeing those faces together, getting to know people – kind of like Brad – is saying, I’m going to the meetings, I’m learning who these people are, and I discovered I got to make some great friends and some great business associates just by putting myself out there and doing some simple things. So I think that’s the best way to do it.

Karl [05:54 ]: I know for folks that worked in large corporation and corporate environments, you build a social network within your company and you can always tell it by LinkedIn – you’ll see how many people they’re connected within their same company. But if you’re a small business owner, you don’t have that advantage of all these people to be connected to. So I could see how being a part of a business association that gives you connection with other business owners that are like yourself is a good way to build your network around that – around that.

Lisa [06:24 ]: It is. Not only is it – what you find is, you don’t have to have the answers to everything, you don’t have to have all the solutions. You will meet people or you will get to know people that say – “You know what, I have somebody you should meet.” So it’s not necessarily who you meet at the event, it’s taking the time to get to know people who feel comfortable enough referring you to people that you need to know. And I think those are the best relationships.

Brad [06:50 ]: Yeah, I would say, you know for me, good business starts with relationships where you trust somebody and you know them. And then they can help you or you can help them, and it just becomes a community of givers, really. And that’s what I’ve seen.

Karl [07:05 ]: So your great example of when you started this, of started joining and being a member of the organization. Were there specific things that you saw helped you personally as you started venturing into your own businesses?

Brad [07:21 ]: Well for me, I was a little bit of the opposite of Lisa. I just moved here just a couple of years ago. A lot of people are moving to this Peachtree Corners area. And you get here, and you didn’t grow up here, and you don’t know anybody. And so, you want to know leaders in the community. You come to these events, and you just start with a conversation. And for me, it became a home. You know, I lived here first, I had a house. But then the Peachtree Corners Business Association made it a home and a community for me. And for a guy from a small town, that’s important.

Rico [07:52 ]: Where’d you come from?

Brad [07:54 ]: I came from – I grew up in a little town called Jasper, Indiana, but I moved here from Indianapolis.

Rico [08:00 ]: Small town, right? Not too big. You know what I like about Peachtree Corners Business Associations and some of the other, you know, associations and chambers around the city is that, if you really want to, like you did, be involved – it’s one thing being a member of an organization, so you feel like you’re there and you show up at some events and stuff, you’re fine sort of doing your thing. But it’s always better to be part of – part of the group and it does consume some time, but it becomes fun I think, and it also provides better connection to the group – to the leadership.

Lisa [08:39 ]: Absolutely. Well in fact, one of the biggest things is, when people are saying “what organization should I join, and how do I decide?” My first question to them always is, “What do you want to get out of it? Why do you want to join it? Because if you just want to take in – pay a check, we’ll take your money. Happy to do it. But you’re not gonna – next year, when it’s renewal time, you might not renew because you didn’t get anything.” So come to things, get engaged in things. We try to do events different times of days, different kinds of things, just to say, we’re not going to solve everybody’s schedule – we’re not gonna do that. But we want you to feel comfortable engaging on that works for you.

Rico [09:18 ]: You know what I find that – since we started the magazine, and this used to happen before, too. But now with the magazine, we’re pro-businesses – new businesses – and some of the same questions – “What do you think we should do to get more involved in the community?” You would think they would know. But, you know, so you encourage them. So the first thing is the PCBA, you have the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber – those are certain places you should join, and then they will help you get out into the community because giving into the community is always the best way to reach the community.

Lisa [09:53 ]: Well, and I think you hit it also when you said, with small businesses, one of the things that was really important to me when I started my business was – part of our mission statement is to be very philanthropic in the communities. And we make donations in our clients’ communities, but what we found was that the outreach committee and having that part of the organization – that’s why we built it – was a way for all the businesses to have a meaningful impact in the community. Because as a small business, I can’t write a check to sponsor every single thing – the parade, the festival, the run for the corners or light up the corners – all these things and here comes the high school and here – but the great thing is, with the business association, we’ve donated over $75,000 back into the community since we created the committee in 2013, is when we created it. So, you know, and you’ve seen it. With being able to do scholarships and things like that, as you look at that, what have you seen?

Brad [10:53 ]: Well, every recipient has been so moved because the need is so great and nonprofits are such tight budgets that they just say, “Anything you can do to help us, we’ll appreciate it.” And so we give them a voice in the community, we give them recognition by coming to the events and sharing their stories, sharing some of the causes that we’re working with to the whole business community. And if you don’t know what’s going on, nobody’s gonna be able to help you. And so that has been very impactful for them.

Karl [11:27 ]: I talk to business owners – they’re always asking about ways to improve their business. And one of the top things is always the top line and revenue and how can I get more revenue. And I always explain to them – what are they doing to get more known, build awareness? And a lot of businesses have figured out how to use community involvement, charity – whether or you’re sponsoring a high school team – to help generate awareness for the product and services that they provide. What I like about these business groups and organizations – it gives you multiple ways to get in front of different – but they’re also helping you vet the organizations that actually make more impact with each dollar that you donate or each service that you do, so you don’t have to go and be a researcher and figure out, “should I provide money to this cause or that cause?” These groups have been there for years, they know the organizations and the types, and you can talk to them and consult and say, “this is the type of impact – it’s education. Here are four ways you can give back to education.”

Lisa [12:29 ]: Right, well, it’s so funny that you say that because one of the things I continue to find is I find that there are so many great charities in Peachtree Corners or the greater Peachtree Corner area that support our community. And I didn’t even know about them. I don’t know if you did, but we started looking at the list, and I said – “We’re gonna have to categorize them because they’re getting so long on our website that all of a sudden you’re like, I’m getting lost in the weeds.” There are so many – by the time you look at the schools and you look at the assistance league – most people didn’t know when they opened and we did the ribbon cutting for the Assistance League. They’ve been in existence in the greater metro Atlanta area for years – I didn’t even know what they were. And so it allowed me to say, “oh my gosh, they do so many things.” And really help them and they’re all volunteers as well. But it’s just something to learn.

Brad [13:21 ]: And what I love about the Peachtree Corners Business Associations is you get to meet the leaders of these local charities and nonprofits – they’re a lot of causes nationally, and you always send in money, and you know you’re helping a great cause. But at this, here in our community, the leaders come to their events and you know them and you know their character and you know their story and they’re helping your neighbors, and that’s very powerful. That’s what I like.

Karl [13:45 ]: I always like introducing the concept of, every small business owner should have a board of directors. But the trick is – people that could advise them on business – I have one area of expertise and Rico has another – and if you want to talk about marketing strategy, you want to talk about financial strategy or legal tactics, you want someone that you could have a conversation with, and most often you have to pick up a phone or google or pay a fee. But part of these organizations will allow you to build your own personal board of directors. There are people that have done what you’re doing – they’re five years, ten years ahead of you – there’s people with different subject matter expertise. And you can start forming those relationships where you and pick up the phone and say, “Hey Brad, I’ve got a question about X.” Or “I’ve got a question about Y.” And you can have a conversation and see if you need further help and they can help guide you with that. Is there any other advice that each of you can give to a person of something that they can benefit when they join organizations like this?

Lisa [14:44 ]: Go ahead.

Brad [14:45 ]: I was gonna say – you have to have that relationship so you can pick up that phone. You know, I met Karl at one of these events when I was on a tour, and now I’m on the podcast, and that starts with that relationship. And now, you feel comfortable calling me, I feel comfortable calling you. But if you call me and I don’t know, I might know someone in the Peachtree Corners Business Association that I’ve met and had lunch with them too, and I think that is the real value of the association.

Lisa [15:09 ]: And what I find is, if all you’re gonna do is go to the event and do what I call the drive by – the business cards and you’re handing them all out and you never follow up or you never do those things, and it’s getting to have those conversations that are the casual things – understanding what people do. It’s amazing to me how many things that I don’t even realize the number and depth of the connections I have, and somebody will say, “I’m about to start this” and I – there’s a staffing firm, and I won’t tell you who, but she was saying to me, “Lisa, I’m about to go after this in the market.” And I said, “well let me just share my experience. I did the same thing, and if you do this better than me, let me know how that works for you, but I wasted a lot of time and got a masters degree on the street doing the wrong things.” And I was happy to share that because I could tell she was excited about what she was doing and she was just ready to do it. And I – she was going after the financial surface industry and I was like, “that’s very regulated, and if you’re not that familiar with it, you need to know.” So I think you’re spot on with – you know, people who are willing to give back to others – um, my natural tendency is, I’m happy to give back because, you know what? Somebody did that for me. I didn’t learn all these things because I’m brilliant. I learned the hard way. But I had some great mentors and great leaders that helped me along the way.

Rico [16:34 ]: That’s great. I feel like – I mean, I love talking shop. I love talking about business, about start ups, it’s just – I feel – when I see other people – especially younger people – getting into business and launching something, I feel like I wanna help them. It’s just like – it’s cool, it’s exciting. I’ve been there before, I’ve done different things, so that’s what I find also – that network of business people – to be able to just talk shop sometimes and share what you know.

Lisa [17:02 ]: Well, what I’ve also found is how much I can learn from them. Because when they tell me what they’re going to do, what I’ve learned is, I’ll say, “Tell me why you’re gonna do that.” And it’s interesting to find out that I’m not always the expert, I don’t always know anything. And sometimes when they tell me, I say, “Hmm, that’s an interesting way.” And so, it’s caused me to be more open thinking the other way, and not just assuming that I am that person who knows and can do that. And it’s been pretty humbling, especially when it comes to technologies and all the things. Cause I’ll say, you know, let me run this by you. I’m about to put this piece together for marketing, and they’ll look at it and go, “Hmm.” And I’m like, “You don’t think so?” And they’re like, “Well, it’s probably wonderful, but I wouldn’t use it or I wouldn’t read it or I wouldn’t do – ” And so I think that’s the part that I love is – having more of that ability to collaborate in a safe environment. And you don’t always have to feel like you’re the know it all of everything. You can actually ask other people very safely, even in your role as you’re listening to them – I’ve probably learned as much from listening and hearing what they’re talking about, saying, “What makes you think about that?” Or just asking those questions and going, “You know, I was so busy doing all this, I didn’t think about that.” And that’s a good wake up call.

Karl [18:20 ]: You’re tapping into something when you think about just personal development. Most owners of business or anybody in small business – the thirst for development can make their – they don’t have peers that they can have conversations with. Most people report to them, no one’s gonna be frank with feedback on ideas. They’re gonna tend to want to agree. You’re both in leadership roles within the organization. How is that helping you develop personally, getting involved in leadership?

Brad [18:50 ]: Well, for me, I like learning from the mission driven leaders of organizations. And so, you know, we’ll give a $500 check to a nonprofit, and then I’ll kind of follow up and go on a tour and see what the operations are like and see how the executive director is managing the people, sharing the story and the vision in the community, and I think to myself, “What am I doing to make the community a better place? What is my personal mission? How can I help more people and how can I collaborate with more people around me like that person’s been doing?” So I’m always trying to learn from others who are successful. And that’s been one thing that I’ve gotten out of it.

Lisa [19:36 ]: And what I find is, it’s helped me broaden and learn more from people where – what happens when you’re in your little focus and your head’s down and you’re running business, you surround yourself with people that think like you do. Cause it makes it fast, and what I’m finding is, it challenges me to think more out of the box and step back from things before I just go ahead and do the ready, fire, aim. It makes me say, “Wait a minute, let me – it’s okay to take a step back. It’s okay to do.” And just as you were saying is, so many times, you forget to invest in yourself. And realize the cobbler’s kid has no shoes. And the thing I’ve learned is it gives me that of – “You know what, I need to step back. I need to learn that technology. I need to listen. I need to – it’s okay to take time to do this class, or, you know, go to this launch or go to this thing.” And for me, I have a bad habit of not giving myself permission to make the time.

Rico [20:33 ]: Do you find that because, I mean you’re a small business. How many people?

Lisa [20:39 ]: I have basically a staff of three. And then I have some contractors who work with me for about another four. And what helps me a little bit is, I also happen to be part of the Sanford-Rose franchise. So we have a hundred offices and I have two hundred people that are there to back me up, but at the end of the day, it’s still my P and L, what I’ve gotta do – I’ve gotta deliver. And so, at the end of the day, yes you’re big over here, but yeah you’re pretty small over here.

Rico [21:11 ]: And that’s why I think – you know, if you have your head down when you’re working, and because you’re a small business, you have to really work at taking that step back for a minute and say, “you know what, you’re right. Let’s go to that dinner or let’s do this thing” and not just working all the time.

Lisa [21:28 ]: Exactly. Well, and I think that that’s what we find when we tell people you need that engagement, you need to give that time. I think with entrepreneurs, you end up wearing so many hats that sometimes, you forget, “Wait a minute, I am supposed to be the leader. I am supposed to basically replenish my mindset and what I’m learning, and I can’t do that if I can’t get my head out of my computer, off my phone or, you know, getting out and talking to people.” And so it really, for me, that’s when people say, “It’s so much work.” And I go, “Well it is.” But I’ve rarely had anybody get me to do something that I didn’t choose to do. So for me, it’s a choice. It’s not a duty, or I don’t feel like it’s something I have to do. I choose to do it because I see the value, and I do think it’s helped me learn so much more. Look at how the city has grown in the last seven years and all that’s going on. And I don’t know if I would have been as aware of this stuff if I hadn’t been really in touch with it. And all I can say to people is, plug in. There are some things that I would not have known, that there’s business opportunities in the future that maybe didn’t give me that immediate sale. Or that – you know, I always say to people because I work nationally and locally, or internationally, I may not give a direct sale because I went to a meeting. But the relationships that I built were invaluable.

Karl [22:55 ]: It’s interesting, and if you think kind of individually about it, I’ve noticed we’re – at the state of the city – the mayor – a lot of people there are learning, listening about the city. How does these business organizations like Peachtree Corner Business Association help influence policy, help give input from a collective voice to the leaders in the political sphere but within the city? Because Peachtree Corners is going through a transformation, and it’s growing and there’s a lot of interesting things. What role can PCBA have in that?

Lisa [23:33 ]: I think that’s an awesome question. That’s actually one of our founding principles of why we created the PCBA. Is because it was unbelievable to me- 80% of the people who work in Peachtree Corners do not live in Peachtree Corners. So they can’t vote in Peachtree Corners. So if they don’t take advantage of the business association – we as an association don’t always agree on every policy, but what we can provide you is you have those opportunities – those city council – those mayors – we bring in speakers – we bring in in a very casual, business after-hour speaker type thing where you get to know those people. And you can actually talk to them and tell them what’s important to you, and if you didn’t have that forum, I don’t know if you would ever really do it. It’s amazing, like, when you mentioned the city – state of the city – I’m not sure how many people in that room were business people versus community people. I was there, and I went, but that’s been always one of our challenges is saying to the business people, “Plug in and know what’s going on. They do listen and there’s some real things” –  in fact at the Lazy Dog ribbon cutting yesterday, one of the challenges that Lazy Dog had is that they cannot serve food to the dogs, which is part of their business plan, because of a Guinnett County health code issue.

Rico [24:59 ]: It might be a Georgia state – 

Lisa [25:00 ]: It maybe also Georgia. I don’t know how much. But as they were talking, the city council were there, they were actually talking to them, saying, “Help us. We understand that it’s not just the city, but who do you know?” And something that basic and that easy – when people are in the community getting to know each other, that’s where they can have it. Now, whether that will change or not, you don’t know. But those things don’t happen if people don’t start those relationships.

Karl [25:28 ]: It’s funny, I think maybe all of us were at the State of the City. And you learn a lto of stuff that’s going in, but I think you had a good point – the mix of business folks to folks that might just be more living in Peachtree Corners was nice to see the mix there. And some of the vision of the city really impacts and is centered around business. Is there an area that you’re seeing in Peachtree Corners – we got local – where we could do better when it comes to supporting the business community?

Lisa [25:58 ]: I was gonna say – that’s a great question. I think it continues to be the way that we try and communicate to the business community. The thing that I’ve run into and maybe you’ve seen it as well – there’s so many ways that people can communicate. But it doesn’t mean they’re actually engaged. So what I have found has been a big help to us has been the Peachtree Corners Magazine, or doing podcasts, or doing different ways, cause people learn differently, people communicate differently. And I think being open to whatever those ways are provide the platform. So I think trying to figure out how we provide that – I think the town center – some of that central communication has helped. But we’ve got a long way to go. 

Brad [26:48 ]: And I would say that, as a leader in the business community, take initiative. You know these causes are here, and take initiative and make a donation or volunteer. Don’t just wait for someone to ask you and then the event goes by and you say, “Well nobody asked me.” You’re leaders, you’re entrepreneurs. Take initiative and jump in.

Karl [27:08 ]: Well, I wonder what you got going on. I know there’s lots of events that are happening there, and maybe just tease up a few events that people should be aware, how they could find out more about the events with the Peachtree Corner Business Association.

Lisa [27:23 ]: Absolutely. Our website is PeachtreeCornersBA.com and all our events are listed out there. Probably a couple of the events that are nearest and dearest to our hearts is August 22nd, we have our annual charity event, and we are going to be doing Island Castaway beach party, Gilligan’s island style. And so their registration event is there. You can register for the event, find out the details. On September 26th, we’re gonna do business after hours at Anderby Brewing, which is our new brewpub in Peachtree Corners. And we’re super excited. And on October 24th, for those business people who need to build their personal brand, they get to come here, who is the LinkedIn guy – if you don’t know who he is, don’t miss out because he can help you build your personal brand as well as your business brand. And we also have our coffees – the second Tuesday of every month. Don’t – just very casual, very easy conversations like this, and you don’t have to be a member to come. And then stay tuned for some more of our upcoming business lunches. So we’ve got a lot of ways to do.

Karl [28:37 ]: Fabulous – so if you’re a business owner in Peachtree Corners, there’s so many ways to get plugged in. And starting out with a small business step – go to one of these events. Meet Brad, meet Lisa, talk to them about it, meet some of your neighbors, and you know, step up and be a leader in the community and get out there and get involved. So really appreciate – I want to thank both of you – Lisa and Brad – for your time today and just helping, kind of exploring, the different options around joining groups, being involved in the community and how collective action in the business group can really impact the community. We’d also like to think Atlanta Tech Park for hosting the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We enjoy our time here – beautiful facility to visit and take around. I thank Brad for introducing me to Atlanta Tech Park a while ago, one on the many ways that connection to these groups have helped me personally and to develop the business. Rico, anything we got coming up?

Rico [29:41 ]: Um, I mean, should – the last issue that just came out. Let me just put that up here. Peachtree Corners Magazine just covered this city’s big video and film industry in the surrounding areas, which is, you know, a three-part article, so it was kind of neat to cover that. Plus we covered a few other things like Anderby Brewery that just opened, which they have a dozen square-foot event space also.

Lisa [30:11 ]: It does – that’s where we’re gonna do it.

Rico [30:13 ]: There you go. So there’s that, and then the Peachtree Corners swim team – first time champions from Peachtree Corners for Guinnett Swim that happened just recently. So there’s a bunch of things in here – Fipe high school, high school kids that are doing it big out there in the world. One of them works for Space X right now. So I kind of made a lot of articles in here especially about Smart City Expo that’s happening in Atlanta. So there’s that. 

Karl [30:39] : And if you wanted to check out some of these things digitally, where would I find that?

Rico [30:44 ]: Sure. You would go to LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com. And if you go there, you’ll find the digital edition of the magazine, you’ll find – we post there every week, sometimes every other day, different articles on there. And you’ll find all the podcasts there. So back history of these podcasts with Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners Live and the stuff I do with Brian Johnson, City Manager, which is that once a month Prime Lunchtime with the city manager.

Karl [31:10 ]: So you can listen, you can read, you can go online, you can find out what’s going on here. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisor with Atlanta Peachtree. We help people, advise people on the best way to understand the value of their business. And when they’re looking to make a transition with their business, we help them with that, finding both buyers and helping sellers with that. And Rico – Mighty Rockets –

Rico [31:34 ]: MightyRockets.com. I do a lot of creative services, so anything that deals with social media marketing, online content, videography – I’ve been doing a lot of product videos lately for our companies in Charleston and Kentucky, so that’s been fun. And, so, a bit of that, we do a lot of creative services, of course the magazine also takes up a lot of time now, too. But it’s been fun, and these podcasts are – you’re the heavy lifter on the Capitalist Sage, so it’s been cool doing these podcasts.

Karl [32:05 ]: Oh, absolutely. It’s great to have great guests come in, local. You could find folks in the community – say hi to them in Sprouts or Engels when they’re out and about, set up a coffee and find ways to grow and improve your business. It’s the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We look forward to chatting with you some more on some future episodes. Have a nice day everyone.

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Business

Atlanta Tech Park to Host Global Cyber-FinTech Event in September 2019

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Over 70% of all credit and debit card transactions are processed through more than 160 Georgia-based companies, which results in billions of dollars in revenue across the board annually. Securely processing these transactions is an industry of it own, and Georgia is home to a handful of the 500 best cybersecurity companies in the world, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Furthermore, more than 80 countries have a presence here in Atlanta, which makes the scope of our event a global one.

With that in mind, Atlanta Tech Park is excited to host the inaugural Global Cyber-FinTech Challenge on September 18 & 19, 2019. The event will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, workshops, and one of the best networking opportunities within the industry this year. With over 500 expected attendees from companies around the world, this is a unique opportunity to position your company as a leader in the Cyber-FinTech space. Developers will also have the ability to participate in a handful of “challenges” for a grand prize of $10,000.

Why September and why Atlanta Tech Park?

As with any business, Q3 is a pivotal time of the year that allows many to evaluate how successful the year has been, change course if it hasn’t, and begin forecasting the coming year. Atlanta Tech Park is a great fit to host this event because of our passion for cybersecurity, which stems from Robin Bienfait, the Founder of Atlanta Tech Park, who developed multiple patents. “Cybersecurity is the underlying foundation for all successful tech businesses now and in the future,” Robin says.

To sign up for the Cyber-FinTech event as a sponsor, speaker, exhibitor, or judge, please visit bit.ly/ATLCYBERFIN now.

ABOUT US: With over 75+ companies in residence, Atlanta Tech Park is a technology accelerator in Peachtree Corners, GA. The facility features boardrooms, conference rooms, a video podcasting studio, hot desks, private offices, 600+ person events space, and 100+ person auditorium. Membership and insider information can be found on www.atlantatechpark.com. Please follow us on Twitter at @107ATP and on Instagram at @atlantatechpark for the latest news and updates.

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Around Atlanta

Redefining what it means for a city to be “smart”

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Atlanta hosts the first-ever Smart City Expo in the United States

When? Where?

From Wednesday, Sept. 11 to Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, Atlanta will host the first American edition of Smart City Expo Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, in partnership with Fira de Barcelona and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Smart City Expo Atlanta

What?

Smart City Expo World Congress is globally recognized as the most important conference on smart cities, held annually in November, in Barcelona. Since its inception in 2011, local branches have sprung up on four continents, addressing the particular interests of those regions. The offshoot being transported to the United States for the first time is Smart City Expo Atlanta (SCATL).

We are focused on redefining the term “smart” to ensure equity, prosperity, humanity, inclusion and justice are part of the implementation of blockchain, A.I., IoT, big data and automation.

John Griffin, Director of Communications — Smart City Expo Atlanta

Redefining Smart

Director of Communications — Smart City Expo Atlanta, John Griffin from DKC News, outlined Atlanta’s vision for the Expo. “We are focused on redefining the term “smart” to ensure equity, prosperity, humanity, inclusion and justice are part of the implementation of blockchain, A.I., IoT, big data and automation. It’s important that we look at social and economic mobility in addition to scooters and self-driving cars, equitable infrastructure not just intelligent and connected infrastructure…and that we invest in human capital not just venture capital.”

“The focus on cutting-edge technologies, smart city innovation and equity and inclusion directly align with our One Atlanta vision of affordability, resiliency and fairness,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. (As cited by Brianne Fortuna, 2019).

Atlanta to Host for Three Years

The city of Atlanta embraces and exemplifies the summit’s agenda to encourage smart urban revolution. Griffin revealed that Atlanta has secured a three-year commitment to host the U.S. spin-off of this important conference.

In response to what makes Atlanta a good choice for the U.S. edition of Smart City Expo, Griffin replied, “Atlanta is in the middle of a period of significant growth and investment. The city recently passed legislation to raise $2.5 billion for mass transit and infrastructure; the suburbs are the fastest growing in the U.S.; it has become a center for film and TV production due to the largest tax breaks in the country; it has a burgeoning startup and venture capital culture, and recent expansions there by companies like Google and Salesforce are anchored by Fortune 500 stalwarts The Home Depot, UPS, Coca Cola and Delta Air Lines. Atlanta, and its mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, are thoughtfully approaching this growth through a lens of equity and inclusion and civic and social innovation, not just technological. To me, that is what makes Atlanta so “smart”.”

What to Expect

Imagine stimulating conversations and interactive activities with solution-minded mayors, top-level executives, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and leading corporations from across America, who share a desire to create more equitable and inclusive cities. Experience three full days (or perhaps just one) of this expo’s inaugural expansion to the U.S. and learn what’s being done to create a better future for cities and their citizens worldwide.

Each day of exploring technology, sustainability and innovation concludes with happy hour and a reception, allowing more time to create strategic new alliances and open more paths for collaboration.

Griffin stated, “Attendees of Smart City Expo Atlanta will be able to engage with and hear from top government officials, industry leaders and the foremost members of academia on a wide range of subjects from Opportunity Zones and reimagining cities, to the power of predictive analytics to address natural disasters. They will also get to experience cutting edge demos and activations at a world-class expo.”

Referencing the offsite Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners demo, Griffin affirmed, “On the first day of the conference, we are hosting a truly unique autonomous vehicle demonstration at Peachtree Corners where entrepreneurs will have an actual testbed and 5G connectivity to accelerate research on their innovations.”

“We will welcome over 50 local and international companies by the time of the show,” declared Griffin. It is expected that SCATL will bring together over 2,500 participants and 200 speakers.

To learn more about SCATL, visit smartcityexpoatlanta.com. ■

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