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The Pharmacy Business and People’s Access to Prescriptions During COVD-19 [Podcast]

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Peachtree Pharm

How did one pharmacy owner navigate COVID-19 and still provide access to medicine for their clients? Dr. April Hang, owner of Peachtree Pharmacy joins Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini on the Capitalist Sage.

Phone Number: (678) 691-9079
Address: 5270 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
Website: https://www.peachtreerx.com/
Social Media: @PeachtreePharmacy

Timestamp, where is the podcast to find these topics:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:33] – About Dr. April Hang
[00:04:21] – What Makes Peachtree Pharmacy Different
[00:06:09] – Business Impact of COVID
[00:11:52] – Getting into the Pharmacy Business
[00:16:02] – Dealing with Insurance
[00:17:01] – The Future of Pharmacy
[00:27:53] – Balancing Business and Home Life
[00:28:37] – Closing

We (work) for local patients and that way, you know, we can manage and keep that close
relationship as if they’re a family. Make sure everything’s okay.”

April Hang

Podcast transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] 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 he is the publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine. Hey Rico.

Rico: [00:00:47] Hey Karl, great to be here. We might as well jump right into it and I’ll tell you
about our lead sponsor for the show, for the family of podcasts. And that lead sponsor is
Hargray Fiber. They are a large Southeast company involved in fiber optic cable, internet
connectivity. Don’t think of the cable guy because they’re not that. They’re a company that’s
right in the communities that they serve and providing variety of services, including that
connectivity to your team that’s out in the field teleworking. They provide it whether you’re a
small business or you’re an enterprise sized business. And they provide tools like smart office
that can keep your team working, both whether they’re in office or they’re out there at home,
wherever they are working for you and getting sales done and getting work done. So check
them out HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/Business, and find out how you can get your
thousand dollar gift card, visa gift card from them once you get involved with the company. So
we want to thank them for being our sponsor.

Karl: [00:01:51] It’s funny how so many people are operating from home, learning from home.
And so having great internet and fiber optics is super critical. So thank you for Hargray Fiber for
supporting us. Today I am honored to have Dr. April Hang who is the owner of Peachtree
Pharmacy right here in Peachtree Corners and Gwinnett County, Georgia. We’re gonna
continue on our series, talking with small business owners about navigating through 2020, the
pandemic and all the things that have been happening in our community. Dr. Hang, how are you
doing today?

Dr. Hang: [00:02:27] I’m good. Thank you for having me on the show. I appreciate and feel
honored to be here.

Karl: [00:02:33] Well, I’m just happy to have you. And the fact that you’re in the medical health
field of operating a business here is really important considering what this year has been like.
Why don’t you start off by introducing, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you got into
pharmacy career.

Dr. Hang: [00:02:52] Well, I worked at CVS as a high school student. And I saw the pharmacist
and you know, it intrigued me to see these crazy names and what they treat. So I just kept
wanting to learn more. Then I got into pharmacy school at Virginia Commonwealth University
and graduated in 2002. We moved to Atlanta in 2009, when my second child was born and I
continued working for CVS and when I was pregnant with my third child in 2011, that’s when I
said, okay, I’m just going to open my own business because I’m just tired of all the red tape.

Karl: [00:03:37] I could imagine so many people go through that same journey in opening their
business. What made you choose this area to open it and what do you find, what do you find
that you like most about being your own business owner?

Dr. Hang: [00:03:50] I actually got into business so I can have more time for the kids and more
flexibility. So I wanted to be able to have a stable income and have the flexibility to be there for
the kids. So it’s, you know, I knew initially it was going to be more time consuming, but then, you
know, as time passes it’s, you know, it’s a lot better now.

Karl: [00:04:12] Yeah, no, I appreciate that. Are your kids here locally? How many kids do you
have?

Dr. Hang: [00:04:18] I have three children.

Karl: [00:04:21] Very good. Well, it’s so cool to be part of the community that you’re in. So you’re
operating you live in the community as part of that. Often people aren’t as familiar with some of
the independent pharmacy. I wonder if you could share with us some of the things that make
your pharmacies different than some of the chains like CVS, Walgreens and others.

Dr. Hang: [00:04:42] We compound at Peachtree Pharmacy, which is the biggest difference,
which is making customized medications for you or your pets or animals that you have. A lot of
the compounding we do right now is hormone replacement therapy and vet meds. So that’s one
main difference. We also do blister packaging, which I’m sure you guys have heard that Pillpack
was bought by Amazon and they’re trying to do blister packaging. We do that for local patients
and that way, you know, we can manage and keep that close relationship as if they’re a family.
Make sure everything’s okay, put in the right time position of their blister packs. So I don’t know
if you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.

Karl: [00:05:30] No, I am a little bit, but it’d be interesting. Have you seen more need recently for
being able to provide that more customized service to your customers?

Dr. Hang: [00:05:45] It really depends on where they’re living. If they’re in a personal care home,
then they, it’s mandatory that they get blister packaging. If you’re still living at home, it’s a
personal choice to have that convenience. So you’re not filling your medicine tray yourself. So
that’s an advantage that we have.

Karl: [00:06:09] Excellent. Well, I’m curious to ask you a little bit about this year and when the
news of the pandemic started coming out. When did you first hear about it? And did you think it
was going to have an impact on your business initially?

Dr. Hang: [00:06:27] I actually did have an impact as far as PPP goes at the beginning. We had
a program where it would upload things onto Google saying we had certain things like M95
masks. So we had a lot of questions about M95 masks and, you know, hand sanitizers and
things like that initially. We also have increased deliveries now since the COVID and then
patients are asking me to go outside and give them their flu shots in their cars so they don’t
have to come in and interact.

Karl: [00:07:07] So, since this all started, where did your, probably your physical center in the
central service, did you close down at any point during?

Dr. Hang: [00:07:17] We did not. We just put procedures in place. Started requiring masks, just
following the CDC guidelines. There were people that, you know, embraced it and there are, of
course, people that are not embracing it or they’re against wearing masks.

Karl: [00:07:33] So now that it’s kind of normalized to some degree, if you want to call it that, are
there changes you’ve made in your business that because of this, that you’ve implemented,
that’s had an impact either on your employees or your customers?

Dr. Hang: [00:07:51] I don’t really feel like that it’s been impacted much. I mean, we did, like I
said, put up the plexiglass and made social distancing and one entrance and one exit. But as far
as the business goes, it’s been pretty stable. You know, depending on what’s coming out in the
news about COVID, sometimes they would say something about azithromycin so then all of a
sudden there’ll be a back order of that because it gets in the news or Plaquenil. You know, just
certain things, whatever the news says and all the physicians, they try to write for themselves,
you know, write for their families.

Rico: [00:08:40] As far as supply chain goes, were you finding yourself in need of certain
medicines or in short supply of certain things besides the masks and stuff like that.

Dr. Hang: [00:08:51] I know there was a shortage on Plaquenil for a while and azithromycin
because that’s the main two things they’re using to treat in the hospitals. But I think it’s
normalized now so we can compound it. I do have the powder where we can actually make the
Plaquenil in capsules.

Karl: [00:09:13] It’s going to ask for those, what are those used for? What are the treatments
for?

Dr. Hang: [00:09:18] Azithromycin is an antibiotic. And then the Plaquenil is for like auto immune
usually like lupus. And this type of inflammation, auto immune diseases.

Rico: [00:09:33] So most medications, most prescriptions that have been coming to you, though,
you’ve been able to fill and all that? Pain medications, other things along those lines.

Dr. Hang: [00:09:43] Right, right. Yes.

Karl: [00:09:46] So I’m curious as you follow what’s happening with vaccines and some of the
treatments and therapies coming out, how do you prepare your pharmacy for an anticipated
demand when different drugs are, you know, getting approved or being, how do you manage
that process? What information and sources do you use to know what you need to have in
stock?

Dr. Hang: [00:10:12] We just follow the CDC guidelines. So whatever comes out, we try to follow
that. As far as like sources of medications or vaccines, everything is pending, so there’s no
nothing really credible out there. So I can’t really comment on it.

Karl: [00:10:30] It got it. Testing. Do you get involved with the testing that they’ve been talking
about?

Dr. Hang: [00:10:36] We do not test at the pharmacy. There’s a little bit of fear with the staff, so
we don’t test. You know, they have small babies and families or their parents live with them. So,
you know, they have their, their personal consent, so I don’t enforce it. But I just make sure they
let the patients know where they can go and get access. I know that, you know, I have a contact
that can come out. They have a mobile bus and they’ll do both the nasal swab and the serology
test. And the difference is one tells you, you have it. And one tells you, if you had it.

Rico: [00:11:17] So antibodies you’re talking about or is that something else?

Dr. Hang: [00:11:19] Right. Correct.

Rico: [00:11:21] And there’s a place that does that here in Peachtree Corners even?

Dr. Hang: [00:11:25] Well, I can, I mean, I’m trying to get them to come out on, the mobile bus.
It’s actually with Dr. Heavenly Kimes and her husband, Dr. Damon Kimes. So, and yeah, they
are local and they’re reality TV people as well.

Rico: [00:11:44] We are in the reality show ourselves, right.

Karl: [00:11:52] This whole year feels like it’s been part of a reality show. For young people out
there that are thinking about businesses and careers to go with, what are some of the reasons
people might go into pharmacy, either owning or becoming a pharmacist?

Dr. Hang: [00:12:10] There’s so many different parts to the industry that people don’t know
about. There’s working for pharmacy manufacturers and you can be a medical science liaison
between, you know, the public or the hospitals and the pharmaceutical company. There’s PBMs,
pharmacy benefit management organizations that handle your insurance and tell you what
you’re going to pay for or not pay for. You can work for those companies. You can work for
wholesalers as pharmacists. The hospital, obviously, different areas of the hospital. And then
there’s something called closed door pharmacy, where they deam a list of packaging just for
senior facilities. There’s a lot of different avenues.

Karl: [00:12:56] What’s a good way for folks to get started if they wanted. If I was a young
person or if you were advising younger folks, high school, college, what are some things they
can do to start getting experience, to see if it’s a right fit for them?

Dr. Hang: [00:13:09] I know personally for me, we have students come in and ask to volunteer,
but there are some state regulations where you have to be minimum age 18 to actually be in the
pharmacy. You have to register with the state just to be a pharmacy technician. And once
you’re registered, then you can come behind the counter and kind of shadow and learn. You
know, I would just recommend finding a local independent pharmacy that would take, you know,
take you as a student or as a shadow.

Karl: [00:13:44] How was the prospect in the industry? Is there a shortage? Is there excess?
Trying to find people, has it been difficult?

Dr. Hang: [00:13:54] It’s actually excess in pharmacists at this time. So, you know, jobs are a
little bit harder to find. You know, people are graduating and then the salaries are going down
because of the abundance of pharmacies schools letting out students.

Karl: [00:14:11] What do you think drove that? Is driving that?

Dr. Hang: [00:14:15] When I went to pharmacy school, there was a shortage. So as time went
on, more schools opened up and you know, they started producing more students. And now it’s
just an overabundance of pharmacists.

Rico: [00:14:31] Do you think that, if someone wants to get into the business, right? The
pharmacy business, it’s intensive, I’m sure, investment to get into it. Besides you need someone
that’s licensed to do it.

Dr. Hang: [00:14:43] Right.

Rico: [00:14:44] Does it have to be owner licensed to be able to get into this business?

Dr. Hang: [00:14:48] No. You don’t have to be a pharmacist to be an owner of a pharmacy.
Rico: [00:14:54] Okay. And you’ve bee, I mean, Peachtree Pharmacy has been around for how
long has it been now?

Dr. Hang: [00:15:00] Six years now, since I opened the store.

Rico: [00:15:03] Remember we used to go to CVS and there was some issues about getting
how CVS handles certain types of medications and inventory. Unlike retail, they do not track
their inventory and they can’t even let you know they have certain things unless you come into
the store to ask them. So this is one reason we decided to come to Peachtree Pharmacy
because, it’s just we felt that we were talking to someone closer. More assistant. And it was just
a better experience. No drive-through, but that’s okay. You have to be aggravated with…

Dr. Hang: [00:15:40] Well, we come outside. Even though we don’t have a drive through, I’ve
been outside to bring people their prescriptions.

Rico: [00:15:49] And you guys deliver too.

Dr. Hang: [00:15:50] Yes. If it’s a parent and your child is sleeping in the back they’ll say, bring
my medicine outside. Like of course, no problem. So yeah.

Karl: [00:16:02] Well, what’s something about the business of pharmacy, that most people
wouldn’t know, realize about it. Is there anything that could make it surprising to folks?

Dr. Hang: [00:16:13] I think that the amount of time we actually spend on the phone with the
insurances, trying to get you your medicine is the most challenging thing. Just because a
physician writes for something doesn’t mean your insurance is going to pay for it. So then that
becomes an issue. It could be two, three days before you get your meditation. You’re just
coming out of the hospital and you might rebound and go back into the hospital so you had your
medication? So there’s, it’s just insurance is making everybody’s life hell.

Rico: [00:16:45] Yeah, and some of them will cover the generic, but not the brand right? And
some people want the brand versus the generic because they feel maybe the brand works
better, right?

Dr. Hang: [00:16:56] Right. But you’re not allowed to have that choice with insurances.

Karl: [00:17:01] So you managed to keep track. So now that 2020 is kind of continuing, I’m
curious about looking forward to the future. Do you see things that you can do differently or, as
you go into the future with your business?

Dr. Hang: [00:17:19] I think I learned, since a couple of years ago, I had a senior coming in my
store, this is somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s aunt, sister, cousin, you know. And she
handed me a prescription for marijuana. And it said a ratio of 1 to 30. And it’s one dropper at
that time for dementia. And I didn’t know how to help her. And I felt so bad when I can’t help
someone, I feel really awful. So, I got on the phone. Put her son on the phone who was in
California and he was really upset and he’s like, where can I send her to get this? She really
needs, it helps her stay at home by herself, it helps her with her daily activities or activities of
daily living and things like that. And I was like, all I could do was apologize and say I don’t have
an answer for you because we’re in the Bible belt. You’re out in California. It’s different.
Karl: [00:18:27] So, what is, are you able to, provide CBD or medical marijuana here in
Georgia?
Dr. Hang: [00:18:35] Medical marijuana is not accessible. CBD is very accessible anywhere and
you can get it from gas stations, to the smoke shops and, Peachtree pharmacy. You have to
educate yourself. You have to understand what the effects are. It can interact with your
medications, you know. Depending on how much you use, there’s the risk of having a positive
drug test. So it’s just, you have to be able to educate your patients on the proper use.
Karl: [00:19:14] Where would folks would go to learn more about that? Like, let’s get educated
on some of the benefits. What treatments for that? Is that a conversation with the physician?
Are there online sources for information?
Dr. Hang: [00:19:28] Honestly, I am on this thing right now where I want to educate other health
care professionals about it. Because most of them don’t really know. I mean, there’s so much
out there. There’s a DNA test you can do to let you know what ratio is best for what condition.
So they have that for, you know, general, big pharma medications, but they also have it for the
CBD and PAC as well.
Karl: [00:19:55] So does the doctor have to write a script for that or is that something people can
come in and get without a prescription from a doctor?
Dr. Hang: [00:20:05] They can come in and get it at Peachtree pharmacy. It’s just a, it’s actually
a cheek swab and it’s from a company called Endocanna out in California, Los Angeles. And so,
kind of met them at a conference and kind of partnered up. Because I wanted to be able to offer
a kind of service for all the patients not just big pharma meds. But offer, you know, all the
benefits of CBD that’s emerging on market right now.
Rico: [00:20:36] And April, you’ve been involved with some of the politicians in the area too,
right. Lobbying, but so bunch of legislative work. So who have you been working with and how
is that going?
Dr. Hang: [00:20:49] I actually am not officially a lobbyist. I’m officially a constituent. So when I
go there, I’m going for me personally, as a pharmacist and not representing any company. But
you know, the intentions I have to help people. So when they were talking about access to
medical marijuana, I did speak and say, you know, you have to have pharmacists involved,
make sure that they review everybody’s meds because there are drug interactions. And, you
know, they don’t teach you that in pharmacy school. All the knowledge I have, it’s stuff I’ve read
or just learned about.
Rico: [00:21:28] Really? They don’t teach you about it?
Dr. Hang: [00:21:31] They don’t teach you about Marijuana in pharmacy school.
Karl: [00:21:37] Not in the classroom. So what types of treatments or things that people are
coming in for CBD and similar?
Dr. Hang: [00:21:53] We have like this CBD oil. I don’t know if you can see.
Rico: [00:21:59] Is that peach?
Dr. Hang: [00:22:01] Yes. It’s peach relief CBD oil that we sell. We have capsules, we have
topicals. We have dog treats, you know. And soon to come we’ll have get goodies products in
the store.
Karl: [00:22:15] What types of conditions does it help with? What types of patients would find
this helpful?
Dr. Hang: [00:22:22] Honestly, any patient. With headaches, depression, anxiety, sleep
deprivation, you know, anything.
Rico: [00:22:33] And you said you do that, you say you do that DNA swab, and that’s supposed
to help with that ratio of medicine that you’re able to apply right?
Dr. Hang: [00:22:46] Right. So in a perfect world where I see the future going is that, you’ll have
this DNA tests and then you have to have more customized medication that works for you
based of your genetics. So you know what your body can process and not process. Because if
you don’t have the enzymes to get rid of the drug in your body, it is the beneficial test. But this
DNA tests are very expensive.
Rico: [00:23:17] Yeah. I don’t think most people realize that. Yeah, most people, if I’m not
incorrect, don’t realize that medicine even antibiotics or mainstream medicine that people hear
about only work on a percentage of people. They’re not, you know, people assume that they’re a
hundred percent effective, but no medicine is that way. And they’re usually, probably only 80%
effective.
Dr. Hang: [00:23:38] Right, right. And your body can only absorb so much. So like on CBD oil, if
you take or consume any kind of CBD product, you only absorb 6%. And I don’t know where I
read that, but that number is in my head.
Karl: [00:23:56] Does it matter, like, you know, proportionate to the size of the person or is it just
their genetics in there.
Dr. Hang: [00:24:02] It’s their genetics, like you have in your body, what they call the
endocannabinoid system. And so that’s CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. So CB1 receptors is
your central nervous system. And that’s where THC, that’s where the THC usually binds. And
that’s why you have the psychoactive effects. However, with the CB2 receptors, that’s more on
the peripheral, the body and the organs. So if you have some kind of inflammation, they’ll help
you and kind of get back to normal and get to homeostasis.
Karl: [00:24:38] Wow. Well I know there’s been a lot of different folks that are providing that. You
mentioned gas stations and so on and…
Dr. Hang: [00:24:47] Right.
Karl: [00:24:48] Do you know if they’re doing anything to kind of gain greater control because
there could be contamination. There could be, you don’t know what the source is, is some of the
risk that I’ve heard about. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the risk factors of procuring it
in the wrong place?
Dr. Hang: [00:25:06] Well, there’s a lot of mislabeling. I know like if you have a CBD product and
you’re not sure that it says what it says on the bottle, you can actually send it to Georgia
extracts and they’ll test it at UGA and Athens and let you know what’s inside.
Rico: [00:25:27] Because this is not prescribed or anything. There’s no FDA approvals, there’s
no Georgia State quality control of it?
Dr. Hang: [00:25:37] There is the farm bill and that’s just with the hemp flour. But I honestly
haven’t read the entire farm bill, so I couldn’t comment too much on. But I know it’s to help
regulate the actual growing agriculture, like keeping pesticides out of it.
Rico: [00:25:53] Right. Do you see, April, do you see whether, if marijuana becomes legal in the
state of Georgia, at least medicinally legal, if not recreationally legal, do you see that as
something that Peachtree Pharm would be selling? That, you know, alongside the CBD oil and
stuff?
Dr. Hang: [00:26:17] It’s actually in the bill HV324, and you know, when, when the state gets the
infrastructure set up, there’ll be sold at certain specific pharmacies and how they decide that will
happen after they set up the infrastructure for access.
Rico: [00:26:37] Well, so every pharmacy or just certain pharmacies?
Dr. Hang: [00:26:41] My understanding, it’s going to be certain pharmacies. They’re right now,
they just hired an executive director to create the infrastructure for oil. And so once that gets set
up and people start applying and they start growing, while they’re doing the cultivating, they’re
going to decide or the pharmacy is going to decide. Okay who, which pharmacies?
Karl: [00:27:10] I mean, if you look into the future, how big can that industry you think get? I see,
I hear a lot of different, you know, ideas around a widespread, people might use it for all
different applications. Have you thought about how big that could be and how it might impact
your business?
Dr. Hang: [00:27:33] Honestly, it would help people get off their medications. So I mean, if
people would learn a little more about it, they can probably reduce their medications. But they
have to make sure, you know, the doctor knows. The doctor is educated or the pharmacist is
educated or the nurse.
Karl: [00:27:53] Well, I know as we look into the near future, people are being impacted because
kids being home and everything else. How are you balancing all of the demands on you?
Business, your family, have you figured out things to help you manage through this strange
year?
Dr. Hang: [00:28:13] I mean, I, you know, I’m lucky and I have a supportive family. I have my
parents living with me and then my husband is very supportive. So, you know, I’ve been lucky.
I’ve been able to, you know, go back and forth and stay home if I need to. So I’m just home
more. I miss going to the movies.
Karl: [00:28:37] Yeah, I think we all do, but when I hear that they’re starting to open up in some
locations and getting back. But between that, sports being thrown off schedule, I don’t know
what part of the year we’re in sometimes based on all of that. Well, I want to thank you so much
for joining and talking a little bit about, you know, the impacts of the pandemic on your business.
Help educate us a little bit about CBD oil and the alternatives that are available. More than
anything, I consider you and your staff are frontline, first responders. People needed help and
through this year, they needed to get their medications and it’s small business owners like
yourself that I’ve done just a great job of keeping people well as best they can. So if you haven’t
been thought, thank you from one of your clients. I like to do that for that. Well, how would folks
reach out? Why don’t you tell us your address and how they can find you social media phone
number? Just if you want to reach out and learn more.
Dr. Hang: [00:29:55] Our phone number is (678) 691-9079. Our website is
www.PeachTreeRX.com. We’re also on Facebook, under @PeachtreePharmacy, and also
Instagram.
Karl: [00:30:13] And what’s your address and where would we find you here in Peachtree
Corners?
Dr. Hang: [00:30:18] It’s 5270 Peachtree Parkway where the new Lidl that just opened up in that
shopping center.
Karl: [00:30:26] Well, absolutely while we definitely encourage folks to take a visit to Dr. Hang
and her staff, and, you know, just want to thank you again for being on our show today.
Dr. Hang: [00:30:36] Thank you, I appreciate it.
Karl: [00:30:38] You’re welcome and stay safe please. Well, I’d like to just segue into what we
have coming up. We’ve got more of discussions as we talk about the end of 2020. We’re going
to have some podcasts talking about, you know, what do you do now as you’re getting to the
end of the year to grow your business. And so stay tuned, follow us on all of our different
channels. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Both myself
and the rest of the folks on my team, we help talk to business owners, help them figure out how
to improve and grow their business, whether it’s through acquisition or for those that are ready
to do something else, how to exit their business. Feel free to reach out to us online
www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree, or you can email me at KBarham@TWorld.com. Rico, why
don’t you tell us about what you have coming up?
Rico: [00:31:41] Sure. We’re working on the next issue of Peachtree Corners magazine. And
we’ve got a strong set of stories, hopefully coming in there. We’re actually doing a pet and their
people issue as well. So we have a giveaway that just started running today and 3 winners,
$700 in prizes. Submit a picture of yourself and your pet, and you’ll probably get into the
Peachtree Corners Magazines next pull out in the next issue. Plus, we’re doing the story about
backyard retreats, you know, everyone’s home there during COVID-19. So if you have a fire pit,
you have a beautiful backyard, we’re checking out five of them in Peachtree Corners and we’ll
share where those are and what they look like. And we’re asking 50 people almost, we’re
asking everyone actually and hopefully we’ll get 50 of them, about what they’re thankful for this
year. Besides, you know, we’re thankful for family and friends, for sure. But what also are we
thankful for during these times. So we want to find that out. Remember, this is the October,
November issue. So we’re doing Halloween and Thanksgiving. Yeah, so that’ll be fun. So we’re
working on that. So if you guys want to check out the last issue, which April was part of that last
issue, she was one of several people we profiled when it came to diversity in our community.
You can find that online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Follow us on
@PeachtreeCornersLife, the Facebook page, where we’re doing these podcasts from. Our
YouTube channel you should subscribe to that as well, because this way you can get alerts
when we go live there and when there’s more videos posted there as well. And you know, I do
work with a lot of different companies handling their social media, video production, whether it’s
product videos or other types of production work, and obviously producing podcasts as well. So
you can check me out at MightyRockets.com for that, or find me on LinkedIn or Google my
name because there aren’t that many people called Rico Figliolini. You can find me anywhere.
Karl: [00:33:39] Well, thank you for all that you do. And please do check out the magazine
online. There might be some still out there to pickup if you haven’t and just keep up with what’s
going on in the community and get to meet and learn the folks that make up your community.
Thank you again, Dr. Hang for joining us today. Everyone have a great day.
Rico: [00:34:01] Thank you.

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Gwinnett study to establish redevelopment plan of Gwinnett Place Mall

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The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners last week agreed to a funding agreement with the Gwinnett Place CID for a Livable Centers Initiative study of the Gwinnett Place Mall site and surrounding areas. The Community Improvement District has contracted with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., to conduct the study.

The LCI study will establish a plan to guide the redevelopment of the Gwinnett Place Mall area. It will consist of public outreach, strategic development and preparation of final deliverables.

The LCI grant helps cities and communities with plans to connect residents to activities by walking and bike trails. The hope is to ease traffic on roadways.

The study is estimated to cost $275,000.00. The Atlanta Regional Commission awarded the Gwinnett Place CID an LCI grant for $220,000, with the estimated local match of $55,000 being split between the CID and the County. Each party’s share of the local match will be reduced equally should the total study cost less than estimated. 

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Gwinnett Partnership, It’s Influence, What Trends they See, and Resources to Empower Businesses [Podcast]

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Partnership Gwinnett is the economic development initiative behind some of the most exciting business ventures that have started or relocated to Peachtree Corners. Brian Dorelus, project manager with Partnership Gwinnett, is our guest on today’s episode of the Capitalist Sage. Join Karl Karham, Rico Figliolini, and Brian, as they discuss what exactly Partnership Gwinnett is and does for business in our community.

Resources:

Website: https://www.partnershipgwinnett.com
Brain’s Email: BDorelus@ParntershipGwinnett.com

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Opening
[00:02:14] – About Brian and Partnership Gwinnett
[00:03:29] – How Partnership Gwinnett helps Businesses
[00:04:34] – Why Businesses Choose Gwinnett
[00:05:47] – Industries that are Thriving
[00:06:59] – Activity in Peachtree Corners
[00:08:12] – Bringing Startups to Peachtree Corners
[00:15:02] – Resources that Partnership Gwinnett Provides
[00:22:12] – Closing

“Partnership Gwinnett is the economic development agency for Gwinnett County. So it’s our job and our privilege to wake up every single day to recruit, retain, and expand industries in our five target sectors… And so what we do every day is just provide resources and be a one-stop shop for companies big and small, so they could continue to grow in our community.”

Brian Dorelus

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:30] Karl: 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 co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Brian Dorelus

[00:00:48] Rico: Hey Karl, great. Looking forward to this interview right now with Brian.

[00:00:53] Karl: Absolutely. We’re going to talk about what Partnership Gwinnett can do for businesses locally here in Gwinnett county, and Georgia overall. But let’s talk a little bit about our sponsors today.

[00:01:04] Rico: Sure. So Peachtree Corners Magazine is supporting this podcast along with the family podcasts that we do. And we just put our last issue to the printer. It’s coming out in about two days. So keep an eye out for it. Go to LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll see the digital version of that print edition that will be coming out this week.

[00:01:24] Karl: Fabulous. Great job with the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Lots of great articles in there, keeping up with what’s going on locally. So I really appreciate all that information that’s shared through that. Today we are going to talk about what Partnership Gwinnett, one of the organizations within Gwinnett county can do to help business owners, large and small. Help drive economic development within the community. Today I’m honored to have Brian Dorelus, who is a project manager with Partnership Gwinnett to talk a little bit about some of the mission of the organization, some of the successes and some of the things, resources that are available to business owners to help them with their businesses. Hey, Brian, how are you doing today?

[00:02:09] Brian: Doing good. Just trying to stay dry in today’s rainy weather, but doing good.

[00:02:14] Karl: Absolutely. No, I appreciate you joining us today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our audience and tell a little bit about yourself and what you do with Partnership Gwinnett.

[00:02:25] Brian: Of course. Thank you. So once again, my name is Brian Dorelus. I’m the project manager for technology and life science with a focus and concentration in entrepreneurs and small business here at Partnership Gwinnett. And Partnership Gwinnett for those of you who might not know is the economic development agency for Gwinnett County. So it’s our job and our privilege to wake up every single day to recruit, retain, and expand industries in our five target sectors. And then as I mentioned, I lead the initiatives for technology and life science, but my counterpart leads the manufacturing and supply chain sector. And our leadership leads the kind of bigger corporate headquarters relocation projects. And so what we do every day is just provide resources and be a one-stop shop for companies big and small, so they could continue to grow in our community. And then prior to this, I was actually a Peace Corps Volunteer at the Republic of Moldova doing very similar work. Doing economic activities with a local mayor focusing on infrastructure and capacity building with the local village that I was stationed at.

[00:03:29] Karl: Oh, that’s fabulous. I’m going to jump in with the first question and thanks for the introduction for Partnership Gwinnett. Can you describe a little bit about how you work with business owners? And I would also guess some of the other city economic development departments, to help support thriving businesses in our communities.

[00:03:48] Brian: Yeah, definitely. So one thing we do is we try to give a concierge level service to businesses and companies in our communities, within our 16 cities. So typically on average day I work with the local economic development managers or city managers in each one of our beloved cities. And just hear about some of the issues that some of our businesses, large and small, are facing and trying to connect them with resources that typically they might not be aware of. And one of the good things about Partnership Gwinnett, is that all of our services are free and complimentary. So if you’re looking for research data, or looking to get connected, or even needing help with business plans or getting exposure. If we can’t do it, it’s our job to hunt down a person who can do it for you.

[00:04:34] Karl: I’m curious, when you think about Metro Atlanta and Gwinnett County, what’s the selling point for businesses to come and thrive here in this community? What have you found to be some of the things that really attract large and small businesses to Gwinnett?

[00:04:50] Brian: I think typically we have some, big pieces of infrastructure and systems in place that make businesses thrive. One obviously being the airport. Being the busiest airport and being two hours flight from all major airports, it really helps the interconnectivity between us locally and internationally, between places of business. But on a more maybe personal and cultural aspect, one thing that Georgia has and in Atlanta that really stands apart is that we are just pro-business and a friendly environment. Ironically, I had a lunch with a couple of international prospects. They literally said the first thing they said that to other international companies is that Georgia is nice. Which you would think is a weird selling point. But I would say as a community, we really have thrived because we’ve worked together really well with other partners within our community, within our cities, and across the Metro Atlanta region.

[00:05:47] Karl: So, when you think about Atlanta and how it’s grown since the Olympics over the last 20 odd, 20 plus years, where do you see industries that are really starting to thrive in the Metro Atlanta region?

[00:06:01] Brian: Just a little more about my background, I went to Georgia State University downtown. I was able and fortunate to see that growth happening almost before my eyes. And so some of the industries that just appeared and blossomed, we can’t talk about Atlanta without talking about FinTech. The financial technical center, it’s called the FinTech capital of the world, just because there’s so many FinTech companies located here. So when you think about entertainment, FinTech, conjoining with the tech ecosystem here, it just became a natural boom. Because I guess before, if you look at Georgia and in Metro Atlanta, we was a huge manufacturing sector. And we still are. When you think of Georgia, you cannot not highlight some of the manufacturing pieces. But within the past 20 years, you’ve just seen a huge boom and kind of major corporations coming to find that talent for that tech pieces and engaging the new generation. With just the amount of startups that are appearing and them just engaging into the market.

[00:06:59] Karl: So I know locally here in Peachtree Corners, Atlanta Tech Park, and in this area there’s been a thriving tech community that’s been developing here. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the past and current activity you’re seeing in this part of town?

[00:07:17] Brian: Yeah, definitely. One thing Peachtree Corners has done really well, is really brand themselves as a city of the future. And a city to engage the technology, not existing today, but existing or will be in a market 10, 15 years from now. So when you think about Peachtree Corners in particular, and some success stories, they’ve branded themselves as I mentioned that city of the future by engaging with that 5g technology or the internet of things. Which is the interconnection between everyday appliance into the interweb. And just because they have made themselves the centerpiece and the tip of the spear in that, now companies are searching and looking to be a part of just kind of the platform and the energy here. And that’s not even talking about that autonomous vehicle track that’s been deployed in Peachtree Corners and what they’re doing with electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

[00:08:12] Karl: Yeah. I know that we’ve heard an announcement about a company that’s really expanding in the surgical, medical space here. Can you share with us just a little bit about that and how does something like that come about? And what role does Partnership Gwinnett play in helping make things like that happen?

[00:08:29] Brian: Yeah, definitely. We were brought in very early into their project as the company Intuitive Surgical was looking to expand and grow. And for those who might not be familiar, Intuitive Surgical is the creator of the DaVinci robot. The small robot that does surgery on individuals. And I’m not gonna lie, I will be the first to admit that I was hesitant to think about having someone perform surgery on me that isn’t a human body. But once you’ve seen the application and seen the success rate and seen what they’ve developed. You just wouldn’t go back to human hands. And so Partnership Gwinnett, in collaboration with the local city administration in Peachtree Corners, and then with our state partners all worked together, hand by hand. And kind of stepping forward, of bringing the company here. And just kind of doing what we do every day, is telling the story of Atlanta and Gwinnett County. Explaining that the workforce here, one thing that’s great about Metro Atlanta, is that we actually graduate more engineers than any other region. So telling them about the great work that’s done at Georgia Tech and Georgia State and Kennesaw, and SCAD. And then combined that with the quality of life then a few corners in the, some, the other innovation hub across the street, across Wynette county, it was a no brainer. And, we really just work well with our community partners, with the local administration. And we brought all the resources kind of bundled together and made a compelling case that, eventually, they decided that this is where they want to be their new home. So it was our team in congruence with everybody else. And we worked hard for this past summer to land a plane. And we’re proud to say that they’ve opened and it’s one of the largest projects in Gwinnett County history.

[00:10:05] Karl: Wow. That’s fabulous, the work that’s being done and seeing so many people playing a role, working together to make that happen. If I could ask a little bit around your area of specialty, when you think of startup companies, technology companies, and so on. What are some of the things that you see that can help bring more of that? How does that work to get more of that ecosystem developed here in greater Atlanta and Gwinnett County in specific.

[00:10:33] Brian: I think when people typically think of startups, there’s a little divide and there’s a lot of misconceptions on what startups will need and what they’re looking for. And the first thing that startups themselves and other people sometimes get wrong. Is that they’re looking for capital, they’re looking for funding. And everybody’s looking for funding. But one thing that we have here in Atlanta that really pushes the needle for these startups to grow is something that I mentioned earlier, it’s that just the interconnectedness between all parties and that mentorship and exposure. We’re in an ecosystem where generally speaking it’s pretty close knit. Even from Gwinnett to Atlanta or from Gwinnett to our community partners. It’s a small knit community where transportation time isn’t that far. And so when talking to these startups thinking about relocating or growing, we just tell him like, Hey, this is an area where innovation is booming fast. Innovation comes from areas where there is a problem and there’s someone looking to solve. And Gwinnett County has set themselves apart, being that problem solution for a lot of the world societal problems. And so these startups, they come here and they find a lot of success and become leaders very quickly because of that.

[00:11:42] Karl: Can you tell us a little bit about any specific startup that you’re watching, some exciting stuff that’s going on? Just to give people a feel of the activity that’s happening here.

[00:11:54] Brian: I could tell about some startups, but even some innovation hubs that we have where these startups are breeding. If we’re looking back on in your neck of the neighborhoods in Peachtree Corners, there’s a lot of startups that are focusing on 5g and cyber security. And one of them that their common conversation is Smart Eye Technology using that retina scanning to scan for security purposes for documents or providing cybersecurity solutions to municipalities. And especially with security and data breaches being something that was talked about maybe 10 years ago, but now being a necessity, these companies, these startups are becoming the face of what it means to protect yourselves in a new digital age. Kind of as you go up Gwinnett County, you have the water tower, which is a water innovation hub. Innovation hub, actually more of an innovation campus, if you really think about it. It’s an area built solely for the innovation of water development technologies and water workforce. And there’s just so many exciting water startups there from providing clean water to the masses using hydro stations that could tell you, not only the level of certainty how clean it is, but pull data about your current water usage and scan for that. To even some startups working on trying to gather water from solar panels. And then if you kind move across from the water tower, up north all the way up through 16 is kind of the biggest and largest innovation hub, which is called Rowan. Recently in Gwinnett county just purchased 2000 acres to build this kind of life science community. Life science community focusing solely on renewable energy. That life, science, and agriculture. And you can most accurately think about it as like adjacent or something very similar to what you see at the Research Triangle Park. And there’s something so similar that we’ve actually hired the COO of Research Triangle Park to run the Rowan foundation, to lead to that development. And so while the development is still ongoing, since it’s such a massive project for Gwinnett County, we’ve just engaged a lot of startups and larger corporations.

[00:13:55] Karl: Gotcha. I’m curious when you’re talking about some of these innovation hubs and so on, what are some of the things that make us more attractive than other cities around them? What infrastructure is in place that entrepreneurs and tech folks can come to Gwinnett County and leverage?

[00:14:13] Brian: One of them is just the level of service that we offer here at Partnership Gwinnett. As I mentioned a little briefly, we like to call ourselves, community connectors. So they’re kind of, the one-stop shop. So we have partners at score or SBDC or SBA and ACE capital who are willing to sit down with these entrepreneurs on one-on-one, and give them that service and that training they need to find capital. To find exposure, to find that mentorship that could really take them to the next level. But also we’ve got some, a lot of resources just around a region that provides that same level of service at very little to no cost. And one thing that’s, the best thing about Gwinnett that’s also sometimes may be the worst thing about Gwinnett, is that it’s so big that entrepreneurs don’t know where to go. And so we could help them point to that direction.

[00:15:02] Karl: Now I wanted to talk a little bit of specific resources. So if I’m thinking of starting a business, whether I’m a CEO of a large company looking to expand into the Southeast, or I’m a tech company, that’s looking to establish operations here locally, what are some of the specific resources and tools you have that I can come to and get help with that most people may not know about?

[00:15:25] Brian: And if you, as a small business, I would actually first you come to me as the, kind of the first level of inquiry, just get some general questions. And then what we’ll do from that process is kind of. direct you to the next staff. And you could think about this as almost as stages. So first the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce would be the first step, just to network. The community here and all the businesses that’s under that umbrella can really help you brandish yourself and find the market that you’re looking for. And then after that, we’ll probably divert you to Score. Which is an organization built from volunteers to help you with your business plan. To help you figure out what your target market is, what’s your SWAT analysis, who are you trying to aim for and kind of really solidify and drill down your kind of needs for your business. And then depending on your type of business and depending on if you’re a startup, we also have an Angel Investment Network. Where, similar to what Shark Tank has become, you can apply and pitch to Angel investors who are looking desperately trying to invest in startups in the region. To kind of find that next unicorn status startup. So there’s just a bunch of resources here between a lot of the agencies here that can really help you go to the next level.

[00:16:40] Karl: What if I’m a large company and I wanted to move here locally? What are some of the tools and resources available for people that are helping with that type of search?

[00:16:49] Brian: Well, if you’re a large company, the first thing you’re looking for is space. Where am I going to have my production facility? Where am I going to house my employees? Even though you might be an office, there’s the trend of working from home. You want a place where you can build that company and culture. And so one of the things we do is connect you with, well first find a property that kind of fits the parameters of your needs and connect you with our network of brokers. And then after that, pull some data and research into, where’s the best place for you? Are you looking for somewhere close to the airport or close to a major interstate? Or are you looking for a place where the city is, has a lively festival culture? And so we really work hand in hand to make sure that we find a facility for you. And then after that we pull research, we pull our state partners to help with the tax incentives that companies all often qualify for creating new jobs in our region and putting in capital investment. And then after we kind of helped you relocate you, your company, your employees, and their families. We like to do a grand opening and press release to kind of welcome you in the community. And we’ve seen some press releases that have gone and grand openings that are just minuscule. They just want to let the community know they’re here. And then we’ve also seen ones that want to do a whole festival. They want to have a ferris wheel and a barbecue. And what we try to do is have the elected officials, key stakeholders, people in the community that fits the needs and people that you want to get in front of, all at your grand opening. Just to show that the community is here for you. And then after that, it’s not after you’ve landed that we’re just done with you. One thing we always say is that one of the good things about us, that once you find us, we’re always going to be contacting you. So you then after kind of move into our retention program, where we have our director for business retention and expansion kind of keep our eye on you. Do checkups and just make sure that you’re growing and expanding. One of the services that we offer of course, is helping with permitting needs. So if you’re a company here located and you have some permitting concerns, or it’s just trouble getting someone in contact, or you need a Fire Marshall to do a quick survey of your building, we can help facilitate and expedite that process for you.

[00:19:03] Karl: If there was one thing that you, from your perspective, would really leapfrog Gwinnett County into the clear leader for companies of all sorts. What kind of infrastructure improvement would you say would need to be here, put in place so we could develop over the next five to 10 years to really become that easy decision for businesses to come and play here?

[00:19:29] Brian: It would be hard to say, because I feel like a lot of the things that Gwinnett County is already working on. So one thing typically that we’ve talked about internally in our offices, that quality of life piece. But one thing Gwinnett County it’s already one step ahead of me. Is that, you know, one thing of our 16 cities is all of them are developing their downtown area. Downtown Suwanee is very different than downtown Peachtree Corners or downtown Norcross or downtown Lawrenceville. But they all have bubbly activity. And it’s those little key pieces that are really important to the companies that are relocating. Because you have to remember, they are people too. These companies are comprised of people and of employees. And after work, they also want to unbutton their shirt and grab a beer or go to a beer garden. So just having a community that has activities, not only for the older generation, but even for the millennial generation as well. So for them to build their families. And Gwinnett County has led the way in developing that. So I would say, as for Gwinnett County it has continued to grow, we have almost a million people as a population is just to further develop. And redevelop. Which has become a huge thing in economic development, it’s redevelopment. And it’s something Partnership Gwinnett has now taken a role into is redeveloping old areas that have been long forgotten and making those areas of attraction and beauty and entertainment. Where family meets, and friends, and coworkers, and millennials, all alike can kind of enjoy the services.

[00:20:58] Karl: You know, reinvention is always a key part of rebirth. Reinvention, being able to do that. I’m curious, Brian, is there anything coming up that, what are you working on? What are some of the things that are coming up where people can engage in the community around Partnership Gwinnett?

[00:21:14] Brian: Yeah, definitely. One thing that I’ve been working on with my team is how to provide more resources to entrepreneurs. There seems to be a little bit of a gap between small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs to the larger corporations. So one thing that we’re working on is how to bridge that gap. How to match make where, a small business can apply to be a subcontractor for a larger company and incorporation. And see, that’s the thing that we’re hoping to try to roll out as a program or a database where larger corporations, not only in Gwinnett County but in general, a large corporation can have our RFI and these small businesses could apply. Can go to the website, apply, and to be awarded I guess a small subcontract work where they could work and kind of bridge the gap. As one thing, working in technology innovation is, innovation definitely comes from within. And it also comes with collaboration with other partners. So we’re actively looking at different ways and methods for that to happen.

[00:22:12] Karl: Oh, fabulous. Well, Brian, I want to thank you. How can people reach you? If they wanted to reach you, what’s the best way to contact you?

[00:22:19] Brian: Yes. Best way to contact me is go on our website, www.PartnershipGwinnett.com, going to teams and under my profile of Brian Dorelus. Or you can go on LinkedIn and reach me there. Or you can reach me by email at BDorelus@ParntershipGwinnett.com.

[00:22:38] Karl: Oh, that’s fabulous. Well, you know what, I want to thank you, Brian. For everybody that is joining us midway, this is Brian Dorelus of Partnership Gwinnett. Sharing some of the exciting things that are happening here in Gwinnett County, and Metro Atlanta, and here in Georgia. From on the small side entrepreneurs, startup community, the resources and the help that they’re bringing to the local cities as well as business owners. But also how they’re bringing large companies into the areas, working collaboratively, across many different stakeholders to make those things happen. Thank you so much for sharing some of the insight and introducing yourself to the local business community. Thank you, Brian. Thank you very much. And I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are available to help consult business owners, connect them to folks like Brian and other people in economic development. And if you’re looking for real estate, commercial real estate, et cetera, we have a network of folks that can help people. And also if you’re looking at planning for your business growth through acquisition, if you’re looking at doing something else, we help with business sales and business exiting planning. If you want to contact me, you can reach me at KBarham@TWorld.com. Or visit our website, www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. We’re here in the community to help. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got coming up?

[00:24:04] Rico: Sure. Sorry about, I’ve been acting more as an engineer on this episode than anything else. But we just went to press with the printer in Monroe, Georgia. To do a shout out to Walton Press. They do a great job of printing the publication. We’re at 88 pages this issue, the largest issue we’ve had since we started over two years ago. Lots of stuff in it. And the lead feature story is actually about the people that run the day-to-day activities, the five department heads of the city of Peachtree Corners. So it highlights them. Also, Judy Putnam is profiled in there. She’s the communications director who’s retiring. And we have a new communications director that will be taken over shortly. And a lot of other stories in there along with photographs from Peachtree Corners Photography Club. They did a great fall-ish photo spread for us. And it’s also the pet issue. So lots of pet pictures and the end of the giveaway that we’ve run for the last four or five weeks. So check that out and you can actually see the digital edition online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Other than that, Mighty Rockets is my company as well. A publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine, the purveyor of these podcasts and other marketing and product videos that we do for clients. So check that out. And if you need to reach me, it’s Rico Figliolini on LinkedIn. You can get me there. I’m probably the only Figliolini short of two others that are my siblings, if you find them. So Figliolini just checked that out and you can reach me.

[00:25:32] Karl: And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, if you want to keep up with what’s going on locally, multiple ways to follow us. Follow us on Facebook. What are some of the other ways that folks can hear the podcast and follow what’s going on locally?

[00:25:46] Rico: Sure. So the video podcast, if you go to Peachtree Corners Life on Facebook or the Capitalist Sage on Facebook, there’ll be streams. We always stream those as a simulcast live stream. Search YouTube channel for Peachtree Corners Life. You can subscribe there and you’ll get notified when we go live on the simulcasts. And if you’re looking to audio podcasts, anywhere that you find the podcast, right? I Heart Radio, Spotify, Apple. Anywhere that you find audio podcasts, you can find us. Just Google the Capitalist Sage Podcast and you’ll pick up all sorts of resources that way.

[00:26:19] Karl: Absolutely. Thank you for that. And the last thing I’ll mention, if you have ideas for stories and articles, is there a way for folks to send that in to you Rico?

[00:26:29] Rico: Great, great question. Thank you. You can send any story, any ideas that you have suggestions to Editor@LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. And if you’re thinking it’s going to be a great subject matter for the Capitalist Sage Podcast, certainly reach out to that email as well. And we’ll be able to talk to you a bit about that. And quite frankly, let me do this as well. If you’re looking to advertise or be a sponsor of the family of podcasts that we do, which includes the Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners Life and Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager, which is a monthly podcast, reach out to me at Editor@LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com.

[00:27:08] Karl: Excellent. How many homes do you reach currently with the magazine?

[00:27:11] Rico: We mailed 19,700 homes, households, get the magazine. And then another 1200 out to about a hundred locations.

[00:27:20] Karl: Lots of reach there.

[00:27:22] Rico: Oh, for sure. And more online because of the digital edition as well. And the weekly newsletters and website and all that, sure.

[00:27:30] Karl: Absolutely. Well, Rico, thank you very much. And for everybody that joined us today, thank you for supporting and watching the Capitalist Sage. We’re going to continue to have great topics for business owners and for people in the community. Let’s talk about business. Well everyone have a great day. Take care.

[00:27:46] Rico: Take care guys.

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French-American Chamber of Commerce Moves In and Brings More Opportunities to Curiosity Lab

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Pictured (left to right): Bertrand Lapoire, VP FACC-Atlanta, Michael Gerebtzoff, Consul General of Belgium, Consulate General of Belgium in Atlanta, Kirk Duguid, Acting Consul General, Consulate General of Canada in SE, Mayor Mike Mason, Vincent Hommeril, Consul General of France, Consulate General of France in Atlanta, John Parkerson, Honorary Consul General & Foreign Economic Counselor of Hungary, Julie Lambotte, Executive Director FACC-Atlanta & Office Manager, French Tech Atlanta, City Manager Brian Johnson

Photos by Jason Getz– Instagram @jasongetz11

A bold initiative involving the French government and its newly unveiled technology consortium, the city of Peachtree Corners and its Curiosity Lab has been launched.

About 100 officials and community members were on hand for a recent ribbon-cutting celebrating the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s move from former offices in the Atlanta French Consulate to the Peachtree Corners lab, where it’s expected to play a key role in helping French technology firms relocate and expand here.

As La French Tech Atlanta President Sebastian Lafon put it, the move will “enable French startups to collaborate with many innovators and prove out their technology in a unique and live environment with real city-owned connected infrastructure that can’t be replicated in a laboratory.”

La French Tech Atlanta is an alliance of start-ups, investors, executives and community builders which is expected to work with the city in helping French firms develop technology in the Lab’s innovative testing environment as they seek to grow their North American footprints. The Atlanta outpost of the consortium was awarded accreditation by the French government in April.

September 9, 2021 – Peachtree Corners, Ga: The French-American Chamber of Commerce moves to Curiosity Lab Thursday, September 9, 2021, in Peachtree Corners, Ga.. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Member of an exclusive club

City Manager Brian Johnson, who attended the ceremony, said the Corners joins a rather exclusive club, as French officials chose only a half-dozen spots in the U.S. for the venture. Other La French Tech programs have landed in such places as Austin, Texas and North Carolina’s Research Triangle.

Speaking on the “Primetime Lunchtime” Podcast, Johnson said, “It was a competitive process, and we threw our hat in the ring.” He added that officials not only leveraged the technology testing environment of the Curiosity Lab, but also pitched metro Atlanta and Georgia’s advantages as well, including state economic development incentives and the availability of such institutions as Georgia Tech as a resource.

Mayor Mike Mason, who was also on hand, said the initiative will be a signature resource for French firms looking to launch products in the U.S. with its laser focus on smart city technology, intelligent mobility and self-directed vehicles. That seems a hand-in-glove fit with the Curiosity Lab, which encourages companies of all sizes to test and deploy technology using such amenities as a three-mile autonomous vehicle test track.

Mason said a related hallmark of the lab is its ability to create partnerships with private firms and other entities, with more than a dozen current research projects underway there.

“Curiosity Lab has been influential in convincing several large companies to locate here. The old axiom of economic development is that activity creates more activity. This is a real plum for us.”

French business opportunities

Although no French tech firms have made commitments to work with the associated partners yet, French-American Chamber Atlanta Executive Director Julie Lambotte feels that day is coming.

“We are in discussion with a few companies, but there’s nothing definitive yet,” she said, adding that agriculture tech companies and various technology service providers are on the ‘possibles’ list.

The start-ups they’re looking to incubate at the lab complex will join an already respectable list of French firms doing business in the Peach State, Lambotte said. Some 254 firms from the European nation have already set up shop in Georgia, 135 of them in Metro Atlanta, she said. Lambotte noted that those firms are responsible for more than 18,000 jobs.

She indicated that building awareness of Atlanta and its suite of economic offerings among her countrymen has been challenging. “You probably noticed that when you talk to a French person, it’s not the first destination you have in mind when you talk about moving to the U.S. What we are trying to do with the chamber and La French Tech is to put Atlanta on the map,” Lambotte said.

And it’s not just the French who are sniffing around. Mason said that officials from other consulates such as Belgium and Canada attended the ribbon-cutting and officials from Germany and India want to tour the place.

Johnson said “portals” like these create possibilities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise and that the river can run both ways, with American companies establishing partnerships with French firms or perhaps opening facilities in that country.

“The sky is the limit right now,” Johnson said.

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