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The Mayor’s Look at Business and Innovation Successes in 2023

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Mayor Mike Mason reflects on Peachtree Corners' 2023 business achievements and expresses gratitude to local entrepreneurs.
Congresswoman Lucy McBath visiting Peachtree Farm in Technology Park

From Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason

As the year comes to a close, it seems like a good time to consider our businesses and say ‘Thank You!’ for helping to ensure our city’s success.

Mayor Mike Mason

Business and innovation have always been at the heart of who we are as a community. We are a city that grew up organically around Technology Park. So, as we look back at 2023 at some of the many occurrences worth noting, I’d like to say ‘Thank You’ to our businesses, large and small.

And ‘thank you’ to all those entrepreneurs out there who had the courage to start their own businesses and put in the countless hours needed to make them successful. Without your success, we wouldn’t be here. Let’s look at some of the business activity in 2023.

In January, Fricke and Associates, a certified public accounting firm, consolidated two locations, bringing 25 new jobs and a $800,000 capital investment to the City of Peachtree Corners.

The firm signed a 9,000-square-foot office lease at 3500 Parkway Lane to help them better serve Metro Atlanta clients.

Early in the year, NAC International, a nuclear fuel cycle technology and consulting company, signed a deal for 23,000 square feet of space at 2 Sun Court in Peachtree Corners, while T-Mobile partnered with Curiosity Lab for a fun student hackathon the weekend of Feb. 24 to 26.

The city completed its second, five-year Economic Development Plan, this year. The plan guides activity, projects and policy aimed at improving the city’s economic climate.

The city also began its next Comprehensive Planning process, a plan renewed every year that guides development and redevelopment activity in the city.

Unlike other places, these plans don’t sit on a shelf here. We talk with our stakeholders, i.e. YOU, and develop plans to take us where you think we need to go. This is good old-fashioned logic at work, but back to our Year-in-Review.

Last January, city economic development staff visited a company in Peachtree Corners rather unsuspecting of the scope of the operation.

Guardian Sports manufactures products designed to keep people— especially young people—safer while playing sports. It is truly a gem. This Peachtree Corners company is designing and manufacturing sporting equipment worn by youth and high school football teams, college teams, and most recently, mandated by the NFL.

Guardian Innovations
From left to right: Mindy Wheeler, Alexandra Hanson, Garner, Penny Godwin, Andrea Vaillancourt, Lee Hanson (owner), Erin Hanson (owner), Jake Hanson, Caitlin Hanson Gouws, Jacques Gouws and Mike Crawford

The company’s flagship product is the Guardian Cap, which was created to advance the standard football helmet by dispersing some of the energy that is generated during impacts. Check out a video HERE.

Insight Sourcing celebrated 20 years in business, announcing 20% firmwide growth in 2022, with 84 new team members added, of whom 23 joined as part of an acquisition.

Global Aviation celebrated 25 years of success while at the same time launching another company in the aerospace industry.

In February, the city began encouraging businesses to connect their security cameras with the Fusus network. Fusus is a nationally recognized public safety technology provider that has operated out of its headquarters in—you guessed it–Peachtree Corners since 2019.

The platform links cameras together and sends the feed to the West Precinct where Gwinnett Police officers can see situations in real-time and respond accordingly.

The cameras have helped solve homicides and other crimes in various cities, including Peachtree Corners. In July, Fusus made the annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

Peachtree Farm, located in Technology Park, began attracting some attention on a grand scale this year, starting with a visit from Arthur Tripp Jr., the executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency who visited Peachtree Farm in February.

An employee of Peachtree Farm celebrating the harvest courtesy of from peachtreefarm.org

Members of the Gwinnett County Farm Bureau and the Georgia Farm Bureau also visited Peachtree Farm in June to learn more about its operations and areas for possible collaboration.

Congresswoman Lucy McBath visited the farm this fall. The farm, located on Research Court, provides an inclusive and accessible community fostering the social, emotional and physical health and wellness of adults with disabilities.

Peachtree Farm first opened in 2021 to create jobs for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In April, professional cyclists descended on Technology Parkway participating in the Curiosity Lab Criterium, a series of races on the streets of Peachtree Corners within the living laboratory environment of Curiosity Lab.

In May, North American Properties broke ground on The Forum redevelopment project, a great relief as there had been concerns about how to best generate more activity at the 20-year-old center.

North American Properties is redeveloping and revitalizing the property, adding a boutique hotel, food hall, open green spaces, new retail spaces and 381 apartments.

A 300-space parking deck will be constructed near Belk to allow for some parking to be reconstructed as open green space. Several new stores and restaurants have opened or are opening at The Forum, including Peche, lululemon and High Country Outfitters as well ass Petfolk Veterinarian clinic.

The Forum on Peachtree Parkway
Central Plaza at The Forum Peachtree Corners

Politan Row will open at the Forum, part of the multi-million dollar renovation project by North American Properties. Politan Row, which has locations at Colony Square in Atlanta, as well as Houston and Chicago, will include seven independently owned restaurant spaces, a full bar, an outdoor patio along greenspace and a standalone restaurant and wine bar.

The German American Chamber of Commerce visited Curiosity Lab in May to learn more about Georgia, Gwinnett County and specifically Peachtree Corners. Also, a delegation of energy, technology and sustainability leaders visited the City of Peachtree Corners in October for several days, learning about area companies, Curiosity Lab and about how the city developed.

This year, Seoul Robotics established its United States office in Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. The company’s presence in Curiosity Lab is fueling further development of a groundbreaking 3D perception platform.

Also this year, Siemens joined Curiosity Lab to support bringing 5G charging and electrification solutions to the United States.

Soliant, a leading provider of specialized healthcare and education staffing services, has been hiring hundreds of new employees across five offices in the Southeast. This expansion of approximately 300 people will give Soliant the internal resources to meet the growing nationwide demand for healthcare and education professionals.

Also, in terms of health and wellness, Atlas Behavioral Health opened at 3850 Holcomb Bridge Road while space was outfitted in June at 4941 S Old Peachtree Road for a Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center.

Suzanna Martinez PCBA Board; Phil Sadd Council City of Peachtree Corners, India Martinez, Social Media Influencer, Daniel Martinez CEO Atlas Behavioral Health; Mike Mason Mayor City of Peachtree Corners; Jason Price CFO Atlas Behavioral Health; Lisa Proctor PCBA Board; Julie River MS, LAPC, NCC Lead therapist Atlas Behavioral Health; Monte McDowell PCBA Community Outreach; Toby Anderson PCBA Board; Dr. Walter Brooks PHD, LPC, CPCS, NCACII, CCS Clinical Director Atlas Behavioral Health

In June, Peachtree Corners was ranked #1 in Georgia and #19 in the nation in this year’s edition of the Fortune 50 Best Places to Live for Families. In August, Peachtree Corners was listed as one of the best places to live in Georgia by Niche.com.

On the environmental front, I can think of a few things coming out of Peachtree Corners this year which will likely help the world.

For example, Sidel, which manufactures packaging (among other things), has introduced a new bottle. Sidel announced a partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners.

The company has been experiencing a great deal of growth and continues to hire more and more people. The bottle, which is for carbonated soft drinks, has a lighter neck and tethered cap. The tethered caps are expected to boost collection and recycling efforts, while preventing litter.

Pond Constructors Inc., Peachtree Corners, was awarded a $13 million modification contract to maintain and repair capitalized petroleum systems and facilities at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Also, ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers) has published a pioneering code-enforceable standard developed to reduce the risk of infectious aerosol transmission in buildings.

There was some other activity in Technology Park as well. Specifically, ASBN Coworks opened at 420 Technology Parkway, in the heart of Tech Park.

DW1, previously known as Discount Waste, Inc., cut the ribbon on its new office at 250 Scientific Drive NW.

A Florida-based investment firm acquired four properties in Technology Park in August, all part of a portfolio selling for roughly $23.8 million.

The second-largest sale in Metro Atlanta that quarter, SF Partners purchased 30, 35 Technology Parkway South and 190 and 192 Technology Parkway from Terracap; a total of 247,208 square feet.

Thank you for reading about some of the impressive business happenings in our city this year. As we gear up for 2024, we looked forward to hearing about more successes, and helping to make sure the city’s businesses continue to grow and thrive.

Happy Holidays!

Mike Mason, Mayor

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Deflecting debilitating blows one Guardian Cap at a time

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A Guardian Cap in use courtesy of Guardian Sports

With football season in the rearview for most players, the effects of injuries–especially those blows to the head–can alter careers and live well after the final play.

A relatively new piece of equipment manufactured in Peachtree Corners helps alleviate much of the impact from those hits that a helmet alone can’t deflect.

Husband and wife team Lee and Erin Hanson started Guardian Sports in 2011 with one goal: innovating equipment to better serve athletes. But one must go back even further to understand the science behind their technology.

“[Our initial company] really had nothing to do with sports,” said Erin.

She and her husband started the Hanson Group, a material science company, about 30 years ago.

“The Hanson Group solves problems for other companies–material science problems,” she said.

“Lee is a chemical engineer from Georgia Tech. … [He created] things for the military and all kinds of applications for all kinds of Fortune 500 companies. If they need something done quickly, they come to the Hanson Group and we try to solve their material science problems,” she explained.

By chance, someone from the helmet industry came to them looking to make a more flexible helmet.

“We saw the data behind what it could do to flex the exterior of a helmet,” she said. “And even though that company didn’t make it, we decided that if we could retrofit any football helmet inexpensively, we could cut down on the impact that all players were feeling.”

Making football fun and safe for all

When the idea for Guardian Caps came together, the Hansons weren’t considering adding another division to the company.

The drive to make the helmet accessory grew from the passion to help the game.

“Quite honestly, Lee and I were pretty far along in our lives. We had raised five children, and he had been at the Hanson Group for at least 20 years by then,” said Erin.

The couple questioned whether they wanted to launch something new and revolutionary. There was nothing like it on the market.

“We felt like if we’re going to go direct to consumer, we’re going to branch off to a whole new company and just go for it and see if we can make a difference,” said Erin.

Through trial and error, Lee and his team analyzed data that showed what a softer helmet exterior could do to reduce impact, which would translate into reducing injury rates.

“And how can we do it in a way that’s affordable and could be available for mass adoption?” Lee said during an interview with the city of Peachtree Corners.

“How can I make it affordable to that mom who’s already buying all that equipment for her child to play youth football? How can we create a one-size-fits-all?” he recalled.

He said they worked with a cut-and-sew facility and seamstress and made up the first prototypes before testing them in a laboratory.

Their son and his teammates at Wesleyan became the first to practice with the new equipment.

In 2012, The University of South Carolina and Clemson were the first college adopters, and the company experienced solid grassroots growth after that.

Joining the Peachtree Corners business community

By 2014, the Hansons moved their company to Peachtree Corners to benefit from the pro-business, family-friendly community and strong Georgia Tech connections.

The Guardian Cap is now used by over 300,000 youth high school and college athletes nationwide and mandated by the NFL for all 32 teams.

The cap dramatically reduces the force of impact upon collision, as experienced by football and lacrosse players. This topic has come to national attention due to CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and its relation to concussions.

According to company literature, in 2017, Guardian won the first NFL HeadHealth TECH challenge to “develop new and improved helmet and protective equipment.”

While the football helmet itself has undergone many changes since the early days of the small leather hats that only covered the tops of the head and the ears (no face mask and nothing to absorb blows from tackles and other hits), Guardian Caps are an accessory that builds upon modern technology.

Some college and professional players wear helmets made so that the interior conforms to their heads. Guardian Caps adds a layer of protection on the outside, absorbing shock before the impact even reaches the helmet.

“Now, obviously, safety is a concern amongst athletes. So, Guardian Cap has come up with this soft-shell layer that goes on top of the hard shell of the helmet,” said Lee.

In 2018, testing done by NFL and NFLPA-appointed engineers revealed that Guardian Caps made a statistically significant improvement over hard-shell helmets alone, company literature said.

By August 2020, the NFL allowed its teams to wear Guardian Caps during practice. The Jacksonville Jaguars were the first to do so. In July 2022, Guardian Caps were featured at NFL training camps for all 32 teams.

This year, the NFL mandated that Guardian Caps be used for the 2023 season in all pre-season, regular season, and post-season practices. Players in position groups with the most head contact will be required to wear Guardian Caps in addition to running backs and fullbacks, as well as linemen and linebackers.

No one-hit-wonder

Genius doesn’t take a timeout, and Guardian Sports isn’t resting on the Caps’ success alone.

“We’re constantly evolving, and although Guardian Caps is our flagship product, we’ve got others,” said Erin.

Their son Jake was a lacrosse goalie at Georgia Tech, dodging rock-hard projectiles flying at him at 93 miles an hour.

“So, we said, ‘You know, why don’t we make lacrosse balls out of rubber?’” Erin said.

Thus, Lee created a urethane ball. Called the “Pearl,” it is now the official ball of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

The Hansons have also developed infill for artificial turf fields that isn’t made of used car tires.

Without the chemicals and carcinogens of rubber tires, the smoother pellets are puffed with air, cause fewer abrasions and lower the temperature of the field by as much as 30 degrees.

“As we see things, it’s really difficult not to want to solve things when you see our children being affected by it,” said Erin.

Investors initially wanted to sell Guardian Caps at $1,000 each, but the Hansons knew that families couldn’t afford that price tag for youth sports. At the end of the day, they are a dad and a mom who are looking out for the safety of kids.

“The NFL is really cool, and they’ve helped us with exposure, but, you know, we’ve got a real passion for helping those young developing players, for sure,” she said.

Guardian Sports
3044 Adriatic Ct NW
Peachtree Corners, GA 30071
guardiansports.com
770-667-6004

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Axon Accelerates Real-Time Operations Solution with Strategic Acquisition of Fusus

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Real-time crime center

Axon, a leader in connected public safety technologies, announced it has acquired Fusus, a pioneer in real-time crime center (RTCC) technology.

This news builds upon a successful strategic partnership launched in May 2022, marking a decisive leap forward in Axon’s mission to Protect Life.

This acquisition also further catalyzes Axon’s growing presence in retail, healthcare, private security and the federal space.

Fusus excels in aggregating live video, data and sensor feeds from virtually any source, enhancing situational awareness and investigative capabilities for public safety, education and commercial customers.

This acquisition provides Axon with technology not currently in its existing network, and facilitates seamless connections to critical data sources such as camera locations and video feeds from both fixed and body worn cameras during incidents.

Fusus’ technology propels Axon’s real-time operations product roadmap, addressing critical challenges faced in public safety.

It empowers law enforcement professionals with location mapping, escalation alerts, livestreaming, real-time and post-incident visibility, allowing swift decision-making, and responsive actions.

“Throughout our long-standing partnership and investment with Fusus, we’ve witnessed the impact of collaboration in achieving remarkable results for law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve,” said Ran Mokady, Axon’s Senior Vice President of Real-Time Operations.

“This acquisition is a significant milestone in our mission to protect life as it further enables law enforcement and emergency teams to better deter and respond to escalating situations,” he added.

“Our collaboration with Axon has helped Fusus raise the bar on how first responders can affect positive outcomes through open and interoperable systems,” said Chris Lindenau, CEO of Fusus.

“As one team with a shared purpose to protect life, we are poised to rapidly expand this vision into the way law enforcement agencies, governments, businesses and schools work together in support of community safety,” he explained.

Real-time crime centers provide public safety with a centralized facility equipped with advanced technology and data analysis tools that enable law enforcement agencies to monitor and respond to incidents in real time.

These centers can integrate various data sources, such as cameras, sensors, social media feeds and other information systems, to provide a comprehensive and immediate view of ongoing criminal activities or emergencies.

Ultimately, by aggregating all of this information into a single pane of glass for public safety, real-time crime centers enhance situational awareness, improve response times and support proactive crime prevention efforts by leveraging up-to-the-minute information and analytics.

To learn more about how real-time crime centers can increase safety in any environment, see Axon’s latest blog post.

“Real-time crime centers serve as indispensable assets for agencies, offering unparalleled insight and actionable intelligence in one open and unified platform,” said Marshall Freeman, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the Atlanta Police Department.

Just like Axon, Fusus and its products are built from the ground up with an explicit focus on ethical and equitable design.

As a joint organization and in partnership with Axon’s Ethics and Equity Advisory Council (EEAC), they will continue their relentless commitment to build solutions that make the right things easier and the wrong things harder, every day.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Axon was advised by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Fusus was advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in connection with the transaction.

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PCBA Donates $500 to Norcross High School Foundation of Excellence

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PCBA
Pictured left to right: Toby Anderson (PCBA Board), Allison Reinert (PCBA Board), Lisa Proctor, (PCBA Board), Erin Griffin (NHS Foundation of Excellence),Suzanna Martinez (PCBA Board) and Donna Linden (PCBA Board)

Photos by Tracey Rice, Courtesy of PCBA

The Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA) has awarded a check for $500 to The NHS Foundation of Excellence (NHSFE) at the January 2024 Business After Hours Speaker Series Event.

The mission of the NHS Foundation of Excellence includes raising funds to help generate resources necessary to provide the level of excellence and education all students deserve.

NHS is a Title I school and offers the International Baccalaureate® Diploma Programme curriculum.

The school’s population is diverse. Approximately 52% of students are Hispanic, over 28% are African American, 13% are White, nearly 4% are Asian and 3% identify as Other. Two-thirds of these students qualify for free and reduced lunch. It is estimated that over 35 different languages are spoken at home.

“The PCBA is proud to donate a check for $500 to NHSFE in support of their belief that all students are capable of being successful. Our Outreach Committee and Board are impressed with NHSFE programs of excellence in academics, arts and athletics,” said PCBA President Lisa Proctor.   

“With PCBA’s continuous commitment to supporting our community in a meaningful way, we are excited to be a part of the success of their students,” she added.

Funds for the PCBA Community Outreach program are raised throughout the year from PCBA membership, sponsorship and annual charity events. 

Donations and scholarships are awarded at monthly events so members can learn more about these organizations.

For more information, call 678-969-3385, email membership@peachtreecornersba.com, or visit www.peachtreecornersba.com.

For more business news in and around Peachtree Corners, click here.

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