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LGE Community Credit Union announces endorsement from Atlanta Braves’ Dansby Swanson

April 9, 2021

LGE Community Credit Union, a smarter way to bank for metro Atlanta, announced Friday that Dansby Swanson, professional baseball player and Atlanta-native, will serve as a spokesperson for the credit union through an official, multiyear endorsement. The official endorsement comes as the next natural step in Swanson’s relationship with LGE, where he’s been a member since 2012.

President and CEO Chris Leggett said, “Although Dansby’s been part of the LGE family for many years, we’re excited to further that relationship in an official spokesperson capacity.” 

The credit union found Swanson to be the perfect fit as a spokesperson not only because of his success, but because of his strong alignment with LGE’s historical roots and community values. Swanson grew up in Marietta and graduated from Marietta High School – roughly 3 miles away from LGE’s first headquarters and 4 miles away from the credit union’s first branch which was located in the B-1 building basement of the Lockheed-Georgia Company plant.

Swanson said, “I’ve been a member since 2012, but I can remember LGE being a part of my life ever since I was little. Both of my grandfathers actually worked at Lockheed and then my mom did as well for a few years. It is cool to see that family history come full-circle with my new endorsement relationship with LGE and be a part of something my grandparents were also involved in. It is a great feeling to work with a brand that not only has ties to my family, but is one I’ve known my whole life and genuinely believe in.”

Started in 1951, LGE originally served as the credit union for Lockheed-Georgia employees. Today, LGE connects metro Atlanta to best-in-class financial products, expert advice, and personalized service, and anyone who lives or works in Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Fulton, or Paulding County is eligible to apply for membership. 

Both Swanson and LGE are also passionate about impacting their community in a positive way. 

Swanson said, “One reason I’m excited to be working with LGE is because they really care about the metro Atlanta community and are serious about giving back. I think it’s important to be serious about helping others and really making a difference because you never know what kind of impact that will have on someone’s life.”

About LGE Community Credit Union

LGE Community Credit Union connects metro Atlanta to best-in-class financial products, expert advice, and personalized service. LGE serves all residents and businesses within Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Fulton, and Paulding counties. Since 2010, LGE has given back over $1.45 million to local nonprofit organizations and individuals in need through the LGE Community Outreach Foundation. For more information about LGE, visit Federally insured by NCUA.

About Dansby Swanson

Aggressive at the plate and a dynamic shortstop for the Atlanta Braves, Dansby Swanson has completely transformed the Atlanta Braves’ defense with his incredible speed, fielding ability and unparalleled arm strength. In 2020, Swanson led the league in defensive runs saved and was a finalist for the NL Gold Glove Award. His work in the field is only matched by his tenacity at the plate and his ability to perform in clutch situations in the post-season. Selected with the first overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft, Swanson has ascended from a top prospect to a linchpin within the Braves’ lineup. Prior to his rise in the majors, Swanson led Vanderbilt to a College World Series victory in 2014 where he easily won the Most Outstanding Player award. Born and raised in the ATL, Swanson pays homage to his hometown through his #AllThingsLoyal campaign, where he highlights the city’s local artists, themes, restaurants and milestones. Thoughtful, hard-working and approachable, Swanson has emerged as a leader in the clubhouse, ready to bring the Braves into a new era.


April 7, 2021

Full-service consulting firm Croy Engineering was selected as the winner of a 2020 Georgia Partnership for Transportation Quality (GPTQ) Preconstruction Design Award for the new Roswell Street roundabout in the City of Smyrna, Ga. The project, which won the “Traffic Safety and/or Intersection Design” category, features an innovative five-legged roundabout design concept at the intersection of Roswell Street, Hawthorn Avenue, and Mathews Street.

The GPTQ Preconstruction Design Awards are presented annually by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia (ACEC Georgia) to recognize complex, innovative transportation projects across the state of Georgia. The awards were announced and presented by GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry during the annual Georgia Transportation Summit in Athens on Tuesday.

“We are excited to have this transformative – and now award-winning – project in our Smyrna community,” said City of Smyrna’s Mayor Derek Norton. “We’ve enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Croy on various transportation projects, all of which have helped to bring mobility, safety, and pedestrian-friendly solutions to keep our growing City moving efficiently.”

Image of the award-winning Roswell Street Roundabout in the City of Smyrna, Cobb County, Ga.

The new roundabout, which opened to the public in the summer of 2020, replaced an existing six-legged, signalized intersection that had difficult vehicle travel paths, long cycle times, and limited pedestrian accessibility. Croy’s five-legged roundabout design removed the signal, realigned the eastern Hawthorn Avenue leg away from the intersection, and provided enhanced pedestrian features. These improvements have resulted in successfully reducing the traffic back-up during peak hours, decreasing the number of accidents, and improving aesthetics of the intersection.

In addition, truck-specific guide signage encourages truck drivers to make one full circle of the roundabout to easily maneuver the sharpest right turns – therefore better accommodating the larger commercial vehicles that travel the intersection daily. This approach also led to the installation of a roundabout with a much smaller footprint than is typically required of one with as many approaches, which helped to minimalize impacts to local businesses and residents, as well as save on construction costs.

“As a Georgia-based firm, we are proud to be able to help our local communities, like the City of Smyrna, implement innovative, cost-effective designs that improve mobility and keep their residents safe on the roads,” said Gregory D. Teague, Croy’s President. “I am also proud of our entire Croy team – from our transportation, traffic, surveying, right-of-way acquisition, and construction management departments – who all worked to make this project successful.”

On behalf of Croy, the project was spearheaded by Vice President and transportation department head Chris Rideout, PE, along with Senior Project Manager Eric Brisse, PE. Under their leadership, Croy served as the prime engineering firm and led all design, concept development, survey, right-of-way acquisition, and construction oversight tasks. These efforts included performing a complete survey database, traffic analysis, conceptual designs, preliminary engineering, right-of-way plans, utility coordination, and final engineering.

Click here to view the roundabout in action.


Croy is an award-winning, full-service consulting engineering firm headquartered in Georgia, in addition to having a presence in Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. As a leading Georgia-based firm, Croy leverages its strong local presence and deep community ties to offer a range of services, including aviation, environmental, land acquisition, landscape architecture, municipal utilities, planning, site development, surveying, traffic, transit, and transportation engineering to local and national clients. Learn more at or connect on any of the firm’s social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

Community Leaders are Guilty of “Caring for Kids” to Raise Funds for Communities In Schools of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County

April 7, 2021

Communities In Schools®(CIS) of Georgiain Marietta/Cobb County, an organization that empowers all students to achieve in school and stay on a path to a brighter future, has assembled a cast of community leaders that are “Guilty of Caring for Kids” to participate as suspects in the first CIS Jail & Bail virtual event. The suspects have supported the mission of CIS as volunteers, donors, fundraisers, and mentors. Each must raise at least $1,000 “bail” by April 24, 2021 in order to “stay out of jail”.

To learn more about how our community leaders are “Guilty of Caring for Kids”, follow Communities In Schools of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County on Facebook or visit   Tune in April 12-24, to Facebook and at to see a suspect presented each day with their charges, evidence and the opportunity to plead their case.  

“A high school diploma is the first passport of success toward a healthy economic lifecycle. These ‘Cobb County Most Wanted’ have provided years of support to help students and families be self-sufficient and have the resources they need to stay in school and achieve in life,” said CIS of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County Executive Director, Natalie Rutledge.

The event places a spotlight on the importance of a high school diploma. Last year, six out of every ten young adults found guilty in Cobb County Superior Court did not graduate high school, and nationally high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes—Donations to the CIS Jail & Bail event are a small price to pay to help at-risk youth when prisons are costing taxpayers more than $40 billion a year.

As part of the nation’s leading dropout prevention and intervention organization, Communities In Schools uses a proven, evidence-based model to improve graduation rates and address the academic and nonacademic challenges for at-risk youth. Funds raised throughout this event will help CIS continue to address the challenges faced by at-risk students in our community.

To learn more about Communities In Schools of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County and their events visit Designate your donation to free your favorite jailbird using the FIND a SUSPECT search bar or the LEADERBOARD on

About Communities In Schools of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County
Communities In Schools fuels personal potential, so every student can take charge of their story and define their success for life.

WE-GROW Engineering Program Aims to Improve Retention, Academic Success

April 7, 2021

Ramisa Ahmed As a high schooler, she was drawn to anything related to the field, from robotics to 3D modeling on computers. However, her college dreams were nearly put on hold as she looked for ways to offset the cost of attending. Then, she received an email from Kennesaw State University’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (SPCEET).

 When it came to picking a college major, Ramisa Ahmed had no doubt her future would be in engineering.

“I wrote so many essays and applied for so many scholarships until finally I saw an email promoting a new program in the engineering college,” said Ahmed, who applied and was subsequently accepted into the Women in Engineering: Graduation and Retention/Recruitment Opportunities for Women (WE-GROW) program. “There was such a sense of relief for me. It took care of all of my financial needs and allowed me to focus on my studies.”

Today, Ahmed is one of nine students this year who are receiving up to $8,800 in scholarship money annually as part of WE-GROW. The effort, launched by SPCEET in October 2019 after receiving a $997,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, aims to support first- and third-year engineering students by providing academic and co-curricular activities focused improving retention and encouraging the pursuit of rewarding and successful engineering careers.

While the initiative focuses to improve gender diversity in Kennesaw State’s engineering programs, it is open to all academically talented students with demonstrated financial need. The programmatic support offered by the initiative will come in the form of guidance and focused efforts by SPCEET faculty, advisors and staff, and industry partners to cultivate a broader sense of community among the students.

“While we concentrate on introducing more women to engineering, we recognize that the male participants gain a better appreciation of the need for more women in the field,” said Lori Lowder, assistant dean for accreditation and assessment. “Just like any other initiative, it’s going to require efforts from all parts to see improvements.”

In addition to the wraparound support services, students are afforded opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and STEM outreach efforts at local schools, and meet with women who are already in the field.

“I was particularly struck by the number of women engineers I’ve already met through the industry outreach events,” said Ahmed, who studies mechanical engineering. “It’s not often that you see women hold high positions for STEM jobs, and it’s always been a goal of mine to be that same kind of role model for other girls hoping to study engineering.”

Like Ahmed, computer engineering student Kevin Toyle said the face-to-face time with industry professionals and faculty mentors have been some of the most impactful aspects of the WE-GROW initiative. Recent industry meet-and-greets have involved professionals from a variety of industries, including those representing Siemens and NASA.

Toyle also likes giving back to the younger generation, taking advantage of an opportunity to serve as a guest judge in an elementary school science fair as part of WE-GROW.

“It’s nice to connect with people, especially kids who are starting to explore STEM fields,” he said. “I received my inspiration at a young age, and I enjoy seeing how the next generation finds theirs.

As WE-GROW continues to evolve, Lowder said the engineering college expects to extend services to the larger student body to build upon student success.

“We are looking to make this a part of our larger student recruitment strategy,” she said. “But we also want to make sure that we are doing our best to support them once they’re here and make sure they graduate en route to fruitful careers.”


April 6, 2021


The Center for Family Resources (CFR) has announced its First Annual Parade of Playhouses. Replacing the organization’s traditional Annual Gala, the event will stand as the main fundraiser of the year. It will also be a great vehicle to showcase the CFR Board’s vision of preventing childhood homelessness before it even happens.

The Parade of Playhouses brings together local design and construction teams to create unique children’s playhouses that will be showcased April 19-30 at Town Center at Cobb. Each playhouse is a one-of-a-kind, fully functional piece of art brought to life by our volunteer build teams. Playhouses will be auctioned and raffled off on Sunday, May 2nd. Auction winners can choose to purchase the playhouse for themselves or gift the house to one of the CFR’s nonprofit partners. This year’s nonprofit recipients are Make-A-Wish® Georgia, liveSAFE Resources, Sheltering Arms and Calvary Children’s Home.

“Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we have decided to replace our Annual Gala with an event that, in a fun and safe manner, brings together our community in support of the CFR’s mission,” said Melanie Kagan, CEO for the Center for Family Resources. “This year’s Parade of Playhouses will help raise critical funds to support our organization but also has the potential to benefit some of our partner agencies. Allowing auction winners to gift their playhouse to another agency makes the gift a double donation,” she continued.

Individuals interested in supporting the fundraiser can participate by sponsoring, making a charitable contribution and purchasing raffle tickets for a chance to win one of the stunning masterpieces. For more information, please visit the Parade of Playhouses page on our website.

About The Center for Family Resources
Since 1960, the Center for Family Resources has annually helped more than 12,000 low-income families with temporary financial and food assistance, housing, and employment and education services. By “empowering families to help themselves,” the staff at the Center for Family Resources is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by helping families acquire the resources they need to become independent and self-sufficient. For more information, visit


April 6, 2021

Popular Breakfast All-Day Restaurant Opens Twelfth Location in Georgia

The Flying Biscuit Café ( announces the opening of its newest restaurant in East Cobb, Marietta, Georgia community, marking the brands 21st location to open in the country.

“We are overjoyed to bring the Flying Biscuit Café to East Cobb,” said Ernest Baptiste, the franchise owner of the location. Baptiste feels the Flying Biscuit is the perfect addition to the East Cobb dining scene. “My daughter and I have always wanted to own a restaurant together. We expect the combination of the quality of the food for breakfast, lunch and catering and the unique character of The Flying Biscuit Café to be a real hit here in Marietta.”  

Since first opening its doors in 1993, the Flying Biscuit Café has become known for its expansive menu and breakfast all day, including The Egg-stravaganza, Shrimp and Grits, and the Wake-Up Burger. In addition, the restaurant provides a comfortable atmosphere, ideal for guests looking for a quick bite or a relaxed dining experience. 

We have received such a positive response to our growth here in the metro Atlanta market, as well as other markets outside of Atlanta,” explains Brent Fuller, Flying Biscuit Café Vice President of Operations. “We’re seeing a real excitement for our Southern-inspired food and eclectic, neighborly spirit. This location will launch our new expanded menu that will include items such as Chicken and Waffles and The Oh My Grit Bowl and will also offer mimosas and bloody marys.”

The East Cobb, Marietta location opened its doors for business on March 15th and is located at Parkaire Landing Shopping Center at 4880 Lower Roswell Road, Suite 70. Operating hours are Monday-Friday 7a.m. to 2p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 7a.m. to 4p.m. For more information on The Flying Biscuit Café visit The new location will host a socially distanced Grand Opening celebration and Ribbon cutting ceremony during the week of April 14th, with giveaways each day to the first 50 customers. Giveaways will include the Bacon & Eggs Breakfast for just $1.99, jars of their famous cranberry apple butter, $5 off biscuit gift cards, flying biscuit swag t-shirts and travel mugs.

About The Flying Biscuit Café

The Flying Biscuit Café is an eclectic neighborhood restaurant nationally recognized for its natural, hip cuisine and charming atmosphere. This Atlanta institution is well-known for serving up Southern comfort food with a twist of fun including menu classics such as Creamy Dreamy White Cheddar Cheese Grits, Chicken Sage Sausage patties, Whole Wheat French Toast topped with Honey Crème Anglaise and Raspberry Sauce, Oven Fried Green Tomatoes, Not Your Mama’s Pimento Cheese, Shrimp and Grits and Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders served with Grilled Macaroni and Cheese and Vegan Collard Greens. Gourmet states, “Wonderful southern food” and Rachael Ray’s $40 a Day program broadcasts, “great food, great value.”  Founded in Atlanta in 1993, there are currently twenty-one Flying Biscuit locations.  For more information, visit

Local Veteran Opens First Cinch I.T. in Georgia

March 31, 2021

Computer support brand opens new location in Atlanta as demand for I.T. services keeps rising

Massachusetts-based Cinch I.T. – one of the fastest growing I.T. service providers in the United States – is opening its first location in the state of Georgia. Troy Cobb, a local veteran and black-business owner is bringing Cinch I.T. enterprise-level I.T. services to the Atlanta and Vinings areas as the new location is expected to open in early April.

Cinch I.T.’s expansion into Georgia comes at a time when demand for I.T. services and cloud-computing solutions have skyrocketed as remote work continues. Even as employers are beginning to plan for a return to offices, many employees will remain on a fully remote or hybrid work schedule and the need for I.T. services will continue to increase. The new location will be owned and operated by local franchisee Troy Cobb, who will provide enterprise-level I.T. support to Atlanta and Vinings businesses of all sizes at a fraction of the cost of an in-house I.T. department.

“Georgia itself has a special place in my heart since I have lived here for close to 20 years, met my wife here, and hope to retire here as well so it only makes sense to bring the brand’s services to the Atlanta and Vinings areas,” said Cobb. “I am extremely proud to soon see the Cinch I.T. brand in Georgia and to watch it grow to help businesses better operate through the challenges of the pandemic.”

Cobb is ready to serve and provide services in his community. During his franchisee training he was ready to get his business moving by connecting with over 20 networking partners, along with scheduling four client meetings. Cobb holds a record with Cinch I.T. for their fastest growing franchisee and he has zero plans for slowing down anytime soon.

As the pandemic continues Cinch I.T.’s “secret sauce” – a centralized support system that handles around 80-90% of the support calls and help tickets has helped them retain customers and grow through the pandemic. This system, called Cinch Central, provides franchisees and clients’ access to a support system of over 40 team members and I.T. technicians, which gives Cinch I.T. an edge over in-house I.T. technicians who are struggling to keep up with demand and the increase in help tickets. Cinch Central enables franchisees to focus on what matters most – growing their business.

“We are excited to continue expanding our brand into new states like Georgia as the demand for our I.T. and cloud-computing services is continuing to increase,” said Rick Porter, President of Cinch I.T. and 2020 CRN Next-Gen Leader. “After seeing our support calls triple with the initial shift to remote work, Cinch I.T. has been able to meet this rising demand every step of the way and we are set to help even more businesses and employers navigate their I.T. operations during the pandemic and beyond.”

Cinch I.T. provides remote and on-site computer support. The services offered include I.T. support plans, network security, backup/disaster recovery, cloud computing, cybersecurity software, tech consulting and more. The brand’s hands-on approach offers centralized client support, tech consulting, 24/7 network and hardware monitoring, hardware and software sales and distribution, and centralized billing so that each franchisee is set up for growth and success.

About Cinch I.T.

Founded in 2004 and franchising since 2019, Cinch I.T. is a managed computer and I.T. support brand that provides businesses with an enterprise level I.T. department for less than it would cost a business to manage their I.T. in-house. Today, there are six locations open and operating in Massachusetts and one location open in Michigan. The brand provides remote and on-site computer support, and services include I.T. support plans, network security, backup/disaster recovery, cloud computing, cybersecurity software, tech consulting and more. For more information, visit

‘Unstoppable determination’ lands Kennesaw State accounting student job at top firm

March 30, 2021

Taron Ragan has faced more than his share of tragedy in his life, but the senior accounting major never let those circumstances stand in his way of working toward his bachelor’s degree at Kennesaw State. Ragan, who will graduate in May, already has a full-time job in hand with Deloitte, a leading national accounting firm, as an audit associate.

Getting that job offer took perseverance and determination, he said. Ragan was involved with the Internal Audit Center in the Coles College of Business and secured three internships during college, but behind his success, he suffered the tragic loss of his younger brother and experienced homelessness while at KSU.

His relentless pursuit to earn a college degree – and become the first in his family to do so – kept him focused, he explained. Raised by a single mother in Fort Valley, Georgia, his family often lacked basic necessities, and when he was 12 years old, his father died from gun violence.

“I never say I went through hardships. I always say I overcame challenges, because it made me better,” Ragan said.

He looks back on his first semester at KSU, having only one pair of black pants and one pair of black shoes, and interchanging shirts for a new look each day. He said he didn’t know if his classmates recognized he was wearing the same pair of pants and shoes each day, but those were the “inspiration for me to keep going and build my foundation at KSU.”

Before he stepped foot on Kennesaw State’s campus, Ragan said he was impressed with the Coles College of Business’ reputable academic programs. In high school, the young entrepreneur refurbished old shoes and resold them, and soon took a serious interest in business.

“This is one of the greatest decisions of my life,” Ragan said about choosing Kennesaw State.

Learning through Loss

In his second semester, however, Ragan learned that his younger brother, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus from birth, sustained complications that resulted in irreparable brain damage.

Ragan, the oldest of five siblings, drove to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta every day after class to be at his brother’s side and support his family for an entire semester. While his professors encouraged him to take a break from school, Ragan said he was persistent about staying.

Things didn’t get easier for Ragan, who supported himself financially. His hours were cut at his job and he moved in with his mother to save money and help care for his brother at home. He commuted nearly 90 minutes one way to KSU each day, but a car accident left him without transportation.

Ragan slept on friends’ couches, or, on the days he had nowhere to stay, in his wrecked vehicle that sat inoperative in a parking deck close to campus. 

“It’s at these low moments that we find out who we really are,” said Ragan, who later lost his brother in 2019. “Adversity will introduce you to yourself.”

Tenacious Endurance

Committed to pushing himself both academically and professionally, Ragan soon landed a full-time job and attended his KSU classes at night. He saved his earnings to sign an apartment lease and purchase a vehicle.

“I networked constantly to build relationships that could open the doors for new employment,” he said, adding that his network skills piqued when he was homeless and needed to find friends.

Struggling, Ragan took advice from a Coles professor and selected accounting as his major, explaining that the discipline, which the professor called the “language of business,” fit him perfectly. He became involved with the Internal Audit Center and today serves as a student mentor.

Over the past 18 months, Ragan secured three accounting internships with companies such as Tidwell Group, UPS and Norfolk Southern and has completed one each semester. He was also invited to share his personal journey with more than 250 UPS employees during his internship and more than 125 people at the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Atlanta Chapter’s mentoring meeting last summer.

Bill Mulcahy, founding chairman of KSU’s Internal Audit Center Advisory Board, said he was impressed by Ragan after hearing him give the talk at UPS. Mulcahy then recommended Ragan to colleagues at Deloitte, and noted that it often takes personal endorsements to get a student’s resume to the top.

“He is a great communicator, and I’m proud of his progress,” said Mulcahy, who serves as Ragan’s mentor. “I believe the best is yet to come from Taron.”

Professors also have been impressed by the 24-year old’s endurance and commitment.

“Taron showed me how important one’s mindset is in overcoming adversities in life,” said Fred Masci, a part-time instructor of accounting. “He could not change where he started, but he could change his ending.”

Ragan plans to study for the CPA exam this summer after graduation, and he’s already working on his first book. In addition, he has also been invited back to speak to the IIA Atlanta Chapter to speak on his new book later this spring.

Ragan said that he hopes to teach others that anything is possible, no matter the circumstances.

“I was not going to give up on this thing that I knew would change my life and many others around me. It was bigger than me, and it always has been,” he said. “I had this unstoppable determination and I couldn’t give up.”


March 26, 2021

Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) experience expands company’s ability to serve government customers

Win-Tech, Inc. recently completed the Veteran Institute Procurement (VIP) GROW Program, a comprehensive training and certification program that helps veteran-owned businesses strengthen their ability to win government contracts and do business with both military and civilian agencies.

On March 25, 2021 Win-Tech, Inc. was one of 52 businesses from 20 states to graduate from the Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) START Program.

“Speakers and colleagues were more than happy to discuss shared challenges, offer best practices, and exchange new ideas.  The connections made will be long-lasting and we look forwarding to the experience allowing Win-Tech to serve our customers even better!” explains Allison K. Giddens, Co-President of Win-Tech, Inc.

The first of its kind in the nation, VIP GROW is a 3-day, 27-hour comprehensive certification program designed for veteran-owned small businesses to increase their ability to win government contracts. Participants must be a C-level leader in a Veteran-owned small business operating for at least two years with a minimum of 3 full time employees and have experience working on government contracts as a prime and/or sub-contractor to a prime.  

Facilitated by subject matter experts, VIP GROW participants receive hands-on market-based instruction that helps establish best business practices for Federal government contracting. 

There are over 20 topics taught by highly experienced industry and government professionals with a focus on accelerating your growth through best business practices. Curriculum subject examples include: Reducing risk to veteran-owned companies, their customers, and Accounting/ Budgets/ Developing Rates; Compliance Contracting – Teaming, Joint Ventures, RFI; Financing/Capital Management; Human Resources; Insurance; Marketing – Proposals & Capture Management; Program Management/Internal Controls. The program also provides participants with access to Federal and prime contracting executives along with a national network of veteran owned small businesses that they can team with on opportunities.   

Since the program launched in 2009, 984 Veteran-Owned Small Businesses have graduated from VIP GROW. VIP GROW graduates report growth rate averages of 63% within one year of graduating from the Institute and more than 259% two years after graduating. 

“We are honored to give back to the men and women who served our country by providing them with the tools they need to succeed as government contractors,” said Barbara Ashe, National Director of VIP. “We hope this training fosters their success as businesses and employers.”

VIP GROW is fully funded by the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation, partnerships with SBA, Lockheed Martin, and the State of Maryland, and VIP sponsors. VIP GROW is offered at no cost to participants. 

For more information on VIP, contact Barbara Ashe, 301-738-0015 x215; or visit For more information on Win-Tech, Inc., contact Allison K. Giddens, Co-President,


March 25, 2021

One of the Southeast’s Only Convention Centers to Currently Host Trade Shows

Cobb Galleria Centre hosted its three largest and most successful trade shows of the past year with the recent return of the Atlanta Shoe Market, the Atlanta Jewelry Show and the Southeast Flooring Market.

The largest event so far was the Atlanta Shoe Market, held Feb. 20-22. With safety as the No. 1 priority, buyers and sellers got back to business in person, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from all involved.

In conjunction with the Cobb Galleria Centre’s Safety First protocols, the Atlanta Shoe Market instituted temperature check kiosks that were located at each entrance, colored wristbands to reflect the day, hand sanitizer everywhere, redesigned floor plans to allow for social distancing and monitors to check for face mask compliance. Cobb Galleria Centre’s Safety First protocols focus on six main areas that include cleanliness, ventilation, employee hygiene and wellness, physical distancing, food and beverage, and event planner and contractor guidelines.

The show was attended by 1,100 buyers, which is about 70 percent of the show’s typical attendance. Exhibitor participation was at about the same rate, with the show using approximately 170,000 square feet of exhibit space in the convention center.

Laura Conwell-O’Brien, Executive Director of the Atlanta Shoe Market, was extremely pleased with the event. “First and foremost, the success of the show was based on safety first,” she said. “I believe that we achieved that from the very first step in the door. It’s very important in the months leading up to the event to advertise the safety features of the show to build the trust for all attendees.”

Conwell-O’Brien explained the importance of hosting the Atlanta Shoe Market in person. “The Atlanta Shoe Market was responding to the industry’s request for an in-person show” she said. “Everyone is Zoomed out!  In addition, it’s very difficult for the shoe buyers not to have the capability of touching and feeling the shoes. Zoom may work for some industries however, it’s definitely not the ideal situation for the buyers in the shoe industry. Once I felt comfortable that we could safely achieve the criteria that were set forth by the state and the CDC, I felt that we could move successfully towards a safe show.” 

In the first jewelry trade event of 2021, the Atlanta Jewelry Show (AJS) welcomed the jewelry industry back to a live, in-person event March 5-7.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important for our industry to work together to prove that we can re-connect in safe ways, and there is value in our shared commitment to events that consistently value both safety and success equally,” said Libby Brown, Atlanta Jewelry Show Executive Director.

The March show built upon the success of the Atlanta Jewelry Show held at the Cobb Galleria Centre in October 2020, and both shows relied on the health and safety plan, Safety Shines™, to help protect guests from Covid-19.  Among the health protocols were:

  • Pre-event communication and on-site signage
  • Controlled check-in process to direct attendee flow with signage and floor stickers
  • Daily health screening and temperature scanning prior to entry
  • Face masks were required
  • Floor plans and seating designed to respect physical distancing
  • Sanitizing stations readily available throughout the venue
  • Protective barriers available for exhibitor use
  • Complimentary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits

The tradeshow featured nearly 200 vendors, and retail buyers came out in record-setting numbers.

“The show itself rocked and we were busy non-stop,” said Mike Abbott, director of sales at The Edge by Abbott Jewelry Systems. “All the retailers were excited to be at the show, and they all felt safe and comfortable.”

The Cobb Galleria Centre welcomed the Southeast Flooring Market March 11-12 for the country’s first flooring trade show in over a year. With safety and health as top priorities, show management reported a successful market for buyers and sellers.

“It was critical for us to provide our exhibitors and buyers a safe, clean and physically proper market floor for commerce to take place and business relationships to flourish,” said Barbara Stroup, managing partner of Market Maker Events, which produces the Flooring Markets. “The foundation of our success was upfront communication with our team at the Cobb Galleria Centre. We met virtually on multiple occasions to review Covid-19 practices, safety standards, and employee training to ensure that our teams worked together as one unit.”

Some of those safety procedures included required pre-registration, staggered arrival times, pre-arrival health screenings, a mask requirement, floor decals to ensure proper safe and physical distancing with 6-foot spacing, sanitation stations, increased aisle width and space between booths, and assigned distancing traffic flow patterns for entrances and exits.

Stroup said it was important for buyers and sellers to meet face-to-face because the flooring industry is a tactile experience. “Nothing takes the place of seeing and feeling the product,” she said.

More information on Cobb Galleria Centre’s Safety First protocols can be found at

About Cobb Galleria Centre
The Cobb Galleria Centre is located in the beautifully landscaped 88-acre Galleria complex in prestigious northwest Atlanta. Cobb Galleria Centre is Atlanta’s premier convention facility with 320,000 square feet of event space, four exhibition halls, 20 meeting rooms, four executive boardrooms and a grand ballroom. Cobb Galleria Centre had 175,000 visitors to 214 events in 2020, resulting in an overall economic impact of $70 million. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook at, on Twitter at @CobbGalleria and on Instagram at

About the Atlanta Shoe Market
The Atlanta Shoe Market is a three-day event uniquely designed to encourage buyers and sellers to come together and shop the highest concentration of footwear in the United States, all under one roof. The show is held twice a year at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. For more information visit

About the Atlanta Jewelry Show
For over 70 years, Atlanta has been the host of the Atlanta Jewelry Show. Known for its unparalleled accessibility, compact walkable entertainment districts, and unlimited attractions for all ages, this vibrant city is the perfect destination. No longer considered only a regional trade show, AJS is designed as a one-stop resource for the independent jeweler to learn, shop and engage with peers. The show’s official sponsor and producer, the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association, is the nation’s oldest association for independent jewelry representatives. For information about the Fall event October 22-25, 2021, visit, send an email or call 800-241-0399 or 404-634-3434.

About the Southeast Flooring Market
The Mission of the Flooring Markets is to be the regional resource for product innovation, education, networking and growth opportunities for dealers and designers in the flooring industry. Top flooring brands exhibit at the Flooring Markets to present their new products and cutting-edge solutions to push the industry forward. Flooring Markets are held each year in Atlanta, Dallas, and Biloxi, Miss. For more information, visit