From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

By: Damon Cline on March 23, 2008 - 6:57pm - Add new comment

If you think alcohol is made for drinking and not for pumping into your gas tank, you might be a little miffed at what’s going on around town: Ethanol-blended fuel has arrived.

Many fuel pumps in the area are sporting stickers proclaiming that the fuel they dispense might contain up to 10 percent ethanol, a blend known in many parts of the country – mostly the Midwest – as E10.

By: Damon Cline on March 16, 2008 - 6:52pm - Add new comment

Editor’s Note: The Augusta-area business news, issues and gossip normally found in Scuttlebiz is absent this week because business editor Damon Cline was out of town. Instead, he offers the following account of his visit to his hometown. Mr. Cline apologizes to readers interested exclusively in Augusta-area topics and urges them to read next week’s Scuttlebiz.

SAN MANUEL, Ariz. — It’s eerily quiet in this high desert town.

By: Damon Cline on March 9, 2008 - 5:52pm - Add new comment

What do you get when you take 30 local officials and business leaders, arm them with laser guns and turn them loose on each other in a dim arena?

I call it the best grand-opening gimmick ever.

On March 17, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross will celebrate the opening of the new laser tag arena at Adventure Crossing by doing battle in a cross-county exhibition match.

By: Damon Cline on March 2, 2008 - 7:22pm - Add new comment

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.”
– H.L. Mencken

I really enjoyed sitting down to talk with Wayne Brown, the subject of this week’s cover story, for three reasons:

1. I’ve always been intrigued by highly successful businesspeople who have skirted media attention out of shyness instead of trying to conceal questionable business practices.

By: Damon Cline on February 24, 2008 - 8:52pm - Add new comment

Some fear that the addition of two new nuclear reactors to the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant might be derailed because of environmental concerns that the facility’s draw from the Savannah River would increase from 1 percent of the river’s annual flow to 2 percent.

Supporters of what would be the region’s biggest construction project since Vogtle Version 1.0, however, should be more worried about this: Can the power plant’s owners afford the expansion?

By: Damon Cline on February 17, 2008 - 8:10pm - Add new comment

Not long ago, I wrote about my belief that Richmond County’s political engine was starting to fire on all cylinders (the analogy actually involved a transmission ’ s gears shifting, but you get the point).

Despite the county’s dysfunctional coliseum authority – and some minor hand-wringing over whether the Downtown Development Authority should expand its boundaries and whether south Augusta needs a DDA of its own – I still believe the county’s leadership is pretty much all “on the same page.”

The next natural step? Seeking unity beyond the county line.

By: Damon Cline on February 10, 2008 - 9:01pm - Add new comment

Remember when I told you I could predict the future (Scuttlebiz, Dec. 30)?
“The following events will occur somewhere in our metro area during 2008 … A longtime local business, which some residents consider an 'institution,’ will close.”

Well ...

“The owners of Fat Man’s Forest announced they plan to close the well-known store and restaurant on Laney-Walker Boulevard … The business was started in 1948 … and became a retail institution in Augusta.” – The Augusta Chronicle, Feb. 5 .

By: Damon Cline on February 3, 2008 - 7:36pm - Add new comment

I did something I wasn’t proud of the other day – I booked a flight out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

What made me feel even worse was that I clicked the “accept” button on my computer to buy for a round-trip ticket to Phoenix while ink was still wet on the invitations to Augusta Regional Airport’s new-and-improved terminal building – a facility specifically designed to encourage greater use of the airport.

By: Damon Cline on January 27, 2008 - 7:37pm - Add new comment

As a more-than-casual observer and sometimes critic of Augusta’s* politico-business establishment, I am comfortable making this statement: The city is moving forward.

In fact, I’d say Augusta’s leadership is about to shift into second gear**.

That’s an accomplishment, considering that it wasn’t all that long ago the city was stuck in neutral, with occasional shifts into reverse.

By: Damon Cline on January 20, 2008 - 8:05pm - Add new comment

Augusta State University economics professor Mark Thompson last week unveiled the Greater Augusta Economic Activity Index, a statistical measurement of the region’s economic health based on a variety of economic indicators, including wage growth, unemployment and construction activity.

One noticeably absent component to the index is new-job announcements. I consider the omission a good thing because new-job announcements are one of the most unreliable economic indicators.


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