Most people seem to like it when Augusta places high on those national “best places” type of lists that come out every once in a while.
Me, I get a twinge in the gut.
It happened a couple of weeks ago when Augusta was named the nation’s most affordable housing market by a national publisher of business journals that had analyzed income and housing price data for 95 metro areas larger than 500,000 people.
If you listen carefully, you can still hear the echoes from Richmond County officials and business leaders slapping each other's backs.
And why shouldn't they celebrate?
Within a span of six months, they have lured call center facilities from not one, but two Fortune 500 companies: T-Mobile (you know who they are) and Automatic Data Processing, a business services outsourcing firm (ask your company CFO; he's heard of them).
They certainly deserve attaboys, not just for attracting tens of millions of dollars to the county, but for creating at least 1,750 jobs for residents of the Augus
The irony of Olin Corp.'s chlorine plant in Augusta is that it pollutes our water to manufacture a product to clean our water.
The chemical plant in south Richmond County makes chlorine, caustic soda and bleach - the stuff municipalities use to treat their sewage and purify their drinking water.
In doing so, the facility releases a toxic byproduct, mercury, into the air and into the Savannah River.
This has made the company (which also makes Winchester-brand ammunition of all things) a target for environmentalists such as Oceana.
In the epic battle for the hearts and minds of Augusta-area shoppers, it appears that Augusta Mall is winning the war.
Sources say the mall's outdoor "lifestyle center" addition under construction at the site of the former Macy's store is sucking most of the high-end retailers away from a rival lifestyle center project at River Watch Parkway and Interstate 20.
Face it, there's only so many upscale retailers to go around.
Word going around town is that there's more out at the James Brown estate than possibly just his body.
Cash. Lots of it.
Local folks with inside knowledge say the Godfather of Soul, who toured relentlessly, received much of his pay for bookings in the form of cash and foreign currencies. Aside from being easily transported back into the country on his private planes, the money would be unknown to the guv'ment.
Whether there is money stashed around the home or buried in Folger's cans in the yard has not been determined.
Andy Pye, who owns Firehouse Subs franchises in Augusta, Evans, North Augusta and Aiken, recently won the Jacksonville, Fla. company's top franchisee award for 2006.
But here's the part you'll really care about: His fifth store is expected to open this year and, during the next few years, he said he plans to open "four to five" more in the market.
Why not? If they can shoehorn a Subway and Blimpie on nearly every corner, they can do the same for the home of the New York Steamer (my personal favorite).
Automatic Data Processing Inc., the New Jersey-based business services firm that said it expects to employ up to 1,000 people in the Augusta area in five years, is apparently still scouting real estate.
The big building going up behind the Husqvarna office on Stevens Creek Road (the former FutureCall and Healthmaster building) is said to be a temporary location only. The building, developed by Indigo Properties (run by Chris Garrison; yes, the same Garrison from the Healthmaster days) is very large and very nice-looking from the outside. If ADP doesn't take it, I'm sure someone else will.
WHITE SALE: Remember when Clay and Braye Boardman, Julian Roberts III and Turner Simkins, a rock 'n' roll supergroup equivalent for a local business partnership, acquired the old J.B. White building downtown?
Of course you don't. That was 1999; you were too busy checking your Pets.com stock.
Their initial plan to convert the shuttered, 83,000-square-foot white elephant into upscale apartments never went any further than cleaning the asbestos out of the former department store.