Rausch has been the business editor since September 2008, previously serving as senior business reporter. He joined the Chronicle in April 2007. He has written for newspapers in Napoleon, Ohio, Moline, Ill., and Lima, Ohio. He holds a bachelor of science in journalism from Ohio University (1992). In 2006, he received a second place award in business writing from the Association Press in Ohio.
Posted December 16, 2013 03:09 pm

'Remember This?' moments of 2013

Pretty soon, you won’t be able to turn around without seeing an end-of-the-year wrap-up of the things that happened in 2013.


Well, in the spirit of starting the shopping season early, I’ve decided to start the year in review early.


RECORD PROFITS: Both of the publicly traded local banks set records for quarterly profits – and then broke the record at least once – during the year.


Southeastern Bank Financial Corp., which runs Georgia Bank and Trust, had a third-quarter profit of $4.2 million. The second quarter net income was $4 million.


Georgia-Carolina Bancshares, the owner of First Bank of Georgia, hit $1.3 million in fourth-quarter profits, reported in January, and then jumped to the record setter of $2.3 million for the second quarter.


BASS PRO, COME AND GO: Ah, the bedlam of the week of July 22. We’d heard that Bass Pro Shops had finally selected another location for its Augusta store after pulling out of the Village of Riverwatch years before. Then came the news that they’re going next to CarMax along Interstate20. The next day, chief rival Cabela’s comes out and says it’s going to build a store – opening sooner than Bass Pro – in the old Bass Pro spot along Riverwatch Parkway.


It seemed like a windfall.


Then, in October, the news came that Bass Pro had attempted to change the deal with Columbia County, asking for $10 million to build the store for them, and the county said no. So Bass Pro pulled out of Augusta (again).


CONVENTION CENTER: It took a decade for the idea of a larger downtown Augusta convention center to get approved, funded and built, but the city opened it in February. Known for most of its life as the TEE Center project, the Augusta Convention Center is the top news item for downtown development. The groundbreaking on the $40 million project was all the way back in 2010.


SEAFOOD SAYONARA: Something that qualifies as the top eyebrow-raising story of the year. Ruby Tuesday shut down its Marlin & Rays restaurant on Bobby Jones Expressway in January after it was open only two months. The corporation reported losing $16 million in the quarter and decided it wanted to be just Ruby Tuesday restaurants. The building is still empty.


NO DOT COM: Through a billing problem with GoDaddy, the Augusta Economic Development Authority lost its Web site domain, which was apparently snapped up quickly by a Japanese printing firm. The EDA changed everything over from its .com to .org.


IS SAM WALTON SMILING? I ask because there’s a saturation of Wal-Marts afoot in the Augusta metro area. In 2013, Wal-Mart opened a Neighborhood Market in Martinez, a new Sam’s Club in Aiken, and started the dirt moving on a new Supercenter near the Augusta Mall.


There are plans for a new Supercenter in North Augusta and another market store for downtown Augusta that will keep the corporation in the local business news in 2014.


NAMEPLATE DOWNSIZING: Some of the name recognition manufacturing companies in Augusta had downsizings. International Flavors and Fragrances is closing its Augusta operation. Procter & Gamble is no longer making powder detergent, just dryer bars, and International Paper shut down one of its three machines.


SAYING GOODBYE: Several longtime business owners retired. Vera Stewart closed her catering and mail-order business in June to spend more time on a cookbook and her TV cooking show. Very Vera had been around more than 30 years. The icon of Augusta cooking even did a throwdown with Bobby Flay.


Recently, Jewelers Bench owner Stephen Cranford and School Days Supplies owner Audrey Chaplin said their stores will close at the end of the year.