Originally created 04/13/02

Showcase plays up Augusta



Friday marked James Filanc's fourth trip to Augusta in two months. The owner of Care Path Informatics in Sylvania, Ohio, said he and his partners are seriously considering moving the year-old health care software company to Augusta.

Local business leaders hope a day at Augusta National Golf Club watching the Masters Tournament will influence their decision.

Care Path is just one of 22 biotechnology and life sciences companies with representatives in Augusta this week as part of the Augusta Showcase, an economic development event organized by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the mayor's office and local medical leaders.

"They have treated us like rock stars," Mr. Filanc said. "The hospitality is palpable, and the charm of this community is obvious."

Guests were chosen for their ties to the biotech industry and their interest in expanding or relocating to the Southeast. Of course, it doesn't hurt if they like golf, too.

"Everyone has been extremely receptive," Showcase Chairman Phil Wahl said. "Of course, the big draw is the Masters, but the guests are also excited about being real players in a medical community where they can be highly regarded and respected."

Mr. Filanc's company recently applied for a federal research grant from the Medical College of Georgia, further deepening Care Path's ties to Augusta. MCG professor Roger Vega is the chairman of Care Path's technology advisory committee.

"Between MCG's mission to grow research and the community's commitment to expansion, something's happening here," Mr. Filanc said. "You can feel it in the air ... Formalizing our relationship with MCG will be considered a milestone in this company's history."

Event organizers were tight-lipped about others on the guest list, hoping to protect the confidentiality of relocation prospects, some of whom traveled from as far away as Scotland and Argentina.

The campaign was modeled in part after the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's Red Carpet Tour, which was created to use the Masters Tournament as a tool to attract industry to the state.

Red Carpet's statewide focus means Augusta must share prospects with other Georgia cities. The Showcase, however, focuses solely on Augusta and the surrounding communities.

"It's a great thing for Augusta," Mr. Wahl said of the Showcase, now in its second year. "We're very positive about getting some tangible results soon."

"They have treated us like rock stars. The hospitality is palpable, and the charm of this community is obvious." - James Filanc, business owner and Augusta Showcase guest

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.