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Georgia Southern students to represent University at first-ever Georgia Inventure Prize

An app designed to “gamify” running by encouraging virtual running competitions among friends was the idea selected to move on to the inaugural Georgia Inventure Prize competition by panelists at the Georgia Southern University Business Innovation Group’s (BIG) annual 3 Day Startup (3DS).

The app, called “Ghost Runner,” was designed by four students in the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing and three College of Arts and Humanities students. The idea was deemed by panelists made up of the University’s Intellectual Property Committee to be the one that made the most progress during the three days teams had to prepare their ideas.

“Ghost Runner seemed scalable,” said panelist and Georgia Southern Professor of History and Director of Digital Humanities, Robert Batchelor, Ph.D. “I really liked the idea that it solved a problem of messy apps for this concept currently on the market, and it was something that small businesses, running tournaments, etc., could rely upon as an app solution to marketing.”

The winning team includes computer science majors Marcus Joachim,Wyatt Landers and Jacob Poston; graphic design majors  Zee Doehling and Thomas Martin; mechanical engineering major Shadrach Stark; and international studies major Michael McFarland.

The students will work with BIG to prepare for the inaugural Georgia Inventure Prize Competition. Each college and university in the state was invited to send one team to Atlanta to compete April 3 – 4. The top five finalists will present via live GPB broadcast and streaming, with up to $50,000 in cash prizes and in-kind professional services.

3DS is a world-renowned program that brings together individuals from various backgrounds in a learning-by-doing environment to give students the tools needed to start successful companies. Students talk about ideas and form teams on a Friday and work on bringing those ideas to life by the following Sunday. On Monday, the competition culminates with a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition in which students pitch their ideas to panelists who judge and select the most viable idea.

In addition to “Ghost Runner,” five other teams pitched ideas during this year’s 3DS including ideas on aquaponics, a speeding device, bags made from textile waste, peer-to-peer lending and roommate matching.

Audience members also got a chance to vote for their favorite, giving the People’s Choice award to Olam Aquaponics. Led by biology major Cameron Milton, the team started with a large farm operation that provided food grown by aquaponics. The team made a pivot to set up and maintain aquaponic systems for assisted-living communities and schools.

“I definitely plan on continuing this project with the businesses that I’m in contact with, and I hope my team joins me in the next step,” said Milton.

The event was organized by the Square One student organization. The Square One leadership team includes Marin Coleman, president; David Vaughn, vice president; Josh Curtis, treasurer; and Tinia Holmes, secretary.

“The students took charge this year and did a wonderful job finding sponsors and mentors to help support the event, which helps ensure the event runs smoothly,” said club advisor, Suzanne Hallman. “After managing the event for five years, it’s nice to have a group of students who can run with it.”

 


Georgia Southern’s Q4 2018 Economic Monitor shows across-the-board gains in all economic indicators monitored

Georgia Southern University’s latest Economic Monitor, which analyzes Q4 2018 data and identifies trends affecting the regional economy, reports that Savannah’s metro economy closed out 2018 with across-the-board gains in all eight key economic indicators monitored. Port activity, consumer spending and electricity sales provided the most lift to the index, with improving consumer expectations, overall employment and tourism playing supporting roles.

“Overall, the regional economy appears to have shaken off the weakness of the third quarter and returned closer to trend growth recorded in the past few years,” stated Michael Toma, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics and director of the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER).

During the fourth quarter, the Savannah metro economy expanded at a rate of 0.8 percent, or 3.2 percent annualized, which is an increase from the previous quarter. While the third-quarter data was mixed with growing signs of weakness, the trend has reversed in several key economic variables, including total employment, retail sales and electricity sales. Port activity increased 8.4 percent from the third quarter, showing a 7 percent increase from comparable data from one year ago. Retail sales jumped 11 percent and are up 13 percent over last year. Electricity sales increased 4 percent, and consumer confidence in the south Atlantic states was up for the second consecutive quarter, shedding some of the volatility that has marked its recent behavior.

In general, the Savannah metro economy appears to have strengthened substantially during the final quarter of 2018. While the eight key indicators of economic activity in the Savannah metro region all improved, modest employment gains and the uptick in the unemployment rate warrant continued close monitoring of regional economic data in the near term. With this shift, improving regional economic conditions throughout much of 2019 is anticipated.

Highlights from the latest Economic Monitor include:

EMPLOYMENT TRENDS

Total employment in Savannah’s three-county metro area was 179,200, an increase of 400 jobs. For the second consecutive quarter, total employment barely equaled previous-year data. It is expected that total employment will resume a modest upward trend in early 2019.

The regional service sector recovered half the jobs shed in the previous quarter, rising by about 600 workers; however, business and professional services lost about 700 jobs, bringing the two-quarter loss to almost 2,000 jobs. Education and health gained 400 jobs each, as did state and local government. Hospitality and leisure gained 100 jobs to land at roughly 26,000 workers. The goods-producing side of the economy remained steady at 25,300 jobs, while manufacturing provided jobs for 17,700 workers and construction maintained 7,700 workers.

HOUSING MARKET

The housing marketing indicators reversed course from Q3 2018, recording improved numbers. In the regional housing market, seasonally adjusted building permit issuance for single-family homes soared 33 percent, rising to the highest quarterly total since mid-2007. Building permits issued for single-family homes increased to 562, rising from 420 units in the third quarter. The average valuation per single-family unit lagged a bit, declining 3 percent to $220,000 from $228,000.

LABOR MARKET

With the stabilization of both weekly wages and length of workweek, the labor market showed improvement. There was an 11 percent decline in the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) from 508 to 454 in the fourth quarter. The low unemployment rate, along with relatively few new UI claims, suggests that workers can expect an upward trend in wages. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked up modestly from 3.3 percent in the previous quarter to 3.5 percent.

 

ECONOMIC INDEX/FORECASTING INDEX

The business forecasting index turned up, registering growth of 0.5 percent, or 2.2 percent annualized, after nearly flatlining the previous quarter.

The Economic Monitor presents quarterly economic trends and short-term economic forecasts for Savannah’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The quarterly report measures the heartbeat of the local economy, based on the analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the City of Savannah, Georgia Power and the three counties in the MSA — Chatham, Bryan and Effingham.

The report is available for free by email. To subscribe, email mtoma@georgiasouthern.edu.

CBAER, a part of the Business Innovation Group (BIG) in Georgia Southern’s Parker College of Business, meets the applied research needs of Savannah’s business and community organizations. Areas of concentrated research include regional economic forecasting, economic impact analysis, economic development and business expansion, tourism development, survey-based research and specialty reports on topics of state, regional and local interest.


Georgia Southern Parker College of Business sales students compete nationally

Cole Sammons, Jim Randall, DBA, and Mya Carter represent Georgia Southern University at the University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition.

Mya Carter and Cole Sammons, students in the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University, competed among the nation’s best undergraduates during the University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition (UTISC) — the only national sales competition dedicated to non-senior students.

Carter, a sophomore sales student, placed seventh in the semifinals, while Sammons, a junior sales student, placed fourth among 32 juniors competing. As a team, the duo placed fourth out of 36 teams represented at the competition.

The UTISC allows students to develop their skills and network outside the shadow of seniors while universities are able to demonstrate the strength of their sales programs. Sponsored by 3M™, the students participated in a role-play scenario to sell one of the company’s leading-edge products, 3M™ Foil Tape.

“I learned that you can add your personality into your presentation to help build relationships with the customer,” said Carter, who was a first-time competitor. “The Citrix recruiter called me a natural, and I was offered internships from Citrix, Goodyear and International Paper.”

Sales competitions benefit students by providing networking opportunities with new firms and recruiters, sharpening their selling skills, and building their résumé.

“The opportunity to compete at the UTISC expanded my network and gave me an advantage over other sales students to work on my sales skills before entering the field,” said Sammons.

This is the fourth year the College has sent two undergraduates to the UTISC.

The Center for Sales Excellence (CSE) at Georgia Southern University, established in 2007, supports and promotes students pursuing careers in sales. Through the CSE, students gain experience with sales role play in dedicated labs and go on to compete at the national level. The CSE also works to bring students together with companies in the industry who are looking to hire new talent.


Naming celebration for Georgia Southern’s Parker College of Business recognizes growth of business programs

In recognition of the new partnership between Georgia Southern University and entrepreneur and philanthropist Greg Parker, the University hosted a naming celebration Friday for the newly named Parker College of Business. Community members and business leaders joined University students and officials to formally usher in a new chapter of academic excellence and student opportunities in the University’s growing business programs.

“The essence of opportunity is will. One has to be willing to help others like Mr. Parker,” said Logistics/Intermodal Transportation major and Parker Scholar Mohammad Abdallah. “The impact of Mr. Parker’s generous donation will not only give us an opportunity, but it will allow us to enhance research studies, student feedback, and network capabilities.”

In November, the Georgia Southern University Foundation, Inc. announced the $5 million gift from Parker, the founder and CEO of The Parker Companies in Savannah. It is the single largest gift in University history.

“Today’s graduates from the Parker College of Business will be tomorrow’s CEOs, CFOs and COOs,” said Parker. “By supporting the College of Business at Georgia Southern University, I’m investing in the health and vitality of the regional business community. I’m investing in the power of education. I’m investing in the future.”

The new funding establishes the Parker Business Scholars Program, Parker Business Scholarship Fund and Parker Faculty Support Fund, allowing Georgia Southern students to excel in the areas of professional development and scholarship. In addition, faculty research remains at the forefront of the College’s dedication to current trends in business and teaching.

The Parker Business Scholarship Program (PBSP) provides personalized professional development and educational enrichment opportunities to a select group of students in the Parker College of Business. Implementation of the PBSP will begin in fall 2019 and include specialized coursework, unique professional development opportunities and other experiential learning activities. The Parker Companies, along with the dean of the College, will have direct involvement with the PBSP students.

The Parker Business Scholarship Fund enables recruitment and retention of greater numbers of the best and brightest students and will attract students with the potential for competitive offers from other universities, making the Parker College of Business a destination of first choice for students across the state and region.

The Parker Faculty Support Fund supports faculty members and their research. Research is essential to the academic reputation of the College, to the scholarly currency and prestige of the faculty, and to the overall value proposition of the College as a leading academic institution.

About Parker’s
Parker’s is strategically redefining America’s convenience store industry, offering customers high-quality products, freshly prepared food and superior customer service at 56 retail stores throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina. Headquartered in Savannah, Ga., Parker’s has a commitment to exceeding customer expectations and has repeatedly been recognized as one of the nation’s leading convenience store companies. Food service is a specialty, featuring Parker’s Kitchen favorites like hand-breaded Southern Fried Chicken Tenders, tender bone-in chicken, made-from-scratch mac ‘n’ cheese, a breakfast bar and daily specials. The company’s popular PumpPal loyalty program, which includes more than 150,000 members, has saved Parker’s customers more than $10 million to date.

Parker’s also gives back to every community where stores are located through the Fueling the Community Program, which donates a portion of the profit of every gallon of gas sold on the first Wednesday of the month to area schools. In addition, the company endows the Parker’s Emergency and Trauma Center at Memorial Hospital in Savannah, and spearheads an Anti-Litter Campaign in Savannah. For more information about Parker’s, visit Parkersav.com.


Georgia Southern student selected as Board of Regents Academic Day representative

Georgia Southern University student Edward Legaspi was recently recognized by the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents and the Georgia General Assembly for receiving the Academic Recognition Day Award.

Legaspi, who is a senior double majoring in accounting and information systems, was nominated by the Parker College of Business for representing the highest scholastic ideals of Georgia Southern. The award is considered one of the greatest academic honors a USG student can achieve.

“To be recognized by my college, the president and the university is probably the highest honor I’ve ever received,” said Legaspi. “I am thankful for my professors and friends in my college, because I do not believe I would be anywhere near where I am today without them.”

Legaspi earned 30 hours of advanced placement credit work prior to enrolling at Georgia Southern, including calculus I, calculus II and chemistry.

I found the AP courses to be much more rigorous than my other high school courses,” he said. “They really allowed me to get used to the pace of college courses. Each day in class you’re always learning something new and having that prior experience definitely made a difference. Also, it was because of all these hours I was able to pursue my double major and still graduate on time.”

During his college career, he has served as an information systems tutor, the executive vice president and president of the Eagle SAP®  Users Group, which focuses on information systems, and as a member of the University Conduct Board.

In addition, Legaspi was named to the President’s List, participated in the BB&T Leaders Program, and placed third in the Microsoft Office Specialist National Championship. He also completed an internship with AFLAC in Columbus, Georgia, where he gained hands-on experience using SAP®  Solutions.

“Edward Legaspi is a standout student, but, more than that, he is a thoughtful classmate,” stated Brit McKay, Ph.D., professor of accounting. “He was generous with his help and in a technical subject, always more than willing to help a classmate, contribute to discussion and advance the overall knowledge of the group.”

Legaspi, who will graduate in May, has accepted a consulting position at one of the Big Four in Atlanta.

“My time at Georgia Southern has definitely helped me prepare for my career,” he said. “My courses gave me experience in a number of different software and technologies being used in business today. Through my extracurricular activities, I was able to meet and network with a lot of current and former students, building invaluable connections.”