Archive for May, 2011

The 20 Cities That Are Having An Awesome Recovery

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Business Insider Reports the 20 Cities that are having an awesome recovery.  We are proud that Augusta ranks #6 in the Nation!!

The cities performing well since the country’s economy bottomed out all have one thing in common: They are doing more, with less.

While these cities were battered by increases in unemployment and declines in home prices during the recession, they have since bounced back to growth.

They’re doing it with fewer people working, so efficiency has clearly been the driver of recovery in these spots.

It’s also worth noting that many of these regions were not hard hit by the house price tumble, a huge source of the country’s multi-year slowdown.

#6 Augusta, GA

#6 Augusta, GA

Image: Wikimedia Commons

House prices fell a sharp 10.5% from their highs in Augusta, but have not fallen since the region’s economy hit rock bottom. Employment has grown substantially since the region’s trough, however, rising 1.5%.Change in metro product since trough: Up 7.0%

Note: The Augusta area also include Richmond County.

Source: Brookings, data through Q4 2010

Memorial Day 2011

Friday, May 27th, 2011

  Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the Summer Season for most families around Augusta and our great nation. We will enjoy cookouts while getting together with family and friends. The weekend is an outstanding way to celebrate the end of another excellent school year. The Memorial Day holiday is also a time to remember our fallen heroes. The Military men and women who died while protecting our freedom. Everyone should take a few moments to think about how Lucky we are, to live in the greatest country on earth. There have been many sacrifices made by our military, to keep our families safe and for that we Salute you.

  President Clinton in May 2000 asked us to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents the one day of national awareness and reverence, and honoring those American who died while defending our Nation and its values. He asked us observe a “National Moment of Remembrance”  at 3pm on Memorial Day. We should pause and reflect for one minute the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all. This is small display of our appreciation.

 Thank You also to our Active Men and Women in our military

God Bless America

Have a safe Holiday

Augusta Economic Commentary

Friday, May 20th, 2011



Greater Augusta Economic Commentary 


May 2011


Augusta Economy
Greater Augusta Economic Activity Index

The first quarter of 2011 has been slow: the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that first quarter GDP growth was 1.8%, down from 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010. Locally, the Augusta LEI increased just 0.1% for the first quarter. In March, the Augusta LEI increased 0.2% from February. The index is up 6.6% from March 2010.


In March residential permits declined from February and are also lower than a year ago. However, last year’s numbers were distorted by the home buyer tax credit. The labor market continues to send contradictory signals: Unemployment insurance claims were down in March, but so were job openings. Unemployment in the Augusta MSA decreased to 8.4% in March (not seasonally adjusted), but employment is at its lowest level since September 2009.

One way of charting employment in Augusta is by looking at the year-on-year changes in employment relative to the three month change (this way of representing the changes is used by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta). Employment in Augusta was contracting (year-on-year and 3 month changes were negative) from March 2009 through September 2009. The labor market improved in the last quarter of 2009 and expanded through most of 2010. However, in the first quarter of 2011 the labor market has started to contract again.


This weak labor market puts Augusta in a relatively weak position compared to other cities in the state: 

In other ways, Augusta is doing better than other places: The national unemployment rate ticked up to 9.0% in April (8.7% not seasonally adjusted). Statewide, Georgia’s unemployment rate was 10.0% (9.8% not seasonally adjusted) in March. The average weekly wage in Augusta was $764 in the third quarter of 2010 compared with $739 a year earlier (BLS data). The housing market, however, continues to be weak; reports that house prices in Augusta are down 12.7% from a year earlier. National house prices are down 8.2% on a year earlier (according to

The Augusta Tourism Index barely changed from December 2010, edging downwards by just 0.2% through March. The Augusta Tourism Index is a composite index of hotel occupancy and revenues provided by Smith Travel Research Inc, and employment in the hospitality and leisure sector as reported by the BLS. Most of the decline was accounted for in January, with February and March both showing increases in all the variables.


About the Index

The Augusta Leading Economic Index (Augusta LEI) is a monthly composite index that combines several national, regional and local indicators into a single variable. Leading indexes combine variables that change before business cycle variables such as employment changes. Leading indexes may, therefore, indicate changes that could occur in the economy. Leading indexes are not forecasts or predictions about the future, but may signify future economic activity.

The Augusta LEI may,therefore, provide local decision makers with timely information about future business cycle patterns in the Augusta area. The Augusta LEI uses economic indicators for the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes six counties (i.e., Burke, Columbia, McDuffie, and Richmond counties in Georgia, and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina).

The index also includes regional and national indicators to reflect that national trends affect the local economy. The index is constructed in the same way that the Conference Board constructs the Leading Economic Index for the United States.

Thanks to Augusta State University and Simon Medcalfe for their insights


Blanchard and Calhoun is proud to Sponsor Fort Gordon’s Military Mud Challenge!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The Marines at Fort Gordon are once again hosting the Marine Mud Challenge May 16 at Fort Gordon.

There will be lots of mud and physical challenges in each part of the event. Last year’s Mud Challenge drew 570 participants from the Central Savannah River Area and Fort Gordon.

The Children’s Challenge, a one mile off-road course, is a noncompetitive off road route with logs and wall obstacles and of course, mud.

There are three start times for the Children’s Challenge: 8, 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. and it all begins and ends in the field located at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Avenue-by-pass [behind the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre].

This event is for children ages 5-12. The cost is $5 per child. A young participant may be aided by parents or guardians through the course. Each participant will receive a Marine Mud Challenge dog tag and chain. Kids will get very dirty so bring an extra change of clothing for them.

Following the Children’s Challenge is the Marine Mud Challenge which is a 4.5 mile off-road course with numerous obstacles, a stream crossing, hills and of course, mud. There will be staggered starting time beginning at 9 a.m. at the same location as the Children’s Challenge.

Last year’s Mud Challenge included a 16-by- 100 foot long 4 foot deep pit filled with water. Participants had to negotiate 16 logs that were laid across the mud pit which contained 60,000 gallons of water, according to retired Gunnery Sgt. James Meek, last year’s event coordinator.

Teams will consist of four individuals. All team members must complete all 17 obstacles and cross the finish line together. Participants are encouraged to wear pants with draw strings. Pockets will fill up with mud during the challenge and pants or shorts will come off. Bring a change of clothes for the trip home.

There are five team categories: male, female, coed, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and para- military [military, firefighters, police and security]. Competitors must be 13 or older to participate.

All race participants will receive an event T-shirt. The top three teams will receive individual awards. First place team members for each category will receive a $50 gift card.

The top three JROTC Training Corps and paramilitary teams will be awarded team trophies. Paramilitary team members must run in boots and uniform trousers.

Proceeds from the challenges will be used for Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs at Fort Gordon which enhance the quality of life for the military community by providing Family services, recreational facilities and entertainment.

Registration forms are available at the Marketing Office of the Fort Gordon Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Office in Room 337 at Darling Hall, the Post Exchange, and Gyms 3, 5, 6 as well as the Fort Gordon Fitness Center on Barnes Avenue.

Participants can also pick up forms at the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment, Building 25707, on Fort Gordon, the local Omni Gym or the Family Y located on Wheeler Road in Augusta, according to Gunnery Sgt. Jared Bean, this year’s coordinator for the event.

April 2011 Housing Scorecard

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury today released the April edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Officials caution that the latest housing figures underscore fragility in the housing market and highlight the importance of the Administration’s foreclosure-prevention programs, which continue to help tens of thousands of struggling homeowners each month and play a critical role in setting standards for the mortgage industry.

“The housing data in this month’s Scorecard offer continued mixed signals and some signs of weakness in the market – despite growing evidence of progress in the broader economy,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “The Administration has been consistently committed to helping American homeowners and borrowers who have been hit hard by the economic recession and housing crisis, and our efforts have helped millions to avoid foreclosure and gain a more stable footing. That said, we still have more work to do to reach the many households who still face trouble.”

“The numbers of homeowners both entering HAMP and converting from trial to permanent modifications each month are a powerful reminder of the role this program is playing in delivering much-needed assistance to families facing a housing market that is still very tough,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “And by providing modifications that are sustainable for homeowners over time, HAMP is setting standards for the industry that ultimately mean more options for more families to avoid foreclosure.”

The March Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market and the reach of the Administration’s foreclosure prevention programs, including:

  • The Administration’s efforts have helped millions of families deal with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. More than 4.5 million modification arrangements were started between April 2009 and the end of March 2011 – including more than 1.5 million trial modification starts through the Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), more than 808,000 FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and nearly 2.2 million proprietary modifications under HOPE Now. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the total number of agreements offered more than doubled the number of foreclosure completions for the same period (1.9 million).
  • Tens of thousands of new homeowners continue to receive real payment relief from HAMP every month – and are able to keep up those arrangements over time. In March, servicers reported more than 36,000 trial HAMP modifications and more than 36,000 permanent modifications with a median payment reduction of 37 percent – or over $500 every month. Since the start of the program, more than 670,000 homeowners have received a permanent HAMP modification, saving approximately $5.9 billion. More than 1.5 million homeowners have started a trial modification. With more than 84 percent of homeowners in their permanent HAMP modification after one year, HAMP modifications continue to perform well over time and are proving more sustainable for homeowners than traditional industry modifications. View the March HAMP Servicer Performance Report.