In the front section of today's paper, you should (hopefully) find a story about American Drill Bushing's grand opening.

The manufacturer relocated to Valdosta from southern California in search of a friendlier business climate, and boy, did they find one here.

I love the story about Al Steele, the president and CEO of the company, and how he came to decide on Valdosta.

Two years ago, he and his wife, Liz, were driving north on I-75 from a vacation in Florida, stopped at a restaurant in town to eat, decided the city looked nice and drove around for a while. He ended up at City Hall and asked for the industrial development authority, and was promptly told the city didn't have one. Not one to give up, he was tenacious enough to finally end up at the RDC, where he says a very nice young lady got into her car, told him to follow her, and directed him to Ken Garren and the folks at the Industrial Authority office.

Garren recalls Mr. Steele walking into the office dressed very casually in shorts, telling him he wanted to move his business here, and requesting information. Never one to pass up an opportunity, "You never know who you're talking to," Garren gave him the information and continued to follow up with him--and the company is here two years later with dozens of jobs and an investment of more than $4 million.

Representatives from the city and county, along with the legislative delegation, were all on hand Friday to welcome the company--and city officals assured everyone that all employees at City Hall now know we have an industrial authority.

The motto of this is, you really don't ever know who you're talking to and the friendliness of the people the Steeles encountered just casually getting off the interstate contributed as much to this success story as the follow through by our elected and appointed officials. Niceness really does pay.

Business Roundup

Starting with Winn Dixie's announcement, Crackin' Good is up for sale and all we can hope for is a friendly buyer. No word yet on any store closings, but let's keep our fingers crossed that the area is spared.

Harveys has cleared the site for its new store on Bemiss Road, and before anyone gets too excited, no, I don't think their old location on Baytree is where an Olive Garden is going, but keep your fingers crossed that the property owners will find something good to take Harveys place.

The old El Toreo on N. Ashley fell to the bulldozer this week, and it's my understanding it is going to be a parking lot for the Guardian Bank next door.

A sign on the Remerton Grill says it's closed--no idea why--and am still waiting to hear from the nice folks at Loco's about their opening--and once again, no, it's not a Mexican restaurant.

My apologies to my friend Brian Sumner for misspelling his name last week. Brian recently opened his State Farm office in the Five Points shopping center, which is seeing some activity lately with the selling and pending renovation of the Five Points Liquor store by Mom and Dad's Massimo Pistelli and his partner, Ed Nargi.

And I understand a new ice cream place is coming to town by the mall, but would love more information about it and anything else that you know that I don't.

Celebrity Sighting

Interesting tidbit. I don't know how many of you watched Donald Trump's The Apprentice on TV recently, but for those who did, Troy McClain, the nice one from Idaho that got fired toward the end of the show's run, was supposedly in town this week and signing autographs over lunch one day at Lulu's restaurant downtown. I have no idea why he would be in Valdosta, but if anyone does know, please call me.

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