Hope you enjoy this week's Halloween issue. Truthfully, we didn't plan a special issue at all, but when we noticed how much spooky cool content we had, we just couldn't resist.
You say Halloween is actually two weeks from now? True, but that's also when we're wall-to-wall with the Savannah Film Festival. So for us Halloween comes early this year!
One a distinctly unspooky note, one of the coolest things happening this week is Thursday's Innovation Awards, the second annual edition of the event hosted by The Creative Coast Alliance (TCCa) at the Trustees Theatre downtown.
This group, whose mission is to bring knowledge-based businesses to the Savannah area, is building on the success of last year's inaugural awards ceremony - which was also memorable for taking place during one of the most violent rainstorms in recent memory.
"It was a little traumatic, but it was a great bonding experience," laughs Fitz Haile, marketing director for TCCa. "We were thrilled and impressed and honored at some level that so many people came out in that torrential downpour."
This year continues with the same geeky awards show/street party vibe - except hopefully minus the heavy rain - which Haile promises will include "an eclectic and diverse group of people, from bank presidents to sustainability folks to the tech community."
In another of the quirky, creative hallmarks of the event - made possible by Lott + Barber - the actual Innovation Awards themselves are made from automotive parts recycled by local firm Newell Recycling and crafted by Port City Metals.
Finalists this year represent a refreshing and diverse range of local companies. Here they are, beginning with the Small Business category:
• Music Intelligence Solutions for uplaya.com, a music industry-focused website.
• PureSpectrum for dimmable ballasts for compact fluorescent lights.
• Say It Right for The Entire World of R, a product which helps those with a common speech impediment.
Big business category:
• Coastal Logistics for internal software development and IT strategy.
• Chatham Steel Corp. for its "Steel Fit" employee wellness program.
• DIRTT Environmental Solutions for its customizable office walls.
Community, education, and government category:
• Community Health Mission for its "Nobody is Left Behind" outreach program for the underserved.
• Healthy Savannah for its Healthy Savannah Initiative to support healthier local lifestyles.
• Savannah Music Festival for its extensive, groundbreaking website upgrade.
• Refuel Savannah for its locally Waste Vegetable Oil business operation.
• Structured Green for its eco-friendly product line and process.
• IKEA Savannah for its pallet-free racking.
Why is a global firm like IKEA represented in a local awards show? Haile explains:
"The local office of IKEA spurred this. That was the deciding factor of their finalist status. They happen to be a global company that had a local innovation," he says.
Haile - who isn't an awards judge, that's up to an independent panel of eight - mentioned a couple of other finalists as examples of how intriguing the awards process is.
"What Music Intelligence Solutions is doing is really neat, and seems to be getting lot of national traction," he says. "I also thought the Chatham Steel thing was really cool. That's a kind of company-wide policy implementation that positively impacts actual employees involved - and frankly, really helps Chatham Steel's bottom line."
Haile says TCCa has evolved its vision of what constitutes a knowledge-based economy as the economy at large has continued to mainstream innovations in sustainability and information technology.
"We had some back-and-forth a while back about the ‘creative class' idea. When the Richard Florida thing got in the public eye, the ‘creative class' was the closest name people had for what we were trying to do," Haile says.
"It was basically talking about a young professional sophisticated class, but that's not always indicative of what's happening locally. Local people like AWOL (All Walks of Life) may not have gone to an Ivy League school, but they're having a positive impact locally in terms of spurring creative thought."
To attend this year's TCCa Innovation Awards - the proceeds from which benefit the group and its efforts to bring creative businesses here - go to thecreativecoast.org.
The cost of admission include an open organic bar and organic eats catered by Cha Bella's catering biz, Earth to Table.
And check connectsavannah.com later in the week to see who won!