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ATL Business Chronicle Maria Saporta

Column: Georgia nonprofit hopes to soak up revenues with ‘Chill Now Towel’

Ross Mason

Ross Mason

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Sept. 28, 2018

An innovative nonprofit – HINRI – is partnering with a private social enterprise to help generate revenue for its initiatives.

Private investors bought the intellectual property from Chill Now Towel, a Georgia company that was in bankruptcy. The towel has special oils that provide cooling for people engaged in sports or other activities without needing a source of water.

Ross Mason

Ross Mason

HINRI stands for High Impact Network of Responsible Innovators. HINRI and other Georgia investors purchased the company, and HINRI now owns 25 percent of Chill Now Towel. That means HINRI will receive 25 percent of its profits that it will be able to invest in its charities, including the Warrior Alliance and the Emancipation Project.

HINRI is a venture philanthropy that was created in 2004 by Ross Mason, who is still engaged with the nonprofit.

Earlier this year, Kelly McCutchen joined HINRI as executive director after serving as chairman of its board for eight years. Previously, McCutchen served as president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation until he stepped down at the end of December 2017.

Since acquiring Chill Now Towel, the owners have moved its manufacturing operations from Malaysia to Columbus, Ga.

Even Evander Holyfield has endorsed the towel and will be starring in some ads. The towel has just become available to buy on Amazon, and McCutchen is working to get it in stores.

Kelly McCutchen

Kelly McCutchen

“The whole idea of social enterprise is to build great enterprises and money away,” McCutchen said.

It is a joining together of two longtime friends.

“Ross Mason and I knew each other when we were at Georgia Tech,” McCutchen said. “He has an amazing ability to connect people together.”

Mason is an entrepreneur and angel investor who has been working on philanthropic causes for most of his career. He used to be actively involved in triathlons, cave and ice diving before an accident in 2007 left him paralyzed.

That further inspired Mason to work on solving the world’s most difficult health challenges through his venture philanthropy.

Gov. Deal’s swan song    

At his annual address to the Atlanta Press Club on Sept. 18, Gov. Nathan Deal actually choked up at three different moments during his talk – obviously feeling the weight of his legacy.

Deal, who will leave his second term as governor in January 2019, used his final gubernatorial talk to the Atlanta Press Club as an opportunity highlight his accomplishments while taking a few jabs at the journalists in the room.

When he took office in 2011, Georgia’s unemployment rate was 10.4 percent, a fact the press pointed out repeatedly.

Today, Georgia’s unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, and that is barely mentioned at all in the media, a frustrated Deal pointed out.

When he first took office, Georgia’s “rainy day” fund would only have covered about two days of the state’s operations. Because of the Great Recession, the state had dipped into its reserves to the tune of $1.4 billion. Deal proudly said the reserves are now at $2.5 billion, a fund that would cover about 40 days of the state’s operations.

Deal also touted Georgia’s success in attracting companies, corporate headquarters and 700,000 private sector jobs during his two terms as governor.

But what made Deal so emotional during his talk was when he talked about his success in criminal justice reform – the creation of accountability courts, reducing Georgia’s prison population and helping people transition from incarceration to employment.

Deal also lamented the “political fault lines” that have been created in recent years between the political parties. It used to be that Georgia was divided into metro Atlanta and the rest of the state. But now, the division is more red and blue.

“Today, I see much more opposition that takes a partisan tone,” Deal said. “That is unfortunate. We should all be focused on important issues that should guide our future and our children’s future.”

Lastly, Deal did offer an olive branch to the press.

“I hope you don’t mind me kidding you a little bit,” Deal said. “I appreciate your views, your opinion, and I’ve enjoyed serving as your governor. You have treated me fairly. That’s all I can ask of the press.”

Georgia Historical Society

Two well-known Atlanta business leaders have been selected as the 2019 trustees of the Georgia Historical Society – Frank Blake and John Schuerholz.

Blake is the retired chairman and CEO of the Home Depot; and Schuerholz is the vice chairman emeritus of the Atlanta Braves.

They will be inducted as the newest Georgia Trustees on Feb. 16, 2019, at the Trustees Gala in Savannah.

“Frank Blake and John Schuerholz reflect what is best in the original Georgia Trustees,” said Dr. W.Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “Their commitment to the common good and their insistence on putting others first are in keeping with the leadership of James Oglethorpe and the other visionary founders of Georgia. Through their character, modesty, and comportment, Frank and John are prime examples of everything a great leader should be.”

In conjunction with the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Historical Society reestablished the Georgia Trustees in 2009 as a way of recognizing Georgians whose accomplishments and community service reflect the highest ideals of the founding body of Trustees.

Girl Scouts Second Century luncheon

In its annual event to honor its top donors, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta held its Second Century luncheon at the Druid Hills Golf Club on Sept. 12.

The sold-out luncheon was hosted by Kathy Waller, the chief financial officer of the Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO). The luncheon brought together influential corporate, social and philanthropic leaders, including top donors to the Girl Scouts.

Guests had the opportunity to experience a special Girl Scout moderated panel featuring three Atlanta women leaders in the business and entertainment sectors.

The panel was moderated by 11- year old Girl Scout Cadette Temple Leigh Lester of Troop #18575 and it included Grammy award – winning writer and singer Keri Hilson, Emmy award -winning journalist Jovita Moore, and Ann Cramer, a senior civic consultant.

“The Girls Scouts is about empowering girls from all backgrounds and building them into women who can influence their communities to change the world,” Moore said. “I’m happy to help support programs that maintain these efforts as part of its’ mission.”

In addition, there was a special joint welcome from Amy Dosik, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, and Charity Joy Harrison, a Girl Scout Brownie whose cookie sales video went viral and landed her in the national news.

Support from Second Century Circle members has contributed to outreach and financial assistance to more than 10,000 at-risk girls in Greater Atlanta, training for 17,000 adult volunteers, and scholarships for Gold Award Girl Scouts, who earned their recognition.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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