Tutus and business suits intermingled Monday night as owners of two new car dealerships in Columbia County celebrated their grand opening with a special contribution to the local arts community.
Carlee Snyder, 14, a student at Evans High School, performs the piece Sylph, from the ballet Etudes, at the grand opening of the Gerald Jones Volkswagen-Audi dealership.
Photo by Kevin Martin
Gerald Jones Volkswagen-Audi is the first of several car franchises to open in the group's multimillion-dollar auto mall in the former Columbia Square shopping center on Flowing Wells Road.
Business partners Andy and David Jones joined representatives from the two automakers and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, which held its monthly evening networking event.
The speeches were interspersed with performances by local artists, including youth singers, ballet dancers and Stage III actors performing scenes from their recent production, Last of the Red Hot Lovers.
During the event, Gerald Jones Volkswagen-Audi officials announced that the local dealers would pledge $100 for every vehicle they sell during March to benefit the county's 350-seat performing arts center, which is being built as part of the new library in Evans.
The $8.5 million complex is funded through the county's collection of 1-cent sales tax funds, but chamber executive director Gordon Renshaw said that money from the private sector is being sought to pay to fill the new center, such as a piano, sound system, curtains and seating.
"That's something that's tremendously beneficial to a thriving and very talented arts community that the chamber certainly does want to support," Renshaw said about the Jones Group's contribution.
Both Volkswagen and Audi have offered to match the Jones Group's grant.
After the car franchises are joined by Gerald Jones Honda in another month and a Volvo-Subaru dealership by the end of the year, the auto mall investment is estimated to bring in $75-80 million of sales annually and contribute more than $1 million to Columbia County's sales tax base, said Andy Jones, president and CEO of Gerald Jones Volkswagen Inc.
The dealerships were on Gordon Highway in Augusta.
"We decided to venture out to this side over here because that's where most of our business was coming from," said David Jones, vice president of the company. "We feel like it's a great move for us."
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