Editor’s Letter Spring 2018
Ecclesiastes 11:4: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.”
A Time to Plant and a Time to Harvest
Welcome to the fifth issue of South Georgia Business + Culture Magazine. Two years ago, when I was developing the concept for this magazine, I traveled to different communities in South Georgia. I found people eager to talk about what was happening in their community; however, while there was a sense of excitement and pride, many people expressed a concern that no one was listening.
During a discussion with an economic development executive, he said, “South Georgia used to be called ‘the other Georgia’ and now we are just the ‘forgotten Georgia.’” His comment stayed with me. Are we the ‘forgotten Georgia’ or have we just remained silent because we think no one is listening?
Challenges are facing South Georgia, many of which are the same problems confronting rural communities across the U.S. From the financial struggles of rural hospitals to limited broadband service, the list of issues negatively impacting South Georgia’s ability to gain economic prominence may seem overwhelming, but there are solutions.
The struggles of rural Georgia have not gone unnoticed. Last year, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce established the Center for Rural Prosperity in Tifton. The center serves as a catalyst to improve economic issues in South Georgia. The Chamber also created a council that is working to identify unique challenges and define solutions that negatively impact rural communities. Council members are studying four key areas: rural incentives, defense communities, talent and leadership development, and homegrown entrepreneurship.
This year, rural Georgia received a boost from the General Assembly with the creation of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. Gov. Nathan Deal also appointed Amy Carter, former state representative, as the deputy commissioner for rural Georgia at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In the newly created position, Carter will lead state efforts to help rural areas gain a more competitive economic advantage and identify new strategies for attracting jobs and investments outside the metro Atlanta region.
Now is the time to plant new ideas; however, we must not become discouraged if it takes years to harvest positive results.
The law of planting and harvesting is not only an agricultural concept but an idea that can serve as a roadmap for economic growth.
It has been said, “The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” As business and community leaders, it is time to plant the seeds even if the growth takes years.
Editor’s Letter Winter 2017-18
“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” –Proverbs 4:13
Continuing to Tell South Georgia’s Story!
Welcome to the fourth issue of South Georgia Business + Culture Magazine. With each edition, the readership continues to grow. We also continue to receive positive comments on the importance of having a magazine that highlights South Georgia to a statewide audience.
I want to thank our advertisers; it is their support that makes the production and distribution of the magazine possible. We consider our advertisers “business partners,” as they are helping promote the economic impact of industry and businesses, agriculture, tourism, and workforce development found throughout South Georgia.
In this issue, the cover story is focused on the state’s dual enrollment program, which has provided more than 36,000 high school students with an opportunity to get a jump-start on college. We also showcase the success of Georgia Christian School in developing an annual benefit dinner that has become one of the region’s premier events.
Discover how Valdosta State University President Richard A. Carvajal has ignited the institution’s quest to become a catalyst for regional comprehensive progress. In similar fashion, Thomas University President James Andrew “Andy” Sheppard is continuing to transform the private university into an institution that attracts students from across Georgia and North Florida, as well as globally.
Georgia’s growing agritourism market is receiving some assistance thanks to the Georgia Grown Trails, which originated in South Georgia. Take a day drive or make a weekend trip traveling through Georgia’s country roads, with stops along the way featuring working farms; wine tasting; local markets selling homemade jams, jellies, and sauces; or enjoy a meal at a farm-to-table restaurant.
As the economic playing field becomes more competitive, local economic development teams are not only vying for new industries but also working to retain and expand existing businesses. During 2017, communities in South Georgia attracted new companies and assisted existing industries in their expansion efforts, which is producing hundreds of additional jobs in the region.
Meet Matt and Roxie Seale, owners of The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry in Ocilla who have made it their mission to become advocates for living in a small town. They have also created Southern Mercantile, an online store that shares Ocilla’s traditions and charm with others throughout the southeast, and eventually the country.
Maricela Mendoza, a high school student at Echols County High School, has a dream of one day becoming a book illustrator. In the past, the artistically gifted student has had to teach herself basic art techniques; however, thanks to Debi Davis with the Turner Center for the Arts, Maricela and other students at Echols County High School are receiving art education classes.
We want to hear from our readers. Do you have a suggestion for an interesting topic for a future issue? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected] or visiting our website at sgamag.com and share your ideas and thoughts.
South Georgia is a great place to live and work. I invite you to join us as we continue to tell our story!
Editor’s Letter Fall 2017
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18
It has been said that the only thing constant in life is change. One industry that is on a continual path of change is healthcare. As the debate continues at the federal level and within each state, one thing remains clear: There is no easy fix.
While there is no “one size fits all” solution, in this issue we look at what is being done, if even in a small way, to address healthcare concerns in South Georgia—partnerships to start and expand charitable clinics, community support to save a local hospital, expansion of technology to provide specialized medical care to underserved populations, tax credits that financially benefit rural hospitals, and an educational program that ensures there are future leaders within healthcare organizations.
Also in this issue, we are introducing two new sections: Milestones and Destination Downtown. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, when a company celebrates another year of operation and growth it is a worthy celebration. Reaching an anniversary milestone of 20, 25, 30, or more years is a tremendous accomplishment to the leadership and dedication of employees who have worked hard to foster this success. Congratulations to Hospice of South Georgia and TeamTemps for 30 years and Citizens Community Bank for 90 years of service.
Destination Downtown looks at those often overlooked areas that not only provide shopping and restaurants for residents and visitors but are also often the cultural hub for arts and entertainment. This issue showcases Hahira, located in Lowndes County, which is often associated with the annual Hahira Honey Bee Festival. Hahira has a renewed sense of pride as local merchants work with community leaders to create new festivals and attract more businesses to Hahira’s downtown.
As in each issue, we focus on the importance of building a strong workforce. South Georgia is fortunate to have Technical College System of Georgia institutions that serve as a pipeline in supplying highly trained workers in hundreds of career fields. The state’s HOPE Career Grant provides financial resources to students who choose to enroll in one of 12 industries where there are more jobs available than there are skilled workers to fill them.
In each issue of South Georgia Business + Culture, we try to find individuals and businesses that are making a difference. Often moving forward comes with obstacles: there are the naysayers who want to keep things as they are. I applaud those who are “agents of change,” and though they may stumble, they never give up.
George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, said, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
Through the pages of South Georgia Business + Culture Magazine, it is our focus to highlight those who are willing to embrace change and move their community in positive directions.
To our readers, we want to hear from you. Do you have a suggestion for a future article? Is there someone in your community that is making a positive impact? We want to tell the dynamic stories of growth and success in South Georgia. Go to our website at sgamag.com and share your ideas.
Let’s continue to tell South Georgia’s story!
Editor’s Letter Spring 2017
Creating an Awareness and Synergy about South Georgia
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” — Psalm 105:4
Welcome to the second issue of South Georgia Business + Culture, a magazine dedicated to creating an awareness and synergy about South Georgia—its businesses, people, and quality of life.
I want to thank our advertisers; it is their support that makes this magazine possible. When people read South Georgia Business + Culture Magazine, I want them to be amazed at what we have in South Georgia. The economic impact found throughout industry and business, agriculture, tourism, and workforce development, along with a rich cultural prominence, plays a tremendous role in making South Georgia a great place to live and work.
In this issue, the cover story is focused on agriculture, which is Georgia’s No. 1 industry. Agriculture impacts everyone from the cotton sheets on your bed, to the food you eat and the clothes you wear.
Creating a pipeline to educate Georgia’s future agricultural workforce is important in sustaining Georgia’s status as an agricultural leader. How do we build this workforce? Educational leaders believe that the first step is getting more middle and high school students interested in agricultural careers. The challenge is supplying schools with enough qualified agricultural teachers to meet current and future demands.
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) is stepping up to help in this effort. Last year, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved ABAC’s request to establish a Bachelor of Science in agricultural education.
Located in South Georgia, ABAC’s ability to graduate more agricultural education teachers will help the state add more programs at the middle and high school levels and place more graduates in the pipeline to fill future agricultural-related jobs.
Since 1941, Moody Air Force Base has been a vital member of the South Georgia community. Moody has a profound economic impact on the Valdosta-MSA, which includes Brooks, Echols, Lanier, and Lowndes counties. It was a group of community leaders that fought for Moody’s existence, and 50 years later it was the community that rallied to have Moody removed from the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list.
Today, community leaders continue to be united in their efforts to protect Moody, one of South Georgia’s largest economic assets.
With the successful completion of its first five-year strategic plan and the launch of a second plan, the Thomasville Center for the Arts (TCA) is having a positive impact on quality of life and commerce.
One of the most successful outcomes of the strategic plan has been the integration of the arts to spur economic growth in Thomasville’s downtown area.
In 2014, a charrette was held to develop plans for an area of downtown that would become known as the “Creative District.” Planning was a collaborative effort of the Thomasville Planning and Zoning Department, Thomasville Main Street and Tourism, Thomasville Landmarks, and TCA.
As you stroll through Thomasville’s downtown, it is apparent that the arts have become deeply infused into the business community. Outdoor concerts, performances, murals, and a host of new businesses—many are being opened by millennials moving to the area—are all part of the appeal that is pulling visitors from Tallahassee and throughout South Georgia to experience Thomasville’s artistic revitalization.
There is a lot to be proud of in South Georgia. Let’s celebrate our successes and work together to strengthen our future.
It’s time to tell South Georgia’s story!
Editor’s Letter Inaugural Issue (Oct. 2016)
The Journey Begins
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” –Psalm 37:3-4
In January, THBoyd Communications won the Southwest Georgia Bank Business Plan Competition. The business plan presentation was based on publishing the South Georgia Business + Culture
Magazine. This magazine would not be possible without the support of my partners at Southwest Georgia Bank, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center at Valdosta State University.
While developing the magazine I received a lot of advice and guidance from various business leaders, mentors, and friends. The greatest support I received was from my family; they were my cheerleaders and advocates throughout the past nine months as the magazine was brought to the point of publication.
For me, the most enjoyable part of creating a magazine is the amazing people I meet and the incredible stories I have had the opportunity to uncover in South Georgia.
In this first issue, you will read about Clinton and Jeana Beeland and the story of their partnership in building a successful chemical production and chemical packaging business in Lowndes County.
Wildcat, Bulldog, and Patriot, please meet Malcolm Mitchell. When I had the opportunity to interview Malcolm, I was impressed with his desire to help children find their passion for reading. As a young entrepreneur, he has created the Share the Magic Foundation that has already made it possible for thousands of young children in Georgia to enjoy a magical reading experience.
This first issue has articles highlighting agriculture, education, healthcare, manufacturing, the arts, and much more.
The editorial content of the magazine is focused on creating an awareness and synergy about South Georgia’s economic impact, business opportunities, entrepreneurship, and research, as well as the vibrant cultural growth in the region.
I want to especially thank the advertisers for supporting the production and distribution of the South Georgia Business + Culture Magazine. The magazine presents a regional message to a statewide audience. Complimentary copies of the magazine are distributed to business leaders, governmental representatives, and key influencers throughout Georgia.
Visit the magazine’s website at sgamag.com to read expanded coverage from this issue, along with the latest business and industry news, awards, and advice from guest bloggers.
Most importantly, we want to hear from our readers. Do you have a suggestion for an interesting topic for a future issue? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected]
South Georgia is a great place to live and work! I invite you to join us as we begin to tell our story!