South Georgia: At the Global Table
Where’s the beef? The classic pop-culture phrase became famous in 1984 with a series of Wendy’s commercials. In a memorable comedic approach, Wendy’s threw shade at its competition—McDonald’s and Burger King—for the lack of meat and a mostly larger bun approach to selling hamburgers.
Fast forward nearly 40 years, and during 2020-2021, consumers were asking, “where’s the beef?” for a different reason. The empty grocery store shelves left consumers wondering, “Where’s the food?”
While national manufacturers scrambled to keep up with demand, more and more people turned to local sources for their food supply. For example, in the Spring 2021 issue of South Georgia Business Magazine, we featured Danforth Family Farms, a family-owned pork producer in Nashville, Berrien County, that transitioned to selling directly to the consumer when the pandemic closed national meat processing facilities.
In this issue, we showcase how Georgia, especially South Georgia, plays a big part in feeding people across the globe. Here in the Peach State, food and fiber production represents $13 billion annually and is the state’s leading manufacturing sector in terms of employment and gross state product.
South Georgia is creating the perfect spot for food and beverage companies to thrive. Smack in the middle of the state’s rich agricultural base, South Georgia has an abundance of natural resources—including sitting on top of the Florida Aquifer—and communities offer exceptional logistical infrastructure and a highly skilled and affordable workforce.
Discover how Alma, Bacon County attracted La Regina Atlantica, a U.S. subsidiary of an Italian producer of homemade pasta sauces La Regina di San Marzano. The company is investing $20 million on a new food processing facility, adding 250 employees to Bacon County’s existing food manufacturing base.
Opening in Valdosta, Lowndes County—and bringing 75 new jobs—is Bimbo QSR, a subsidiary of the Mexican multinational company Grupo Bimbo. The company is investing $25 million to upgrade an existing speculative building.
You can’t miss the 14-foot-tall Coca-Cola bottle on display at the new Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED sales and distribution center in Tifton along I-75. The $65 million facility, with more than 200 employees, opened in fall 2021
Remember when your parents told you to eat everything on your plate and not let your food go to waste? It’s estimated that about 30% of fruit and vegetable crops are considered “imperfect” and unable to be sold to supermarkets. This basically “discarded” food needs a place to go. So in Moultrie, Colquitt County, a $90 million agricultural processing facility will chop, can, and flash freeze the region’s “leftover” vegetables.
Part of Wiregrass Tech’s mission is to prepare students for the workforce through hands-on experience. It came as no surprise when Blue Triton, formerly Nestle Water, located in North Florida, sought assistance from a group of Wiregrass Tech mechatronics students to build a blow mold training device. As a result, the students constructed what is considered one of the nation’s first blow mold simulators.
Main Street America
Congratulations to Downtown Bainbridge for celebrating 30 years as an accredited Main Street America program.
In 2018, Bainbridge was selected as a Georgia Rural Zone, which provides qualified businesses and investors with tax credits for job creation and renovation efforts to existing downtown properties.
Even during the pandemic, Downtown Bainbridge experienced a growth surge, with 21 new businesses opening in 2021, creating 95 additional jobs. During the past three years (2019-2021), Downtown Bainbridge welcomed 39 new small businesses, creating 169 jobs.