The leadership of Valdosta and Lowndes County recently announced the official launch of the One Valdosta-Lowndes (OVL) initiative. With a community-wide focus, the OVL is a joint endeavor of key strategic partners, including the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, the City of Valdosta, Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority, Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, Valdosta State University, the Georgia Power Company, and South Georgia Medical Center.
Housed operationally within the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, OVL will serve as a catalyst for growth and change by uniting business and industry, the faith-based community, and the nonprofit sector with public sector partners to facilitate positive development and economic growth in Lowndes County.
As OVL’s first director, Mary Beth Brownlee brings a wealth of experience in economic development and community collaborations. She recently worked with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and was executive director of the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation in Americus, Georgia. During her tenure at One Sumter, Brownlee helped raise $3.7 million in capital investments for the community.
With a passion for public service and helping communities find common ground, Brownlee says she is excited to lead the OVL initiative.
“One Valdosta-Lowndes has the potential and the expectation to be a game changer for Lowndes County,” Brownlee says. “As the much talked about ‘Capital of South Georgia,’ OVL can address those issues that are either no one person’s or entity’s responsibility or take on those challenges that are so important, so all-encompassing, that it is everybody’s issue, but because of that, very few know how to step up or take that on in a way that truly engages the entire community.”
She says her experience with ACCG and One Sumter provides a perspective to appreciate “true grassroots enthusiasm and understanding of how essential it is toward creating real change.”
“The most successful communities in Georgia and across the United States have one major quality in common: collaboration,” says Christie Moore, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber president and CEO. “One Valdosta-Lowndes is committed to working collaboratively with partners across our community to ensure economic opportunities and an enjoyable quality of life for all. The Chamber is honored to house OVL and provide the necessary staff and operational support to ensure the initiative is successful. We are thrilled to see OVL launched and excited to see what the future holds.”
As a founding partner of OVL, Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority Chair Brad Folsom believes the OVL initiative will provide a collaborative framework and define strategies to enhance economic growth.
“The initiative will be part of a broad economic development strategy that offers a roadmap for achieving long-term prosperity,” he says. “Through collaborative efforts, there are many opportunities to unite the private and public sectors to develop projects that will positively transform our community.”
Another early investor in OVL, South Georgia Medical Center president and CEO Ronnie Dean, expressed his excitement about the initiative and the commitment it will take. “Everyone involved with the One Valdosta-Lowndes initiative has demonstrated the highest level of commitment to seeing our community grow and prosper. Without question, we are much stronger together as one.”
The OVL work is led by an advisory council comprising representatives from the founding partners and leaders across the community. The current OVL Advisory Council includes:
Johnny Ball, South Georgia Medical Center
Clinton Beeland, CJB Industries
Thressea Boyd, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce
Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Company
Dr. Richard Carvajal, Valdosta State University
Paige Dukes, Lowndes County
Mayor Scott James Matheson, City of Valdosta
George Page, Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority
Andrea Schruijer, Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority
**Christie Moore, president and CEO of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber, will provide general oversight and connection to the Chamber and its Board of Directors.
With Brownlee’s hiring and establishing the OVL Advisory County, priorities include identifying community priorities that demonstrate impact. Additional tasks include developing a campaign to raise funds to complete extensive and comprehensive community priorities.
Brownlee says that throughout the campaign’s rollout, OVL will engage in an intentional outreach effort to ensure all voices are represented in selecting priorities, and shared outcomes will shape Lowndes County well into the future.
For more information about One Valdosta-Lowndes and its initiatives or to contribute through volunteerism or financially, contact Mary Beth Brownlee at (229) 262-7543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.