Members of the business community and civic leaders gathered on Dec. 20 to pay tribute to Betty Morgan, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Business Development, who will retire at the end of the year.
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson presented Morgan with a proclamation “encouraging all citizens and businesses to express their congratulations and gratitude for her service and years of dedication to this community.”
For nearly 15 years, Morgan has been part of the Chamber, working in various positions, including membership and marketing, and leading the efforts of the SEEDS Business Resource Center.
Often described as a “virtual incubator,” the SEEDS Center was started in 2004 to provide free assistance to new and expanding businesses in Lowndes County and regional partnering counties.
“The SEEDS Center specializes in customized research and data,” Morgan said. “We provide up-to-date information for aspiring entrepreneurs, startups, existing businesses, and individuals searching for custom market data, industry profiles, demographic reports, competitor information, targeted sales leads, and much more.”
Since its start nearly 20 years ago, the SEEDS Center has assisted 8,172 clients, distributed almost 2,500 “How to Start a Business” guides, produced over 2,500 industry and graphic reports, and created 1,700 sales leads for small business owners.
Morgan said entrepreneurship can be rewarding, but it’s not always glamorous, and the first step is having an innovative idea.
“Not all ideas are a good fit,” said Morgan. “Almost every business owner I talk to is good at making their product or offering a service. Where they have trouble is when it comes to the management side, like hiring employees or maintaining the financials.”
Beyond working with startup businesses, the SEEDS Center helps existing business owners expand their operations.
“If you want to move your business or open another location, we can run traffic reports and show where the hot spots are,” she said. “Or maybe they don’t know about SEO [search engine optimization] and the importance on a website. I connect clients to people who can help.”
Morgan recently established the Chamber’s Sprouts Program, designed for aspiring young entrepreneurs between the ages of 9 and 17, which offers a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed in business.
In addition to the SEEDS Center, Morgan dedicated her leadership skills to the success of the Chamber’s annual Business Outlook Breakfast, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2024 and continues to provide business leaders with valuable economic insight into the local, state, and federal economic outlook.
She also played an instrumental part in the success of the Chamber’s Business University, which has hosted 220 workshops since its start in 2010, and quarterly Women of the Chamber events.
An entrepreneur in her own right, Morgan has successfully combined her sewing talents and entrepreneurial spirit for several years as the owner of Sew Betty Sue, a one-of-a-kind shop that specializes in embroidery and uniquely designed clothing and decorative items.
While Morgan’s retirement signifies the pinnacle of a rewarding career, she plans to stay involved in the business community, including serving as a SCORE mentor and volunteer, a nonprofit organization that provides free consultation services and advice to entrepreneurs.