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• Leadership col aboration

• High wage jobs


• Protect ing Moody

• Advocacy

Minding OUR Business

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1st America provides high quality patient care and equipment in the comfort of your home. Stop by today and experience our world class customer service with that hometown, personal feel!

Summer 2013 • vol 57 no 1







Letter from the Chairman


Centennial Tree Project

Growing a Stronger Economy & Higher Wage Jobs


Chamber Community Council


Business After Hours


Standing Strong for our Business Community


Leading Business


Engaging and Empowering Young Professionals


Chamber Choice Awards


Annual Membership Meeting

Creating a Culture of Collaboration



Taking Care of Business


Right Start


Promoting, Serving & Supporting OUR Members


Health and Medical Guide


Marketing Strategies for YOUR Business


A New Media Landscape Brings New Challenges & Opportunities


Chairman’s Circle


Executive Level Members


The Chamber’s IMPACT 2012 Business Action Plan guided programs and activities from 2008-12. With that highly successful program completed, the Chamber Board is now making progress on a new long-range strategic plan. Chairman of the Board Jay Prince (Prince Automotive) will lead the effort, with expert assistance from Fowler & Company, which specializes in value-driven business planning. Cover photo by | summer 2013 | 3

2013 Board of Directors

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CHAIRMAN Jay Prince Prince Automotive of Valdosta, Inc. CHAIRMAN-ELECT 2014/VICE CHAIR ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE DIVISION Carlton Holley Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey, PC CHAIRMAN-ELECT 2015/ TREASURER James McGahee, Retired SGMC CEO VICE CHAIR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIVISION Bill Simmons Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) VICE CHAIR, WORKFORCE DEVELEPMENT & EDUCATION DIVISION Tom Carroll, Sunset Farm Foods, Inc. VICE CHAIR, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION Mike Hill, Mike Hill Real Estate VICE CHAIR, PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIVISION Michael Lee, Ameris Bank VICE CHAIR, MEMBER SERVICES DIVISION Megan Smith, Associate Member VICE CHAIR, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIVISION Sue Cox, Covington’s and 306 North IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN Tim Jones, Citizens Community Bank PRESIDENT Myrna Ballard, Chamber of Commerce CHAIRMAN’S CHOICE Kevin McCraney, Georgia Power Compan Jeff Fulp, ERCO Worldwide, Inc. Clinton Beeland, CJB Industries, Inc. Baha Zeidan, Azalea Health

CHAMBER STAFF Myrna Ballard, President Karil Brockington, Senior Director of Administration Mike Stalvey, Senior Director of Operations Betty Morgan, Vice President of Membership Patty Martin, Administrative Coordinator Wanda Stanley, Director of Communications Varian Brown, Director of Economic Development Morgan Jones, Membership Development Specialist Heather Teter, Director of Marketing & Government Affairs

Chamber Members,


s you read this issue of Progress magazine, I think you will agree with me that we can be proud of our Chamber. I hope you will see how the return on your membership investment is multiplied based upon the accomplishments and successes we have achieved over the years. This edition of Progress will provide insight into how our Chamber works towards the achievement of the following goals:

v To promote and support its members

v To grow a stronger economy

v To stand up for our business community

v To engage young professionals

v To take care of business

At nearly 1,500 members strong, our Chamber will continue to serve its membership by focusing on issues affecting the business community. Our programs couldn’t be implemented without the support of a dedicated Chamber staff, Chamber Board of Directors, Chamber Community Council, Chamber Ambassadors, and countless committee members. On behalf of all of these individuals, we thank you for your membership and wish you and your business continued success.

Sincerely, Jay Prince

Prince Automotive Group

This issue of Progress will help readers see that the ValdostaLowndes Chamber has a long history of… … Leveraging the talents and resources of our members to improve economic opportunities for all. … Creating a climate of growth and community success by advocating for the best interest of business. … Connecting our members so that together we make an impact on our community. … Focusing on the top business priorities in our community. Our Chamber truly is composed of leading businesses, who are leading our community. We hope you enjoy the “new and improved” Progress magazine!

Current Tree Sponsors: w 2012 Chamber Board of Directors & Staff In Honor of Myrna Ballard w Alvin Payton, Jr. In Honor of Alvin Payton, Sr. w Amy Alexander Carter In Honor of the Alexanders, Carters and Boatenreiters w Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts In Honor of Cheryl Oliver w Anonymous Donor In Honor of Don Penny • In Honor of Carla Penny w Astro Exterminating In Memory of Lamar and Margaret Culbreth w Azalea Health w Blanton & Griffin Insurance Agency (4) In Memory of Louie S. Blanton In Honor of James B. McAllister In Honor of J. Edwards Willis In Honor of Archie L. Griffin w Bush Wealth Management In Memory of Dr.Thomas Smoot w Chet and Myrna Ballard (2) In Honor of Fred DeLoach, Jr. • In Honor of Joe Cordova w Citizens Community Bank In Honor of D.K. Hollis, Jr. • In Honor of Tim Jones w CJB Industries (2) In Memory of Brian Reagan In Appreciation of CJB Industries Employees w Classic Art & Frame Co. In Memory of Gil Harbin w Clinton & Jeana Beeland In Honor of Jean and Curtis Fowler w Coleman Talley, LLP (2) In Memory of Henry Turner Brice, Jr. In Memory of B. Lamar Tillman w Commercial Banking Company w David & Sharon Waller In Memory of Coach Nick Hyder w DuPont Crop Protection (4) w Dutton M. Miller, Sr. In Memory of Willis L. Miller, Jr. w ERCO Worldwide w Express Employment Professionals w First State Bank & Trust w Georgia Power Company (20) w Guardian Bank In Memory of Mr. Don Schutt w Henderson & Godbee, LLP (2) In Honor of Gerald Henderson In Honor of Wendell Godbee w Heritage Bank of the South w James McGahee w Joan Wilkinson In Memory of Anthonee C.D. Wilkinson w Lynn Conrad Marvet In Honor of Kevin and Delthia Conrad w Medicare Supplement Insurance Services Inc. In Honor of Charles and Martha Carter w Prince Automotive In Honor of John B. Prince, III w Southeastern Federal Credit Union w Southwest Georgia Bank w State Senator Tim Golden w Sunset Farm Foods w Tim Harris In Honor of Owen & Nelda Harris w Tim Jones In Honor of Bobbie Jones w Tyson and Mary Sue McLane In Honor of Mary Zipperer • In Memory of Kyle Zipperer w Valdosta Insurance In Honor of Walton T. Carter, Jr. w Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber In Honor of Centennial Committee and Major Sponsors w Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber In Memory of Harley Langdale, Jr. w Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority w Valdosta Tree Commissions (4) w William P. Langdale, Jr. In Memory of William P. Langdale

Centennial Tree Project

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Valdosta - you can make an impact in our community by taking part in the Chamber’s Centennial Tree Project. Symbolic of a growing, healthy, progressive business community, sponsor a tree for $500 and encourage others to join the effort! Honor or memorialize a leader in your business, or person of note in Valdosta’s history, a mentor, friend, or loved one...below are some of our Tree Sponsors.



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7 8 1. David Waller (Waller Heating & Air); 2. Andrea Schraijer & Roy Copeland (ValdostaLowndes Industrial Authority); 3. Joan Wilkinson (Mobile Notary Services); 4. Terri Lupo & Kevin McCraney (Georgia Power Co.); 5. Stacy Bush & Greg Bright (Bush Wealth Management); 6. Gail & Walter Hobgood (Express Employment); 7. Jeff Hanson, Jud Moritz & Stan Fillion (Southwest Georgia Bank); 8. Ed Hutchinson, Will Kemp & Terry Bennett (Heritage Bank of the South) | summer 2013 | 5

Creating a Culture of Collaboration


he Chamber Board of Directors includes some of our community’s top business leaders. Nominated by Chamber members and elected by the membership to 3-year terms of office, the Board includes 12 elected members plus the Immediate Past Chairman, Chairman’s Choice member selected by the Chairman, and the Chamber President. Together, the Board works as a team to build a dynamic economy with a pro-business approach.

The Chamber convenes about 70 top business, government and education leaders quartely to provide opportunities for communication. Our goal is to create a culture of collaboration and cooperation throughout our community.

- Jay Prince (Prince Automotive) 2013 Chairman of the Board


Jay Prince, Vice President (Prince Automotive Group) Other community involvement: •Board of Directors of First State Bank and Trust • Georgia Automobile Dealers Association • Former member of Azalea City Kiwanis Club and Greater Valdosta United Way Board Most important Chamber initiative: I think that our Chamber is always evolving and adapts to timely events so the most important initiative today might not be the most important tomorrow. If I had to select just one, I would say that the Public Affairs Division including the work of the Government Affairs Council and South Georgia Military Affairs Council is so important to our community. Our local, state, and federal elected officials listen to our Chamber and the issues of our membership. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “The Chamber represents the business community and what better way to give back than by helping our local businesses grow and prosper. I believe that what is good for business is good for our community.”


Carl Holley, Principal (Fowler, Holley, Rambo and Stalvey) Other community involvement: • Chair of Administrative Council of Park Avenue UMC • Vice President of the Valdosta Bulldog Club • Former chairman of Valdosta-Lowndes Conference Center & Tourism Authority & VSU Foundation Most important Chamber initiative: Small business development and support Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I strongly support the Chamber’s efforts to be the voice of business in Valdosta and feel I can help enhance and support this effort. I feel that the Chamber is uniquely suited for business support and development. I enjoy participating in the organization’s efforts to promote small business growth in our community.” 6 | summer 2013 |

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

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CHAIRMAN-ELECT 2015 and TREASURER James McGahee, Retired CEO (South Georgia Medical Center)

Other community involvement: • VSU Langdale Business College Board of Directors • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Board of Directors • Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals • Miracle League Board of Directors Most important Chamber initiative: Workforce Development & Education Division. The focus on education in the future needs to be on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Our young people will be competing on a global basis for the jobs in these fields. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I chose to serve on the Chamber Board because I think the mission of the Chamber is very beneficial to economic development and job creation in our community.The Chamber assists entrepreneurs in starting their companies, it lobbies for fair and equitable laws and regulations that affect businesses, it supports any and all education that creates a better educated workforce, and it partners with other organizations to make South Georgia an attractive place to live, work and play. My goal and that of the Chamber is essentially the same: We want to make a difference for everyone in our community. We think education and economic development do that better than anything else.”

VICE CHAIRMAN, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Bill Simmons, Plant Manager (Archer Daniels Midland)

Other community involvement: • CrossPointe Church •Lowndes Youth Leadership League Most important Chamber initiative: Workforce development — An educated workforce is critical to the success of any business and community. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I strongly believe in the mission of the Chamber and I was honored when asked to serve on the Board of Directors. Serving on the Board allows me to take an active role in helping achieve the goals of our community.”


Tom Carroll, Owner (Sunset Farm Foods) Other community involvement: • Christ Episcopal Church • Toastmasters • Lowndes County Partnership for Health • South Georgia Employer Committee

RON ZACCARI Guardian Bank


have lived in Valdosta for 12 years and like many others, elected to remain in our community upon retirement. There is much to be optimistic about with great potential and an abundance of intelligent and creative people. YES, we have challenges that require change - all cities do. Managing change causes leaders to ask: Is it safe? Is it politically correct? Is it popular? But the impact question asks, is it the right thing to do? I remain deeply optimistic and committed to the principle that harnessing Valdosta’s creative and intellectual capacity into a CONNECTIVE force should be the baseline of distinctive planning and related actions. The connectivity I refer to brings to focus the theme of “building a culture of collaboration among an inclusive group of community leaders”; thereby tapping the vast resources and coalescing the resulting energy into understanding how today’s challenges will affect tomorrow’s plans. Notice I stated inclusive not exclusive. YES, there are challenges, but there is a creative and intelligent way forward. Let the journey begin!

Most important Chamber initiative: My favorite is the Chamber Choice Awards where we get to celebrate the best Chamber members and what they have accomplished. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I joined the Board in order to participate in the good work that the Chamber accomplishes for the business community and for Lowndes County. With initiatives ranging from the military to workforce education to public affairs and community development, the Chamber really impacts our area.” | summer 2013 | 7

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

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VICE CHAIRMAN OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Mike Hill, Owner (Mike Hill Real Estate) Other community involvement: • Multiple terms on Lowndes County Board of Tax Equalization • Valdosta-Lowndes Zoning Board of Appeals • One of three elected County Assessors Most important Chamber initiative: Efforts to improve education in our schools as it relates to our local workforce to the point that Valdosta becomes more competitive in attracting new companies and industries. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “As a business owner and Chamber member since 1983, I’ve long recognized how much Chamber actions benefit our city and business climate, so if the Chamber thought I could help I’d do it. That’s given me insight into a level of Chamber energy, professionalism and accomplishments I hadn’t been fully aware of.”


Michael Lee, President (Ameris Bank) Other community involvement: • Greater Valdosta United Way – Treasurer • South Georgia Military Affairs Council • Azalea City Kiwanis Most important Chamber initiative: Currently, I believe the South Georgia Military Affairs Council represents the Chamber’s most important initiative because it is a regional initiative to support local military installations particularly Moody AFB. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I agreed to join the Chamber Board of Directors because the Chamber’s focus is the business community. The business climate is as challenging as it has ever been and the Chamber is an advocate seeking to aid businesses in their growth and development.”


Sue Cox, Owner (Covington’s Dining & Catering & 306 North Restaurant) Other community involvement: • Volunteer service at: VSU WGTC SGMC Turner Center for the Arts Most important Chamber initiative: SORT is an especially important Chamber initiative. I like that the Chamber tries keeping the community attractive for businesses to locate here. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I became a Board member to do my part. I do feel there are many programs available to help small businesses. I never knew how much effort it took to make Valdosta and Lowndes County a better place to live.”

8 | summer 2013 |

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

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Clinton Beeland, Owner (CJB Industries, Inc.) Other community involvement: • Member of Industry Services Advisory Board at Georgia Tech • Georgia Tech Alumni Association of Valdosta • Member of Workforce Investment Board (WIB) • Lean Consortium of South Georgia • Honorary Commander at Moody Air Force Base

• Leadership Georgia • Vestry Christ Church

Most important Chamber initiative: I believe MetroOne is very important to our community to help in the development and retention of our under-40 future leaders by providing a social and educational venue. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I joined the Chamber Board of Directors nearly three years ago to work together with community leaders to help to grow and improve Valdosta and Lowndes County. It provides a venue for discussion and action on opportunities and issues facing our community.”


Jeff Fulp, Plant Manager (ERCO Worldwide, Inc.) Other community involvement: • Community Partners In Education • Theatre Guild • VSU Athletics Most important Chamber initiative: Workforce development and education. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “One of the best ways we can demonstrate our commitment to this community is through the local Chamber and its many programs. Based on the incredible level of support our company has received from the Chamber over the past 17 years, my service on the Board is just one way to give back to the Chamber.”


Baha Zeidan, CEO (Azalea Health, Inc.) Other community involvement: • Leadership Lowndes • Valdosta Rotary Board Member • Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) • Technology Executives Roundtable (TER) • The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) • American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) • Wiregrass Georgia Tech Foundation South Board Member • Wiregrass Georgia Tech Advisor for the HIT Program Most important Chamber initiative: I believe the most important Chamber initiative is the Chamber Business Plan Competition. This competition has facilitated the accelerated launch and success of Azalea Health. The CBPC enables motivated professionals by giving them an initial monetary boost as well as continued support and guidance throughout their businesses’ development process. This is a great way for our community to support future start-ups. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “The Chamber has been a strong supporter of Azalea Health from the very beginning. Joining the Board of Directors was a small way for me to give back to the Chamber and to the local business community. The Chamber provides its members with countless opportunities to network with other business leaders throughout the community in order to learn from, support, and motivate one another.” | summer 2013 | 9

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

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Tim Jones, President (Citizens Community Bank) Other community involvement: • Wiregrass Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees • LAMP Foundation • American Heart Association Most important Chamber initiative: I am torn between Government Affairs and the SEEDS Center as my favorite. Both areas deal with directly helping local business succeed and helping local business issues get the proper attention from leadership all the way up the chain to the Nation’s Capitol. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I wanted to be involved at the Chamber Board level in order to have first-hand knowledge of what the Chamber does to promote and support local business and learn how I could contribute to our community’s success through its programs. I now look at our membership as an investment, and I expect a meaningful return on the bank’s investment each year. It’s a very worthy investment.”


Kevin McCraney, External Affairs Manager (Georgia Power Company) Other community involvement: • Valdosta Rotary Club Board of Directors • Leadership Lowndes 2012 • VSU Foundation Board of Trustees • WGTC Foundation Board of Trustees • Georgia Chamber of Commerce • Citizens of Georgia Power • South Georgia Military Affairs Council • Honorary Commander 74th Fighter Squadron Moody AFB Most important Chamber initiative: It’s hard to name one initiative because each has an input to the success of this Chamber. The Government Affairs Council is one of my favorites. This allows our members to bring their concerns with local, State and Federal legislative issues to the attention of our Chamber. The makeup of the Policy Committees on the GAC allows them to focus on the issues, develop a response, and communicate these issues to our legislators on a timely basis. Reason for joining Chamber Board: “I am excited about the opportunity to work with a progressive organization that understands how to retain, attract, and promote business in our area. The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber works hard to focus on the needs of its members and to be a resource for the community. I’m proud to be a part of this organization.”

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SOUTH GEORGIA TRAVEL 1300 Baytree Rd. • Valdosta

in South Georgia again in 2013!



10 | summer 2013 | • Follow us on Facebook!

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

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Chamber Community Council Connecting the Chamber to the entire community


he Chamber Community Council was created this year to play a liaison role for the Chamber in the community. While our elected Board of Directors is a working Board of 15, the Chamber Community Council will eventually grow into a group of 30 additional community and business leaders who will help our Board keep a finger on the pulse of many areas of community life. Members include those who have a long history of involvement with the Chamber, as well as those who have yet to make a connection with the Chamber. While a very diverse group, the individual members have at least one thing in common – all have great influence in our community and can help us serve Valdosta-Lowndes even better by becoming familiar with the Chamber’s initiatives and programs, keeping us connected to the entire community, and helping guide us as we plan for the future. (L-R Standing) Dan Hoffman (Young, Thagard, Hoffman, Smith & Lawrence, LLP); Ron Zaccari (Guardian Bank); Curt Fowler (Fowler & Company); Scott James (Talk 92.1); Bruce Allred (Smith Drug Company); Hugh Chancy (Chancy Drugs) (L-R Sitting) David Waller (Associate Member); Ron Borders (Real Living Realty Advisors); Lacie Guy (Valdosta Chiropractic & Rehab); Louis Levy (Associate Member)

Rewarding your success. When you achieve success, it’s nice when someone notices. We do, and we created the Preferred Account to show our appreciation. This account rewards you by combining balances on multiple accounts to lower or eliminate your overall banking costs. We reward your trust in us with exclusive features like: • Free wallet-style checks and unlimited check writing • 50% discount on designer checks and safe deposit box rentals • Free official checks and notary service • And so much more Experience the many benefits of relationship banking with the Preferred Account at First State Bank and Trust. 229-242-5725 All accounts subject to approval. First State Bank and Trust is a division of Synovus Bank. Synovus Bank, Member FDIC, is chartered in the state of Georgia and operates under multiple trade names across the southeast. Divisions of Synovus Bank are not separately FDIC-insured banks. The FDIC coverage extended to deposit customers is that of one insured bank. | summer 2013 | 11

Growing a Stronger Economy & Higher Wage Jobs


ur community had a wake-up call at this year’s Economic Summit. We have some work to do, as a community. The bad news is…we continue to rank 11th of 15 peer communities in the Southeastern U.S. on a dozen measures of community economic health. The good news is…our community has a plan to ‘build a new economy right here in South Georgia,’ as VSU President Bill McKinney has challenged us. The first step has been made. We have acknowledged that we must do better. The next step is to take full advantage of the window of opportunity now open to us to transform our economy into one with wonderful job opportunities not only for our high school graduates and college students, but also for our college and university graduates.

- Baha Zeidan (Azalea Health), Chamber Board Member

What the future holds... Business Outlook Breakfast


o make good business decisions, local leaders want expert opinions on the economic forecast for our area. Each year the Chamber brings recognized economists to meet with business and government leaders to share their thoughts on what the future holds. This year’s Business Outlook Breakfast in February was sponsored by Wiregrass Technical College, with more than 140 Chamber members in attendance at the Rainwater Conference Center. Dr. Tom Cunningham of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta provided a business outlook from the national and global perspectives. Dr. Jeffrey Humphreys of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business predicted a slow, but steady growth of the Georgia economy for the months ahead. Dr. Cynthia Tori, professor of economics at VSU shared her outlook for the local economy, focusing specifically on the positive economic impact of Moody Air Force Base. While we still face many obstacles from the aftermath of the 2008 recession, all three economists were optimistic about the growth and recovery of the economy from the local to the national and global levels. Georgia is faring about average on various measures of economic health.

12 | summer 2013 |

Growing a Stronger Economy & Higher Wage Jobs

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What the possibilities are... 2013 Economic Summit


any assume that our community’s top leaders have numerous opportunities to get together to discuss the future of our community. The fact is, without a specific effort to convene this group, it doesn’t happen. The Chamber established the annual Economic Summits in 2011 to ensure that it happens. The 2013 Economic Summit in April drew a diverse group of 100 community leaders and was sponsored by VSU’s Langdale College of Terry Bennett (HeritageBank) makes a Business, Chartwells and First Federal Savcomment at the Economic Summit. ings and Loan. The third edition of “Lowndes By The Numbers” was presented by VSU economist Dr. Attila Cseh, How do we measure up? comparing Lowndes County to peer communities in the Our peers in the Southeastern U.S. on a dozen measures of community ecoSoutheastern U.S. nomic health, such as education, poverty rate, Lowndes County by the Numbers 1. Bowling Green, KY private sector employ2013 Report ment and average weekly 2. Athens, GA wages. Lowndes County 3. Warner Robins, GA continues for the third 4. Clarksville, TN consecutive year to rank 5. Dothan, AL 11th of the 15 peer com6. Monroe, LA munities. Summit participants 7. Auburn, AL concluded that we have 8. Decatur, AL challenges to face as 9T. Hattiesburg, MS a community. Most 9T. Nashville, NC discussion centered 11T. Alexandria, LA on the need to retain more of our college and 11T. Rome, GA university graduates 11T. Valdosta, GA by growing jobs that 14. Florence, SC require a degree, and building a com15. Goldsboro, NC munity where young professionals want to live. How Do We Compare With Peer and

Aspirant Communities?

at Valdosta State University’s Business & Economic Research (CBER) This report was funded by the Center for Administration. Harley Langdale, Jr. College of Business

BILL McKINNEY Valdosta State University


uilding a knowledgebased economy requires a commitment to building relationships where none have existed previously. It requires a willingness on the part of universities, technical colleges, P-12 schools, business, and elected officials to work collaboratively. Valdosta State University is an active participant in the Association of American Colleges and University’s LEAP initiative. LEAP seeks to build tomorrow’s economy by making certain that every student receives the education that employers and innovative entrepreneurs need, while also educating the next generation of responsible citizens. In April of this year, VSU became the only public university in Georgia to sign the LEAP Employer-Educator compact - a commitment on the part of university and corporate CEO’s to build a strong economy and a well-educated citizenry through unique and innovative collaborations. VSU, Azalea Health, SGMC, and the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber are all signatories. Please join us. Together, we can build a new economy right here in South Georgia.

Want to know where Lowndes County’s median household income of $34,252 ranks among our peer communities? Visit the Economic Summit page on our website for this and other statistics from the “2013 Lowndes By The Numbers” report. Real-time economic data, reports and forecasts discussed at the Economic Summit can be found on VSU’s Center for Business and Economic Research website | summer 2013 | 13

Growing a Stronger Economy & Higher Wage Jobs

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Growing higher wage jobs, one winner at a time... Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce

Chamber Business Plan Competition


he Technology Association of Georgia’s 2013 State of the Industry Report revealed that technology jobs accounted for over 20% of all newly created jobs in the state over the past two years. Clearly, IT is a growing industry – and that’s promising news for i2o Technologies owner and 2012 Chamber Business Plan Competition winner, Donnee Upson. Upson has over 25 years of IT experience along with a host of notable accomplishments and certifications. Once responsible for maintaining computer and communication systems in part of President Reagan’s “STAR WARS” missile warning system, Upson currently owns and operates Valdosta’s first commercial data center. I2o Technologies prides itself on offering “big business technology on a small business budget.” Technology seekers can rely on this company for a number of needs including business VOIP, commerical data storage, information security, design and consulting. The Chamber created the Business Plan Competition in 2006 as a way of jumpstarting some of our community’s knowledge-based businesses that have potential to hire VSU and WGTC graduates. A cash prize plus thousands of dollars of in-kind services provide new entrepreneurs with a set-up for success in Metro Valdosta.



Business Plan Competition Winners: • SmithBarnas & Associates • Azalea Health • Innovate Engineering Solutions • Fowler & Company • i2o Technologies

Number of new jobs created:


Estimated annual payroll created:

i2o Technologies

$2 Million

Big Business Technology for a Small Business Budget

Donnee Upson, owner of I2o Technologies and winner of the 2012 Chamber Business Plan Competition 14 | summer 2013 |









The SGMC Diabetes Management Center offers a hospital-based, ADA-recognized, self-management education program using a team approach to provide diabetes education. Visit to learn more about our education program.

Ask your doctor to make an education referral to our center today!

VALDOSTA, GA ■ 229.249.4121


At HeritageBank of the South, we believe commitment to success requires a commitment to community. That’s what community banking is all about—serving the needs of our neighbors and friends—helping to build a strong community. That’s why we hire people like Will Kemp. A strong commercial banker and dedicated community leader, Will understands the needs of this community and is committed to its success. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Leadership Georgia, Graduate Leadership Lowndes, Alumni Azalea City Kiwanis Club, Member Boys and Girls Club of Valdosta, Board Member

NEW VALDOSTA OFFICE 3295 Inner Perimeter Road 229.293.8590 Equal Housing Lender | Member FDIC | summer 2013 | 15

Standing Strong for our Business Community

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he first chamber of commerce in the U.S. was established in New York City in 1768. Like all chambers, its primary goal was advocacy for the business community. According to Wikipedia, a chamber of commerce is ‘a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community.’ A chamber’s primary reason for existence is to stand up and stand strong for the business community it serves. Advocacy is part of a good chamber’s DNA, and it’s an essential part of our Chamber’s work, every day.

- Michael Lee (Ameris Bank), Chamber Board Member

Preparing for 2015 BRAC... South Georgia Military Affairs Council


South Georgia Military Affairs Council

South GeorGia Military affairS CounCil


hether or not Moody AFB is included in the list of potentially affected military bases in the 2015 Base Realignment and Closure process, area chambers of commerce understand that Moody – and the other military branches represented in our area – need the support of the business community. With a $450 million annual economic impact on our communities, the business community “gets it.” The three counties that border MAFB have created the South Georgia MAC, an alliance of the Berrien-Nashville Chamber, Lakeland-Lanier Chamber, and Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber.

Seated: Michael Lee (Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Co-Chair), Cindy Pullen (Lakeland-Lanier Chamber Co-Chair), John Gayle (Mayor of Valdosta), Nick Lacey (Berrien-Nashville Chamber Co-Chair). Standing: Marshall Conner (GMACC), Myrna Ballard (Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber), James McGahee (Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Board), Kevin McCraney (Georgia Power), Brian Geary (Ace Electric – GMACC), Crissy Staley (BerrienNashville Chamber), Catherine Welsh (Berrien County) and Bill Slaughter (Lowndes Co. Commission Chairman). 16 | summer 2013 |

Standing Strong for Our Business Community

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The South Georgia MAC is a regional initiative to support our local military installations. We stand ready to come alongside and offer support to the Governor’s Defense Initiative led by Allan Ricketts, the City/County effort led by General John Folkerts and the Moody Support Group led by Parker Greene as they prepare for a potential BRAC. Our role is a support role and in view of how vital Moody AFB is to our community we deem it to be a highly important role.” - Michael Lee, Valdosta-Lowndes Co-Chairman South Georgia Military Affairs Council

Moody folks’ willingness to volunteer in Lanier has made them a close, supportive neighbor. When the tornado hit Lakeland, Moody volunteers were spotted immediately checking for victims and were around for weeks afterwards, cleaning up and helping families get back on their feet. Col. Billie Thompson was the Grand Marshall in the 2012 Lakeland Christmas parade. Moody volunteers provided over 20 helpers for several weekends to put in the off-road bike trail in Lakeland. Just recently, a group of Moody motor bikers supported the fundraiser for Haven House that started and ended in Roquemore Park in Lakeland. Every semester, Moody provides volunteers to be on the interview panel for the Chamber Sponsored High School Mock Interview program for seniors. And finally every Leadership Lanier Class has been treated to extensive tours and presentations at Moody. These are only a sampling of the spirit of community and support that Moody provides in Lanier County for which we are proud and very grateful.”

- Cindy Pullen, Lakeland-Lanier Co-Chairman South Georgia Military Affairs Council

Moody AFB is a significant part of Berrien County, as Moody is to the other communities surrounding the base. In turn, Berrien County has been an important part of Moody for three to four generations. Some ‘old timers’ helped build ‘Moody Field.’ Others held civilian and contract jobs on Moody. While others, like me, were stationed at Moody and chose to live in South Georgia after our Air Force careers ended. Today, many active-duty Air Force members live in Berrien County. Their children attend our schools; their families attend our churches; and they seek goods and services in our businesses. Moody AFB is in our DNA!”

BRUCE ALLRED Smith Drug Company


s a relative newcomer to the South Georgia area I think I bring a fresh perspective to the attributes of Valdosta and Lowndes County. I have been very pleased with our local government and our Chamber for promoting and protecting the business interests of the area. I have been a member in the Chamber now for several years and am impressed by their legislative activity at local, state and national levels. After living in several states and municipalities I have rarely seen the time and effort put forth by this very dedicated group at our Chamber. Become involved with one of its committees. I believe not only will you discover that our Chamber is “standing up for business” but your leadership and ideas will make us better and stronger.

- Nick Lacey, Nashville-Berrien Co-Chairman South Georgia Military Affairs Council | summer 2013 | 17

Standing Strong for Our Business Community

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Looking Out for Moody AFB... Protecting the MAZ What is the most important thing our community can do to protect Moody AFB?


he message from top Air Force representatives at the Pentagon during the Chamber’s annual Washington, DC trip every year is this: Protect Moody’s air space. Lowndes County has been particularly pro-active by creating a special zone to prevent harmful encroachment into the Military Activity Zone. “The Chamber’s job is to be ever-vigilant in protecting Moody’s air space,” explained former Chamber Chairman of the Board Tim Jones. “With all land use issues, it’s a balance between the needs of property owners and the best interest of the community. At the end of the day, Moody’s continuation in our community is dependent on the Base’s flexibility to accommodate various missions. Protection of the Military Activity Zone is critical, and that is part of the Chamber’s responsibility.” While every elected official in our community also understands the importance of protecting the MAZ and Moody, our governing bodies are sometimes placed in a position of needing to make tough decisions, balancing the needs and rights of individuals against the community’s need to protect one of our community’s most valuable economic assets. This situation arose in late 2012, with a proposed residential development within the MAZ. In response, the Chamber notified our nearly 1,500 members, asking them to let our elected officials hear their thoughts. And our elected leaders listened. “The Chamber represents our members first, but also the entire business community,” said Jones. “Our local, state and federal elected officials understand that our mission is to protect the health of our community’s economy, and Moody AFB is an extremely important part of that. It’s our job to speak up on behalf of the business community, and to make certain our business voice is heard.” 18 | summer 2013 |

Standing Strong for Our Business Community

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Advocating for Pro-Business Initiatives... Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

Invest Georgia What do new businesses need in order to be successful? • Capital • Talent • A pro-business environment in which to operate “Invest Georgia” will address the capital issue by creating a $100 million fund to help capitalize some of Georgia’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and their new technology companies – entrepreneurs that are currently being lured away to Boston, Austin and other areas that have established venture capital funds to offer these high-wage companies as they begin to grow. Invest Georgia was championed by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and State Senator Tim Golden in the 2013 Legislative Session. “Georgia has lost at least 30 technology companies that our state helped incubate, only to lose them when they were ready to move to the second stage of their growth,” noted Lt. Governor Cagle during a visit to Valdosta in May. Cagle visited Azalea Health, the type of technology company Invest Georgia was created to assist, during his visit. Along with Golden, VSU President Bill McKinney, WGTC Interim President Shawn Utley and Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, Lt. Gov. Cagle was asked by the Chamber to meet with Azalea Health to discuss ways the state can assist communities like Metro Valdosta as they attempt to grow knowledge based businesses like Azalea Health. | summer 2013 | 19

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20 | summer 2013 |


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College Credit Now Programs at Wiregrass If you are the parent of a high school student, did you know that they can start earning college credit as early as16 years of age? Dual Enroll in college level classes at their high school offered by Wiregrass. Joint Enroll with Wiregrass by taking college level classes in the evenings, summer, or online. Choose the ACCEL program to gain college credits for classes taken in high school. Move on When Ready...jump start their college career now. With approval, your child can move on to college when you agree that they are ready. Contact your child’s high school counselor or a Wiregrass High School Services Coordinator to find out more.

A Unit of the Technical College System of Georgia. An Equal Opportunity Institution. | summer 2013 | 21

Engaging & Empowering Young Professionals


uch like a church, a community depends on its talents for growth and prosperity. As such, it is tremendously important that our community finds ways to retain our graduates in Metro Valdosta and ways to lure others here after completion of their college or university education. Finding a great job, a great community – hence a great quality of life, and a great boss, business mentor or coach are keys in a young person’s selection when starting a professional career. They want to learn, participate, develop, contribute and have a little fun along the way. We have to create the environment that allows that to happen.

- Clinton Beeland (CJB Industries, Inc.), Chairman Board Member

What are young professionals looking for? “An opportunity to network with and learn from others.” Leadership Unplugged By Jess Boyd, Harding University Intern


n keeping with their mission of empowering young professionals in Valdosta, MetroOne recently hosted networking opportunities with several of Valdosta’s top community leaders. The Leadership Unplugged series was held at laid-back locations in downtown Valdosta, such as 306 North, Bleu Café and Bleu Pub. Dr. Louis Levy (retired VSU), Clinton Beeland (CJB Industries, Inc), and Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, discussed their journeys to becoming successful professionals and gave advice on important leadership qualities. These events allow young professionals to interact, pose questions and learn from their community’s leaders.

Valdosta Mayor John Gayle at “Leadership Unplugged”

22 | summer 2013 |

“Recognition for going above and beyond.” 4 Under 40 By Jess Boyd, Harding University Intern


aldosta does not lack talented and ambitious young professionals. Out of 11 nominees, Emily Davenport, Sharah Denton, Dr. Lacie Guy and Morgan Plyler were announced as the winners at MetroOne’s 4 Under 40 Reception at Cotton Corner in May hosted by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and CJB Industries. The four were chosen based on professional accomplishments, experience, community involvement, leadership qualities and entrepreneurial spirit. In recognition of their contribution to our community and local economy, the Chamber will nominate these four young professionals for Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40. MetroOne asked the Columbus Chamber’s young professionals network to be this year’s selection committee. Davenport is the Stormwater Manager for the City of Valdosta. Her awards and accomplishments include Valdosta Junior Women’s Club Woman of the Year Nominee on behalf of Leadership Lowndes (2013), Leadership Lowndes Board of Trustees and Georgia Association of Water Professionals’ Outstanding Stormwater Management Program of the Year for a Phase II Community (2008).

Denton is the Community & Parent Relations Specialist for Brooks County Schools. Her awards and accomplishments include president and section founder for the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., executive board member at The Haven and Valdosta Woman of the Year (2012).

Guy is the owner of Valdosta Chiropractic & Rehab. Since 2011 she has served as district president of the Georgia Chiropractic Association. Guy also serves on the Leadership Lowndes Board of Trustees, the Chamber of Commerce Community Council and the Valdosta Rotary Club Board of Directors.

Plyler is an associate broker and Realtor at Exit In Touch Realty. She serves as the professional development chair for MetroOne and Community Service and Military Affairs Committee member for the Valdosta Board of Realtors.

LACIE GUY Valdosta Chiropratic Rehab


first opened my business in Valdosta at the age of 25 and was not sure of what to expect. The economy was in shambles, and it was certainly a scary endeavor to begin. One of my first actions as a young small business owner was to join our Chamber, which is ultimately one of the best decisions I have made. Joining this organization connected me to a phenomenal network of support that has undoubtedly been a strong reason for my success. While other communities may see youth as a weakness, I feel honored to live among people who go above and beyond to empower our young professionals with all the tools necessary to succeed. From MetroOne, to 4 Under 40 and Business After Hours, the outpour of support has been beyond incredible, and I cannot imagine a better place to both live and work.

MetroOne’s goal is to attract and retain young professionals to the Metro Valdosta area. The 4 Under 40 program recognizes and honors the achievements among young professionals in our community. Visit for more information. | summer 2013 | 23

Engaging & Empowering Young Professionals

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By Jess Boyd, Harding University Intern

“An opportunity to learn outside the classroom, and a great job!” The MetroOne Talent Connection


here is only so much information about a potential career field that students can learn sitting in a classroom. Experience is key. Because the current job market is extremely competitive, a college graduate with several internships on their resume is a step ahead of their competition. Internships benefit both the intern and the business or organization. Whether it’s a paid or unpaid internship, the intern gains valuable experience in the industry, while the business or organization can increase their productivity and also search for potential new employees. The most important outcome of internships is plugging the best and brightest students into potential jobs, especially in Metro Valdosta.

Jess Boyd (Chamber Communications Intern, Harding University)

Samantha Sanders (Chamber Public Relations Intern, VSU)

Von Kennedy (Chamber Media Intern, VSU)

Jess is a senior from Valdosta. She is studying at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., with a major in public relations. She will graduate in December 2013, after which she hopes to land a job working for a nonprofit.

Samantha is a 2012 graduate from Atlanta. After graduating with a degree in mass media from Valdosta State University, she has returned to the classroom for another degree and is majoring in public relations, with a minor in advertising and promotions.

Von is a senior graduating in December 2013 from Jonesboro. He is studying at Valdosta State University, with a major in journalism and a minor in history. He has worked as an assistant sports editor, features editor and multimedia editor for the Spectator newspaper at VSU.

After you receive your diploma, your performance will no longer be based on how well you answer a multiple choice test. Learning how to conduct yourself in a professional environment and networking during an internship is crucial to landing your first job.”


To complete a successful internship will not only give you a leg up on competition for a job but it will also cut down on the time an employer has to spend to train you for the job versus just letting you go out there and handle it on your own.”

o you want to connect with other successful young professionals in the Valdosta area? MetroOne hosts events such as lunch-and-learns, professional development seminars, CEOs Unplugged and networking events to bring together the best and brightest young talent in our community. MetroOne membership is open to anyone ages 21-40, regardless of Chamber membership. For more information on joining MetroOne and what they are doing to empower and engage young professionals, visit 24 | summer 2013 |

Working with professionals and seeing how they conduct themselves in the business environment is key to learning what you need to know when you get out of college.”

Fight back against tough Fight backtimes economic Fight back against tough Fight back against economic times The loss of a tough loved one is devastating enough against tough economic times economic times The loss of a loved one is

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Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo &Investment Company.and ©2010 Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.FDIC All rights reserved. 0312-2591 [74018-v3] A1287 Insurance Products: u NOT Insured u NO Bank Guarantee u MAY Lose Value Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. ©2010 Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved. 0312-2591 [74018-v3] A1287 Investment and Insurance Products: u NOT FDIC Insured

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Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. ©2010 Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved. 0312-2591 [74018-v3] A1287 | summer 2013 | 25

Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business written by Mike Hill

“ S

ometimes we need to look back at where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished to give us the confidence to move forward. The projects described in this section weren’t always easy, some were downright difficult. Some took years and a succession of board members and committee chairmen to accomplish. Through it all, the Chamber continuously provided continuity and follow-through to finish what the Chamber started. How does the Chamber identify which projects to tackle? Why does the Chamber take on long-term projects like those described in this section? That answer is simple: Their successful completion all contributed to improving the business climate for our community. Every one. They all made Valdosta/Lowndes County more attractive to the businesses, industries and companies we want to build, grow and attract. And it’s worked, but we’re not stopping, the Chamber always has several active projects underway. This is a 5-STAR Chamber and big for the population, but every organization can be bigger and better with more members. If you’re not a member, come on in, Valdosta/Lowndes County can use you.

- Mike Hill (Mike Hill Real Estate), Chamber Board Member

MOVE ATLANTA CLOSER -- PROJECT JET It’s 1975, and... THE CHALLENGE IS...Atlanta is two-plus hours away by aging prop planes, with intermediate stops in Moultrie and Columbus. The Chamber wanted ASA to replace those with modern, faster jets, but it took a lot of work. “Chamber Aviation and Transportation Committee chairman Ralph Lewis said an all-jet city is the goal his committee has been seeking for a number of years” (VDT) and they got it. Big money (for 1975) was spent extending runway length to 6,300 feet (now at 8,002 feet) to accommodate jets, reducing travel time to 57 minutes, with a 15-minute stopover in Albany. The Chamber wasn’t finished, though, and by early 1986, it was time for another push. “ASA was willing to try a Chamber request on a 6-month trial period using larger aircraft and lower fares,” noted the VDT. “Project Jet is off the ground” was the headline at mid-year. “The thrust of the project is to increase services offered by ASA at Valdosta Regional Airport,” said Richard Reissiger, now heading the Chamber’s Aviation and Transportation Committee, “and to possibly attract another airline with jet service to another hub.” And then by September, 1986 (VDT): “Chamber selects air service consulting firm to work with the Chamber to attract another airline and increase number of flights from Valdosta Regional Airport. Study to cost $32,000, plus an additional $20,000 for promotional purposes. City, County, Industrial 26 | summer 2013 |

Authority and State of Georgia (with State Senator Loyce Turner’s leadership) will provide public funding, and private businesses are providing support.” April, 1987, (VDT): “Chamber’s Project Jet asks airlines for larger carriers.”

July, 1987, (VDT): “ASA increases number of flights”. October, 1987, VDT Editorial: “Project Jet – the dedicated people who continue to work on this Chamber project have called attention to the needs of the area in air transportation and have been heard. We should remember that the Chamber got out front and stayed out front in an effort to improve our City, County and this area.”

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RON BORDERS Real Living Realty Advisors

February, 2003 (VDT): “Airport Authority Chairman Clarence Parker thanked the mayor, city council, county commission, Airport Authority and Chamber of Commerce for their assistance in getting ASA/DELTA to provide new CRJ jet aircraft in service in Valdosta.”

TRAPPED ON I-75 – Exit 13 is born It’s 1987 and… THE CHALLENGE IS...visitors were being trapped on

I-75, watching the airport and Azalea City Industrial Park slide on by. A new interchange “should provide for easier access,” said the VDT, when the Chamber took up the challenge. And challenge it was, since I-75 is a federal highway. The late Mac Tillman, chairman of the Chamber’s Transportation Committee that year, was optimistic. “It really looks good that it will be approved at the federal level,” Tillman told the VDT in 1989. “The state DOT approved the interchange last summer after a lot of study and also Sen. Sam Nunn has given the project his strong endorsement.” Even before Wild Adventures, Tillman said the project was important for economic development “because it services Azalea City Industrial Park and the Airport.” (Later, it would serve Azalea West Business Park, too.) From VDT: “The Traffic Safety Committee and the Operation Green Light subcommittee, headed by Richard Coleman, have worked on this long range project for several years.” In 1989 the VDT said, “While an interchange has been discussed for many years, it was (Mac) Tillman’s Traffic Safety Committee and the Operation Green Light subcommittee, headed by Richard Coleman, who forged ahead with the project two years ago. Tillman led a delegation to Washington, D.C. in April during the annual Chamber Washington trip where they convinced the DOT at the federal level to approve the project.”


hat’s a “good” Chamber of Commerce? A good chamber understands that its reason for existence is to take care of the health of its business community. If the business community is healthy and strong, it can create quality jobs with good wages and benefits, which is good for the entire community. Taking care of business is serious business, and it’s serious work. As you read the stories in this section of Progress, you’ll see that over the years, on some of our community’s most important economic and community development efforts, our Chamber “…. got out front and stayed there in an effort to improve our City, County and this area,” as the Valdosta Daily Times noted in a 1987 editorial about Project Jet. There is no other entity in our community whose constituency is the business community. Together, the nearly 1,500 voices of the Chamber have made a difference. It’s our job, as a great Chamber, to identify areas of our community that need improvement, and then to “get out front and stay there” to take care of business.

TODAY: Both industrial and business parks have benefited – and consider whether we would have Wild Adventures in Lowndes County, if not for Exit 13. | summer 2013 | 27

Taking Care of Business

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Need Help Paying Our Bills? It’s 1987 and….

THE CHALLENGE IS…allowing visitors to our cities and county to share city and county infrastructure expenses. OK, maybe that’s overly simplistic, but roads, bridges, water and sewer, the airport, fire trucks – all that money has to come from somewhere and in 1987, the counties surrounding Lowndes, travelers on I-75 and all other non-residents were invited to share the burden through the first SPLOST. Since then, five more successful SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) referendums have funded some of our community’s most important and impactful community improvement projects. The dollars collected through the tiny one cent sales tax increase has allowed our community to have one of the lowest property tax rates in the entire state (see figures below). The Chamber wholeheartedly endorsed, supported – and often led – the six successful SPLOST campaigns since 1987. The business community believes that sales taxes are the best way to finance needed and usually essential community improvements – especially since almost half of those pennies come from visitors passing through and shoppers from surrounding counties. When I get my property tax bill, I’m grateful to every one of ‘em, too.

What have our SPLOST dollars paid for?* Roads and bridges - $142 million

How do our property taxes compare? County 2012 Millage Rate Lowndes County* 7.310 Spalding County 15.010 Tift County 12.183 Bibb County 12.003 Dougherty County 11.894 Chatham County 11.109 Bulloch County 10.440 Houston County 9.950 Floyd County 8.767 Richmond County 8.085 Glynn County 5.673

Fire protection - $22.9 million

City 2012 Millage Rate

Valdosta* Brunswick Savannah Albany Warner Robins Macon Rome Griffin Augusta Tifton Statesboro

4.106 12.719 12.500 9.990 9.990 9.700 8.700 8.636 8.085 6.759 6.358

*Valdosta and Lowndes County’s property tax rates are among the lowest compared to similar-sized communities in Georgia.

Water & sewer - $86.2 million Valdosta Regional Airport terminal $1.2 million Judicial Complex $22.4 million Lowndes County Administration Building $6.7 million Public Works/Sanitation - $3.8 million Community Development- $7.5 million Parks & Recreation - $19.1 million Community Centers - $15.1 million Facility Improvements - $10.1 million Regional Crime Lab - $3.9 million

*Chamber estimates based on information from local governments

28 | summer 2013 |

Taking Care of Business

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The Conference Center is born It’s 1987 and…

THE CHALLENGE IS….the community needs a convention center.

January, 1987, from VDT: Lowndes County has grown by 22,000 people, since Mathis City Auditorium was built in 1964. (23 years ago then, now 49 years ago.) In the VDT, then Chamber Executive Director Johnny B. Lastinger said he “was convinced the City could use more auditorium space.” The statement was echoed by hotel manager Howard Tessin: “It would be good for all of us if the City built a new civic center.” October, 1990, from VDT: “After 2 years of research, the Chamber’s 30-member Convention Center Task Force submitted a 40-page summary detailing how such a facility would help position the City and County for growth.” Committee Chairman Tommy Hatcher said, “We looked at ideas on how it could be funded and how it could be operated. Our proposal places the convention center’s location off I-75 and Norman Drive.” January, 2000. Progress Magazine: “The first major meeting in the new Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center was the Chamber’s 88th Annual Membership Meeting, with 750 people in attendance.”

Hello? Hello? ARE WE CONNECTED It’s 1988 and….

THE CHALLENGE IS…calling Hahira is long distance! Call the sheriff’s office from Hahira? It’s long distance. Call your child’s high school teacher from Hahira? It’s long distance. Lake Park is farther from Valdosta than Hahira, but the perception is that Hahira is out of town because “it’s long distance,” even while being in the same county. From the VDT, October, 1988: “In response to what one Chamber leader called an unacceptable situation, a subcommittee of the Chamber was formed to address the problem of long distance telephone service in Lowndes County.” Jewel Ivey became the subcommittee chairman, asking then state representative James Beck for help and inviting Bobby Rowan, a member of the state’s Public Service Commission, to Valdosta. From the VDT, December, 1988: “PSC member Bobby Rowan met with Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber leaders looking for ways to get rid of long distance tolls between Hahira and Valdosta.” Rowan said that “If we can solve this problem here, we might be an example for the rest of the state.” State Senator Loyce Turner also got involved at the request of Chamber Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Buescher and others. Rowan said the solution must be fair to both the telephone company and its customers, but that a solution was necessary. “It affects economic and business development,” he said, always a Chamber goal. May, 1990 VDT headline: “Hey, Hahira!” No more long distance. | summer 2013 | 29

Taking Care of Business

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CENSUS 2000: Metro Valdosta is Born It’s 2000 and….

THE CHALLENGE IS…to qualify for Metro Area Status which means getting an accurate population count in the 2000 Census. Counting our population every 10 years, as required by the Federal Government, might be a ho-hum event in most years, but in Valdosta, the 2000 Census was different. Very different. “There was a lot on the line with the 2000 Census,” said Bill Cowart, who served as Chamber Chairman of the Board in 2000. “We knew an accurate count might reach Metro Area designation, but that it would be close and take mobilizing the entire community to help us get that count.” Even if everybody were counted, it was going to be close -- not everybody wants to share information with the federal government. That was the challenge, the Chamber and allied organizations had to convince people that completing their Census 2000 form was vitally important for all of us. “Every local government, the faith community, local media, VSU, Valdosta Tech, SGMC, local school systems, the Industrial Authority, the Coalition for the Homeless, Moody name it. Every part of the community had a seat at the table,” SGMC’s president John Bowling said in 2000. Community and business leaders knew what a Metro Area designation would mean for us. “Valdosta began to pop up on the radar screens of major retailers when our Metro status was officially declared in 2003,” says Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson. “A record number of major retailers located in Valdosta during the mid-2000s, and we continue to attract major retailers even in this flat economy, thanks largely to our Metro status.” After nearly a year of effort, the Chamber committee’s hard work paid off and Lowndes, Brooks, Lanier and Echols became the “Valdosta Metro Area” which Cowart said “has been a game-changer for our community.” Due to a lot of hard work and good leadership 13-years ago, it continues to be a game changer.

Telecommunications: The Way We Were It’s 2000 and….

THE CHALLENGE IS…having high-speed internet access throughout Lowndes County. “The perception is that Valdosta does not have the telecommunications infrastructure that prospective industries will need in selecting a new home,” said Randy Cox, who chaired the Chamber’s Telecommunications Committee in 2000, “and therefore we will lose potential new employers to surrounding areas.” So was perception the reality? The Chamber focused on finding out. Since multiple entities provide infrastructure, the Chamber brought all of them together for the first annual community-wide Technology Infrastructure Forum, asking all the players to “put their cards on the table” about where telecommunications are – and where they’re going.

30 | summer 2013 |

Taking Care of Business

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Attending were representatives from Surf South, ALLTEL, AT&T Cable and BellSouth who said infrastructure is either in place or in the process of being implemented by one or the other of them. The message was that fiber-optic systems are already in the Valdosta area and that technological advances are planned for existing infrastructure, but the Chamber, City of Valdosta leaders, businesses and residents wanted more. At the Third Annual Telecom Forum in 2002, Phil Jacobs, president of BellSouth, said the Chamber opened his eyes at the first annual forum two years earlier. “Valdosta-Lowndes County was behind the curve,” he said. “BellSouth didn’t have high speed digital service available to residents and there was a penalty for businesses.” Speaking in 2002, Jacobs said, “BellSouth now has high speed internet access available to 30,000 homes in Lowndes and 24,000 more will soon have it. The digital divide doesn’t exist here anymore.”

OK, BUT THAT WAS YESTERDAY... What has the Chamber done for the business community recently? “Fixing the Glitch”: The “glitch” let employees collect unemployment benefits after being fired for not showing up for work. That inadvertent mistake in the State’s Unemployment Insurance Statute was costing companies thousands of dollars annually in unemployment insurance in already difficult times. The problem was statewide, but it was local, too, and the Chamber is nothing, if not ambitious. The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee was on it, but had to be stubborn. It took four years, a trip to the U.S. Department of Labor, in Washington, D.C. and persuading the Georgia Department of Labor to “Fix the Glitch” in 2005.

Georgia’s first ‘Entrepreneur Friendly City’: Being “Friendly” pays off. It got the City statewide recognition and acclaim, and got the Chamber grants totaling $60,000 and made Valdosta the first “Entrepreneur Friendly City” in the state. Governor Sonny Perdue credited work of the Chamber’s SEEDS Business Resource Center for the 2004 designation. The Chamber’s SEEDS Center used the $60,000 to equip the Chamber with market research and competitor intelligence tools to use in assisting the Center’s 500 or so clients a year. SEEDS stands for Sewing Entrepreneur and Economic Development Success…and it has done just that.

IMPACT 2012: Five years, $2.3 million, 15 ambitious goals -- IMPACT 2012 was the business action plan developed within the Chamber by virtually every sector of the community. Led by an impressive list of Chamber members, the program collected money and time pledged by Chamber members from 2008 until last year to meet – and often exceed – 12 of the 15 original goals set in 2008. Major initiatives included a study to determine the impact of school system unification on our community’s economic development potential, expansion of the SEEDS Business Resource Center’s tools and capabilities, creation of SORT -- the Special Ombudsman Response Team -- to improve our community’s business start-up and expansion processes, and a concentrated effort to grow jobs for college and university graduates in Metro Valdosta. | summer 2013 | 31

When you apply for a loan with us we can give you a straight answer. We make our loan decisions locally. There’s no waiting for out of town loan committees at Commercial Banking Company. We know the community, and we know our customers.







3462 North Valdosta Road - 1215 Baytree Road - Valdosta / 110 West Main St. - Hahira 635 Veterans Parkway North - Moultrie / 729 West 2nd Street - Tifton L-R Back: Taylor Biddle, Sam Warren L-R Front: Beth Odom, Vickie Godwin, Pam Yeager, Dain Smith

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ur mission is to serve and empower individuals and families by promoting healthy relationships within the community through therapeutic interventions. We believe that many people are influenced by their surroundings and that behavior is learned from the people, places and things that individuals have the most interaction with. We also believe that behavior can be unlearned.

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PeaceWay Counseling & Mediation is committed to providing a quality service to Moody families in the community.

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Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members

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othing is more important to the Chamber than serving our members. The Chamber is a private business development organization, with approximately 70% of our operating budget coming from membership dues. Another 26% is generated through special events and activities, and approximately 4% from economic development services contracts with local government to provide services to all citizens through the SEEDS Business Resource Center. Clearly, to be successful the Chamber must provide the ROI our members want and need. Here are some of the ways we promote, serve and support our members.

- Carl Holley (Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey, PC), Chairman-Elect 2014

Business After Hours


ur Chamber Business after Hours event offers our members a chance to kick back after work, socialize and network away from the pressures of the workplace. Held throughout the year, usually on a Thursday afternoon from 5 to 7 p.m., Business After Hours offers sponsors a chance to promote their businesses and take their message to other Chamber members in a relaxed atmosphere. Typically, Business after Hours is hosted by one or two businesses at a restaurant, country club or hotel. It may also be hosted by a larger business with ample parking and a large reception area. We encourage you to keep this in mind when planning your event. To learn more about hosting a Business After Hours, please call the Chamber at (229) 247-8100 and ask for Morgan Jones.

Summit Pointe


hamber members gathered at Summit Pointe in October to see what its many businesses had to offer. Sponsors: • South Georgia Vein Centers • Amanda’s Models & Talent • Cotton States Insurance • Carr, Riggs & Ingram • Rockin’ Robin Children’s Boutique • Southeast Capital Investment Group • Steel’s Jewelry Guests enjoyed live music and door prizes. 34 | summer 2013 |



ovember’s Business After Hours event, hosted by SGMC’s Occupational and Industrial Medicine Center, provided valuable information about employer health care resources now available in Valdosta. Chamber members and guests toured the facility which focuses on employer health care needs from work-related injuries, physical examinations, drug testing, CDL, and employee assistance programs for businesses in South Georgia and North Florida.



Christmas at The Crescent


Lowndes County Historical Society, Inc. The Garden Center, Inc.

hamber members and guests took a walk down memory lane with the centennial exhibits at The Crescent showcasing Valdosta since 1912; the exhibits were provided by the Lowndes County Historical Society. The December Business After Hours event celebrated the Chamber’s 100th year and was hosted by The Garden Center, Steel Magnolias and Coleman Talley.

promote other people’s business…but who promotes me? Other than tooting my own horn to an audience that already exists, how do I grow? Who is my champion? Five and a half years ago as I launched my business with not one dollar on the books nor a single listener of record, I made a minor decision with major impact…I joined the Chamber. It was a simple (and affordable) step that has paid me back more than 9 billboards, numerous print ads, social media outlets, wrapped vehicles, countless speaking engagements and shouting from the mountain top could have ever hoped to do. From the Chamber referrals: • Talk 92.1 has been referred 16 times in the previous month. • Talk 92.1 has 2392 hits for the month of May • Talk 92.1 has 7990 hits since the beginning of the year. …to the Business After Hours, Chamber Community Council, Small Business Award, Progress magazine and countless other ways our Chamber keeps us ‘all’ out there. I am more than pleased at what I ‘get’ from my Chamber, but more importantly, I am proud at what I can ‘give’ to my Chamber. | summer 2013 | 35

HeritageBank of the South


eritageBank of the South celebrated the grand opening and ribbon cutting of their beautiful new Valdosta office before hosting the March 14 Business After Hours event. Terry Bennett spoke to guests during the ribbon cutting ceremony stating, “We are thankful to our local business partners in assisting HeritageBank of the South with the construction of our new bank main office. The building is a symbol of our commitment to the Valdosta/Lowndes community, as well as the South Georgia/North Florida market.”

Wild Adventures


ild Adventures invited Chamber members and guests to enjoy an exclusive evening at the park to celebrate their 2013 season’s new family rides, live shows and exotic animals. Members were also able to ride the park’s newest attraction, TailSpin, which is a rocking and spinning ride that takes riders more than four stories high. This unique Business After Hours event held on March 26 allowed members to experience the renewed spirit of a beloved Valdosta place.

36 | summer 2013 |

Bank of the Ozarks


early 300 Chamber members gathered at the Bank of the Ozarks to relax, mingle and network at the April Business After Hours event, which was held at the bank’s North Oak Street Extension branch. Bank of the Ozarks is committed to developing friendships with their customers and relationships with the communities they serve.

South Georgia Vein Centers


o celebrate Small Business Month, we hosted a special Small Business After Hours event at the Chamber on May 9 sponsored by South Georgia Vein Centers. Backstreet Blazers performed a wide variety of music, including both oldies and contemporary tunes. Ahh…David, Marco’s Pizza and Jessie’s Eats and Treats catered the event. | summer 2013 | 37

Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members

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Leading Business of the Week


eading Business of the Week, sponsored by Care Medical Spine & Pain Center, is randomly presented to a member in good standing with at least five years of Chamber Membership. The selected member displays our Leading Business of the Week banner at their business and is also featured on our website, in our “Chamber in Motion” weekly newsletter and on Facebook. “Sponsoring the Leading Business of the Week for the Chamber has been both enjoyable and rewarding,” Dr. Ryan Moorman of Care Medical Spine & Pain Center said. “The program not only provides great exposure for the sponsor, but truly recognizes local businesses for their service in our community. Small businesses are the foundation that communities are built on and I am proud to recognize their efforts.” Edward Jones (Office of Greg Reid)

Ray Norton Tire & Auto Center

Northside Animal Hospital

Furniture Express/Beds for Less Pepsi Company

38 | summer 2013 |

Valdosta Foot & Ankle

South Georgia Vein Centers

Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members

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Chamber Choice Awards


ore than 400 “stars” walked the red carpet and celebrated outstanding businesses and professionals from 2012 at the Chamber’s 4th annual Chamber Choice Awards. Citizens Community Bank presented the awards at the Rainwater Conference Center on March 21. Five prestigious awards were given to exceptional businesses and volunteers from the Valdosta-Lowndes County community.

Members’ Choice Award South Georgia Medical Center

BIG Thinker Award Hugh & Judith Hathcock

Small Business of the Year Azalea Health Young Professional of the Year Carla Gervin

Ambassador of the Year Joan Wilkinson | summer 2013 | 39

Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members

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Annual Membership Meeting


e highlighted the success of IMPACT 2012, a five-year initiative to stimulate and change the face of our local economy, at our Annual Membership Meeting on January 29 at the Rainwater Conference Center. The meeting featured a video documentary and report summarizing the program. Georgia Power and Prince Automotive Group sponsored the event.

Walter Hobgood, Myrna Ballard and Steve Dorough

BIG Thinker Award Hugh & Judith Hathcock

Jay Prince and Tim Jones

40 | summer 2013 |

The Chamber Centennial Committee and its major sponsors, Citizens Community Bank and Georgia Power, were recipients of the A.L. Girardin Award. The Committee was chaired by Carla Penny (Classic Art & Frame) and included as one of its major initiatives the Centennial Tree Project. The Committee and sponsors are pictured in front of the Centennial tree sculpture on permanent display at the Chamber. One hundred trees are being planted in the City of Valdosta to commemorate the Chamber’s 100th anniversary.

Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members

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Right Start


he Chamber Right Start Committee consists of the “Moody Link” magazine advertisers. As an added benefit of advertising, the committee has the opportunity to go on base throughout the year to personally welcome new families. On average, 60 new airmen arrive at Moody each month. The Right Start program is the newcomer orientation held at Moody AFB each week. At the orientation, Moody’s Loan Closet offers inbound personnel temporary loan of household items before the arrival of their own household goods. With the help of the Chamber, the new airmen feel welcomed to Valdosta as well as learn what our local businesses have to offer.

Judy Martin Trexler, LCSW, LLC welcomes a new airman to Moody.

We’re here to help in your time of need. The sole purpose of our business is to represent the interests of property owners who have suffered an insured loss. We believe the way to obtain a fair settlement is to be represented by an experienced Public Insurance Adjuster licensed in your State. We have worked on thousands of residential property claims and commercial property claims, and have significantly increased the settlement and recovery loss for each property owner. We work closely with the property owner, keeping them informed every step of the way on their insurance claim.

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Call us for a FREE second opinion! | summer 2013 | 41

Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members

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H e a lt h / M e d i c a l G u i d e


aldosta is becoming a healthcare destination for South Georgia and North Florida, providing higher wage jobs for our community. The healthcare providers below not only provide quality medical services to their patients, they also support their community through their membership in the Chamber. Presented by:

105 W Central Ave. • (877) 777-7686

Chiro/Wellness Care Atlas Wellness of Valdosta 2311 N Patterson St. (229) 469-4404 Care Medical Center 2804C N Oak St. (229) 241-8925 Hickox Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC 1507 Northside Dr. (229) 293-1333 Mink Chiropractic Center 409 Northside Dr. (229) 242-3042 Mobility Chiropractic Ctr. 2236 B Bemiss Road (229) 219-0883 Valdosta Chiropractic & Rehab 701 Baytree Rd., Ste. D (229) 247-2828

Dental/Ortho Care Dental/Ortho Care Adams Orthodontics 816 Northwood Park Dr. (229) 247-6960 Advanced Dental Care LLC 3211 Wildwood Plantation Dr. (229) 242-4441 Brad Bynum, D.M.D. 802 Northwind Park (229) 242-0825 Brett Hester, DMD, PC 114 West Moore Street (229) 242-0361

F. Nelson Clements, DMD 2310 N Patterson St. (229) 242-5511 Hester & Morris Orthodontics 4370 Kings Way Ste. E (229) 247-7767 Holloway Orthodontic 1525 Baytree Road, Ste. 1 (229) 293-1360 Joseph L. Kirbo, Jr., DDS 2722 N. Oak St. (229) 247-1661 Mark A. Retterbush, D.M.D., P.C. 2311 N Patterson St. (229) 244-1633 Mark A. Roland, DMD, PC 101-D W Northside Dr. (229) 244-0944 Newbern Family Dental Practice 800 Northwood Park Dr. (229) 242-6202 Nu-Smile Family Dentistry-Sherry C. Colvin, D.M.D., P.C. 3901 N. Forrest Street Ext (229) 244-8884 Valdosta Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons 2720 N. Oak St. (229) 247-5590 Worthington Family Dentistry 3362 Greystone Way (229) 242-0063

42 | summer 2013 |

Dialysis Care Dialysis Corp. of America 3564 N. Crossing Circle (229) 249-3222 Golden Isles EMS 415 Woodrow Wilson Dr. (229) 560-8266 Valdosta Home Training-Davita 401 A. Northside Dr. (229) 247-9286 Ear, Nose, Throat Care Ear/Nose/Throat Care ActivEar Hearing Aid Center 3470 N Valdosta Rd., Ste B (229) 245-1122 Advanced Hearing Solutions 111 Woodrow Wilson Dr. (229) 253-0105 Audibel Hearing Aid Centers 401 Northside Dr., Ste. E (229) 244-3999 Ear, Nose, Throat & Allergy Assoc of SGA 2910 N Patterson St. (229) 244-2562

Foot/Ankle Care Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC 401 Woodrow Wilson Dr. (229) 247-7707

Foot & Ankle Care 2410 N Oak St. (229) 293-8337

ResCare Home Care 3020 North Patterson St. (229) 244-8854

The Foot & Ankle Institute 4370 Kings Way, Ste. B (229) 244-0070

SunCrest Home Health 1811 Ste. A Green Circle (229) 896-8177

Valdosta Foot & Ankle Clinic 2800 N Oak Street (229) 244-1211

Hospital Care Hospitals

Valdosta Orthopedic Associates, P.C. 3527 N Valdosta Rd. (229) 247-2290

Home Health Home Health CareCare

Berrien County Hospital 1221 E. McPherson Ave. Nashville, GA 31639 (229) 543-7100 Louis Smith Hospital 116 W. Thigpen Ave. Lakeland, GA 31635 (229) 482-8440

Amedisys Home Health 2947 N Ashley St., Ste. C (229) 245-0646

South Georgia Medical Center 2501 N Patterson St. (229) 333-1000

Comfort Keepers 3470 N Valdosta Rd. F-2 (229) 241-0002

SGMC Dasher Heart Center 2501 N Patterson St. (229) 259-4340

CuraCare Health Services 3169 Inner Perimeter Rd (229) 253-1242 Georgia Home Health 3404 Greystone Way (229) 247-4663 Home Instead Senior Care 4480 Val North Dr., Ste. D (229) 245-0123 Intrepid USA Home Health Services 355 Northside Dr .# F1 (229) 247-7760

SGMC Diabetes Management Center 3018 N. Patterson St. (229) 333-1000 SGMC Pearlman Cancer Center 2501 N. Patterson St. (229) 333-1000 SMITH Northview Hospital 4280 N. Valdosta Rd. (229) 671-2000

Promoting, Serving & Supporting Our Members Mental Health Care Greenleaf Center 2209 Pineview Dr. (229) 247-4357 Choices for Life of GA, LLC 2200 N Patterson St. (229) 244-1707

G. Saurina, MD, PC 2301 N Ashley St. (229) 245-0666 Greystone Medical Clinic 3386 Greystone Way (229) 219-7826 Gulf Coast Dermatology 2804 N. Oak St., Ste. AB (229) 469-6984

Better Mood Clinic of South Georgia, LLC 2935 N Ashley St., Bldg. F (229) 333-2273

Heritage Health Care of Valdosta 2501 N Ashley St. (229) 244-7368

Medical Care/Services Medical Care & Services

Hughston Clinic 4340 Kings Way (229) 333-9736

1st America Health Group 212 Northside Dr. (229) 242-3060 Alzheimer’s Caregiver Time Out 314 N Jefferson St. Albany, GA 31701 (229) 888-6555

J S Medical Diagnostics, LLC 3790-B Old U.S. Hwy. 41N (229) 241-8811 Jerry Mercer Physical Therapy 2700 A N. Oak St. (229) 249-9600

AppleCare Immediate Care of Valdosta 3200-C North Ashley St. (229) 671-9100

Limbcare Prosthetics & Orthotics 2910K N Ashley St. (229) 247-7551

AR Psychiatric & Counseling Center, LLC 3312-D N Oak Street Ext. (229) 244-2030

Lowndes County Health Dept. 325 W. Savannah Ave. (229) 333-5290

Azalea Women’s Center 2307 N Patterson St. (229) 242-8888

Lowndes County Partnership for Health 203 Woodrow Wilson Dr. (229) 245-0020

Barnes Health Care Services 200 S Patterson St. (229) 245-6039 Behavioral Health Services 200 S Patterson St. (229) 245-6039 Choice Family Medicine, PC 201 Woodrow Wilson Dr. (229) 241-0041 Conservative Neurology Services 2935 N Ashley St. D-116 (229) 244-1192 Family Health Care 385 Connell Rd. (229) 244-6788 G & G Family Medicine, MD, PC 4370 Kings Way Ste. E (229) 247-7767 G & G Family Medicine, MD, PC 209 E Main Street Hahira, GA 31632 (229) 794-1794

South Georgia Pediatric & Allergy Center, PC 3440 N Valdosta Rd. (229) 247-2211

Optical Care Optical Care

Solstas Lab Partners 2906 Julia Dr. (229) 244-4468

South Health District 325 W Savannah Ave. (229) 333-5290

Urological Clinic of Valdosta, PC 3294 N Oak Street Ext. (229) 241-1188

Southern Neurodiagnostics 3315 A N. Valdosta Rd. (229) 247-7177

Valdosta Anesthesia Associates, PC 2310 N Patterson St. (229) 244-6852

Southern OB/GYN 220 Northside Drive (229) 241-2800

Valdosta Family Medicine Associates, P.C. 2412 North Oak St. (229) 244-1400

Southern Pediatric Clinic 406-M Northside Dr. (229) 241-0059 Thacker Dermatology, LLC 3526 N Crossing Cir. (229) 469-4383 The Houston Clinic 4340 Kings Way (229) 333-9736 TherapyWorks Pediatric Center, LLC 2700B North Oak St. (229) 219-7993

Valdosta Medical Clinic 3207 Country Club Dr. (229) 242-8480 Valdosta Women’s Health Center, PC 3811 Old US 41 N. (229) 333-0277 Vandemark Plastic Surgery 3322 Greystone Way (229) 247-3335

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America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses 1700 Norman Dr., Ste. 680 (229) 247-1660 Eye Associates of South GA., L.L.C. 3024 N Patterson St. (229) 247-4114 South Georgia Eye Partners 4380 Kings Way (229) 244-2068 Wilson Eye Center 2108 N Patterson St. (229) 244-3000

VeinCare Care Vein South Georgia Vein Centers 3338-M Country Club Rd. (229) 259-9666 Southern Vein & Laser Center 3321-B N Valdosta Rd. (229) 242-9310

Neurology, Neurosurgery & Spine Clinic 4274 N Valdosta Rd. (229) 242-1234 Pathway Wellness Center 303 Woodrow Wilson Dr. (229) 2494-5000 Radiology Assoc. of Valdosta 2704 E. N Oak St. (229) 333-9729

Vein Care

Richard Nijem, MD, PC 1700 North Patterson (229) 244-9800 SGMC Occupational & Industrial Center 520 Griffin Avenue (229) 249-4010 SGMC Youth Care 2330 N Ashley St. (229) 333-1000 South Georgia Medical Practice-Bailey Medical 2704 N Oak St., Bldg. A-2 (229) 245-1480 | summer 2013 | 43


Marketing Strategies Strategies for for Your Business Marketing BySteven StevenHeddon Heddon By Founder and CreativeDirector, Director, Founder and Creative Fusion Creative Marketing Fusion Creative Marketing poormarketing marketingstrategy strategyisisone oneofofthe the AApoor main reasons that 80% of new businesses main reasons that 80% of new businesses failinintheir theirfirst firstseven sevenyears. years. Other Otherfactors factors fail include: lack of a business plan, under-capitalization, poor include: lack of a business plan, under-capitalization, poor location and insufficient management skills. location and insufficient management skills. Let’s discuss some of the principal issues related to a poor Let’s discuss some of the principal issues related to a poor marketing and advertising plan. marketing and advertising plan. Research of target market and demographics. Research of target market and demographics. You should not start with the view that your product or You should not start with the view that your product or service is for everybody. You must pinpoint your target client service is for everybody. You must pinpoint your target client and fine-tune your marketing efforts to them. For instance, and fine-tune your marketing efforts to them. For instance, if you are opening a furniture store, who are you targeting? if you are opening a furniture store, who are you targeting? Who are your typical customers and what is their income, Who are your typical customers and what is their income, lifestyle, or age group? When I go to Target or Wal-Mart, lifestyle, or age group? When I go to Target or Wal-Mart, I see furniture priced for college students. When I go to I see furniture priced for college students. When I go to Haverty’s, I see furniture for middle to upper income families. Haverty’s, I see furniture for middle to upper income families. The Chamber’s SeeDS Center is a free resource that can The Chamber’s SeeDS Center is a free resource that can help you identify your particular market. help you identify your particular market. Research of demand for product and competition. Research of demand for product and competition. In our community, two large sporting goods stores (AcadeIn our community, two large sporting goods stores (Academy Sports and Gander Mountain) recently opened. They are my Sports and Gander Mountain) recently opened. They are very large, with a complete selection, and backed by powerful very large, with a complete selection, and backed by powerful chains. I may not want to open a new retail store devoted to chains. I may notright want to open a new retail store devoted to sporting goods now. sporting goods right now.

44 | summer 2013 |

Under-capitalization and and your your marketing marketing budget. budget. Under-capitalization Talk to a financial expert and they will tell you that Talk to a financial expert and they will tell you that cash cash flow or lack of it can kill a new business in the blink flow or lack of it can kill a new business in the blink of of an an eye. Aside Aside from from daily daily operating operating expenses, expenses, aa reasonably reasonably eye. sustainable budget budget should should be be established established and and maintained. maintained. sustainable Many businesses I talk to do not have an advertising Many businesses I talk to do not have an advertising budget budget and try try to to play play catch-up catch-up when when they they are are trying trying to and to create create awareness of their business. After a poor launch, they awareness of their business. After a poor launch, they are are oftendisappointed disappointed with with lower lower than than expected expected sales. sales. often Branding. Branding. A hallmark of branding is a clean, simple graphic look that A hallmark of branding is a clean, simple graphic look that is consistent throughout all your marketing material. To efis consistent throughout all your marketing material. To effectively create an awareness and emotional connection to fectively create an awareness and emotional connection to your brand, a consumer should encounter your brand at least your brand, a consumer should encounter your brand at least seven times through at least three marketing media, such as seven times through at least three marketing media, such as print, radio or TV, website, or digital media. The typical small print, radio or TV, website, or digital media. The typical small to medium size business cannot afford to do everything. That to medium size business cannot afford to do everything. That is why it is necessary to execute a thorough market analysis, is why it is necessary to execute a thorough market analysis, a strong visual brand, and then proceed with a selective and a strong visual brand, and then proceed with a selective and sustainable media buy. sustainable media buy. Being a brand ambassador. Being a brand ambassador. To round out a successful marketing and advertising plan To round out a successful marketing and advertising plan you must become a brand ambassador for your company. you must become a brand ambassador for your company. Joining civic and business organizations, and volunteering Joining civic and business organizations, and volunteering time and services, such as Rotary and The March of Dimes time and to services, Rotary and TheinMarch of Dimes are ways extendsuch your as marketing efforts a tangible way. are ways to extend your marketing efforts in a tangible way. In today’s marketing, the digital delivery of your brand, In marketing, the digital delivery of can yourallbrand, your today’s web presence, and social media integration make your web presence, and social media integration can make your advertising dollar go much farther. My associateallArthur your advertising dollar go much farther. My associate Arthur Morin discusses this in part two of this column. Morin discusses this in part two of this column.

A New Media Landscape Brings New Challenges and Opportunities

The growth of social media, and its increasing tie-in with traditional media (TV, Print and Radio) and with the internet and our smartphones, is truly leading to a redefinition of the media landscape. The once-mighty traditional media are steadily losing audience and advertising revenue while new media grab ever larger shares of both. We are spending increasing amounts of our time on computer and smartphone screens and watching recorded television on our DVRs, and less time reading newspapers and magazines or watching traditional television with advertising.

but it will also be possible to reach ever smaller audience segments cost-effectively. This will be done directly with web-based advertising and communication campaigns, but also indirectly, when social media intermediaries on Facebook or Twitter recommend a product or share a promotional offer with their friends and followers. This much change this fast brings many new challenges and questions for advertisers: how to spend wisely in this new advertising landscape? What social media strategies make sense? How should I be using my website? Do I need to revamp my branding and my corporate image? How can I reach the consumers of tomorrow? But the new media landscape also brings new opportunities. Campaigns using new media, including social media, tend to be much cheaper than traditional media campaigns. Content can be posted and remain visible indefinitely, giving consumers time to come to the content as they respond to various media tactics directing them to the content. For example, a short video can be posted on a company’s website and YouTube Channel, and then social media efforts can direct consumers to these videos anytime. The advertiser is in effect becoming one more media outlet, communicating directly with consumers and the general public.

By Arthur Morin Strategist and Account Manager, Fusion Creative Marketing

The advertiser is in

A recent report on a cable news program illustrates the phenomenon perfectly. Revlon Chairman Ron Perelman recently announced that his company will have 30 percent of its 2013 advertising budget in “social media and digital”, and reduce its print advertising budget by “about 25 percent”. This move by a major print advertiser is not isolated, and reflects a broad global trend to rethink advertising spending and direct larger shares of it to new media.

effect becoming one

more media outlet…

Accompanying the shift in viewership is the growing strength of “crowd-sourced” content used by advertisers as part of their social media and traditional media campaigns. A famous example is the Doritos campaign using short videos submitted by Doritos customers. Another more recent example is the use of Vine (Twitter’s video-sharing app) to disseminate short 6-second videos for brands such as Red Vines Candy and Coca-Cola. All this change could well lead to a leveling of the media playing field, with ever more producers of content using a growing variety of ever-cheaper media to reach their audiences. In this landscape, broadcasting will always have a role,

With such a fundamental change in the economic model of advertising comes the need to rethink old attitudes to advertising and marketing. The cost of communicating content will continue to drop as new media outlets compete for your advertising dollar. These savings can and should be invested in branding strategy, graphic identity, videos and other forms of content which will make your brand more attractive and competitive. Rather than using the same old advertising message and spending most of their budget on media, advertisers can invest in revamped content and more sophisticated messaging while spending proportionately less on media buys. | summer 2013 | 45

At Coleman Talley, being a part of such an endearing community makes starting every day with a sense of purpose a little bit easier. It’s the successes of our community and its people that help us see the intangible rewards of extending a hand. It makes protecting what you’ve built our most worthy goal. It makes seeing positive outcomes in people’s lives and our businesses truly fulfilling. Over 75 years ago, Valdosta gave us our start. We’re proud to continue our tradition of giving back. BUSINESS L I T I G AT I O N R E A L E S TAT E E S TAT E P L A N N I N G GOVERNMENT

46 | summer 2013 |

Advertisers 1st America Health Group| Inside Front Cover Azalea Health | Page 42 Blanton & Griffin Insurance Agency | Page 50 Chartwells | Page 25 Citizens Community Bank | Page 20 Coldwell Bankers/Cindy Pegg | Page 33 Coleman Talley | Page 46 Colquitt EMC | Page 25 Commercial Banking Co. | Page 32 Commercial Cleaning Industries | Page 20 Davita-Valdosta Home Training | Page 21 Edward Jones/Office of Greg Reid | Page 21 First Federal Savings of Valdosta | Page 43 First State Bank | Page 11 Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey, P.C. | Page 47 Fusion Marketing | Pages 44 & 45 Georgia Power | Page 47 Gold Buyers of Valdosta | Page 33 HeritageBank of the South | Page 15 Herndon Company | Page 48 Options Now | Page 33 Prince Automotive Group | Page 33 Rainwater Conference Center | Page 32 Second Opinion Claims Services | Page 41 South Georgia Medical Center | Page 15 South Georgia Travel | Page 10 South Georgia Vein Center | Page 49 U.S. Press | Back Cover Valdosta CEO | Page 33 Watson’s Pools & Patios | Inside Back Cover Wells Fargo Advisors | Page 25 Wild Adventures Theme Park | Page 50 Wiregrass Georgia Technical College | Page 21

thERE ARE sAvInGs WAItInG InsIdE yOuR hOmE.

Publisher: Myrna Ballard Creative Director: Wanda Stanley Contributing Director for Progress Layout: Steven Heddon Advertising: Betty Morgan Contributing Writers: Mike Hill Jess Boyd (Harding University Intern) Printing

Copyright by Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. © All rights reserved. Progress is produced and published three times per year by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. Subscription rate of $40 is included with Chamber membership. Reproduction in whole or in part of this publication without the expressed written consent of the ValdostaLowndes County Chamber of Commerce is prohibited. All claims, materials, photos appearing herein are believed by the editors to be accurate. However, no responsibility or liability is assumed, and is expressly disclaimed, by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions. Advertisements, articles, photos, editorial information, and other materials submitted for publication herein are subject to the unrestricted right to the edit of and by our editors and publisher. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Progress Magazine, 416 N. Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 31603.

GEORGIA POWER cAn hElP yOu fInd thEm. Our Home Energy Improvement Program provides rebates and incentives to help customers make home efficiency improvements. To learn about all the ways we can help you save, go to

©2012 Georgia Power | summer 2013 | 47


The Chairman’s Circle




an’s Circ



would like to thank you for your support!

The charter members of this unique Chamber membership category represent the top corporate citizens of

Premium Valdosta-Lowndes County. By making this strong commitment of their resources, they are showing their long-term


dedication toward making Valdosta a world-class city, and we are grateful for their efforts.


an’s Circ






• AT&T Georgia Membership • Bank of America • Bank of the Ozarks • BB&T Corporation • City of Valdosta • Coleman Talley LLP • Express Employment Professionals



Executive Level • Langdale Vallotton, LLP • Lowe’s Distribution Center • Mediacom • Packaging Corporation of America, Inc. • Pathway to Hope Counseling Services, Inc. • SAM’S CLUB

• Southwest Georgia Bank • U.S. Press • Virtual World Technologies, Inc. • Valdosta-Lowndes Co. Conference Center & Tourism Authority



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