Community leaders in the Valdosta area came together at the 2011 Economic Summit to discuss the economic health of Valdosta-Lowndes County.WALB then quotes the Chamber's press release.
Economic Summit participants raised substantive questions for the panel and shared ideas for moving forward during the facilitated discussion portion of the Summit led by VSU Center for Business and Economic Research Director, Scott Manley.
Dr. Cynthia R. Tori presented the VSU Center for Business and Economic Research study, Lowndes County by the Numbers: How Do We Compare With Peer and Aspirant Communities?That study sounds very interesting. Can we see a copy?
and a panel of local economic development organizations discussed their economic development strategies and solicited questions and ideas from participants.See picture for panelists.
“The economic development organizations represented here today can come together as a team and have more impact on our community,” said Jetter.Well, that's great, although I wonder where other community organizations were. It was invitation-only (I was invited, but was overbooked).
There were some good questions:
Lowndes County Planner, Jason Davenport posed the question, why does Valdosta-Lowndes County lose businesses? Ballard replied, “Having a pro-business environment is the most important part of the economic development process.I have to say I like the questions better than the answers. I would have liked to hear something said about this point from the Chamber's own Opportunity Central:
The Chamber has partnered with the local governments on our SORT initiative, and the local governments have been extremely responsive. We’re on the right track.” Ricketts replied with an answer regarding maintaining a competitive edge over other communities and playing to our strengths.
New jobs follow bright and creative professionals...Maybe even something about how to compete with Albany forging ahead in public (without worrying about publishing minutes with promoting solar installations in south Georgia.
"You guys have great leadership here, but in my experience, you could do better. People here want to do better. Valdosta has resources and opportunities, but they have to be utilized. If you're having conversations, but things are not moving, you may need to redirect or change the conversation."How about we redirect the conversation by voting down the biomass plant and not building a private prison? Then we could get on with worthwhile tasks.
Miller's main point according to the VDT seemed to be
that what Valdosta needs is to work as a single entity, become less territorial in the decision-making process, have decisive leadership, an intense desire to do something, a creative approach, boldness of action and communication, just to name a few.I would agree on all of those points except the first. I don't live in Valdosta. I live in Lowndes County, which has concerns outside Valdosta that most people in Valdosta don't understand.
That and if the Chamber wants a creative approach and communication, where were representatives of any of the organizations that have been critical of the way things are done now? (Yes, I was invited after some prodding, and it's nobody's fault but my own that I didn't attend.)
Anyway, congratulations to the Chamber for holding the 2011 Economic Summit.