2011 Economic Summit by VLCoC

Myrna Ballard (President, Chamber of Commerce), Michael Jetter (Interim Executive Director for the Valdosta-Lowndes Conference Center and Tourism Authority), Amanda Peacock (Valdosta Main Street Manager), Allan Ricketts (Valdosta-Lowndes Industrial Authority Project Manager), Jane Shelton (Valdosta-Lowndes Airport Authority Member)
“Transforming our local economy”
“It’s the Mix that Matters”

Amber Eady wrote for WALB 18 May 2011 about Economic Summit meets to discuss economic health:
Community leaders in the Valdosta area came together at the 2011 Economic Summit to discuss the economic health of Valdosta-Lowndes County.

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.

WALB then quotes the Chamber’s press release.
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.

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.

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:
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.

Please note regarding minutes I’m referring to the Industrial Authority; the Chamber of Commerce does post its agendas and minutes online.

The Chamber has posted a PDF of a VDT story by Dawn Castro 18 May 2011, Economic Summit: Valdosta can ‘do better’: It quotes motivational speaker Chris Miller of Illuminomics:

“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.


2 thoughts on “2011 Economic Summit by VLCoC

  1. Tim Carroll

    I know Chris Miller fairly well after numerous meetings over the past several years. The process is slow and yes, a little painful…but progress is being made. If you get a chance, see if you can speak with Chris. He has been involved in some truly out-of-the-box solutions to business/community development issues. Some will blow your mind.
    We do need to keep bringing all the “silos” together. Keep working to bring down barriers and discussing alternatives and possibilities.
    Like you, I was unable to attend this summit due to business demands. But have participated in several with Chris over the past few years.
    Thanks for posting this news on LAKE.

  2. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Yep, I had already sent a request to Chris M.; haven’t heard anything abck yet.
    I’m all for silos communicating; I just don’t think that’s the same as a single monolithic party line that everybody needs to toe; better to have distributed communication.
    The process may be slow, but will the process be faster in Thomasville and Albany?
    More stuff later; must go do some agriculture now. -jsq

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