“Staff Writer” wrote for the VDT 14 November 2012, Valdosta-Lowndes: An agricultural heartland,
When the Valdosta Daily Times and its sister newspapers in Tifton, Thomasville, Cordele, Americus and Moultrie decided to launch an agriculture magazine in January 2011 to be distributed across South Georgia, it was unknown how it would be received.
Well, the first couple of issues were quarterly, and then due to overwhelming response and requests, it is now a bi-monthly publication going into its third year.
While Valdosta may not consider itself an agriculture community, we sometimes forget just how much acreage and economic benefit derives from the ag and forestry industries locally. With a farmgate value of $70 million and more than two thirds of our entire county taxable digest in agriculture and forestry use, Lowndes County remains dependent on this economic sector almost as much as the surrounding counties, which we consider far more rural than ours.
That’s great, and I congratulate the VDT. Their conclusion is also good as far as it goes, but it could go further:
The Times has stated it before and it bears repeating — agriculture and forestry are the industries which built the local economy and are its mainstays when other industries are down. Why not build on this segment and attract business and industry to the county and to the region which are complementary to this essential economic component?
South Georgia will not be the next Silicon Valley, but it already is the fruit, vegetable and timber basket for the Southeast. Let’s not overlook this key area as we look to diversify our industries for the future.
Indeed, let’s not try to be the next Silicon Valley, and lets stop using the straw man of pretending that any mention of Silicon Valley means we want to be Silicon Valley. The point of Silicon Valley is that there are aspects we can profitably examine, and of Solar Valley in Saginaw, Michigan, and of various other places that have successfully attracted or developed industries. The biggest point is that Silicon Valley got to be Silicon Valley by building on strengths already here. We don’t have Stanford, but we do have VSU (with its Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration) and Wiregrass Tech and GMC; we even have an Industrial Authority, which has agriculture in its charter and, if I’m not mistaken, is now emphasizing growing local businesses.. We don’t have Intel, but we do have all the various agricultural firms the VDT mentioned. And we have South Georgia Medical Center and a cluster of medical firms, plus Moody Air Force Base. What can we build out of all that, and other local strengths?
See the next post for one possibility.