- A growing local food community, anchored by Jason DeLoach’s F.M. Guess Pecan Company of Valdosta, the Packhouse Market of Hahira, and of course Jim Fiveash’s Food Store of Hahira. Let’s not forget the Valdosta Farmer’s Market (1500 South Patterson Street) and Farmer Brown’s Produce. There’s even at least one local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) starting up.
- Long distance transportation: Interstate 75 near I-10, numerous state highways, and an airport.
- Delta Airlines (I never thought I’d be writing this) for competitive airfares (except during holidays). And landing on one of the longest runways in the state.
- Railroads going in every direction carrying freight, which can also carry passengers whenever state and local people and governments get organized to do it.
- Businesses moving in to take advantage of the transportation; working towards enough good jobs that young people don’t have to move away to find one.
- County and city governments that are at least a little bit sceptical about exactly which businesses they encourage to move in.
- Moody Air Force Base, by far the biggest employer, bringing diversity to the community both in serving personnel and in later retirees.
- Two hospitals: South Georgia Medical Center and Smith Northview Hospital.
- There’s even a Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) including the counties of Lowndes, Brooks, Lanier, and Echols, with a combined population of about 130,000. This is enough people to try things without waiting for Atlanta or Washington to tell us what to do.
- Valdosta State University, one of two large regional campuses of the University of Georgia System, and one so active politically that it got its own voting precinct this year, the only college precinct in the state.
- Live election results during each election, on the Lowndes County website. It’s the only county in the state that does this!
- Georgia Military College, a liberal arts junior college.
- Valdosta Technical College, or whatever it’s being called since the state reorganized it.
- Thriving downtowns in Valdosta and Hahira. First Friday, Winterfest, Honeybee Festival: those are doing more to attract attractive businesses than any number of road projects.
- Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area, preserving a little bit of the original ecosystem of the area; you know, pine trees, live oaks, wiregrass, pitcher plants, cypress swamps, alligators, great blue herons, and bobcats. Maybe you don’t. Go and see!
- Trees, for forestry, and for themselves. See Patterson Street (a little planning kept it from looking like Ashley Street), and the oldest longleaf pines in the county are on the VSU campus; older than Valdosta. There are even a few left elsewhere in the county. Protecting forests is not just the right thing to do, it’s good business.
- Rain, so trees and crops will grow.
- Sunshine, much more than Germany, for example, so we can do solar if we want to.
- Winning sports teams in Lowndes County and Valdosta high schools and VSU caused ESPN to name Valdosta TitleTown. Maybe that winning attitude can carry over to improving academics.
Theatre at the
Dosta, VSU, and the high schools.
If theatre was a sport, we’d be winning that, too!
La vie est belle,
La vie est gai?
Tell me why
is filled with music,
Tell me why
on clouds above?
Why stop with what we’ve got? Why not play up our advantages of transportation, natural environment, local culture, etc., and attract jobs for young people and make the place even better for everybody?