2017 Valdosta Economic Summit: Turning the Corner
Thursday, April 13th, 2017
“The Valdosta and Lowndes economic standing has ‘turned the corner’ and is headed in the right direction” according to local economist, Dr. Cynthia Tori, Professor of Economics for the Valdosta State University Langdale College of Business Administration.
The 2017 Economic Summit was held on April 6. Business leaders from the area gathered to hear from entrepreneurs such as DeWayne Johnson and Dan Henry, innovative professionals such as Dr. Brian Gerber of VSU, and Steven Justice of the Georgia Center for Innovation, which is an arm of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, as they discussed not only the state of our local economy but also how we can improve it. Their advice, in a word: innovation.
Dr. Tori presented the seventh edition of “Lowndes By The Numbers”, in which she compares Lowndes County with 14 peer and aspirant communities in the Southeastern U.S. on nine measures of community economic health. “For the first time since we began these analyses in 2011, Lowndes County is moving up, rather than falling behind,” Tori said. “This is important news for our community. It means that we have turned the corner and are heading in a positive direction. While we still have work to do, leaders should be proud that their efforts are paying off.”
New to the area and the Chamber, Yvette Jefferson, Marketing and Community Relations manager for Langdale Hyundai and Langdale KIA of Valdosta, said that the Economic Summit was “a great way to learn more about the economic forecast of Valdosta and how it compares to its ‘peer’ cities. We wanted to gain additional knowledge about the business climate in Valdosta. We also wanted to learn more about the economic forecast and business development. Valdosta's population growth is outpacing its peer cities, and that's definitely a plus.” Jefferson’s husband Anthony, General Manager of KIA of Valdosta and Langdale Hyundai of South Georgia stated that “It's important to know what motivates consumers, what their challenges are and how to offer solutions. In the automobile industry, these are very important components of success.”
David Peterson, Chief Strategic Officer for i7strategies challenged members of the community to “change our thinking” and reconsider “how we think.” Although he was unable to attend in person due to weather changes in his travel plans, in his open letter to the group he encouraged community leaders to set aside our “traditional, autopilot” type thinking, and open ourselves to more innovative thinking, welcome new technology and create an environment that will allow it to flourish.
Peterson described his experience 20 years ago in attempting to build and grow a bank software company when our community was not prepared to assist technology-based enterprises. “There were champions out there who wanted to help Goldleaf Technologies, but Lowndes County, at that time, was not equipped to accommodate such businesses.”
His message to today’s leaders in Lowndes County: “There are so many more opportunities for software than when Goldleaf wrote its first line of code. But there is still work to be done for Lowndes County to take its place amongst communities that are embracing technology-based start-ups.”
In order to promote this type of thinking, David Peterson announced a partnership with the Chamber to present to the members of this community a group of local and out-of-state speakers that will focus on Transformational Growth and Innovation. Gather your executive team and join us on May 9, 2017 at Rainwater Conference Center. Come ready to think creatively and in terms of future growth for not only your business, but Lowndes County.
Registration is available for the 2017 Innovation Summit by visiting www.ValdostaChamber.com or by calling (229) 247-8100.