Valdosta Chamber Restructures Plans for Local Business Incubator

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic, an uncertain economic climate, and changing trends in workspace structure offers the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce an opportunity to take time to reflect on the most pressing needs of the local entrepreneurial community.

As part of the refocusing effort, the Chamber is examining how its planned Valdosta Area Business Incubator (VABI) can best meet the changing needs of startups and existing businesses in Lowndes County and throughout the region.

While the Chamber initially planned to announce this month construction of the VABI in a downtown location, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed, and continues to change, the trajectory of businesses in our community, state, and nation. After many hours of research, discussion, and reflection, the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Board voted at a board meeting held on February 16th to pause plans to acquire and renovate a downtown building to house the Valdosta Area Business Incubator.

The pause in plans will allow Chamber leaders to meet with entrepreneurs throughout the community and region to help identify their needs, as well as, assess new opportunities for partnership to best ensure that the greater Valdosta area has the most attractive and supportive climate for entrepreneurs in the state.

“Valdosta and Lowndes County were the first area in the state of Georgia to achieve the Entrepreneur Friendly community designation and the Chamber is committed to doing everything within our power to innovate and collaborate in support of our local entrepreneurs,” said Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber President Christie Moore, “We look forward to hearing what resources and supports are most needed by our businesses and entrepreneurs in the current and ever changing economic climate.”

The Chamber recognizes that operational challenges including a shift to working from home, new customer expectations, and health and safety restrictions are still unfolding.

“We believe as a Board that it is prudent for us to pause and reassess how we can best meet the needs of our business community and support a thriving entrepreneurial sector throughout these challenging times,” said Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Board Chairman Daryn Russell, “Our Board is committed to growing the vital resources provided by the SEEDS Business Resource Center.”

Moore emphasized the important work of the Chamber’s SEEDS Business Resource Center (Sowing Entrepreneur and Economic Development Success), which was established in 2004 to provide free assistance to startup and existing businesses in Lowndes County and throughout the region. Each year, the SEEDS Center works with approximately 500 clients, offering various services and resources, including market research analysis, business plan development, website creation, marketing, and branding.

“Our Chamber leaders understand that the COVID-19 crisis poses a new set of challenges for businesses as they work towards recovery,” Moore said.  “The Chamber stands ready to support businesses of all size, age, and sector as we work together to ensure a prosperous future for Valdosta, Lowndes County, and the surrounding region.”