Valdosta Daily Times


September 16, 2012

Business This Week: Better off or not? Times’ readers say ‘No’

VALDOSTA — Nearly 1,000 readers responded to The Times’ online poll this week, asking “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” And the answer is a resounding no, as 61 percent of those who responded said they are actually worse off than they were four years ago, with an additional 14 percent saying they are about the same. Only 25 percent said they feel they are better off than they were.

This wasn’t intended to be a partisan or political question so much as a quick snapshot of our community. With that many citizens saying they are worse off, perhaps area officials should pay a bit more attention. Instead of the “all is well” rhetoric, perhaps a dose of “it could be better” would be helpful.

If I had to hazard a guess, it’s not unemployment so much as under-employment, cutbacks and furloughs that are continuing to take their toll. As food costs on basic necessities continue to rise, as gas prices continue their never–ending climb, energy costs are increasing, etc., etc., people are hurting in ways they haven’t seen in a long time. Most families have seriously cut back on eating out, going to movies, shopping and vacations, but for many, there’s only so much cutting they can do.

While area officials have no influence over things like gas and food prices, they do have some influence in the sphere of helping to recruit industry to locate here. It’s not just the Industrial Authority’s job. And yes, all the new retail that is opening is wonderful and a great sign of growth and interest in Valdosta, but the substantive manufacturing jobs that once helped keep the lower- and middle-income brackets afloat continue to disappear, with no large prospects in sight.

Denying there is an issue won’t make it go away, and only until officials begin cooperating to attract business and industry, and jobs, will we all be able to hopefully say things are getting better, not worse.


Business Roundup

Big weekend for Gander Mountain, with a huge grand opening sale that started yesterday and continues through today. Live demonstrations, Richard Petty’s race car, and giveaways were just some of the things planned over the weekend, and there’s still time to go and check it out today.

You should see construction starting soon on the new Egg & I Restaurant on North Ashley Street where the car dealership used to be. It’s going to be in its own free-standing building that is going in near the strip center with Quizno’s and Brightway Insurance.

I’ve had several calls from folks saying that a new Family Dollar is going in where CVS used to be. Alas, I am wrong, but to set the record absolutely straight, the building was initially constructed to house one of two Eckerds drug stores built in Valdosta several years ago. Rite Aid acquired the Eckerds’ chain, and it was a Rite Aid for a short time before closing more than a year ago. Sorry for my goof!

Agri-Supply, although relatively new to the Valdosta market, has been in business for 50 years and is celebrating next week by holding a day of giveaways and events on Saturday, so go by and check them out.

And the same is true for Hobby Lobby. They’ve been around for a few years on St. Augustine Road, but the company itself is preparing to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Over on Baytree, the new Halloween store has been packed every time I’ve gone by there. It’s located on the corner of Baytree and Gornto where a video store was.

Azalea City Florist on East Park Avenue in Valdosta has new ownership and the shop has several things planned soon, including a special Christmas Open House event.

Don’t forget that beginning this week, the outpatient area at SGMC will be located in the front lobby and the area where it was located will be closed due to construction on the new patient tower. Add that to the helipad construction, and you really should just park in the new parking garage if you can as it’s the easiest way to navigate the medical center campus right now.

Some new things in Quitman, including Elsberry’s antiques, the new Brick Oven Pizza & Grill, the new Bird Dog Café inside Gifted which will open soon, and a new pawn shop/gold buyer. The downtown area is a great place for shoppers and bargain hunters alike, and it’s good to see it continue to thrive.

That’s it for this week, but if there’s something I missed, please let me know.


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