Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

July 16, 2014

Developing a new authority

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority met Tuesday night in its new building located at 103 Roosevelt Drive, voted to change its name, and discussed the challenges of recruiting new businesses to the area and how it plans to overcome these challenges.

Members adopted the new name of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority to more accurately reflect the overall scope of work in today's marketplace.

“We do much more than develop industrial parks and offer incentives,” said Andrea Schruijer, executive director. “Fundamentally our operations are the same, but with a more comprehensive approach to economic development. We now have existing industry programs, which help retain our existing industries and provide opportunities for expansions, foreign direct investment and financial support and work force opportunities. We take a proactive approach to business development by visiting location advisors and prospective companies, attending trade shows and maintaining strong relationships at the state and federal levels.”

The new location is ideal because it allows prospects to see the potential for growth through Valdosta State University Health Sciences Center, South Georgia Medical Center expansions, new professional mixed-use office developments,Valdosta Middle School, parks and other quality-of-life aspects. Meghan Dukes, Authority public relations and marketing manager, announced the Authority's ribbon cutting and open house ceremony, 11a.m. today, at the new office.

During the Tuesday meeting, the authority announced that it traveled to Atlanta on May 20-21, with city and county officials, and met with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Power, Georgia EMC, and Electric Cities of Georgia project managers at the Georgia Resource Center.

“Georgia Power hosted us and walked us through the process of economic development and how we get through the funnel of not being eliminated in that process,” Schruijer said. “We wanted to look at our demographics and what they really look like in relation to the recruitment of a project. I think we all learned some very interesting things. The make-up of our work force is probably not what we originally thought it to be.”

Schruijer said that the Development Authority is addressing this concern as it relates to the recruitment of projects.

“If we can get them here, then we can sell them on our community. The majority of projects are looking towards the metro areas because right now they are looking at how to minimize their risks. They are saying, 'the best place to minimize my risk is to be closest to the largest population, which is Atlanta,'” Schruijer said.

So, knowing all of this, the Authority hosts a meeting on Aug. 20 with community leaders, both city and county school systems, higher-education facilities, and others to discuss plans on how to combat these concerns.

The Authority postponed its budget vote until the next meeting. In the budget, the authority proposes a 2.7 percent increase. Operating costs are estimated to decrease by 5.1 percent due to the cost savings of the new office location.

The Authority does receive one mill from the county's millage rate, and the Authority is not requesting an increase in its mill allotment.

Project Manager Allan Ricketts presented an update on the new and existing industries.

Project Maroon is a new project that is in progress. Partnering with the state Department of Economic Development, the Authority is working to recruit an international company in bioscience products and therapies manufacturing operations. The Authority submitted a proposed location.

Project Royal is a new project in progress. The logistic and distribution company is looking for a location in South Georgia along the Interstate 75 corridor to support its operations in the Southeastern U.S.

Visiting six existing industries in May and June, Ricketts and the Authority found several promising opportunities for growth and expansion.

Project Wire, a manufacturing project, is in progress; this project could bring $2.1 million in capital investments and retain 27 jobs and create 33 jobs.

Project Treadway, a logistics and distribution service company, is in progress; phase one of this project is expected to bring $2 million in capital investments, retain six jobs, and create 10 jobs.

Project Loaf, a logistics and distribution project, is in progress; this project is expected to bring $1 million, retain 13 jobs, and create five jobs.

Project White Cadillac, a logistics and distribution project, is in progress; this project is expected to bring $1.5 million in capital investments, retain 21 jobs, and create eight jobs.

Project Patient is a customer/patient service center, and it is in progress; this project is expected to bring $750,000, retain 56 jobs, and create 38 jobs.

More information on the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority, contact them at (229) 259-9972.

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