Valdosta Daily Times

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March 4, 2014

Former director of Industrial Authority dies

VALDOSTA — Ken Garren, the longtime executive director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority, died Sunday from a long illness.

Garren came to Valdosta in 1965 via Moody Air Force Base. He met and married his wife, Helen, at Moody and after his service, he obtained a degree at Valdosta State University.

Garren worked for 25 years at the South Georgia Regional Development Center, the last 13 as the planning director, and retired from there in 1996. He was tapped to lead the Industrial Authority in February 1997 where he sayed until his retirement in 2006.

Attorney Steve Gupton of the Industrial Authority said, “I worked with Ken until he retired in September 2006 and can say without hesitation Ken loved his work, loved this community and gave back far more than he took. I consider it an honor to have been Ken's friend and to have worked alongside him in economic development for Valdosta and Lowndes County. Ken never met a stranger and so many of the employers and owners that made decisions to locate in this community did so due to Ken's positive attitude and his salesmanship of our community.”

During his tenure with the Industrial Authority, Garren was instrumental in attracting numerous businesses to the industrial parks, including Regal Marine, Lowe’s distribution center, Wire Rope Corporation, Home Depot distribution center, Roberts Irrigation, and dozens more.

“Ken Garren was a great person to work with.  I wish I had a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm Ken brought to every issue and project.  Ken never met a stranger and somehow every topic or situation reminded him of a story about his beloved Wildcats which he knew you wanted to hear as much as he wanted to share it.  Valdosta and Lowndes County is a richer place because of Ken Garren passed this way,” said Joe Pritchard, Lowndes County Manager.

Garren helped to create and protect thousands of jobs locally and was instrumental in the community receiving millions in OneGeorgia grants and Georgia EDGE grants to assist businesses in locating in Lowndes County.

City Manager Larry Hanson worked with him for years and said, “Ken Garren spent his adult life serving his country and serving his community. Ken was always well prepared and very professional, and conducted his job with integrity and enthusiasm. Never one to be content with idle time, Ken later served as a part-time employee for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Building Inspections Department. I had the privilege of working with Ken in all of his local government positions.  Ken loved working with people, loved his community, loved serving others, and loved his Valdosta Wildcats. He was a true public servant, his contributions were many, and he will be sorely missed.”

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