Welcome, Arglass Yamamura.

Thank you, Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority. 

A major manufacturer bringing 150 jobs to our community is great news that we are excited to share. 

The hard work of Andrea Schruijer, her team and the board of directors of our development authority has paid off. 

Known to us for the past few years only as Project MAX, the Arglass plant will instantly become a significant economic driver in our city and county. 

The plant will be located in Lowndes County off Rocky Ford Road in the newly created Billy Langdale Industrial Park, and construction is scheduled to begin soon with plans for the plant to begin operations in 2021.

We agree with former development authority chairman Tom Call who said this week, “The families and the people who will be moving here will be shopping in our stores and eating in our restaurants. It’s a home run for sure.”

Yamamura will make a $124 million capital investment and that is significant for our region. 

The development authority, along with city and county leaders, worked together to make this happen. 

It should also be noted that Langdale Capital Assets donated the 80 acres of land for the project that will be named Billy Langdale Industrial Park. 

This project took years of negotiations. 

Industries want to know the right business climate exists; that the necessary infrastructure is in place; that there is a strong, available workforce; and, overall, that their business can have a bright future in a community poised to grow and prosper.  

So, why did this take years to all come together, and why haven’t we had more of these kinds of announcements during the past few years?  

Before anyone begins to question the development authority, first look at what they have to work with and the challenges they have to overcome. 

Our cities and county simply must do a better job of working together. Not only must city and county leaders be on the same page when it comes to recruiting business and industry but they must send a strong message that this is a cohesive, proactive community. 

Failing to pass service delivery strategy agreements every 10 years, ending up in mediation and then in court, effectively suing one another over simple service delivery is bad for the city, bad for the county, bad for the taxpayers and bad for recruitment. 

The city and county simply must do better. 

Business leaders eyeing our community look at public education as well. Our public school systems have made great strides, especially the city school system in improving graduation rates. Both school systems must continue to improve graduation rates and standardized testing scores, prioritizing student success, not only because of what it means for business recruitment but for what it means in the lives of these young people. 

When industry leaders visit our community what they see matters and it matters a lot. Keeping roadways in a state of good repair, eliminating blight and making sure the entrances into our community are inviting are all things that can be difference makers.

Which brings us to beautification and litter control. Anyone who does not think we have a litter problem has blinders on. Drying up the funding for the one organization committed to cleaning up our city and county — Keep Lowndes/Valdosta Beautiful — is shortsighted. 

Don’t get us wrong. We are proud, beyond proud, of what the development authority and local leaders have accomplished by bringing Yamamura to town. 

Kudos. 

But just imagine what could be done if everyone was in the same boat, with all the oars in the water, rowing in the same direction at the same time.  

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