The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority has a new executive director, Brad Lofton, to fill the position left open by Ken Garren’s retirement. Garren, the director for more than 10 years, is staying for another month to assist in the transition.

Lofton’s credentials and contacts in the state are impressive, and he’s enthusiastic about his opportunity in our community. He and his wife are from Moultrie, giving him a head start on understanding the culture in South Georgia and transitioning into his new position here.

The Authority, under Garren’s leadership, has done an impressive job during the past decade in assisting new and existing businesses interested in locating or expanding in Lowndes County. Garren, the staff and members of the Authority board have worked together to create a good base of opportunity for Lofton to build on.

However, given his experience and enthusiasm for the position, the community should expect that Lofton will raise the bar and help take Valdosta and Lowndes County to a new level.

The Authority needs a strategic plan and a vision. It needs to be more proactive in attracting new business and industry by actively recruiting prospects. This community is long past ready for higher wage, higher skill level jobs, and the Authority needs to be in the forefront of creating those opportunities so that university students, military and corporate spouses, natives of the area and those who wish to move to Valdosta all have opportunities that are simply lacking at this time.

One of the Times’ editorial goals for the year, set back in December, was for the community to attract one new high-tech industry. It seemed like such an easy goal at the time. Although it doesn’t appear that it will be reached this year, it will stay on our list until it is.

Valdosta-Lowndes County is ready for new opportunities, new industry, high tech, high skill level jobs and most importantly, higher wages. It’s time for the Industrial Authority to step up and fulfill the community’s needs.

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