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Valdosta-Lowndes County Becoming A Top Choice For New Businesses and Industries in Georgia

February 24, 2017

With a prime geographic location, robust infrastructure, skilled workforce, and a vibrant quality of life, it is easy to see why Valdosta-Lowndes County is becoming a top choice for new businesses and industries in Georgia.

Valdosta-Lowndes County has a history of agriculture production and food processing. The region also serves as a hub for continued growth in advanced manufacturing and warehouse and distribution services.

Located equal distance between Atlanta and Orlando, Valdosta-Lowndes County sits on Interstate-75 (north and south), along with easy access to Interstate-10 (east and west) and major state highways. Proximity to the Port of Savannah, Port of Brunswick, and Port of Jacksonville is an important part of the Valdosta-Lowndes County logistics network. Another mode of transportation is rail service provided by Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads.

“Our prime location, along with a strong logistics and supply chain network provides a competitive advantage in helping businesses move their products quickly,” said Andrea Schruijer, executive director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority. “Having two rail lines running through Lowndes County is beneficial to our industries, but what is more important is that both lines have rail capacity.”

Schruijer explains that many communities have multiple rail lines nearby; however, it is the rail capacity that is critical to transporting products quickly and efficiently.

Lowndes County’s geographical location also places it on the Floridian aquifer, which is one of the most productive aquifers in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We have tons of water,” says Schruijer, “and this abundance of water is essential to many industries.”

Along with a surplus of water, Valdosta-Lowndes County has available land, affordable buildings, and a mild year-round climate.

“What we have done well is help our existing business continue to grow,” said Schruijer. “Because we have a diverse base of manufacturing and logistics distribution, we were fortunate through the recession that we didn’t see businesses close, and we don’t have a lot of empty buildings. Our businesses and industries continue to thrive and expand.”

One example of growth and longevity is the Saft plant, which has called Valdosta home for 41 years. With approximately 260 employees, the Saft Valdosta facility serves the aeronautics, commuter rail, and telecommunications markets.

Saft has experienced extensive growth in the past four decades and credits the excellent cooperation from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority, Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, and various state and local agencies toward its success.

“We've had an excellent cooperative relationship over the years,” said Jody Beasley, Saft general manager. “These partnerships have helped us meet our objectives of doing business profitably. It has also been beneficial in terms of employment.”

Schruijer agrees that support from the community is a big part of Valdosta-Lowndes County’s success in recruiting and retaining top businesses and industries.

“We work extremely well and have great partnerships with our city and county government as well as the Chamber of Commerce and all local government entities,” Schruijer said. “It is these relationships that make Valdosta- Lowndes County a great place to do business.

In today’s rapidly changing world of technology, the ability to have a trained and experienced workforce is essential to long-term growth and continued economic stability.

Valdosta-Lowndes County is home to Valdosta State University, a comprehensive public university, and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, which develops programs to provide specialized training for new and existing businesses in the region.

“With Valdosta State and Wiregrass in our community, Saft can hire people who are local, opposed to hiring outside the area to locate skilled employees,” said Beasley. “For example, if we need an electronics technician we know they are trained here locally at Wiregrass. It is important to have a good workforce when you begin and then as your workforce needs change they [VSU and WGTC] can help support that development.”

A community’s economic stability is only as strong as its broad-based efforts to provide a high-standard quality of life. Living in Valdosta-Lowndes County offers easy access to a multitude of cultural, recreational and sporting activities.

With a pro-business vision, Valdosta-Lowndes County business and government leaders are focused on maintaining a high-standard quality of life, while advancing a strategic mission to help existing industries grow and recruit new businesses that are committed expanding their base of operation.
 

Article was featured in FDI Alliance Summer Issue 2016

Valdosta-Lowndes County Becoming A Top Choice For New Businesses and Industries in Georgia
Andrea Schuijer, Executive Director, Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority

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Andrea Schruijer, Executive Director

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