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VSU helping Seminole, Lanier counties grow economies

Rural development institute leads to projects
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 18:25:53-04

VALDSOTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Two South Georgia counties are benefiting from a new program at Valdosta State University. They include Seminole County and Lanier County to the east.

Leaders from both counties recently wrapped up at the inaugural rural development institute at VSU.

“My brain is bursting,” said Sarah Avery. She is director of the development authority in Seminole County. “You get so many ideas when you collaborate with your peers.”

“We would like to bring some more businesses in,” added Cindy Pullen, executive chamber board member with Lanier County.

They both said they’re feeling energized following VSU’s new rural development institute.

“We came away with a list of projects and actions we can take immediately,” Pullen explained.

“We know we want more tourism. We already have it. We know we want more,” Avery added.

Tourism is something both of these counties have going for them. Now, with the help of mentors and faculty and student led teams from VSU, they’re working on ways to attract new business to their communities.

“It’s rewarding to see people have a better quality of life,” shared Darell Moore, director of the Center for Regional Impact at VSU. “We’re fulfilling our mission to serve South Georgia and the entire state.”

The institute he helped organize is helping rural counties. In Lanier County, Pullen says her team will be taking what they learned to the Lakeland area.

“We’re also going to be continuing work on our RV park to bring revenue in,” Pullen said. “We’re starting a feasibility study on a hotel. We don’t have a hotel really in Lakeland we can use.” Leaders in Lanier are also looking for ways to expand access to more high-speed internet.

Meanwhile, in Seminole County, Avery said, “if you’re a guest a Lake Seminole, you’ll want to come downtown and shop.” They’re working on breathing new life into downtown Donalsonville while bringing new jobs to the community.

“We’re about to pick up some food processing with American Peanut Growers Group with their expansion. They’ll be doing peanut paste,” Avery added. “We’re picking up almost 100 jobs there.”

Pullen also said they’re working to attract new businesses to fill the storefronts in downtown Lakeland. Avery added they’re also working to develop their new industrial park near Donalsonville. It’s 140 acres.

You can see how VSU is helping Mitchell County too by clicking here.