In this episode of the South Georgia Insider Podcast, we’re talking to Christie Moore, president and CEO of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber. Moore shares her newcomer’s view of Valdosta and Lowndes County, how the Chamber is helping businesses post-pandemic, and the importance of the Chamber’s mission to advocate, build, and connect.
Less than six months on the job, Moore is still learning about the Valdosta and Lowndes County community. “Valdosta is a big, small town and everyone knows each other, which attracted us here,” says Moore, who moved to Lowndes County with her husband, Michael Moore.
As the community begins to emerge from the pandemic's disruptions, she says the Chamber is committed to helping businesses re-think their operating models. “I don’t think there is a business in Valdosta or Lowndes who will tell you they are doing things exactly the same before the pandemic. I honestly don’t think any of us will go back [to normal]. As terrible as COVID was, we can take lessons from it.”
Realizing that not all members fit in the “same box,” Moore says the Chamber must implement programs that meet businesses where they are and provide for their current needs.
“As we move forward, we have to think about how to engage all the different sectors,” she says. “In Valdosta and Lowndes County, we have a huge variety and diversity of our economy…not just retail and manufacturing,”
A significant shift across all businesses is the workforce. “One thing we have learned is that ‘work’ looks different during the pandemic.”
Either working from home or being an “essential worker,” the Chamber is focused on helping all businesses meet diverse employment challenges.
“We hear our businesses loud and clear that the biggest issue is having the workers fulfill their needs,” she says. “The Chamber can encourage and support businesses and be the leader for helping institute best practices. We can be that research partner and information partner. I find that businesses know their industry really, really well, sometimes they need that extra help to know how to pivot and change.”
As part of its workforce mission, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber is partnering with the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority, Wiregrass Technical College, and Georgia Power to host a Workforce Solutions Summit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Tuesday, June 9, at Rainwater Conference Center.
According to Moore, the summit provides an opportunity to gain feedback from business leaders and provide information about existing programs and options that all businesses can utilize to foster their workforce pipeline.
Still learning about the community, Moore says, “It’s like I am drinking out of a firehose. What I love about the Chamber world is I’ve never had two days just alike.”
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South Georgia Insider is produced by Spencer Van Horn, Smalltown Broadcasting.