Our guest today has deep roots in South Georgia. Barbara Grogan returned home to Colquitt County in 2019, when she was named president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority.
With a diverse mix of industries, Colquitt County is often recognized for its robust agricultural production, which includes numerous vegetable and row crop farms. “Along that same line we have two large food processing companies—National Beef and Sanderson Farms—together they are right at 2,000 employees, so they are good strong industries.”
Manufacturing is strong, specifically in the timber industry with IFCO Seedling and Universal Forest Products. Colquitt County is also home to Destiny Industries, which produces modular homes.
Grogan says healthcare has become another significant industry niche, especially with the recent addition of the South Georgia campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).
With a strong mix of manufacturing and food processing, the COVID pandemic escalated production demands. “We never seen a decline impacted through COVID,” Grogan says. “Actually, we saw continuous growth in tax revenue, SPLOT, consumer demand has been through the roof, which we are glad to have. People are always going to eat and buy essential goods, COVID made us look at the different markets they buy them in.”
Grogan discussed the strong partnership with Southern Regional Technical College. “Technical college education is significant no matter where you are, you always need that piece,” she says. “There are various styles of education. You need the critical and analytical thinker, you need the person who can do and understand equipment. You need all aspects, especially when you look at an industry of any type."
Building the next generation of workforce is a significant part of Grogan’s responsibilities. “Workforce starts at an early age,” she says. “At three and four years old you start exposing them to what they want to do when they grow up.”
Working closely with Colquitt County School System, Project Purpose starts primarily in the high school students get a positive entry into the local workforce.
Selected by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of the University of Georgia Public Service Outreach, the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority, in partnership with Colquitt County Schools, is working to create programs and initiatives focused on enhancing leadership skills.
Grogan gave up an update on the recent needs assessment survey conducted by the Brooks, Colquitt, Grady, Mitchell, and Thomas Counties Joint Development Authority (JDA). With more than 200 responses, the online survey gathered critical information to identify the workforce skills needed for businesses within the region to remain competitive.
COVID gave Colquitt County an opportunity to assess its broadband needs. “In terms of a rural community we are relatively blessed in terms of broadband,” Grogan says. “For a rural area, we have fairly good coverage, what lack is users. People don’t always know to go get it, or afford it.”
In 2019, Colquitt County started a strategic planning initiative that looks at how to grow all aspects of the community. Working with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the planning process included all “entities that help grow a community” from education to healthcare, city municipalities, the county, chamber, and parks and recreation.
Join us next time as we continue to promote South Georgia as a great place to live, work, play, and visit.
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