With more than 30 years of economic development experience, Darrell Moore is the right fit to lead the Valdosta State University Center for South Georgia Regional Impact (SGRI). A grassroots effort that started in 2018, the SGRI connects the university’s resources to needs with communities across the region.
In addition to VSU’s academic mission, the comprehensive university is focused on developing partnerships and providing resources to support the growth of communities within a 41-county service region.
“The goal of the center is to identify opportunities or challenges in all 41 counties and then come back to VSU and find resources to help them out,” Moore says.
A campus-wide resource team works with industrial development representatives, chambers, school systems, governmental agencies, nonprofits, and businesses to meet regional economic needs that support the growth of South Georgia.
With an abundance of resources, the SGRI uses student internships, graduate capstones, and expertise from faculty and staff to complete projects ranging from feasibility studies, financial impact analysis, wage surveys, land-use studies, marketing and branding, and more.
Past projects include collecting demographics on visitors at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, Okefenokee Adventures, and Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge. The second phase involves using the data to develop marketing plans.
Recently the SGRI completed a financial impact analysis for the Moultrie-Colquitt Parks and Recreation Authority. “This is something they can use to try and build support for public and private entities to continue funding improvements at the rec department.”
The 2020 Census was one of the center’s most prominent and included interaction with 55 counties and the development of community-specific marketing materials. Using the same format and process, the SGRI recently launched a COVID vaccine campaign.
This year the SGRI is completing a downtown development study for the City of Adel as a tool to establish short- and long-term growth plans.
Moore explains that VSU’s vast connections make it possible to complete projects of any size. “We have relationships with other colleges and universities, technical colleges, [and] a lot of resources we can pull in, and have pulled in, including the utilities have a lot of resources they provide on a community level. If we have gaps, we can partner with others to work them out.”
For more information, click here to contact the VSU Center for SGRI.
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