Students from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber were introduced to Jessica Sharp, owner of Ink & Cotton, a local screen printing and embroidery shop.
Sharp shared need-to-know tips about setting up an online business. She explained the pros and cons of e-commerce along with how her website has had an impact on the sales within her own business.
“It is my pleasure to speak on behalf of my background and experiences in e-commerce to the YEA! students. Anything I can do to contribute to their success is worthwhile,” said Sharp.
As part of the YEA! program, students are introduced to all facets of the business world including, but not limited to, advertising, insurance, graphic design and web development.
Over the course of this year’s YEA! program, students will launch their own very unique businesses.
As a non-profit organization, YEA! relies on the generosity of the community and of sponsors; people who identify with entrepreneurship and want to help pave the way for the future business leaders of tomorrow.
“YEA! strengthens the community, and the community strengthens YEA!,” said Gayle Jagel, the Founder and CEO of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “Our program managers and instructors seek out people in the business community to help students’ dreams become reality.”
During the course of the 26-week program, more than 30 local businesses become involved with YEA! at various levels. Students work in close cooperation with local business leaders, community leaders and educators who use their personal experiences to demonstrate how to transform their ideas into tangible businesses that create economic and social value.
For more information on the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, contact Betty Morgan at the Chamber at 229-247-8100 ext 234.
PHOTO CAPTION: Jessica Sharp, Owner of Ink & Cotton teaches the YEA! students about e-commerce.
An Ambassador’s job is to be a representative and a surrogate, and that certainly defines the role of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Ambassadors.
“We are 39 members who represent the Chamber at about 100 activities each year,” explained 2019 Ambassador Chairman, Sally Sutton. “We like to think of ourselves as cheerleaders for our fellow Chamber members.”
The Ambassadors are a recognizable group, always sporting their green blazers as a sign of prosperity for the business community. They attend almost every Chamber event eager to welcome new businesses and celebrate the old.
Through these events, the Ambassadors have the privilege of meeting and “recognizing the business owners making a difference in the community,” explains Michael Smith, a new Ambassador.
The goodwill group of volunteers is said to not only support other businesses, but “genuinely cheer each other on,” as described by Brittany Ray, another new addition to the group.
They celebrate each other in their respective businesses and when they hit certain benchmarks within the Ambassadors Program.
The Ambassadors gathered on Tuesday, January 21 for an awards ceremony reflecting the fourth quarter of 2019.
The individuals earn points by attending events. When a certain number has been reached, they are awarded an official Chamber Ambassador name badge to wear on their green blazers.
Paula Avery (Colson Printing Co.), Desiree Hagan (Winnersville Elite Cheer & Dance), Cherise McKinnon (Sip With Cherise), Brittany Ray (Coastal Home Care, LLC) and Michael Smith (Greater Valdosta United Way, Inc.) reached this status in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Chamber Chairman of the Board, Lee McArthur, awarded those present with their badges.
Ambassadors join the program for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make business connections.
“In order to help my company grow, I knew I had to become a part of something bigger than myself. As a Chamber Ambassador I have made invaluable connections in the community & met so many new friends,” Ray said.
In terms of community involvement, becoming an Ambassador seemed like the logical next step for Avery.
“Being an Ambassador allows you to participate and be a part of the Chamber in a more up close and personal way,” explained Avery. “You personally meet the businesses and community members, which is amazing.”
Hagan also enjoys the involvement and “celebrating the many great achievements of others in the community.”
In addition to learning about the business community at each event, the Ambassadors spend a great deal of time together and are happy to learn from each other through internal networking.
“I see this circle as my mentors as I begin my entrepreneurial journey after a career in the Air Force,” McKinnon said.
As a young professional, Hagan also enjoys the mentorship.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to connect with others in the business community, but being an Ambassador has helped me make connections both inside and outside of the group,” she added.
Keep an eye out for these green blazers in the community. This bunch is more than willing to make a new connection.
For more information on the Chamber Ambassador Program, contact Lauren Pope at 229-247-8100 ext 231.
Photo Caption: Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, Lee McArthur, awards Brittany Ray, Cherise McKinnon, Michael Smith and Desiree Hagan official Ambassador name badges.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Moyer’s Pressure Washing with a ribbon cutting on January 24, 2020 to celebrate becoming a member of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and to share their business with the community.
Moyer’s Pressure Washing specializes in cleaning residential and commercial properties by using a soft wash method.
“As a pressure washing business, we are always looking for innovative ways to complete our jobs, one of which is by using the soft wash method to ensure a clean property with no damage,” said Brandon Moyer, owner. “We take pride in being called, “South Georgia’s soft wash experts.”
In addition to becoming a new Chamber member, Moyer is also new to the community. Originally from Albany, Moyer is excited for the move to Valdosta and the opportunity to expand his business and meet prospective customers.
“As a mobile business, I am able to go to my customers for all of their exterior cleaning needs, but I chose to primarily locate in Lowndes County because I see potential for my business to grow and prosper,” said Moyer. “I love what I do because I enjoy being able to see the smile on my customer’s face when I have restored their property back to its original glory.”
According to Moyer, the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber has provided the opportunity for his business to advertise and meet other business owners in the community.
For more information about Moyer’s Pressure Washing, please call (229) 449-5493.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Chamber Ambassadors welcomed Moyer’s Pressure washing to the Chamber and the community with a ribbon cutting.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Herring Septic Service, Inc. with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, January 23 to celebrate their new Chamber membership and business expansion.
Owner, Craig Wisenbaker, purchased Herring Septic Service eight years ago. At the time, it was a small business with only one pump truck and few services offered. The business has since expanded.
“Over the past eight years, we have added an additional pump truck and services including repairs and replacement of drain field and jetting, new septic and drain field installations, pump station repairs and septic inspections,” shared Wisenbaker.
Herring Septic Service is a company that is dedicated to making sure that all your septic tank needs are handled correctly and in a timely manner. They are also adamant that their work has a positive effect on the environment.
“At Herring Septic Service, our aim is to provide the type of septic services that keep our clients’ waste removal systems running smoothly and our environment protect,” says Wisenbaker.
Five years into ownership, Wisenbaker brought his son on board. With his help, the business has grown exponentially. The father-son team brings a family-oriented feel in all they do, which is a priority at Herring Septic Service.
For more information on Herring Septic Services visit their website herringsepticservice.com, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call them at 229-356-1786.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Chamber Ambassadors honored Herring Septic Service with a ribbon cutting celebrating their new Chamber membership and business expansion.
The Chamber and First Commerce Credit Union presented T3 Outdoors with the January Small Business of The Month Award.
Opening in Valdosta 10 years ago, the business originally started out as a small gun shop.
It has now grown exponentially in both physical size and merchandise.
T3 Outdoors is now a gun and accessories mall that sells not only guns, but holsters, knives, hunting products, safes, fishing gear, animal feed and everyday wear.
“We outgrew our old location in 2019 and have much more space now in our new, permanent home,” said Jud Tanner, owner.
The new location features a barn-like display and weathered wood that was once a part of local, historic structures.
Though they continue to grow and stay on trend with the changing times, the business still maintains that old, friendly and familiar feel you get from a general store.
Along with that family feel, T3 Outdoors prides themselves on excellent customer service.
They make it a goal to build a good rapport with any and all that they meet and provide services to.
“We never let a customer leave without offering to load up their car for them and make sure they are sent off with a smile,” said Tanner. “We may be a business, but we are also here to build relationships with our customers.”
T3 Outdoors also does its best to be a large part of the local community.
“Whether it be to donate our products for a raffle or auction or donate money to someone with healthcare needs, we just like to keep our help local to give back to the community,” Tanner shared.
To find out more information on T3 Outdoors contact them at (229) 247-4343, visit them at 1737 Gornto Road or visit their retail website at T3Outdoors.com.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Chamber and First Commerce Credit Union Named T3 Outdoors January’s Small Business of the Month.
Offering the latest fresh styles and trends for the past 52 years, Mizell Floor Covering and Interior Inc. is a one stop shop for all interior needs.
Passionate about the providing the utmost customer service, Mizell enjoys interacting with both new and repeat customers.
“I love meeting new customers everyday as well as my repeat customers that have become great friends through the years,” said Stephanie Mizell.
Since 1982, Mizell has been a proud member of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber does a great job promoting the importance of local family businesses,” said Mizell.
For more information about Mizell Floor Covering and Interior Inc., visit 423 Connell Road or call (229) 244-2333.
The Leading Business of the Week program is designed to recognize members who have partnered with the Chamber for at least five years. Marcotek Digital Office Solutions proudly sponsors the 2019 Leading Business of the Week program. For more information visit www.ValdostaChamber.com/Leading-Business-of-the-Week
PHOTO CAPTION: The Chamber Ambassadors Named Mizell Floor Covering and Interior Inc. Leading Business of the Week
While the Barber House is occupied by the nine Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber staff members, there is a group of 17 individuals who play an incredibly significant role in the functions and success of the organization.
The Chamber Board of Directors is made up of local business owners and operators who come together to be sure standards are met and maintained. No big decisions are made without the consultation of the board.
All of the 17 members are nominated by a committee and elected by the Chamber members. They serve three year terms.
October’s election earned a spot for three new board members, Elton Dixon, President of Enay Coaching, LLC; Britt McLane of Carson McLane Funeral and Lisa Register, Vice President of Comfort Keepers. Register in particular has seen the Chamber from a number of perspectives. She used it as a resource when opening a new business and became a Chamber Ambassador all before being elected to the Board.
Register, now a 10 year Chamber Ambassador, is excited to take her involvement to the next level.
“The Chamber has done so much for Comfort Keepers and I am excited to give back,” said Register. “I thoroughly enjoy being out in the community celebrating new and expanding businesses. As a board member, I will be able to encourage them even more by sharing what all resources are available for them through the Chamber.”
McLane’s family business has been a staple in Valdosta. They’re known for their service and care for families in their time of need. The funeral home has been a Chamber member for 64 years and McLane is honored to be representing on the Board. “Our funeral home has been a member of the Chamber for generations, but I am looking forward to developing new relationships and serving this community in a new and interesting way!” McLane expressed.
Enay Coaching, on the other hand, is a newer name to Valdosta but has quickly gained credibility. Dixon ended a career in the Air Force at Moody decided to make Valdosta a permanent home for he and his family.
“Starting a business was one more step to serving the community we are now proud to call home,” Dixon stated.
His business in particular has him more than prepared to take on such a significant role.
“Enay Coaching is a team building business. I am excited to now have joined another team that will work collectively together to positively impact our community,” Dixon added.
The Chamber is pleased to have these three additions. Together, they are sure to do great things over the next three years.
PHOTO CAPTION: New Chamber Board of Directors Members Elton Dixon and Lisa Register stand out front of the Chamber.
Lowndes County Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker gave Chamber members an update this week on the progress of the newly-created Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission at the first meeting of the year for the Chamber’s Economic Development Policy Committee.
Created in 2019, lawmakers tasked the commission with examining the State’s freight and logistics network and recommending improvements. Appointed by Lt Governor Geoff Duncan to serve on the commission, Wisenbaker has joined members of the Georgia House and Senate, logistics professionals, and three other local elected officials as the commission met at the port in Savannah, Metro Atlanta and Dalton to discuss efficient goods movement.
As e-commerce expands and supply chains grow increasingly complex, it’s essential that we examine our transportation networks to ensure that Georgia makes investments that will ensure our competitiveness globally.
"The GFLC's findings can be significant for freight movement throughout Georgia, especially rural Georgia. The issue for the non-metro areas is road and bridge capacity that network our produce farms,” explained Gary Wisenbaker. “These weren't constructed for the heavy trucks now using them but for smaller farm type equipment vehicles initially destined to get from the farm to the nearest farmer's market. Clearly there's going to be a need to take a look at how best to fortify this infrastructure. And it looks like the GFLC is headed in the right direction on this score."
Mark Wisenbaker concurred that the monumental task of freight movement from Georgia ports is moving in the right direction.
“The GFLC is committed to finding ways to safely increase all types of freight movement by economically increasing the use of rail, air and trucks throughout the State of Georgia," Mark Wisenbaker said.
Pictured are members of the Chamber’s Economic Development Policy Committee: (Seated) Mark Wisenbaker, Gary Wisenbaker (committee chairman), and Chamber president Myrna Ballard. (Standing) Britt McLane, J.D. Dillard, Brad Eyre, Russ Collett and Jim Gallaway.
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) students are back in action in the new year.
Bill Nijem, a local attorney at Langdale Vallotton, LLP, was up first to discuss the significance of having an attorney. As brand new entrepreneurs, the students were exposed to the many risks a business faces.
“Having an attorney is something that had never crossed the minds of the students before they heard from Mr. Nijem,” said YEA! Program Director Betty Morgan. “You could see their wheels turning as he spoke about what kind of precautions that they needed to take. You never know what can happen, especially with a new business!”
Angie Crawford, an insurance agent for State Farm, followed to discuss the purpose of business insurance, continuing the theme of risk management.
YEA! is a 26 week program that provides classroom instructions and also introduces students to all types of businesses through field trips as well as variety of executive leaders through guest lectures and business mentorship.
By engaging in this hands-on approach to learning through field trips such as this, students gain a real-world understanding of the dedication it takes to be a business owner.
The students meet once a week for classes and various field trips. This month, the programs are sponsored by Teamtemps.
For more information on YEA! contact Betty Morgan, Program Director at the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber 229-247-8100 ext 234.
PHOTO CAPTION: Bill Nijem teaches YEA! students about the significance of having an attorney.
PHOTO CAPTION: Angie Crawford discusses the different levels of insurance coverage for a business with YEA! students.
The Valdosta Chamber and Georgia Power are looking towards the future by kicking off the brand new Valdosta Young Professionals program.
As the population of young professionals grows in Valdosta, there has become more of a need for them to feel at home and get connection to the community. With this in mind, the group has been established and is open to those who live, work or do business in Metro Valdosta.
There is no cost to join VYP. Anyone between the ages of 21 and 40 are encouraged to become members.
“Our mission is to share our passion for Valdosta with like-minded young professionals through networking, community involvement and educational opportunities,” shared Lauren Pope, Director of Communications & Marketing at the Chamber. “I am looking forward to not only the opportunities for growth, but the fellowship.”
VYP will host member events in both social and educational settings. The members will also be encouraged to “plug in” to existing community events to make them even stronger.
Chloe Wade, Director of Membership & Events at the Chamber, is especially excited for the group’s foundation considering her circumstances.
“I have only lived in Valdosta for a few months and have been looking for a way to feel more connected to the community. I know that Valdosta Young Professionals will help me network and make Valdosta feel like home,” she said.
“Before moving here, I was a part of the largest young professionals group in the country in Ohio and I got to see firsthand how it not only helped the member, but their employers, too. These groups teach members professionalism and creates a well-rounded employee,” Wade added.
The group is sponsored by Georgia Power.
“Georgia Power is proud to sponsor a group with such a positive impact on the entire community. It is something I fully plan on getting my younger employees involved in. Having a group like this when I was younger really would have helped shape my career path,” shared Georgia Power’s Area Manager, Joe Brownlee.
Anyone interested in joining or having an employee join Valdosta Young Professionals can contact the Chamber at 229-247-8100 ext 231 or visit www.ValdostaChamber.com.
PHOTO CAPTION: Georgia Power Area Manager Joe Brownlee sponsors Valdosta Young Professionals.