Training young entrepreneurs, giving recognition to STAR students and teachers, and acknowledging the accomplishments of adult learners are the major goals of WEST, Inc. This charitable foundation is an arm of the Valdosta Chamber. WEST stands for Workforce Education Support Team. The WEST, Inc. Board met recently to review progress in 2018 and to elect new officers for 2019.
“WEST, Inc. is a vehicle for individuals and businesses to contribute to the Chamber’s work in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, the STAR Student and Teacher Banquet, and our annual recognition of Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education (EAGLE) Award winners,” explained Chamber president and WEST, Inc. secretary/treasurer Myrna Ballard.
WEST, Inc. was incorporated in 1993 as The Education Council, Inc. by top business leaders in the Chamber including Rusty Griffin, Ed Crane, Dutton Miller and Glenn Copeland. The mission was to provide a bridge between the business community and local education institutions, allowing partnerships and collaborations that could enhance educational outcomes. Over the years, WEST, Inc. has changed with the times, concentrating on entrepreneur education and workforce development.
At the annual meeting of the WEST, Inc. Board of Directors in February, Clinton Beeland, president and CEO of CJB Industries, was recognized as the outgoing chairman.
“I enjoy serving on the WEST Board,” said Beeland, who continues to serve as a Board member. “Through WEST we provide funds for the STAR banquet to recognize many of our areas brightest students. We also support young entrepreneur development, and provide support and recognition for adult GED students and their tremendous effort.”
Dr. Tirrell Andrews, president of Peaceway Counseling & Mediation Services, Inc. was elected 2019 chairman of the board. “I serve on the WEST Board because the mission of the Board aligns with my goals. WEST recognizes the performance of outstanding high school students and teachers through the STAR Banquet, supports adults who continue their education and are recognized by the EAGLE Reception, and I appreciate and support the work of the Chamber through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).”
Laura Fitch, HR Coordinator for Smith Drug Company, was elected vice chairman. Other members include John Page (Page Insurance and Financial Services), Dr. Brad Lawson (Georgia Christian School), LaVerne Rome (Lowndes County Schools) and Jennifer Steedley (Valdosta City Schools).
Pictured are WEST, Inc. Board members Clinton Beeland, Dr. Tirrell Andrews, John Page, Laura Fitch, LaVerne Rome, Dr. Brad Lawson, Jennifer Steedley and Myrna Ballard
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Country Inn & Suites as the Leading Business of the Week for Feb. 4, 2019.
Country Inn & Suites takes pride in providing exceptional hospitable lodging to the people traveling through the Valdosta-Lowndes community.
In the past few months, Country Inn & Suites has opened an extended stay hotel, acquired an additional hotel and plans to remodel its current place in the future.
“In late 2019 or early 2020, we will be doing a full remodel, said Jeremy Tillman, general manager.
Country Inn & Suites enjoys the opportunity to interact with their customers and community. Tillman stated, “We enjoy meeting the different travelers that pass through our hotel as well the people in the community.”
Country Inn & Suites is a proud member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber is the voice of a business on the local, state and federal level,” said Tillman. “The Chamber connects us with other Chamber members in our community.”
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.
The Chamber Ambassadors celebrated the grand opening of The Meeting Place II with a ribbon cutting Feb. 1, 2019, to celebrate their accomplishments in the Valdosta-Lowndes County Community.
Dedicated to helping homeless women receive a quality of life, The Meeting Place is a transitional center providing aid to clients for up to 90 days.
“I saw the need in our community and I wanted to help empower and get our women the help they need," said Lisa Rene’ Straughter, chief executive officer.
Establishing The Meeting Place was personal for Straughter. “What makes the Meeting Place different from other centers is, I’ve lived where they are,” said Straughter.
The Meeting Place is a proud member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. Straughter stated, “The Chamber has allowed me to network, meet great people and build relationships.”
The Chamber Ambassadors celebrated a full renovation for Thomas Collision with a ribbon cutting Jan. 31, 2019.
Since 2000, Thomas Collision has offered full service repair to the Valdosta community. Thomas Collision specializes in late-model wrecks and processing insurance claims.
“I love building cars, processing claims and helping people,” said James Thomas owner.
According to Thomas, repair methods are constantly changing in the car repair industry; therefore, his company continues to learn new ways to offer their best service to customers.
Thomas Collision takes pride in their customer retention. “We always want people to return if they ever need us again,” said Thomas.
Thomas Collision is a proud member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.
“19 years ago, the Chamber helped me get started in the Drugs Don’t Work program,” said Thomas. “It was then that I learned about the Chamber and the great people and the resources that are available to me.”