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