Economic Gardening in Lowndes County

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The graduates speak, and community leaders listen.

"The job market in Valdosta is very narrow, so it's hard to find a professional paying position in Valdosta once you graduated with your degree," say Betsy Harrell.

That's the message from a typical college graduate in Lowndes County.

"We want our college graduates to stay at home and make money. If they feel they can make a better life and have a better lifestyle and make more money in another area, they may leave us," says Barwick.

Dara Barwick with the Georgia Department of Economic Development came to town to speak about economic gardening, which she says is a successful strategy for economic development.

Barwick says, "It's having a focus on your entrepreneurs and small businesses in a community environment."

The gardening strategy concentrates on growing and expanding small businesses by finding out what their needs are.

"The Valdosta/Lowndes area is the premier area in Georgia, I think, for promoting a program to keep their college graduates," said Barwick.

While the jobs may not be so hot right now, at least young professionals can find comfort in the fact that the community is looking out for them.

The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce offers several programs for small business owners or those wishing to start their own business.