Editorial: An open letter to Americus

Published 4:35 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

This past week in Americus we have witnessed tragedy, courage, fear and many more emotions. Sometimes it feels like anger, and sometimes it feels like helplessness. Sitting here with lumps in our throats and constantly on the verge of tears, Americus residents have been impacted in some ways similar to how New Yorkers must have felt during and after the events of September 11, 2001.
Though I am not a full-time resident of Sumter County, I have been privileged to develop deep business and personal ties to the community during our years of operating facilities (and recent headquarters relocation) here.
I first visited Americus after the March 1, 2007 tornado had turned the community upside down. It was a very difficult time because economic development had slowed significantly over the previous decades with the downturn in manufacturing. Then, the tornado came through and took out the hospital, one of the largest economic engines in any small community. Doctors moved out, real estate sat empty, and everyone thought that was the end of Americus.
Americus was trying desperately to attract new business to Sumter County. The response to the tornado revealed a resourceful, passionate, hardworking community committed to preservation and growth. I also became familiar with the substantial resources of South Georgia Technical College and Georgia Southwestern University. These special institutions have been a cornerstone of our growth at PharmaCentra and Concentra Solutions, providing full and part-time employees for our companies and continuing education and training. Just this week, one of our top part-time employees graduated from GSW and proceeded to take his full time career in Human Resources to the next level.
There is a teaching in Judaism called Tikkun Olam, the Hebrew phrase that translates to “repairing the world.” As we grieve our fallen heroes and comfort the families, friends and each other, we have seen this brave, passionate, committed community begin the path toward healing. The examples of the community coming together is humbling, heartwarming and very emotional, because it poignantly reminds me what attracted me to Americus in the first place. The grassroots volunteers that showed up on a moment’s notice because they saw something that needed to be done is what defines this community and what makes it so extraordinary. This is an example of citizens doing their part to help repair the world, beginning right here at home.
I have an intense desire to give the entire community a big hug. If you see me walking my dog, shopping at Center Stage, getting a cup of coffee at Café Campesino or hanging out at Floyd’s Pub, please feel free to collect that hug. I love you Americus. Stay strong.

Dan Berman
CEO of PharmaCentra and Concentra Solutions