PDA awards innovation, partners

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017

From Staff Reports

AMERICUS — The Sumter County Development Authority recently hosted the annual Business and Industry Appreciation Reception, awarding industry innovation and community partnerships. Many business leaders, manufacturers, and producers attended the reception, representing the wide array of businesses in Sumter County. Each year, the reception is hosted at a location to highlight an asset of the community. This year, the event was held at the spec building in the Ted Baldwin Business and Technology Park. The Park is home to the Concentra Solutions and PharmaCentra contact center, H2O Sports Manufacturing, TCI Powder Coatings, Golden Gourmet, and Southern Wholesale Glass. Along with these businesses, the Park has over 200 acres with all infrastructure and services readily available for development, as well as the 64,000-sq. ft. spec building. The building was constructed as a basic shell, to be developed to meet the specific needs of a company establishing operations in the facility. With 24-foot ceilings and significant capacity for expansion, the spec building is a resource in Sumter County for local businesses looking to grow, or new industry looking to establish operations.
Along with highlighting the Ted Baldwin Park, the Authority also recognized leading businesses in Sumter County. The annual selection of award nominees is a tough job, particularly given the diverse, industry leading companies in Sumter County. Our community is one that is ever changing to meet market demands, as well as one with a strong entrepreneurial spirit that has been evident for generations with both the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. In selecting the award recipients, factors such as exporting, innovation, partnerships and sustainability are considered, as these traits signify the strength and tenacity of the businesses to not only be productive, but also value the importance of a thriving community with jobs for citizens.
Authority Chairman Paul Hall shared that each award recipient would be presented with a creation from Mobile Glassblowing Studios. Hall continued his remarks by sharing about the Studio.  “… A manufacturer which opened its doors in 2015, the Studio has evolved, grown, and continues to exhibit community partnership on a daily basis. Whether it is brainstorming with others to host the first craft beer festival, and creating unique, sought-after glasses by the participants, hosting regional leadership programs for tours to learn the art, actively participating in First Friday events in downtown Americus, or whatever it may be, when there is an opportunity to partner, Mobile Glassblowing Studios readily raises it hand and says yes, how can we partner, how can we share. And share not only our glassblowing machines, but also your undying commitment to Sumter County. What began with professors at GSW manufacturing a machine, turned into a company of sculptors, educators, manufacturers, and most importantly community partners. With this short highlight of their works, you can see Mobile Glassblowing Studios exhibits the characteristics of the 2017 Partners in Progress Award.” The award was presented to Chuck Wells and Phil Vinson of MGBS for their many accomplishments and community partnerships during 2016.
The second award presented was Excellence in exports, which considers a company who exports their products beyond Sumter County. Exports in Sumter County include boats, fabricated plastics and metal components, indoor and outdoor furniture, and much more. The largest economic impact sector in Sumter County is agriculture, with the latest data showing well over 2,000 jobs, and several of our products including milk, peanuts and pecans are exported. While the county-wide Farmgate value is over $100 million, pecans represent over $7 million of the amount. A great local example of a company who exports pecans is Horne Farms, located on Old Andersonville Road. Mike Horne and his team exports over 70 percent of their pecans, serving many communities, states and consumers around the world. With their dedicated work to growing a quality pecan and being a longstanding business in Sumter County, Horne Farms was recognized with the Excellence in Exports Award.
The next award, Industry Innovators, was presented to Thirteenth Colony Distilleries. The award considers a company’s creativity and flexibility in the workplace, or innovations in responding to industry needs with product development. Presenter Bill Harris Sr. shared the following when describing the Distillery.  “… While there are many companies who exhibit these traits, there is one company who continues to show innovation in all aspects of their work. From production of only the highest quality, handcrafted spirits, to ensuring the southern tradition of pride in their products, great quality in service, and the use of local ingredients, all aspects of their business is unique and focused on the customer. What began as a journey to make spirits as gifts for friends and families has evolved into an innovative distillery in downtown Americus. Their saying, made by friends for friends, is not just a saying, but guides everything they do and tells their story.”
The last award of the evening, Sustainable Sumter, was presented by board member, Alex Saratsiotis. Sustainable Sumter considers the number of employees, average wages, estimated impact to Sumter County, and capital and infrastructure investments in Sumter County. When one considers these aspects together, coming from a single entity, it is fairly impressive.
Saratsiotis elaborated that there “… were two Sumter County businesses receiving the Sustainable Sumter Award. In giving thought to these two companies, the board began to realize the magnitude of their impacts on our sustainability as a community. They touch all of us, at home, work, in everything we do, ensuring all 33,000 of us have power to turn on the lights, TVs, and every mobile device imaginable. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as to the resources they share with us. From resource teams who assist with retail and industry recruitment, prospect meetings and support, community and economic development guidance and data research, to their local people. They volunteer on boards with the Chamber of Commerce, One Sumter, and Development Authority. Their teams assist with teaching youth and adult leadership programs, volunteering for community cleanup days, and really any task asked of them. They are team players, and citizens where they serve, for over 80 years in Sumter County. You see these two companies are on call 24/7, responding to their customers, and it is only fitting with April being lineman appreciation month that the Sustainable Sumter award is presented to Mr. Ted McMillan of Sumter EMC and Mr. Jem Morris of Georgia Power. You couldn’t find two more dedicated individuals, and their leadership is evident in how their teams work to ensure the sustainability of Sumter County.”
In closing for the evening, Chairman Hall congratulated and thanked not only the award recipients, but all business and industry in Sumter County who provide invaluable services and jobs.