Banking on former success, looking toward a new year

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, January 5, 2019

There are some good things brewing in Sumter County as we start off the new year 2019. Often, we make New Year’s resolutions such as to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, spend more time with our families. Sometimes we resolve to “accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.” Let’s all embrace that one during this entire new year.
Things are looking bright for Sumter County all right. Here are just a few highlights on the horizon.
Don Lyon, who owns the successful Dairy Queen franchise in Americus, as well as other franchises, and his family business will be bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken back to Americus! The building, at the corner of Ga. Highway 27 and Tripp Street, formerly Krystal, is being renovated from the inside out, and we can’t wait until “The Colonel” is back in town with his secret recipe.
Americus Mayor Barry Blount says there will be more announcements forthcoming about new economic growth here — both industry-wise as well as retail — coming in the near future. This means more jobs as well as strengthening the local tax base.
Recently, the Sumter County partnership — One Sumter Foundation, Sumter County Schools, Georgia Southwestern State University, South Georgia Technical College, and a commitment by local business and industry — garnered a $3.11 million grant for the Ignite College and Career Academy in Americus. Groundbreaking is expected this spring for the new Sumter County High School complex, while various aspects of the college and career academy have already begun with internships and mentoring relationships.
Both of the institutions of higher learning — Georgia Southwestern State University and South Georgia Technical College — continue to experience growth in enrollment as well as program and degree offerings.
The Sumter County Schools system reported increases in test scores recently as well as a higher attendance rate. More students in the classroom learning is absolutely necessary in leading to the school system’s ultimate goal of graduating every student.
A group of entrepreneurs is interested in investing in the crumbling, historic Furlow School building on College Street for conversion into a micro-brewery with space for retail shops. We are hoping that the mayor and city council will recognize the wisdom of donating this old building for future use, rather than razing it or allowing further demolition by neglect. This new business proposal will tie in nicely with the existing improvements to the Jackson Avenue corridor leading to a growing, vital downtown retail trade zone.
All of these positive aspects of our community help to ensure that more business and industry will further identify Americus and Sumter County as an attractive community in which to do business. That means more people buying homes here and sending their children to local schools. It’s a win-win for all of us.
Here’s to 2019!