The Valdosta metro area outpaced communities across the U.S. in job recovery.
Business Facilities named metro Valdosta in the “Top 10” for positive job growth from February to November 2020, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.
In the 17th Annual Rankings Report, metro Valdosta—which includes Lowndes, Brooks, Echols, and Lanier counties—was ranked No. 9 out of approximately 30 U.S. cities that experienced job growth during the coronavirus pandemic. Approximately 400 U.S. metro areas were reviewed and evaluated based on the largest percentage gain in total employment.
During the 10-month period, Valdosta’s employment growth is attributed to the community’s diverse mix of industries.
“Our key industries include advanced manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and food processing,” said Andrea Schruijer, executive director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority (VLCDA). “These were considered essential during the pandemic and saw employment gains.”
According to 2020 BLS data, during the 10-month evaluation period, distribution and logistics had the largest increase with 267 new jobs and food processing with 50 added jobs.
“Valdosta’s logistical infrastructure and supply chain network provide a competitive advantage in helping businesses move their products quickly and efficiently,” Schruijer said. “Because of our strong logistics hub, work continued throughout the pandemic, and some of our industries experienced higher production demands.”
Valdosta-Lowndes County is home to multiple distribution centers, including Lowe’s Home Center, Home Depot RDC, and Dillard’s Distribution Center.
A region with a robust food processing network—which includes South Georgia Pecan, Sunset Farm Foods, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc., and Archer Daniels Midland—Valdosta-Lowndes County was positioned for job recovery during the pandemic.
“Food processing is another industry that never stopped during the pandemic,” Schruijer said. “Our food manufacturers played a vital role in keeping grocery store shelves filled.”
Despite the pandemic in 2020, Valdosta-Lowndes County scored 13 industry projects—both new and existing expansions—representing $31 million capital investments and 215 new jobs.
Bates Precast Concrete announced a $5 million expansion and the creation of professional positions within the fields of engineering, sales, and production.
Newcomer Wakefield BioChar, a sustainable products company, manufactures char, a biproduct of wood used as fertilizer in gardening and farming. Serving the agricultural, manufacturing, and retail markets, Wakefield BioChar products are available through national retail outlets including Amazon.
Arglass Yamamura completed construction on its $123 million glass manufacturing facility in December 2020, and started hiring and training during the pandemic.
TSCC Valdosta Packaging and SRI Ohio, a decorative glass company, co-located to the Arglass site, generating a combined 40 new jobs.
CJB Applied Technologies completed construction on its $2.5 million technology center in the Miller Business Park. The 10,000-square-foot facility includes office space, labs, pilot plant areas, and a spacious greenhouse.
Schruijer said the job recovery continues on a positive upward trend. Already this year, the VLCDA has successfully completed six industry projects, representing $92 million in capital investments and approximately 200 jobs.
About Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority:
The Development Authority is an organization that oversees industrial and economic development in Valdosta and Lowndes County. In 1960 the Authority was formed as an amendment to the Georgia State Constitution. The mission of the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority is to create an environment to attract new industry and promote the growth of existing industry to drive job creation and capital investment.