DCA Board members, staff explore progress in Moultrie

DCA’s board members and staff met on Nov. 13-14 in Moultrie for its Fall board meeting. The DCA Board consists of 19 individuals, including but not limited to attorneys, government officials, CEOs and community leaders. The DCA board provides policy guidance to the agency, and the quarterly meetings allow the board to hear about the impact of DCA’s programs. The meetings also provide an opportunity for board members to connect with local officials and tour communities that have benefited from DCA’s programs and services.  

The meeting was held at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) South Georgia, a building that also has DCA’s footprint. Commissioner Christopher Nunn said, “DCA put in the infrastructure for this, and the Development Authority provided the land. We are here to showcase this important an exciting piece of southwest Georgia.”

Gov. Brian Kemp was at the ribbon-cutting for the South Georgia campus, and PCOM also has locations in Suwanee and Philadelphia, PA. Programs include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and graduate programs in Biomedical Science, Forensic Medicine, Physician Assistant Studies, and Psychology.

Broadband was a topic of discussion at the meeting, and Executive Director Deana Perry shared updates regarding awareness across the state, media coverage and community events. Tonya Cureton Curry, Deputy Commissioner for Housing, updated the board on the most recent sale of mortgage revenue bonds that fund DCA’s Georgia Dream program. This program provides mortgages for first-time, low- to moderate-income homebuyers at reasonable rates.

In addition to the business meeting, board members and staff traveled to Thomasville and connected with Shelley Zorn, director of the Thomasville-Thomas County Payroll Development Authority, and April Norton, Thomasville Main Street Manager. They also got a taste of the local community during a walking dinner tour, dining at Liam’s, Hubs & Hops/Empire, AJ Moonspin Pizza, Farmer’s Daughter, and Plaza Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

The next day included a tour of Moultrie, which featured projects that have received funding from DCA programs such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and EDGE. Greg Icard, vice president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority, also accompanied the group.

Tour Stops:

Foxthick and Clinton Road infrastructure project (CDBG)

Residents living on these roads now have improved drainage and street improvements – thanks to a 2018 CDBG award for $750,000. Colquitt County is a PlanFirst Community and is eligible to apply for CDBG funds each year.

National Beef Packing Company, LLC (EDGE)

This Moultrie-based business has been in existence for 19 years with 18 “Day 1” individuals still employed. National Beef services grocery stories and package 1.5 million pounds of beef and pork on a weekly basis. Jared Long, assistant manager, said, “People are our biggest asset. We take our people’s health and safety seriously, and it’s a family friendly environment.” He added that they have approximately 30 managers and 300 hourly employees with 90% of them local to Moultrie.

Southwest GA Community Action Council (SWGCAC)

This organization is dedicated to helping low-income people improve their conditions by rising out of poverty. SWGCAC offers a variety of programs for residents in multiple communities. One example, HeadStart (a comprehensive preschool program) was funded by CDBG funds.

SWGCAC also has services to help elderly residents with weatherization of their home as well as funding to help offset the cost of winter heating bills. Randy Weldon, CEO, said the receipt of an Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) in 1999 for $10,000 spurred improved efforts to help the homeless. Today, they’ve  received more than $260,000 in homeless assistance funds which make a huge impact in the area.

“What we always struggled with, before we got ESG funds, was wondering if we pay their rent [those at risk of becoming homeless] if they were going to be back in the same position in a month,” Weldon said. “ESG funds allow for longer-term help and stabilization. Coordinated Entry [which ensures that those with the greatest needs get served] is a big part of that process.”

Downtown Moultrie

Jessica Reynolds, director of DCA’s Office of Downtown Development & Georgia Main Street, led a tour of downtown Moultrie. Mayor Bill McIntosh, who lauded the program and what it means for the city and residents, joined her. Moultrie is one of 17 cities in Georgia that is designated a Georgia Exceptional Main Street.

“It’s been a boon to downtown,” Mayor McIntosh said. “It’s a worthwhile program and designation. We are growing in the community, and we appreciate what DCA is doing for us.”

Amy Herndon Johnson, Moultrie’s director of Downtown Development, added, “Downtown is experiencing tremendous growth. It is unprecedented. We are very thankful for DCA.”

The tour ended with a stop at the County Courthouse annex where Colquitt County Administrator Chas Cannon welcomed DCA and spoke about the difference DCA-funded projects were making in Moultrie and the county.