Southeast Georgia leadership class hears speech on regional economic development

BRYAN COUNTY – Leadership Southeast Georgia, a professional development and leadership program in 10 coastal counties, continued its 2022 programming in Bryan and Effingham counties.

LSEGA is a five-month course of continuous personal and professional growth to build connections and learn collaborative skills that empower participants to improve the region. The fourth session agenda focused on how infrastructure attracts organizations to Southeast Georgia, the nonprofit perspective of economic development, and the realities of poverty statistics.

“Modern, highly functional infrastructure is key to bringing business to the region,” said Jared Downs, Chairman of the LSEGA Board of Directors. “Understanding how to achieve and maintain this is vitally important to growth in Southeast Georgia. We have learned a lot about how to continue to expand economic opportunity here.

Group members also explored how nonprofit organizations view and promote economic development, as well as the effects of poverty in the region. In all LSEGA sessions, participants examine leadership styles and best practices in the organizations they meet and visit. During this session, particular emphasis was placed on tips and strategies for improving business writing.

The first day started with a trip to Effingham College & Career Academy. Craig Lesser, Managing Partner of the Pendleton Group, presented an ‘Economic Development Overview’, explaining how various authorities are working together for the betterment of the region. The LSEGA class then participated in an immersive exercise, examining the infrastructure factors that influence an organization’s decision to locate in the region.

Next, the group briefly toured the Georgia International Trade Center in Rincon before stopping at the QuickStart Advanced Manufacturing Center in Pooler. A lunchtime work panel entitled “Regional Workforce Outlook and Initiatives” was held, followed by a tour of QuickStart. Next, a visit to Caesarstone in Midway included a tour and remarks from General Manager Yossi Binyamin on why the company chose to move to the area.

Day two began early with a discussion of the I-16 Joint Development Authority and other regionally significant infrastructure projects. This was followed by a business writing workshop and a presentation on non-traditional economic development. Before adjourning, attendees received an update on the recent Bryan County tornado from Freddy Howell of Bryan County Emergency Services.

Other speakers in the two-day session included Chance Raehn of Chesterfield, Maria Whitfield of DRT-Pinova, Stacy Watson of Georgia Ports Authority, Brent Stubbs of Savannah Technical College, Susan Williams of Georgia Quick Start, Brian Wiederhold of Pacific Cycle, Justin Farquhar from Bryan County Development Authority, Brandt Herndon from Effingham County Industrial Development Authority, Ben Taylor from Bryan County, Ralph Forbes from Thomas & Hutton, Amy Condon from The Refinery Writing Studio, Suzanne Kirk of Employee Development Strategies, Erin Phillips of the City of Springfield, Kathryn Johnson of the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, Christy Sherman of the Richmond Hill Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Glenn Newsome of Georgia Hi -Lo Trail.

Sponsors of the 2022 global program include Evans General Contractors, Morgan Corp., Georgia Southern University, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, ME Sack Engineering, Georgia Power, Sack Construction and Maintenance and Gulfstream Aerospace.

Sponsors for this fourth session include Effingham County, Effingham College & Career Academy, Gray Pannell & Woodward, Development Authority of Bryan County, Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, Planters Broadband Cooperative, Bryan County, Chesterfield, Coastal Electric Cooperative, The Fortune Image, Effingham Board of County Commissioners, Broe Real Estate Group, Carlson & Co., C&H Precision Weapons and Carellas Murphy Law.

To learn more about the LSEGA program, visit