Thomas County – Sound Fiscal Investment
In 2008, the State of Georgia gave its Entrepreneur Friendly designation to Thomasville and Thomas County, officially recognizing the community that has a long history of entrepreneurial success.
Flowers Foods started as a small baking operation in 1919 and now is the fourth-largest baked goods company in the country. Davis Industries began as a water meter repair company in a garage and grew into a world leader in water and wastewater treatment systems. Hurst Boiler celebrated 40 years in 2007 and has worldwide recognition as a leader in the boiler industry. In fact, the 122 industries in Thomasville and Thomas County have grown and prospered. With a diversified base of companies, most with under 100 employees, the community has consistently held unemployment rates that are under the state and national rates.
Thomas County has 29 percent of the population of the five counties that make up the primary market area of 155,000 and Thomas County has 41 percent of the jobs in the area and 50 percent of the retail sales. This economic strength gives Thomasville and Thomas County a larger economic impact than its size would indicate.
Florida, which will be the third largest State in the Nation by 2011, plays a large part in the future of the community. Cost of living advantages make Thomasville very attractive to retirees, business and industry relocations from the Sunshine State. South Florida has sent a steady supply of new industry to Thomasville and the future looks bright.
Thomasville and Thomas County recognize the importance of quality growth. At a time of shrinking industrial opportunities nationally, Thomasville has led rural Georgia with new project locations.
Thomasville has the enviable position of offering a high quality of life coupled with very aggressive rural economic development tools provided by state and federal programs. The OneGeorgia Authority provides, on a competitive basis, incentives for job creation in rural areas. Thomas County can offer special grant opportunities for industries that create new jobs. A Georgia Tech study found that the local economic development effort was so effective that more jobs were created in the community than population growth.
When a Fortune 500 company such as Caterpillar chooses Thomasville over hundreds of possible locations, it is a validation of the aggressive, pro-business attitude of community leaders.
With a strong, diversified base, the community has achieved a degree of stability that could be a national model. The percentage of industrial jobs for the community is 20 percent, significantly higher than the l5 percent state average.
Locating in a pro-business state and community are of critical importance to the success of a business or industry. Thomasville’s strategic location to the nation’s fourth-largest state provides it with the ability to serve Florida efficiently while enjoying the benefits of Georgia’s aggressive incentives for job creation.
Florida, with a population of over 17 million coupled with Georgia’s 8.7 million, gives a highly concentrated market total population that can be served efficiently from Thomasville.
You work hard for your money, and it is important for your future to be financially secure. If you enjoy knowing your banker and receiving personal service, then you have a choice of 10 excellent financial institutions from which to choose. They all tailor banking products and services to fit your needs – always with a smile and a handshake.
There are also financial planning service businesses in the area with professionals who can provide sound advice and assistance with investment counseling.
Bank of America
Farmers & Merchants Bank
Thomas County Federal
Thomasville National Bank
THOMAS COUNTY BANKS
Bank of Pavo
Barwick Banking Company
Preserving Our Agrarian Roots
From the 1820s to the present day, Thomas County has been defined by its agricultural roots. Thomas County has 510 farms with an average size of 389 acres per farm. Major crops are cotton, corn, peanuts and pecans. Vegetables are increasing in importance to area agriculture. The Farmer’s Market in Thomasville is the number one Georgia-grown market in the state. This is Georgia’s largest economic input with over $15 billion.
Agriculture is dominant in southwest Georgia. From vegetable processing, with canning and freezing capability, to the most sophisticated cotton ginning available, Thomas County can produce food and fiber, as well as process value added products.
Local Fresh Fare
Thomasville and Thomas County are particularly fortunate to have many local producers of a variety of fresh foods and products. Several began as family enterprises in the early 1900s and some provide all natural options.
Thomasville has the second-largest Farmer’s Market in the state bringing in fruits and vegetables direct from the farm six days a week. The Downtown Organic Market features organically grown vegetables, fruits and often has products from local producers. Eco-friendly items such as plants, flowers, baked goods and other all-natural products are available at the monthly Green Market.
Jersey cows and goats roam freely at Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, a family owned farm, where they produce fresh, hormone-free, award-winning cheeses. Green Hill, a double cream cow’s milk cheese, has taken first place two years in a row at the American Cheese Society competition.
The Bread Wagon, owned by Mennonites, bakes everything from scratch and favorites include Hummingbird Cake, Sourdough Bread and Cinnamon Rolls.
Salsa with your chips can be as fresh here in Southwest Georgia as in Mexico when you discover Duda salsa varieties including Peach Salsa.
Light and crunchy, Crickle was developed on a farm in Thomasville by Mrs. Carlan in the 1950s. Candy is cooked kitchen fresh in small batches with no preservatives. The Crickle tradition continues today with sweet candy goodness and southern charm by using local farms to provide the most important ingredient, high quality peanuts and pecans.
Thompson Farms is a local family-run free range farm and smokehouse that raises all natural pork and then smokes it or salt cures it the old fashion way. Their peppered bacon is a specialty.
B. Lloyd’s Pecan Company in Barwick has been offering their products since the 1930s. Using only mammoth and junior mammoth nuts from the best varieties of trees, B. Lloyd’s supplies a wide range of nuts and nut products. B. Lloyd’s combines technology with their tradition of preparing delicious pecan treats in the old-style kettle pots.
Flowers Foods, a Fortune 500 company, has grown into a baking leader with 36 bakeries around the country. Making over 15 different brands of bread, buns, rolls, snack cakes and pastries, you are sure to have tasted one of their delicious varieties such as Nature’s Own, Cobblestone Mill, Bunny or Sunbeam.
For 90 years in Boston (Georgia, that is), Dillon Candy Company has satisfied that sweet tooth by creating artfully fashioned gourmet specialty nut candies, including handmade brittles and other nut confections such a Pecan Divinity.
Out on a farm near Thomasville, Blackberry Patch harvests the freshest local fruit and preserves them in sensational jams, jellies and fruit syrups. Their old-fashioned family recipes are made from all natural local ingredients like their Wild Mayhaw Jelly, a local favorite.
Grass fed beef, devoid of grain supplements, is available today from KBH Farms right here in Thomas County. Practicing rotational grazing in open pastures is a stress free environment for cattle. Without the antibiotics, growth hormones or steroids so common today, KBH Farms provides a natural, flavorful product.
Most people are sleeping at 3 a.m. except for the cooks at Nanee’s. Why are they up so early? Nanee’s doughnuts are cooked fresh and delicious each morning, so pick up a dozen or two.
All natural soaps and toiletries are available at Homestead Farms. Produce and herbs are grown free of pesticide and commercial fertilizer. They also offer handmade natural soaps, body butters, lip balm and hair products. A truly unique offering is Derriere Dust, their all-natural baby powder.
Unique Transportation Options for Industry
Thomasville has excellent road access with six four-lane divided highway access to Interstate 75 to the east and Interstate 10 to the south.
The Port of Savannah provides one of the largest port facilities on the East Coast. Jacksonville’s Port is 150 miles east on the Atlantic and Panama City provides access to Central America.
CSX is the principle rail provider and a major switching yard is located in the City of Thomasville.x
Flower Foods’ Roots Go Deep in Thomasville
As a public company with sales of more than $2 billion, Flowers Foods could pick any city or town to call home. It chose Thomasville.
Actually, the choice was made by the Flowers brothers. Back in 1919, William Howard and Joseph Hampton Flowers opened a wholesale bakery in Thomasville when they discovered the area did not have one. From that first bakery, aptly called Flowers Baking Company, the company has grown to become one of the nation’s leading wholesale baking companies with 36 bakeries stretching from the mid-Atlantic to the Southwest.
As the company grew over the decades, management considered moving its headquarters elsewhere. During the 1960s, W. H. Flowers, Jr. (then chairman of the board) conducted a study to determine if the company should relocate to Atlanta, New Orleans or another comparable metro area. What the study found was that the quality of life in Thomasville was so good that moving wasn’t necessary.
“Thomasville is a progressive small town with a vibrant sense of community set in a beautiful, natural environment,” says Marta Jones Turner, Flowers Foods’ senior vice president of corporate relations. “Recruiting executives has not been a problem. Also, city and county leaders are responsive to the needs of businesses and are willing to work together on projects. We’ve considered our Thomasville address to be a very real asset for us.”
Turner notes that being headquartered in Thomasville has not hindered the company’s growth. “With today’s technology and electronic communications, a large company like ours can be located in a small town and still be in constant touch with our bakeries and employees anywhere in the country,” Turner explains. “The nearby municipal airport also allows us quick access to our bakeries by corporate jet.”
Driving around Thomasville, you will immediately feel Flowers’ presence. The bakery, in continuous operation since its opening, stands on Madison Street. Operating under the name Flowers Baking Co. of Thomasville, it turns out fresh loaves of Nature’s Own and Sunbeam breads and delicious donuts and honey buns sold under the Blue Bird brand.
Down from the bakery on Madison Street is Flowers’ Innovation Center, a new building that houses the key teams involved in new product creation. The center includes a lab equipped for small test production runs and a sensory evaluation room complete with a kitchen.
Since the 1970s, Flowers Foods’ corporate office has been located on 15 acres on the edge of Thomasville. Flowers’ expert information technology, accounting and internal audit staffs, about 150 employees in all, are located in the Langdon S. Flowers, Sr. Shared Services Complex in downtown Thomasville. The complex includes the former Scott Hotel and the former J. C. Penney building, renovated under a joint project with Flowers and Thomasville’s Downtown Development Authority.
While Thomasville has been a good home for Flowers Foods for 90 years, Flowers also has been good for Thomasville. The company supports many local charities and organizations, including the YMCA, United Way, Thomasville Culture Center, Junior Service League, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and local schools to name a few. In addition, Flowers’ employees are involved in key capacities in many local organizations.
“Our company has a long tradition of giving back to the community, which helps preserve the quality of life here and offers help to our neighbors in need,” Turner notes. “In a town the size of Thomasville, every person has the opportunity to really make a difference. We find that very gratifying.”
Hurst Boiler & Welding Company