Lowndes, Valdosta set the pace for South Central Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lowndes, Valdosta set the pace for South Central Georgia

May 20, 2004

Valdosta-- The Seminole and the Creek Indians were the first settlers of what eventually became Lowndes County. The County was created in 1825 by cutting Irwin County into two parts, and was named for South Carolina lawyer William Jones Lowndes.

The city of Valdosta, the county seat, was founded in 1860 by residents of Troupville, Georgia. The stately courthouse, built in 1905, is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

In its early days, Valdosta was the center of long-staple cotton growing in the United States. Today, Valdosta has a population of nearly 44,000, and is a commercial center of south Georgia with numerous manufacturing plants. The surrounding area produces tobacco, turpentine, pine lumber, and pulpwood.

Lowndes County is also home to Moody Air Force Base. And there's an interesting story about how Moody was established. In 1940, a group of concerned Valdosta and Lowndes County citizens began looking for a way to assist the expanding defense program. They rallied interest in the War Department for a 9,300 acre tract known as the Lakeland Flatwoods Project.

On May 14, 1941, the War Department was granted exclusive use of the land by the Agriculture Department. February 1942, the Moody Field Advanced Pilot Training School began training 50 Army Air Corps cadets in the Beech AT-10.

Moody is now home to the 347th Rescue Wing, which trains and employs a combat-ready, HC-130 and HH-60 rescue aircraft. The base has approximately 3,700 military and 339 civilian employees and an annual economic impact of $283 million.

The base was named in memory of Maj. George Putnam Moody, an early Air Force pioneer killed in May 1941.

The federal government designated the city as a metropolitian statistical area in June 2003. That means more federal and state money for the city and the opportunity to attract lots of new business.

"The entire community will have access to funding for infrastructure that we've haven't qualified for in the past," said Chamber Board ChairmanJud Rackley. "Of course, as our infrastructure and everything improves, that's going to be a benefit to our businesses."

"We're extremely well diversified,"  said Chamber President Myrna Ballard. "We're the largest community within about a ten county area, so that makes us a logical place to be a regional shopping center, a regional center for health services, transportation. We just have had all good things working in our favor."

Cities must have at least 50,000 residents to qualify as metro areas. The Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area Includes Lowndes, Lanier, Brooks And Echols Counties.

posted at 12:50PM by dave.miller@walb.com