Valdosta - Finding work in Lowndes County isn't hard, but finding a job that pays well is. "The per capita income of this area continues to go down and also the average weekly wage for employees in this area continues to drop," said Jud Rackley.
But several local businesses have teamed up to change that. "To create higher paying jobs, that's what we're looking for," said Rackley.
It's called the Guardian Bank Business Plan, and its open to anyone who wants to start their own business. The criteria is simple. "The business has to be located in Lowndes County and has to show the potential to employee college graduates," said Lara Bruhn.
The winner of the competition gets $10,000 start up cash from Guardian Bank, and thousands of dollars in free advertising and other services. But winning this jackpot won't be easy. Participants have to write an extremely detailed business plan and prove that their business will be successful. "We want to keep our college and university graduates here in Lowndes County," said Rackley.
And organizers have countless resources to help in developing that business plan. "We've got a series of seminars going on, we've got the SEEDS center down at the chamber, we have professional consultants who are accountants and marketing experts willing to meet one on one," said Bruhn.
Valdosta Technical College has even developed a Small Business Ownership program targeted a program participants. "The program's going to be about 200 seat hours, its HOPE approved, you can get it done in a couple of quarters," said Mike Bass, Instructor.
The last day to register for the competition is August 25th. The winner will be announced in March.