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Interstate study brings strong opinions

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April 21, 2008

Thomasville-- The lunchtime rush at The Eating Edge is steady, but owner Hope Williams says they would love to see more business.  She thinks an interstate could bring that.  "I think it would bring some added business to Thomasville. We're building all these hotels, we need some people to put in them," says Williams.

In fact a new Best Western is being built right now down the road by the owners of the Holiday Inn Express, a business that's been doing well in Thomasville for the past four years.  "With the interstate coming by it would only bring us more business and business for everyone in Thomasville," says Stacey Powell, General Manager at Holiday Inn Express.

But Chamber of Commerce President Don Sims says that's not necessarily true.  "The problem we have is there's not enough space to put the interstate as it comes through our main business district along 19," he says.

That means it may bypass the main business district, and not as many people may stop here, hurting the relatively strong economy here.  "Thomasville has the highest per capita income in Southwest Georgia. $31,495 per capita. That's higher than Lowdnes county, Tift county, any county along the interstate all the way up to Macon, Georgia," says Sims. 

Some argue four-lane highways like 19, 84 and 319 are adequate for Thomas county.  "We have a transportation system that's second to none in the state of Georgia. We don't see an advantage in an interstate coming to this community," says Sims.   But others still see potential. "With the new build of our new property, I would love to see it come, obviously. There's another hotel coming in the area so there is room for guests to come and stay in Thomasville for the night," says Powell.

Ultimately the government will decide, but don't miss the chance to give your input. The interstate study will cover 32 south Georgia counties. Another forum will be held Tuesday April 22, at South GA Technical College Pope Center in Americus from 5 to 7 p.m.

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