We’ve often said that one reason Georgia has such a strong workforce development structure is due to how well various groups work with one another.

Take Locate South GeorgiaLEADS, for example.


“LSGL represents a partnership between the regional economic development initiative Locate South Georgia, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Georgia J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, to identify and develop regional leaders who can elevate the awareness of regional issues of importance across South Georgia—both within their hometown communities, as well as to elected officials across the region and State.”

The end-result of this program is a connection between fellow small business owners in rural South Georgia.

Melissa Dark owns Greener Grass Handmade in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Elena Carné owns Tepuy Activewear in Americus, Georgia. 75 miles separate the two small business owners, but thanks to Locate South GeorgiaLEADS, Jason Dunn of the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Development Authority was able to connect the two business owners together. 

UGA Today wrote about the two becoming confidants and business advisors. From that piece it became clear one of the ways UGA was helping workforce development was to ensure small business owners had informed sounding boards available.

The women have since shared resources, best practices and ideas for their businesses.

“We have encouraged each other in fighting the fight to run and grow our businesses in rural Georgia,” Dark said. “It’s been very beneficial.”

“We support each other in our businesses and discuss challenges,” Carné said. “But the only way that has been possible is because we were brought together through Locate South GeorgiaLEADS.”

Providing a connection for two small business owners in similar economic climates can be vital. Being able to bounce ideas off of one another and see what’s working for someone else can be exactly what a business needs to find sustained success.


That’s what LSGL did for Black and Carné, and it’s just one example of everyone working together to help businesses grow. The University of Georgia created a program that a local development authority utilized and then said organization used the skills learned from the program to connect two small business owners.

That’s Georgia’s Workforce Development in action. When small business owners can use one another to gain insight and knowledge it leads to sustained success, which then leads to more jobs for Georgians.