Celebrating 90 Years of Distinguished Service

Matt Poyner feature image

Matt Poyner feature imageIn celebration of their 90th Anniversary year serving state & local governments, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government is proudly sharing testimonials from their clients, stakeholders and friends to showcase projects on which they’ve worked, lives they have touched, and the impact they are making in Georgia and beyond.

Executive Director Matt Poyner was featured in August 2017 as an alumnus of the University of Georgia, economic developer, and community leader. Regarding the relationship built with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Poyner recounted the Institute being beneficial for professional development for himself and Development Authority board members, to be prepared to lead toward job growth and community investment. “Every staff and faculty member has represented professionalism, dedication, and dignity characterizing such a fine institution and is indicative of the solid foundation delivered by my alma matter, of which I am proud.”

Read Matt Poyner’s full testimonial.


Dr. JoAnn Jones ImageToday was a special day in the life of Dr. JoAnn Jones. Jones, retired professor and dean of the College of Business at Georgia College, honored for 19 years of service as chairwoman of The Development Authority of Milledgeville and Baldwin County and dedicated service to the community.

A new road into the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Industrial Park was dedicated Dr. JoAnn Jones Way. The sign was unveiled during a ceremony bringing together family members, long-time friends, and City and County officials. When asked by The Union-Recorder what the day meant to her, Jones wasted no time in replying, “Well, it’s very touching. In some ways I feel like I’m at my wake and get to actually be here to hear people say such nice things about me. It’s really overwhelming, because when they first set this up, I said, no I’m really not deserving of that.”

During her time on the Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville & Baldwin County (DAMBC), Jones said she did everything she could do to promote Milledgeville and Baldwin County and to attract new industry to the area. “It means so much to me, because I was very committed for those 19 years,” said Jones. “I am very honored that they did it, but you know it was a group of people that I worked with,” she said with a big smile. “We had the most wonderful team on that development board. I’ve never seen people that worked so well together and had the best interest of our community. So much of what they do has to be done in secret and quietly. Unfortunately, people, for the most part don’t understand what a development authority actually does.”

After retiring from Georgia College, Jones said she also retired from other boards where she served as a member, but not the development authority. “I stuck with them for another five or six years,” she added. “It was then time to go out, have fun, and not have to work any where anymore.” Since retirement, Dr. Jones and her husband, Dr. Ken Jones, former dean of the Graduate School at Georgia College, traveled in an RV and visited every state in America.

Dr. Jones said one of her fondest memories was when the development authority built its first spec building in the industrial park. “We had two and we’ve sold both of them,” she said. “It took a long time for people in small communities to understand why you would be building a big building like that for anybody. Spec buildings back then were like fishing lures. People came to look at them.” Then, they would make a decision about whether the building suited their needs, she explained. Jones said she believes the local development authority is in good hands with Executive Director Matt Poyner at the helm. Poyner served as master of ceremony at the event honoring Jones on Friday.

Milledgeville City Alderman Steve Chambers spoke at the ceremony honoring Dr Jones. “I first had the pleasure of meeting JoAnn in 1976,” Chambers said. “I went to Georgia College. I was in my freshman year, and I was still figuring out what I wanted to be.” Under the mentor of his then professor, Dr. JoAnn Jones, Chambers said he he decided to pursue a career in business, learned some valuable life lessons, and realized his potential with her guidance. Through the years, Chambers said, he and Jones developed a close relationship in the community.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Baldwin County Manager Ralph McMullen. He said it gave him great honor and pleasure to be there to recognize Jones on such a special, well-deserved, occasion. “I’m representing the commissioners, but I can’t speak…to what they have in their hearts,” McMullen said. “I can say what’s in my heart. It’s always good to give somebody flowers while they can smell them and it’s always good to speak kind words while they can still hear them.” Jones, was overheard jokingly saying, “I’m glad to be at my wake,” providing a laugh for everyone in attendance. “I have a few kind words that I’d like to say to my friend, JoAnn,” McMullen said. “JoAnn is a bold leader. JoAnn is a mover and a shaker. JoAnn laid not just the foundation for this road, but JoAnn laid a foundation for economic development in Milledgeville and Baldwin County that gives us something to build upon now and in the future.”

Johnny Grant, Georgia College Director of Community Engagement & Economic Development, had some words of admiration and appreciation for Dr. JoAnn Jones as well. “Georgia College has always tried to be a good neighbor in the Milledgeville community in support of community development with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority, but nobody epitomizes that support any better than JoAnn Jones,” Grant said. “JoAnn was dean of our College of Business for many, many years. She helped put the College of Business on the map. She raised it to an entirely new level with her activity and her energy. She’s a formidable force and, as Ralph said, you don’t want to go up against her,” Grant said, noting he was proud to call her a friend.

See full gallery of Road Dedication Ceremony photos here

(pictured above) A strategic planning meeting last week at which The Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville & Baldwin County Board of Directors, Milledgeville City Council Members, and Baldwin County Commissioners sat down for round table discussions about the new Sibley-Smith Industrial Park mega-site.

Georgia’s Newest Mega-Site Named Market-Ready
Sibley-Smith Industrial Park is now a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development site

Milledgeville, GA – The Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville & Baldwin County (DAMBC) announced today the new Sibley-Smith Industrial Park has been named a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) site by GDEcD, the state of Georgia’s marketing and sales arm.

“GRAD designation for the Sibley-Smith Industrial Park means it can truly compete on a global stage for new industry and the accompanying jobs,” said Pat Wilson, Executive Director of Georgia Allies, and COO of the Department of Economic Development. “I fully believe efforts by the Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville & Baldwin County to attain GRAD status for the site will be beneficial.”

The Sibley-Smith Industrial Park, named for the former property owners, is approximately 1,643 acres and is considered a mega-site. It is one of only 11 mega-sites in the state of Georgia and considered by the DAMBC to be in the top 3 because of rail siding on site, accessibility from a four lane highway, and all utilities already are on-site or within minimal proximity.

The GRAD designation indicates the Sibley-Smith Industrial Park is market-ready. The designation also includes several tools to market the site, including:

  • Program benefits on the Georgia Department of Economic Development website
  • Highlighted listings on the industrial site databases of major electric utility Web sites
  • Continued presence on Georgia Allies electronic newsletter targeted to companies and location consultants
  • Site awareness for statewide project managers and Georgia Allies partners

“Having GRAD certification on the new mega-site means having a significant advantage over the competition to win new projects that create jobs,” says DAMBC Executive Director Matt Poyner. “While the GRAD certification process is extensive, having it means due diligence studies have been done and potential companies have confidence from qualified consulting firms that no known issues exist on the site and projects can proceed with reduced risk.” Currently, of the 10 other communities with mega-sites, 7 do not have GRAD certification completed.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) plans, manages and mobilizes state resources to attract new business investment to Georgia, drive the expansion of existing industry and small business, locate new markets for Georgia products, inspire tourists to visit Georgia and promote the state as a top destination for arts events and film, music and digital entertainment projects.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Sparta Industries, a manufacturer of HVAC duct liner insulation, will establish a new plant at the former Rheem Manufacturing building in Milledgeville. This venture is projected to create more than 1,000 jobs and represents a capital investment of $22.5 million throughout the next 5 years.

“Georgia’s pro-business climate, highly-skilled workforce and manufacturing infrastructure continue to attract innovative manufacturers like Sparta Industries,” said Deal. “This Milledgeville facility will bolster the company’s growth and further demonstrate why Georgia is a top destination for job creators. We welcome Sparta Industries to Georgia and feel that our economic environment will be of major benefit to the company.”

Using a zero emission process, Sparta Industries manufactures foam insulation for use in the commercial building industry. Sparta Industries will hire plant and warehouse operation, supervision and maintenance personnel at the new facility. The company will also be hiring for sales and administrative positions.

“We look forward to working closely with the community,” said Sparta Industries chief financial officer Jeremy Meighan. “Together we can make a well-deserved economic impact on Milledgeville and the surrounding areas.”

Sparta Industries founder and board chairman Walter Sommerman has overseen the construction of 32 plants, 24 of which are located in the U.S. Each of the 32 plants has been profitable since inception.

“Sparta will use an exciting new technology to produce insulation in Milledgeville,” said Dr. Kenneth Hall, vice president of research and development for Sparta Industries. “The product will be more efficient and less costly while eliminating health and environmental issues.”

Rheem Manufacturing previously occupied the facility but closed for business in 2007 during the economic downturn. The building remained vacant until Sparta Industries agreed to purchase the property.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to get someone back to work in this building,” said Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County Chairman Chat Daniel. “We are optimistic about a great future and partnership with Sparta Industries. This community is ready to assist them as they get up and running.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) project manager Wylly Harrison represented the Global Commerce division in partnership with the Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County, Georgia Power, the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia Quick Start and GC Financial Solutions, LLC.

“This has been an amazing opportunity to work with a group of brilliant people to bring both jobs and opportunity for a well-deserved area,” said Tony and Crystal Gandy of GC Financial Solutions, LLC.

“This is a great win for Milledgeville and Georgia as a whole,” said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Carr. “Sparta Industries is the kind of forward-looking and innovative company that Georgia’s business-friendly environment is suited to support. We want to thank our partners at the local level for their diligence throughout this project, and we look forward to Sparta Industries’ continued success as operations ramp up.”