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The Sumter County Development Authority donated $300,000 Wednesday toward Georgia Southwestern State University’s new Griffin Bell Golf and Conference Center. Officials said the new conference center aligns with the SCDA’s goals of creating an attractive and supportive entrepreneurial environment for emerging and existing businesses.

AMERICUS - The Sumter County Development Authority donated $300,000 Wednesday toward Georgia Southwestern State University’s new Griffin Bell Golf and Conference Center.

Officials said the new conference center aligns with the SCDA’s goals of creating an attractive and supportive entrepreneurial environment for emerging and existing businesses. The center is also expected to provide a place for business owners and entrepreneurs to meet and collaborate on economic endeavors that will bring creativity and future growth to Sumter County.

“As a community partner, we are proud to be a supporter of this community and work force development initiative,” Barbara Grogan, executive director of SCDA, said. “Entrepreneurs are a vital part of any community’s work force. To grow the ideas into reality, we must have a space for creativity and strategic planning.”

The conference center originally served as a country club before it was acquired by the University System of Georgia. The new facility will maintain the same location and footprint of the original structure that was built in 1946.

The new design it anticipated to allow the university to host not only social functions but attract and host large events and conferences from outside of the community. Conferences for civic, professional and academic organizations will have the space to meet and grow their participants, which in turn exposes them to Americus and Sumter County.

In addition, GSW is designing smaller meeting spaces that it plans to rent out as co-working office spaces and meeting places for entrepreneurial development.

Grogan said SCDA approved the funding because, similar to the authority's investments in the South Georgia Technical College Foundation and the Ignite College and Career Academy, this project will ensure work force development opportunities of all types are available and thriving in the community to ensure the community’s future prosperity.

“Getting this strong commitment from our local development authority will only further assist us in reaching our goal of $3.2 million to make sure our students and the entire region have the proper facilities for community events," GSW President Neal Weaver said. "In addition, because the conference center has a concentrated work space to help incubate area entrepreneurial efforts, we will see community collaboration daily at this beautiful new hub combining live, work and play.

"We are most grateful for the Sumter County Development Authority’s support.”

The authority partners with business and industry to create an "attractive and supportive environment for economic development and expansion." It maintains the Ted Baldwin Business and Technology Park, two contact centers, a spec building and manufacturing facilities.

It also offers incentives for growth, and more than 600 acres of developable land to businesses, developers and corporate projects relocating or expanding in Sumter County.

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