Leadership Georgia visits Bainbridge

Published 9:19 am Monday, September 20, 2021

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Last weekend, more than 160 residents from across Georgia descended upon Bainbridge for a stop on the 2020 Leadership Georgia Class tour.

Leadership Georgia is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful leadership programs for young business, civic and community leaders who have the desire to work together for a better Georgia.

Members of the Leadership Georgia class are nominated then chosen by a committee upon an application review. Individuals who participated in the class of 2020, consisted of doctors, CEOs and other accomplished entrepreneurs in their field.

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The Board of Directors for Leadership Georgia first arrived in Bainbridge on Wednesday, where they were treated to a dinner at Mayor Edward Reynolds’ house.

Thursday morning, members of the class began arriving, where they all checked into the Hampton Inn and Suites, before visiting the Firehouse Arts Center for a welcome.

Following a tour of the Arts Center and Gallery, the class traveled throughout Downtown Bainbridge with a stop at the Hook and Ladder to see a special performance of Swamp Gravy.

The class was then taken on a Living History Tour, where Leadership Georgia had contracted out The American, Diablo’s, Sio’s and Southern Philosophy to provide drinks and appetizers for those in attendance.

After an afternoon of visiting, the class was then led over to the Courthouse, where a panel discussion was held.

The panel consisted of City Manager Chris Hobby, The American Owner and Chef Tyler Thomas, Melinda Taylor State Farm, Dr. Alex Greenberg, Senator Dean Burke and Camila Knowles of Cornerstone Government Affairs.

To end a full afternoon of learning and discussions, the class held a bonfire in an adjacent lot next to the Hampton Inn, allowing for members of the class to relax and get to know each other on a personal level.

Friday the class spent the majority of the day learning about agriculture, which was one the primary reasons Bainbridge was picked for the tour.

The class toured Danimer Scientific, Dollar Farm Products and Glenn Heard Farms.

Their lunch was also a learning lesson on agriculture.

The class dined at the Cloud Livestock Facility and had the opportunity to hear from local ag experts and participate with the local 4H program.

The meal was a farm-to-table lunch provided by Southwest Georgia Farm Credit that incorporated farms from across the region. Guests enjoyed baked chicken from White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, collard greens from Baker Farms in Ellenton, field peas from Calhoun Produce in Ashburn, creamed corn from Green Circle Farms in Brinson, Vidalia onion gravy from A&M Farms in Lyons, Mayhaw jelly from Cedar Head Mayhaw Co. in Colquitt, pecan pie from Canopy Groves in Whigham and blueberry and blackberry cobbler from Great American Cobbler Company in Cogdell.

Their day concluded with another meal on the back deck of the Chamber of Commerce building with a private concert at the Earle May Boat Basin and a firework show.

Saturday morning the class concluded their tour. However, Downtown Events Coordinator Randee Eubanks stated many of the class participants stuck around, shopping and dining locally.

While the DDA has yet to receive any direct feedback, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau director, Crystal Hines said she believes the class had a great time visiting a part of Georgia they wouldn’t normally get to experience.

Hines said the class makes an agricultural stop every year, so there is a possibility for Bainbridge to be on the tour again in the next few years.