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AMERICUS, GA (March 26, 2018) — At the 98th Annual Sumter County Chamber of Commerce Awards Celebration, Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) received the Community Partner of the Year award alongside South Georgia Technical College (SGTC).

“Georgia Southwestern is truly an economic driver,” said Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Rhett Simmons. “In its most recent annual economic impact study, the University System of Georgia listed GSW as having an $89 million impact on the Sumter County region.”

The award is presented to an outstanding partner(s) within the community each year that go above and beyond the call of duty in support of Sumter County, its citizens, and Chamber members. Celebrating 112 years as a key community institution in Sumter County, GSW has been providing higher education services, accommodating local staffing needs, supporting community involvement and graduating a well-rounded citizenry for over a century.

“If you look closely, it may be difficult to see where GSW ends and Sumter County begins,” said Simmons. With nearly 3,100 students and approximately 400 employees, they are all embedded within the community. Another 2,300 alumni reside here serving in industries like education, healthcare, the arts, all manner of business and many other professions.

Simmons further highlighted GSW’s contributions in Americus and the region. The School of Education’s teacher candidates student-teach in local schools. The College of Nursing and Health Science’s nursing students earn their field experience in local hospitals. The College of Arts and Science’s student artists and professors provide cultural enrichment for the community through concerts, theatrical performances and art exhibitions. GSW graduates roughly 800 students each year, many of whom join the local workforce.

GSW President Neal Weaver and SGTC Assistant to the President Don Smith accepted the award for their respective institutions. They were applauded by the 200 guests in attendance which included small businesses, local leaders, Chamber members, and Georgia's ninth Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler who was the keynote speaker for the event.

“We are honored to receive this award from the Chamber of Commerce and are thankful for their ongoing support,” said Weaver. “The partnership between the Americus community and GSW is critical to the university’s success.” “We are blessed at the Chamber to have such strong relationships with both of our post-secondary institutions,” said Simmons. “With these two at the table, the businesses and industries of Sumter County have access to world-class service, training, and educational programs that are second to none. Thank you, South Georgia Technical College and Georgia Southwestern State University, for your outstanding contributions to our region for many, many years.”

The Chamber of Commerce also recognized other local businesses and leaders at the event. Center Stage Market received the Small Business of the Year award, Bill Harris, Jr. of Café Campesino received the Sparky Reeves Sumter Trustee award, and former One Sumter Chairman Ted McMillan received the One Sumter Visionary Impact award.  

Community Partner Award

(L-R) Chamber Board of Directors member Faith Pinnell, GSW President Neal Weaver, SGTC Special Assistant to the President Don Smith, Chamber Board of Directors Chair Rhett Simmons; photo by Shane Peaster, South Georgia Technical College

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