1150 Industrial Drive, Vienna, GA 31092
PO Box 587, Cordele, GA 31010
229-268-7592
Fax: 229-268-7595

A Community Development Financial Institution and Community Development Corporation

Introduction to Southwest Georgia United

Southwest Georgia United Empowerment Zone, Inc. (SW GA United) began in 1994 as a grassroots, community-based initiative for economic development and community improvement in Crisp and Dooly Counties in rural southwest Georgia. The two counties came together, developed a common Community Strategic Plan, and applied for federal Empowerment Zone status. Dooly County and portions of Crisp County were designated as a Round One Enterprise Community on December 21, 1994 and as a Round Two Empowerment Zone on December 24, 1998. Both designations included grant funds to implement the Community Strategic Plan. SW GA United was the not-for-profit organization created to administer those funds.

“Our vision is the creation of a well-educated, active, attractive, and sustainable community of healthy families,” and "The mission of Southwest Georgia United is to work with the community in a cooperative spirit to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life."

The Empowerment Zone program funding ended in 2009. The needs of the community, however, did not go away when the Empowerment Zone funding ended. SW GA United’s Board of Directors chose to continue operations and pursue the organization’s mission of community improvement. SW GA United grew and changed. It now provides economic development and community development services throughout Georgia.

To meet the needs of Georgia’s communities, SW GA United serves the entire state as a Community Development Financial Institution. Its small business loans, micro-loans, business development services, and home repair loans support jobs and decent housing.

SW GA United owns and manages more than 150 units of affordable single-family rental property. It continues to use grant funding to operate a YouthBuild program (U.S. Department of Labor), the Salt of the Earth after school program (Georgia Department of Family and Children Services), and a housing counseling program (Georgia Department of Community Affairs). It has used USDA funding and Atlanta Federal Home Loan Bank funding to rehabilitate and repair housing for low income families.

All of the organization’s activities are “double bottom line” — focused on reducing poverty and improving the quality of life in rural Georgia. All net revenues are used toward its mission. One third of its board membership continues to be restricted to representatives of low income communities.

Southwest Georgia United Board of Directors

Mary Benjamin
Michael Bowens
Dorothy Clark
L. D. Cobb
Tia Daniels
Lucille Frazier
Tawnya Hadley
Rhonda Lamb-Heath
Willie Mae Leary
Susan Leger-Boike
Willie J. Patrick
A. J. Rivers
Ruth Rogers
Vesta B. Shephard
Monica Simmons
John Spivey
Robert Taylor
Larista Thompson
Harry Ward
John Wiggins
Willie Davis — Ex Officio
Membrish Brown — Ex Officio

Southwest Georgia United Staff

Name Email Address
Lin Barnes, Community Finance Specialist lin.barnes@swgau.org
Joseph Brown, Deputy Director joseph.brown@swgau.org
Robert Cooke, Executive Director robert.cooke@swgau.org
Lisa Dixon, YouthBuild Program Assistant lisa.dixon@swgau.org
Charlotte Dobbs, YouthBuild Program Manager charlotte.dobbs@swgau.org
Michael Edge, Accounting Manager michael.edge@swgau.org
Wayne Foster, Business Development Center Manager wayne.foster@swgau.org
Shannon Glover, Property Manager shannon.glover@swgau.org
Malcolm King, Resource Development Associate/ Housing Counselor malcolm.king@swgau.org
Marcella Rolle, Community Program Specialist - Salt of the Earth marcella.rolle@swgau.org
Toni Rolle, Bookkeeper toni.rolle@swgau.org
Marisa Wedges, YouthBuild Career Placement and Training Specialist marisa.wedges@swgau.org

Communities Empowering People Together - CEPT Staff

Name Email Address
Luke Cason, CEPT Construction Coordinator luke.cason@swgau.org
Ben Genwright, CEPT Site Supervisor - Youthbuild ben.genwright@swgau.org
Bobby Courson, CEPT Site Supervisor - Youthbuild bobby.courson@swgau.org
Fred McLeod, Assets Management Maintenance fred.mcleod@swgau.org
Benjamine Dowdy, Assets Management Maintenance benjamine.dowdy@swgau.org

Program Phone Numbers

Southwest Georgia United
1150 Industrial Drive
Vienna, GA 31092
229-268-7592

Rental Houses: Assets Management Office
212 North 2nd Street
Cordele, GA 31015
229-276-1811

Youthbuild — YES!Center
212 North 2nd Street
Cordele, GA 31015
229-276-1580

Business Development Center
1150 Industrial Drive
Vienna, GA 31092
229-268-5661

Communities Empowering People Together (CEPT)
313 South 7th Street
Vienna, GA 31092
229-521-1112