Since SIM began planning to develop its operations in southeast Georgia, the company has recognized the importance of community engagement. Economic development can have a huge impact on rural areas, and our goal is to make sure that our impact is positive. We strive to be good corporate citizens so that when people think of Southern Ionics, they think of their family, friends, and neighbors who are SIM employees and of the community programs we help support.
When SIM president Stuart Forrester moved the corporate headquarters to Offerman, he reinforced our commitment to having a strong local presence. This presence is most directly felt and demonstrated by the families in southeast Georgia that are supported by our 140 employees and countless local vendors and contractors.
In order to let the community know about our activities and introduce SIM people, a newsletter is being produced periodically and distributed by area newspapers. Please click on the link/thumbnail below to view the Summer 2018 community report.
Local Kids Get Inside Look at Mineral Separation Plant
Tina Cason says one of the best things about working at Southern Ionics Minerals is seeing the excitement on the faces of local school children who tour the facilities every year. This year, the Administrative Assistant was able to host her nephew, Wyatt Davis, when the Patterson Elementary School’s fifth-grade class came to visit.
“It’s fun to see the children of family, friends and neighbors visit our Mineral Separation Plant, (MSP),” Tina said. “They are always full of questions about our technology and the products we make. It’s a great learning experience.”
Approximately 80 Patterson Elementary students visited the MSP in May. SIM has also hosted school groups from Screven Elementary.
Tina grew up in Blackshear and lives in Patterson with her husband and three daughters.
Pierce County Industries Connected With The World
When the 2017 class of Leadership Pierce visited industries around Blackshear in mid-November as part of an industry and tourism day, business leaders had plenty to see, thanks in large part to the Pierce County Industrial Development Authority and its executive director, Matt Carter.
“Pierce County is fortunate to host a diverse industrial base, from Stewart Distribution which makes peppermint candy and has distribution to convenient stores and state prison systems, to Southern Ionics Minerals’ (SIM) mining and mill operations,” Matt said.
“Progress Rail Services recently shipped 17 locomotives it manufactured here in Pierce County to Australia. Our industries are connecting us with a global marketplace.”
The $55 million spent by SIM to build its facility in Pierce County in 2015 is by far the largest investment in recent years by any company. Matt attributes his community’s success in attracting major companies like SIM to good public schools, access to transportation, and a community that was a “good fit” for SIM.
“Everyone worked together to recruit SIM: the cities, the county, the business community,” Matt recalled. “Now, two years since the mill opened, the effects are widespread and evident. Drive down Highway 84 at lunchtime and see a new restaurant with a full parking lot.
“Not only does SIM contribute to our tax digest, but the company has given new opportunity and new optimism to people who live here by offering good, stable jobs with benefits,” he said.
Matt described a friend whose life was turned around when he was hired by SIM as a heavy equipment operator. “This fellow is middle-aged and had never had a paid vacation day. Now he’s getting benefits working for a company that respects its people.”
SIM’s commitment to its workforce and its community has impressed community leaders like Matt Carter, who says the company is already planning how it will build its workforce 20 years from now.
“That means they are here to stay,” he observed. “This is an employer that is looking ahead and offering people a future. It’s also a company that has demonstrated it cares about the environment and supports our local conservation group, Satilla Riverkeeper.”
Mayor Brenda Denison, Offerman, Ga.
After Hurricane Irma blew through Offerman on September 11, 2017, knocking down limbs and scattering debris throughout the town, Mayor Brenda Denison and city clerk Janet Daniels knew what to do. They got outside as soon as it was safe and started moving tree limbs from roadways and driveways and clearing debris from City Hall and the park next door.
That’s the way it’s been in Offerman for the last 21 years, since Brenda Denison was first elected to the post of mayor. She not only works with city council to run the city government and keep its budget balanced, but she mows the grassy areas of Offerman Park, takes care of the park’s buildings and City Hall, and whatever else needs to be done. Since the annual salary for the job is zero, this is clearly a labor of love.
“I grew up on a farm just outside of Offerman and I was raised to help people,” Denison said. “I care about this community. It may be small but it’s a town with a big heart.”
Offerman, population 441, received an economic boost when Southern Ionics Minerals (SIM) built a dry mill and what would become the company’s headquarters in the town’s industrial park.
“I’m proud to have a company here like SIM that is conscientious about our community, cares about its employees, and plans for the future,” she said.
“SIM brought good-paying jobs to Offerman, and also made it possible for people to live and work here, making our community stronger.”