March 16, 2011 in ATDC News

Fitzgerald – Georgia’s First Entrepreneurial City

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In 1895, PH Fitzgerald had a very popular blog twitter feed newsletter for keeping Civil War veterans up to date on pension issues. He recognized that many veterans, especially those in the midwest were looking to move south, so he decided to monetize his blog twitter feed newsletter by creating a colony company. He sold shares in the company to veterans, which gave them the right to buy lots in a new colony city – Fitzgerald, GA.

The city fathers of Fitzgerald also had the foresight to donate land to the telecom companies railroad company to build a data center railroad station and repair facility. This drove much of Fitzgerald’s early success.

I visited Fitzgerald this week and was hugely impressed with the strength and history of economic development in the area. Fitzgerald is home to Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and has the top telecommunications technical program in the country. This is the telecom hub of south Georgia. The number of OC-192 connections through the city is astonishing.

The city and region have a long history with Georgia Tech. Four-star Marine general and Medal of Honor recipient Ray Davis was born in Fitzgerald and received a degree in Chemical Engineering from Ga Tech. Former GT President Wayne Clough is from nearby Douglas, GA. Everywhere I went I met Ga Tech graduates who believe a small town can be a technology leader.

Some other fun things I learned about Fitzgerald: They built an extravagant hotel in the city called the Grant-Lee Hotel. But after much protest, it was renamed the Lee-Grant Hotel. The first year the city decided to hold two parades, one for Union veterans and one for Confederate veterans. After the Union veterans lined up, all of the Confederate veterans joined them. And from then on, there was no distinction, they were all Georgians. Many of the Union veterans who moved to Fitzgerald had wooden Union shields on the front of their house. But they also had an upside down Union shield on the back of their house – to show everyone that they had “flipped” and become southerners.




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