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Green space as industrial recruiter
Keep Liberty Beautiful
Green spaces add beauty, but can also have other benefits for communities - photo by Stock photo

I am superficial. I know that looks matter — when it comes to our community’s appearance, that is.
The way our community looks says a lot about us. Littered roadways, overgrown gateways, non-existent green spaces, uncared for vacant lots and bland retail areas can make or break a community when it is trying to attract businesses and industries.
This week, Keep Liberty Beautiful is hosting the monthly Progress through People Luncheon with the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce at noon Thursday at the Liberty County Community Complex in Midway. Our speaker, Sarah Visser, director of the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, will share valuable information and ideas on “Pretty Places, Vibrant Spaces: the Importance of Community Appearance.”
If you care about how community appearance affects economic development and quality of life, this is a must-attend event. I hope you do care, because looks do matter. The success of our community actually affects all of our personal lives.
Let me give you a few points to consider:
• Trees planted within 50 feet of a residence can raise property values by 9 percent (Keep America Beautiful)
• Houses within a quarter-mile of a park average 10 percent higher property values (Keep America Beautiful)
• Tree-lined business districts average 12 percent higher revenue than treeless retail areas (Portland study)
And how about this, business owners: ‘Green’ views have even been shown to improve employee satisfaction and productivity.
What about your quality of life? Yes, appearance matters here, too.
Beautification projects bring neighbors together and build community pride. Green public spaces also encourage interest in exercise. Local gardens promote healthier eating habits.
According to Keep Ohio Beautiful, treescapes help reduce soil erosion, decrease stormwater pollution and can extend the lives of street and sidewalk surfaces because of the additional shade.
Visser knows green. She joined the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation in May 2011 as its first executive director. KGBF supports 76 local Keep Georgia Beautiful affiliates, like Keep Liberty Beautiful, as they build sustainable communities through litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling, water resource management and community greening.  Visser is a member and a past president of the Georgia Urban Forest Council. In 2013, she was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s inaugural “50 People in Sustainability” list and is a member of the Keep America Beautiful “NextGen” team for curriculum development. She’s also a KAB national trainer and has provided training and facilitation services for local, state and national organizations.
She is the 2014-16 president for the Keep America Beautiful State Leaders Council. Prior to joining the Foundation, she spent more than 10 years in state government, first with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Keep Georgia Beautiful Program and, most recently, at the Georgia Forestry Commission as the program manager for Georgia’s Growing Green, a federally funded job-creation and tree-planting grant program.
Sarah holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. She lives in Grayson with her husband, Jeff; daughter, Norah (the cutest little girl in the world); and pet cat, Lily (I am sure Lily also is cute).
Why should you care about green? I’ll let Sarah respond this time: “Everyone wants to live in a place that is beautiful. When we dig deeper we find that the appearance of our community is about more than aesthetics; it dramatically impacts quality of life, economic development and criminal activity. Keeping our communities clean and enhancing their natural beauty is one of the most important steps we can take to create vibrant spaces where people want to live, work and play.”
Registration ends Tuesday. Cost is $15 for chamber members and $20 for others. RSVP by emailing or by calling 368-4445.

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