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WRAY: Snap beans, perceptions and high-paying jobs

My parents are Savannah High School graduates who grew up on “the wrong side of the tracks” and, as young adults, “escaped” to Atlanta for jobs. Although Savannah has come a long way since then, The Creative Coast and others still work tirelessly for the sole (and soul) mission of creating more diverse and high-paying career opportunities locally.

In Atlanta, Dad, a Georgia Tech grad, landed his dream job at the Ford Assembly Plant near the airport where he ate chicken sandwiches at Truett Cathy’s lunch tent. The best perk of the job was to drive a different bright and varied-color hot rod Ford Torino home each night.

The only drawback was the night-shift schedule with grueling long and odd hours.

My mother was home searching for friends. She had my brother and sister playing in the front yard while I was bulging in her belly.

Initially, she sat on the front porch snapping beans, sure a new friend would come. Each day she snapped beans or knitted, sitting first on the porch, then moving to the driveway and eventually hanging by the mailbox waving at neighbors and hoping for a friend.

No one came.

What she hadn’t understood was that from the neighbors’ perspective, they wanted nothing to do with that crazy woman who had come to their family-oriented neighborhood toting three children and yet entertaining different men in loud, racy cars each night.

We all make mistakes in perception. Perhaps you have thought The Creative Coast is not for you. You may think it is for “those” techies or just young people. Maybe you thought The Creative Coast doesn’t need your time, energy, wisdom, money or talent.

If so, your perception about The Creative Coast is as off base as those neighbors were about my mom. The Creative Coast is about much more than you realize.

Daily at the Creators’ Foundry I invite you to find woodworking and other production tools at Maven Makers, join artists and craftsmen at Jelinek Creative Spaces, engage with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center or build synergies with successful startups like Aetho, Eva Design House and Oak.Works.

Each Wednesday morning, I invite you to join us for coffee with 60 helpful and intellectual people to hear two promising entrepreneurs share their story at One Million Cups.

Or connect online through our podcasts and blogs, which will open your children’s and grandchildren’s eyes to career possibilities, from virtual reality and Web design to construction, teaching or even hunting.

Monthly, I invite you to join Lean Startup Circle or our mentoring programs in legal, accounting, human resources, public relations and sales.

Quarterly, our RailsBridge coding seminars introduce HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby on Rails to the curious and motivated. Annual salaries for individuals who develop these skills are about $70,000.

For 2016, mark your calendar to join us for great events including FastPitch, TEDxSavannah, Startup Lounge, Investor Weekend and Geekend.

Does this change your perception about The Creative Coast? Do you now see ways your time, energy, wisdom and talent can be put to good use?

I hope so.

And yes, we need your financial support as well. If you think high-paying jobs are the best antidote to crime and poverty in Savannah, then be part of The Creative Coast and make a 2015 year-end donation to help continue our work as we make positive impacts on the future of all Savannahians.

Before you reach for that check book or click our “Donate” button at ww.thecreativecoast.org, allow me to share 2015 at The Creative Coast by the numbers.

We engaged with 30,385 people through our social media. Three companies we served raised $169,835 through successful crowdfunding campaigns including $20,281 for the Bicycle Wrap Skirt, $40,032 for the Fujian Trader board game and $109,522 for Aetho’s Aeon hand held video stabilizer.

Others raised traditional equity capital, including Geekend Pitch Circus winner Brian Bason of Bark, the software for keeping teens safe online.

Financial contributions from individuals like you along with support of the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and the city of Savannah allowed 2,457 people to attend our events and 166 companies to be directly mentored in 2015.

Thank you for recognizing that high-paying jobs are the best antidote to crime and poverty and that The Creative Coast is not your crazy neighbor but perhaps your new best friend.

 

Bea Wray is the executive director of The Creative Coast, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the creative and entrepreneurial community within the region. Wray can be reached at 912-447-8457 or bea@thecreativecoast.org.

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