SCORE South Georgia

SCORE South Georgia leaders Bob Montgomery, Jim Lowry and Lisa Zeanah pose with Barry Coates, SCORE district director of Georgia District 405 during a ceremony Thursday at which the local group was officially recognized as a separate chapter.

MOULTRE, Ga. — SCORE, formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a national organization that offers mentors to brand new businesspeople, and now the Moultrie subdivision of the group has officially become a chapter.

The affiliate began under Bob Montgomery in late 2014 as a branch of the Columbus chapter. It has blossomed into a chapter all its own, containing a staggering number of mentors and even more mentees. Official recognition came during a ceremony Thursday morning at Colquitt Regional Medical Center.

“We started with myself and couple of volunteers,” said Montgomery. “While being in existence we have provided one-on-one mentoring and workshops since 2014. A good many of those who attended became our mentor clients.”

Montgomery started off as the chairman of SCORE South Georgia but released the chairman position last December and became treasurer. Montgomery had retired from South Georgia Bank in 2014 when leaders of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority approached him about helping found a SCORE chapter in Moultrie.

“The mentors themselves have expertise in different areas,” said Montgomery. “Some have retired, and some are still working. We have a retired hospital CEO and a retired president of several technical colleges in Georgia. We’ve got lots of different skillsets that we use, and when a client needs our help, we choose a mentor based on what services they need and schedule a meeting via Skype or phone, or whatever they might need because they’re not just from Moultrie.”

Some are even seeking help from as far as South Carolina, especially in the division of agriculture.

“The agriculture folks, their mentoring is different,” said Montgomery. “Their skillset is different from the retail division. The agriculture division has superseded all our expectations.

“It was new to SCORE when we first started our affiliate,” he said. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture traded off their mentors to SCORE. They asked if we would be interested in starting an agriculture division. We found four ag guys with different skills each, trained them in their mentoring certification, put their profiles on our SCORE system and they started getting calls all across the north and northeast and southwest of Georgia.

“You have row-crop farmers, agriculture lending, all kinds of different things,” he said. “We put on ag workshops and recently an ag bus tour, and they have drawn big crowds here in Moultrie on topics like citrus farming. We’ve been very successful there.”

Workshops are a big part of the chapter’s offerings

“The regular mentoring side teaches our clients how to start small businesses, how to write a business plan, a lot of the how-to stuff,” Montgomery said. “We’ll host a workshop on starting a home-based business on December 5th, so a lot of people wanting to start home-based businesses like that are going to be attending.”

There are now six full chapters in Georgia. At the short ceremony, Barry Coates, district director of Georgia District 405, presented the newly named Chapter 727 with a certificate of authenticity, as well as commemorative coins to mentors Jim Lowry, Bob Montgomery and Lisa Zeanah.

“We were under the wings of Columbus, so now we’re going to be our own chapter, have our own responsibilities,” said Montgomery. “It’s definitely an exciting time.”

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