Downtown Vidalia Expands
Morris Family Shares Tradition Of Investing in the Community
Allen Morris comes from a family committed to investing in this community. His great-greatgrandfather, Cannie Swain Meadows, was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. It was Meadows’s nephew who donated the land for the old Meadows Regional Hospital on Maple Drive. His other great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Stewart Calhoun, was one of the original benefactors for Brewton Parker College, and his portrait hangs in the school’s library to this day. Morris continues his family’s legacy. In 2015, Allen Morris transformed what was an old gas station on East 1st Street in Vidalia into a Farmers Insurance Agency. In 2019, the renovated stacontinued from page
tion was demolished, and in its place, a new strip of businesses began to develop. On January 21, 2021, these businesses celebrated their collective grand opening: Edward Jones Investment Company; J. Leigh Hair Studio; and the Georgia Peach boutique. At the center of this L-shaped strip is Farmers Insurance.
Their united investment in the community has created jobs even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since their start in 2019, this collection of businesses has brought, at present, 18 to 20 new jobs to Vidalia. In the last week, owner of J. Leigh Hair Studio, Jessie Carter, hired two additional employees. Edward Jones financial advisor, Brad Owens, constructed his offices for future growth as well. Owner of Georgia Peach, Jessica Moore, opened up her boutique during the pandemic in November 2020, and yet the growth of her business has exceeded her expectations.
When asked about their investment in downtown Vidalia, there is a theme among these business owners. “Our tenants are more than just tenants,” Morris said. “They’re like family.” This mirrors what Morris says of his Farmers family: “Treat people like your own family.” While styling a client’s hair, Carter similarly described her workplace: “We’re a family here first.” Brad Owens also sought to establish a home-like feel within his office. Due to the pandemic, “we’ve not been able to take full advantage of this space,” Owens said. However, they’ve since made the necessary adjustments to virtually serve their clients and continue to invest in the community. “My family has a history of investing in Vidalia,” Allen Morris said. Four new businesses and numerous new jobs have grown out of the desire to contribute to that history. Though tested by the pandemic, his investment continues to prove fruitful as his new “family” grows.