A Product of Pride

by the Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff

Jimmy Smith used to go to Regency Mall on Friday nights. The lifelong southside resident and former Augusta commissioner would spend much of his time in the food court and common areas chatting with friends and acquaintances while his wife browsed the shops and department stores. By 1991, the number of stores was dwindling, and most of his conversations were about the people and businesses moving out of south Richmond County instead of moving in. Smith and his friends decided to do something about it. In January 1992, they organized the South Richmond County Pride and Progress Committee, a grassroots group to speak up for a community they felt was being politically and economically marginalized. ÒWe felt we needed to be cheerleaders for south Augusta because there wasnÕt a lot of good news coming out of south Augusta,Ó said Smith, whose family owns SmittyÕs Auto Service and Smith Tire Co,, both on Gordon Highway. Today itÕs called Pride and Progress of Augusta-Richmond County. More than two decades of cheerleading and community advocacy has resulted in many quality-of-life improvements on the southside, including the development of Diamond Lakes Regional Park; construction of University HospitalÕs South Richmond County Campus; and the location of national chain stores such as LoweÕs, ApplebeeÕs and Chick-fil-A. ~1@BODYURL[id=114jbcurl1335]@