As Columbia County has grown in recent years, Jake Ivey has stood the at the front gate and watched the people come in droves.
Over the years Ivey, owner of the home-building and development company J.W. Ivey and Associates Inc., has had a hand in many subdivisions built to accommodate the population shift into the county.
With former partner Otis Crowell, he helped build Joshua Tree Villas, The Abbeys at West Lake and Magruder Landing at Jones Creek. On his own, he has built homes in Windmill Plantation and developed the Stonegate subdivision.
Ivey's business contributions to the county during the past two decades and his participation in the local business community prompted the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce to recently award him as their small-business owner of the year.
It was the first time that the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce designated separate winners for Richmond and Columbia counties.
"It was an opportunity to ensure that we're able to have one winner represent each of the counties," said Gordon Renshaw, executive director for Columbia County's chamber. "We felt (Ivey) was worth a winner."
Occupation: resident of J.W. Ivey and Associates Inc.
Number of employees: 7
Education: Civil engineering degree from Georgia Tech
Business Affiliations: president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce (1993), current member of the Columbia County Construction Advisory Board, President of The Builders Association of Metro Augusta (1989)
Photo by Vicky Eckenrode
Ivey, who grew up in Lincoln County, moved back to the area in 1976 from Fulton County.
For the next eight years, he worked as the county engineer for Columbia County.
"I saw a lot of growth in the county in that time frame," he said. "In 1976, there were three traffic lights in Columbia County, so it's changed quite a bit."
The population at the time was below 30,000, compared to the estimated 92,000 now living in the county. Even before the housing boom really took off, Ivey decided to move into private business and build homes.
Ivey Homes Inc. formed out of a partnership with Crowell.
"Without him, I would probably not be in the building business today," Ivey said.
For nearly a decade, the team built and developed many residential neighborhoods.
In 1996, Ivey established J.W. Ivey and Associates Inc., which he solely owns. The company now has 22 houses under construction. In the second quarter of 2002, the company created a remodeling division.
"I enjoy the building business as much as anything I've ever done," Ivey said. "I don't have any plans to retire anytime soon, and I enjoy what I do so I hope I can keep doing it another 10 years or longer."
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