Category Archives: Chamber News

Albany Area Chamber holds State of Community Luncheon

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The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual State of the Community luncheon Thursday at Darton State College.

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Dougherty Commission Chair Chris Cohilas, Darton Interim President Richard Carvajal, Albany State University President Art Dunning, Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker, Dougherty School Superintendent Butch Mosely and Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy CEO Chris Hatcher headlined the well-attended event.

The luncheon revolved around three topics: Government, work force development and education.

Hubbard and Cohilas led off the speakers.

The mayor was asked the benefits of approving the upcoming SPLOST referendum, which will be on November’s general election ballot.

“Our designated plans for SPLOST are making much-needed improvement to our city’s infrastructure,” Hubbard said. The mayor noted that a lack of hotel space had stymied efforts to bring more convention traffic into the city. But she added there are plans to possibly redevelop the Albany Civic Center into a 180-bed hotel and conference center.

Hubbard said work is also under way to create more development downtown and on the Flint Riverfront.

“I have to admit there are not many ‘sexy’ items involving our SPLOST,” Cohilas said, noting the county will spend its funds on storm drains and sewer infrastructure projects. However, he added, he’d like to see the county make a solid push on a trails project which would link Albany to Sasser.

The panel of educational leaders then mounted the stage, and Parker went immediately into a discussion of the Move on When Ready program.

“Move on When Ready is the most far-reaching piece of educational reform that I’ve seen in my 33 years in higher education,” the Albany Tech president said. “It gives high school students an opportunity to attend college while they are still in high school, along with the possibility of graduating high school with an associate’s degree.

“Certainly there will be a benefit to the parents, because their children could receive the first two years of their education while still living at home. So we are poised to be a leader in economic and work force development.”

Dunning was asked for an update in the process of the ongoing consolidation of Albany State and Darton.

“I feel, at this point, we have gotten phenomenal support from the students at Darton and the students at Albany State . As with any consolidation, you will have successes and you will have challenges. We have people in positions to meet those challenges and fix the problems. So I feel very good about where we are right now.”

Hatcher was asked about the structure of the CCCCA and how it is supposed to function.

“The definition of a college and career academy is a specialized charter school established in partnership with business, industry and the community to advance work force development,” Hatcher said. “With respect to the CCCCA, we’ve had a lot of good folks in this community working for a long time to make this a reality. In the interest of our partnership, our board of directors is a reflection of that (definition). We have an 11-member board, six of whom come from business and industry. The other five are from our education partners.

“With respect to how our students are selected, the CCCCA is actually a program so students will belong to their zoned schools, but they will come to the college and career academy in either the morning or afternoon sessions to participate in our programs. What we will do is market our programs to the high schools so the students can understand what we offer.”

More photos >

Article courtesy of the Albany Herald
by Terry Lewis

 

Chamber Hosts Luncheon Educating Community on Small Business Resources

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Ryan Waldrep with the Georgia Economic Development Commission explains how the GA EDC can help small businesses.  More photos

Small businesses are a significant part of the Georgia economy, making a luncheon Wednesday on the subject for those interested in learning more about how to develop them a helpful one.

The luncheon took place at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Topics of discussion included a definition of small business, business opportunities created by tourism and entertainment, financial resources available to small businesses, how “makers space” is improving collaboration between entrepreneurs and the 2017 Small Business Week and Rock Star awards.

Ryan Waldrep, assistant director of entrepreneur and small business and regional project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, served as the event’s facilitator.

The state of Georgia is divided into 12 economic development regions. The metro Albany area is in Region 10, which includes 14 surrounding Southwest Georgia counties. Waldrep said that, as of last month, 690,000 different entities located within those regions were registered with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Of those 690,000, 296,000 had employment information. Broken down by number of employees, 99.8 percent had less than 500, 97.6 percent had less than 100 and 94.6 percent had less than 50.

Waldrep said that even those businesses with less than 10 employees still make up a large portion of the number of companies in the state, coming in at 77.7 percent, with many of those within Georgia’s downtown and retail areas. While those companies continue to do business, thousands more are contacting economic development officials over the course of a year to establish roots in Georgia, he said.

“We are talking to people every day,” Waldrep said.

Individuals looking to establish a small business may be able to take advantage of some things, including tax credits, that they may not know they are eligible for.

“There is a lot we can do to connect (people) to resources we may have,” Waldrep said. “Some think they are only for big companies.”

The television industry has developed a number of business opportunities in Georgia thanks to shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “The Vampire Diaries” filming in cities throughout the state. Fans of these shows bring tourist dollars into the filming locations, in turn bringing chances to build on marketing opportunities.

“(These cities) are using tourism as business opportunities,” Waldrep said.

Companies are constantly looking for new states to relocate to, providing an incentive for Georgia to compete for more business. One of the elements to growing a business is exporting, something small businesses can also profit from as long as there is potential for a product to sell overseas.

“When a lot of people think of exporting, (they think of that) happening with just big businesses,” Waldrep said. “There is assistance available to finance export opportunities.”

Waldrep said that, for exporting, 11 offices around the globe are dedicated to promoting Georgia and the products the state produces. If there is demand for a product in another country, the market for it is found.

“We can find areas of the globe buying that type of product,” he said.

Waldrep added that innovation centers exist to connect researchers and small businesses to determine the potential for new products. He further noted that the work force is getting older, but that programs are in place for seasoned employees who want to help entrepreneurs get their start.

A new trend in economic development is “makers space,” which often includes establishments — such as coffee shops — where those without an office space can collaborate with other individuals. The ultimate idea is that helpful methods can eventually be established through such meetings in moving a concept forward.

Waldrep said that 2017 Small Business Week will be taking place in February of next year, and that a small business blog will soon offer weekly highlights of one company with less than 100 employees from each Georgia county.

The Rock Star program, which recognizes significant developments in small businesses, is going into its fourth year. The nomination period for the 2017 cycle is ongoing through the end of October, Waldrep said.

For more information on business programs and resources, visit georgia.org.

Article Courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Jennifer Parks

2016 40 Under Forty Class Honored

Young professionals making a significant impact in Albany and Southwest Georgia were recognized at the annual 40 Under 40 Luncheon Thursday at Lee County’s Oakland Library.

The annual recognition is jointly sponsored by The Albany Herald and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re truly happy once again to be partnering with the Chamber of Commerce,” Herald General Manager Ken Boler said. “They’ve been great partners in this throughout its inception. And it’s always good to acknowledge those up and coming in the community under 40.”

Among the honorees were educators, professionals in the financial and medical industry, military personal, as well as city employees. Boler said the 40 recipients are a solid representation of the city itself.

“We touched just about every corner of the market in terms of having representation,” he said. “Which is good because these are some of the game changers that are up and coming in their own right in the industry, as well as helping out in the community. Most of these folks, if not all, are doing things beyond the day-to-day and the work hours to make this a better place to live.”

Chamber President/CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes said the diverse list of recipients shows “it really takes every piece of the puzzle to make it whole.”

“The 40 Under 40 is really one of my favorite events because you really get such a sense of the wonderful people that are doing great things in our community,” Holmes said. “And you can see from the list of the people that were honored this year that we have got incredible professionals doing outstanding things in all sectors that impact our community.”

She added that the longevity of the event itself shows the continuity of vibrant professionals in the community.

“It shows we have a lot of great talent to choose from,” she said. “Every year, it’s tough for our selection committee to narrow it down to 40. So to be able to host this event every year shows that we’ve got incredible talent that keeps regenerating, and we’ve got people coming up the ranks that are doing wonderful things.”

Albany native and Dougherty District Attorney’s Office Investigator Makeba Wright was among the honorees. She said the award comes with some responsibility.

“There’s pressure because I want to meet everybody’s expectations as a future city leader,” she said.

Wright noted that the accolade also serves as a form of encouragement as she continues to try and help her hometown continue to grow.

“I’m from here, and I’ve seen things change from the time that I can remember myself growing up,” she said. “Albany has great potential. And I’m just excited. I want to stay here and be a part of that fulfillment”

Bárbara Rivera Holmes named CEO of Albany Area Chamber

BRH_may-2015-web-0615The Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce announced today that Barbara Rivera Holmes will serve as the chamber’s president and CEO, effective August 1.

“We’re thrilled to have Barbara on board,” said Ed Newsome, chair of the board of directors of the chamber, a 106-year-old business organization. “Barbara’s passion, expertise, professionalism, her collaborative spirit and her commitment to the community are precisely what make her the right person to lead this organization and the business community. She has the unanimous support of this board.”

Holmes has served as the organization’s interim chief executive officer since April 2015 while maintaining her responsibilities as vice president of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, which she joined in 2008.

“I’m honored that the board has put its confidence in me to lead region’s largest business advocacy organization,” said Holmes. “I look forward to expanding the successes we’ve achieved at the chamber during the last 15 months on behalf of the community, and remain committed to fostering an environment that’s conducive to economic growth.”

Holmes’ role running the chamber while also serving the Albany-Dougherty EDC has provided for a strong partnership between the two agencies and to a collaborative approach to providing services and resources to the community’s employers.

While at the ADEDC, Holmes, in partnership with the agency president, oversaw the development of the agency’s brand, its marketing efforts – which include the award-winning “We Are Albany” and “Made in Albany” videos, and the “There’s Only One Albany” campaign – and managed its business retention and expansion program, which has facilitated existing industry job creation and capital investment in Albany-Dougherty County. Holmes also organized the Albany-Dougherty Industry Roundtable, a CEO-level forum of the area’s largest employers which, in partnership with Albany Technical College, most recently announced a new technical certificate of credit that meets the needs of industry and strengthens the work force.

Prior to her work at the ADEDC, Holmes was senior business writer with The Albany Herald, where she earned four Georgia Associated Press awards for excellence in journalism.

Holmes is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is fluent in Spanish. She graduated as a double major from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla., where she studied journalism and Spanish.

She lives in Albany with her husband, David, and their daughter, Alejandra.

Albany Area Chamber Honors Military At Rise N Shine Breakfast

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The Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Color Guard presents the colors during the Military Appreciation Rise N Shine. Click for more photos.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was in the spotlight Wednesday when a large crowd gathered for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Rise N Shine Military Appreciation Breakfast.

“The Marine base is one of Albany’s greatest assets, and is of great importance in the community,”  Ed Newsome, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors said.

Glenn Singfield argreed. “It’s said that you prepare for war in times of peace,” Singfield said, “And we are so grateful to have the base here.

The Marine base employs more than 5,000 people in the region and has an economic impact of more than $1.5 billion on the area.

Col. James Carroll, commanding officer of MCLB Albany thanked the community for its support. “We have a strong military community and that word is getting out throughout the state,” Carroll said. “I’d like to thank the chamber for welcoming us, and also thank the community for its strong support.”

Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, commanding general of LOGCOM, said the word about Albany’s support is more widespread than most imagine.

“As I look around this room and see the support we have here in this community, I am grateful,” Crenshaw said. “Word has traveled much farther than the state of Georgia. What we have here is a model of the relationship between an installation and its community.”

Crenshaw jokingly added the best thing that had happened since his arrival in Albany was the MCLB team’s April victory in the Salty Sandbagger golf tournament, which handed the chamber’s team its first defeat since spring 2014.

Three individual Marines were honored at the breakfast and given awards by Chamber Military Affairs Committee Chairman Leland Burkhart.

Staff Sgt. Steven McGahee was named Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for MCLB Albany. Sgt. Darius Warren was honored as Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for Marine Corps Logistics Command. Cpl. Ethan Kortie was named Marine of the Year for MCLB Albany.

Article Courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Terry Lewis

Royal Collection Named 2016 Small Business of the Year

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From left – 1st runner up Southern Commercial Materials – Bill Parks, Candace Parks and David Millan; 2016 Small Business of the Year – The Royal Collection, Terri Stumpe; 2nd runner up – Cycle World, Terry Hoffman and Terrell Hoffman. Click for more photos.

Terri Stumpe was given the perfect way to celebrate her Royal Collection business’ 30th anniversary Thursday night at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year awards reception.

Royal Collection was selected over five other finalists as the chamber’s 2016 Small Business of the year, leaving Stumpe “looking forward to the next 30 years.”

“This is such an honor, it means the world to me,” Stumpe said after becoming the 16th recipient of the chamber honor. “When you own a small business, you don’t really have time to think about things like awards. You’re too busy just running the business.

“I have five employees, and I certainly couldn’t keep the business going without all of them. What a great way to celebrate 30 years in business.”

Bill and Candace Parks’ Southern Commercial Materials was selected as first runner-up by the chamber’s Small Business Resource Committee, and the father/son owners of Cycle World, Terry and Terrell Hoffman, accepted the chamber’s second runner-up award.

“Construction in our area really dried up during the recession of 2008-2009, so we had to reinvent ourselves,” Bill Parks said of Southern Commercial Materials’ strategy. “We decided to expand what we did, to go into areas we hadn’t been before. It was a very big job for us and our 16 employees; we had to find people to teach us about the new areas of business. But it paid off for us.”

The Hoffmans are the sole employees of Cycle World, which is celebrating 42 years in business, and Terry Hoffman said the chamber award goes a long way in validating their hard work.

“We’ve been here 42 years, and we still have people come in and say, ‘I didn’t know you were here,’” Hoffman said. “But we’ve managed to stay in business by giving the best customer service possible. That’s allowed us to move into the next generation of customers, the sons and daughters of people who’ve been loyal customers over the years.”

Other finalists for the chamber awards were Charlie’s Paint and Body, the Bread House & Granary, and Southern Point Staffing.

The owners of those businesses received plaques commemorating their selection as finalists.

“There were some amazing businesses nominated this year, and I think you can see by the three winners that it’s a very diverse group,” chamber Small Business Resource Committee Chairwoman Tammy McCary said. “And because of the process we use, a points system based on a number of criteria, the businesses that win know they earned the recognition. The system doesn’t allow for ‘buddy’ selections.”

McCrary understands the process well. The chamber volunteer’s ComNet Technical Services Inc. was named the 2015 Small Business of the year.

“That was amazing, it really got our name out there,” McCrary said. “We’ve said all along that we have the best employees in the world, and so many new customers got to see what we were talking about (after CTSI received the chamber honor). I feel like Miss America tonight, having to give back my ‘crown.’ But I’m happy that we’re honoring such amazing businesses tonight.”

Chamber Board Chairman Ed Newsome called small businesses like the ones honored by the chamber Thursday “the heart and soul of America’s free enterprise system.”

Interim Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes emphasized the group’s Think Local campaign by noting, “For every $100 spent at a small, locally-owned business, $68 stays in the local economy.”

Article courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Carlton Fletcher

Awards Presented During Industry Celebration Rise N Shine

Representatives from the four industries that receive Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission Industry Awards included, from left, Mack Phillips, Albany site manager for Mars Chocolate North America; Col. James C. Carroll III, commanding officer of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; Tawana Reels, site leader of Pfizer Albany; and Werhner Washington, plant manager of Procter & Gamble’s Albany site.  Click for more photos

Albany area business and community leaders gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn Wednesday morning as the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission (ADEDC) presented its annual Industry Awards at a special Rise n Shine breakfast hosted by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

Held each year, the breakfast allows the ADEDC to recognize four local companies for the significant impact they have within their respective industries and in the community.

“From creating jobs and making long-term investments, to enhancing the quality of life through volunteer service, our industries are the foundation of our local economy and our community,” said ADEDC President and CEO Justin Strickland. We are proud to work with and on behalf of Albany and Dougherty County’s existing industries and to recognize their excellence.”

The 2016 Industry Award winners are Pfizer, Mars Chocolate North America, Procter & Gamble, and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

The morning’s first award presented is the Global Commerce Award, which takes into account a company’s primary market area, its global exports over the past three years, and its percentage of export sales as a percentage of its total sales.

The 2016 recipient of the award was Pfizer, which Strickland said has had recent success in entering new markets, improving efficiencies, and increasing the demand for homeopathic treatment options, such as it’s ThermaCare heat wraps.

The wraps, which are produced solely in Albany, have accounted for a 30 percent growth in the company’s exports. In 2015 the Albany plant produced more than 66 million heat wraps, 54.2 percent of which were exported, primarily into European markets.

ThermaCare wraps have proven so popular overseas that the company will soon launch in German, Taiwanese and South African markets.

“It’s really an honor to be recognized by the community,” said Tawana Reels, site leader of Pfizer’s Albany plant. “Thank you, on behalf of Pfizer, for this award.”

The Excellence in Innovation Award, which recognizes an existing industry for its work force excellence, its use of breakthrough technology, its clean energy programs, and its innovative practices and procedures, was the second award presented.

The 2016 recipient of the award is Procter & Gamble (P&G) which is currently in the process of building a $250 million state-of-the-art biomass boiler at its Albany site.

The biomass plant will help the company achieve its goal of operating on 30 percent renewable energy by 2030. Currently operating at seven percent, the company is expected to reach 14 percent next summer when the boiler becomes operational.

The steam created by the biomass boiler will increase the Albany plant’s renewable energy usage to nearly 70 percent.

In addition to the boiler, P&G also has enacted water conservation initiatives while also introducing next-generation manufacturing lines, several of which are in operation in Albany, which produce significantly more paper products than traditional manufacturing lines.

“Let me start by saying it is an absolute honor for P&G to receive this award,” said Werhner Washington, plant manager of P&G’s Albany site. “Some of you know that P&G is a very large and global company and this is the largest sustainability project in our company. To have that here in Albany and Dougherty County is really exciting. I’d like to say that the project is a win, win, win.”

The third award presented at the breakfast was the Economic Impact Award which recognizes an existing industry for its number of years in operation in the community, its economic impact, any expansions within the last three years, jobs created or retained, capital investment, and increases in sales.

The 2016 Economic Impact Award went to Mars Chocolate North America, which has seen significant success in the past several months thanks to the release of the company’s Goodnessknows snack bars, which are made of granola, nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.

Made exclusively in Albany, the new line is the first new product release the company has had in almost 30 years, and the decision to produce Goodnessknows in Albany, led to a $10 million investment and the creation of 20 new jobs locally.

Strickland said the snack food has already become popular, as it is the top seller in its category at Target stores nationwide and is a favorite of several state leaders.

“I’m absolutely honored to accept this award for Mars and for the, now, over 200 associates who are at our plant,” said Mack Phillips, site manager at the Albany plant. “We haven’t had a successful brand launch since Skittles, so getting it in Albany goes back really to the 200 associates we have at the plant and the confidence that our business has in those associates.”

The final award presented at the breakfast was the Only One Albany Award for Corporate Community Citizenship, which recognizes a local industry for its community involvement programs, its company-invested volunteerism, its civic involvement, and its educational partnerships.

The 2016 Only One Albany Award was presented to Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany, which has a long and storied history of being an important community partner.

Through programs like Mentors in Action and the Buddy Fishing Tournament, to the significant Marine presence at the annual Snickers Marathon, the Independence Day Festival hosted by the base each year, and the many other community events, MCLB Albany continues to embody the Three C’s of the United States Marine Corps—community, country and Corps.

“Thank you so much for this award,” said MCLB Albany commanding officer James C. Carroll III. “Not only are we at the base concerned and looking out and finding support for the defense of our nation, we also find it very important to support the communities that we’re in. There’s no better place, that I’ve found, than here in Albany to do that. Whether it is in schools, business, volunteer efforts across the entire community is very important. We look forward to giving our continued to support wherever you need us in the community.”

To learn more about the awards or the EDC, visit the organization’s website www.choosealbany.com. To learn more about the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, visit www.albanyga.com

Article courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen

Albany-Dougherty delegation visits Washington D.C.

A delegation of Albany area civic and business leaders travelled to Washington D.C. last week to spend some quality time with federal officials and share some of the community’s recent successes and challenges, and to further strengthen relationships with those on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.

The annual visit, known as the Washington, D.C. Fly In, is organized by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and gives local leadership an opportunity to meet with federal policy makers to talk about issues that have an impact both nationally an locally.

“It’s an opportunity for our business community and our partners to come to Washington D.C. and interface with our federal leaders and our pentagon leaders on a collaborative scale and really provide a comprehensive update on the successes involving Dougherty County in the last year, things that we’re looking forward to, things that we’re working toward and any strides we’ve made in any areas where there were perhaps deficiencies in the past,” said Albany Area Chamber of Commerce interim President Barbara Rivera Holmes.

 This year’s delegation consisted of several community leaders including Holmes, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Albany City Manager Sharon Subadan, Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission (ADEDC) President and CEO Justin Strickland, Chamber executive board chairman Ed Newsome, Chamber legislative affairs committee chair Cynthia George, ADEDC board chairman Jay Smith, and others.

Holmes said one of the most important things about this year’s trip was the delegation having a chance to show leaders such as U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, and several high-ranking officials at the Pentagon, how Albany and Dougherty County business and community leaders have fostered a strong collaborative environment that is paying dividends for the area.

“This year one of the major things to really show off was collaboration,” said Holmes. “You’ve a heard a lot about collaboration over the last year and half and so we took that message to Washington and it was a message that was very well received and refreshing for our leadership to hear because that has not always been the case for our community.”

Holmes said it was important for the delegation to present a unified message about what the priorities and challenges were facing the community, which in turn makes it easier for the community to work effectively with its federal representations.

“It really is a cohesive message from a public/private (standpoint) if you will, from the governmental partners and the business community, which is what they need to see,” said Holmes. “They need to see those two sectors working collaboratively and we were able to demonstrate that.”

Through a reception the delegation hosted last Tuesday and a series of meetings at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill Wednesday, the group was able to discuss a wide variety of topics impacting manufacturing, workforce development and education.

“We were able to share some of the advancements as it relates to education, like the consolidation of ASU and Darton State, to let them know what to look forward to from that process,” said Holmes. “And about the positive movement on the public school side. Those are things that they all know are issues of importance for us, so they need to be able to know where we are on those different issues. So we provide them with a really comprehensive overview.”

 The trip also gave the delegation a chance to meet with leaders at the Pentagon and discuss the relationship Albany and Dougherty County has with Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany and the other base tenants.

Both MCLB commanding officer Col. James C. Carroll and Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM) commanding officer Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, who the delegation members met for the first time during last year’s trip, went to Washington with the group for meetings with other Marine Corps officials.

“It really was an important message for all of our Pentagon leaders and our congressional representatives who were at the reception to see that not only are our public and private partners, in terms of city, county, business community, engaged and working together but they also have a very strong relationship with the Marine Base and it’s tenants,” said Holmes.

Strickland echoed Holmes remarks pointing out that it was vitally important for there to be a strong bond between Washington and Albany/Dougherty County, because MCLB is so important to the community.

“The D.C. fly in trip for us is a critical part of our mission every year in support of LOGCOM and MCLB Albany,” said Strickland. “To be able to support MCLB and LOGCOM and for us to know what the Marines are working toward, to bolster the base here and what our senators and congressmen con do to support that effort, we’re glad to be able to assist with that.

“Seeing Gen. Crenshaw and then Col. Carroll go up for the reception and their support to the trip I think shows leadership at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill that we’re working together. (That is) another key point that we conveyed to our congressional leaders. The Community is working together, we’re collaborating on multiple fronts.”

Article courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen

56 Annual STAR Student/Teacher Luncheon

STAR-Student---9The 56 annual STAR Student/Teacher Luncheon was presented by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce at Albany State University. Juliette May Hu, a senior at Westover Comprehensive High School in Albany, took the honor of Dougherty County’s STAR student Friday, March 4, during the awards presentation.

Hu competed against other top seniors from Albany High School, Deerfield-Windsor School, Monroe High and Sherwood Christian Academy, all of which have maintained academic grade point averages in the highest 10 percent of their class. To clinch the win, Hu achieved the highest score on a single test date on the three-part SAT taken through November of the candidate’s senior year.

In addition, nominees’ SAT scores must be equal to or higher than the latest available national average on critical reading, math and writing sections. Each high school STAR nominee is asked to name his/her STAR teacher, and Hu named Thomas Amos of Westover Comprehensive High School.

“Juliette has come up through the system and really done well,” said Amos, following the announcement of her win. “I’m privileged with having her in my classes — someone who really loves knowledge and applies herself to the work the way she has. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a student as brilliant or with such a work ethic, and equally, she’s such a joyful and charismatic personality. I look forward to seeing what she does in the rest of her career.”

Hu told attendees of the event she’d been accepted at Georgia Tech and also at the California Institute of Technology. At the school of her choice she plans to study computer technology “or perhaps aeronautic engineering.”

“I didn’t use to be a math and science person,” Hu said, “but I am now. I used to be into the humanities but now I’m not, so I’ve been saved.”

“This is a real shot in the arm for the public school system,” said Dr. David Mosely, Dougherty County School Superintendent, following the announcement. “It shows that we can more than hold our own against the best of the private schools. This young woman is serious about her future. She carries herself well and clearly and has a good relationship with her parents and other people. I know she’ll make everyone very proud.”

“I didn’t expect this at all,” Hu said following the luncheon. “Everyone here is extremely qualified so I feel really lucky to have been chosen to represent the county. And I’m feeling extremely euphoric and light-headed, so I might have to sit down — like for the rest of my life or something.”

STAR officials say Hu will represent Dougherty Count at the regional STAR competition at Georgia Southwestern State University on March 17.

Nominees and teachers represented at the event included Helena Augenstein from Deerfield-Windsor School and her teacher Mrs. Pauline Stadnik; Emma Goldsmith from Deerfield-Windsor and her teacher Mrs. Cary Stoudenmire; Jasmine Davis from Monroe Comprehensive High School and her teacher Billy Glanton of Morningside Elementary School; Dallas Ausburn of Sherwood Christian Academy, and his teacher Mrs. Cassandra Golden, Juliette May Hu of Westover and her teacher Thomas Amos, and Justin Evans of Albany High School.

Article compliments of  The Albany Herald
by Jim West

 

 

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce hosts 106th annual dinner

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2015 Chair Tommy Clark (right) congratulates Ed Newsome incoming chairman of the board. View photo gallery

The conference room at Albany’s Hilton Garden Inn was packed Thursday night as hundreds of Albany’s community and business leaders flocked to the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s 106th annual dinner, which featured the presentation of three prestigious awards and an inspirational speech from author and business leader Sam A. Williams.

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce interim President and CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes set the stage for the night by sharing some of the successes seen in the community during the past year, while honing in on the night’s recurring themes of servant leadership and collaboration affecting change in the community.

“I know what servant leadership looks like because I saw it in my grandfather,” said Holmes. “I can say wholeheartedly that the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is an organization whose volunteers are committed to changing the community.”

Holmes then lauded the collaborative efforts of area servant leaders by drawing attention to the recent announcement to have the Georgia National Guard Armory placed at Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany, and the approval from the Technical College System of Georgia and the State Board of Education for the proposed college and career academy.

Holmes also pointed out that collaboration was the driving force behind 2015 achievements like the Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission realizing $225 million in new investment, the creation of nearly 400 jobs in the community and the $221 million in economic impact realized by the efforts of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

“Those things don’t happen without collaborative partnerships,” said Holmes. “We’re very thankful that our community and our leadership noticed that that’s a priority, that we won’t move forward as a community if we don’t partner. Now that we’re actually collaborating, we’ve seen results.”

Holmes then turned the podium over to outgoing chamber executive board chairman Tommy Clark, who in addition to thanking the community in general for the support he’d been given during his term, also passed the chairman’s gavel to incoming board chairman Ed Newsome, owner of Albany Air Conditioning and Heating, who immediately praised the community he grew up in and the chamber of commerce.

“I was born and raised in Albany,” said Newsome. “Albany’s the right place for me and the right place for my company. The chamber has allowed me to get involved with the community.”

Newsome remained at the podium after his remarks in order to announce the three major awards the chamber presents each year at the annual meeting, starting with the Ambassador of the Year Award which was given to Peggy Haire.

“The ambassador of the year is throughout the year showing up at events, greeting new members, working with staff, and representing the chamber throughout the community,” Newsome said when recognizing Haire.

Newsome then moved on to the night’s second award, The Non Profit of the Year Award. Before naming the winner, Newsome took time to acknowledge all of the finalists of the award including, Boys & Girls Club of Albany, Cancer Coalition of South GA, Cancer Ties, Easter Seals, Flint River Habitat for Humanity, Graceway Residence, Lily Pad, Lifelink of Georgia, Mission Change, Open Arms, Salvation Army of Albany, GA, Sowega Council on Aging, Strive 2 Thrive, and The Albany Area YMCA.

Newsome then announced that the second runner up for the award was the Albany Area YMCA, and the first runner up was Sowega Council on Aging, before announcing that Mission Change would be taking home the top honor of Non Profit of the Year.

“It’s truly an honor to be able to stand up here today,” said Mission Change’s LaDonna Urick, who shared that she had recently lost her grandfather. “He taught us to work hard, to play hard, to enjoy life and to do what you love. I can honestly say he taught me well because I love what I do. I work really hard and I know that he would be very proud of me tonight.

“But it takes everybody in this community to be able to serve and to love people where they are to reach out to people that probably don’t feel love at all. That’s what Mission Change is. We build relationships with so many people from all walks of life and to be able to have this is an honor.”

Newsome then moved on to the night’s most prestigious honor, the presentation of the Lifetime Service Award, which this year went to Leland Burkhart, the long-time chairman of the chamber’s Military Affairs Committee.

“This year’s Lifetime Service Award recipient has served his country, and his community,” said Newsome. “He is a man whose character, work ethic and generosity cannot be questioned. And he really needs no introduction.”

Upon accepting the award, Burkart, also alluded to the night’s theme of collaboration by deflecting attention from himself and toward others in the community that have showed their support for the military affairs committee.

“Let me thank you for this recognition, this award,” said Burkart. “I’m in shock, shock and awe, but also very appreciative. I accept this on behalf of the committee on which I serve and its all the workers that we have that make everything we do as individuals and as a community a successful effort.”

Burkart’s comments about working together also effectively set the stage for Williams, the night’s keynote speaker, who shared his thoughts about how communities can ultimately achieve change through partnerships between different groups.

Williams began by pointing to conversations he had with community leaders, who shared with him the many challenges and successes the community has had in the past several months.

“I had the great pleasure of talking to more than a dozen key leaders in thinking about what to talk about tonight and also understanding who you are as a city,” said Williams. “I want to tell you I enjoyed those conversations with each and every one of them. Having the city and county working together with the business community, the military base, you have a lot of moving parts here and they work very well together so I really want to salute you.”

Williams then shifted into his feelings about business leaders needing to take an active role in the community in order to affect change.”

“I also want to say that the servant leader is the secret to everything you do,” said Williams. “The servant leader is giving back, not because they had to, but because they felt a debt to the community. That’s the key to making a city be what it is.”

Williams further explained that servant leadership was the crux of his 2014 book “The CEO as Urban Statesmen,” which effectively told the story of five cities in the United States that saw considerable change for the good once the business community took the reins of dealing with the issues that were impacting those cities.

“I’ll tell you that the CEO as Urban Statesman is really all about business leaders stepping out of their comfort zone and getting engaged in audacious challenges to help cities grow,” said Williams. “It’s really also a story about what I call, ‘pain, gain, and a call to action.’ All of us know that pain is a motivation. Crisis is also a motivation. Crisis to me is an opportunity because you can get people to sit at a table when there’s a crisis.”

Williams elaborated on his thoughts about crisis being the catalyst by telling the audience that he believes the communities in his book only saw change after a critical issues had come to the forefront.

He told of Atlanta’s struggles with Grady Memorial Hospital, and Columbus’ struggle to attract a young, educated workforce, and Oklahoma City’s efforts to distance itself from the wreckage of back to back events of the Oklahoma City bombing and the closure of an American Airlines factory.

In each of those examples Williams explained how a crisis got the wheels of change moving, and how business leaders answered a call to action.

“That’s the key, to getting complex problems (solved) is tap these business leaders,” said Williams. “And it’s best also when you find a problem that is what I call a tipping point problem, something that’s so bad, we can’t sweep it under the rug. It’s so bad that if we don’t address it, it’s going to bring about catastrophic consequences.

“It also is about the collaboration of business and government and private sector and academic leaders, military leaders, all of the parts of your economy, you have five, six sectors that are very powerful, not many cities have that many pieces, and then economic development is driven by all of this. So what is a the call to action? The call to action is to find that tipping point issue, tap that business leader who fits in, knows how to work with different people, get them around a table.”

Article courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen

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