Category Archives: Chamber News

Nominations Now Open for 2017 Nonprofit of the Year

nominate-nowThe Albany Area Chamber of Commerce has opened nominations for 2017 Nonprofit of the Year. Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. on October 28, 2016.

The nomination forms are available here  and the Albany Area Chamber, 225 West Broad Avenue in downtown Albany.

The 2017 Nonprofit of the Year awards recognizes nonprofit organizations in the Albany Area that demonstrate leadership and impact in a range of social, civic and healthy causes. The winner will be announced at the Strive2Thrive and Nonprofit of the Year Rise N Shine Breakfast on December 7, 2016.

In order to be eligible for consideration, nonprofit organizations must be chamber members in good standing and have not received the honor within the last five years.

Chamber Hosts Annual Partners in Excellence Breakfast


The Lake Park Show Chorus delighted the audience with their performance at the Chamber’s Partners In Excellence Rise N Shine Breakfast. More photos.

More than 300 business and community leaders and Dougherty County School System representatives crowded into the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center Thursday morning as the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and the school system recognized their Partners in Excellence at a Rise N Shine Breakfast.

Security Bank and Trust was honored as the program’s Partner of the Year for 2016.

The Partners in Excellence Program, celebrating its 30th year, is the school system’s premier school/business partnership program. It pairs businesses, community organizations and civic organizations with individual schools to promote excellence in education.

 Chandu Kuntawala, the chamber’s Education Committee chair, is also the chair of the new Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy. He discussed two new programs that will have chamber, community, partners in excellence and DCSS involvement.

“The first program is called ‘Priority One.’ Recognizing that the education of the children in our community is the no. 1 priority. Priority 1 is a volunteer mentoring program between the business communities and our schools,” Kuntawala said. “It will be based on needs requirements from the school system.

“The second program is called ‘Go See.’ It’s a school touring program where our business community will have an opportunity to see, tour and visit with all of the schools in our community and experience all of the great things that are happening in our schools.”

Mosely then addressed the crowd.

“What a great way to begin a morning,” Mosley said. “I had a lady in the food line thank me for doing a wonderful job. I thanked her and said that I’d like to think I had a little bit to do with it, but the truth is we’ve surrounded ourselves with the right people.

The Partners in Excellence Program also ushered in 48 new partners Thursday, pushing the total number of participating organizations to more than 260 businesses.

The primary goal of the Partners in Excellence Program is to strengthen and enrich the instructional programs in schools, thereby ensuring that all students graduate with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for lifelong learning and successful functioning as members of the work force, community and society.

Courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Terry Lewis

Albany Area Chamber Touts Successful Business Expo


David Hicks with Fast Copy and Blueprint discusses what Fast Copy has to offer to visitors at his booth. More photos from Business Expo 2016.

The lobby of downtown Albany’s Hilton Garden Inn was once again buzzing with activity as hundreds of visitors learned about local businesses at the annual Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

The expo has become increasingly popular since chamber leadership brought the event back and started hosting it each year, and this year was no exception. More than 50 vendors rented booth space in order to show potential customers what their business had to offer clientele.

Several of the vendors, including CTSI Inc., Pfizer, Southern Point Staffing, Deerfield Windsor School, Albany Technical College and others, make it a point to attend the expo as a way to connect with other chamber member businesses, customers and the community in general.

“We come to the expo every year basically because it gives us exposure to other businesses that may or may not know us, or may or may not know about all the services we offer,” said Dennis Moore of Bishop Clean Care Inc. “And it also allows us to see them and what services we might need.

“And then, of course, it’s an opportunity for newer businesses to be recognized in the community. Take Invision for example. They bought Atlantic Tel-Com, which was a big contributor to the community, and now they’ve got Atlantic Tel-com’s business, their business and ADT security systems. So I didn’t know that until they called me about a bid. It’s a big community business event.”

Invision Technologies is also a repeat vendor that set up a display for the second year in a row, based on its past expo experience.

“It’s a network opportunity for us,” said Invision co-owner Jay Carpenter. “The expo allows us to get out there and talk with people and other businesses about what they do and what we do. It’s a great event.”

The popularity of the expo was not lost on first-time businesses as well, many of which were eager to take part in the event despite having plenty of “regular” work that needed to be done. One such business was Crown Networking, whose Kyle Boyd was at the hotel and convention center to set up early Thursday morning.

“This is our first time here and I’m super excited,” said Boyd. “I’ve always wanted to do this. We feel it’s a vital part of our business to be seen.”

Despite having a full plate of projects lined up, including work for one of the tech company’s newest clients, the Randolph County School System, Boyd said it was imperative to be at the expo to network and let other companies know what Crown Networking has to offer.

“We want to let businesses know that the tech they need is in Albany and that we can provide it,” Boyd said. “We can meet business needs and help those business grow. We’ve got big hearts and big goals to help these companies. If Albany is prosperous, then we’re all prosperous.”

The business expo is also an exciting event for the community as a whole and for patrons that weren’t able to get a booth at the event, such as Horizons Community Solutions, formerly the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia.

“I come every year religiously because it is an excellent opportunity for our organization to learn about local businesses, number one, so we can support them because we are a local business, and so we can let them know about opportunities to support a local nonprofit organization,” said Horizons Executive Director Diane Fletcher. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I look at when it is and I work my calendar around it every year.”Fletcher also had high praise for the chamber and the other sponsors’ efforts to make it a great event, saying, “They do an excellent job.”

That kind of reaction from the business community is indicative of what the chamber hopes to achieve with the event, as chamber leadership believes the expo is at the heart of the organization’s mission to support local businesses and help them grow.

“These types of events serve a great purpose for chamber membership and we work to almost act as an extension of them in terms of promoting their businesses,” said Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes. “This really gives an opportunity for people throughout the community to come and learn about the services and products that are made locally or available locally. That’s a pretty big thing when you think about how much the economy improves when we spend more of our dollars at home. This really provides the knowledge base for people to be able to do that.”

Courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen

Albany Area Chamber holds State of Community Luncheon



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


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

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

Military Affairs RNS - 2016 - 06

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


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 To learn more about the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, visit

Article courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen