Category Archives: Chamber News

Albany Area Chamber Plants Trees at Habitat for Humanity Event

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce was able to help revitalize and grow the community Thursday night when the organization gave a boost to the Grow Albany campaign while also supporting the latest Flint River Habitat for Humanity project at the special Backyard BBQ Business After Hours.

“I just really, really am glad that the chamber decided to partner with us on this Business After Hours event,” said Flint River Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Scooter Courtney. “It allows us to showcase what Habitat does.”

In addition to showing off the newly rehabilitated Habitat home at 817 16th Avenue, the after-hours event also featured the home’s new owners joining Habitat and chamber officials to plant one of 20 live oak trees being given to Habitat by the chamber as part of the Grow Albany initiative to revitalize Albany’s signature tree canopy. That natural community landmark was devastated during January’s brutal storms.

“Habitat is committed to providing opportunities for people, and Grow Albany is about restoring our habitat, so there’s a synergy there; it was natural for us to donate these live oaks to Habitat,” said Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Rivera Holmes. “We’re donating 20 trees to Habitat, and we’re going to plant one today. This will be the first.”

The chamber’s support of the Grow Albany campaign aims to help restore the community’s tree canopy. From announcing the campaign at its annual dinner in January to generating the campaign’s first proceeds through the sale of a one-of-a-kind oil painting done by Albany-born Rob Matre through the Plaid Columns collective, the chamber has fully embraced the mission of replanting trees.

“From the get-go, we’ve been committed to helping our community recover, not just from an economic perspective and not just from a people recovery standpoint, but also from a landscape recovery perspective,” said Holmes. “I think this is a step toward re-engaging, of reminding people that we still have a long way to go.

“The campaign is still ongoing. We’ve been promoting Grow Albany in a variety of different ways, so this will hopefully serve as a kick-start again for Grow Albany. We’ve seen the damage and we’ve seen the destruction, but we can only recover, from a landscape perspective, by planting trees.”

From a Grow Albany campaign perspective, Judy Bowles, executive director of Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful, which is managing the joint city/county initiative, said the donation of trees to Habitat for Humanity will help reinvigorate the campaign, which stalled a bit after the Jan. 22 tornado.

The campaign had just been announced when the EF3-strength storm roared through Albany, and Bowles said everyone’s focus shifted immediately to helping that area of the community with immediate needs.

“It’s like we’re starting over,” Bowles said. “We were set to go, and then the tornado came and I spent most of my weekends out with volunteers cutting trees and dragging trees curbside so they could be picked up. Now we’re poised to reintroduce our project to the community.”

Right now, Bowles said the project is in its infancy, with most of the focus going toward spreading the word about the campaign and trying to raise the funds that will be needed to plant trees. Unfortunately, Bowles said, it’s difficult to share more information simply because of the fact that an assessment of that total amount of damage created by the two storms has not been completed.

“We’ve had eight arborists from around the state come in and assess our trees, and until we get a report on how many trees need to come down, how many we lost, I don’t know how to put a long-range plan together,” she said. “I know we’re bad, but I don’t know how bad we are.

“We have a lot to do everywhere. I haven’t even pulled a committee together yet because I’m still waiting to see where I am. When I know how bad the damage is, and I’ve got my maps on where the storm went through and where the tornado went through, and when I feel comfortable about how bad we are, then I can bring a committee together and we can talk about where we want to go and how we’re going to get there.”

Despite not having a fully developed plan, Bowles said there’s already been a groundswell of support for the project with several organizations making commitments to help. Already KADB has announced the names of three corporate supporters, and Bowles said she expects more to follow.

“We have announced Phoebe; they would like to be involved in Tift Park,” Bowles said. “SB&T, we’ve announced that one, and they would like to be involved in the Radium Springs area. And, of course, we had the donation from Metro Power. They bought the oil painting. Those are our pacesetters.”

Additionally, Bowles said she’s gotten support and donations from individuals in the community as well, with many donating money to have trees planted in someone’s honor.

“I had a check come in last week and it’s a citizen,” she said. “We received that check, and that check is designated for four memorial trees. We’re certainly encouraging other citizens to donate funds in honor of or in memory of special people in their lives.

“We have a great project lined up, and I know the community’s going to get behind it and support it.”

Although that support is evident, Bowles said she thinks it will take some time for the project to truly gain momentum because so many citizens are still in a personal recovery phase.

“I think the support has been overwhelming, and our citizens want to be engaged in Grow Albany,” she said. “But we have to remember that they’re still in shock and in pain over what they’ve been through.

“I was with someone yesterday, and there’s not a tree left in her yard. And she had trees in her yard that were 75 to 100 years old. So where you live looks real different, and you’re not happy with it. I think we have to go through the shock and the mourning phase before we get to the phase where we’re ready to move ahead with a plan to replant. Our tree canopy has been heavily damaged, and it’s going to take the commitment of our entire community to bring it back.”

Fortunately, Bowles said, the prime tree planting time for this area is November-February, which means there’s ample time to raise awareness and funds and put a plan together in time for planting season.

“Because of where we live, we’re not in an area where we plant trees in March and April, and so we’re in the fundraising phase so that we’ll be poised in November to really go then and to go into Tift Park and to go into Radium Springs to offer trees to residents,” she said. “I want to always push that it’s a multiyear, multiphase project.”

To learn more about the Grow Albany project, visit the KADB homepage or

Albany-Dougherty EDC Awards Several Area Industries

The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission (EDC) presented several area industries awards during its annual Rise N Shine Breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn.

“We were proud to recognize, this morning, four great winners and existing industries in our community,” EDC President Justin Strickland said.

During the breakfast, four industries received awards in several different categories.

Thrush Aircraft received the Global Commerce Award with 86% of its sales coming from exports.

The Marine Depot Maintenance Command won the Excellence in Innovation Award after its challenging restoration of a WWII Prime Mover, 4×4 Cargo Truck.

MillerCoors received the Economic Impact Award. According to the EDC, MillerCoors Albany spends more than $400 million in Georgia-based goods and services each year.

Procter and Gamble won the Only One Albany Award for Corporate Community Citizenship. Despite seeing its own damage after the January storms, the company sent 100 employee volunteers into the community to help with storm cleanup.

Strickland said area industries have an incredible impact not only on Southwest Georgia but throughout the world.

The Annual Rise N Shine Breakfast takes place during the EDC’s Industry Celebration Week and is hosted by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

Albany Area Businesses Recognized at Celebrate Small Business Ceremony

Pool Brothers Cabinets + Flooring + Lighting named Albany Area Chamber Small Business of the Year

Just a nomination for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award was reward enough for Keith and David Pool, owners of Pool Brothers Cabinets+Flooring+Lighting.

Winning the award? Wasn’t even on the brothers’ radar.

But the Pools and their staff got a pleasant surprise Tuesday when Pool Brothers Cabinets+Flooring+Lighting was named the winner of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Award.

“This has just been a humbling experience,” Keith Pool said Wednesday. “Albany has so many great businesses, I am just blown away that we were selected, and we will do our best to serve this community and hopefully make the chamber proud.”

The Pool Brothers provide full-service consultation, design and installation of custom cabinets, flooring and lighting, and recently opened a 2,200-square-foot showroom at 182 Oakland Parkway in Lee County.

“The whole reason our business model is the way it is, is to provide our customers with the best possible service,” Pool said on the day after receiving the chamber honor. “I’ve been in this business for 17 years and have heard the stories of people being taken for a ride by contractors. We make sure that never happens to our customers.

“When you save up hard-earned money to invest into your home, that should be an enjoyable process. It should be fun. We help take the stress out of it, and the customer can rest assured that whatever their need, we are there to take care of it.”

The award ceremony took place during a “Spring Carnival” reception held at Chehaw park. All nine of the year’s finalists were recognized for the roles they play in growing the Albany area economy.

The chamber also honored 229 Yoga with its 2017 Rising Star Award, which recognizes a high-performing young business, and Southern Point Staffing with the 2017 #AlbanyStrong Award, which recognizes a business that went above and beyond to assist others during the disastrous storms that hit the community in January.

At the ceremony, Albany Area Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes pointed out that 78 percent of businesses in Georgia have fewer than 10 employees, and 95 percent have fewer than 50 employees.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the American free enterprise system,” said Holmes. “Their opportunities for prosperity set the tone of communities and determine the strength of economies. The growth, products and services of the Albany Area Chamber 2017 Small Business of the Year, Pool Brothers Cabinets+Flooring+Lighting, and other finalists are indicative of the innovation, resilience and determination of the Albany area.”

According to Keith Pool, being nominated was flattering. Winning, he said, was a real honor. But he also noted that Pool Brothers is built around providing great service, with or without an award.

“We really appreciate being nominated, and, of course, I hoped that we would win. That’s a real honor,” said Pool. “But we are not in business to win awards. We are in business to provide our customers with the best service possible for any of their cabinet, flooring or lighting needs. That’s what we believe in, and that’s what we do.”

The other eight finalists nominated included 229 Yoga, Southern Point Staffing, Araamda Inn, Country Financial, Custom Interiors, Gieryic’s Automotive Repair, Shutters Plus, and Troy University Albany Support Center.

Celebrate Small Business Week in Albany continues today with a Lunch and Learn that includes the program “Branding Small Business,” That event will begin at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. On Friday, the webinar “You’re Social, Now What?” will be available for viewing all day.

For more information on the Small Business of the Year awards and remaining Celebrate Small Business Week events, visit, or contact Deidra Langstaff at (229) 343-1366.

Salty Sandbagger Golf Tournament

POSTPONED: Due to the weather conditions forecast for May 23, the spring Salty Sandbagger has been postponed until a later date.

Please join the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee for the Salty Sandbagger Golf Tournament on May 23 at 11:30 a.m. at River Pointe Golf Club. $40 per person, which includes lunch, cart and green fees. Chamber members should register with Leland Burkart at or Yvonne Jones at Please reserve your slot by May 16.

Legislative Luncheon

Please join the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee as we honor our legislators for a successful 2017 session. $25 per person. RSVP to Yvonne Jones at or 229.434.8700 by May 5, 2017.

May 10, 2017
Registration | 11:30 a.m.
Luncheon & Program | 12 p.m.

Albany Welcome Center
112 N Front Street
Downtown Albany

Chamber event helps connect business with NASA, military installations

Small business representatives from across the country packed into Albany’s Imagination Theater Thursday to learn about the multiple opportunities available for doing business with various NASA and Department of Defense facilities.

Hosted by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the procurement center at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, the Space and Military Business Forum brought more than 100 businesses together with representatives from several NASA and DOD installations and contractors in hopes of generating new business relationships.

According to Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes, the forum featured presentations from multiple entities, including NASA Headquarters, NASA Shared Space Services Center, John F. Kennedy Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, Moody Air Force Base, Patrick Air Force Base and Robins Air Force Base, all of which do business on a regular basis with small businesses.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for our community to host NASA,” said Holmes. “NASA reached out to us. When you get a phone call from NASA, you answer the phone. They reached out to us because of Albany’s proximity geographically to a large business area and for its proximity to various Department of Defense installations. We have representatives from Camp LeJeune, Moody Air Force Base, Patrick Air Force Base, Marine Corps Logistics Base, and others, all here in the same capacity: How can we do business with small businesses in our region, our state and our country?”

Michael McCarty, the director of procurement for the Kennedy Space Center, concurred, saying Albany is an ideal location for such an event because many NASA facilities and military installations rely heavily on private industry for a variety of different services.

“Most of our work is done by private industry, by contractors,” he said. “And this region is kind of central to NASA Kennedy Space Center, Huntsville, where Marshall Space Flight Center is, and Stennis Space Center, where NASA’s shared services center is in southern Mississippi.

“Kennedy Space Center is a huge installation with all the launch facilities, and people will sometimes think that it’s only engineering or only launch services. But all that infrastructure requires companies as well. We don’t have NASA civil servants that do that, we contract that out.

“It’s not just Kennedy Space Center, it’s all those other installations. There’s a lot of opportunity for businesses in this region to help us.”

McCarty said a good example is Albany’s A. West Enterprise, which in addition to doing contract work for Kennedy Space Center, also served as one of the main sponsors for the Space and Military Forum.

“There’s a company based out of here, A. West Enterprise, (owner) Eddie West, and some of his partners, they already do business with us,” said McCarty. “They set this up, helped sponsor it. We wanted to do it already, so it just pulled the two of us together.”

In addition to the event featuring businesses like A. West Enterprise that already do contract work with NASA, McCarty said the NASA facilities and the different DOD installations also brought some of the larger contractors they do business with, so that those companies can establish relationships with potential subcontractors.

“Us, along with Patrick Air Force Base down in Melbourn, Fla., near us, Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, the Marine Corps Logistics Base here, of course, Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, we all got together and we brought some of our prime contractors as well, like Boeing, Jacobs, Vencore, KBRwyle, because they do a lot of subcontracting,” McCarty explained. “So we’re all here to kind of talk to this region and talk about how they can do business with us and help us and at the same time we can help them.”

Although the majority of the day featured presentations and question-and-answer sessions with the different entities, the afternoon featured what Holmes called a “matchmaking” session, during which businesses could meet those entities face to face and develop relationships.

“(Attendees) have spent most of the morning learning about the services, but the feedback initially has been, ‘This is really cool,’” Holmes said. “The second half is a prearranged matchmaking session. It’s kind of a one-on-one speed-dating session between the businesses and the NASA space centers and Department of Defense installations.

Women in Business Roundtable Luncheon

Women who own and/or manage a local business share what it takes for success. Sponsored by Renasant Bank.
Facilitated by Terri Stumpe of Royal Collection – 2016 Small Business of the Year

Callie Walker | Hughey & Neuman, Inc.
Katie Gatewood | Hughey & Neuman, Inc.
LaKisha Bryant Bruce | United Way of Southwest Georgia
Judy Randle | Central Monitoring
Charlene Glover | Trumpet of God Ministries & Training Center | Healthy Living Farms

$20 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Includes lunch.
Purchase tickets here:

2017 Small Business Celebration

Join the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce a Spring Carnival dinner and awards banquet. The 2017 Small Business of the Year will be announced. The event is the highlight of the Chamber’s Celebrate Small Business Week, which promotes the impact of small businesses.
$35 per person | $325 for a table of 10