Category Archives: Chamber News

Summer School! An Evening with Ron Clark


Join the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and Dougherty County School System for Summer School! An Evening with Ron Clark on Thursday, July 20 at 5:30 p.m. Ron Clark, known as “America’s Educator” will present a keynote speech then follow up with a teacher-only breakout session. Contact Mary Beth Hobby for group ticket sales – 229-567-5100 or Learn more here:

Military Appreciation Rise N Shine Breakfast

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce will honor military personnel during the Military Appreciation Rise-N-Shine Breakfast at Merry Acres Event Center. This annual event is held to bring military together with the business community.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Merry Acres Event Center | 1500 Dawson Road
7:30 a.m. | Networking & Coffee
8 a.m. | Breakfast & Program
$25 members | $35 non-members

Preferred pricing ends July 5, after which registration increases by $5. Registration fee is non-refundable after July 10.

Register here at or contact Yvonne Jones at or (229) 434-8700.

40 Under Forty

Lunch is complimentary for 40 Under Forty recipients. Guests and children ages 12 and older are welcome for lunch at $30 per guest. Due to limited seating, reservations are required by June 23, 2017.

Register here or contact Yvonne Jones at or (229) 434-8700.

Georgia Chamber Georgia 2030 2.0 Tour

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to host the Georgia Chamber of Commerce as they continue their Georgia 2030 statewide conversation. Join us as Georgia Chamber President & CEO, Chris Clark, digs deeper into last year’s findings and discusses innovative solutions important to our community.

June 22, 2017
11:30 a.m. – noon | Networking & Lunch Registration
noon – 1 p.m. | Lunch Program
Albany State University, L. Orene Hall Building
504 College Drive, Albany, GA 31705

Register Here

Albany Area Chamber Hosts Annual State of the Community Luncheon

(Albany Herald) A large crowd gathered at Albany State University’s West Campus Wednesday as the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the Community luncheon. The theme for this year’s event was “After the Storms: Commerce and Community.”

The meeting began with a powerful video narrated by Albany’s original Freedom Singer, Rutha Harris, who said the storms tested the community to its limits but ultimately brought the community together stronger than ever before. As images of storm damage and community cleanup efforts flashed across the screen, Harris spoke softly yet firmly of the tenacity, love, hope, perseverance and collaboration that helped the community cope with the trauma and inspired it to join forces with the common goal of rising above the ruins.

Highlighting the event was a panel discussion featuring officials with three local businesses hit hard by the storms that devastated Albany five months ago.

“We wanted to show how far our community has come,” said chamber Chairwoman Jenny Savelle.

Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes served as moderator for the panel discussion, which included David Castellano and Dixie Ziegler, representing Hamilton Relay; Werhner Washington, who serves as plant manager for Procter & Gamble Albany, and Karen Snyder, a board member representing the Albany Museum of Art.

“Hamilton Relay has rebuilt almost as quickly as the storms demolished their facility,” Holmes said while announcing that the company would hold a ribbon-cutting at its newly rebuilt Dawson Road facility later in the day.

“After the storms, we examined our facility and saw it was a total loss,” Castellano said. “We determined we would need everything brand new. Instead of leaving Albany, we decided to stay right here and expand.”

Hamilton Relay Corporate Office Representative Ziegler said the company began its plans to rebuild in Albany right away.

“The minute the storm hit, we had no doubt about staying in Albany,” she told the audience. “It was a no-brainer because we had been in Albany for 10 years. Albany has a good work force and a good labor pool. The community has been supportive, and we know we are in a good environment.”

P&G’s Washington said the company’s manufacturing plant was not heavily damaged, but the distribution center had significant structural damage. Washington also reported that much of the company’s inventory was destroyed.

Although the distribution plant had to be demolished, the company kept its supply lines open and filled its orders by partnering with other Procter & Gamble distribution centers. Five months after the storm, Washington now credits the tornado that hit his plant for helping the company to rethink its distribution process by finding better ways to fill orders.

“The storm could have destroyed us,” he said. “Instead, it forced us to to discover a new opportunity to rebuild and a new way to synchronize our supply chain. Those changes ultimately helped us to streamline operations around customer sales.

“Today, we are well on the road to recovery, and we are transforming our distribution plant into a lean, mean and highly synchronized machine.”

Meanwhile, the Albany Museum of Art remains in transition. After experiencing a great deal of damage from the storm, the museum, located next to Albany State University’s West Campus, had to be shut down. Since then, the museum has been actively searching for a permanent home.

“We had heavy damage from rain and high winds, which peeled back a significant portion of the roof,” Snyder said. “The good news is not one of our paintings or artifacts was a total loss, although many items had to be sent to Chicago for repairs and restoration. Just like family photos, none of these items can be replaced.”

As the artifact restoration efforts continue, the museum has remained in a state of transition. Snyder estimates it will take at least two years for the museum to fully recover. She noted, though, that plans are underway to move the museum permanently to downtown Albany.

“The storm gave us the opportunity to reconsider how we want to grow,” Snyder said. “We like the synergy of things that are happening in downtown Albany. We want to become the anchor of the cultural center in the downtown district.”

Snyder said the museum board members are highly optimistic that the museum will find a new home and be settled enough to open a new downtown location by Labor Day.

While business leaders were happy to share their success, the representatives of all three companies agreed that the road to recovery isn’t over and more support will be needed in the days ahead.

After lunch, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Dougherty County Commission Chairman Christopher Cohilas continued the discussion on ways to keep Albany moving forward after the storms.

Holmes said the city is allocating SPLOST funds to initiate a variety of new and ongoing efforts to improve city infrastructure and to continue with disaster clean-up. Homeowners can still contact the city if they need help removing stumps and other debris left by the storms, the chamber president said.

Cohilas said housing initiatives and road improvements will also be a priority as Albany officials continue to evaluate storm recovery progress.

Hamilton Relay re-opens after storms, brings jobs to area

(WALB) An Albany business, severely damaged during the January 2 storm, is back open and could bring more jobs to Albany soon.

Albany city leaders and Hamilton Relay employees held a ribbon cutting for its grand re-opening Wednesday afternoon.

The center processes calls for people who are hearing or speech impaired.

Vice President Dixie Ziegler gave out several donations.

Grow Albany, New Hope Recovery Center and Run for Your Lungs each received a $250 check.

The Georgia School for the deaf and the blind received 5,000 dollars.

Officials also announced dozens of new jobs.

“Let’s take this opportunity to grow, let’s bring back jobs to Albany again,” said Hamilton Relay Center Manager David Castellano.

“There’s really no price tag that we can put on for the amount of support and the things that the individuals did in this community to support us,” explained Hamilton Relay Vice President Dixie Ziegler. “It’s simply priceless the type of energy, enthusiasm, and let’s roll up our sleeves and get back to work.”

Hamilton Relay said people looking to apply for jobs at the center should have good reading skills, great listening skills and type up to 60 words per minute.

Institute for Leadership Development Graduates Class of 2016-2017

Fourteen business professionals graduate Thursday, May 25,  from the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Institute for Leadership Development, a program that aims to create stronger leaders to serve Albany Area businesses and the community by effectively utilizing the resources of the chamber. The graduation ceremony will be hosted at Wynfield Plantation in Albany at 5:30 p.m.

“The Albany Area Chamber’s Institute for Leadership Development has been successful in molding future business leaders through personal and professional development. It is important to build upon the professional skills of our participants and realize that leaders can be developed from all levels within an organization,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

A key element of the Institute for Leadership Development is the mentor-mentee program, which pairs current community leaders with young professionals, providing invaluable experience and knowledge to help fully develop the participants’ talents. Along with mentorship, the curriculum provides a genuine and detailed focus on several key leadership qualities including effective networking, delegation; understanding leadership style; visioning and strategic planning; political savvy; influence and negotiation; image and the media.


David Anderson       MCLB Albany

Kimberly Carter       Albany State University

Deborah Clemons    Renasant Bank

James T. Ealum        Campaign Manager

Lola Edwards            Albany Technical College

Erin Freeman            Albany Area Resource Center

Reedi Hawkins         Albany-Dougherty EDC

Tim Hunter                Tim Hunter, CPA

Haley Janousek         Mauldin & Jenkins

Michael Kennedy      Lee County Library

Whitney Passmore    AB&T

Latreesa Perryman   MCLB Albany

Daniel Stone              SB&T

Jason Wilson             Southern Point Staffing

On May 11, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Albany announced a merger of the two leadership programs. The merger allows for the blend of the Leadership Albany program, which places a strong emphasis on building community trustees, and curriculum programs of the chamber’s Leadership Institute, which focuses on developing traits such as political awareness, media savvy and business leadership.

Leadership Albany and Albany Area Chamber Leadership Institute Announce Merger

With a focus on developing effective business, community and elected leaders and recognizing the unique strengths of each program toward that goal, Leadership Albany and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership for Institute Development announced Thursday the merger of the two programs.

The announcement took place Thursday at Leadership Albany’s 2016-2017 class graduation ceremony at L. Orene Hall at Albany State University.

“It is with great anticipation that we announce the merger of Leadership Albany and the Albany Area Chamber’s Institute for Leadership Development. Both programs have relatively similar missions: to create stronger leaders to serve our businesses and our community. By joining forces, we will only strengthen our commitment to that mission and ensure the longevity of a local leadership development program for years to come,” said Carroll Weaver, chair of the Leadership Albany Board of Directors.

Leadership Albany was established in 1984 for the purpose of identifying and developing leaders in the Albany Area. With more than 800 alumni, the organization’s roster reads like a who’s who of area business, nonprofit and city/county leaders. The Leadership Institute started in 2015 at the urging of area businesses that saw the need for new skill sets in their workforce.
The merger allows for the blend of the Leadership Albany program, which places a strong emphasis on building community trustees, and curriculum programs of the chamber’s Leadership Institute, which focuses on developing traits such as political awareness, media savvy and business leadership.

“The Albany Area Chamber believes in results-oriented partnerships and in the effective use of resources. Blending the strong business leadership program of the chamber’s Institute for Leadership Development with Leadership Albany’s mission to develop leaders for the common good will provide a well-rounded experience for participants who have demonstrated a willingness and capacity to lead,” said Jenny Savelle, chair of the board of directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

Active planning of the merger began earlier this year when the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce submitted a letter of intent to the Leadership Albany Board of Directors. A committee was then formed to discuss the feasibility of the merger and evaluate the benefits to the community and the organization.

During the next few months, the Leadership Albany Board of Directors will be releasing more information on the specifics of the merger and updated programming.

State of the Community: After the Storms

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Community brings together community leaders for an insightful dialogue about trending topics and the issues that matter most. After The Storms: Commerce and Community focuses on how storm-impacted government and businesses are rethinking, retooling and reinvesting in ways that drive innovation, efficiency and a competitive edge.

The panelists will include Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, City of Albany; Chairman Christopher S. Cohilas, Dougherty County; David Castellano, Georgia Center Manager, Hamilton Relay; and Werhner Washington, Plant Manager, Procter & Gamble.