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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.

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Webinar: Form I-9 – Keys to Compliance

The I-9 may seem like a basic step in the onboarding process, but getting caught with errors during an audit can be a costly mistake. Join Moultin & Hardin, Inc. for a 30-minute webinar that will cover pertinent filing and retention requirements for the I-9. We’ll review the various sections of the form in-depth and discuss the acceptable documents for completion of the I-9. Be more prepared and ready in 2017 to verify that your organization is in compliance.

Click here to register now.

Webinar Details

Date: Thursday, May 25, 2017

Time: 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PDT)

When registering for the session, please ensure that you put our full company name [Moulton & Hardin, Inc.] in the registration field that reads, “Please provide the name of the company that referred you to this webinar.”

This webinar is being hosted by Monica Weimar of HRAnswerLink. Monica has held roles as an HR Generalist and Payroll and Benefits manager at a large ski resort, providing HR guidance to more than 500 employees. Don’t miss this valuable webinar. Register today!

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.

Hamilton Relay Inc. Expands Workforce

Hamilton Relay, Inc., a national leader in the telecommunications relay and captioned telephone services industry, announced today that it has finished rebuilding after a severe storm destroyed its relay center in Albany on January 2nd. The new construction allowed the company to add 2,400 square feet of space to its location on Dawson Road and the company is now seeking to expand its workforce.

Located in Albany since 2006, the company has expanded a number of times, including most recently in September 2016. On January 2, 2017, the newly remodeled center was destroyed by a severe storm that hit the Albany area. While no employees were seriously injured, the center was a complete loss. The owner of the building, Carter Properties, immediately began to rebuild. In only 111 days, a new center was built and employees were back in and taking calls.

“We can’t thank our employees and the entire community of Albany enough for the incredible help in completing this project so quickly,” said Dixie Ziegler, vice president of Hamilton Relay. “Our landlord, Wayne Carter of Carter Properties, has been nothing short of amazing and was instrumental in getting us back in our building in such a short timeframe. We are so pleased to be a part of the Albany community and look forward to continuing our work here for many years to come.”

Hamilton is now looking to immediately hire an additional 80 employees to fill new Captioning Assistant and Communication Assistant positions in its Albany relay center. Positions include full-time, part-time, days, evenings and weekend shifts. Applications can be completed online at For more information, contact Human Resources at 229-435-5185.

About Hamilton Relay

Hamilton Relay, Inc. provides contracted Traditional Relay and Captioned Telephone services through 24 contracts to 18 states, the District of Columbia and the Island of Saipan, and is a provider of Internet-based Captioned Telephone services nationwide. More information is available at

Hamilton Relay is a division of Nedelco, Inc. dba Hamilton Telecommunications, a diversified communications and technology service provider based in Aurora, Nebraska. Founded in 1901, Hamilton Telecommunications encompasses eight primary company divisions that allow Hamilton to operate on a local, regional and national basis.

Hamilton Relay is a registered trademark of Nedelco, Inc. d/b/a Hamilton Telecommunications.