MERTS has been in business for more than 65 years, and in June 2014  was purchased by Larry Hilldore of Pathfinder Systems. The company provides specialized solutions to the unique problems of concrete producers including new construction, engineering, project management, and repair operations. MERTS plants are completely customizable and built to last. MERTS has been a member of the Albany Area Chamber for more than 37 years. “Chamber membership puts the focus on local businesses.  Even though we’ve been located in this area for many years, we are still relatively unknown.  We’re extremely proud to be the Star Business of the Week and get our name out there.”

500 Oakland Ct.
229.435.3315  |
Contact: Angela Holder

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Retired Albany surgeon Charles Gillespie receives Medical Association of Georgia award


Dr. Charles B. Gillespie, a retired Albany surgeon, received the Physician’s Award for Community Service during a ceremony that took place in conjunction with the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) 162nd House of Delegates meeting in Savannah recently.

The MAG award recognizes physicians who demonstrate a love for their community outside the regular scope of practice, officials with MAG said.

“As the chair of the committee that Gov. Jimmy Carter appointed in the early 1970s that formed Georgia’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system, Dr. Gillespie was instrumental in establishing the regulations for the EMS service in Georgia,” outgoing MAG President Dr. John Harvey wrote in a nomination letter for the award. “He also reformed the EMS training process in a number of important ways, including the implementation of an EMT oath that was adopted throughout Georgia and is now used across the U.S. and beyond.

“Dr. Gillespie has been a tireless advocate for a universal 911 service in Georgia – and he is widely considered to be the ‘father’ of emergency medical services in Georgia.”

MAG recognized physicians in several categories at the meeting. Gillespie, who retired from practicing medicine 20 years ago, won an award in another category during a prior year — making the most recent award the second he has received from MAG.

“It (the community service award) means a lot for me to get it, especially since it recognizes not only my medical works but my service to the community as well,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie established Albany Technical College’s EMT training program in 1972, which now has a training center bearing his name. The retired surgeon has served as a member of the Georgia Department of Human Resources Emergency Health Services Advisory and Medical Directors Advisory councils, the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare, the Georgia EMT Committee and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

As a member of the Governor’s Military Affairs Committee, he came up with the idea to install directional and mileage road signs to help visitors get to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, a concept he extended to Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, and Air Force bases in Warner Robins, Fort Benning and Fort Stewart.

Gillespie also worked with Humana to reduce the number and complexity of the pre-certification processes for more than 400 Tricare surgical procedures. As a member of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Commission, he played a key role in the design and construction of a $12 million terminal at the airport.

Outside his role as a physician, Gillespie said his contributions to the airport commission are among the ones he is most proud of.

“The airport commission is one of the more favorable ones,” he said.

Gillespie received his medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine in 1961, and he completed his orthopedic residency at Grady Hospital in 1966.

Courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Jennifer Parks

CTSI Acquires Medical / Financial Technology Company

ComNet Technical Solutions, Inc. (“CTSI”) is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of TDC Technologies (“TDC”).

TDC is a leading provider of IT and Helpdesk Services in the Medical and Financial Markets. Garland Braswell, Owner of TDC, will join CTSI as a Professional Consultant.

For the past 18 years, CTSI’s corporate mission has been to become a global provider of IT and Helpdesk Services for Industrial, Manufacturing, Small Businesses and Professional Services Providers. The acquisition of TDC reinforces CTSI’s already strong presence in the Southwest Georgia market and helps strengthen the CTSI brand and presence in the Atlanta, Georgia and Central Florida Markets.

Tammy McCrary, Founder, CEO & President of CTSI, stated:

“This is an important acquisition for CTSI and forms part of our business growth plan through multi-market strategy. TDC operates a business model we appreciate and compliments our business. TDC has a reputation for excellent services and deep client relationships. These are important criteria for a successful acquisition which will provide us with a solid platform for continued growth of the CTSI brand.”

Garland Braswell, Owner of TDC, stated:

“I am excited to be joining CTSI, which provides an exceptional fit for our business and a great opportunity to further develop our services. CTSI is a well-regarded and highly respected organization and I look forward to continuing to develop high standards of excellence for our Clients.”

CTSI is a leading provider of IT and Helpdesk Services with a Client base in 17 states and 3 countries. CTSI was founded in 1998 by Tammy McCrary. CTSI was Small Business of the Year in 2009 in Lee County, Georgia and 2015 in Albany, Georgia and has received numerous awards and recognitions for industry achievements, professional services and community service. Visit CTSI on the web at or find and “Like” them on Facebook.

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.

The Flower Basket


The Flower Basket, an Albany staple for more than 40 years, has been owned by the Porter-Watson family for the past 12 years. It is a full-service florist offering fresh cut and silk arrangements, dish gardens, fruit baskets, snack and gourmet baskets, plush, balloons, and gift items for every occasion. Delivery is available in Albany, Leesburg and Dawson. Customer service and a wide variety of products set The Flower Basket apart. The Flower Basket has been a member of the Albany Area Chamber for four years. “Our business benefits greatly from the chamber. We get exposure on social media and all around town, and the networking is great for meeting local business people and forming friendships and business relationships throughout our community.”

2243 Dawson Road
229.432.2950 |
Contact: Tibbie Porter-Watson

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Hometown Heroes 2016 Awards Banquet


December 3 | 6 p.m. | The Knights of Columbus, 2009 Gillionville Road | 229-883-3384

Tickets – $250 Sponsorship (includes 8 seat table + ad in program | $20 Single Ticket | $150 Table of 8 | Cash bar available
Tickets can be purchased at Tony’s Gym, Brooks Furniture and The Knights of Columbus

For more information contact Candy Carter, manager Council #3607 Inc. at 229-883-8834 or Crystal Lund, President of Team Lund’s Personal Training and Nutrition Corporation at 229-483-9977 or 229-869-2463.

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 State University selected to participate in $47-million initiative to improve training of aspiring principals

The Wallace Foundation selected Albany State University to participate in a national $47-million initiative to develop models over the next four years for improving university principal preparation programs. The initiative will examine state policy for efforts to strengthen quality training statewide.

“This award is a significant development for Albany State University and the school systems in Southwest Georgia,” said Thomas Thompson, dean of the ASU College of Education. “With the high level of poverty and diminishing opportunities for gainful employment in this region, particularly among our population of teenagers and young adults, access to high quality public education via highly effective elementary and secondary schools is crucial; and it all starts with the quality of leadership provided by the principals in our children’s schools.  This project will ensure that southwest Georgia has an adequate supply of effective principals who are ready to lead when given the opportunity.”

Albany State University will redesign the Educational Leadership program, offered by the ASU College of Education. The institution is one of seven universities selected by the Wallace Foundation and one of two historically black colleges or universities (HBCU) in the nation to receive funding, this year, for the initiative. ASU is also the only college or university representing the State of Georgia.

“The redesign of Albany State University’s Educational Leadership program is a wonderful opportunity for the institution to improve the effectiveness of educators in the region and the state,” said ASU President Art Dunning. “Our faculty and staff members are dedicated to ensuring that exceptional training is provided to all Educational Leadership program participants. The grant from the Wallace Foundation will allow ASU to raise the bar for the university and for the state of Georgia.”

ASU will receive assistance for the redesign from Gwinnett County Public Schools (GA) Quality-Plus Leader Academy and the New York Leadership Academy, two organizations who have previously gone through the process with the Wallace Foundation. The university will partner with the Dougherty County School System, Pelham city schools, Calhoun county schools and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to ensure that the training is revamped with local school needs in mind. The university, along with district partners and state partners will receive $7.75 million over a four year period to complete necessary requirements

“We have proposed a program that is performance-based where we take the training out of the ivory towers and into the school systems where our students will be paired with mentors and coaches that will allow them to apply the principles of excellent school leadership,” said Deborah Bembry, professor and chair of the Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership. Bembry is the principal investigator for the project. “With the university, districts and state working together, we will produce a model of principal preparation that can be used across the state and even the nation.”

The Wallace Foundation was interested in finding university programs that serve districts with large numbers of disadvantaged students, whose schools could particularly benefit from effective school leadership. After a selection process that included site visits and assistance from experts in state policy and education, the foundation selected these six other universities: Florida Atlantic University, North Carolina State University, San Diego State University (California), the University of Connecticut, Virginia State University and Western Kentucky University.

“We know from research that school principals require excellent training with high-quality, practical  experiences to become effective leaders—but most are simply not getting this,” said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation. “Because many school districts don’t have the capacity to train as many principals as they need or to train future principals at all, the best way to reach more aspiring school leaders is through the university programs that typically provide needed certification. We are confident that the selected universities want to raise the bar for their programs, work in partnership with their local school districts and serve as models for other universities.”

The Wallace Foundation University Principal Preparation Initiative builds on 15 years of Wallace-supported research and experience about what makes for effective principals and their “pre-service” training at universities. The foundation hopes the initiative can contribute over the long term to the development of a new national approach to preparing effective principals, one focusing on evidence-based policies and practices in three areas:

  • Developing and implementing high-quality courses of study with practical, on-the-job experiences.
  • Putting in place strong university-district partnerships.
  • Developing state policies about program accreditation, principal licensure or certification, and other matters (funded internships, for example) to promote more effective training statewide.

“The more we talk with education leaders no matter at what level of the education system, from state to university to district, the more we hear it is the right time to conduct a university-focused initiative like this,” said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at Wallace. “We are seeking to learn how these seven universities accomplish their program redesign as an important first step in improving how principals are prepared for the demanding job of leading school improvement across the country.”

A luncheon to celebrate the redesign of the program and to recognize Albany State University College of Education faculty members, local and state initiative partners and Wallace Foundation representatives will be held Monday, Oct. 24 in the Student Center Ballroom.


About Albany State University … Albany State University, in Southwest Georgia, has been a catalyst for change in the region from its inception as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute to its designation as a university. Founded in 1903 to educate African-American youth, the university continues to fulfill its historic mission while also serving the educational needs of an increasingly diverse student population. A progressive institution, Albany State University seeks to foster the growth and development of the region, state and nation through teaching, research, creative expression and public service. Through its collaborative efforts, the university responds to the needs of all of its constituents and offers educational programs and service to improve the quality of life in Southwest Georgia. For more information, see Follow the university on Twitter at @AlbanyStateUniv and on Facebook at Albany State University Official Page.

The Wallace Foundation seeks to improve education and enrichment for disadvantaged children and foster the vitality of arts for everyone. The foundation has an unusual approach: funding efforts to test innovative ideas for solving important public problems, conducting research to find out what works and what doesn’t and to fill key knowledge gaps – and then communicating the results to help others. Wallace, which works nationally, has five major initiatives under way:

  • School leadership: Strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement.
  • Afterschool: Helping selected cities make good afterschool programs available to many more children.
  • Building audiences for the arts: Enabling arts organizations to bring the arts to a broader and more diverse group of people.
  • Arts education: Expanding arts learning opportunities for children and teens.
  • Summer and expanded learning: Better understanding the impact of high-quality summer learning programs on disadvantaged children, and enriching and expanding the school day in ways that benefit students.

Find out more at

How to Become a Small Business ROCK STAR


For the fourth year in a row, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) and the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) have once again teamed up to recognize the outstanding, unique and impactful small businesses in the state of Georgia. We salute the risks, innovations, outreach, and impact of our small businesses, as well as the reasons why these qualities abound in Georgia.

For information on how your business can become a “Small Business Rock Star” click here.