The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce honored local organizations Wednesday, November 30 when it recognized the finalists and announced the winners of its 2022 Albany Area Chamber Business Awards, which celebrates member organizations that are making strides, demonstrating a unique vision and establishing best practices.
The business awards include the small business of the year award, the nonprofit of the year award, the “Uniquely Albany” award and the new women-owned business of the year award.
“The Albany Area Chamber Business Awards celebrates excellence and shines the spotlight on our community and our member organizations — on their success, their innovation, their talent, their contributions, their impact,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s largest business advocacy organization. “We’re honored to recognize these outstanding organizations and honored that they’ve chosen and continue to choose Albany.”
The 2022 Small Business of the Year award was presented to Flint Community Bank.
Flint Community Bank serves as the foundational catalyst that allows individuals in the community to make purchases, start, grow, and maintain other community businesses, and to facilitate higher quality of life through saving for the future. Flint Community Bank processes an estimated $80 million dollars in personal and business loans annually, as well as an estimated $22 million dollars in mortgage loans. These loans not only allow individuals and families in our community to secure housing and other necessities, but they also provide capital to many small businesses to pay operating expenses and to flourish and grow. Most importantly, included in those operating expenses are salaries and benefits for existing jobs and those to be created, as businesses grow.
“Community” is literally the bank’s middle name. As a community bank, they make it a priority to give back to its neighbors. Each year, they give more than $100,000 in the form of donations, sponsorships and support to community events. One of Flint Community Bank’s core values is “Investing in the Future.” Based on this principle, the bank has implemented a “Junior Board of Directors” through which the bank mentors a group of high school juniors and seniors from around the community as they develop leadership skills, financial literacy, and most importantly, form lasting relationships with one another, teaching them that there truly is no better “investment” than that in your community and its people.
The 2022 Nonprofit of the Year award was presented to Flint River Fresh.
Flint River Fresh is a community advocate for equitable access to fresh, healthy, locally sourced food in response to the extraordinarily high incidents of food insecurity, persistent poverty, and vulnerable populations living in food deserts across Southwest Georgia. Executive director Fredando Jackson and the Flint River Fresh Board of Directors have devoted five years to championing food equity and developing sustainable connections to fresh produce among local, state and federal governing bodies while cultivating relationships with area community health care and wellness partners, small or beginning food producers, food policy makers, and stakeholders with agricultural interests. Advocacy work includes presentations to the Georgia Senate Committee Study Committee on Ending Food Deserts and participation with the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge Policy Institute with the American Public Health Association. Results and impact include influencing significant funding to communities in food deserts throughout Southwest Georgia.
The work of Flint River Fresh provides resources in a wide variety of capacities that elevate urban farming and agriculture initiatives focused on improving sustainable access to fresh fruit and vegetables produced by community and local producers.
The 2022 Uniquely Albany Award was a tie, presented to The Flint and Pretoria Fields.
The Flint is a restaurant, a gathering place and a celebration of community that belongs as much to the people of Albany as it does to its owners – the Singfield family, which has been a part of Albany’s business community for more than 50 years. The Flint represents a connection to the past and a springboard into the future. Located in downtown – just across the street from where we are now – the restaurant is situated in an old cotton warehouse, built in the 1800s. The Flint is an anchor tenant on Pine Avenue and has been instrumental in the rebirth of downtown. Everything about the decor is “Albany,” from the floors that contain river rock that was taken from the river itself, to the animals mounted on the walls that were harvested from the Flint River Basin. Wood in the restaurant was saved from Hurricane Michael and installed by a local company. The glass from the original skylights were repurposed and installed in the private dining room’s barndoors. All of the work was completed by local vendors, truly embracing the spirit of collaboration, and pride in Albany’s artisans as the very best around.
Located in downtown Albany, with a farm just outside of town, Pretoria Fields is known as the only “farm to pint” brewery in Georgia, and is endorsed by Georgia Grown. Besides the taproom and brewery, their beer is distributed statewide in Georgia and Alabama. They have product in all 200-plus Publix stores, 120 Krogers, 35 Ingles supermarkets, and other prominent grocery chain accounts across the country. They are proud to be served in those grocery stores, and some of the best bars and restaurants in the Southeastern United States – allowing those from all over to experience a little bit of Albany.
Waving the flag for Albany and the region is something Pretoria Fields prioritizes every day. Always collaborating with local and statewide organizations in an effort to demonstrate the beauty of partnership and to elevate exposure for the brand and the community, Pretoria Fields is constantly working to take the organization, and with it, Albany, to the next level.
The 2022 Women-Owned Business of the Year was presented to MADlab Marketing.
MADlab Marketing is a full-service marketing agency that proudly serves clients in Southwest Georgia, across the United States and even internationally. The agency has more than 62 active clients. MADLab has worked hard to maintain an upward trajectory in revenue while adhering to its commitment to reliable customer service. These efforts have resulted in nearly 30 percent growth in revenue in the last three years.
At MADlab , the pace is fast, the energy addictive, and the environment embracing. The agency seeks high-performing account representatives who are committed to customer service. They are driven professionals who are highly organized and can juggle multiple projects at once. Their sweet spot for hiring these “marketing aces” tends to be found in young mothers. Which makes sense, because, hey – who lives a life of service and juggles better than mothers?
MADlab intentionally works to create an atmosphere of giving back to the community. Generosity is not only modeled by the owners, but is seen in the actions of the agency to support non-profit missions and objectives in the community. The agency and owners have played an instrumental part in projects such as turtle statues to Albany, the development of Turtle Grove Play Park, the replanting of trees lost from storm damage with Grow Albany, coordination of the Albany Area Chamber’s Ron Clark workforce event, the restructuring of Leadership Albany and the recent opening of the new Feeding the Valley food bank.
The 2022 Albany Area Chamber Business Awards were presented by ComNet1 and sponsored by Albany Area Primary Health Care; ServPro of Albany and Americus; Coldwell Banker Walden & Kirkland; and Webstaurant Store.