Albany-Dougherty delegation visits Washington D.C.

A delegation of Albany area civic and business leaders travelled to Washington D.C. last week to spend some quality time with federal officials and share some of the community’s recent successes and challenges, and to further strengthen relationships with those on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.

The annual visit, known as the Washington, D.C. Fly In, is organized by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and gives local leadership an opportunity to meet with federal policy makers to talk about issues that have an impact both nationally an locally.

“It’s an opportunity for our business community and our partners to come to Washington D.C. and interface with our federal leaders and our pentagon leaders on a collaborative scale and really provide a comprehensive update on the successes involving Dougherty County in the last year, things that we’re looking forward to, things that we’re working toward and any strides we’ve made in any areas where there were perhaps deficiencies in the past,” said Albany Area Chamber of Commerce interim President Barbara Rivera Holmes.

 This year’s delegation consisted of several community leaders including Holmes, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Albany City Manager Sharon Subadan, Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission (ADEDC) President and CEO Justin Strickland, Chamber executive board chairman Ed Newsome, Chamber legislative affairs committee chair Cynthia George, ADEDC board chairman Jay Smith, and others.

Holmes said one of the most important things about this year’s trip was the delegation having a chance to show leaders such as U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, and several high-ranking officials at the Pentagon, how Albany and Dougherty County business and community leaders have fostered a strong collaborative environment that is paying dividends for the area.

“This year one of the major things to really show off was collaboration,” said Holmes. “You’ve a heard a lot about collaboration over the last year and half and so we took that message to Washington and it was a message that was very well received and refreshing for our leadership to hear because that has not always been the case for our community.”

Holmes said it was important for the delegation to present a unified message about what the priorities and challenges were facing the community, which in turn makes it easier for the community to work effectively with its federal representations.

“It really is a cohesive message from a public/private (standpoint) if you will, from the governmental partners and the business community, which is what they need to see,” said Holmes. “They need to see those two sectors working collaboratively and we were able to demonstrate that.”

Through a reception the delegation hosted last Tuesday and a series of meetings at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill Wednesday, the group was able to discuss a wide variety of topics impacting manufacturing, workforce development and education.

“We were able to share some of the advancements as it relates to education, like the consolidation of ASU and Darton State, to let them know what to look forward to from that process,” said Holmes. “And about the positive movement on the public school side. Those are things that they all know are issues of importance for us, so they need to be able to know where we are on those different issues. So we provide them with a really comprehensive overview.”

 The trip also gave the delegation a chance to meet with leaders at the Pentagon and discuss the relationship Albany and Dougherty County has with Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany and the other base tenants.

Both MCLB commanding officer Col. James C. Carroll and Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM) commanding officer Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, who the delegation members met for the first time during last year’s trip, went to Washington with the group for meetings with other Marine Corps officials.

“It really was an important message for all of our Pentagon leaders and our congressional representatives who were at the reception to see that not only are our public and private partners, in terms of city, county, business community, engaged and working together but they also have a very strong relationship with the Marine Base and it’s tenants,” said Holmes.

Strickland echoed Holmes remarks pointing out that it was vitally important for there to be a strong bond between Washington and Albany/Dougherty County, because MCLB is so important to the community.

“The D.C. fly in trip for us is a critical part of our mission every year in support of LOGCOM and MCLB Albany,” said Strickland. “To be able to support MCLB and LOGCOM and for us to know what the Marines are working toward, to bolster the base here and what our senators and congressmen con do to support that effort, we’re glad to be able to assist with that.

“Seeing Gen. Crenshaw and then Col. Carroll go up for the reception and their support to the trip I think shows leadership at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill that we’re working together. (That is) another key point that we conveyed to our congressional leaders. The Community is working together, we’re collaborating on multiple fronts.”

Article courtesy of The Albany Herald
By Brad McEwen