Author Archives: Barbara Rivera Holmes

Chamber, EDC to present community-wide workforce development strategic plan


For Immediate Release

Contact: Reedi Hawkins



January 22, 2020


Albany-Dougherty EDC, Chamber to present community-wide workforce development strategic plan

Albany, Ga. – The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission (ADEDC) and Albany Area Chamber of Commerce (AACC) will hold a launch event to present the findings from their joint strategic planning initiative on community-wide workforce development in Albany-Dougherty County. The event is open to the public and will be held on February 18 beginning at 11 a.m. in the Candy Room at the Riverfront Resource Center. At the event, information will be presented as to how community members may support and participate in the implementation of the work force strategy.

The strategic planning initiative kicked off in May 2019, with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG) facilitating the process.

Throughout the discovery process, CVIOG met with community members, employers, job seekers, students and educational institutions to gain a holistic understanding of the workforce climate in Albany-Dougherty County. A steering committee of local stakeholders, working with CVIOG, guided the plan’s development, identifying priorities and strategic actions after reviewing significant qualitative and quantitative information. The February 18 plan presentation will syndicate that information into an all-encompassing strategic proposal designed to focus and bolster resources necessary to develop, attract, and retain talent in the area for industry and commerce.

“As the center for business and culture in Southwest Georgia, it’s vital that Albany-Dougherty County be adequately prepared for the coming trends in workforce development in order to lead the region into the next era of economic and community development,” said ADEDC President Justin Strickland. “The extensive research conducted through this planning process has resulted in the necessary directives to accomplish that goal.”

As a component of the long-term strategic plan, various stake-holding leaders volunteered to spearhead specific initiatives through the oversight of working groups.

“Representing the interests of hundreds of Southwest Georgia businesses and industries, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the ADEDC, saw it uniquely fit to lead the initiative to conduct a comprehensive strategic plan on workforce development, as workforce needs consistently top the list of challenges to all businesses,” said Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bárbara Rivera Holmes. “The Albany Area Chamber, as well as our member organizations, is committed to the long-term initiatives that strengthen Albany’s position as the driver of our region’s growth. Talent creation and retention are foundational to broad-based prosperity, and this plan will ensure these pieces fit into the framework of success for Albany and Southwest Georgia.”

The public event will begin with the strategic plan presentation at 11 a.m., with lunch to follow. Pre-registration is required here or by calling the Albany Area Chamber at 229.434.8700.


About the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission

The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission is a public-private partnership whose mission is to foster new investment and job creation through the recruitment, retention, and expansion of industry for Albany-Dougherty County.

About the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

Since 1910, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce has advocated for business success through leadership and economic development.

About the Carl Vinson Institute of Government

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government is a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit that provides customized assistance, applied research and professional development to help state and local governments operate more effectively and deliver improved service to the public.

Albany Area Chamber announces 2019 Albany Under 40 Finalists

For Immediate Release


Contact: Bárbara Rivera Holmes



July 25, 2019


Albany Area Chamber announces 2019 ‘Albany Under 40’ finalists


Albany, Ga.– The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce today announced the finalists of the 2019 Albany Under 40 awards, a program that honors and celebrates the Albany Area’s emerging leaders and professionals in a variety of business sectors, each representing a component of the area’s diversified talent pool and economy.


“The Albany Area is home to young leaders who are making their mark through excellence in their professions, through their innovation and through their commitment to building a stronger region,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “We’re honored to recognize these diverse, outstanding professionals and proud they’ve chosen to live, work and invest in the Albany Area.”


Nominations for Albany Under 40 were sought from the public. Finalists were considered from among the nominees who applied, and were selected, following selections criteria, by a panel of volunteer judges.


Finalists will be recognized at the Albany Under 40 Awards Reception on August 22 at The Flint, downtown Albany’s newest restaurant and special events venue. Category winners will be announcedat the reception. The 2019 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year, selected by the volunteer panel from among the category winners, will be announced at the Albany Area Chamber’s 110th annual meeting on January 16, 2020.

Visit albanyga.comto register for the Albany Under 40 Awards Reception.



Chamber-led federal visit identifies priorities, resources

Barbara Rivera Holmes, President & CEO

Albany Area Chamber President & CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes on parallel priorities and discussions with federal lawmakers during the Chamber’s recent Washington, D.C., Fly In. From infrastructure to work force and much in between, “the readiness capabilities of Albany-Dougherty County and the Albany Area impact the readiness of the United States Marine Corps.”

It may have been hyperbole when U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., opened the door to his wood-paneled Senate board room – the space adorned with memorabilia from communities throughout Georgia and sepia-toned photographs of the state’s early senators – surveyed the audience and proclaimed, happily, “Looks like you’ve brought all of Dougherty County to Washington with you.”
The senator wasn’t far off. The 25-person local leadership team that visited the nation’s capital June 18-20 to meet with the Albany Area Congressional delegation and Marine Corps brass was the largest to date in the 15-year history of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s Washington, D.C., Fly In, an annual advocacy initiative that allows for chamber and community leadership to discuss priorities with members of the delegation.
Local leadership was targeted in its discussions with Perdue; U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany; and U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton. On the table: Disaster recovery funding and disbursement; Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and its contributions to national defense as an innovative logistics command instillation; the importance of transportation infrastructure as Albany continues to experience population growth; rural health care delivery and affordability; and opportunities to close the skills gap through specialized training. Related policy briefings at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped identify national resources and themes.
The Georgia Congressional delegation’s advocacy of the $19.1 billion disaster aid bill, which President Trump signed in early June, will release federal dollars that assist local communities and military installations.
Many of the issues addressed with the Congressional members were identified as priorities, too, during the local team’s discussions at the Pentagon, where Lt. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commandant for Marine Corps Installations and Logistics, discussed the U.S. Department of Defense’s new National Defense Strategy and the critical role of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command.
Be it energy security – by 2020, MCLB Albany should become the first net-zero energy installation with the defense department, in part due to an energy-creating partnership with Dougherty County – to how the health and status of Albany’s infrastructure impacts the Corps’ readiness, Albany and the Marine Corps share parallel priorities, and the symbiotic dependence of these has never been more pronounced.
“The Marine Corps Logistics Command serves as a distribution hub for the Marine Corps, and future fights may start from bases like our installation in Albany,” said Brig. Gen. David Maxwell, assistant deputy commandant for Marine Corps Installations and Logistics.
The readiness capabilities of Albany-Dougherty County and the Albany Area impacts the readiness of the Marine Corps. This was on display during the recovery and rebuilding following the tornadoes of January 2017 and Hurricane Michael in 2018, which temporarily debilitated the Albany Area’s energy, transportation and water management infrastructure.
When Chiarotti, an affable three-star general, directed the conversation toward the work force readiness and the skill sets that would be needed by the Marines to meet this new national defense paradigm,  the community’s public educational partners – the Dougherty County School System, Commodore Conyers and Career Academy, Albany State University and Albany Technical College – were in the room ready to listen and, most importantly, ready to act.
For more than a decade, the country has been engaged in ground combat warfare in parts of the Middle East; the new National Defense Strategy addresses growing cyberterrorism threats fArom near-peer competitors including China and Russia. The new strategy requires new and different infrastructure, and a specialized work force.
The needs of the U.S. military and the needs of business are akin: work force, transportation, infrastructure, innovation, investment. Addressing these, then, becomes of even greater priority.
The size of the local audience wasn’t lost on Perdue, a businessman from Warner Robins, nor was its diversity: private-sector small and large businesses; education; elected officials; economic development partners; local financial institutions; health care; military partners.
U.S. Rep. Bishop, a senior member of the Albany Area Congressional delegation, noted that while the community has consistently engaged with leadership in Washington, the size, scope and impact of local leadership has expanded significantly. This has not been without intention.
The Albany Area Chamber exists as a force for progress. Since 1910, the Chamber has coalesced the assets, resources and talents of its members and strategic partners so as to collaboratively achieve transformational change. More than a century after its incorporation, the vision of a stronger, healthier and more prosperous Albany Area – and the advocacy of the policies, programs and resources required – remains our driving force.
To learn more about the chamber’s governmental affairs program and how to become involved, call (229) 434-8700.