Author Archives: Barbara Rivera Holmes

COVID-19 RESOURCE CENTER FOR EMPLOYERS

 

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s priority

is to keep the business community informed and prepared.

 

GET THE LATEST GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESS FROM

Agency Leaders

While this is a quickly evolving situation, we will work to provide up-to-date information, actionable intelligence and help employers adopt a prepared mindset to focus on the health of their business. Here is some of the latest, most relevant information and resources for employers from national health organizations and agency leaders.

 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Georgia Department of Public Health

Occupational Health & Safety Administration

World Health Organization

U.S. Small Business Administration

 

FIND HELP FOR YOUR COMPANY

Business Assistance Programs

These local, state and federal resources are available to support businesses during a disaster or crisis. Learn more about how these programs can assist your businesses, as well as how to apply and access these resources.

 

SBA Disaster Recovery Loans for Employers

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Learn more and apply online.

Economic Injury Relief Overview (Recording Available)

Small Business Administrator Ashley D. Bell and Director of Government Guaranteed Lending for Synovus Joseph Shuford provide a detailed overview of the economic injury relief programs available to small businesses. >> Access the recording

Special guest speaker, Senior U.S. Senator David Perdue, also delivered a high-level update on the CARES Act signed into law on March 27.  >> READ MORE HERE.

Georgia Department of Labor Emergency Unemployment

The Georgia Department of Labor updates rules so that Georgia employers may partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time/part-time) works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the -19 public health emergency. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee. Download the How Employers File Partial Claims Desk-Aid found on the GDOL Alert Page and follow the step-by-step instructions. Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically. Employees for whom you file a partial claim are NOT required to report to a Georgia Department of Labor career center, register for employment services, or look for other work. 

Georgia Department of Labor
Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and Georgia Chamber President & CEO Chris Clark discuss the expanded rules and regulations in place to assist both businesses and employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.

UGA Small Business Development Center

UGA Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) across the state are open and available to assist small businesses impacted by current circumstances. Virtual consulting and online resources are available. Contact SBDC-Albany at (229) 420-1144.

Download the SBDC’s “Guide to Conquering a Business Crisis” for tips and strategies on cash management, price and cost containment, supply chain management and marketing.

BUSINESSES ARE STILL HIRING

Resources for Job Seekers

If you are looking for a job, we encourage you to check out the current job listenings in Albany.

KEY DOWNLOADS

Important Preparation Resources

Download these critical business resources to assist your company during the pandemic.

The Albany Area Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resource Guide provides useful information and expert guidance for employers.The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Resilience in a Box provides best practices for addressing preparedness issues while building in flexibility to handle potential business interruptions.

>> Deciphering Disinfectants Infographic

>> COVID-19 poster for your work place.

>> COVID-19 customizable flyer for your work place.

>> Coronavirus workplace tips for employers.

>> Coronavirus preparedness toolkit.

 


 

STAY UP-TO-DATE

Local Updates That Impact Employers

 

March 25, 2020

Albany and Dougherty County officials temporarily allow restaurants that already are licensed for on-premises alcohol sales to do so in a take-out/pick-up capacity as an accompaniment to food orders. Beverages should be in a sealed container and must cease at 9 p.m. each day. The order, which provides an update to the March 22 shelter-in-place order, and its corresponding frequently asked questions can be found here. The order is in place until April 7.

All businesses should be enforcing the CDC’s social distancing and hygiene guidelines. When an option, employees should work remotely.
The Albany Area Chamber’s COVID-19 Resource Center provides information and tools for employers. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date alerts.

The Albany Area Chamber and its Board of Directors is committed to supporting the business community, which is playing a critical role during this unprecedented pandemic. We are actively asking the public and our businesses to adhere to guidance from federal, state and local authorities and to make the necessary organizational adjustments in response to current challenges and in preparation for the days ahead.


 

March 22, 2020

Albany and Dougherty County officials strengthen the local shelter-in-place order, limiting non-essential business and social activities in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the long-term economic impact. The order, which goes into effect at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Read the corresponding frequently asked questions.

The Albany Area Chamber and its Board of Directors is committed to supporting the business community, which is playing a critical role during this unprecedented pandemic. We are actively asking the public and our businesses to adhere to guidance from federal, state and local authorities and to make the necessary organizational adjustment in response to current challenges and in preparation for the days ahead.

“The business community is a partner in this effort, with many organizations proactively and innovatively modifying their operations to protect public health, their workers and their businesses — to stem the tide of the virus and to keep commerce flowing,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber and a member of the Albany-Dougherty COVID-19 Task Force. “I am so proud of the leadership demonstrated by our businesses.”

The Albany Area Chamber calls on neighboring communities, businesses and other chambers of commerce to adopt and encourage these guidelines in an effort to protect our local, regional and statewide citizenry and economies.


March 20, 2020

Dougherty County officials enact a shelter-in-place order to limit non-essential activities in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19, mitigate public health risk and minimize the long-term economic impact to the business community. The order, which goes into effect as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, and corresponding can be found at bit.ly/2xS6zzb

 

The order advises citizens to travel only for essential business operations, for essential activities and to secure essential goods and services. Individuals may leave their residence only to perform essential activities such as obtaining health services, necessary supplies, and performing essential health activities outdoors, among others. Essential businesses are defined as those such as healthcare operations, grocery stores, retail businesses, newspapers and othersDining in at restaurants/eateries is prohibited; curbside/takeout/delivery is allowed.

 

Generally and as noted in the order, retailers providing a good or service may remain open at 50 percent of their occupancy and allowing for six feet of distance within people. Health providers may remain open as defined by the order. Bars, indoor recreational facilities, gyms and health studios and other similar type businesses are temporarily closed, as per the order. If you are unsure if your business falls under the classifications listed in the order, please refer to the zoning use definitions or call 311. 

 

The Albany Area Chamber and its Board of Directors is committed to supporting the business community, which is playing a critical role as we face this unprecedented pandemic. We are actively asking the public and our businesses to adhere to guidance from federal, state and local authorities and to make the necessary organizational adjustments in response to current challenges and in preparation for the days ahead. We further call on our neighboring communities and businesses to follow or adopt these or similar measures in an effort to protect our local, regional and statewide citizenry and economies.


March 19, 2020

 

Public officials in Albany and Dougherty County enact restrictions in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19, mitigate public health risk and minimize the long-term economic impact to the business community. The order, which goes into effect Friday (March 20) at 8 a.m., and corresponding frequently asked questions can be found at bit.ly/3ddXcKm.

 

The Albany Area Chamber and its Board of Directors is committed to supporting the business community, which is playing a critical role as we face this unprecedented pandemic. We are actively asking the public and our businesses to adhere to guidance from federal, state and local authorities and to make the necessary organizational adjustments in response to current challenges and in preparation for the days ahead.


 

March 16, 2020

 

The Albany Area Chamber and its Board of Directors is committed to the health and stability of our community, our members and our economy. We are in an unprecedented time. And it is during difficult times especially that unity, leadership, advocacy and stability are most critical. We are committed to continuing to provide you with the resources and leadership you have come to expect.

We are actively monitoring the dynamic situation with COVID-19, are in communication with our state and local health officials and elected leaders and assisting our healthcare systems, first responders and emergency medical personnel in doing their jobs consistently and effectively.

Further, we are working to ensure the health and safety of our Chamber staff; operational continuity for delivery of services and resources to you, our members; and business advocacy and community partnership as together we respond.

Business preparedness, fact-based decisions and access to resources will minimize disruptions in the wake of COVID-19. Below, updates on important information to support your work force and your business.

CHAMBER IN-PERSON PROGRAMS & EVENTS

As we encourage our businesses and community to follow the fact-based recommendations of public health officials in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we, too, heed their guidance. The Albany Area Chamber downtown office is closed to the public through mid-April, during which time our in-person meetings and events are postponed. We are monitoring this dynamic situation daily and will communicate as Chamber meetings and programs are rescheduled.

WORKING & ADVOCATING FOR YOU

Our business continuity plan is in place and investments in our technology infrastructure mean our team can continue work for you … from anywhere. Business hasn’t stopped, and neither has the Albany Area Chamber. We will continue to provide you with the resources, engagement and leadership you have come to expect from us. Check your inbox and our social media platforms — including Facebook and Instagram — for updates on our programs, business resources and member engagement opportunities.

SUPPORTING COMMERCE

The Albany Area is open for business. Limiting in-person engagements doesn’t mean commerce must halt. Ways to support our member businesses and support the health of our economy include utilizing delivery services, online shopping and purchasing of gift cards for later use. It’s important also that businesses communicate directly with customers about how they are adjusting during this time.

COVID-19 BUSINESS RESOURCES          

The Albany Area Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resource Guide provides useful information and expert guidance for employers.The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Resilience in a Box provides best practices for addressing preparedness issues while building in flexibility to handle potential business interruptions.

HEALTH & WELLNESS

The Dougherty County COVID-19 Task Force has been activated, and the Albany Area Chamber is proud to serve on it alongside our committed public partners. The Dougherty County Emergency Operations Center is available at (229) 302-1900. Phoebe’s COVID-19 call line is available at (229) 312-1919. We encourage members and the public to follow the recommendations of the CDC. The Georgia Department of Public Health is proves daily status reports on COVID-19.

Albany Area Chamber response to COVID-19

 

March 13, 2020

Leadership, stability critical at this time

The Albany Area Chamber is committed to the success of its members. Business preparedness, fact-based decision and access to resources will minimize disruptions in the wake of COVID-19.

 

Bárbara Rivera Holmes
President & CEO

We are in an unprecedented time. And it is during difficult times especially that unity, leadership, advocacy and stability are most critical. Throughout our 110-year history, the Albany Area Chamber has provided these pillars of support to you — our members — as your partner in business and community success. We are committed to continuing to provide you with the resources and leadership you have come to expect.

We are closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation relative to COVID-19 and heeding the expert guidance of our public health partners. As we do so, we are evaluating our upcoming programs and events. In the coming days we will provide you with more information on our immediate plans. Please look for these updates in your inbox, online at albanyga.com and on our social media sites at Facebook and Instagram.

We encourage all businesses to follow the recommendations of the the CDC, and to make rational, fact-based decisions that support and protect your organization and your work force. The Albany Area Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resource Guide provides useful information and expert guidance for employers.

The times are uncertain; the Albany Area Chamber’s commitment to you is not.

 

 

2020 Albany Under 40 nominations open through April 8

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2020

 

 

 Albany Under 40 Nominations Open

Chamber young professionals program celebrates area’s talent

 

Albany, Ga. – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce today opened nominations for its 3rd annual Albany Under 40 awards, a program that honors and celebrates the Albany Area’s emerging leaders and professionals. The program recognizes professionals in a variety of industries, each representing a component of the Albany Area’s diversified talentpool 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 Barbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “Albany Under 40 celebrates these professionals and promotes the breadth and scope of the talent that helps make the Albany Area a regional leader.”

 

Individuals may be recognized in 12 categories:  Arts & Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Events, Tourism and Hospitality; Civics, Defense, Government and Public Affairs; Financial and Insurance Services; Innovation and Start- up; Journalism, Marketing, and Public Relations; Legal, Manufacturing, Service Industries, Energy & Architecture; Medicine and Health Care; NonProfit Services; Sports, Wellness & Fitness; Technology; Youth and Education. Nominations are not limited to Albany-Dougherty County residents; the Albany Area Chamber encourages nominations from throughout its regional Albany Area membership service area.

 

Nominations are accepted electronically via this online form. Nominations must be received by April 8, 2020. Nominees will be notified of their nomination and will receive the application materials. Category finalists and winners will be announced at the Albany Under 40 Awards Reception on August 20, 2020. One overall Albany Under 40 award winner, selected from among the category winners, will be announced at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s 111th annual dinner in January 2021.

Candidates must be under the age of 40 at the time of the award ceremony.

Sponsorship opportunities are available; contact Donna Gray at dgray@albanyga.com.

For more information, call the Chamber at (229) 434-8700 or visit albanyga.com/albany-under-40/.

###

Coronavirus: Resources to Prepare Your Business

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce encourages fact-based decision making on the Coronavirus and points to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a primary resource. Now is the time to prepare, not panic.

 

Below, useful tips and resources to help prepare your organization and teams.

Key considerations from the CDC include:

  • Decide how to handle spikes in potential absenteeism
  • Cross-train employees on essential functions in case of employee absence
  • Determine whether flex working is an option
  • Assess your essential functions and reliance on others – be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations
  • Create an employee communications plan
  • Coordinate with state and local health officials
  • Make a business continuity plan
  • Sanitize commonly touched surfaces and objects regularly

Implement best health practices to prevent/limit workplace exposure:  

  • Avoid close contact.
  • Clean your hands by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water
  • Stay home if you are a family member is sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose, and avoid touching your eyes, nose
    or mouth.
    Regularly sanitize commonly touched surfaces and objects.
  • Practice other good health habits.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

Other areas to monitor:

RESOURCES TO PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS

 

Communicate with Employees 

Preparing your Workplace 

Pandemic Guidance

Safety and Health Standards, Control & Prevention

Workplace Tips for Employees

Guidance for Employers

 

ABOUT COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS

 

About the Coronavirus Disease 2019

Confirmed Cases in the U.S.

World Health Organization Video Explainer

CDC: Frequently Asked Questions

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

 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Reedi Hawkins

rhawkins@choosealbany.com

229.434.0044

 

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

bholmes@albanyga.com

229.434.8700

 

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.

xxx

 

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.