Author Archives: Barbara Rivera Holmes

Albany hosts 35th annual Georgia Quail Hunt

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 8, 2024

CONTACT

Jay Houston

jhouston@albanyga.com

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

229.343.3667

 

 

Georgia Chamber hosts business prospects for 35th annual

‘Georgia Quail Hunt’ in Albany

 

Albany, Ga. – This week, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Georgia Quail Hunt in Albany, as business leaders representing state recruitment and expansion prospects joined local and state economic developers and officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, to learn about the competitive advantages of doing business in Georgia.

Celebrating its 35th year, the Georgia Quail Hunt stands as the foremost economic development recruitment event in the state. Since 1994, business participants in the Georgia Quail Hunt have contributed billions of dollars to the state’s economy and generated more than 10,000 jobs through corporate establishments or expansions.

“Georgia has solidified its position as the leading state for business, and this occasion provides us with a platform to highlight Georgia’s people and its business-friendly atmosphere,” said Daryl Ingram, the 2024 Georgia Quail Hunt Chairman and Chief External Officer/Senior Vice President of Electric Cities of Georgia. “The economic prosperity we’ve achieved is largely the result of a synergistic partnership between public and private entities, joining forces to create opportunities for thriving businesses and, in turn, fostering prosperous communities. This event exemplifies the collaborative spirit that businesses can anticipate when choosing to establish or expand their operations in Georgia.”

The Albany Area is recognized as one of the world’s premiere destinations for quail hunting, with the industry producing an estimated annual economic impact of more than $145 million. The ongoing recruitment event this week utilizes diverse hunting preserves across Southwest Georgia, centered in Albany. Industry locations in Albany-Dougherty County facilitated through the hunt include Outdoor Network, PowerSports Plus and WebstaurantStore.

“Through the Georgia Quail Hunt we have the opportunity to host business prospects and key decision-makers for a three-day period. This allows them to personally witness the exceptional quality of life and the abundant business prospects available in Albany and Southwest Georgia,” said Jana Dyke, the president and CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission. “The event offers distinctive chances for fostering relationships, a crucial element in the successful project recruitment observed throughout the hunt’s 35-year history.”

Georgia’s strengths in site location encompass a favorable tax environment, a skilled talent pool with accessible training and a robust transportation infrastructure. These attributes, among others, have earned Georgia the prestigious title of the “No. 1 state for business” for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years, as acknowledged by Area Development magazine.

Event organizers say the hunt has been successful in promoting these assets and recruiting businesses to the state.

“For more than 30 years, the Georgia Quail Hunt has helped facilitate the creation of thousands of jobs and billions in investment in Georgia’s economy,” said Chris Clark, president & CEO of the Georgia Chamber. “Hosting the event in Albany provides an incredible opportunity to showcase Southwest Georgia as a premier destination for business, giving guests a first-hand look at the region’s high quality of life and exposing them to local and state leaders who are eager to help them take their business tto the next level. I would like to personally thank the Locate South Georgia, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and all the local volunteers for the incredible partnership and hospitality.”

The Georgia Quail Hunt is sponsored by the Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, along with corporate sponsors Bergara, BPI Outdoors, Glock, Kia Georgia, Molson Coors, PowerSports Plus, Remington Firearms, Taurus Holdings and Trulock Choke Tubes.

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About the Georgia Chamber of Commerce

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is the state’s largest business advocacy organization that focuses on state and federal issues. The Chamber has worked to keep, grow and create jobs to make Georgia a better state for business. The advocacy, policy and thought leadership help ensure Georgia’s economic competitiveness, attract new investments as well as promote growth and prosperity for all businesses.

Chamber’s Albany-Dougherty Day 2024 celebrates community, leadership, partnerships

 

A delegation of community leaders along with Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp celebrated Albany-Dougherty Day at the Capitol on January 29-30. Albany-Dougherty Day is the Albany Area Chamber’s signature state legislative event.

 

January 29-30, 2024

Albany-Dougherty Day 2024: Celebrating Community Leadership, Unity, and Legislative Engagement

Atlanta — Albany-Dougherty Day 2024, hosted in Atlanta Monday and Tuesday by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, culminated as a resounding success, showcasing the collective strength and unity of the Albany community. This signature state legislative event drew a local delegation of nearly 50 private, public and elected partners for a  two-day event program that includes a legislative reception and meetings with legislators at the Georgia State Capitol.

“The success of Albany-Dougherty Day 2024 is a testament to the collaborative spirit and dedication of our community, and to our persistence in ensuring we are seen and heard at the Georgia State Capitol,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. “This annual event highlights the importance of engaging with our elected officials, reinforces the strength of our local and state partnerships and reflects Albany’s position as a key economic hub supporting Georgia’s unmatched competitiveness.”

The public-private collaboration was underscored by participation from Albany Mayor Bo Dorough, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard, Albany Area Chamber Chair Jeretha Peters and members of their respective bodies. Sen. Freddie Powell Sims and Reps. Gerald Geene, Bill Yearta, Mike Cheokas – members of the Albany Area state legislative delegation – participated in the programs, as did leadership from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

The program commenced Monday with the Albany-Dougherty Day Legislative Reception at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, home of the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals. The center’s second-floor terrace, which overlooks Georgia’s Gold Dome, played host to a sunset reception during which local participants mingled with esteemed guests including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp; Lt. Gov. Burt Jones; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; Commissioner John King of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Fire Safety; Commissioner Tyler Harper of the Georgia Department of Agriculture; Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger; and Judge Ken Hodges of the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The attendance of the state’s highest-ranking elected officials and additional leadership from the House of Representatives, Georgia Senate, state agencies and the judiciary emphasized Albany’s role as a key fixture in the state’s political and economic landscape.

“Ensuring our state officials are aware of the policy positions of the Albany Area Chamber and how they impact our member organizations and the region’s economic competitiveness is a core function of the Chamber’s advocacy program,” said Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adams Exterminators and chair of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Division. “Equally important is building and strengthening our relationships with state leadership. Albany-Dougherty Day is a conduit for that.”

Tuesday’s legislative program in the Capitol was marked by a series of engaging discussions with agency leadership and elected officials, providing valuable insights into what’s ahead during the 2024 legislative session. The sessions laid the groundwork for participants to engage in a unique experience with Georgia decision makers playing roles in the issues that matter most to the Chamber and the delegation, including smart fiscal policy, education and talent, defense and military, economic development and health care.

Participants had the opportunity to hear from House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration; Sen. Chuck Payne, chairman of the Senate’s committee on veterans, military and homeland security; Chairman Matt Bonner from the House’s committee on defense and veterans; Commissioner Greg Dozier of the Technical College System of Georgia; and Kristi Birgman, deputy commissioner for global commerce with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The mid-morning session included a commendation presentation with Kemp and a floor visit to the Georgia Senate, from whose well Holmes brought remarks on behalf of the community and addressed the senatorial body.

The scheduled events of the day came to a close with a “State of Health Policy” panel composed of Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Russel Carlson, Deputy Commissioner Grant Thomas and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dean Burke; Chairman Butch Parrish of the House Special Committee on Healthcare; Chairman Ben Watson of the Senate Health Committee; Caylee Noggle, CEO of the Georgia Hospital Association (GH.A); Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Scott Steiner, chair-elect of GHA.

Amidst the various sessions, Albany-Dougherty leaders actively advocated for legislative priorities crucial to the region’s growth. Notably, discussions emphasized the need for increased state funding to support local initiatives including the establishment of a VECTR (Veterans Education Career Transition Resource) center at Albany Technical College. The proposed $17.4 million center aims to enhance veteran employment opportunities in the area, aligning with broader local and state efforts to support and empower active military, veterans and military families. VECTR Albany is a key priority of Albany Technical College and the Albany Area Chamber.

The Chamber’s government affairs program is sponsored by AB&T, Phoebe Putney Health System, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the City of Albany, Dougherty County, Dougherty County School System, Albany Area Primary Healthcare, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Mclendon Acres, OmniTRAX Industrial Development, AT&T, Horizon Community Solutions, LRA Constructors, Molson Coors, Adams Exterminators and Georgia CEO.  Representatives from sponsoring organizations participated in the program.

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About the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

The Albany Area Chamber, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the Albany Area. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.

Chamber, EDC, 4C launch second year of FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurship competition

September 13, 2023

Partners launch second year of FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurship competition

Albany – Earlier this month the Albany Area Chamber Foundation, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and the Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy (4C Academy) kicked off year two of FLEX ABY, a youth entrepreneurship competition which encourages innovation, enhances employability and creates prosperity.

The Foundational Leadership and Entrepreneur X-perience (FLEX) was founded in Fitzgerald and this program has expanded to 11 communities throughout the state. Albany was an early adopter and launched FLEX ABY in 2022, with its local finalist competing at the state competition in March. The program’s journey begins with 4C Academy students, drawn from various schools, who will compete in three challenging and rewarding phases for a chance to represent Albany at the state finals in Fitzgerald next spring. Participants will attend business workshops and work with mentors throughout the year. The finalists will receive valuable seed money to support and grow their business ventures.

“FLEX ABY is an effective and fun tool for inspiring innovation among our youth and showing them that their ideas can come to life and can be profitable while helping them develop the employability skills needed in the marketplace,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany area Chamber and Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “Through our partnership and through the support and engagement of our business community, we can support aspiring entrepreneurs, to help foster innovation, retain talent and spur local investment and business partnerships in the long run.”

“This program is an integral piece of the Albany Area Chamber Foundation’s Talent Development 2.0 Strategy and is situated at the intersection of education and business,” said Laura Russ, strategic initiatives coordinator at the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “By bringing local business partners into the classroom to connect with students, we advance the work of creating a modern and adaptive workforce — which includes expanding opportunities for entrepreneurship, mentorship and developing employability skills in our youth.”

FLEX ABY engages students from 4C Academy, which encompasses students from throughout the Dougherty County School System as well as districts from surrounding counties, and connects them to local business partners who provide workshop content and mentorship during the competition.

“FLEX is an exciting opportunity for our students. So many of our young team members are interested in entrepreneurship and many have already started their own businesses,” said Chris Hatcher, CEO of 4C Academy. “This competition will help them by providing seminars, mentors and even a cash prize for the three finalists.  Most importantly, it will expose them to a formalized business planning process as well as to members of our business community who are looking to help.”

The local competition is comprised of three phases, with one winner advancing on to the state finals, to be held in Fitzgerald in April 2024.  The top ten students have the opportunity to secure a seed loan from the partnership in order to fund and expand their business operations prior to the finals.  Local finalists will be given $6,000 in cash awards, with the state champion winning $10,000 in cash and prizes for their business growth.

Studies show that Gen Z is more entrepreneurial than generations preceding them, with 60 percent of teens reporting serious interest in starting their own business, Holmes said.

“Our goal through FLEX ABY is to encourage interest in entrepreneurship and to chart a path towards business ownership for our young people,” said Jana Dyke, president & CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission. “Investing in our students now will better enable them to invest back into our community later on.”

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The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, founded in 1991, leads talent, economic, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach. The Albany Area Chamber Foundation is the 501(c)3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at albanyga.com.

The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission facilitates job creation and business investment through the recruitment and retention of industry for Albany and Dougherty County.

The Commodore Conyers College & Career Academy produces college and career ready graduates with relevant skills, education and exceptional work ethic who can compete and succeed in the real world.

Albany Tech breaks ground on high-tech transportation academy

Monday, August 28
Albany Tech breaks ground on high-tech transportation academy
Albany, Ga. —
“The new Transportation Academy is not just a building; it’s a commitment to providing world-class training to our students and the future of the transportation industry in Southwest Georgia. This state-of-the-art facility sets the stage for a new wave of academic achievement, signifying our commitment to modernized learning environments that will enable us to produce the next generation of skilled technicians who will drive our local economy forward,” stated Dr. Emmett Griswold, president of Albany Technical College.
The academy will house various features including dedicated classrooms, labs/bay areas, faculty offices, locker rooms, and state-of-the-art equipment. The Diesel Technology Program will be equipped with new interactive trainers and the Auto Collision Repair Technology Program will offer specialized paint booth bay areas.
Lisa Harrell, vice president of academic affairs, added, “We’re not only investing in infrastructure but in the dreams and aspirations of our students. The expected completion next summer will pave the way for high-tech learning environments, equipping students with cutting-edge technology and accommodating larger cohorts to meet growing demand.”
The Technical College System of Georgia has backed Albany Technical College’s vision, incorporating the expansion of the Dr. Anthony O. Parker Transportation Academy into its list of recommended capital projects. Funding allocated to the Academy is over $10 million and completion is projected for late summer 2024.
The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce supported this project early on and worked with the college and the state legislative delegation to see it through.
#TalentABY

Chamber State of Community hits on issues, insights

 

Media Contact:

Jay Houston

229-343-3667

jhouston@albanyga.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2023

 

 

 

Albany Area Chamber Hosts State of the Community: “Issues & Insights”

Event Provides Insights and Discussion on Vital Topics Impacting Area

Albany — The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s signature “State of the Community” Wednesday  featured dynamic panels of prominent leaders who engaged in a comprehensive dialogue about pressing topics shaping the Albany Area, including health care, housing, economic development education and transportation.

The State of the Community provides a platform for leaders from various sectors to delve into matters of utmost significance to the community. In a panel format, esteemed experts shared insights, vision and strategies on these topics. The 2023 State of the Community was presented by Synovus.

“A strong community is characterized by several key factors that contribute to its stability, growth and overall well-being. These factors interact with and influence each other, creating a complex ecosystem,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber and the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “As one of Georgia’s hub communities, Albany is key to Georgia’s overall economic success. Wednesday’s State of the Community provided leaders insights on highly-relevant topics impacting community success.”

Two panels, moderated by Holmes, gave attendees vital information on the community’s state of affairs. The community panel was comprised of Jana Dyke, president & CEO of Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Shelley Spires, CEO of Albany Area Primary Health Care; Heather Corbett, director of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education at the Dougherty County School System; Dr. Frank Middleton, chairman of the Albany Aviation Commission; and RaShaunda L. Muldrow, broker/owner of The Real Estate Concierge.

Albany City Manager Steven Carter and Dougherty County Assistant County Administrator Barry Brooks shared with the audience projects completed through the transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax, better known as TSPLOST I. The pair provided insights into the project lists for TSPLOST II, which will be on the November 7 referendum and which is expected to generate $88 million in revenue for transportation infrastructure projects  such as road resurfacing, intersection improvements and sidewalks.  In November voters will be asked to extend the sales tax.

“TSPLOST empowers our community to shape its own transportation future by funding projects that enhance our daily lives and drive local progress,” Carter said, noting that one way or another, the projects would have to get done. Experts estimate about half of the TSPLOST revenue is generated by visitors to the community, reducing the tax burden on local citizens.

The school system’s Corbett, who led the district’s comprehensive realignment of student career pathways, said that “the Dougherty County School System is committed to ensuring students are future-ready and prepared to meet the community’s workforce needs. We are focused on engaging students in relevant and rigorous learning that emphasizes communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity which provides students with the required skills and credentials for employability in any career. We sincerely appreciate the partnerships of families and industry in the shared mission of student success.”

“Health care, especially here in our rural communities of Southwest Georgia, remains an important topic,” said Shelley Spires, CEO of Albany Area Primary Health Care, who spoke to COVID-19’s endemic status and to innovation, including the use of artificial intelligence, in the field. “Something that I continue to focus on is expanding patient services and recruiting new providers to the region.  As a community health center, our organization cares for the insured, uninsured and the underinsured, and the priority remains that everyone in Southwest Georgia deserves access to high quality health care.”

The event’s supporting sponsors were Albany Area Primary Health Care Molson Coors, SRJ Architects, Phoebe Putney Health System, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Englewood Health Care, Turner’s Furniture and Wynfield Park Health & Rehabilitation.

The Albany Area Chamber is dedicated to fostering economic growth, advocating for businesses and enhancing the region’s quality of life. By practicing and promoting dialogue, collaboration and problem solving, the Albany Area Chamber serves as a catalyst for positive change and progress in the region.

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The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance economic opportunities and a thriving community. With a diverse business community in our corner, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce works diligently to serve area businesses, develop strategies that help our community prosper and design the path of Albany’s future. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.

The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, founded in 1991, leads talent, economic, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach. The Albany Area Chamber Foundation is the 501(c)3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.

Chamber’s Albany Bank Security Roundtable focuses on fraud, solutions

The Albany Area Chamber-led Albany Bank Security Roundtable convened Monday for a stakeholder discussion on check fraud issues impacting commerce, citizens and communities and estimated to have a $24 billion national economic impact. The Albany conversation with financial institutions, law enforcement and prosecutors at the local, state and federal levels focused on mitigation and solutions.

 

Contact: Jay Houston
(229) 343- 3667
jhouston@albanyga.com

Chamber-led Albany Bank Security Roundtable focuses on fraud challenges, solutions

The roundtable featured stakeholders including financial institutions and local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors

Albany – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Monday hosted a roundtable discussion with financial institutions and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors on the check fraud security challenges that impact commerce and citizens and which in 2023 are estimated to have a $24 billion national economic impact. Locally, losses are estimated to be in the millions.

According to the Financial Crime Enforcement Network, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department, reports of check fraud filed by banks nearly doubled to 680,000, from 350,000 in 2021. This compares to 96,786 suspicious activity check fraud cases reported in 2014.

“The banking sector is crucial to the modern economy. As the primary supplier of credit, banks support business development through access to capital; facilitate personal growth through smart lending; and are a key partner in community development initiatives,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber and its 501©3 affiliate, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “The fraud and security challenges faced today by financial institutions touch every segment of commerce, every organization and every citizen; these are not victimless crimes. The Albany Area Chamber is committed to working with banks, law enforcement, prosecutors and policy makers to elevate the conversation, educate the public and advance solutions.”

Monday’s Albany Bank Security Roundtable included Chamber-member financial institutions, the Georgia Bankers Association and the Community Bankers Association along with representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Attorney General for the Middle District of Georgia; the United States Postal Inspector Service; the Office of the Georgia Attorney General; and the Albany Police Department.

“Today marks a significant stride forward as the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, local banks and law enforcement join forces to tackle the growing specter of check and mail fraud. Our Albany Area Chamber, representing the backbone of our local economy, recognizes our challenges require innovative and unified solutions and fostering partnerships based on trust and resilience,” said Perry Revell, chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and CEO of AB&T. “Today’s collaborative gathering holds a promise that extends beyond mitigation, encompassing prevention, economic stability and advocacy. I thank each participant for their willingness to engage and be part of the solution.”

Among other challenges, the increase in suspected fraud cases is creating many check fraud processing challenges such as backlogs in check warranty claims, availability of funds and the average check value doubling over the last decade. Further, reports indicate that mail theft has been on the rise since 2017. A recent survey of Chamber-member financial institutions revealed that mail-related check fraud is their number one security concern, followed by general check fraud and physical security.

“Albany’s bank leaders shared fraud losses estimated to be in the millions annually, a disturbing trend seen nationwide. Bank fraud is not a victimless crime; far from it,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary for the Middle District of Georgia, who participated in Monday’s roundtable. “These losses are rarely recouped, and these criminals steal legitimate opportunities for positive investment in the community, costing citizens new home mortgages and businesses the means for new development. Law enforcement at every level is dedicated to effectively combating these scams that harm the entire community.”

According to the Association for Financial Professionals, 42 percent of all business2business transactions are still paper.

“Check fraud is old fashioned, but it is what is causing so many problems in our community. It’s affecting young people, senior citizens, merchants, the banking industry and beyond,” noted Joe Brannen, CEO of Georgia Banker’s Association. “Finding ways to solve that is going to be complicated but we won’t ever be able to do that if we don’t work together through organizations like the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce at discussions like this one.”

In February, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, in collaboration with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the post office, issued an alert on the matter. The service said it received more than 299,000 complaints of mail theft from March 2020 through February 2021, a 161 percent increase from a year earlier.

Justin Warner with the United States Postal Service Inspection Service said, “This community roundtable is a great example of partnerships between multiple agencies which includes banks, law enforcement, local organizations and prosecutors that have come together for vital

information sharing for investigations and provide resources to local citizens. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service mission is to ensure public trust in the mail and postal inspectors will aggressively investigate individuals that seek to take advantage of our customers. We also work with the Postal Service to harden security measures against criminal attacks.”

Monday’s discussion provided an opportunity for local banking institutions to share best practices and to share their challenges with law enforcement at all levels. Participants also noted the need for increased merchant and consumer education.

“Check fraud is very rampant in our banks right now,” said Kelly Wilson, Anti-Money Laundering Fraud Officer with Colony Bank. “We are needing to do a lot more communication with our customers about how important it is to not mail checks so that we can avoid the risk of them being stolen. We also want to provide more scam education. Not only that, we want to make sure that we are working with our law enforcement. I feel like this is the new way that people are making money illegally and it’s important that we make sure that our lines of communication with law enforcement are open so that we can work together to stop this.”

Detective Darryl Jones with the Albany Police Department said that “conversations like this are important because we get to connect with people from different fields. It’s imperative that we have banks, law enforcement, prosecutors and more all in one room so that there can be a collaborative effort on how to combat fraud in our city. Conversations like [Monday’s] allow us to have questions answered that we would not have the opportunity to anywhere else. It’s great to get to come together and think of ways to resolve this problem.”

Experts emphasized the urgency of citizens and businesses reporting suspected fraud to their banking institutions as soon as possible to potentially stop a fraudulent payment and prevent theft. Beyond curbing the initial crime, rapid reporting is the fastest way to make a dent in these significant loss numbers, they said.

The Albany Area Chamber will continue working with these partners on the alarming issue.

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The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance economic opportunities and a thriving community. With a diverse business community in our corner, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce works diligently to serve area businesses, develop strategies that help our community prosper and design the path of Albany’s future. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.

The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, founded in 1991, leads talent, economic, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach. The Albany Area Chamber Foundation is the 501(c)3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.

Chamber’s Laura Russ Graduates from Talent Pipeline Management Academy®   

June 23, 2023 

 

Albany Area Chamber Foundation’s Laura Russ Graduates from Elite U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation TPM Academy® 

72 participants join a network of more than 850 professionals committed to building high-performing talent pipelines  

 

Albany, Ga. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced that Laura Russ, strategic initiatives coordinator at the Albany Area Chamber Foundation, graduated from Cohort XXIII of the national organizations’ premie

r workforce development program, the TPM Academy®. This program is facilitated by the U.S. Chamber Foundation based on its Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM) framework and was funded by the Lumina Foundation.  

Russ was selected to participate in this cohort along with 71 other leaders from across the United States representing the business community, economic development agencies, community colleges and community-based org-

Laura Russ, Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at the Albany Area Chamber Foundation

anizations. Individuals were selected by a panel of their peers based on their understanding of the skills gap challenges in the community they serve, a demonstrated understanding of the TPM approach and a track record of putting plans into action.   

“TPM is a nationally-recognized framework that seeks to unlock employer leadership and orchestrate talent supply chains aligned to industry demand,” says Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber Foundation. “We congratulate the graduates of the TPM Academy and look forward to seeing how these leaders will apply what they have learned to improve career pathways for opportunity populations in their communities.” 

The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, the 501©3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, leads talent, economic, entrepreneurial and innovation initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach. Programming includes the Albany-Dougherty County Works! Talent Development Strategy 2.0; FLEX ABY, Albany’s first youth entrepreneurship competition; and Propel+, a youth talent development initiative that through connection nurtures, provides for and empowers Albany’s female youth to design their paths.  

 “A talented work force with the knowledge and skills to meet evolving employer needs is driving business success, economic development and community success,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber and the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “We are proud that Laura has completed the TPM Academy and that, working with our employers and partners, will apply the experience to advance the Albany Area Chamber Foundation’s efforts to build a modern and adaptive work force.” 

 Upon completion of the training, TPM Academy graduates join the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s dedicated network of more than 850 workforce and economic development professionals from 44 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and Canada to build dynamic, sustainable talent pipelines and close the skills gap for their industry.  

“I am passionate about helping build Albany’s talent pipeline,” said Russ, who holds a PhD from the University of South Carolina. “The TPM approach is data driven, employer led and will catapult Albany’s efforts to align talent pipeline to local business needs.” 

To learn more about Talent Pipeline Management and the TPM Academy, visit the U.S. Chamber Foundation website.  


The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, founded in 1991, leads talent, economic, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach. The Albany Area Chamber Foundation is the 501(c)3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at www.albanyga.com. 

 The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance economic opportunities and a thriving community. With a diverse business community in our corner, the Albany Area Chamber works diligently to serve area businesses, develop strategies that help our community prosper and design the path of Albany’s future. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.  

 

Propel+ program builds business connections for female students

The room was electric May 15 as students and adults made connections during the Albany Area Chamber Foundation’s Propel+ program, which aims to build a web that through connection nurtures, provides and empowers Albany’s female youth to design their paths. More than 50 female students at the Commodore Conyers College & Career Academy participated in professional development exercises, built relationships with adult women in the work force, and were inspired by stories of entrepreneurship shared by panelists Quinetta Hall of Q’s Cakes, Sherrer Hester of Indusa Investments and peer students that participated in the FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurial competition.

The Propel+ Career Closet, unveiled at the event, is a resource that provides students with access to professional wardrobe items.

One hundred percent of participating students reported feeling better equipped to communicate with adults in a business setting. All adult participants said they were more likely to hire someone who has participated in Propel+ compared to someone who has not.

Building community looks like a lot of things and it requires a lot of hands. Through Propel+, the business community is helping build Albany’s talent and by doing so, building a stronger Albany.

Propel+ is the youth development component of the Albany Area Chamber’s women at work program, Propel.

Albany Area Chamber-led delegation advocates in DC on funding, policy, defense

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 15, 2023

 

Contact:

Barbara Rivera Holmes

(229) 434-8700

bholmes@albanyga.com

 

Albany Area Chamber-led delegation advocates in DC on funding, policy, defense

Albany – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce last week led a delegation of local leaders to Washington, D.C., for its annual “DC Fly In,” the organization’s long-standing annual federal advocacy event. The delegation, representing the public and private sectors, met with defense officials and federal lawmakers on the issues most vital to Albany and Southwest Georgia.

The two-day, policy-intensive event included meetings with the Albany Area Congressional Delegation — U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock — and the Pentagon-based leadership of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB Albany) and Marine Corps Logistics Command, including Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, and Lt. Gen. Edward Banta, deputy commandant of Marine Corps Installations & Logistics. Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer of MCLB Albany, participated in the Pentagon discussions.

During meetings the delegation provided updates on a variety of fronts including Albany as a military community of excellence and MCLB Albany as a defense leader in energy security and logistics innovation; economic development and Albany as a premier industry location; health care delivery and expansion of services to meet regional needs; education and employer-led initiatives aimed at developing the talent pipeline in high-demand fields; and infrastructure investment as a component of community and economic development.

“Albany-Dougherty County has, through vision, action and results positioned itself as a leader in innovative partnerships that have local, state and national impact, and this distinction is well recognized among federal leadership,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s leading business organization, and its 501c3 affiliate, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “Through the Albany Area Chamber’s DC Fly In our community demonstrates a united front in our nation’s capital, shares views on federal issues that impact businesses and the community, builds allies with national leaders and advocates for funding and policies that advance and bolster our talent, development and defense initiatives.”

The advocacy event is aimed at informing leaders on local priorities and initiatives, and requesting support for critical components of the community’s overall framework for development. Calls for Congressional support include:

  • DEFENSE: $46 million for mission-critical consolidated communications center at MCLBA that enables full utilization of the base’s 5G capabilities and strengthens communications resiliency and readiness; and $56 million for operational readiness facility at Albany-based Headquarters Marine Corps Logistics Command as a required component of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 strategy.
  • TALENT & HEALTH CARE: Investments in talent initiatives and projects that amplify the employer-led work force pipeline and in health care projects that address critical-need areas; and smart immigration policy reforms to support work force demands, boost economic growth, create jobs, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship,
  • INFRASTRUCTURE: Investments in federally-mandated infrastructure improvements including the city of Albany’s combined sewer separation project.

“The Albany Area Chamber spearheads our community’s advocacy initiatives with audiences including the Albany Area Congressional Delegation and U.S. Marine Corps leadership, and is the conduit through which the business community connects, convenes and collaborates,” said Chandu Kuntawala, 2023 chairman of the Albany Area Chamber and a program manager at Booz Allen Hamilton “The Chamber’s Government Affairs Division – along with its four other member-led committees that help drive organization’s overall objectives – embodies the mission of the Chamber as a center point through which the business community is empowered to take action and design the path.”

The local delegation also met with senior leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussing work force and talent; federal policies and regulations that impact businesses; and national economic forecast.

“A strong, united voice is central to the Chamber’s mission and to its role as the region’s leading business organization,” said Bridges Sinyard, chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs division and vice president of Adam’s Exterminators. “We further advance business and community success by building strong relationships between business leaders, elected officials and decision makers, and, with Albany’s role as a leading military community, build the community-Corps relationships that advance the nation’s defense efforts.”

The DC Fly In is a component of the Albany Area Chamber’s Government Affairs division. The program is program is supported by AB&T; Adams Exterminators; Albany Area Primary Health Care; the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau; the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Albany State University; Albany Technical College; AT&T; the City of Albany; Dougherty County; the Dougherty County School System; Georgia CEO; Georgia Power; Horizons Community Solutions; McLendon Acres; Molson Coors; and Phoebe Putney Health System.

Visit bit.ly/AACCLegislativeAgenda2023 to view the Albany Area Chamber’s 2023 legislative agenda.


 

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance the business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the Albany Area. Learn more at www.albanyga.com. 

 

A delegation of business and community leaders traveled to the nation’s capital this week as part of the Albany Area Chamber’s policy-intensive DC Fly In to meet with defense officials and federal lawmakers on the issues most vital to Albany and Southwest Georgia. The delegation is pictured here with U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D, GA).

 

Albany Area Chamber celebrates 113th anniversary, accomplishments; points toward future

For Immediate Release

 May 3, 2023

Contact:

Bárbara Rivera Holmes

bholmes@albanyga.com

(229) 434-8700

 

Albany Area Chamber celebrates 113th anniversary, accomplishments; points toward future

 Albany, GA – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce on May 3 hosted its 113th annual meeting on the Bricks at Thronateeska in downtown Albany under a canopy of celebration, camaraderie and leadership. The event is one of the most important of the year for the Albany Area Chamber and recognizes accomplishments, shares how the Chamber will continue to move businesses forward throughout the year ahead, and shines the light on the Chamber’s most engaged leaders and those who have worked to make a positive impact on Albany and the Albany Area.

The Albany Area Chamber was founded in 1910, when business leaders saw the need for an organization that would represent the interests of job-creating businesses, harness the assets of the community and bring partners together for the economic and social prosperity of Albany and the Albany Area. Its success through more than a century of work lies in the support of its members and investors, strategic partners, dedicated staff, visionary board of directors and the hundreds of volunteers whose commitment to a vibrant Albany is unwavering.

“For 113 years, the Albany Area Chamber has been at the forefront of Albany’s evolution as a regional leader for industry, commerce and connection,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s leading business advocacy organization, and its 501©3 affiliate, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “Through implementation of our future-focused strategic plan, #ImpactABY2023, we continue to accelerate Albany’s economic advancement through promoting business investment and job growth and advocating for pro-business policies such as smart fiscal policy and regulations, workplace diversity, modern infrastructure investments and talent development initiatives and partnerships.”

#ImpactABY2023 leans into impact, value and continuous progress. The plan represents initiatives to drive member, community and regional success, and to become a future-focused chamber with the talent, infrastructure and agility to execute, innovate and succeed. In short: To reach and sustain extraordinary impact and excellence. #ImpactABY2023 changes the Chamber’s how so it continues to achieve its why.The plan directs the organization’s focus to five key areas, each with a program of work and volunteer committee.

Business Development, Innovation & Entrepreneurship. This division strengthens the connective tissue that all businesses need, focusing on advancing innovation and providing new opportunities for peer-to-peer connection. This committee in 2022 helped build a resource guide and network for business start-ups and development; connected to existing and prospective members of the Chamber through the popular Morning, Mix & Mingle; is growing the Ambassador program to increase the Chamber’s boots-on-the-ground presence; and continues to expand the Albany Area Chamber Business Awards to capture and celebrate more of the successes, diversity and innovation of our member organizations.

It’s through this division that the Chamber created a members-only task force to help create its new membership model, which was rolled out in 2022. The new tiered benefits and investment structure allows member businesses to customize their partnership with the Albany Area Chamber though six investment levels specifically designed to support unique business goals, at any stage in a company’s growth. The Business Development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Committee is chaired by Taylor Jenkins of Flint Community Bank.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  We believe we are stronger together. We believe that diversity is our strength, good business and a business imperative. We believe in inclusivity and in the equality of opportunity. We believe that together we thrive. – Albany Area Chamber DE&I Impact Statement

This program extends the full scope of the Chamber’s resources and leverages the power of partnerships to advance economic opportunities for all people, to facilitate a more inclusive economy and become a more attractive location for businesses to invest and thrive. Born at this table is a partnership between The ARC of Southwest Georgia and Phoebe Putney Health System that is creating life-changing solutions for people with disabilities. In 2023 the Chamber will release a resource toolkit for employers; help facilitate greater supplier diversity; and curate a directory of diverse-owned Chamber member businesses, from woman- and minority-owned to veteran- and disabled-owned. The DE&I Committee is chaired by Jeretha Peters, chair-elect of the Albany Area Chamber and Wells Fargo’s regional branch manager.

Government Affairs. The Chamber continues to work closely with governmental partners and elected officials to ensure the voices of businesses and the community are heard, and continues to enhance job retention and job creation, and to protect, defend and advance the pro-business policies that support job-creating entities. Through this division, the Chamber developed the non-partisan Albany Area Political Leadership Institute to “build the bench” of public servants equipped to lead in appointed positions or in elected offices. Albany-Dougherty Day in Atlanta and the Washington, DC, Fly In, are signature legislative initiatives of the committee. In 2023, the Chamber led a successful advocacy campaign that resulted in overwhelming voter approval of the eighth special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) and supported development of the Living & Learning Community, a health professionals work force partnership between Phoebe Putney Health System and Albany Technical College.

To exponentially amplify its voice, the Albany Area Chamber banded with the other 10 largest and most influential Chambers outside of Atlanta to create a new public policy group to coordinate, identify common needs and develop strategy and recommendations that focus on anticipated long term economic and policy issues. Organized under the Georgia Chamber, Hub Chamber Council during the 2023 state legislative session led support of housing, licensure and work force-related legislation. The Albany Area Chamber’s Holmes chairs the council through May 2024. The Government Affairs Committee is chaired by Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adams Exterminators.

Military Affairs. The Albany Area Chamber and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany have been allies from the beginning, with the Chamber serving as a primary partner and advocate of the installation and command — from work force to military family friendliness to Congressional allocation of dollars and resources. The Chamber is advocating for $101 million in Congressional appropriations to fund two projects aboard the installation that directly support the Marines Corps’ readiness, and our national — and global — defense. The committee’s initiatives include connecting and celebrating veterans, military personnel and families. The Salty Sandbagger Golf Tournament, established by the committee in 1974 as a camaraderie-building event between the Marines and the Chamber, continues to grow. The Military Affairs Committee is chaired by Col. Dan Gillan (USMC Retired), CEO of the Albany Area YMCA.

Talent, Education and Leadership. Talent and leadership are pillars of strong, thriving communities. This division connects employers, educators and students to help build an aligned and relevant youth and adult work force pipeline that creates opportunities for citizens and employers. The committee connects young professionals to community so they continue choosing Albany, and is expanding the Albany Under 40 program; getting businesses in schools via the Chamber’s Go See Tours; helping educators connect the classroom and the workplace via learning tours at area businesses; and cultivating talent ambassadors who are leading the community in creating a culture of getting involved in the educational network. The Talent Education and Leadership Committee is chaired by Brianna Wilson, owner and CEO of Southern Point Staffing.

At the annual meeting, Holmes shared the Albany Area Chamber Foundation’s strategic direction, which builds on the work of the Chamber’s #ImpactABY2023 strategy. The Chamber Foundation houses new programs and initiatives including the recently released Albany-Dougherty County Works! Talent Development Strategy 2.0; the FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurship program, a partnership between the Chamber Foundation, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and the Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy; and Propel+, the youth development extension of Propel, the Albany Area Chamber’s women at work program. Propel+ aims to build a web that through connection nurtures, provides for and empowers Albany’s female students. The Albany Area Chamber Foundation is chaired by Matt Reed, owner of Georgia CEO and UPS Stores of Albany.

The 2023 event, presented by the city of Albany and Albany Community Together, included the transfer of the chairman’s gavel; the announcement of the 2022 Ambassador of the Year and the 2022 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year; and honored the Chamber’s 2023 Lifetime Service Award recipient.

Lt. Col. Don Gray (USMC Retired), 2022 chairman of the Albany Area Chamber Board of Directors and facilitates director for the City of Albany, formally presented Chandu Kuntawala, program manager at defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, as the 2023 Chamber chairman. Wells Fargo wealth advisor and branch manager Jeretha Peters assumes the role of Chamber chair-elect and will take reigns in 2024.

“The annual meeting of the Albany Area Chamber represents the culmination of work completed throughout the last year, and the celebrates the new leadership that will guide the organization throughout the year, said Gray. “I have always taken pride in serving the Albany community and through the chairmanship of the Albany Area Chamber had the opportunity to maximize that passion for service, working side-by-side with other passionate business and community leaders to advance our Albany’s most renowned advocacy organization.”

“The Albany Area Chamber’s work supports one of my passions – education and building our community’s talent,” said Kuntawala, who represents the Chamber on the board of the Commodore Conyers College & Career Academy, which he chairs. “It is an honor and a privilege to work with the Chamber’s Board of Directors, staff and members to strategically move the needle forward on the issues that impact Albany most.”

Patsy Martin, 1991 chair of the Albany Area Chamber, was honored with the Chamber’s prestigious Lifetime Service Award. Martin, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Walden & Kirkland in Albany, ushered in a new era of leadership and vision as the Chamber’s first female chair. She has served this community’s most giving and prestigious organizations; she’s recognized locally and statewide as one of the top performing Realtors, earning award after award; and she created one of Albany’s first female professional networks at a time when women in business leadership was still somewhat novel.

Martez Favis was recognized as the Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year for his work in youth development and community leadership. Favis is assistant principal at Albany Middle School and the 2023 chair of the Leadership Albany Board of Directors.

The Albany Under 40 program is an initiative of the Chamber’s Talent Education and Leadership Committee, and honors 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. Category finalists were selected from within the applicant pool by a volunteer committee, and category winners were announced at the Albany Under 40 reception in December 2022. The AU40 Young Professional of the Year is selected from among category winners.

Amanda Nichols, assistant director of financial aid at Albany State University, was recognized as the 2022 Ambassador of the Year for her volunteer service to the Chamber. Chamber Ambassadors support the organization through event execution,  connecting with new and existing Chamber members, and being an ambassador of the Chamber as a leading business advocacy organization. The Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year award recognizes the Ambassador who has earned the most points for service throughout the previous calendar year, and is an outstanding representative of  the Chamber.

The 113th annual meeting is presented by the City of Albany and Albany Community Together, and further sponsored by Albany Area Primary Health Care, Colony Bank, Feeding the Valley Albany, Fleming & Riles Insurance, Flint Equipment – Ag & Turf, Flint River Entertainment Complex, Invision Technologies, McLendon Acres, MetroPower, Mitchell EMC, MolsonCoors, OneSouth Bank, Pellicano Construction Co., Preventia Security of Albany, The Artesian Alliance and WALB News 10.

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About the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

The Albany Area Chamber, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the Albany Area. Learn more at www.albanyga.com.

The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, founded in 1991, is the 501(c)3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and advances the Albany Area through leadership, research and action, and leads work force, economic and entrepreneurial initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach.