Author Archives: Mary Bickerstaff

Applications open for 2023-2024 Albany Area Political Leadership Institute

Applications open for 2023-2024 Albany Area Political Leadership Institute

Albany Area Chamber program aims to build next-gen public leaders

Albany – Applications are now open for the 2023-2024 class of the Albany Area Political Leadership Institute, a nonpartisan political leadership program aimed at equipping participants for leadership on local boards and in elected office.

The focus of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce program is simple: To build local candidates.

“Through the Political Leadership Institute, the Albany Area Chamber aims to engage more people in public service, to prepare business-minded leaders who have an interest in exploring leadership opportunities on appointed boards or elected office, and to help them discover how their experience, skills and talent could address critical policy issues,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “Ultimately, we are building the next generation of public leaders.”

The program, now in its second year, was developed by business leaders in Albany. Participants from the previous program are now serving on local boards and making an impact via their public service.

“This program educates and equips future community leaders on the unique demands of governmental leadership, helping potential candidates and board members become more attuned to community needs and prepared to meet those needs through strategic action,” said Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adams Exterminators and chairman of the Albany Area Chamber’s Government Affairs Division.

The three-session program is suited for anyone interested in serving on appointed boards or in elected office. Participants will get a primer on government, opportunities for service, campaigning for office and what Albany needs from its appointed and elected officials. The program features exclusive networking opportunities for class members to build relationships with each other and with community leaders. A limited number of applicants will be competitively chosen by a selection committee. Participants represent a diverse range of business expertise, backgrounds and community involvement.

Class sessions will run from November 2023 to January 2024 and will cover topics including “Government 101,” “Issues of Importance” and “Appointed Boards and Elected Office.”

There is no commitment to run for office. The program cost is $150 to participants, which includes all three sessions, related materials and meals. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on Friday, October 13. Participants may apply at

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 s

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

Star Business of the Week: Kenneth S. Nugent, Attorneys at Law

We are delighted to shine a spotlight on our Star Business of the Week: Kenneth S. Nugent, Attorneys at Law. This distinguished law firm specializes in personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, automobile accidents, and truck accidents. If you find yourself grappling with the aftermath of a car crash, slip and fall, or any other unfortunate incident, rest assured that their team of seasoned attorneys is at your service, dedicated to securing the compensation you deserve. With a profound understanding of Georgia law and an intricate knowledge of the legal system, they stand ready to guide you on the path to recovery. They boast a wide-ranging practice, encompassing personal injury, car accident injuries, big truck accident injuries, workers’ compensation, premise liability, and more. Let them shoulder the legal burden, allowing you to focus on your well-being and healing. Trust them to maximize your recovery, and visit their Albany office today for comprehensive legal services that truly make a difference. To learn more visit One call, that’s all.

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Star Business of the Week program is sponsored by Fleming & Riles Insurance and WALB News 10. Treats Provided by Q’s Cakes.

Mars Wrigley and Albany Area Chamber of Commerce unveil new COMBOS® sign at manufacturing site

Albany, Georgia – Mars Wrigley, with the support of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, unveiled a new sign at the company’s Albany facility, proudly showcasing the site’s COMBOS® line and celebrating Mars Wrigley’s continued commitment to Albany. The occasion was celebrated with an Albany Area Chamber ribbon cutting.

COMBOS, the ultimate-stuffed snack, is produced only in Albany by Mars Wrigley at its site on Oakridge Drive, since 1978. Popular flavors include Pizzeria Pretzel and Cheddar Cheese Cracker. The new sign features Mars and COMBOS logos and the tagline, “We Make A Great COMBO.”

“Albany and Mars absolutely make a great combo, in more ways than one. We’re grateful for Mars’ continued investment in Albany and for its support of programs and initiatives that make a broad social and economic impact on our community,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albay Area Chamber, the region’s leading business organization. “Mars has been part of the community for decades and Albany being the sole manufacturing home of COMBOS speaks to Albany’s advantages with respect to transportation and logistics infrastructure, work force, business climate and community relationships.”

Albany’s Mars Wrigley facility is part of Mars Incorporated, a global, family-owned business that believes “the world we want tomorrow starts with the business we do today.” That ethos resonates with the local facility, whose commitment to community is demonstrated in support of programs including the FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurial competition, the COMBOS Marathon and Half Marathon and the comprehensive Albany-Dougherty Works! Talent Strategy 2.0, managed by the Albany Area Chamber Foundation.

“We are so proud of this site, the product we produce, and being an employer of choice in Albany,” said Kristen Murray, Albany Site Director, Mars Wrigley. “Worldwide, we are the only facility in the world that is producing COMBOS. We are committed to growing this brand, growing this site, and being a good partner with the community.”

Learn more about the COMBOS story and heritage at


Photo Caption:
Albany Chamber members and team members from Mars gather to celebrate the unveiling of the new sign.

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

About Mars, Incorporated

 Mars, Incorporated is driven by the belief that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. As a global, family-owned business, Mars is transforming, innovating, and evolving to make a positive impact on the world.  Across our diverse and expanding portfolio of quality snacking, food, and pet care products and services, we employ 140,000+ dedicated Associates. With more than $47 billion in annual sales, we produce some of the world’s best-loved brands including Ben’s Original™, CESAR®, Cocoavia®, DOVE®, EXTRA®, KIND®, M&M’s®, SNICKERS®, PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, and WHISKAS®. We are creating A Better World for Pets through our global network of pet hospitals and diagnostic services – including AniCura, BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, Linnaeus and VCA™ – using cutting edge technology to develop breakthrough programs in genetic health screening and DNA testing.

PROPEL: A Women at Work Program at Chehaw’s Creekside center.

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, as a component of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, recently hosted a sold out event, PROPEL: A Women at Work Program at Chehaw’s Creekside center. PROPEL aims to empower and inspire women in the community by providing them with the tools they need to excel professionally. At the September 14 luncheon, Deb Angerami, CEO of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, provided a wonderful message on Authentic Leadership. The Albany Area Chamber is committed to designing a path for women in the workforce, helping them excel and become influential business leaders.

The PROPEL program, spearheaded by the Albany Area Chamber, has made significant strides in empowering women in Albany and the surrounding area. It fosters strong connections, facilitates mentorship and sponsorship, provides development opportunities, and shares best practices among women in the workforce. Deb Angerami expressed her honor in speaking to this dynamic group of women and highlighted her gratitude for acknowledging the importance of community support for the professional development of women. The event was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Synovus Bank, Molson Coors, Advent Business Interiors, and Albany Area Primary Healthcare.

WALB is Launching “We’re Hiring Wednesday”


Don’t get lost in the list of 1000’s of job postings !

WALB is launching “We’re Hiring Wednesday” Your solution to all of your hiring needs. If it’s a handful of open positions or hundreds, our station can help you locate quality employees.

Sign up for our FREE recruitment seminar on 9/27 at the Event Center at the Northwest Library and learn how to attract, recruit, and retain high quality employees to grow your business.

Star Business of the Week: John Ross Jewelers

We’re thrilled to congratulate John Ross Jewelers, an outstanding business in Albany for being chosen as the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Star Business of the Week! With an impressive history of over 70 years, John Ross Jewelers truly embodies the local small business experience in Albany. They’re known for their beautiful designer jewelry that suits all kinds of preferences. Their collection features carefully crafted pieces that are truly captivating. One thing that sets them apart is their commitment to top-notch quality, seen through their on-site jewelry repair services where they take special care of cherished pieces. Their reputation is solid, built on trustworthiness and a strong dedication to their customers. By honoring John Ross Jewelers as the Star Business of the Week, we salute their long-standing contributions to the community and their unwavering commitment to creating exceptional jewelry and providing excellent service.



Star Business of the Week: The Church at the Groves

Congratulations to The Church at the Groves, our Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Star

Business of the Week! We’re thrilled to highlight this organization that truly embodies the spirit

of community and compassion. For 8 years, Church at the Groves has been a beacon of light,

offering spiritual guidance, counseling, and general support to our community. Led by Ben

Steffens, their Lead Pastor, this exceptional establishment stands out because of its authentic

passion for loving people. They understand that their mission goes beyond the walls of their

church; it’s about connecting with people and making a positive impact on their lives. Albany is

lucky to have such a remarkable place that believes in loving where they live. The Church at the

Groves sees Albany as a place of growth and opportunity, where the resources they provide can

make a real difference. Their commitment to connecting people with the resources they need is

truly inspiring. We’re proud to have The Church at the Groves as a Chamber member. Their

involvement, especially through initiatives like Leadercast, has allowed them to connect and

serve local businesses in ways that truly make a difference. To learn more about Church at the

Groves visit

Star Business of the Week: Necco Foster Care

Necco Foster Care, a leading advocate for child welfare in the Albany area, is the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Star Business of the Week.” Recognized for their unwavering dedication to improving the lives of children and families, Necco Foster Care stands as a beacon of hope and support within the community.  Necco Foster Care is known for their exceptional efforts in providing a nurturing environment for children in need, ensuring their safety, well-being, and access unlimited opportunities. With a commitment to creating, educating and maintaining stable and loving foster homes, Necco Foster Care has left an indelible mark on countless lives, strengthening the fabric of the Albany community. This recognition highlights Necco Foster Care’s innovative initiatives that have contributed to positive outcomes for children in the foster care system. Their tireless advocacy and collaborative approach have not only transformed individual lives but have also inspired others to become involved in the critical mission of fostering and supporting vulnerable children. If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved with their mission please visit or call (229)299-5095. Congratulations to Necco!


The Star Business of the Week program is sponsored by Fleming & Riles and WALB News 10. Treats provided by Q’s Cakes at 2700 Dawson Rd. in Albany.


Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Biz Expo 2023

We are thrilled to announce the much-anticipated Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Biz Expo 2023! Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 28, as the Albany Civic Center once again becomes the hub of dynamic business interaction.

Prepare to supercharge your networking efforts and elevate your business success! Engage in valuable business-to-business and business-to-consumer connections and drive your overall business outcomes to new heights.

With a history of more than 500 people in attendance, our booth packages offer incredible value, starting at just $395 for a standard-sized booth. And here’s the icing on the cake…Albany Area Chamber of Commerce members enjoy exclusive special pricing! For businesses aiming for an even greater impact, we also have a limited number of enhanced booth spaces.

For more information, please reach out to Mary Bickerstaff at or call (229) 434-8700.

Seize this golden opportunity to showcase your business, forge meaningful partnerships, and tap into a world of possibilities. Ready to make your mark? Register here: