Category Archives: Chamber News

Chamber CEO: Let’s reimagine and redefine what we can be

On Economic Recovery, Reimagination and Resiliency

 

Albany has demonstrated time and again that it can withstand a crisis, unite in its wake and emerge stronger in its aftermath. We are innovative, compassionate and resilient. We don’t need to reinvent who we are. We need to reimagine and redefine what we can be.

By Bárbara Rivera Holmes

President & CEO

Bárbara Rivera Holmes
President & CEO

 

Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet and theologian, thoughtfully wrote that a wound is the place where the light enters you. The concept is most often visualized within the context of personal healing and growth, but it also beautifully applies to our community. Now, through this difficult time, we must recover in a way that allows us to improve our economic competitiveness and resiliency, and create new pathways for our citizens.

 

In January, at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s 110th annual meeting, I shared with more than 400 business and civic leaders the challenges and opportunities on which our organization would focus in order to advance economic sustainability and prosperity for our community and our region. In February, we launched the community’s first comprehensive work force strategy. The forward trends and issues within our focus areas — small business innovation and entrepreneurship; economic development; inclusivity and advocacy; talent and work force training — are now more important. Urgent, even. The environment has accelerated, and so must our response. Because COVID-19 didn’t just present a health crisis; it hit fast forward on a socioeconomic paradigm shift.

 

The disruptions in global supply chains, the changes in consumer behavior, the development of social distancing guidelines, the limitations on travel, the broad implementation of telework — these are challenges in what is becoming the old economy. The opportunities — onshoring production for domestic security, a preference for locally-sourced goods and foods, closer-to-home leisure travel, an increase in automation and demand for high-tech skills, flexibility to work from anywhere, a surge in gig jobs — exist within the emerging new economy.

 

Upskilling and diversifying the existing work force, and creating, retaining and recruiting talent, will create exponential growth opportunities. Spending more dollars locally than abroad and online will allow them to recirculate within our economy, which will mean stronger small businesses, offsets to tax hikes and improvements to critical infrastructure. Helping our existing industries grow and recruiting new ones will strengthen our economic anchors, expand the tax base and provide more jobs.

 

The Albany Area Chamber is working with community partners to frame the conversations around economic recovery and resiliency. Together, we responded decisively and innovatively in the face of the health crisis. Together, we are supporting businesses through reopening. Now, as we write the next chapter of Albany’s history, together we must move forward.

 

COVID-19 has wounded us. We can recover, and we will. We can also reimagine and redefine what we can be. We can regenerate as more inclusive and resilient and vibrant. We can let the light enter us.

 

Bárbara Rivera Holmes is president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Chamber, United Way facilitate philanthropy during COVID-19

 

April 13, 2020

United Way of Southwest Georgia’s COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Receives Significant Donation from Wildfair Plantation

ALBANY, GA – Wildfair Plantation announced today a $125,000 donation to the United Way of Southwest Georgia’s COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to help people most affected by the current pandemic.  The donation comes alongside contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals including the Turner Foundation, Betty & Davis Fitzgerald Foundation, Garnett Smith Foundation, Truist Foundation, and UPS.

 

“On behalf of the Wildfair family, our businesses and friends, we believe we have greater impact when we work together,” said Joseph Davenport III, owner of Wildfair Plantation, a local hunting preserve. “We stand strong with Albany and are pleased to support the community through the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund. We know the Fund’s leadership will ensure that the individuals and organizations that need it most will get support quickly to help weather this storm.”

 

The Southwest Georgia COVID-19 Relief Fund is being managed by the United Way of Southwest Georgia. Local organizations, including the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce are also offering their support and leadership.

 

“This gift by the Davenports and the Wildfair Plantation community is so much more than a charitable donation; it represents a commitment and desire to improve the human welfare of Albany and the Albany Area in a way that will have immediate, significant and lasting impacts,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s leading business advocacy organization. “We are grateful for the relationship with the Davenports and to have facilitated their philanthropy, which we hope will serve as a catalyst for further support and investments for our citizens and our community.”

 

“COVID-19 is a new test of our collective strength and together we will rise,” says Shaunae Motley, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Georgia.  “We are grateful to Joseph and Susan Davenport and the Wildfair family for believing in our mission and choosing us as a vehicle to provide hope and respond to our community’s emergency needs.  So many citizens will be helped through their generous gift.”

 

The Fund is working to quickly address the economic challenges of COVID-19 by rapidly deploying resources to community-based organizations in need of funds to meet the immediate needs of individuals affected by the crisis.  The distrubution committe comprised of a cross-section of community leaders is reviewing applications from local nonprofits and organizations seeking funding and expects to distribute the first round of grants beginning April 14.

 

To contribute to the COVID-19 Response Fund, visit unitedwayswga.org/give or text FIGHT COVID to 313131. As funds are distributed, United Way will publish the receiving agencies, along with the help they can provide and contact information on their website.

 

About United Way of Southwest Georgia

 

For over 65 years, United Way of Southwest Georgia has been an innovative force in the community, successfully responding to emerging needs and transforming people’s lives. Today our work is focused on education, financial stability and health – the building blocks for a good life. We invest in quality programs, advocate for better policies, engage people in the community and generate resources.  United Way of Southwest Georgia serves a geographic territory of thirteen counties including: Baker, Calhoun, Crisp, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Sumter, Terrell, Wilcox and Worth.  To learn more, visit http://www.unitedwayswga.org. 

 

 

Albany Area Chamber releases business impact survey

 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Barbara Rivera Holmes

bholmes@albayga.com

229.434.0044

April 16, 2020

 

Albany Area Chamber and LSG lead regional business impact survey

 

Albany, Ga. – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and Locate South Georgia have partnered to collect information through a series of surveys regarding the extent to which the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has affected local and regional business operations. The online survey opens today and closes April 29.

 

“The pandemic has impacted every aspect of life and commerce in Albany and Southwest Georgia. The surveys will provide deeper insights into the real-time impact and help continue to inform local, state and federal leaders so as to align policy to needs,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “By working regionally, we can create a stronger platform for near-term economic relief and long-term economic recovery.”

 

The partnership brings together chambers of commerce and other economic development organizations throughout Southwest Georgia.

 

“We created Locate South Georgia to better leverage the assets of the region. By partnering with the Albany Area Chamber on this impact survey, we can better serve our business communities and support the overall regional economy,” said Jason Dunn, executive director of the Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County Development Authority and chairman of Locate South Georgia, an economic development collaborative of communities throughout the region.

 

The survey, which can be accessed online at bit.ly/3cb8Rbs is to businesses in all industries, including agriculture. It has 20 questions and is expected to take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

 

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

 

LSG markets South Georgia as a globally competitive location for business and industry. Learn more at locatesouthgeorgia.com.

 

 

An Insider’s Perspective on the Leadership of J. Scott Steiner

J. Scott Kavanaugh, BSN, RN and Manager of Phoebe Care Command, was recently tasked with an assignment while pursuing his Master of Business Administration. The assignment was, “Choose a CEO or top official who is a strong leader in a public or private organization who has displayed exemplary leadership with current world circumstances” based on the five practices of exemplary leadership found in the book, Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. For Kavanaugh, the choice was evident as he had a front-seat view to watch leadership play out in real-time at the top of his organization. The following is one insider’s view of the inspiring leadership of J. Scott Steiner, President, and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System.


“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

–Ronald Reagan

An organization often cannot see the full effects of a decision until the time of crisis hits. In the early spring of 2019, as most of southwest Georgia went about their daily routines, Phoebe Putney Health System put two decisions in play that have proven crucial during the current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic for our community: the launch of Phoebe Care Command Center and the installation of a new CEO.

As an employee of Phoebe Putney Health System, it’s easy for me to choose for this assignment Mr. J. Scott Steiner, our President and CEO – especially amidst the current pandemic we all know as COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, Mr. Steiner was displaying exemplary leadership with only a 1-year tenure with the health system. The mission of Phoebe is supported by his commitment and advocacy for the community we serve, and the individuals we employ. He is a transparent leader, communicating honestly and timely to provide information that aids in alleviating speculation or unrest. While there was preparation for this pandemic for our organization, there was no way to know precisely the impact on our hospital. Though it has impacted our community and health system significantly, Mr. Steiner has promoted and communicated calmness in the storm, as evidenced in national interviews that spotlight his leadership and efforts during this challenging crisis.

When I think about the type of leader that Mr. Steiner is, it is difficult to place him in only one category [as described in the book]. As a charismatic leader, he inspires all within the organization to operate at a higher level of performance as well as consider “out of the box” ideas to best serve our healthcare community. Along with that, Mr. Steiner is diligent in instilling confidence in those to whom he “pins a task.”.

As an authentic leader, he is consistently passionate about the goals and objectives of the health system and is quick to channel our focus in achieving them.

As a servant leader, Mr. Steiner can always be counted on to genuinely interact with all employees working in any capacity. I have witnessed him leading by example over many areas of our health system, and he is engaged in many community activities that the health system employees support.

As a transformational leader, he challenges everyone in his scope to look beyond themselves to see how we can support the best interest of others. By doing this, it further assists in achieving the company’s goals and objectives as well as community credibility. His leadership over the past year has transformed our organization by continuing to push us toward the calling upon which we were founded. As well, during the current pandemic crisis, his leadership has demanded a transformational mindset for the entire organization in a consistently fluid environment. Because of this style of leadership, we are easily able to adapt and be creative because we know we have his support to do so. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to provide the level of support that we’ve demonstrated in our community during this pandemic crisis.

Mr. Steiner’s leadership encompasses all five leadership practices, but the one that seems relevant for the current critical situation is “encouraging the heart.” No matter the circumstance or challenge at hand, he is always the first to provide encouragement at the culmination of any meeting or conversation. For this reason, it is easy to follow his leadership as well as provide credible work inspired by his vision.

 

Local Attractions Go Online to Stay Connected

With their doors and gates temporarily closed this spring due to COVID-19 closures, local attractions are finding innovative ways to take their messages online and stay connected with the varied audiences they serve.

At the Flint RiverQuarium, curatorial staff are staggering shifts to feed animals, clean tanks, and maintain life support systems, while the marketing and education departments have teamed up to create content that is being shared on social media channels, a new Flint RiverQuarium YouTube channel, and the organization’s website. A new video premieres on Facebook each morning at 11 am. Topics include Creature Features, Exploring Nature, Behind the Scenes, and Bio Bits. Regularly scheduled programs, like the monthly Adventure Seekers family program and Tadpole Time for preschoolers, also are being offered digitally. All of these videos also can be viewed on the aquarium’s YouTube Channel. Additionally, printable coloring, craft, and other activity sheets are constantly being developed and shared on both Facebook and the Flint RiverQuarium website.

Thonateeska Heritage Center is producing Science Shorts videos, which are posted Monday-Friday at 2 pm, on their Facebook page and on the new Thronateeska YouTube channel. Also, for the month of April, several planetarium shows are FREE for families to enjoy at home! Check their Facebook page each Wednesday for a link to a new show.

“The original content that we are creating at both the Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska is designed to provide supplemental educational content for parents who find themselves schooling at home, to provide positive information on the important work we are doing at both organizations for those who are scrolling feeds full of fear and uncertainty, and to build a library of engaging content that will continue to be a future resource when we are able to put this current crisis behind us,” says Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska Marketing Manager Wendy Bellacomo.

At Chehaw Park and Zoo, content is offered twice a day via Facebook Live. Every morning at 10 am, viewers can see and virtually participate in the Cubs program, designed especially to fit the interests and attention spans of children ages 3-4, but fun for all ages. Each program includes an animal-related story, craft, and an animal experience. Craft supply lists are posted the night before on Facebook so parents can gather supplies needed for kids to craft along with the video.

Chehaw curatorial staff take over in the afternoons. Keeper Chats, spotlighting different animals at the zoo are aired on Facebook live each day at 4:30 pm. Viewers can go behind the scenes with the animals at the zoo in this fun, virtually interactive session, watching some of their favorite animals, meeting ones they’ve never seen before, and learning about the daily activities that happen behind the scenes.

“School may be over for the year, but parents are still looking for ways to engage their child’s brain, and kids are looking for ways to stay entertained during quarantine,” said Morgan Burnette, Director of Guest and Public Relations at Chehaw. “While our staff still visits daily to care for the animals, it’s a perfect time to create unique digital content that is both educational and entertaining. Staff is using this time to find creative options for guest engagement as well as unique opportunities for animal enrichment.”

The Albany Museum of Art has been staying connected to members and guests through Facebook, Instagram and their website. Each weekday by 5 p.m., Education and Public Programming Director Annie Vanoteghem posts an engaging Staying Inspired! art education activity kids can do with their parents. The AMA Art Lovers Book Club has its first online meeting on April 7. The museum also is asking people to create and share paintings, drawings, photos and sculpture of what they see in their backyard while in shelter in their Art in Residence contest, and to join in a local version of the Getty Museum Challenge, Life Imitating Art, to re-create famous art in photos using common things found around the house. Submissions will be shared on social media and the AMA website.

“As we all face the great challenges presented by COVID-19, we’re continuously working on innovative ways to bring the Albany Museum of Art to our members and guests. While folks are sheltering at home, it’s especially important to keep creativity alive with engaging ideas and activities inspired by art,” Jim Hendricks, AMA director of Marketing and Public Relations, said.

Even though our community is sheltered in place for the time being, this may actually be an ideal time to pay a “virtual visit” to our local attractions!

 

 

A Win-win for U-Save-It Pharmacy

With the Covid-19 outbreak, Albany’s business landscape is changing daily. While some businesses are being forced to temporarily close to help slow the spread of the virus, others, deemed as necessary, are seeing increased demand and are adapting to meet the needs of their customers. U-Save-It Pharmacy, owned by the Sharpe family, already offered drive-through and free delivery options at several locations but quickly became overwhelmed by an avalanche of new delivery requests as their customers chose to limit time outside of their homes while scrambling to make sure that all of their essential prescriptions were filled.

“When all of this started a couple of weeks ago, my brother Tommy was helping our principal delivery man, Mr. Charlie, who had more deliveries than he could possibly make on his own,” says business co-owner Jay Sharpe, “Tommy had an idea to call our favorite restaurant server, Mr. Jerry from Villa Gargano’s. Mr. Jerry has become a family friend over the years, and we knew that Villa Gargano’s had just closed their dining room in response to our city’s Covid-19 plan.”

Tommy gave server Jerry Perez a call, and Jerry jumped at the chance to help the Sharpes out.

“I was already bored,” says Jerry, who is accustomed to a busy schedule. “I had cut the grass twice that week, and I was planning to paint the front of my house. But, when I got the call and learned about the situation at U-Save-It, I knew I needed to save the painting for later. It was time for me to give back to the Sharpes who have been such good friends to me and my family over the years.”

Jerry joined the U-Save-It team Monday, March 23.

“On that day, Mr. Charlie broke his all-time delivery record by 40%. Thankfully, Jerry was on board and able to help him get it all done,” says Jay.

Jerry plans to help out until Villa Gargano’s re-opens and he is able to return to job of 11 years. So far, this temporary arrangement has been a win-win for all concerned.

“The pharmacy is able to make sure that our customers get their medications, patients are able to use the delivery service instead of going out, and Jerry is able to have a job during a down time,” says Jay.

U-Save-It pharmacy locations are currently operating with closed storefronts for the safety of staff and patients, but the drive-through windows remain open at all locations. Of course, free delivery is still an option.

While no one knows how long it will be until business as usual can resume, Jay Sharpe notes that our community has withstood difficult times before, and he has confidence that we will do so in this situation as well.

“I’ve lived in Albany all my life and there’s one thing I’ve noticed over and over. Whenever there is a challenge that tests our city, Albany does a wonderful job of coming together to work for the betterment of our community.”

Member Spotlight: Place on the Pointe

Springtime in the South is known for many traditions – Easter, graduation, and weddings. One Albany small business has been part of these traditions since 1985 when owner Susan Wiley opened the doors at Place on the Pointe. Since then, this tiny shop in Northwest Albany has been the place to shop for grandmothers, mothers, and daughters as they passed down traditions and started new ones.

Now, more than ever, the ladies at Place on the Pointe are hard at work to make sure their customers have what they need to continue their traditions this year. Like all small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, creativity in determining new processes became paramount. The staff at Place on the Pointe took their above-and-beyond customer service and combined it with their steady online presence to up their retail game and meet customer needs!

“We began getting phone calls from our customers who were upset about not being able to put together Easter baskets,” said Elyse Brown. “One customer is a first-time mom who grew up dreaming about putting together her children’s baskets, and she thought she was going to miss out on the first one!” Elyse Brown and Honey Bolton, both store co-managers, moved to action and began to post videos and pictures that showcased all the Easter selections from the sales floor. Orders began streaming in right away. The staff worked overtime to assemble the custom baskets – and even added home delivery!

“It makes us feel so good that we can help our customers,” added Honey. “Another question we are asked frequently is about our Easter bunny pictures. And while we can’t move forward with those – don’t count the Easter bunny out! We might have a trick up our sleeve!”

As the shelter-in-place guidelines came down the pipeline from the City of Albany, another group began to call the store, sharing their disappointment and asking for suggestions with another springtime occasion – graduation!

“A sweet grandmother from out of town called and wanted to do something special for her grandchild – a graduating senior this year,” said Elyse. “She had no idea what gifts to purchase, so we created a virtual video tour of all our graduation items to send to her!” That video will soon be added to both Place on the Pointe Facebook and Instagram accounts for more graduation shoppers to do the same. Another plus for graduating seniors who haven’t taken advantage of a gift registry is the ability to watch the videos, make their wish list and email or call it in to the store.

Another group facing uncertainty in these times are brides in the process of making final arrangements for registry and wedding invitations. “We are creative with wedding invitations since we cannot allow brides to come in the store,” Elyse explains. “For these brides, we are printing out drafts of their final invitation and taping them to the front door for them to come by and look. We continue to text, message and email as much as possible.”

“God is our biggest supporter and we are beyond grateful! We want to do everything we can to make sure our customers have the same hands-on experience we’ve always strived to give,” Elyse says.

“While keeping everyone safe!” Honey adds.

In a time when everything seems to be changing, the ladies at Place on the Pointe are making sure at least one thing remains the same.  Each customer receives the same personalized service for which this small business is known, proving that this small biz has a really big heart!

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.

 

>> Minimum basic operations poster

>> Social distancing poster

>> To Go poster for restaurants

>> Restaurant guidelines poster

>> Salons, barber shops, spas poster

>> 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

Updates That Impact Employers

 

May 29, 2020

Gov. Brian Kemp’s May 28 executive order provides guidance for live music performances, bars, amusement bars and camps, among others. Read the order here.

April 24, 2020

Gov. Brian Kemp issues executive order outlining how Georgians may safely begin returning to work. The order does not mandate that businesses should open; rather, it provides guidance for re-entry.

>> Read here for a re-entry considerations from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

>> Download our re-entry plan template as a starting point for crafting your own.

 

April 22, 2020

The Georgia Board of Cosmetology and Barbers issues safety guidelines for reopening of salons and spas. Per Governor Brian Kemp’s April 20 order, these and certain other businesses may choose do so as early as Friday. Read the guidelines here. Also to read: OSHA’s COVID-10 workplace guidance.

April 21, 2020

What does Governor Brian Kemp’s April 20 order mean for business? Learn more here in this business-focused executive summary.  The Albany Area Chamber will continue to provide details and guidance from state leadership as it becomes available.

 

April 20, 2020

Governor Brian Kemp today announced a phased-in approach to getting Georgians back to work safely, with a first wave of businesses allowed to come back online Friday. Social distancing and other safety measures must be in place at establishments. The Governor’s Office will release further details and guidance throughout the week.

• Friday, April 24: Gyms, fitness centers, barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo studios, massage therapists may open; elective surgeries may resume
• Monday, April 27: Restaurants may reopen for dine in, and movie theaters and private clubs may reopen

 

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.