Category Archives: Chamber News

Albany Area Chamber honors ‘Albany Under 40’ finalists and announces category winners  

2022 Albany Under 40 Category Winners from L to R: Morgan Burnette: Arts, Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Events, Tourism & Hospitality; Perry Ford: Civics, Defense, Government & Public Affairs; Ashley Wells-Sharpe: Innovation & Start-Ups; Clifford Johnson: Sports, Wellness & Fitness.

December 14, 2022

Albany, GA – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday recognized the finalists and announced the category winners of the 2022 Albany Under 40 Awards, a program that celebrates the Albany Area’s emerging leaders and professionals in a variety of business sectors, each representing a component of the area’s diversified talent pool and economy.

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

Category finalists were announced earlier this month and honored at Wednesday’s awards reception at the Riverfront Resource Center in downtown Albany. Category winners, selected from among the finalists, were announced at the event:

  • Arts, Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Events, Tourism & Hospitality: Morgan Burnette – Director, Chehaw Park & Zoo.
  • Civics, Defense, Government & Public Affairs: Perry V. Ford – Associate, City of Albany Engineering
  • Financial & Insurance Services: Mark Johnson – Business Development Relationship Officer, Georgia’s Own Credit Union
  • Innovation & Start-Ups: Ashley Wells-Sharpe – CEO, Picture Perfect by Ashley
  • Journalism, Marketing & Public Relations: Mallorie Smith – RN/Talent Acquisition Partner/Nurse Recruitment Liaison, Phoebe Putney Health System
  • Manufacturing, Service Industries, Energy & Architecture: Nicole Jones – Site Support Lead, Mars Wrigley Confectionery
  • Medicine & Health Care: Victoria Davidson – Epidemiologist, Georgia Department of Public Health
  • Nonprofit Services: Andrea Kromminga – Youth and Young Adults Coordinator, Aspire Behavioral Health
  • Sports, Wellness & Fitness: Clifford B. Johnson – Customer Solutions Specialist, WebstaurantStore
  • Technology: Latasha Edwards – Project Manager, Microsoft + Nuance
  • Youth & Education: Martez Gerard Favis – Assistant Principal, Albany Middle School

Additional finalists were announced earlier this month and also recognized at the event:

Arts, Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Events, Tourism & Hospitality

Keshia Glass – Sales Assistant, iHeartMedia

Kiersten Rome – Leisure & Group Tourism Marketing Manager, Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau

Civics, Defense, Government & Public Affairs

Kimberly T. Bodiford – Supervisor, Management & Program Analyst, MCLB Albany

Kisawanda R. James – Corporal, Albany State University Police Department

Financial & Insurance Services

Ryan A. Garnto – Financial Advisor, Garnto Financial Group

Journalism, Marketing & Public Relations

Heather Harrison – Sales Manager, The Albany Herald Multimedia

 Manufacturing, Service Industries, Energy & Architecture

Clint Eudy – General Manager, Express Disposal

McClane Newsome – VP of Retail Sales, Modern Gas Company

Medicine & Health Care

Josh Pearson – Team Leader, Non-invasive Cardiology – Phoebe Putney Health System

Nonprofit Service

Samantha Helton – Membership & Marketing Director, Albany Area YMCA

Ashley Nestale – Deputy Director, Family Literacy Connection

Sports, Wellness & Fitness

Jakori M. Edwards – Director, Cam Sports South Inc.

Youth & Education

Anna Fazio Gibbs – Instructor, Department of Health and Human Performance – Albany State University

Anthony Mackey – Supervisor, Bill Miller Community Center

Albany Under 40 2022 is presented by Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center and Express Disposal: Part of the CE Family, and further supported by Albany Area Primary Health Care, Albany State University and Eagle Cleaners.

The 2022 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year, selected from among the category winners, will be announced at the Albany Area Chamber 113th annual meeting next spring.


Albany Area Chamber Announces 2022 Business Award Winners

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce honored local organizations Wednesday, November 30 when it recognized the finalists and announced the winners of its 2022 Albany Area Chamber Business Awards, which celebrates member organizations that are making strides, demonstrating a unique vision and establishing best practices.

The business awards include the small business of the year award, the nonprofit of the year award, the “Uniquely Albany” award and the new women-owned business of the year award.

“The Albany Area Chamber Business Awards celebrates excellence and shines the spotlight on our community and our member organizations — on their success, their innovation, their talent, their contributions, their impact,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s largest business advocacy organization. “We’re honored to recognize these outstanding organizations and honored that they’ve chosen and continue to choose Albany.”


The 2022 Small Business of the Year award was presented to Flint Community Bank.

Flint Community Bank serves as the foundational catalyst that allows individuals in the community to make purchases, start, grow, and maintain other community businesses, and to facilitate higher quality of life through saving for the future. Flint Community Bank processes an estimated $80 million dollars in personal and business loans annually, as well as an estimated $22 million dollars in mortgage loans. These loans not only allow individuals and families in our community to secure housing and other necessities, but they also provide capital to many small businesses to pay operating expenses and to flourish and grow. Most importantly, included in those operating expenses are salaries and benefits for existing jobs and those to be created, as businesses grow.

 “Community” is literally the bank’s middle name. As a community bank, they make it a priority to give back to its neighbors. Each year, they give more than $100,000 in the form of donations, sponsorships and support to community events. One of Flint Community Bank’s core values is “Investing in the Future.” Based on this principle, the bank has implemented a “Junior Board of Directors” through which the bank mentors a group of high school juniors and seniors from around the community as they develop leadership skills, financial literacy, and most importantly, form lasting relationships with one another, teaching them that there truly is no better “investment” than that in your community and its people.


The 2022 Nonprofit of the Year award was presented to Flint River Fresh.

Flint River Fresh is a community advocate for equitable access to fresh, healthy, locally sourced food in response to the extraordinarily high incidents of food insecurity, persistent poverty, and vulnerable populations living in food deserts across Southwest Georgia. Executive director Fredando Jackson and the Flint River Fresh Board of Directors have devoted five years to championing food equity and developing sustainable connections to fresh produce among local, state and federal governing bodies while cultivating relationships with area community health care and wellness partners, small or beginning food producers, food policy makers, and stakeholders with agricultural interests. Advocacy work includes presentations to the Georgia Senate Committee Study Committee on Ending Food Deserts and participation with the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge Policy Institute with the American Public Health Association. Results and impact include influencing significant funding to communities in food deserts throughout Southwest Georgia.

The work of Flint River Fresh provides resources in a wide variety of capacities that elevate urban farming and agriculture initiatives focused on improving sustainable access to fresh fruit and vegetables produced by community and local producers.


The 2022 Uniquely Albany Award was a tie, presented to The Flint and Pretoria Fields.

The Flint is a restaurant, a gathering place and a celebration of community that belongs as much to the people of Albany as it does to its owners – the Singfield family, which has been a part of Albany’s business community for more than 50 years. The Flint represents a connection to the past and a springboard into the future. Located in downtown – just across the street from where we are now – the restaurant is situated in an old cotton warehouse, built in the 1800s. The Flint is an anchor tenant on Pine Avenue and has been instrumental in the rebirth of downtown. Everything about the decor is “Albany,” from the floors that contain river rock that was taken from the river itself, to the animals mounted on the walls that were harvested from the Flint River Basin. Wood in the restaurant was saved from Hurricane Michael and installed by a local company. The glass from the original skylights were repurposed and installed in the private dining room’s barndoors. All of the work was completed by local vendors, truly embracing the spirit of collaboration, and pride in Albany’s artisans as the very best around.

Located in downtown Albany, with a farm just outside of town, Pretoria Fields is known as the only “farm to pint” brewery in Georgia, and is endorsed by Georgia Grown. Besides the taproom and brewery, their beer is distributed statewide in Georgia and Alabama. They have product in all 200-plus Publix stores, 120 Krogers, 35 Ingles supermarkets, and other prominent grocery chain accounts across the country. They are proud to be served in those grocery stores, and some of the best bars and restaurants in the Southeastern United States – allowing those from all over to experience a little bit of Albany.

Waving the flag for Albany and the region is something Pretoria Fields prioritizes every day. Always collaborating with local and statewide organizations in an effort to demonstrate the beauty of partnership and to elevate exposure for the brand and the community, Pretoria Fields is constantly working to take the organization, and with it, Albany, to the next level.


The 2022 Women-Owned Business of the Year was presented to MADlab Marketing.

MADlab Marketing is a full-service marketing agency that proudly serves clients in Southwest Georgia, across the United States and even internationally. The agency has more than 62 active clients. MADLab has worked hard to maintain an upward trajectory in revenue while adhering to its commitment to reliable customer service. These efforts have resulted in nearly 30 percent growth in revenue in the last three years.

At MADlab , the pace is fast, the energy addictive, and the environment embracing. The agency seeks high-performing account representatives who are committed to customer service. They are driven professionals who are highly organized and can juggle multiple projects at once. Their sweet spot for hiring these “marketing aces” tends to be found in young mothers. Which makes sense, because, hey – who lives a life of service and juggles better than mothers?

MADlab intentionally works to create an atmosphere of giving back to the community. Generosity is not only modeled by the owners, but is seen in the actions of the agency to support non-profit missions and objectives in the community. The agency and owners have played an instrumental part in projects such as turtle statues to Albany, the development of Turtle Grove Play Park, the replanting of trees lost from storm damage with Grow Albany, coordination of the Albany Area Chamber’s Ron Clark workforce event, the restructuring of Leadership Albany and the recent opening of the new Feeding the Valley food bank.

The 2022 Albany Area Chamber Business Awards were presented by ComNet1 and sponsored by Albany Area Primary Health Care; ServPro of Albany and Americus; Coldwell Banker Walden & Kirkland; and Webstaurant Store.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany victorious in Albany Area Chamber’s Fall 2022 Salty Sandbagger Golf Tournament

Albany, GA – Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany walked away victorious in the Albany Area Chamber’s Fall 2022 Salty Sandbagger Golf Tournament, an initiative of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee, chaired by Dan Gillan, CEO of the Albany Area YMCA, and co-chaired by Don Gray, facilities manager for the city of Albany. The tournament was hosted Wednesday at Stonebridge Golf and Country Club in Albany.

The tournament is a semi-annual contest between the membership of the Albany Area Chamber and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. A celebrated tradition since 1976, the event is designed to encourage partnership between the business community and MLCB Albany.

“The Salty Sandbagger is a storied tradition of the Albany Area Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee and continues to grow each year in popularity and competitiveness,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is a national defense asset, one of area’s largest employers and a critical partner in Albany’s development and prosperity. This event builds camaraderie and helps ensure important relationships are in place in order to move Albany and our military initiatives forward.”

A close contest, MCLB Albany edged the Chamber team by nine strokes with a composite score of 668. The Base will retain the trophy until challenged again in the spring 2023 tournament.

Numerous awards were presented: Best overall pair went to David Holmes and Bob Smith, playing for the Chamber team, with a score of 67. Closest to the pin on hole four was Clint Gilchrest, with Closest to the pin on hole 16 going to Paul Erikson (Chamber). Longest drive was taken by Mike Matson (MCLB) on hole one, and by Mike Williamson (MCLB) on hole 10.

During the tournament, Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adams Exterminators, and Tim Holley, location manager of The Staffing People, were recognized for their continued service on the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee.

The event was presented by Turner Job Corps, and further sponsored by Albany Technical College; Albany Area Primary Health Care; Southern Point Staffing; Buffalo Rock; Adams Exterminators; Coldwell Banker; ComNet1; Shiver Outdoor & Archery; Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Southern AG Carriers; and WALB News 10.

Albany Area Chamber Business Awards 2022

Join us as we honor the excellence in business achievement and the community contributions that make Albany and the Albany Area a better place to live and work.

At the November 30 Albany Area Chamber Business Awards reception, we will celebrate this year’s awards finalists and recognize the 2022 Small Business of the Year, Nonprofit of the Year, Women-owned Business of the Year and the Uniquely Albany award recipients.

For ticket and sponsorship information, contact Mary Bickerstaff or call (229) 434-8700.

Albany Area Chamber launches Political Leadership Institute

Albany, GA – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce today announced the launch 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.

Applications are now open for the 2023 class, which will kick off in November. Interested candidates should apply at

“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.

The Political Leadership Institute is an initiative of the Albany Area Chamber’s #ImpactABY2023 strategy and implemented through its Government Affairs Division. The Chamber announced the development of the institute at its 112th annual meeting in April.

“This program will serve to educate and equip 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 unique networking opportunities for class members to build relationships with each other and with business and community leaders.

Class sessions will run from November 2022 to January 2023 and will cover topics including “Government 101,” “Issues of Importance” and “Appointed Boards and Elected Office.”

The program cost is $100 to participants, which includes all three sessions and related materials and meals. The deadline to apply is Friday, October 28.

Albany Area Chamber President & CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes named one of ’50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia”

Atlanta, GA – The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) has named Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bárbara Rivera Holmes as one of the “50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia.”

“My Spanish language and Hispanic culture are embedded into my identity. My personal and professional drive, perspective and courage have been shaped by my heritage, by my family’s journey from Cuba to America, and by my own integration from Puerto Rico to the continental United States,” said Rivera Holmes. “The Georgia Hispanic Chamber’s ’50 Most Influential Latinos’ awards recognize character, competency and impact, and shines a light on the Hispanic influence on our communities and our state. I am humbled and agradecida to be included among the honorees.”

The recognition was made at the Georgia Hispanic Chamber’s 50 Most Influential Latinos ceremony at Truist Park in Atlanta.

“Our awards recognition is a celebration of our community’s impact and contribution to our great state,” said Veronica Maldonado-Torres, GHCC President and CEO. “It serves as a reminder on how each of us has the potential to change the narrative and leave a legacy for those that follow. “

The event was emceed by 11 Alive News journalist Paola Turo and attended by most of Georgia’s English- and Spanish-speaking major media outlets, as well as a visit from The New York Times.

U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff and U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock offered remarks at the ceremony and reminded Georgians of their initiatives regarding diversity and inclusion, especially within the Hispanic community.

The honoree list includes professionals from business, sports, entertainment, technology, healthcare, politics and more. It includes notables such Georgia Power Regional Director Misty Fernandez and Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King. The GHCC also announced the latest inductees to its Hall of Fame, including Cox Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Bob Jimenez and Brenda Lopez Romero, senior district attorney for the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit.

“Honoring and highlighting the powerful contributions of our 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia is our duty and we proudly elevate them in character, impact, connectivity and honor their role in our communities,” Maldonado- Torres added.

Hundreds of nominations were received at the GHCC this year and went through a rigorous process to evaluate contributions each nominee has made. The final selection was based on the degree of influence each person exhibited in their role as a representative of the Latino community.

The 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia 2022

Alex Gonzalez, CIO, Metro Atlanta Chamber; Alex Villanueva, Cyber Security Senior Technology Consultant, EY; Ana Maria Martinez, President and C0-Founder, Georgia Latino Law Foundation; Andres Villegas, President & CEO, Georgia Forestry Association & Georgia Forestry Foundation; Angel Cabrera, President, Georgia institute of Technology; Barbara Rivera Holmes, President & CEO, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce; Christopher Pereira, Principal & Founder, Critical Point Consulting; Daniela Rodriguez, ED, Migrant Equity Southeast; Deborah Gonzalez, District Attorney; Diana Trujillo, Director of Events, Atlanta Sports Council; Dr. Felipe Lobelo, Physician Program Director for Epidemiology, Public Health Preparedness Southeast Permanente Medical Group; Eloisa Klementich, President & CEO, Invest Atlanta; Frank Fernandez, President & CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; Gina Espinosa-Meltzer, Partner, Hope-Beckham; Hilda Abbott, Founder & CEO, RudHil Companies; Jaime Rangel, Georgia State Director,; Jason R. Anavitarte, Director of Life Services & Community Relations CareSource; Jason Esteves, Vice President of Legal, Equifax; Javier Diaz de Leon, Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta; Joel Alvarado, VP of Strategy & Engagement Partnership, Southern Equity; John Duran, Director of Bilingual Relationships, Beaver Toyota; John F. King, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner; Jorge Estevez, Anchor/Reporter, Cox Media Groups; Jorge Gomez, Marketing Director, Plaza Fiesta; Jose Paniagua, VP & Treasurer, Inspire Brands; Jose Perez, Board of Regents, University Systems of Georgia; Juan Bonilla, Founder & CEO, TCI CRM, LLC; Juan Perez, CIO, Salesforce; Julio Rivera-Montero, Sales Account Manager, Delta Airlines; Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, Public Affairs Specialist, CCI Companies; Lisa Guadalupe Clarke, Founder & CEO, ATL Search Group; Louis Enrique Negron Sr., CEO, The 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.; Maria Guerra-Stoll, President and CEO, PAM Studios; Maria Alejandra Bastidas, VP and General Manager, Telemundo Atlanta; Martha Revelo, NE Outreach Director, US Senator Raphael Warnock; Michael Gorman Hernandez, President & CEO, SSSD Contracting, LLC; Misty S. Fernandez, Regional Director, GA Power; Moises Velez, Founder and Editor, Que Pasa Ga; Monica Altagracia Marin Cruz, Consul General of El Salvador in Georgia; Oscar Zelaya, President & CEO, Blue Point Entertainment; Pamela Peynado, Director of Jurisprudence, Esq, Lee and Peynado Immigration Law Group; Rene Alegria, President and CEO, MundoNow; Shirley Anne Smith, ED, Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation; Sofia M Bork, Community Affairs Manager, Truist; J. Antonio DelCampo, Attorney, DGL Attorneys at Law; Tony Guerrero, Actor/Producer/Voice over Actor; Vanessa Ibarra, ED, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs; Veronica Toscano de Leger, Government Liaison, Government of Guanajuato; Vicenzo Piscopo, President and CEO, United Spinal Association; Zulma Lopez, Immigration Attorney, Lopez Immigration.

Hall of Fame 2022

Adelina Nicholls, ED, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Anthony Rodriguez, ED, HUB404; Bob Jiminez, VP of Corporate Affairs Cox Enterprises; Brenda Lopez Romero, Senior Assistant District Attorney; Guiomar Obregon, CEO, Precision 2000; Jerry Gonzalez, CEO, GALEO & GALEO Impact Fund; Mimi Woodson, Council Member; Ozzie Areu, CEO, Areu Bros Studios; Sam Zamarripa, Chairman & Director, Mundo Hispanico; Rafael Navarro, Director & Editor in Chief.


Nominations Open for Albany Area Chamber’s ‘Albany Under 40’ Awards

Albany, GA  –  The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce today announced the opening of nominations for “Albany Under 40,” an awards program that honors and celebrates the Albany Area’s emerging leaders and professionals. The program recognizes professionals in a variety of industries, each representing a component of the Albany Area’s diversified talent pool and economy.

“The Albany Area is home to young leaders who are making their mark through excellence in their professions, through their innovation and through their commitment to building a stronger region,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “Albany Under 40 celebrates these professionals and promotes the breadth and scope of the talent that helps make the Albany Area a regional leader.”

Individuals may be recognized in 12 categories: Arts and Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Events, Tourism and Hospitality; Civics, Defense, Government and Public Affairs; Financial and Insurance Services; Innovation and Start-up; Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations; Legal; Manufacturing, Service Industries, Energy and Architecture; Medicine and Health Care; Nonprofit Service; Sports, Wellness and Fitness; Technology; and Youth and Education.

Finalists will be considered from among those professionals who are nominated. The Chamber encourages the community to submit nominations at Nominations must be received by Friday, October 21, 2022. Nominees will be subsequently notified of their nomination and will receive the application materials.

Award category winners, selected from among the award category finalists, will be announced at the Albany Under 40 awards reception on December 15, 2022. One Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year, selected from among the category winners, will be announced at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s 113thth Annual Dinner in April 2023.

Candidates must be under the age of 40 at the time of the December 15 award ceremony.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for this program and can be downloaded at Please Contact Albany Area Chamber Membership Director Mary Bickerstaff at to secure your spot.

Albany Area Chamber, Albany-Dougherty EDC and 4C Academy partner to bring FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurship program to Albany

Albany, GA – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy (4C Academy) have partnered to bring FLEX (Foundational Leadership and Entrepreneur X-perience) to Albany in local program “FLEX ABY.”

FLEX is a statewide youth entrepreneurship competition designed to encourage innovation, create prosperity and revitalize rural entrepreneurial ecosystems by exposing students to the rewards, challenges and processes associated with starting a business.

“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,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany area Chamber. “To capitalize on this, it is important for the Albany community to demonstrate support for aspiring entrepreneurs, to help foster innovation, retain talent and spur local investment and business partnerships in the long run.”

FLEX was founded in nearby Fitzgerald through a partnership between the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Chamber of Commerce, Fitzgerald High School College and Career Academy and Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Development Authority. The program has recently expanded statewide.

FLEX ABY will kick off with students from 4C Academy, which encompasses students from throughout the Dougherty County School System as well as districts from surrounding counties.

“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 2023.

Finalists are awarded seed money to help fund and expand their business. Locally, a total of $9,500 will be given in cash awards, with $5,000 going to the local winner.

“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.”

Student interest is currently being vetted for the competition, which will kick off with round one of local competition in November 2022.

FLEX ABY is seeking community support though tax-deductible financial investment and volunteers to serve as competition judges, one-on-one student mentors and subject matter workshop hosts.

To get involved with FLEX ABY, fill out the commitment pledge form here.

Albany Area Chamber leads local delegation to Washington, D.C. in federal advocacy event

Albany Area Chamber President & CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes engages in discussion with U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop on critical needs of Albany and Southwest Georgia.

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

The two-day event included meetings with the Albany Area Congressional delegation — U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop; the office of 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 (Logcom), 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, and Maj. Gen. Keith Reventlow, commanding general of Logcom, participated in the Pentagon discussions.

Meetings allowed the Albany group to provide updates on a variety of fronts including economic development and Albany as a premier industry location; health care delivery and expansion of services to meet regional needs; work force development initiatives aimed at expanding the classroom-to-career pipeline in high-demand fields; infrastructure investment as a component of community and economic development, with a priority focus on broadband expansion; and MCLB Albany as a global leader in innovation and mission readiness.

“Albany-Dougherty County has, through vision and action, positioned itself as a statewide leader in collaborative partnerships, and the distinction is well recognized among state and federal leadership,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “The DC Fly In is our community’s opportunity to secure face time in our nation’s capital and two-way communication with national leaders who can bolster and advance our local initiatives through federal policy and funding.”

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

  • Continued Investment in broadband expansion, which impacts education, health care, commerce and national defense
  • Smart immigration policy reforms to support work force demands, boost economic growth, create jobs, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship
  • $39 million for advancing completion of a mission-critical consolidated communications center at MCLBA
  • $56 million for an operational readiness facility at Albany-based U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Command as a required component of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 strategy

The local delegation also met with senior leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussing immigration policy; work force and talent; tort reform; and other federal policies and regulations that impact businesses.

“The Albany Area Chamber spearheads our community’s advocacy initiatives and is the conduit through which businesses and people connect and collaborate, and make their voices heard,” said Don Gray, 2022 chairman of the Albany Area Chamber. “The Chamber’s Government Affairs Division – along with the full spectrum of its five member-led committees that help inform the organization’s overall policy positions – embodies the mission of the Chamber as a center point through which the community is empowered to take action and create change.”

The DC Fly In is a component of the Albany Area Chamber’s Government Affairs Division, which advocates for policies conducive to business and community growth. The program is sponsored by 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; and Phoebe Putney Health System.

Visit to view the Albany Area Chamber’s 2022 legislative agenda, and take the policy survey at to provide input as the organization develops its 2023 priorities.