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Albany Area Chamber nationally honored with 4-Star rating from U.S. Chamber

For Immediate Release


Contact: Bárbara Rivera Holmes

(229) 434-8700


March 21, 2019



Albany Area Chamber nationally honored with 4-Star rating from U.S. Chamber

Prestigious distinction recognizes the Albany Area Chamber in top 3 percent of chambers in country


Albany, Ga.– The United States Chamber of Commerce has awarded the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce with 4-Star Accreditation for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures and positive impact on the community. The Albany Area Chamber has been accredited with the U.S. Chamber since 1997 and previously held 3-Star status.


“Each day, chambers of commerce are working hard to put the American dream within reach of every hardworking business owner,” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, U.S. Chamber vice president of Federation Relations and Institute for Organization Management.  “The Accreditation designation tells chamber members, as well as the greater business community, that this is an organization that has effective programs, sound finances and is a strong advocate for their interests.”


Accreditation is the only national program that recognizes chambers for their effective organizational procedures and community involvement. In order to receive Accreditation, a chamber must meet minimum standards in their operations and programs, and demonstrate core competencies in nine areas: governance, finance, human resources, government affairs, program development, technology, communications, facilities and benchmarking. This extensive and intensive self-review can take six-nine months to complete.


“To be awarded with 4-star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber is an incredible accomplishment for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, our staff and our volunteers, who work every day to support the membership, stand up for business, build collaborative partnerships and advance economic opportunities for the Albany Area,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “There are more than 7,000 chambers of commerce in the United States; our 4-Star designation puts us in the top 3 percent of chambers across the country and demonstrates excellence in nine core areas ranging from governance and government affairs to finance, communications and technology.I could not be prouder of our organization and of what this designation means for our members and our community.”

The U.S. Chamber recognized with excellence the Albany Area Chamber’s work in a variety of areas, including:

  • its strong government affairs program, through which the chamber has established itself an advocate for the Albany Area business community through its involvement in regional coalitions, policy advocacy and trips to meet with state and federal lawmakers
  • its significant role in business, community and economic recovery and advocacy following the devastating natural disasters of 2017 and 2018
  • its work force development and educational programs and partnerships, including its “Go See” tour of schools and its “Priority One” mentorship initiative
  • its branding and external communications


“I am proud of this community and proud of the great efforts that the Albany Area Chamber has made. To serve as the chairman of the chamber board this year is the very least I could do in light of what this community has given me,” said Scott Tomlinson, CEO of Flint Community Bank and 2019 Chair of the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber. “This accomplishment just confirms what I already knew concerning the hard, diligent work of our staff and team of volunteers.  This recognition is truly an honor.”


Local chambers are rated Accredited, 3-Stars, 4-Stars, or 5-Stars. The final determination is made by the Accrediting Board, a committee of U.S. Chamber board members.


The 4-Star designation ranks the Albany Area Chamber in the top 180 of the more than 7,000 chambers in the United States.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.





The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, established in 1910, advocates for business success through leadership and economic development. Learn more at

Collegiate Academy of Albany

Dear Fellow Chamber of Commerce Member, As a citizen of the Dougherty County area and businessperson, you know that one of the key components of your future success is the economic viability of the region, which in turn heavily depends on the quality of our workforce. Every business owner in Dougherty County has faced serious challenges in finding and keeping qualified employees. We believe that Albany needs a “shot in the arm” to improve the talent pool in our area.

We’ve founded the Collegiate Academy of Albany (“CAA”) to provide all Albany’s families, without regard to their economic situation and to provide greater opportunities for their children to receive a high-quality, college-prep education. We have applied for a charter from the Georgia Charter Schools Commission; If granted, we will open as a K-3 school in August 2020, growing a grade a year until we’re hopefully educating 1,430 students in grades K-12. There will be no tuition or admission tests as the school will be a public charter school with a statewide attendance zone, funded completely by the state.

We believe that every family, regardless of net worth and income level, deserves the best education possible. As business people, we need our graduates to be ready for college and the workforce, in the hopes that they will remain in our community to make it stronger and more viable.

Please share the attached link with your employees and ask them to spread the word. We need a strong show of support for our school in the community and need your help to make it happen. Please ask every employee to go online to and sign this petition so we may be granted our charter. We would also appreciate you writing a letter of support. Please send the letter to Also, if you have any questions or wish us to attend an employee meeting to answer any questions, please let us know at and we will be in touch shortly.

Our community has so much to gain with the success of this school. Please join us in giving our kids greater opportunities to a high quality, public education.

Collegiate Academy of Albany[1]


Chamber CEO: TSPLOST supports critical transportation improvements

Lagging investment crippling local and national transportation infrastructure. TSPLOST provides local funding mechanism.


By Bárbara Rivera Holmes

Barbara Rivera Holmes

President & CEO

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce


When it comes to moving people or goods, transportation is key.


Transportation is simply defined as transporting someone or something, or the process of being transported. That action or process is facilitated by many factors, including quality roads, roadway signage, efficient intersections and sidewalks. Without maintenance of these factors, the “someone or something” can’t be transported or the efficiency of the transport is significantly diminished. This hurts commerce, and when commerce suffers, so do people and economies.



Now during early voting and on March 19, voters in Albany and Dougherty County can vote to invest in safe and efficient transportation, enhancing the health of our economy and the quality of life for our residents. From roadway improvements to sidewalks, the project list for the $80 million Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) addresses needs that are critical to economic growth.


TSPLOST allows voters to dedicate a 1 percent sales tax for special transportation projects. That 1 percent sales tax would be applied to all goods and services that are taxable; it is an equitable consumption tax shared by all who make purchases in Albany and Dougherty County. TSPLOST is estimated to generate $80 million in revenue during its five-year life cycle. Of that $80 million, nearly half could be generated by out-of-town visitors to the community, diminishing by nearly 50 percent the contribution to be made by local residents and business owners. Full benefit at nearly half the cost.


Areas of needed improvements that are supported by TSPLOST include:



The single largest allocation of TSPLOST funds includes road resurfacing and associated infrastructure for roads in poor/very poor condition, preventing the continued structural deterioration of more than 250 miles of roads in Albany and Dougherty County.



TSPLOST allocates funds to intersection upgrades and road improvements to ease traffic congestion and improve safety. Funds are also dedicated to roadway widenings that impact traffic congestion and safety.



Sidewalk installation and improvements are included in TSPLOST project list. This includes installation of concrete sidewalks to enhance pedestrian safety near schools and other heavily traveled areas where sidewalks are lacking.


Years ago, “All Roads Lead to Albany” was a popular Chamber campaign touting the roadway infrastructure of Albany and Dougherty County. The campaign was effective; the community’s four-lane highway connectivity, interior road grid, quality of roads and accessibility to interstates has proved a selling point for manufacturing, distribution and logistics companies that have relocated or expanded locations to Albany and Dougherty County.


Today, the narrative behind “All Roads Lead to Albany” remains a relevant selling point. But those roads, through years and years of increasing wear and tear, are in need of maintenance that far exceeds the available funding.


Nationally, the situation is alarmingly similar. The American Association of Civil Engineers (AACE) gave the American transportation infrastructure a grade of D+ and estimated a $2 trillion infrastructure gap, including investments for surface transportation such as bridges and roadways. According to a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, AACE estimates that four in 10 American roads are in poor to mediocre condition and that by 2025, our nation’s failing infrastructure systems will have cost American businesses $7 trillion.


“Moreover,” the article stated, “roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately a third of traffic fatalities, according to national transportation research group TRIP, while motor vehicle crashes in which roadways were a likely contributing factor cost American motorists $101.1 billion per year


“In large part,” the U.S. Chamber concluded, “our country’s failing infrastructure is due to lagging investment. While population, road congestion and maintenance backlogs have ballooned, investment into maintaining, repairing and upgrading our critical infrastructure systems has slipped.


“You don’t have to be a civil engineer to know that our nation’s infrastructure is falling apart,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue. “All you have to do is leave your house. The evidence is everywhere – and affects everyone.”


Communities close to Albany and Dougherty County, and cities and counties throughout Georgia, are addressing chronic transportation funding gaps through the passage of TSPLOST. If voters in Albany and Dougherty County do not pass the referendum, the needs will continue to go unmet, creating a more challenging and costlier situation for local residents and business owners. These challenges will ultimately need a solution, and without other funding mechanisms that help offset the local investment, residents and business owners in Albany and Dougherty County will, at some point and in some way, likely assume the full expense of updating the community’s transportation infrastructure and assets.


Understanding the need for adequate transportation infrastructure for the economic health of our community and the quality of life of our citizens, the Albany Area Chamber supports passage of TSPLOST and encourages residents of Albany and Dougherty County to “VOTE YES TO TSPLOST” now during early voting or on March 19.


Bárbara Rivera Holmes is president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, which advocates for business success through leadership and economic development.

5 Things To Know For Developing Great Customer Service

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center is proud to offer this class, providing business owners and key managers with five tips to take the customer service form good to stellar. The tools you will learn will be presented in a concise manner so that you can easily apply them to your business.

For more information, call: (229) 420-1144

Want to learn more about Chamber benefits? Join us for Breakfast at Doublegate

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business and Membership Committee will hold a quarterly breakfast March 12th for, new, existing and prospective members of the Chamber. This event provides a platform for local business to network, share information, hear presentations and discover valuable resources in our community.

Register today

New Independent Charter School Proposed for Albany, GA

ATLANTA (Feb. 26, 2019) – New Schools Georgia, Inc, (NSG), has filed a petition with the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, seeking authority to open an independent charter school to serve families in Albany and the surrounding area.

NSG is a statewide organization established by Allen Hughes, of Walton Press in Monroe, Ga., and Glenn Delk, an Atlanta attorney, to assist local communities in attracting high-quality school operators with proven track records, academically and financially, to open charter schools throughout Georgia.

NSG has begun the process of developing a board of directors for both the Collegiate Academy of Albany (CAA) as well as the statewide organization. To date, Glenn Singfield, the owner of Albany Fish Company and Artesian Contracting Co., and Stan Logue, the chief financial officer of Thrush Aircraft, have agreed to serve on the local board. Wendell Christian, a retired superintendent, Robert Thorpe, a retired high school principal, and Heather Robertson, an educational consultant, have joined the NSG board.

If approved by the Commission, CAA would open in August 2020, serving up to 376 students in Albany/Dougherty County in grades K-3, on a first-come, first-serve basis, with no admissions testing, growing a grade a year until the school hits a capacity of 1,450 students in grades K-12. If demand exceeds supply, enrollment at the tuition-free, public charter school would be through a lottery system

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools.

Allen and Teresa Hughes, whose Hughes Family Foundation is leading the effort, lived in Albany until 1987 and returned to help out after recent tornadoes and Hurricane Michael damaged the area.

Allen Hughes said he wanted to help the community because he was inspired by his wife’s faith to give back to their hometown.

“We want to offer Albany-area families the same access to quality educational opportunities as other students have across our state,” Allen Hughes said. “CAA will offer Albany’s children the opportunity to receive a world-class education and prepare them to compete and succeed in the 21stCentury economy.”

The creation of CAA will also benefit the Dougherty school district since it will be solely funded by the state and not utilize local tax dollars. For each student who shifts from the district to the charter school, the district will retain the local per pupil expenditure — $4,100 per student, Delk said.

“CAA will not only offer access to a world-class education for students who choose to attend but will also free up to $1.5 million the first year the charter opens so that the district will eventually have an extra $5.5 million annually,” Delk said.

The CAA board has chosen SABIS Educational Systems, Inc, a 133-year-old company educating 70,000 students in 20 countries on five continents to manage the new charter in Albany.

Chosen for their record of academic achievement and fiscal soundness, SABIS offers an integrated, comprehensive K-12 program which uses dynamic materials, proven methods and cutting-edge technology to deliver superior results such as closing the achievement gap with low-income, minority students in the U.S., as evidenced by the 22-year record of SABIS Springfield, Mass., where Hispanic and African-American students outperform the state average for white students on math and English exams.

“Together with the Hughes Foundation, we plan to deliver quality educational opportunities to Dougherty County’s families,” said Jose Afonso, SABIS’ director of development in the United States. “They will soon join the nearly 1,900 graduates from our class of 2018, in being accepted to over 500 colleges and universities throughout the world. These proud graduates are attending great U.S. universities, such as Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, SCAD, Harvard and MIT, to name a few.”

For More Information Contact: Glenn Delk,, or visit the website:

Read more about it in the Albany Herald:



Leadercast 2019

Join us on FRIDAY, MAY 10th for the world’s largest one-day leadership event. Learn the art and science of building healthy teams at Leadercast Live 2019 in Albany, Georgia. It just takes one day to bring your team together in front of 9 leadership experts and leave with dynamic leadership lessons.

8-8:30 Registration | 8:45 – 4pm Program

Lunch and refreshments provided.

Click image to register for event.

Learn More

2019 Flyer + Event Info

*This event is part of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Week.

Event Sponsors: 

Lunch Sponsors

Catered By

2019 KADB Office Recycling Program

Dear Business Owner/Manager/Community Leader:

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful (KADB) is coordinating a 2019 office recycling program for the Albany-Dougherty business community. Recycling in the workplace is a responsibility that each of us needs to accept, and we are asking you to set the example for our community by participating in this project.

If your office would like to be a recycling pacesetter, just fill out the attached e-form on the link below and submit it back to KADB. If your office needs assistance with the “how to’s” check the appropriate box on the form and we will set up a training session at your office.

By Joining the 2019initiative, you will be publicly acknowledged in The Albany Herald, you will be offered free desk recycling containers for each desk in your office and you will receive a Recycling Salute magnetic decal to place on your front door. Your participation in this environmental project says to your employees, clients, and customers that you are committed to improving the environment in OUR community.


Executive Director


Sign up today!