Category Archives: Chamber News

Albany Area Chamber-led campaign supports safety, expands business resources

 

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Bárbara Rivera Holmes

(229) 434-8700

bholmes@albanyga.com

 

August 27, 2020

 

Albany Area Chamber-led campaign supports safety, expands business resources

#StrongerTogetherABY engages public, unifies economic recovery tools

 

Albany, Ga. — The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce today launched #StrongerTogetherABY, an action-led campaign that encourages resident and business participation in recommended guidelines known stop the spread of the coronavirus and that expands access to business resources and training that support return-to-work guidelines and the sustainable reopening of the economy.

The goal of the campaign is to drive participation in safety guidelines in order keep people healthy and restore the economy. Businesses that make the promise at www.StrongerTogetherABY.com commit to being a partner in stopping the spread of the virus by providing a safer environment for their employees and their customers. Participating businesses will receive face masks, hand sanitizer and free access to the Unified Standards COVID-19 safety training for their employees, along with marketing materials to promote their business as a #StrongerTogetherABY partner. The campaign invites consumers to positively support businesses that adhere to safety guidelines.

“The economic recovery of Albany and Albany Area depends on the health and safety of everyone in our community. The comeback begins with us; every person and every business is accountable to do their part,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s leading business organization. “#StrongerTogetherABY fosters a healthier community by driving participation, providing businesses with PPE and expanding access to work force training that creates safer environments and boosts consumer confidence. Through this initiative we aim to mobilize residents and businesses to combat the pandemic, together. To advance our economic recovery and build our resiliency, together. To move forward, faster and safer, together.”

The communications component of the campaign includes a new website with resources and support for businesses; public service announcements in local media outlets; donated advertising space from corporate partners; donated PPE; publicity and social media programs to involve residents; and support from local governments, businesses and agencies to share the message.

#StrongerTogetherABY was developed by the Albany Area Chamber and is supported through collaboration from numerous public and private partners, including The Levee Studios and its Unified Standards training program that’s designed to work within the state-mandated requirements for 17 business sectors and create basic online training for safe work operations amid COVID-19. Unified Standards brings all essential requirements together in one easy-to-download app. It is built on the latest virtual training technologies and delivers a dashboard of video programs, testing documents, recommended best practices and detailed strategies to help businesses expedite their reopening, follow guidelines and spur economic recovery.

“Employers and employees need to know the guidelines and how to follow them in order to create a safer environment that restores work force confidence and consumer confidence,” said Blake Cook, co-owner and co-founder of The Levee Studios and Unified Standards. “Unified Standards provides easy-to-implement work force safety training that adheres to the guidelines now and as they evolve.”

The Albany Area Chamber and Unified Standards have also partnered with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to launch #StrongerTogetherGA to engage businesses statewide and support Georgia’s economic recovery.

“The Albany Area Chamber’s #StrongerTogetherABY call-to-action campaign packages the resources and education that businesses and communities need to move forward safely and reignite their economies,” said Chris Clark, CEO of the Georgia Chamber, the state’s largest business organization. “Strong local economies support a strong state economy. By partnering on #StrongerTogetherGA, we’re exponentially expanding the actions and access to resources that will advance our state’s economic recovery and support its long-term resiliency.”

To learn more about the campaign and the resources available to businesses, visit www.StrongerTogetherABY.com. To learn more about Unified Standards, visit www.UnifiedStandards.com, where reprensentatives are available via chat to answer questions.

 

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is strengthening the area’s assets and businesses and leveraging the power of partnerships to create opportunities that establish a new path forward for all. The trends and issues on which the Chamber is focused – small business innovation and entrepreneurship; economic development; advocacy; talent development; recovery and resiliency – are more important than ever. The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1910. Learn more at albanyga.com or call (229) 434-8700.

 

Chamber Chair: A Future-Focused Chamber

A Future-Focused Chamber 

 

When, during its 110th annual meeting in January 2020, I assumed the role of chairman of the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, I did so with clarity about the responsibility of the role and an appreciation for the expectations of the membership, the needs of the community, the capabilities of our staff and the Chamber’s forward focus. 

“This meeting is a time for us to look back, but it’s also a time for us to look ahead. A time to see what was, and to vision what will be,” I shared then with an audience of business and community leaders. “Twenty-twenty (2020) will prove to be a pivotal year for our Chamber. The Board has worked diligently with staff to think strategically, and to reimagine and redirect the future of our Chamber. Like for many of the organizations we serve, the business environment demands we evolve, so it’s no longer business as usual. The future is ours for the taking.” 

Through extensive research and feedback from our stakeholders, we knew then that the forward issues on which we would focus were the right priorities for our members and our community.  We knew we needed to be more responsive and also more proactive; more strategically focused and also broader in reach. We knew we needed to be a nimbler, more agile organization, in order to meet the needs of the membership and to advance the issues before us.  

Some consistent themes emerged: Being intentionally inclusive across various facets of the business community. Strengthening communications, and our member, community and regional outreach. Providing leadership in small business development, workforce development. Stepping forward as a convener and a purpose-driven organization, with the idea to build on past successes to become more relevant locally, regionally and statewide,” I said. “With a new mission and vision, we can become a future-focused Chamber poised to serve as a key organization, not just today but well into the future. As a result, our priorities are clear and our objectives meaningful as we seek to become a Chamber positioned for future success.” 

And so here we are, well into the fast-tracked future, executing a vision and a strategy we knew then was transformational, and evolving quickly and strategically to facilitate Albany’s economic recovery and to ensure its long-term economic resiliency. 

We, like you — our members, our businesses, our community — have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in every way. And we, like you, have adapted. Our investments in board and staff development, member outreach, relationships, digital communications and technology have allowed us to transition operations and programs from predominantly in-person to a virtual/hybrid model. We’re hosting meetings online, offering our programs and events virtually, connecting you with resources and experts and officials — all from our computers to yours. You’re tuning in, learning, engaging, connecting and providing feedback. We’re developing new programs. We’re leveraging the online platform to expand our reach, be more inclusive, provide our resources to more businesses and to more quickly advance key areas for our members, our Chamber and our community. And we’re doing this not from our traditional work desks. 

Since 1991, our home has been at 225 West Broad Avenue in the heart of downtown Albany.  Since March, our HQ has been 225 West Broad Avenue, but our get-it-done work office has been any address, physical or virtual, that allows us to serve our members, support our community and meet our mission. We’ve worked remotely without sacrificing our responsiveness to our members. We’ve been here. Open. And working for you. 

In 2019, the Chamber Board of Directors and staff committed themselves not just to vision and strategy, but to operational excellence in order to better carry out our mission. With everything on the table, we allowed ourselves to envision a future in which 225 West Broad Avenue wasn’t our home. What 2020 has proven to us, and to you, is that we are an organization without walls. We can serve you, and serve you well, from anywhere. Our commitment to Albany lies not in our physical space, but in our purpose: To create a thriving community.   

 And so, it is with confidence in our present, and with confidence in our future, that we are pursuing the sale of our historic property at 225 West Broad Avenue. Our hope is that its future purpose will be as impactful as its present.  And, while we know we can work from anywhere – even from home, we do appreciate and value a physical presence in our community, a versatile working space, a space to convene, for collaboration, and are exploring options in Albany’s central district. 

In the months to follow, you can expect the Albany Area Chamber to continue serving you while we pursue the sale of 225 West Broad Avenue.  And you can expect your Chamber to continue evolving. To continue innovating. To continue launching. To continue leading. To continue being your advocate and your champion; your resource and your advantage; your connector and your convener. 

This year marks our 110th anniversary.  This year marks our new future.   

I’m grateful to serve alongside you.   

 

Perry Revell is the 2020 Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and Executive Vice President at AB&T.

 

Chamber-led delegations meets with federal officials

 

PRESS RELEASE                                                                 

For Immediate Release

June 25, 2020

 

Albany-Dougherty Leaders Meet with Congressional Delegation, Marines

Albany Area Chamber-led program convenes local leaders, federal officials

 

Albany – Business and community leaders met Tuesday with federal officials during the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Washington, D.C., Fly In,” an annual legislative event that connects  local leaders with federal partners to put before them the issues that impact Albany and the Albany Area. The long-standing program that builds relationships and communicates priorities was hosted virtually due to restrictions stemming from the pandemic.

 

“The Albany Area Chamber’s public policy initiatives are more important than ever to ensure we’re connecting with our federal partners in real time about the issues that impact our community’s recovery and resiliency — from ongoing aid for our small businesses to incentivizing domestic manufacturing to investing in the expansion of broadband to support the Albany Area’s robust advancements in commerce, education, health care and national defense,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our community is strong and innovative, and we see opportunities ahead that will strengthen us further and position us more competitively. We will continue to work closely with our Congressional leadership to support the programs and initiatives that create more opportunities for our citizens.”

 

The local delegation had virtual meetings with U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop of Albany and Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, along with Georgia’s Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler. During the call with Sen. Perdue, the Albany Area Chamber partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to recognize the senator’s receipt of the U.S. Chamber’s Spirit of Enterprise Award, given in recognition of his support for pro-growth policies in the second session of the 115th Congress.

 

A key priority of the Albany Area Chamber is supporting the mission and capabilities of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and its major tenant, Headquarters Marine Corps Logistics Command. A virtual meeting with U.S. Marine Corps leadership at the Pentagon, which included Lt. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commandant of Marine Corps Installations and Logistics, allowed for discussion of key areas including utilization of 5G technology aboard the installation to support the modernization of the industrial base and enhance mission-readiness capabilities such as talent development, 3D printing and micro manufacturing, and advanced weapons systems maintenance, storage and sustainment.

 

“Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is vital to the mission of the United States Marine Corps, and has been since the installation was established in 1954,” said Col. Dan Gillan, USMC (Ret), who chairs the Albany Area Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee and serves as CEO of the Albany Area YMCA. “The base and command are leading innovators within the Corps. Ongoing investments are needed to equip and sustain our facilities and our Marines — from investments in technology to investments in the work force. As a community and as a Military Affairs Committee, we have and will continue to stand behind our Marines in leading the support for these and other areas of priorities. Our Marines and Civilian Marines live in this community that we call home and we will do what is necessary to further connections and be a voice of support.

 

Fly In participants included business-sector leadership represented by LRA Constructors, AB&T and Georgia CEO; and leadership from the city of Albany; Albany Area Chamber; Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Albany State University; Albany Technical College; Dougherty County; the Dougherty County School System; Phoebe Putney Hospital System; the Chamber’s long-standing Military Affairs Committee; as well as representatives from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command.

 

“We thank our local partners for engaging in this meaningful work and presenting a united force to our leaders in Washington,” said Jake Reese, chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee and vice president of Albany-based LRA Constructors. “We had intensely relevant discussions about where we’ve been and where we’re headed, and the partnerships required. It’s all very encouraging. Albany is well positioned.”

 

The Albany Area Chamber is represented in Washington, D.C., by Cornerstone Government Affairs.

 

xxx

 

Media Contact:

Bárbara Rivera Holmes

229-434-8700

bholmes@albanyga.com

 

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.

 

xxx

 

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!