Category Archives: Chamber News

Albany Area Chamber member Thrush Aircraft announces new aircraft, 125 new jobs

June 9, 2022

via Thrush Aircraft 

Thrush Aircraft, LLC
Mark McDonald

Thrush Aircraft announces certification of new aircraft model and corresponding production expansion 

Thrush Aircraft announces new aircraft, 125 new jobs

 ALBANY, GA — Thrush Aircraft, LLC, a leading aerial application aircraft manufacturing company, recently announced it has launched four certification programs for two engine and airframe configurations. These programs will combine their best 500-gallon airframe with additional engine options from Pratt and Whitney (PT6-34AG and PT6-140AG) to create their new 510P2 and 510P2+ aircraft. Both engines are integrated with single and dual cockpit versions of the airframe, historically used for their 510G model. 

The first of four configurations has been granted its Type Certificate from the FAA. The other configurations are planned for certification later this summer. Currently, Thrush has orders in place for 510P2 and 510P2+ models to be delivered to eight different countries. Performance data will be published on both models in June and July. 

Thrush has already established its new production line. By the time the first two type certificates are awarded, Thrush expects to have 12 aircraft completed and ready for delivery (about half -140 powered, half -34 powered). Thrush will hire more than 125 people over the next 12 months to grow its production capacity to meet the increased market demand. Thrush will continue to build and deliver the 710P aircraft, as that production line is not affected by the certification program. 

Mark McDonald, Thrush Aircraft’s CEO, commented, “The new P2 and P2+ deliver increased performance, productivity and reliability to our customers. We are continuing to invest in our production capacity to meet the growing demand for our products and services, and we are grateful for the positive initial feedback and the significant preorders from the marketplace.” 


About Thrush Aircraft 

Thrush Aircraft is preferred by more than 2,200 aircraft owners hard at work in more than 80 countries—trusted by individual owner-operators, large corporate fleet operators, as well as many governments around the world. To learn more about Thrush Aircraft, visit:, or follow the Company on social media at: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube. 

Albany to host New Georgia Economy Tour in partnership with Georgia Chamber

April 28, 2022

Albany, GA  – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce will host an economic forecasting seminar in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce as part of the statewide organization’s 2022 New Georgia Economy Tour. Presented by Wells Fargo, the New Georgia Economy Tour will gather input and data from all regions of the state to prepare a planning strategy for the future. The Region 10 event will be held in Albany on May 12 at Albany State University.

“The Albany Area Chamber is the leading advocacy organization for the Albany Area and its business community,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, President & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “The New Georgia Economy tour provides valuable information to assist our organization and our community in continuing to be at the forefront of economic trends in order to proactively plan for the future. We appreciate the Georgia Chamber’s commitment to ensure the voice of rural Georgia is heard and reflected.”

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education will be on hand for the event, with its president, Dana Rickman, presenting alongside Georgia Chamber CEO Chris Clark, followed by a panel discussion covering the economics of education.

“Our goal with the tour is to listen and collect information from hardworking Georgians that can help us plan a more resilient economy,” said Clark. “In 2016, we conducted a similar tour that identified key trends Georgia would face in the coming years. With the onset of COVID-19, factors that were to evolve over 10 years, rapidly took shape in 2020, demanding a re-evaluation of what we would need to consider in our planning for the next decade. This strategy will deliver some of those answers and help us prepare for the future.”

The regional event provides content specific to Georgia’s Region 10, comprised of Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole,Terrell, Thomas and Worth counties.

The event will take place on ASU’s East Campus, in the C.W. Grant Student Union, 100 Dennis Drive. Check-in begins at 7:30 am and the program begins at 8 am. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. To register for the May 12 event, click here.

Albany Area Chamber’s 112th annual meeting celebrates wins, sets course for future

Albany, GA – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce tonight hosted its 112th annual meeting on the Bricks at Thronateeska in downtown Albany. The event is one of the most important of the year for the Albany Area Chamber and celebrates accomplishments, shares how the Chamber will continue to move businesses forward throughout the year ahead, and shines the light on the Chamber’s most engaged leaders and those who have worked to make a positive impact on Albany and the Albany Area.

The Albany Area Chamber was founded in 1910, when business leaders saw the need for an organization that would represent the interests of job-creating businesses, harness the assets of the community and bring partners together for the economic and social prosperity of Albany and the Albany Area. Its success through more than a century of work lies in the support of its members and investors, strategic partners, dedicated staff, visionary board of directors and the hundreds of volunteers whose commitment to a vibrant Albany is unwavering.

“For 112 years, the Albany Area Chamber has been at the forefront of Albany’s evolution as a regional leader for industry, commerce and connection,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the largest business advocacy organization, and its 501©3 affiliate, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. Through implementation of our future-focused strategic plan, #ImpactABY2023, we will continue to accelerate Albany’s economic advancement through promoting business investment and job growth by advocating for pro-business policies such as workplace diversity, modern infrastructure investments and work force development initiatives and partnerships.”

#ImpactABY2023 leans into impact, value and constant progress, and represents a range of programmatic and operational improvements across the organization to impact member, community and regional success, and to become a future-focused chamber with the talent, infrastructure and agility to execute, innovate and succeed. In short: To reach and sustain extraordinary impact and excellence. #ImpactABY2023 changes the how so that we may continue to achieve the why.

The strategic plan directs the Chamber’s focus to five key areas, each represented by a division with a strategic program of work, volunteer-led by a member of the Chamber’s Executive Committee.

Education, Talent and Leadership. Working to identify, engage, develop and advance talent and leaders in our community. This division connects employers and educators to ensure businesses have the work force they need, and students of all ages have opportunities right here in Albany; connects young professionals and immerses them in our community so they continue to choose Albany; has expanded our Albany Under 40 program; is working to increase third-grade literacy rates; and is playing a role in supporting the unique talent needs of our health care employers.

Government Affairs and Advocacy. The Chamber continues to work closely with our governmental partners and our elected officials to ensure the voices of our businesses and our community are heard, and continue to work to enhance job retention and job creation, and to protect, defend and advance the pro-business policies that support job-creating entities. Through this division, the Chamber is developing a non-partisan political leadership institute to “build the bench” of public servants who want to improve the community by serving in appointed positions or in elected offices.

To exponentially expand our voice, the 11 largest and most influential Chambers outside of Atlanta — the Albany Area Chamber among them — partnered to create a new public policy group to coordinate, identify common needs and develop strategy and recommendations that focus on anticipated long term economic and policy issues. Organized under the Georgia Chamber, the group this year led support of work force-related legislation and House Bill 1064, which eliminates the state income tax for military retirees, which was recently signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This program extends the full scope of our resources and leverages the power of partnerships to advance economic opportunities for all people. After much work throughout 2021 by our DE&I Working Group and adoption of recommendations by the Chamber’s Board of Directors, this year the Chamber is implementing the region’s first business-led DE&I initiative to facilitate a more inclusive economy and become a more attractive location for businesses to invest and thrive.

Military Affairs. The Albany Area Chamber and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany have been partners from the beginning, with the Chamber serving as a primary partner and advocate of the installation and command — from work force to military family friendliness to Congressional allocation of dollars and resources. Just this week, the Chamber submitted a $101 million appropriations request to Congress to fund two projects aboard the installation that directly support the Marines Corps’ readiness, and our national — and global — defense.

Business, Innovation & Entrepreneurship. This division strengthens the connective tissue that all businesses need, focusing on advancing innovation and providing new opportunities for peer-to-peer connection. This committee is helping build a resource guide and network for business start-ups and development, and is expanding the Albany Area Chamber Business Awards to capture and celebrate more of the unique talent, success, diversity and innovation of  member businesses.

It’s through this division through which the Chamber created a members-only task force to help create our new membership model, which will roll out this year. The newly-designed tiered benefits and investment structure allows member businesses to customize their partnership with the Albany Area Chamber though investment levels specifically designed to support unique business goals, at any stage in a company’s growth.

The 2022 event, presented by Colony Bank and Procter & Gamble, included the transfer of the chairman’s gavel; the announcement of the 2022 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year; and honored the Chamber’s 2022 Lifetime Service Award recipient.

Matt Reed, 2021 chairman of the Albany Area Chamber Board of Directors, and owner of Georgia CEO and The UPS Stores at 2021 N. Slappey Blvd. and 2800 Old Dawson Road in Albany, formally presented City of Albany facilities director and retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Don Gray as the organization’s 2022 chairman. As is precedent, Reed assumes a new role as chair of the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. Chandu Kuntawalla, program manager at defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, assumes the role of chair-elect, and will take reigns in 2023.

“The annual meeting of the Albany Area Chamber represents the culmination of work completed throughout the last year, and the beginning of a new era of leadership and advocacy,” said Gray. “I have always taken pride in serving the Albany community; and now, through the chairmanship of the Albany Area Chamber, I will have the opportunity to maximize that passion for service, working side-by-side with other passionate business and non-profit leaders to advance our community’s most renowned advocacy organization.”

“Over the last year, the Albany Area Chamber, and through it, the Albany community, has continued to distinguish itself as innovative, effective and resilient,” Reed said. “It’s been an honor to serve as chairman during this unique and challenging time, and to have the opportunity to represent the community in this capacity.”

The Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year was announced as Dr. Koosh Desai, originally nominated for the awards in the “Youth & Education” category, for his work with the Medical College of Georgia’s Albany-based Southwest Campus.

The Albany Under 40 program is an initiative of the Chamber’s Talent Education and Leadership Committee, and honors 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. 

Category finalists were selected from within the applicant pool by a volunteer committee, and category winners were announced at the Albany Under 40 reception in December 2021. The AU40 Young Professional of the Year is selected from among category winners.

Sonny Deriso, 1990 chairman of the Albany Area Chamber, was honored with the Chamber’s prestigious Lifetime Service Award.

Deriso practiced law with Albany’s Divine, Wilkin, Deriso, Raulerson & Fields from 1972-1991 before assuming the role of president and CEO of Security Bank and Trust Co. of Albany, a role he held from 1991-1997, and subsequently served as the bank’s chairman until 2006.

Deriso is a staunch community advocate, having served on a vast variety of local and state boards, and has stood alongside the Chamber in its mission to foster and further the economic prosperity of the Albany Area. Deriso was most recently chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, a partner of the Albany Area Chamber and Georgia’s leading statewide business advocate.

The 112th annual meeting is further sponsored by the Artesian Alliance; the City of Albany; Turner Job Corps; Flint AG; Molson Coors; Draffin and Tucker; Georgia Power; Jim Boyd Construction; Marcus, Inman and Daniels; Mars Wrigley; Mitchell EMC; Southern Point Staffing; WebstaurantStore; Georgia CEO; the UPS Store and Albany Area Primary Healthcare.


About the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

The Albany Area Chamber, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the Albany Area. Learn more at

112th Annual Meeting

The Albany Area Chamber is excited to host its 112th annual meeting, a tradition that celebrates accomplishments, shares how the Chamber will continue to move businesses forward throughout the year ahead, and shines the light on the Chamber’s most engaged leaders and those who have worked to make a positive impact on Albany and the Albany Area.

The 2022 event will be held outdoors on April 21 on the Bricks at Thronateeska, in downtown Albany. A band, taste of Albany food vendors and a unique atmosphere will complement the celebration.

The 2022 annual meeting will include the transfer of the chairman’s gavel; honor the Chamber’s Lifetime Service Award recipient; and announce the 2021 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year.

In-person tickets, tables and limited sponsorship opportunities are now available for purchase here.

Tickets are $85 per person. Tables of six are $1,000 and include logo placement.

Registration open through April 14 >>

Albany Area Chamber leads local delegation in “Albany-Dougherty Day” in state capitol

For Immediate Release
Contact: Reedi Hawkins Mabrey
(229) 434-8700

February 25, 2022


Albany, Ga. – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce this week led a diverse delegation of local leaders from the public and private sectors to Atlanta as part of the Chamber’s long-standing Albany-Dougherty Day, a government affairs advocacy program that uniquely positions the community’s priorities and opportunities and showcases the impact of its leadership and collaboration.

The legislative event included meetings with the Office of Gov. Brian Kemp; Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan; the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; University System of Georgia; Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Department of Agriculture; and members of the Albany Area Legislative Delegation, in which state leaders touted Albany-Dougherty County’s spirit of collaboration, and its tenacity in facing challenges presented by the pandemic, having developed innovative solutions and partnerships in work force, health care and industry.

“Albany-Dougherty County is well-recognized as the hub of Southwest Georgia and a statewide leader in exemplifying the power of partnership, which was demonstrated this week through the diverse delegation of local leaders engaged in discussions at the table,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “The Albany Area Chamber is the region’s largest business advocacy organization, connecting and convening nearly 800 area businesses and community partners, and facilitating the representation of their legislative priorities on the local, state and federal levels. The Albany-Dougherty Day legislative event is our annual opportunity to present a collective front to state lawmakers and key influencers, demonstrating shared vision and community support on priorities most vital to the long-term success of Albany and its surrounding counties.”

The Albany Area Chamber’s 2022 pro-business legislative priorities include expansion of the health care professional pipeline to ensure Georgia has the work force to provide the care and services citizens need, and supporting telemedicine to increase access to care for rural Georgians; investing in rural broadband and rural innovation, which is critical to supporting educational attainment, economic growth and utilization of telehealth services; supporting incentives and initiatives that remove barriers for small businesses and expand access to resources; and increased investment in transportation infrastructure to support Georgia’s distribution and logistics industries. Additionally, the Chamber is advocating for state appropriations to support the health professions simulation lab at Albany State University; the expansion of the diesel mechanic and auto collision center at Albany Technical College; and doubling capacity of pre-K slots within the Dougherty County School System.

The local leadership delegation included representatives from the City of Albany; Dougherty County; the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Albany State University; Albany Technical College; the Dougherty County School System; Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; Albany Area Primary Health Care; Phoebe Putney Health System; and private sector businesses in agriculture, small business and industry. The program is further supported Adams Exterminators, AT&T, Georgia CEO, Georgia Power, Horizons Community Solutions and McLendon Acres.

Albany-Dougherty Day is a component of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Division, comprised of member business representatives, and chaired by Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adam’s Exterminators.



Deerfield-Windsor School’s Harrison Young Smith Named 2022 Dougherty County STAR Student

Albany – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce today announced Deerfield-Windsor School senior Harrison Young Smith as the 2022 Dougherty County STAR Student, earning the recognition for academic achievement and performance on the SAT. Smith recognized Dr. Jake Clawson of Deerfield-Windsor as his STAR Teacher. Smith will represent Dougherty County at the March 15 regional competition in Thomasville.

The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is sponsored and managed by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) and the PAGE Foundation. Since its inception in 1958, the STAR program has honored nearly 27,000 students and the teachers selected as the most influential to their academic achievement. High school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average to qualify for STAR nomination.  The Albany Area Chamber serves as the local program sponsor and host of the luncheon recognition event.

“The Albany Area Chamber – through our Talent, Education and Leadership division – has identified talent development and retention as a top priority for the long-term success of Albany and Southwest Georgia, ” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, the local STAR program sponsor. “Today, we have recognized incredible talent right here in the Albany community, and have celebrated them alongside many of our business partners; as corporate citizens, we should be encouraged to continue supporting these, and all our students, to ensure they reach their full potential.”

PAGE and the PAGE Foundation honor outstanding students and educators and encourage academic excellence through competitive academic programs such as PAGE STAR, the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades and the PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon.

Honored at today’s recognition luncheon were the school-specific STAR students from throughout Dougherty County, and from among which the countywide STAR student was selected. Each student selected his or her STAR teacher.

The school-specific STAR students and teachers are:

  • Parker O’Neal Freeland, student and Ms. Kimberly Lawhorn, teacher – Byne Christian School
  • Harrison Young Smith, student and Dr. Jake Clawson, teacher – Deerfield-Windsor School
  • Zion R. Heard, student and Mr. Leonard McCrary, teacher – Dougherty Comprehensive High School
  • Kyla Tracy Randall, student and Dr. Jennifer Clark, teacher (Robert A. Cross Middle Magnet School) – Monroe Comprehensive High School
  • Victoria Vega, student and Mr. James Byrd, teacher – Sherwood Christian Academy
  • Joshua Bernard Pratt, student and Dr. Roy Eaddy, teacher – Westover Comprehensive High School

STAR begins each year in participating Georgia high schools when the STAR Student is named and chooses a STAR Teacher to share in this recognition. The students and their teachers are honored by their schools and receive special recognition in their communities from one of the more than 165 statewide civic organizations and businesses that serve as local sponsors of the STAR program. Students then compete for school system recognition as the top STAR Student, and those winners compete for region honors. Region winners contend for the honor of being named State PAGE STAR Student. STAR Teachers continue on with their STAR Students at every level of the program.

Georgia Chamber welcomes business prospects for annual ‘Georgia Quail Hunt’ in Albany


February 10, 2022

CONTACT: Reedi Mabrey

Albany, Ga. – This week, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts its 33rd annual Georgia Quail Hunt in Albany, as business leaders representing state recruitment and expansion prospects joined local and state economic development officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, to learn about the benefits of doing business in Georgia.

The Albany Area is recognized as one of the world’s premiere destinations for quail hunting, with the industry producing an estimated annual economic impact of more than $145 million. This week’s recruitment event utilizes various hunting preserves throughout Southwest Georgia and is based out of Albany.

“Albany and Southwest Georgia provide an outstanding quality of life, a low cost of doing business and plenty of opportunity for growth and expansion,” said Jana Dyke, president and CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission. “These are just a few of the recruitment assets we market during the hunt, and the event allows business prospects and state officials the opportunity to experience what we have to offer, first-hand.”

Since its inception in 1988, business guests of the Georgia Quail Hunt have invested upwards of $2.5 billion and created more than 8,500 jobs in the state as a result of corporate relocations or expansions.

Industry locations in Albany-Dougherty County such as Outdoor Network Distribution and Manufacturing, PowerSports Plus and WebstaurantStore are local projects facilitated through the hunt.

“Georgia has established itself as the nation’s top state for business, and this event allows us the opportunity to showcase Georgia’s people and business friendly environment,” said 2022 Georgia Quail Hunt Chairman Daryl Ingram, chief external officer and senior vice president of Electric Cities of Georgia. “Economic success, to a large part, is due to collaboration between public and private entities coming together to create opportunities for businesses to thrive, and therefore creating thriving communities along with them. This event is a perfect example of the collaborative atmosphere businesses can expect when they choose to locate or expand in Georgia.”

Georgia’s competitive advantages in site location include tax environment, availability of talent and access to training, and quality transportation infrastructure. Area Development magazine has recognized these assets – along with many others – and for eight years running, has named Georgia the nation’s “Top state for doing business.”

Event organizers say the hunt has been successful in promoting these assets and recruiting businesses to the state.

“For more than 30 years, the Georgia Quail Hunt has helped facilitate the creation of thousands of jobs and tens of billions in investment in Georgia’s economy,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber. “Hosting the event in Albany provides an incredible opportunity to showcase Southwest Georgia as a premier destination for business, giving guests a first-hand look at the region’s high quality of life and exposing them to local and state leaders who are eager to help them take their business to the next level.”

The hunt is sponsored by the Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, along with corporate sponsors Bergara, BPI Outdoors, Glock, Kia Georgia, Inc., Molson Coors, PowerSports Plus, Remington Firearms, Taurus Holdings and Trulock Choke Tubes.




 About the Georgia Chamber of Commerce

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is the state’s largest business advocacy organization that focuses on state and federal issues. The Chamber has worked to keep, grow and create jobs to make Georgia a better state for business. The advocacy, policy and thought leadership help ensure Georgia’s economic competitiveness, attract new investments as well as promote growth and prosperity for all businesses.

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce earns state accreditation

For Immediate Release

Contact: Reedi Hawkins Mabrey

January 13, 2022

Albany, Ga.The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce has been awarded reaccreditation through the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (GACCE) “Georgia Certified Chamber” program.

Chambers must meet standards in organization, service intent and capacity, professional administration, financial management, communications and advocacy in order to achieve the designation. The certification program promotes continuing excellence in the Chamber of Commerce industry and helps to foster a pro-business environment across the state of Georgia.

“Reaccreditation from GACCE serves as a stamp of approval that we’re on the right track, in terms of organizational excellence and service delivery,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s largest business advocacy organization. “The Albany Area Chamber has implemented a three-year strategic plan, ‘#ImpactABY2023,’ which provided many of the directives evaluated in the accreditation process. Through implementing this plan, we have been able to grow as an organization and better serve the Albany Area in our mission to foster an environment for business and community success.”

Out of more than 150 Chambers of Commerce in Georgia, 16 are distinguished as 2021 Georgia Certified Chambers.

The following Chambers of Commerce make up the 2021 class of Georgia Certified Chambers:

  1. Albany Area Chamber of Commerce 
  2. Carroll County Chamber of Commerce  
  3. Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce  
  4. Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce
  5. Columbia County Chamber of Commerce
  6. Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce
  7. Douglas County Chamber of Commerce 
  8. Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce 
  9. Effingham County Chamber of Commerce
  10. Fayette Chamber of Commerce  
  11. Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce
  12. Pickens County Chamber of Commerce 
  13. Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce 
  14. Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce 
  15. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce 
  16. Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce  

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce also holds the distinction of being a nationally accredited chamber through the United States Chamber of Commerce. Of more than 7,000 chambers in the U.S., 200 are nationally accredited, with the Albany Chamber’s 4-star rating landing them in the top tier of chambers of commerce in the country.




About the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

The Albany Area Chamber, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the Albany Area. Learn more at


About the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

GACCE is the professional society of Chamber of Commerce executives and staff in the State of Georgia. The mission of GACCE is to engage, educate, and empower Chamber of Commerce professionals.