Chamber State of Community hits on issues, insights


Media Contact:

Jay Houston



August 24, 2023




Albany Area Chamber Hosts State of the Community: “Issues & Insights”

Event Provides Insights and Discussion on Vital Topics Impacting Area

Albany — The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s signature “State of the Community” Wednesday  featured dynamic panels of prominent leaders who engaged in a comprehensive dialogue about pressing topics shaping the Albany Area, including health care, housing, economic development education and transportation.

The State of the Community provides a platform for leaders from various sectors to delve into matters of utmost significance to the community. In a panel format, esteemed experts shared insights, vision and strategies on these topics. The 2023 State of the Community was presented by Synovus.

“A strong community is characterized by several key factors that contribute to its stability, growth and overall well-being. These factors interact with and influence each other, creating a complex ecosystem,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber and the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “As one of Georgia’s hub communities, Albany is key to Georgia’s overall economic success. Wednesday’s State of the Community provided leaders insights on highly-relevant topics impacting community success.”

Two panels, moderated by Holmes, gave attendees vital information on the community’s state of affairs. The community panel was comprised of Jana Dyke, president & CEO of Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Shelley Spires, CEO of Albany Area Primary Health Care; Heather Corbett, director of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education at the Dougherty County School System; Dr. Frank Middleton, chairman of the Albany Aviation Commission; and RaShaunda L. Muldrow, broker/owner of The Real Estate Concierge.

Albany City Manager Steven Carter and Dougherty County Assistant County Administrator Barry Brooks shared with the audience projects completed through the transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax, better known as TSPLOST I. The pair provided insights into the project lists for TSPLOST II, which will be on the November 7 referendum and which is expected to generate $88 million in revenue for transportation infrastructure projects  such as road resurfacing, intersection improvements and sidewalks.  In November voters will be asked to extend the sales tax.

“TSPLOST empowers our community to shape its own transportation future by funding projects that enhance our daily lives and drive local progress,” Carter said, noting that one way or another, the projects would have to get done. Experts estimate about half of the TSPLOST revenue is generated by visitors to the community, reducing the tax burden on local citizens.

The school system’s Corbett, who led the district’s comprehensive realignment of student career pathways, said that “the Dougherty County School System is committed to ensuring students are future-ready and prepared to meet the community’s workforce needs. We are focused on engaging students in relevant and rigorous learning that emphasizes communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity which provides students with the required skills and credentials for employability in any career. We sincerely appreciate the partnerships of families and industry in the shared mission of student success.”

“Health care, especially here in our rural communities of Southwest Georgia, remains an important topic,” said Shelley Spires, CEO of Albany Area Primary Health Care, who spoke to COVID-19’s endemic status and to innovation, including the use of artificial intelligence, in the field. “Something that I continue to focus on is expanding patient services and recruiting new providers to the region.  As a community health center, our organization cares for the insured, uninsured and the underinsured, and the priority remains that everyone in Southwest Georgia deserves access to high quality health care.”

The event’s supporting sponsors were Albany Area Primary Health Care Molson Coors, SRJ Architects, Phoebe Putney Health System, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Englewood Health Care, Turner’s Furniture and Wynfield Park Health & Rehabilitation.

The Albany Area Chamber is dedicated to fostering economic growth, advocating for businesses and enhancing the region’s quality of life. By practicing and promoting dialogue, collaboration and problem solving, the Albany Area Chamber serves as a catalyst for positive change and progress in the region.


The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance economic opportunities and a thriving community. With a diverse business community in our corner, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce works diligently to serve area businesses, develop strategies that help our community prosper and design the path of Albany’s future. Learn more at

The Albany Area Chamber Foundation, founded in 1991, leads talent, economic, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives that provide impact beyond the business community’s normal reach. The Albany Area Chamber Foundation is the 501(c)3 affiliate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at