Economic Development officials set lofty goals for job development - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Economic Development officials set lofty goals for job development

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Albany economic developers set a goal to create 500 new jobs over the next year in Dougherty County.

They admit that's a lofty goal in these economic conditions. The Economic Development Commission will bring in state officials this month to sell them on Albany, hoping they can help market southwest Georgia.

Economic Development officials courted a new prospect Wednesday, brought in by state officials for a site visit. They won't say where the company is looking, because of confidentiality agreements.

It's not a problem getting people to look, the problem is getting people to commit.

Cooper Tire, Merck, Bob's Candies, all vacant buildings in Albany just waiting for a tenant. The E-D-C's challenge is finding companies with one the desire and two the ability to do an expansion project.

"We've never seen a credit climate like we've seen in the United States today, where it's so difficult to get a loan," said Ted Clem, Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission President.

Inhibiting many companies who want to expand but can't because the money's not available. Still the EDC hopes to help create 500 new jobs in the next year. Later this month they'll bring state Economic Development officials to Albany in hopes of getting help, but it's competitive.

"That's why we have to be the squeaky wheel down here in southwest Georgia and make sure the states sales teams at the Department of Commerce and the state utilities know what we have to offer when they talk to someone about moving to the state of Georgia," said Clem.

A new downtown manager and a Civic Center director could help. Officials see the EDC, the downtown manager, and Civic Center Director working together to spur new jobs. Especially with large conventions like the Jehovah Witnesses who've committed to conferences in Albany bringing as many as five-thousand people to downtown.

"Many of those people are business men and women, who happen to be Jehovah Witnesses and so they look at Albany and they see potential there. Also there's the potential for folks to come back as tourists," said Albany City Manager Al Lott.

Even creating retail or restaurant business downtown will help.

"Small businesses are the foundation for our economy so if we can bring as business downtown that has five or ten employees and bring several of those business like a hardware store, convenience store, like a drug store to support a population downtown then we've created business," said Lott.

Much needed jobs that add up.

EDC Officials recently traveled to a retail expo in Orlando where they talked with retailers about coming to Albany. They're trying to target gaps Albany has in the retail sector, like an electronics store or restaurants not currently operating in Albany, Dougherty County.

The Community and Economic Development Office is opening a revolving line of credit for employers who want to expand but can't find financing. The program has about a million dollars to help entice business to southwest Georgia.


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