Chamber gives wish list to lawmakers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chamber gives wish list to lawmakers

December 1, 2004

Albany - Just in time for Christmas, the Albany-Dougherty County Chamber of Commerce gave its wish list of projects to state and national lawmakers. Topping that list - saving the Marine Corps Logistics Base and spurring tourism.

MCLB employees 6,500 people from 21 southwest Georgia counties. Its closure would devastate the entire region. To make sure that doesn't happen, the Chamber of Commerce is asking state and federal lawmakers for money and support to save the base. "MCLB is at the top of our list," said Chamber President Tim Martin.

Over breakfast Wednesday morning, the Chamber gave legislators their wish list of projects for the upcoming year. Much shorter than ever before, the list has three main projects including: widening Highway 133 from Albany to I-75 and adding an access road to MCLB, a new building at Albany Tech, and marketing for regional tourism.

Each project would help the base. Four laning Highway 133 would allow easier access to the Jacksonville base. "The money has already been set aside in the SPLOST to acquire the rights of way. We'll be prepared to start and making the argument to start in Albany and go south," said Martin.

The new building at Albany Tech would house a supply chain management program to train MCLB employees and a hospitality program to supply the growing tourism industry with skilled workers. "Building K will provide opportunities for supply chain management training, distance learning for this base and the sister base in Barstow, California, and it also speaks to regional tourism. All the culinary arts and hospitality course, will be offered in that building," said Martin.

Marketing our new tourist attractions is the final project on the legislative agenda. Senator Michael Meyer Von Bremen says the county must sell itself to state lawmakers to get money for these projects. "It is a little bit of who's on which committee, but a lot of depends on the needs of community and the pitch you make to the leaders for the state," said Sen. Meyer Von Bremen.

And at the federal level, Congressman Sanford Bishop says improving tourism, travel, and education are all ways to protect MCLB. "To make sure whatever the base needs there won't be any impediments, which we can have control, that will stand in the way of keeping that base there."

Now, lawmakers must convince their peers at the state and nation's capital that Albany deserves a place on the money list.

Chamber members will also travel to Atlanta March 8, 2005 to talk with the Governor and lawmakers about funding for these Albany projects.

Posted at 3:34PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com