Does Albany's economic future look bright? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Does Albany's economic future look bright?

January 3, 2007

Albany--  Albany leaders say the Good Life City's economic future is looking bright in 2007.

The past couple of years have delivered some blows to the economy. Industries and businesses closed.  People were laid off and some have a dim outlook on the future. But city leaders say things will be just fine.

There's no doubt that 2006 brought change to the city of Albany. "We saw some of the decisions that were made in previous years impact 2006," said Albany Chamber of Commerce President Tim Martin.

Although it was announced years before, Bob's Candies finally closed their doors officially in January of 2006. Merck was also slated to officially end business in Albany by the end of the year with 300 people losing their jobs.

"There was some draw down in terms of employment in 2006 but overall in general terms, 2006 was a strong year," said Martin. Albany Chamber of Commerce President Tim Martin says although '06 brought some bad, things weren't so bad for the city.

"Jobs in total stayed good. Retail numbers were very healthy and we continue to grow in the healthcare industry," said Martin. And although there were job losses, there were also some gains.

"A significant achievement in 2006 was the location of Hamilton Relay. You'll recall that company has over 100 employees now," said Martin.

But what about 2007? How can the city of Albany move forward?

"As we move forward, we believe that the year 2007 will be a building year," said Martin. There are some things to build on. Some downtown businesses closed down and remain closed. The Bob's Candies facility is still up for sale and still no announcement for a buyer for the Merck plant. That future is still uncertain.

"I think it's premature to make any announcements but we're confident and optimistic about 2007 being a year that we can be proud of," said Martin.

Martin is optimistic but at the same time he says he has to be realistic. "We've got challenges but that's why we work hard everyday, try to work smart everyday to make sure we're overcoming some of those barriers," said Martin.

The goal is to turn those barriers into bankable projects in 2007 so that 2008 will be even brighter.

Martin says the transition in leadership at Albany Tomorrow will allow city leaders to revisit the master plan for downtown to get more economic development there. He feels projects like the Bridge House and Ray Charles Plaza will bring much more attention and development to the area.  

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