Albany leaders to measure future of Chamber, EDC

Albany leaders to measure future of Chamber, EDC
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In an unusual move, the Mayor of Albany and the Chairman of the Dougherty County Commission formed a joint committee to look at increasing collaboration between the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Chairman Chris Cohilas have been a unified voice in many issues facing the community, and they hope forming this group will ultimately help bring more jobs to our region.

The local leaders of Miller, M&M Mars, Procter & Gamble, and representatives from most of the major businesses and industries in Dougherty County will meet Wednesday, March 2nd for the first time to discuss the future of the Chamber and the Economic Development Commission.

"(The committee is made  up of) the people who really have this city's best interests at heart," Hubbard said.

"So what I hope would come out of this is A, an honest dialogue and B, an action plan so we can implement it in the community," Cohilas added.

"From my perspective, the collaboration that has taken place already (between the EDC and the Chamber) has reaped great rewards for the community," said EDC President Justin Strickland.

The EDC and the Chamber of Commerce run under separate leadership- a partnership that Chamber Interim President Barbara Rivera Holmes believes is working.

"Our governmental partners have seen the benefit of our partnerships at the Economic Development Commission and the Chamber of Commerce as it relates to business growth," Rivera Holmes said.

"It's just time for the discussion about what is the best thing for our chamber and our EDC to do," said Hubbard.

She says she and Dougherty County Chairman Cohilas are working together on this for the betterment of the community.

"In order to improve you must have these discussions. You cannot continue to do the same thing the same old way and expect it to work," Hubbard added.

"Ultimately it will be up to the Chamber and the EDC how they want to take any sort of these recommendations and how they may or may not implement them," Cohilas said. "But, I think it is a testament to the collaboration we have been having in our community that we are having this dialogue."

The people who are serving on the Ad Hoc Committee of Community Stakeholders include Tommy Clark (Renasant Bank VP), Art Dunning (ASU President), Werhner Washington (P&G Plant Manager), Joel Wernick (Phoebe CEO), Bo Henry (Stewbos Managing Partner), Gary Sanders (First Mount Olive Pastor), Audria King (MillerCoors Supply Chain Director), Pamela Green-Jackson (MCLB Community Liaison), Mack Phillips (MARS Site Director), Luke Flatt (AB&T President), Jenny Savelle (Bishop Clean Care CEO), Sharon Subadan (Albany City Manager), and Richard Crowdis (Dougherty County Administrator).  Their first meeting will be held at noon inside the Candy Room, located at 125 Pine Avenue in downtown Albany.

Cohilas said that when he and Hubbard approached people to serve on the Community Stakeholders Committee, "The response was overwhelmingly 'Yes' and 'Thank you'."

"What are the ways we can better structure things so our community can work collaboratively and more efficiently to build job growth in the community" is the question Cohilas hopes is answered.

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