Editorial: How do Albany leaders combat negativity about the city?

Editorial: How do Albany leaders combat negativity about the city?

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Last year, a report ranked Albany among America's 50 worst cities to live.

The analysis firm reviewed data on cities with populations of 65,000 or more, with high poverty and low-paying jobs, the key factors that landed Albany in the 21st spot.

The article's data is two years old and Albany Police Chief Michael Persley said he's seen a lot of positive changes in the area.

"Even though we do have challenges here in Albany, we also have opportunities and there's potential," said Persely. "With our quality of life, I think it's pretty good. It's a good place to make a living."

The article highlights the unemployment rate in Albany, stating: The city's annual unemployment rate is 7.9%, compared to the 5.3% national unemployment rate.

Similarly, while the U.S. workforce grew by 4% between 2013 and 2015, total employment in Albany actually declined by 1.7% over the same period, the second largest employment decline out of the 551 cities reviewed.

Now we know that poverty and unemployment are issues in rural areas all over the country. Whether you agree or disagree with this report, city leaders are defending the city's potential.

"The study doesn't know what happened when the flood come," City Commissioner BJ Fletcher said. "It doesn't know what happened when the twin storms hit. It doesn't know our heart."

This is very true, but you must commit to live here before you can experience that.

Those considering working here, living here, and locating businesses here have other choices, and may never give us a chance.

A renewed downtown redevelopment plan and new initiatives like the new Career Academy are definitely steps in the right direction for Albany.

The challenge remains what are city leaders going to do to address the negative perception created by these widely circulated reports?

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