Local leaders: Communication between agencies key to growth

ALBANY, Ga. -- As many communities begin the arduous process of climbing out of the recession, the heads of business, political and social organizations met Friday to assess the major hurdles to growth.

Facilitated by Art Ford and Hortense Jackson of Georgia Tech's Enterprise and Innovation Institute and the Southern Growth Policies Board -- a nonpartisan thinktank formed in 1971 by 13 governors -- the discussion centered around strategies for overcoming obstacles to growth and fostering pro-growth initiatives.

After the two-hour event, issues with communication arose as one of the key components to whether the local area prospers.

"It's obvious that there are issues with undermarketing, branding and general communication between agencies and the public that hinder opportunities," Jackson said. "It's interesting that there are programs and resources that are going unused because people just don't know about them."

Jackson said economic development and prosperity are often a slow process that requires constant involvement and nurturing for it to take hold.

"We often tell people that economic development is a process not a project," Jackson said. "The economy has forced every community to reexamine itself and see where it needs retooling in order to survive and thrive."

Following the meeting, Jackson and Ford were able to identify several key areas where the process could head.

From refocusing efforts on regionalism and multi-county projects to empowering microbusinesses and building existing programs, the meeting solidified concepts for some of the area's key players who hope to move forward and take the next step toward prosperity.

"Many of the things we heard today aren't new ideas," Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem said. "We just have to build on those, promote and grow our strong points and look for those fresh and innovative ideas to keep things moving forward."