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Top area industries to be honored

ALBANY -- In restructuring its recognition of local industries this year, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission has effectively found a way to level the playing field in celebrating businesses and the impact they have on the community.

Rather than naming a small, medium and large business of the year as it has in the past, the EDC will honor businesses in four categories: global commerce, excellence in innovation, economic impact and corporate community citizenship.

"Recognizing our industries in this way kind of puts them all on an equal footing," EDC President Ted Clem said Monday, shortly before the commission announced finalists in the four categories. "By looking at these specific areas, we're able to highlight the things that make any industry -- no matter what the size -- successful."

EDC industry award finalists for 2010 are (in the area of recognition): Economic Impact -- Coats & Clark, Equinox Chemical Co., Sasco Chemicals; Excellence in Innovation -- Maintenance Center Albany, MillerCoors, Pratt Industries; Global Commerce -- Equinox Chemical Co., Thrush Aircraft, Sasco Chemicals; Good Life City Award (Corporate Community Citizenship) -- MillerCoors, Procter & Gamble.

The winners in each category will be recognized during the EDC/Albany Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Industry Appreciation Rise 'N' Shine Breakfast Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown. A networking session will kick off the event at 7:30 a.m. with the awards program/breakfast to start at 8 a.m.

"When Ted first came here last year, we were getting ready for our industry recognition breakfast," EDC Director of Marketing Barbara Rivera Holmes said. "He said we should really think about what we want to say about these industries, and we tried to come up with criteria that will allow us to recognize our industries across the board.

"It's an opportunity for our citizens to learn more about the companies and get a broader sense of who's in the community. The community awareness element is really important. We're hoping our community gets more of a positive sense of the industries."

Thrush Aircraft, which employs 75 workers, is one of the world's two manufacturers of crop duster aircraft. The company recently announced a partnership with General Electric Aviation.

Equinox Chemical Co. specializes in the preparation and design of organic molecules and offers a range of synthetic services utilized in government, pharmaceutical, food, fragrance and specialty chemical sectors, among others. The company employs 33.

Sasco Chemicals, which employs 41, manufactures industrial cleaning supplies, slurry and powder dip used in the development of rubber products.

Maintenance Center Albany, housed at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, is the backbone of the USMC's ability to sustain warfighters' combat equipment. The center employs around 1,900 workers.

MillerCoors, which has affixed its stamp on a number of community-based projects, brews and bottles a number of signature Miller and Coors beers. The company, which last year celebrated its 30th year in Albany, employs 650.

Pratt Industries is a 100 percent green industry that is the country's sixth-largest paper and packaging company. Its Albany facility, which employs 50 workers, produces corrugated packaging.

The Albany Exopack facility is one of 18 the company operates in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Its 33 employees here specialize in the development, manufacture and sourcing of paper and plastic flexible packaging solutions and film coatings.

Coats & Clark, the world's largest textile conglomerate, has had a presence in Albany, where it produces yarn, for more than 60 years. The manufacturing facility here employs 300, its distribution operation 25.

Procter & Gamble, which produces Bounty paper towels and Charmin bathroom tissue at its Albany facility, has become a huge part of the community through its many civic and charitable endeavors. The plant employs around 1,000.

"I think it's good for the community to show its appreciation to these industries," Clem said. "One thing we should never do is take them for granted. From the large manufacturers with hundreds of employees to the smaller companies with only a few, we recognize the innovative practices that are crucial to the global economy.

"We also honor our businesses because of what they do for the community. We know they are vital to our way of life."