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EDC business retention program to expand

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission Chairman and Albany's Mayor stood together Tuesday to direct the Economic Development Commission to expand its business retention efforts and conduct in-depth surveys of local businesses in a move to help identify hurdles to growth.

Chairman Jeff "Bodine" Sinyard and Mayor Willie Adams sang the same bars from a tune that has become the anthem for economic development throughout the recession -- "love the one you're with."

"As I traverse the territory, I'm constantly asked, when are we going to get some large businesses to come to Albany like another Procter & Gamble or Miller Coors," Adams said. "Now we all wish that could happen, but the reality is that 70 to 80 percent of our new jobs are created by small businesses that we have here already ... we have to make sure that we massage and support the businesses that we already have here and make sure that they are happy and that they stay here."

The surveys are essentially an expansion of what the EDC already does through its Business Expansion and Retention Program or BREP, EDC President Ted Clem said.

"Today we're hoping that our 80 existing businesses, our 80 existing industries, will be willing to spend approximately an hour with each of our professionals and our partners and conduct that survey so that we can help our community be better and we can help them be better," Sinyard said.

"We can help them reach their maximum in terms of bringing dollars to their company, in terms of growing their employee base and in terms of making this community a better place to live."

A good example of a hurdle for industry being recognized and addressed could be in the much maligned tax on energy used in manufacturing.

Identified as a priority by state business leaders and economic development officials, the tax is costing manufacturers like Procter & Gamble significantly as Georgia is the only state in the Southeast to impose the tax.

It's been blamed for slowing recruitment of manufacturing and hampering Georgia's competitive edge.