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McKinney "OK," with departure from EDC

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Former Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission Chairman Bobby McKinney said Tuesday that he has accepted the Albany City Commission's de-facto decision not to put him back on the board he's chaired since its creation.

The commission voted Monday night to appoint Darton College economics professor Aaron Johnson to fill the void left by Don Barfield, an appointee who resigned last year for personal reasons. McKinney, who was initially appointed to the EDC by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, was applying to be an appointee of the city because his term as a chamber appointee had expired.

The EDC comprises appointees and representatives of the Albany City Commission, the chamber and the Dougherty County Commission.

"I'll be honest, this caught me a little off-guard," McKinney said Tuesday. "But I serve at the will the electorate and the public, and so I'm OK with it. It's never been about me, it's always been about the staff and the work they do. I know they'll continue to do the best they can to recruit and retain business."

McKinney met with EDC staff Tuesday morning, including President Ted Clem, who said McKinney's presence on the board will be missed.

"Bob was a driving force behind our creation and our purpose, and he'll be missed on the board," Clem said. "We look forward to welcoming Mr. Johnson to the table and working with him in advancing our initiatives."

Clem said Vice Chairman Chris Hatcher will preside over the next EDC board meeting, at which a new chairman will be elected from among the board members.

Johnson, an economist and professor at Darton, said he welcomes the challenge and is glad to have the opportunity to serve on the board.

"It's more than just an economics background, I also have an industry background and experience in practical, real-world business scenarios, which I believe will be an asset to the EDC," Johnson said. "I'm glad to be able to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table."

Johnson said he feels he'll be able to use his expertise in analyzing employment trends through the position and said his focus while at the table will be to bring additional emphasis to the importance of providing a skilled work force.

"Improving the skill base will improve the base work force and make the area more enticing to business owners," Johnson said. "That's one component that we have to have in order to attract businesses like we should."