EDC's Clem 'excited' about prospects for economy

Ted Clem

Ted Clem

ALBANY, Ga. -- Heading into a new year, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem is cautiously optimistic about the area's potential for growth.

"I am very excited about the potential for some long-range growth at MCLB-Albany," Clem said. "Things are definitely looking up in work and activity at the base. We have a lot of contractors knocking on our door right now."

Clem said the EDC's target market is in the areas of logistics, transportation and warehousing. All three industries were tabbed as areas of potential growth by the University of Georgia during a recent economic summit held here.

"Logistics for MillerCoors, P&G, Tara Foods, among others, continue to be a growth area for Albany," said Clem. "There is also potential growth within food and beverage manufacturers along with packaging. We are in the Georgia ag belt, and we have more opportunity in value-added services for the food industry."

Clem then rattled off reasons south Georgia -- Albany in particular -- is attractive to new industry.

"The cost of doing business here is extremely affordable," The EDC president said. "The cost of real estate and our taxes are low, and the ease of doing business here makes the area attractive.

"We have a skilled work force that is available and affordable as well. We enjoy a high quality of life; it's a great community in which to live and do business."

Other advantages, according to Clem:

- Albany is the commercial, retail and cultural hub of Southwest Georgia.

- Albany is home to Georgia's second-largest cargo airport.

- Easy access to major markets.

- Adjacent to Interstate 75 and four-lane highways stem in all directions.

- Rail service by Norfolk Southern and Georgia-Florida RailNet.

- Located in the ninth-fastest growing state in the United States.

- The Albany MSA (metropolitan statistics area) is Georgia's eighth largest.

Clem also pointed out that there are 200 acres available at Pecan Grove Industrial Park and 224 more acres at the new Albany-Dougherty Industrial Park on U.S. Highway 82 near the former Cooper Tire facility.

As far as existing buildings available, Clem said the Cooper building along with the MacGregor Golf and Bobs Candy's facilities are ready to be occupied.

Clem said tax credits and exemptions, in addition to loans and labor force development, were among many of the incentives offered to lure industry to the area.

The EDC president thinks 2011 will be a good one for the city and the region as the country begins to pull out of deep recession.

"I am cautiously optimistic despite our hole being a lot deeper that most," Clem said. "All in all, I think we've done a good job of solidifying our base to ensure we have long-term relationships going forward.

"We took a huge hit (from the recession), and it will take some time to fully recover. But I am confident we are taking all the necessary steps to do so."