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Manager off to good start

It's too early to give a meaningful assessment, but I've been fairly impressed at the initial efforts of Downtown Manager Aaron Blair to breathe new life into downtown Albany.

I've been involved in just one conversation with Blair, and that was over something we disagreed on, but his actions have been impressive.

Admittedly, following Don Buie is not the worst position in which you can find yourself. Just do an average job and be honest and you've won that battle.

But my impression is that Blair doesn't want to settle for average. He has a passion for his job, the kind of fire that most successful people have.

Not many days pass that I don't see him out on the sidewalks showing prospects or visitors downtown Albany. He's already been instrumental in getting three new businesses to open near The Herald on Pine Avenue.

Now, he's working to get a portion of Oglethorpe Boulevard redeveloped by Destiny Group.

I wish the developers on that project had more of a successful development track record, but the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority felt comfortable enough to begin discussions on deeding portions of downtown property to Destiny.

Many people are convinced it's pointless to spend any more tax funds or allocate any more resources on downtown. Proceed carefully on this project. One more disaster like those under Buie's term would be tough to overcome.

DOUGHERTY EXCLUDED: Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed an Education Advisory Board composed of 53 Georgians who will work with the governor "to ensure the best decisions will be made for Georgia's students."

Noticeably missing from that panel is a single representative from Dougherty County. We have one of the larger school systems outside of metro Atlanta, yet no appointee to the panel.

Named were 14 educators, 13 school superintendents, 13 principals and 13 school board members.

Just five of the members are from Southwest Georgia.

Sylvia Vann, a member of the Lee County board of Education, was chosen. Also appointed were Beauford Hicks, superintendent of Mitchell County schools, and Leonard R. McCoy, superintendent of Colquitt County schools.

MOST ADMIRED: The March 21 edition of Fortune magazine will include an article on the world's most admired companies.

You'll find several companies that do business in Albany on the list. For example, Procter & Gamble was rated No. 5. Apple was rated No. 1 overall. The rest of the Top 10 include No. 2 Google, No. 3 Berkshire Hathaway, Southwest Airlines, P&G, Coca-Cola, Amazon.com, FedEx, Microsoft and McDonald's.

Publix didn't make the Top 10, but it is No. 1 in the food and drug store category.

Wal-Mart Stores was No. 11.

STARTING A BUSINESS: The Albany Small Business Development Center has a two-class series later this month that is a must for people without business experience who are thinking about starting a business.

Starting a Business will be taught March 21 from 6-9 p.m. Writing a Business Plan will be taught March 22 during the same hours.

The courses will be taught at the SBDC office at 125 Pine Ave. Call (229) 420-1144 for additional information.

Danny Carter can be contacted at (229) 888-9346 or e-mailed at danny.carter@albanyherald.com.