EDC: Industries consider expansion

ALBANY, Ga. -- The head of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission told board members Wednesday that at least three local industries have said they believe they're on the cusp of expansion.

EDC President Ted Clem stopped short of saying which industries are considering growth but told board members the news is encouraging.

The word comes on the heels of a visit by Gretchen Corbin, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, who told area economic development officials Tuesday at a roundtable in Camilla that expansion of existing industries was the largest driver of job growth in Georgia last year.

Word of expansion will likely come as the EDC prepares to honor local industry through its annual Industry Celebration Week, set for the second week in May.

It's during that period that the EDC will give awards to local industry based on various criteria ranging from global impact to local civic participation.

During Wednesday's meeting, Clem and his colleagues at the EDC updated the board on two significant marketing opportunities the commission participated in this month.

The first was the Electrical Cities of Georgia Bus Tour in which eight state project managers came to Albany for dinner, which gave staff an opportunity to show off local industry and pitch various opportunities for growth.

The second came serendipitously after a city in Southwest Georgia, which had planned to participate in a state-organized tour for European and South American food and beverage writers, had to back out, giving Albany a chance to welcome the writers in its stead.

Those writers, who write for various food industry trade magazines and websites, were treated to a tour of the MillerCoors Brewery and local food industry facilities before a dinner, which incorporated various components from local suppliers.

"Well, for appetizers we provided Combos, which are made here in Albany; we served beef from White Oak (Pastures, in Bluffton) with buns from Flowers Bakery, and cheese made at (Sweet Grass) dairy in (Thomasville)," Justin Strickland of the EDC said. "Food production is a big industry in Southwest Georgia, and we wanted to do something that would stand out."

Clem said that, moreso than the exposure in the magazines, the relationship with the state that was strengthened by Albany being able to step up with only 48 hours notice and put together a successful event will pay off in the long run.

"I don't really mean to brag, but I think we were able to show the state that when things don't go as planned, we can step up and come through and that is really important for them to understand that," Clem said.