ALBANY, Ga. -- "Misery loves company" is a famous old saying. "Slow and steady wins the race" is another. According to Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton State College, both of them should help Albany residents feel better about their relative position in these trying economic times.
At a Dougherty County Rotary County meeting Tuesday, Johnson, who is also on the board of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, discussed Albany's current economic situation and the basics of what could to be done to improve it.
"When I think about economic development, I'm thinking about creating an environment conducive to job creation and investment," Johnson said. "In Albany, we face barriers such as poverty and low educational attainment, but those are the types of barriers you might find anywhere you go."
Johnson said to achieve success in Albany and Dougherty County the focus must be on our positive points, including a low cost of living, a wealth of natural resources, geography and public transportation.
"(The EDC) is changing (its) focus to be more collaborative," Johnson said. "It's going to take us as a community, but to be truly successful we need business and industry leaders who are intimately involved in the process to make our community more attractive to investors. We need effective city and county governance, and school administrators as well."
Johnson mentioned the annual Georgia Quail Hunt as an important way to attract industry to the area, calling it "our chance to show off, our chance to build up contacts and to increase future prospects."
According to Johnson, the manufacturing sector continues to represent the same percentage of the U.S. economy as it did 20 years ago -- but creating fewer jobs. In view of continually changing times and technology Albany must consider ways to take advantage of the changes, Johnson said.
A recent economic study of Brunswick, Valdosta and Dothan, Ala., showed the cities roughly equal when all the indicators were considered, Johnson said.
"We're not the worst," Johnson said, "and we're making progress. We're closing the gap. The key to economic recovery is making slow and steady progress."
On a national note, Johnson believes the nation to be "out of the woods" in regards to a possible "double-dip" recession, which was feared by some, he said. His view remains contingent on avoiding the upcoming "poison pill" legislation to cut government spending across the board -- legislation which could injure the Georgia economy.