From left, G.S. Reid and Todd Carter, of Rental Depot, unfold a canopy as they assemble a tent at Riverfront Park Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the 24th annual Georgia Quail Hunt dinner tonight. The Georgia Quail Hunt is co-sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the Georgia Allies and the Southwest Georgia Chamber Council.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The hunters came with birds on their minds and, if area officials have their wish, some may leave with thoughts of something more.
The 24th annual Georgia Quail Hunt is back, and wrangling more and better business from decision-makers is job No. 1.
"This a record year for the Hunt," said Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark. "We have almost 30 guests for the event this year -- more than we've ever had before -- and that's a good indication that things are looking up for the economy and business is on the move."
Clark said the main purpose of the hunt was to attract business owners and executives, who would then have an opportunity to experience Albany and the south Georgia area.
"Business people love it down here," Clark said. "It's just a really good package -- the infrastructure, schools and higher education, the climate, workforce and more. A really big thing executives see and appreciate is the community itself and how people here come together to make it work."
Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, agreed, saying that Quail Hunt guests, who come from all over the world, represent a wide spectrum of businesses, including manufacturing, aerospace, bio tech and agriculture.
"Some of the businesses would be new," Cummiskey said, "and others would be expanding or upgrading existing facilities."
According to chamber sources, event guests have invested around $2.6 billion in Georgia and have created more than 8,400 jobs through corporate relocation or extension. Cummiskey said the process of enticing businesses to set up shop in Albany is a long-term one.
"It's a relationship thing," Cummiskey said. "A prospect may not be ready to make a move this year. That's OK. We have successes sometimes years after the the hunt. More than that, attendees here talk to other business owners.
"As the long-time host community of the Georgia Quail Hunt, Albany-Dougherty County, is proud to showcase the lifestyle that we enjoy in Southwest Georgia as well as the exceptional business climate of our area and state."
The Georgia Quail Hunt is co-sponsored each year by the Georgia chamber, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the Georgia Allies and the Southwest Georgia Chamber Council. Company sponsors for this year's event include MillerCoors, Kia Motors America and Kia AutoSport dealerships in Albany and Columbus.