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New Chamber chief wants to ‘sell’ Albany

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Hardy told the Dougherty County Rotary Club Tuesday that one of his first tasks in his new job will be to fight against Albany’s negative perceptions and to promote the city’s quality of life.

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Hardy told the Dougherty County Rotary Club Tuesday that one of his first tasks in his new job will be to fight against Albany’s negative perceptions and to promote the city’s quality of life.

ALBANY, Ga. — Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President Chris Hardy has only been on the job since April 30, but the North Carolina native has seen enough to lay out some specific goals for Albany.

“There are three things I think we need to promote here,” Hardy told the Dougherty County Rotary Club on Tuesday. “We need to change mind sets, change perceptions and push quality of life. When I first took this job, I read some comments on a website and had a personal encounter that made me think.

“The first comment was, ‘What are you running from?’ I replied I was not running away, I was running to Albany. The second was, ‘Lease, don’t buy.’

“But the one that bothered me the most happened when I was getting my water turned on and a supervisor asked me what I was doing in Albany. I told her that I was the new chamber president. She said, ‘Oh, you must have a special reason to be here because Albany has all kinds of problems.’

“I said, ‘And you are one of them.’”

Hardy said these are the perception problems of Albany that he intends to tackle.

“We have to sell Albany. This is Ted’s (Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem) job and the chamber’s job,” Hardy said. “This is a sales job. If you’re an outsider looking in, and you’re doing a Google search, you see negative things at the top of the list. We know it’s happening, but we want them to show up further back in the search results.”

Hardy said the city can sell several things to businesses and industry considering potential moves to the area.

“I think Albany has a great quality of life and I have only been here four weeks,” Hardy said. “We can also sell workforce development which can make an immediate impact. Albany Tech, Darton and Albany State have much to offer in that regard.”

The former Clemson, S.C., Chamber president also has other priorities in his sights.

“I really want to push the T-SPLOST effort, because it is important to our community,” Hardy said. “I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen its benefits in Rock Hill, S.C., which now has some of the best roads and bridges in South Carolina.

“I also want us to begin to reach out to our membership and spend more face time with them. We need to refocus our efforts in that area.”

Hardy replaced former chamber president and CEO Catherine Glover, who resigned in January to take a job at Equinox Chemicals.

Comments

VietVet1 2 years, 3 months ago

The mind set of Albany is the factor. So take the advise and lease. If 'we' could buy Albany for what it's worth then sell it for what 'they' think it's worth we could easily retire. Sadly you'll see how Albany is governed to include #34. The one good thing about Albany vs Clemson - you're closer to Panama City Beach.

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agonized 2 years, 3 months ago

I admire Mr. Hardy's attitude, but quite frankly, if Albany were "for sale", not even Fred and Lamont Sanford would buy it.

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VietVet1 2 years, 3 months ago

A lot of folks first arriving to Albany can 'see' great potential - but that's as far as it goes. It is a shame but it's a fact. Again Mr. Hardy, rent/lease first. Wait two years to decide if you want to buy.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

"And you are one of them." Great Mr Chamberman, make folks even more upset by making them the problem--we have heard this for years from those who are the politicians and economic cheerleader for a failed community. I guess this lady appointed the BOE and turned the DCSS into the laughingstock of the nation. Obviously, she funded the copious amounts of low income housing that are the incubator of poverty and crime--no need to go further. The list of what she contributed to the problems is likely limited to funding Albany's failures. If you are so smart, how about telling us what should be done--other than keeping our feelings to ourselves. If you had said the same to me, we would have met in the alley. You don't have a grasp of what you have gotten into--but you soon will.

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LikeItIs 2 years, 3 months ago

Great, another salesman. I also was impressed with Albany for the first few weeks. Then after enduring a few years of the oppressive climate, sense of entitlement among a large segment of the population, poor transportation options, high cost of doing business (specifically health care expenses, thanks to the Phoebe monopoly), etc..., I threw in the towel. I really do wish you well, but slamming someone who has a job for stating the obvious does not bode well. You can spray all the perfume you want and cover it with pretty wrapping paper but in the end a pile of poop is still a pile of poop. I would suggest that instead of a salesman, Albany needs someone with a really big shovel who can work to clean things up. Best of Luck Mr. Hardy!

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

Welcome to Albany, Mr. Hardy. You have stepped into a very difficult job. We do admire your enthusiasm and we thank you for your efforts. Let me point out a few positive selling points for Albany: We have an active public school board that garners a lot of public interest. Some teachers go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their kids do well on CRCTs. Some folks think our school lunches are so good, they're worth going to jail over. Commercial activity is booming. A Buffalo Wild Wings has recently opened and an Olive Garden is in the pipeline. Contractor activity has been spurious lately with the demolition of: Cooper Tire; Merck & Co; Inn at the Albany Mall; and hopefully, the Heritage House. Our city leaders are talking about bulldozing whole blocks now, instead of individual residential lots in order to more attractively package them for "investors". Our largest hospital is expanding again and is still showing a profit. Our congressman has built up a lot of seniority and almost did something last term. "Vacant" signs are selling like wildfire. The tax values of our property which grew substantially according to our last assessment, prior to the drop in actual real estate values; grew yet again according to our local tax officials. Also, we can boast to have some of the highest millage rates for property and school taxes, in the entire state! Our jail is doing a good business. The police have plenty to do. Ammunition sales are up. It almost rained the other day. And the gnats are in early this year. A man would be a danged fool to not move his family here.

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agonized 2 years, 3 months ago

Excellent work, Cartman. This is PR press-release ready! Thanks for the hearty chuckle!!

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Did you mention what we need as an incentive for more incoming citizens is "combat pay"? We need to hit the new guy up for incentives he can lay on the politicians before he becomes one of the the "problems" leaving through the revolving door.. If he gets more than one W-2 while here I will be shocked.

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Chamberman 2 years, 3 months ago

First let me say I appreciate the dialogue. The first step of many in making a difference is identifying the issues we are faced with. The second step of many is beginning to address those issues in whatever manner is necessary to initiate change. In reference to my comments on my encounter with the lady above, I can simply say this; On that day, I was a newcomer to the area and just someone wanting to try and help make a difference. Without regard to her environment she spoke negatively about the community she lives and works FOR!! Now if she had not been in the position she was I probably would have addressed it differently or not at all. However; considering she was in a supervisory role with a community Public Service Commission I just could not let it go. Each and every one of us has the right to free speech and share our own opinions on any given subject. However, when you choose to serve a community in a Public Service position, you also have the obligation to be one of our communities many cheerleaders. If someone in a Public Service position can't find the strength to do so, then perhaps it was not the best career or job choice!! As "whattheheck" mentioned; "if I made her more upset by making her the problem" then in the long run it might have actually done some good regardless of what context my comments were taken. Now moving on from that topic to something else. Cartman's comments were taken in the context I believe he intended, condescending. With that being said, please don't make the mistake of believing the closure of Cooper Tire, Merck, MacGregor and others had anything to do with Albany or Dougherty County.They were all instances of outside influences so please don't believe that Albany is the only one experiencing economic downsizing. It is happening everywhere!!! I will end by saying this; our Chamber is gearing up to begin a new effort to not only promote Albany but also to hold any and all elected officials responsible for their actions or lack thereof, and communicate those actions to our members and business community. We do not speak on behalf of the citizens of Albany, Dougherty County and Southwest GA. However; we do speak on behalf of well over 1,200 businesses who have invested in our Chamber for the betterment of the community we live and work. It is irrelevant if an elected official represents their constituents if neither of them have the communities best interests at heart. I have only been here for 4 weeks and it does not take long to realize what is in our best interests are job creation, betterment of quality of life, education, and workforce development.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

My comments were intended as informative, critical, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek satirical - but not condescending. No blame is pointed your way. My message in a nutshell was: I don't envy you the formidable task ahead of you. And nothing ill is intended just because we have a pool on how long it will take for your spirit to be broken. Welcome aboard. Lighten up.

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LikeItIs 2 years, 3 months ago

Condescending? Nah. I do think it was a clever bit of sarcasm with firm roots in the facts. As for the closure of the Cooper plant, it did indeed have a lot to do with Albany/Dougherty county. The Albany plant was one of three on the bubble (one of the others being Tupelo MS.) The decision was made based on raw economics. The cost of making a tire in ABY was higher than other plants. That cost included employee efficiency, HEALTHCARE COSTS, etc. I can't speak to the others as I was not directly involved with those organizations, but suspect the same issues were deciding factors. I had the privilege of knowing many exceptional people in Albany, many of them local business owners. Their frustration with local politics, lack of employee skills, local schools were always at the forefront. Each of these "perceptions" are based on hard cold facts. I really do wish you the best Mr. Hardy. Maybe by "rattling a few cages" you can start changing the realities, and then the perceptions of Albany.

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LieDetector00 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh, Mr. Chamberman. Tsk Tsk Tsk. Your ignorance is blooming like a truffle tree in some type of warped Dr. Seuss story. Your vast chamber experience obviously has you ill-prepared for what is about to ensue upon you. If you perhaps knew the public's opinion of you, sir....you wouldn't hold your head up so high 'n mighty. But, I'm sure this is just a "stepping stone" for bigger and better things that you'll probably screw up as well. You ARE the weakest link. Good DAY.

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Chamberman 2 years, 3 months ago

Lie, I can't really begin to understand how you know what the public opinion of me is considering most have not even met me yet including yourself and solely base that type of decision off a few sound bites in the media. Please understand most of what I know of Albany to this point is what research I have done and the conversations I have had with people in the community. Remember, I have only been here for 4 weeks. Regardless of what the "perceptions" are things can change, I have seen it happen. The Chamber will be more proactive on the political scene. I believe a Chamber should hold any and all elected officials accountable for their actions or lack thereof. It is irrelevant to me if an official is representing their constituents if neither has the bests interests of the community at heart. I think the Mayor is on the right track by getting commitments from the community to help clean up and beautify our area. It is obvious that it will not happen by "forcing" those that are responsible for it to do it themselves, that has already proven itself to be true. I don't expect anyone to form an opinion one way or another from talk on a website. Please just let the future actions of myself and the Chamber define those opinions just like we will do with those in public office.

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LieDetector00 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh, you'd be surprised what I know. Very surprised indeed.

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