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.