Justin Strickland, vice president of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, says a recruiting firm has provided the EDC with an initial list of 100 prospects. (Albany Herald file)
ALBANY — Early reviews are in for the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission’s relationship with recruiting firm ROI: So far, so good.
EDC Vice President Justin Strickland said Wednesday staff had been sent the first list of 100 prospective businesses contacted by Montreal-based ROI, and an early perusal led to the elimination of only one prospect.
“We’re hoping to get five active leads out of each group of 100 sent to us by ROI,” Strickland said after the EDC’s monthly business meeting. “If we get a 5 percent return, that would be excellent.”
ROI, which signed a $30,000 contract with the EDC earlier this year, will send the Economic Development Commission a list comprising 500 prospective clients over the course of its contract, connecting Albany officials with businesses best-suited to expand or locate in Southwest Georgia. Strickland said the EDC hopes to eventually land 20-25 meetings with these prospects.
“ROI’s going to mine the data, find foreign and domestic businesses best suited to this market,” he said. “We already have two good leads from their efforts, so the cost-benefit outlook is great right now. This business is about relationship building, and that’s where ROI excels.”
Strickland said he’s particularly excited about the prospect of bringing foreign businesses to Albany and Dougherty County.
“That market’s wide open, and ROI gives us access we didn’t have before,” he said. “Their staff speaks about 14 or 15 languages, so they can communicate with foreign companies in ways we couldn’t. I only know two languages: Southern and English.”
EDC board member Anthony Parker, the president of Albany Technical College, said the organization could help boost retention in the community by periodically updating economic tools available to businesses. Parker said Albany Tech had worked with an unidentified organization considering expansion in the region, and officials with the organization said they had not been aware of potential benefits available to them.
“This organization had been looking for (potential benefits) through the QuickStart program, but it turns out they weren’t eligible,” the Albany Tech president said. “There were tax credits they would have qualified for if they’d known about them. Perhaps that’s something we could periodically visit. By focusing more on existing industries, we might be able to predict their potential problems and find ways to help them.”
EDC President Ted Clem said Parker’s suggestion is a good one.
“I think it would be a good idea for us to develop a resource guide,” Clem said.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, EDC Vice President of Marketing and Existing Industries Barbara Rivera Holmes said the EDC has begun preliminary work with Atlanta-based ad firm Lattimer Communications. Holmes said the company would focus on internal perception of Albany and extend outward to external entities.
“We’ve given them a lot of information,” Holmes said. “Their plan is to use six to eight focus groups of eight to 10 people and a series of one-on-one interviews. It will be a scientific process.”