ALBANY, Ga. -- There are no celebrities at the Georgia Quail Hunt, unless you count the ones who might provide a little lift for the economy.
For a quarter-century now, they've come for the birds, the climate and for the people. With a little luck and some good old-fashioned salesmanship, maybe a few of those movers and shakers will return and set up shop.
A mix of national and international business CEOs showed up at Wynfield Plantation Wednesday for the hunt's silver anniversary kickoff.
"Quail hunting in Southwest Georgia is the Mecca," said Chris Cumminskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "This event brings awareness not only to the region but to the state. With our hospitality and the other things we offer, it's a great place for manufacturing and industry."
As many as 30 state, national and worldwide business prospects are expected to attend the hunt as well a good number of Georgia economic leaders. Quail hunts are scheduled to continue through Friday at plantations in the area.
"Georgia has so much to offer companies that choose to do business here, and the Quail Hunt provides an opportunity to highlight both our business-friendly climate and our scenic outdoor landscape," said Hunt Chairman Walter M. "Sonny" Deriso in a Georgia Chamber of Commerce press release.
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 2013 are MillerCoors, Kia and PowerSports Plus.
"For the last 25 years we've been bringing businesses from all over the world to Southwest Georgia," said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the state chamber. "There's a legacy of projects that are here because of the experiences they had at this event. Businesses are free to locate anywhere in the world. What they're looking for is where is the right infrastructure, the right work force? More and more, they're looking for the right quality of life. A lot of what we're selling is the lifestyle of Southwest Georgia."
According to Clark, this year's event hosts a number of Georgia companies, especially those specializing in agriculture.
"We want them to grow and continue to invest in Georgia," Clark said.
Clark said that since the hunt's inception in 1994, guests have invested $2.6 billion in Georgia and created more than 8,400 jobs through corporate relocations or expansions.