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Summit to focus on work force development

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard

ALBANY, Ga. -- The role of citizens in the economic development process will be the focus of a communitywide forum planned for the downtown Governmnet Center Thursday afternoon.

Hosted by Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and sponsored by the Mayor's Coalition for Economic Development, the two-hour forum will feature guest speaker Raymond Gilley, who served for a decade as president of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Gilley was also appointed by then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to chair Work Force Florida, where he led development of the state's work force policy, programs and services.

Since March of this year, Gilley has been CEO of Solodev, a content management software company.

"I was just on the phone with Ray, and his purpose for coming here is not to tell us what we're doing wrong," Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem said Monday afternoon. "He wants to help us start conversations about ways we can make the community better, whether through our school system, our colleges or through the Economic Development Commission.

"These forums grew out of Mayor Hubbard's desire to educate the public on ways they can be a part of the economic development process. When she was first elected, she came to me and said, 'How can I help?' She'd taken some courses to learn more about economic development and felt the biggest thing she could do was transfer that knowledge."

Hubbard said Thursday's forum, which kicks off at 2 p.m. in Room 100 of the Government Center, is to continue the economic development dialogue that has begun.

"Our first forum started the conversation with our citizens about economic development, about what it is and about the role of citizens in the process," Hubbard said. "We're continuing that dialogue. Training our work force to meet the skills demanded by companies today and having a strategy for identifying and providing the skills needed for tomorrow shapes Albany/Dougherty County's and Southwest Georgia's economic success."

Clem, who will also speak during the forum, said the dialogue at the gathering will continue ongoing efforts throughout the community to improve the region's economic outlook.

"Economic development and work force development make up one of those 'chicken-egg' scenarios," the EDC president said. "You can't attract businesses unless you have a qualified, thriving work force, and it's hard to train a needed work force without a thriving business community.

"We're not looking to change the world with this forum; what we are looking for is starting conversations. The public is invited to take part, but we're not interested in having a bunch of bystanders. We're looking for people who want to work with us to make this a better community."

The forum is free and open to the public. Additional information is available by calling (229) 434-0044.

The Mayor's Coalition for Economic Development is a volunteer alliance whose focus is educating the public about economic development.