Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission interim President Justin Strickland addresses the crowd at Wednesday’s Industry Awards Rise N Shine breakfast. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Business and civic leaders from Albany and Dougherty County honored four local businesses at this year’s Economic Development Industry Awards Wednesday morning.
The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission each year recognizes four area industries in four different categories, highlighting some of the important things those companies are doing.
At the Rise N Shine Industry Celebration breakfast at the Merry Acres Event Center — hosted by the EDC and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce — the winners were announced by EDC interim President Justin Strickland. The awards were presented by Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.
“As a native Albanian, I take no greater pride than when one of our existing industries chooses to open or expand a business in my hometown. I mean that,” Strickland said. “I love Albany and it’s encouraging that others share that same sentiment. We pay special tribute those industries whose work deserves to be especially recognized.”
The first award given was the Global Commerce Award, presented to Coats and Clark’s distribution center in Albany. The Global Commerce award is presented to a business that has made an impact in the global marketplace.
On hand to accept the award was Bob Karwowski, manager of the distribution center. He acknowledged the importance of the employees in the company’s success.
“On behalf of all the employees of Coats, we appreciate this honor,” Karwowski said.
The second award of the morning, the Economic Impact award, was presented to Better Brands of South Georgia. The Economic Impact award is given to an industry that has made a community impact through capital investment, job creation and retention, and expansion.
Ross Smith, vice president of operations for J&L Ventures LLC, the parent company of Better Brands, told the audience how much it meant to him to return to his hometown to accept an award on behalf of the company. He also said that the company looks forward to continuing its long relationship with the community.
“This award means a lot to us,” said Smith. “We’ve been in business over 30 years and we look forward to being here another 30 years.”
Outdoor Network of Albany was presented with this year’s Excellence in Innovation award, presented to the industry that demonstrates innovative practices, work force innovation, breakthrough technologies and clean energy innovation.
The company’s group controller, Bryan Hamilton, accepted the award and told the crowd how much the community and the EDC meant to the success and growth of the business. He urged those in attendance to recognize all the talent that is in Albany.
“We’ve been retained and we’re growing and we plan to continue growing here in Albany; we’re doing incredible business,” Hamilton said. “You know capital is cheap. People aren’t cheap and we’ve been able to develop people here and retain them at such a high level that I think Albany people should be fair and observe that you do have talent here.”
The final award presented was the EDC’s Corporate Community Citizenship Award, also known as the Good Life City Award, which was presented to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. The Good Life City Award is presented to a company that has made a significant impact in the community through volunteerism, educational partnerships, civic involvement and fund raising.
While accepting the award on behalf of the physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers of the hospital, Phoebe President and CEO Joel Wernick thanked the EDC and its volunteers. Wernick also reminded the audience about the importance of economic development and the importance of the entire community in those efforts.
“We see the results of economic development and we applaud the economic development commission,” Wernick said. “We see results, but we don’t see all the hard work. These are tireless people who don’t get any big salary for serving our community.
“As far as the community service and community benefit, I would have all of us know that we’re each economic developers. When we have physicians come and consider moving to Albany, Georgia, the person at the grocery store, the person at the gas station, the Realtor, the banker they might meet — all of those people are creating impressions. We all play a role in economic development.”
In addition to the four industry awards, the EDC used the breakfast as an opportunity to recognize two long-time Albany businesses for their impact in the community over the years. Mars Chocolate North America, a past industry award winner, was recognized for its 50th year in Albany, while Sasco Chemical, also a past industry award winner, was honored for 66 years business in the community.