Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission eyes future

EDC wants to extend its self-awareness campaign for Albany and Dougherty County

ALBANY — Even as the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission basked in the glow of its well-received Industry Celebration Week Wednesday morning, members of its board of directors had an eye squarely on the future.

During a good-news discussion of changes in the commission’s communications plan at the EDC’s monthly board meeting, Director of Marketing and Existing Industries Barbara Rivera Holmes offered telling commentary about the task facing commission-hired consultant Lattimer Communications.

“We’ve been in a funk for a long time,” Holmes said of a community that Atlanta-based Lattimer officials have pointed out has a self-image problem.

It was board member and Albany City Manager James Taylor who initiated a discussion that called for a plan of action by the Economic Development Commission.

“We didn’t get funky in a year, and we’re not going to get un-funky in a year,” Taylor said. “We need to look beyond Phase I of our communications plan to Phase II.

“I’m concerned if our plan is to fire this shot across the bow and then, if we don’t get immediate results, we abandon our efforts. We need to be committed to a long-term campaign to turn this ship around.”

Among board suggestions to keep Lattimer’s work moving beyond Phase I of its communications plan was the creation of an EDC task force to raise funds to finance Phase II of the plan, which would stretch beyond the reaches of Southwest Georgia. Holmes told the board she and members of the EDC’s Renewal Task Force had made strides in Lattimer’s Phase I implementation by finding a way to include television advertising in the “Albany, This Is Our Town” at a lower cost than the agency had projected.

Holmes said that component will increase by 10 percent the reach so that 95 percent of the target audience will be covered, and “we still reduced the expenses from their estimated cost.”

Board member B.J. Fletcher, an Albany city commissioner, commended EDC staff for their work.

“Sometimes what you need are cheerleaders,” Fletcher said. “And you folks are very good at what you do.”

Board Chairman Jay Smith said the board would start discussions soon on creating a task force to generate “new money” that would fund the ongoing communications plan.

Later, interim EDC President Justin Strickland, accepting praise on behalf of staff for the EDC-sponsored Industry Celebration Week, said, “We need to remember that while this week is important, we celebrate our industries every day of the year.”