Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said she was excited about Albany’s possibilities during the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s first “State of The Community” luncheon Thursday at Albany Technical College. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard is excited about the future of the city — and she thinks you should be, too.
She was one of three community leaders who spoke a gathering of community leaders and interested citizens during the Albany-Dougherty Chamber of Commerce’s first State of the Community luncheon Thursday at Albany Technical College.
Mobile users can view the video here.
Dougherty County Commission Chair Jeff “Bodine” Sinyard and Dougherty County School Public Information Director R.D. Harter also were on the agenda.
“I am excited about the possibilities for Albany,” Hubbard said. “We are working on a five-year plan for the city where efficiency is the key. We are looking at ways to make $6 million in cuts in the way we do business. If all goes well, we think we can create an environment for growth. As the economic hub of the region, other communities look to us to help lead the way. We can be a big brother to the rest of the region.
“Economic development and public safety are our number one priorities.”
Hubbard said she was especially excited about the city’s new Deal-Closing Fund, which recently benefited Thrush Aircraft.
Officials with the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, which developed the Deal-Closing Fund criteria at the request of the city’s long-term financial planning committee, had been working with Thrush officials for more than a year to help the airplane maker maximize its incentive efforts.
The deal was worth $200,000 to Thrush, which will use the funding to hire more workers at its facility off Old Pretoria Road.
“We are working to become one Albany,” Hubbard said, in a play off of the chamber’s new “There is Only One Albany” marketing slogan. “Remember, everything you do has an impact on this community. Can you imagine the possibilities? Can you be excited about the possibilities of how great we can be if we work to change our mindset?”
On the Dougherty County side, Sinyard immediately went into the financial arena.
“We are excited that our reserves are increasing. We’ve not been able to give our employees a raise, but we’ve not laid off anyone either,” Sinyard said. “We have two industrial parks and are currently building a third and I think those things are kind of a big deal.”
Sinyard, who is leaving office in January, said his biggest concern for the area is the disintegration of the family unit.
“We still have way too much teen pregnancy, and that ties directly to work force development,” Sinyard said. “The family unit is still one of the greatest barometers of work-force readiness. We must have a settled, educated work force. There are people in this room who would hire qualified people in Albany right now.”
The commission chair then pointed to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany as the crown jewel of the region.
“This entire community is a puzzle with many pieces, and the Marine base is one of the largest pieces of that puzzle,” Sinyard said. “It has a $1.5 billion annual impact on the area and about one-half billion of that is in salaries alone. The next time BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) comes here, or sequestration, we’ll need to be ready.”
Harter, who was standing in for Dougherty County School Superintendent Butch Mosely, acknowledged that the school system also is part of the community puzzle.
“I am an optimist who believes that the best is yet to come,” Harter said. “The system has made major changes over the past 18 months since Dr. Mosely got here. Over the past six months, we’ve named nine new principals in our 23 schools. We have restored the integrity and stability of our financial status with the state, restored the 180-day school calendar and are spending $35 million on renovations to Monroe and Dougherty high schools.
“Twenty-one of our 23 schools showed improvement on our latest CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) scores. We have entered a historic collaborative with Albany State University, Darton State College, Albany Technical College and UGA’s Fanning Institute to improve K-16 education in the county, and we have begun implementing the One-to-One Technology Initiative that will put a tablet in every student’s hands by 2015-16.”