Biz Magazine | Vol. 22, Issue 4

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These students are

CERTIFIED BUSINESS to make an impact in your

These seven students were the latest DCSS students to complete training and earn 8 construction-industry certiications each, before heading into the workforce -- making a difference for local companies and as much as $34 per hour. It’s all part of the district’s focus on providing rigorous and relevant educational opportunities for students while addressing the workforce needs of our community.

BIZ ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VOL. 22 / ISSUE 4 President & CEO, Editor Bárbara Rivera Holmes Chair Don Gray Chair-Elect Chandu Kuntawala Printing South Georgia Printing Ad Sales Mary Bickerstaff Marketing Agency MADlab Marketing

Biz (U.S.P.S. 886-680) is published by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, 225 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701. Subscription rate of $50 is included in membership investment. Periodicals postage paid at Albany, Georgia. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Business Magazine, 225 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, Georgia, 31701. For more information about this publication or advertising rates, call (229) 434-8700. This publication is produced by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without expressed written consent of the publisher is prohibited. All claims, materials and photos furnished or used are, to the publisher’s knowledge, true and correct. Hence liability cannot be assumed by the publisher for errors or by the publisher for errors or omissions. Advertisements and editorial information published in this publication are subject to the unrestricted right to edit of, and by, our editor/publisher. U.S. Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation. Date of Filing: 9/29/08


CON T E N T S 06

Comments from the Chairman Being a key location for business.


A Message from the Chamber President What sets Albany apart. 08 Location, Location, Location Davis Companies’ new development projects.

Splashing through the last days of summer at Chehaw Park & Zoo. If you are looking for fun this fall for your children consider the Cubs Programs, which are specifically targeted for children ages 3 and 4 and include a hands-on animal experience, a craft, and an animal-related story. The programs are every first Friday of each month and are free with zoo admission. Learn more at


Albany: A Great Place to Launch & Grow Ideal location for business development.


Creating Strong Coalitions Local leaders on the importance of teamwork.


Choosing Albany: Dr. Rober Owor Partnership is the code for success.


Education Update Recognizing the outstanding achievements of our local schools.


Chamber Highlights Celebrating the Albany Area Chamber and its members.

ON THE COVER: Matt Davis, CEO of Albany Area Chamber member Davis Companies, in front of the new flagship Fuzzy’s Taco Shop just outside Albany on U.S. Hwy. 82 West. Davis, who relocated his company and family to Albany in 201, has a big entrepreneurial spirit and loves what feels like smalltown living. In addition to the local shop, Davis this August opened a Fuzzy's in Auburn, Ala., and has 50 more slated for construction.

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FROM T HE 2 022 C HAIRM AN "You have to look at the big picture. If you try to put social and cultural development ahead of economic development, it doesn’t work. You have to do it all together.” – Aga Khan IV There are positive things about our community which makes Albany a great location to live, work and play. Between the two, there are more than 15,000 students enrolled at Albany Technical College and Albany State University, which provide training opportunities from technical certificates of credit to graduate degrees to the more than 150,000 people that call the Albany Area home. Our strength and resilience rest on a foundation of our local economic and cultural diversity in a wide range of industries. It is not an exaggeration that Albany is an economic powerhouse with global impact with major with major employers including Georgia Pacific, Molson Coors, Mars Wrigley Confectionary, Angelini Pharma and Procter & Gamble. Albany also takes center stage in national defense as the home of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Headquarters Marine Corps Logistics Command, which houses Marine Depot Maintenance Command Marine Force Storage Command. Our resources support hundreds of local small businesses and the fight is on to bring our downtown development back with small business recreation, entertainment, and fine dining opportunitiessuch as Pretoria Fields Brewery, The Flint (Georgia Municipal Association 2022 Renaissance Award Winner!), Cornerstone Coffee, The Cookie Shoppe and more. Albany is the cultural, commercial, and industrial hub of Southwest Georgia, recently recognized as one of Forbes “Best Small Places for Business and Careers.” We must embrace a positive outlook. Enjoy this issue of Biz featuring many who have dedicated themselves to developing and executing a unified community vision. Let us all lean further into the work to continue building Albany. I offer this as my personal perspective, and as the best way I know to honor the legacy of a dear friend, mentor and leader - the late Dr. Anthony Parker of Albany Technical College. We love you, we miss you, we’re working to help others just as you would tell us to. We are humbled and proud for the daily opportunity to be part of the fight alongside so many amazing partners. May God provide you a backbone of steel and resiliency while comforting you and yours always. Be the best of us. One Team, One Fight for Albany. Semper Fidelis


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F RO M T H E P R ES I DE NT & C EO Location, location, location. It’s the adage about business success. But today, location location location is about more than geography; it’s about people, too. As a business location, Albany can rattle off assets that make it attractive for new industry to set up shop and existing industry expand. Cost of living. Cost of doing business. Infrastructure. Logistics network and access to major markets. Water availability. Room to grow. Ample educational opportunities. Smart local resources that support and incentivize business investment and job creation. But what sets Albany apart – even more so than these enviable location assets – is people. Talent is the No. 1 driver for business location today, and has been, outranking traditional “location” for numerous years. Beyond a quality work force, a labor pool from which to draw and resources to train them, the community’s own leadership team puts people first, creating lasting relationships that exceed any courting period. Read more about how Albany’s people supported the location of Georgia-Pacific’s new lumber production facility, and continue to play a role in other business success, on page 13. That community feel is part of what drove developer Matt Davis to locate his company in Albany. Davis shares more on current and future projects that are making an impact on Albany commerce on page 8. This month’s education updates point to the community’s laser focus on employability skills and training through industry-certified programming, STEM education and expanding the health professions pipeline through the Living & Learning Center, a $40 project by Phoebe Putney Health System in partnership with Albany Technical College. Albany State University, which conferred more than 1,000 degrees, has an economic impact of more than $231 million on the Albany Area economy. Read more starting on page 25. The world is evolving as its fastest clip ever. We're seeing more automation. We're seeing more artificial intelligence in everyday applications. But we can't lose sight that those advancements are created by people. It's still people, ultimately, who make things happen. It's people who drive projects forward, build businesses and communities, and partner for the greater good. Albany has a lot going for her, and she continues to be a bright spot supporting Georgia as the No. 1 state for business. Her hard assets are awesome, but it’s her people that make her a knockout.


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SELF-RELIANCE. DETERMINATION. OPTIMISM. GRITTY PERSISTENCE. Matt Davis learned to value these qualities at a young age growing up in the tiny town of Wadley, Ala., population 600. These carried him through his childhood, his college education at Auburn University and into the business world of commercial real estate development and investment. In 2014, he formed Davis Companies and has since grown the business into a successful company with projects across the country and completed developments of more than $142 million by focusing on multi-family residential, retail, office and restaurant projects. Davis Companies has the exclusive development rights to

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bring 50 of Texas-born Fuzzy's Taco Shops across the Southeast, including the shop opened August 22 just outside Albany, on U.S. Hwy 82 West. The local Fuzzy's set the franchise's new openingday sales record, stimulated by local excitement, eat-in patrons and more than 350 to-go orders. Davis' decision to relocate to the Good Life City with his wife, Carrie, an Albany native, in 2019 is clearly working out. But even so, their initial venture into Albany wasn't intended to be a long-term affairs. Rather, they intended to be here for a short-sting as Davis Companies and local contractors worked to build the The Scene at Sand Hill, a 216-bed premier student housing development that provides off-campus living for Albany State University (ASU) students. The project was a private venture by Davis Companies, although Davis met often with ASU officials to get an understanding of their needs.

THE MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENT BY DAVIS COMPANIES IS FUZZY'S TACOS LOCATED ON U.S. HWY 82 WEST JUST OUTSIDE ALBANY “WE ALWAYS GET TO KNOW OUR MARKET,” DAVIS SAID, “AND WE BUILD TO FIT THE NEEDS OF WHERE WE ARE.” Davis said the message he got from ASU in the summer of 2019 was that the additional housing was much needed – and soon. Davis originally had targeted opening The Scene for the 2021-22 academic year, but he and team hit turbo speed to fast track the project and open a year ahead of the schedule. “So we had less than a year,” he recalled. “I had purchased the land, but we had not kicked off the full design yet or received the city's approval and permitting. That was an impossible schedule, quite frankly.” He knew that the only possible way to hit the deadline was to live in Albany, where he could be on the job site daily, pushing the project forward. That’s when he had to go home to Auburn, Alabama, and break the news to his wife. “At the time we were 12 days away from moving to Nashville, Tenn.,” he recalled. “We had a house in Nashville. We had a moving company lined up. We had both of our girls in church school, and our oldest daughter in dance. We were set and just 12 days away.” When Matt Davis told Carrie that he thought that they should move to Albany instead, he said, “Her jaw dropped. It wasn’t just a left turn in Albuquerque; it was a left turn in Dawson!” Carrie, who works alongside Matt as CFO of Davis Companies, agreed, though, and soon the family was settled in Albany. “A few months in, we looked up and realized that we wanted to make this move permanent,” Matt Davis said “We fell in love with the people, the quality of life, the cost of living. There’s not a better place to raise a family anywhere. With the airport here, I can get anywhere I need to go, including properties and projects across the country.” From the business side, Davis was inspired by the history of entrepreneurship he saw in Albany. “There’s just a very can-do spirit here,” he said. “Look back over the history, the companies that were founded here. Bob's Candies, Gray Television, Flint Equipment Co., Oxford Construction, Pellicano Construction, SafeAire, Stewbos, Adam’s Exterminators, Pretoria Fields, Draffin Tucker, S&S Chemicals (SASCO),” he said, “the list goes on and on. These are major industry leaders headquartered

right here in Albany, Georgia.” He also found Albany’s geographic location a huge plus. “As a company we’re increasingly focused on the Southeast. The Deep South is where all the economic growth is right now. All the headlines are about recession,” he said. “While that’s unfortunately true for the broader macro markets across the country, the markets in the Southeast are not in a recession. In fact, they are booming.” The Davis family bought a house in February 2020, just before the pandemic. “Fortunately, we are in a pro-business state, and construction on The Scene carried on. Oxford Construction did the site work, working 12 hours a day, six days a week. Then Pellicano Construction really pushed that job to make it happen. We got our certificate of occupancy on August 1, and students started moving in on August 3,” he said. “We opened up, filled up and had a waiting list. It was a huge success. That project is the largest privately funded development (of its type) in the history of east Albany.” Davis paused to add one more important point. “When we bought that land, it was generating $352 in property taxes. It is now generating $151,000 annually. That’s the impact private development will have on a community. That's how communities



DAVIS' FIRST ALBANY PROJECT, COMPLETED IN 2020, PROVIDES OFF-CAMPUS LIVING FOR ALBANY STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS. prosper. It's the private sector.” Davis Companies has a wide array of projects currently under development, including development of 76 locations for 7 Brew Drive Thru Coffees in Georgia; and 20 Slim Chicken locations in the Florida Panhandle and the Macon/Warner Robins area. Also, in development are two multi-family housing projects in Georgia and Florida, and a shopping center in Los Angeles. A large mixed-use development in the Albany Area will feature grocery, restaurant, retail, medical office and consumer services. As Matt Davis continues to grow his company here in Albany, he’s excited about the opportunity Davis Companies has to play in the local economy. “For this community to prosper, it will be entrepreneurial, private sector growth. There's no question about it,” he said, confidently. “The trickle-down effect creates wealth. I want to keep as much of the money here with us as possible. I want to use local contractors, local investment, local owners. I want to keep it all here to generate that wealth right here where we live. “This economic model has brought more prosperity and freedom to individuals than any other economic model in the history of the world. Every good thing we have is because of it, because individuals like me have an incentive to get up, to go to work, to take those risks, to invest, to innovate.” The success and growth of Davis Companies really all goes back to those basic values that Matt Davis learned growing up in Wadley, Ala. “The lessons I learned in my youth have been — and continue to be — vital to my success. Take your God-given ability and throw yourself into whatever you do, and do it to the best of your ability,” he said. “It’s not about following your heart. Like boxer Mike Tyson once said, ‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get hit in the mouth.’ When that happens, you have to have the persistence and determination to carry on. And that's just self-discipline and selfaccountability.





Think Flint First. Tell us what you have to accomplish; we’ll point you toward the exact right equipment for getting it done. And, we’ll make sure you get the best price, with the least hassle. The Flint team will help you navigate the whole process - including set-up, delivery, and training, because we’re in the business of supporting your business. Plus, we have the parts, service and product support you need to keep your operation running strong all year long. It’s as easy as it sounds! AG & TURF DIVISION CONSTRUCTION & FORESTRY DIVISION POWER SYSTEMS DIVISION 12 VOL. 22 | ISSUE 4


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Supporting global industries and small businesses alike, Albany is an ideal business location

When Georgia-Pacific narrowed its search for a location for its third new lumber facility, its focus turned to Georgia and then Dougherty County. The corporation already had a corrugated box plant in Albany that opened in 1981, but that did not influence the decision on where to locate its new $150 million state-of-the-art lumber production facility. Albany, located in a great wood basket with access to transportation arteries, met the physical needs for the manufacturing plant. What separated the location from other contenders, however, was the actions of those in leadership positions. “Most of the time, it’s the smaller counties that love to entertain the idea of getting another business with jobs,” said Rick Kimble, Georgia-Pacific’s director of business communications. “I was not expecting the reception we got from Albany and Dougherty County. It was like we were the only business they were focused on at that point.” Kimble credited then-Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Justin Strickland with playing a key role, and cited Dougherty Commission Chairman Christopher Cohilas and Dougherty County Commissioner Anthony Jones, noting Jones “has been there every step of the way” and has helped with any issues that have arisen. “It was an amazing feeling,” Kimble said. “Albany is a big town when it comes to businesses. You have a lot of industry and a military base. To be a large town, you get a very warm, small-town feeling when you’re dealing with people. You wouldn’t have thought that 120-130 jobs would have gotten that much reaction, but it was very refreshing. Justin was a large part of that, and the county commissioners were a large part.” The result has been good for Georgia-Pacific and for Albany and Dougherty County. The lumber facility opened in 2020 and has added another shift, raising the employment total to 220, far exceeding its original employment projection.



GEORGIA PACIFIC The new 340,000 squarefoot state-of-the-art lumber production plant is the company's premier facility.

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“It is our premier lumber facility,” Kimble said. “We are very happy to show it off with pride. We are producing probably twice the amount of lumber that you normally would at a regular facility for the same number of employees. That’s because of the efficiency and the ability to automate things that didn’t used to be automated. We’re proud to be in that facility and proud to be in Dougherty County,” Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, said she has always believed that “part of Albany’s ‘secret sauce’ is really its people.” Local economic and government officials work to ensure that businesses get needed resources, handoffs are provided, and solid relationships are in place. “What sets Albany apart is that willingness to be a partner, the willingness to look at all of the options to make something work for the community and for the employer,” said Holmes, who played a role in recruiting Georgia-Pacific to Albany. “It’s not just working with those businesses on the prospect side. It’s also working with businesses on the transition side and the community engagement piece. It really is a relationship trajectory and an onboarding trajectory, as opposed to transactional. That’s how you build long-term wins for the community.” Location and people also are reasons why TriMark USA is in Albany, where it has local roots. Medley Hotel Restaurant Supply Co., founded here in 1963, expanded over the years and eventually was acquired by TriMark USA, which is headquartered in Texas with locations in Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. “In the restaurant supply industry, everything is very technical,” said Robert Dupre, TriMark’s southern region warehouse manager. “We do everything from design to implementing the installation of all the restaurant equipment, basically everything behind the front counter.”

While Albany is not on the Interstate Highway System, its proximity and access to I-75, I-10 and other major traffic arteries make it an attractive location logistically. “We’re not off the beaten path, but we’re not in a congested area. We’re not trying to run an operation in the heart of Atlanta where you can’t get tractor-trailers and transportation teams in and out,” he said. “I think the mileage away from interstates is more than made up by our ease of access in getting our transportation partners in our community.” Dougherty County and the surrounding region provide the needed work force, one that sees much less turnover than facilities in larger metro areas such as Atlanta, Knoxville, Tampa and Dallas. Programs at Albany Technical Institute and Albany State University augment the workforce with their programs that focus on logistics, he said. With an ample labor pool and the family culture that has carried through from Medley, Dupre said, “You get people in here and pay them a decent wage, they’re going to stay with you. You have people looking for careers, not just jobs. This is a place where we can offer a career.


“We have a quality workforce that sustains itself. We have the tenure and the institutional knowledge that we keep,” he said. That’s what makes my facilities here some of the best we have in TriMark, and I attribute that to where we’re at here in Albany.” The reasonable cost of living in Albany translates into an affordable cost of doing business. “Compared to other places in the country, our cost per square foot to maintain spaces is more cost effective here,” Dupre said.

TriMark finds local workforce and regional accessability key components to the success of their Albany location.

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S U CCESS Commercial developer Milan Patel finds that Albany offers opportunity and smalltown comforts with the benefits of a larger city.

Businessman Milan Patel grew up in Newnan and attended the University of Georgia. He was only familiar with Atlanta and Athens when he moved to Albany nine months after graduating from UGA. Today, he and his business partners are owners or landlords for a number of Albany businesses, including Newk’s, Olive Garden, Bottom’s Up and Panera Bread. One word brought him to Albany: Opportunity. “When you have more people in a town, you’re competing for that opportunity,” Patel said. “The reason I came to Albany was that opportunity was here. And that’s what kept me here. I didn’t really look for additional opportunities. They kind of discovered themselves.”

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While the population of Southwest Georgia has declined, the need for services and amenities has not. “You have to have someone with entrepreneurial vision who will do those sorts of things,” Patel said. “I’m thankful this part of the state had opportunity for me to discover.” Patel touts the cost of living and lack of traffic congestion as quality-of-life assets. “If you’re a schoolteacher in Albany or in Gwinnett County, you’re making the same amount of money,” he said. “But a house here is $250,000 and a house in Gwinnett is $600,000. “You can live affordably here,” he said. “You’re not having to drive 45 minutes to work. You’re just getting a lot more value for your money. You’re getting a lot more house. You’re getting a lot more standard of living.” An Atlanta resident, where costs are higher, might eat out twice a week, he said, while an Albany resident might eat out four times a week, creating more opportunities for those meals to be at his restaurants. It’s shortsighted not to look at the full picture, he said. “I think when a lot of people want opportunity, they want it handed to them on a platter,” he said. “That’s not how opportunities work. You don’t curate them where you want them. People limit their opportunities by not being geographically flexible.” “You’re limiting yourself because you want your opportunity in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Midtown, Athens or Savannah. You’ve made up your mind that’s where you want it to be. If you can come to a community, raise your family, save some money, have something to show for it, and build your life, that community should get a lot more of the credit that it actually gets.”



Strong collaborations and coalitions are at the heart of positioning Albany for economic growth. Locally, along with the Albany Area Chamber, partners including the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau and the city of Albany's Downtown Development Authority work together to drive growth to the community. Each has a unique mission, and by working together, these local partners secure greater results for Albany.

DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY The top projects for Downtown Albany with the adoption of the new Downtown Master Plan: • Launch mixed-use development and welcome new residential living opportunities. • Complete the development and full occupancy of the Front Street Market properties. This accomplishment will highlight an entire block of buildings that are fully occupied and fully developed. (This model will be replicated to mobilize the development of another block of economic development projects within Downtown Albany). • Implement the Downtown Streetscape recommendations. “Creating strong coalitions with community partners locally, statewide, and regionally is essential to getting projects to the finish line. This teamwork strategy allows us to celebrate our wins and our Albany – Dougherty citizens can enjoy the dividends of accomplishing community goals. We are stronger together!”


ALBANY-DOUGHERTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION The top areas of focus for the EDC in the next three years are recruitment, retention and marketing.

RECRUITMENT: Be proactive in local development and recruitment of employers.

RETENTION: Strengthen relationships with existing businesses and industries.

MARKETING: Sharing the story of activity to both internal & external stakeholders. “When evaluating the future of a business, leaders look for communities where everyone is working towards a common goal and moving in the same direction. For any community to be successful, all parties must work together for a common goal.”

- JANA DYKE President & CEO, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission

Downtown Manager & Executive Director of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority and Downtown Development Authority

ALBANY CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU The top three goals for the Albany CVB:

RETHINK, Refresh, and Reposition the CVB brand based on new research.

REDESIGN the Albany Welcome Center. DEVELOP a Mobile Welcome Center.

“Tourism is a large part of Economic Development. It helps build out the quality-of-life piece prospects are looking for in a community. When our entities are working in unison, we can build a strong community package. Businesses want to join a happy family who is thriving together and working towards the betterment of everyone as a whole.”

- RASHELLE BEASLEY MINIX Executive Director, Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau




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When Dr. Robert Owor, now a professor at Albany State University (ASU), came to Albany, he said he liked the town because it reminded him of his own hometown. Owor grew up in Uganda. He came to the United States in 1995 to get a doctorate degree in computer science. He first lived in Auburn while attending Auburn University, and then in Tuscaloosa while at the University of Alabama. A colleague at the University of Alabama left to come to ASU, where he became the chair of the department and needed a professor of computer science. And that’s how Owor found himself in Albany and was reminded of his hometown. Although Albany is not small and its industries are global powerhouses, the community still gave him


hometown vibes. “It was interesting,” said Owor. “Albany is almost like the town I come from in Uganda. It’s a small town, and it also had some small industries. It was very similar to that small town I grew up in, so I liked it because of that.” And coming from two larger universities, Owor said he liked the size of the campus at ASU, too. “The campus was small and you met the students personally,” said Owor. “You got to know them. I worked with them. I helped them to design their programs and work with them on internship programs and teach them coding and help them get jobs and so on and so forth. That was exciting for me to do.” Owor started as an adjunct professor at ASU. Once



he finished his doctorate, he came on as an assistant professor and worked his way up through the ranks to full professor. Now, he is also the director of the Center for Innovation and Emerging Technologies (CIET) at ASU. While it was the similarity to his hometown that attracted Owor to Albany, what has kept him here more than 18 years has grown and evolved over time. In even a brief conversation with Owor, it’s easy to see that he truly cares about the students he works with and improvements in the community he lives in. CIET is a way to do both. “The Center for Innovation and Emerging Technologies was actually created in 2020,” said Owor. “Its aim is to develop and look at emerging technologies such as block chain, artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics — to look at those technologies and see how to apply them in computer science and how to apply them to solve real world problems.” Some of the projects that CIET has taken on include a partnership with NASA on how to stop Mars rovers from falling into deep craters where they could get damaged. Owor and his students wrote an algorithm that worked at detecting

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craters using artificial intelligence. The partnership with NASA extends further than that though, and they have been able to work on training high school students on NASA STEM projects using robotics, computer science, mathematics, physics and more. The CIET has also worked on agricultural priming, which is a technology developed by a group of NASA scientists to solve climate change issues that impact farming. “(It) is a technology which allows you to grow crops so that you can increase the yield, sometimes double it, and also you can increase the resistance of crops to both pathogens and climate change,” said Owor. “We started the center also to do smart agriculture, and we’ve been working with farmers. We have written some grants, and recently we got a grant from Congress.” With the new grant funds, Owor said the center plans to create a community garden and invite experts to show local farmers how to use agricultural priming. Owor has also helped to form a partnership with IBM and train students at ASU in IBM technologies such as mainframe, cloud computing and artificial intelligence using IBM’s Watson computer. And while all of this sounds very cool and very academic, it also has a big, practical impact on the Albany Area. “The impact on the local community is we want to start entrepreneurial programs where local businesses can come and can write grants and proposals for them,” said Owor. “We can look at visibility studies for business opportunities, especially for agriculturebased industries (such as) food processing or food packaging,” he said. “We want to be able to grow these crops. I know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with us, and they have several small grants that they can offer to farmers, but farmers need to know how to write these grants and how to apply for this money. “We are collaborating with the USDA, and we are collaborating with a number of other agencies to find markets for these products. Then we’ll pass the information to farmers, so they can benefit from these programs, and they can improve the economy of Southwest Georgia.” All of these programs also have a big impact on the students involved in them, who in turn can have a big impact on the community. “They benefit the students because the students solve real world problems,” said Owor. “For instance, we had students working at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, and … the students were working with new technologies and new solutions. In fact one of the students got another job because of working at the Marine base (with) the experience he got there. That is one example of how you engage with the community, how you involve students and how the students benefit. At the same time, the community also participates and engages with students.”

This is one of the reasons Owor said that the partnerships with ASU and the surrounding community are a good thing. “Phoebe hospital, Procter & Gamble (and) the Marine base – they have all come and worked with ASU,” he said, later naming other community organizations that have partnered with the university. “I have seen a lot of increase in participation and collaboration and projects together. I like that very much. We want to see Albany State University be an equal and active partner in the development of Southwest Georgia.” As Owor explains is, there are already lots of benefits for businesses here. “If a business was to come to Albany, what are some of the benefits?” said Owor. “One, we have a fresh water supply from the Flint River, so they can set up an industry and most industries would require clean water. That is number one. We also have a source of electricity. ... We have good taxation and incentives. ... We also have a lot of students here. They can employ several students, and they can even hire them permanently. The cost of living is reasonable and then we have access to the various magnets. We have access to Atlanta. We have access to Tallahassee (Fla.). We have access to I-75 and I-85, so we can ship and transport things all over the place. Even internationally, we can organize and ship things to (the Port of ) Savannah. We have an airport also. There are so many advantages of Albany.”





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Phoebe and Albany Technical College (ATC) announced a transformative project that will breathe new life into the former Albany Middle School building on North Jefferson Street and dramatically expand the pipeline of new nurse graduates in the region.

“We are going to create a living and learning community that will continue the historic location’s legacy as a place of education and allow Albany Technical College to quadruple the size of its nursing program,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System president & CEO. The project will include new construction in the same footprint as the old school, directly across the street from Phoebe’s main hospital. The 47,000 square-foot first floor will be home to ATC’s nursing program and will include telehealth-enhanced classrooms, a health career education center, meeting rooms, library/resource center and other amenities. In addition to students seeking associate of nursing degrees, students in ATC’s accelerated nurse aide, phlebotomy and practical nursing programs will also take classes there. The second and third floors of the building will include 80 apartments to provide affordable housing for nursing students. “Before his recent passing, our president, Dr. Anthony Parker, spent the better part of a year planning for and spearheading this project. He believed it would revolutionize Albany Tech’s ability to train nurses and other health professionals and have an enormous positive impact on our community and our region’s economy,” said Emmett Griswold, interim president of Albany Tech.

In addition to the $40 million capital outlay for the project, Phoebe will further invest in Albany Tech's nursing program, allowing the school to hire more faculty so it can train more students. The partnership is expected to allow Albany Tech to increase its number of nursing graduates from a projected 233 this year to 350 in 2023 and 470 in 2024, the project will pay for itself in one year. Phoebe and Albany Tech leaders say the project on the busy Jefferson Street corridor will tie in well with downtown redevelopment efforts and encourage other business development in the area.



4C ACADEMY 4C ACADEMY GRADUATES READY FOR WORK FORCE The Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy (4C Academy) this summer partnered with with Construction Ready to offer a construction training program for recent high school graduates looking for a career in the growing construction industry. Students were recruited from area high schools and the majority of this year’s class were recent graduates from Dougherty Comprehensive High School. During the 20-day program, students earn eight industry-recognized credentials and receive lessons in soft skills, construction math and personal finance. The program culminates with a hiring fair where area employers interview the students and the students determine the employer that is the best fit for them. On the last day of the program, the students participate in a graduation ceremony where they receive

their earned credentials along with an envelope that contains the local company where the students matched for employment. Construction Ready is a Georgia-based program that has a 97% job-placement rate. All students who completed the summer program were hired by local companies and reported to work the Monday after the Friday graduation.

4C Academy CEO Chris Hatcher had this to say: "This bootcamp-style program offers students one more option for construction training in an industry that is experiencing significant growth. We appreciate our local construction firms who participated in the hiring fair and congratulate all of the students on completing this program and starting their careers in construction.”

SHERWOOD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY STEM INTEGRATES SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH INTO THE CLASSROOM CURRICULUM At Sherwood Christian Academy (SCA), students start with the basics to help them build a foundation and grow to love all things STEM (Science, Technology, Egineering, Math). Third through fifth graders have the opportunity to visit our Makerspace/ STEM lab once a week. All of our lessons build on the math and science learning standards taught in the regular classroom. Most importantly, students learn these things through the lens of Scripture. We're thankful to have Angela Welch as our STEM Coach, instilling confidence and knowledge in our students. Welch began her teaching career at SCA in 1993, coaching

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softball, basketball and track. Later she felt led to continue her education and collect other skills before returning this year. Her love for STEM started in 2012 when she taught third-fifth grade gifted students. Welch loves watching her students work through problems and encourages them to embrace the messiness that can accompany that. She's passionate about helping students think outside the box, teamwork and having lots of fun along the way.

"We are thrilled to add a world-class teacher like Mrs. Welch to our staff! She loves kids, is gifted in STEM, and is committed to a Bible-based education we offer at SCA," said SCA Headmaster Brian Dougherty. "STEM helps us. STEM helps us prepare our students for high order thinking characteristic of the college prep education offered at SCA."

An Alte


WEEKEND COLLEGE Weekend College at Albany Technical College is an alternative educational path for working adults that is convenient and provides working students with flexibility in their educational endeavors. Classes will be offered on Friday evenings and Saturdays. This schedule allows students to balance family and work responsibilities with course work more easily than a traditional course schedule.


or Work FACE TO ing Adu FACE CL ASSES E lts VERY OT Fridays HER WE from 5 EKEND : 3 0pm - 8 Saturd ay :0 s from

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Contact Tomekia Cooper at for more information ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE



ALBANY STATE UNIVERSITY ALBANY STATE UNIVERSITY MAKES MAJOR IMPACT ON SOUTHWEST GEORGIA ECONOMY The impact of Albany State University (ASU) on the region’s economy continues to be strong, providing a critical source for jobs and revenue impacting eight lbany Area counties. From July 2020 through June 30, 2021, Albany State University realized a major recovery post-pandemic, adding more than $231 million to the Southwest Georgia region, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year. The university provided employment in the region of 2,278 jobs, including on-campus positions, as well as services provided directly related to the institution.

During the fall 2021 semester, ASU had an enrollment of 6,300 students, also an increase from the previous year. ASU conferred 1,083 degrees during the previous academic years. Those graduating students will further impact the economy of Southwest Georgia and the state overall. The University System of Georgia and its Board of Regents annually commissions the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business to conduct a systemwide economic impact study. The most recent study shows that the system in its entirety contributed $19.3 billion and 152,629 jobs to Georgia’s economy. Further, that for each job created on one of the USG's 26 campuses, two additional jobs are created in the local community.

Going Further. Now more than ever, we are here to help guide you through these uncharted waters and its effect on you and your business. 28 VOL. 22 | ISSUE 4

2303 Dawson Rd. Albany, GA 31707 • 800.277.0040



R NS Mili ta ry Aff Airs


On July 27, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2022 Military Affairs Rise N Shine, a breakfast program recognizing the partnership and impact of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command and highlighting key operations and successes of the instillation. During the event, Marines and Sailors were honored for outstanding achievement. "MCLB Albany is one of our region’s largest employers and is Georgia’s only Marine Corps installation. It plays a crucial role in supporting our economy and our national defense,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, President & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber. “We’re proud to have our Albany Area workforce engaged as a vital component in driving the innovation of the U.S. Marine Corps that is enhancing the overall global readiness of our military.” During a panel discussion led by Holmes, Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, and Col. Kirk Spangenberg, commanding officer of Marine Depot Maintenance Command at Marine Corps Logistics Command, spoke about MCLB Albany and Logistics Command as a national leader in innovation; their role within the USMC’s strategic direction; and the base’s distinction in becoming the first instillation in the U.S. Department of Defense to achieve “net zero” energy consumption. Beyond efficiency, net zero is an energy security priority of the defense department. During the event, the Albany Area Chamber recognized five outstanding Marines and Sailors who were honored by their commands for their exemplary work ethic and leadership.

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Award recipients were Sgt. Justin Reyna, recognized as the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter; Lance Cpl. Christopher Montano, recognized as Marine Corps Logistics Base Marine of the Quarter; Hospital Corpsman Second Class Dillon Leggett, recognized as the Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit’s Sailor of the Quarter; Hospitalman Mikel Benn, recognized as the Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit’s Blue Jacket of the Quarter; and Sgt. Emily Bowman, recognized by Marine Corps Logistics Command for Superior Achievement. The event was presented by Albany Air Conditioning & Heating, A. West Enterprises and NEOS Technologies; and further supported by Molson Coors, Albany Technical College, Georgia Power, Mitchell EMC and Albany State University.

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We lunched, and we definitely learned during the Albany Area Chamber's July 26 Lunch & Learn on cyber security, sponsored by CTSI and ComNet1, which also led the informative session. Attendants learned how to spot various types of attempted cyber-attacks and how to best protect themselves and their businesses against threat. The Lunch & Learn series is presented by Merit Financial Advisors and Webb Properties. Register for upcoming programs at

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The July 26 Cyber Security Lunch & Learn, presented by Merit Financial Advisors and Webb Properties and sponsored by CTSI and ComNet1, provided attendants with basic knowledge on how to protect themselves and their businesses from cyber threat including best practices for password policies; how to recognize phishing attempts and deceptive links; modern virus protection; emerging trends and more.



MAY 18



Hosted by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and its Military Affairs Committee, the spring 2022 edition of the Salty Sandbagger golf tournament was held on May 18 at Doublegate Country Club in Albany. The tournament is a semi-annual contest between the membership of the Albany Area Chamber and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. A celebrated tradition since 1976, the event is designed to increase camaraderie and encourage partnership between the business community and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB Albany). For the first time in the tournament’s 46-year history, the spring 2022 match resulted in a tie with both teams posting a composite score of 670. Having entered the tournament as the defending champions, MCLB Albany will retain the trophy until challenged again during the fall October 21 tournament, to be hosted at Albany's River Pointe Golf Club. Best overall pair score was also tied, with Bob Smith and Dennis Webb from MCLB Albany, and Eric Elder and Jeff Weaver from the Chamber team, both posting a score of 70. Closest to the pin on hole two was Bob Smith (MCLB Albany); closest to the pin on hole 16 was Vic Singleton (MCLB Albany); closest to the line was Brad McEwen from AB&T (Chamber); longest drive was Alex Cockrum (MCLB Albany).

The 2022 golf series is presented by Turner Job Corps. The spring tournament was sponsored by Edward Jones (Kemble Teague); The Staffing People; Buffalo Rock; U.S. Screen Printing; Adams Exterminators; Albany Herald; Comnet Technical Solutions; Coldwell Banker; Stanley Steemer; Hamilton Relay; Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Draffin & Tucker; Sam Service; and Southern Ag Carriers.

Guiding you home 229-436-8811 601 N. Slappey Blvd. Albany, GA 31701

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At the May 24 net zero ceremony aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, U.S. Department of Defense energy awards were presented to David Lin (third from left), Shane Hillhouse (third from right) and Charles Phelps (second from right) for their work contribution to the energy security milestone. The awardees are flanked by MCLBA Commanding Officer Col. Michael Fitzgerald, left; United States Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, second from left; and Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment (right).

Net Z ero


On May 24, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLBA) celebrated its status as the first installation within the U.S. Department of Defense to become net zero, an achievement 10 years in the making and a priority of the National Defense Authorization Act. The base’s energy independence — which is “off the grid,” producing all of the energy it consumes, and more — will serve as the model for energy security at installations across the defense department. Net zero was enabled through a series of energy projects and partnerships, including department's first borehole energy storage system; the award-winning landfill gas-toenergy pipeline with Dougherty County; a solar array with Georgia Power; and steam-to-energy with Constellation and Procter & Gamble. “This is significant not just for the Marine Corps and not just for the Navy, but the entire Department of Defense. And this is the first. All the other stations and all the other bases are now chasing you, and that’s a good place to be,” said General David H. Berger, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, who was on hand for the event, along with Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment. “Energy security will enable the fleet Marine to be more ready,” said Assistant Secretary Berger. “They are the platform that we project America’s power from. It comes from the bases, the installations … and you (MCLBA) are now the example.” USMC officials officially celebrated Marine Corps Logistics Base's net zero status during an on-base ceremony on May 24. The base is the first within the U.S. Department of Defense to achieve the milestone, and can quantify that it produces as much energy from renewable sources as it would consume from a traditional utility provider.

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Business After Hours is a casual networking event, hosted each month by a member business. For information on the rest of this year’s event series, and to learn how you can be a sponsor, give us a call at (229) 434-8700.

JUNE 21 | HOSTED BY MARS WRIGLEY CONFECTIONARY The June Business After Hours was hosted by Mars Wrigley Confectionery, sole makes of Combos snacks, at the Whittlesey House, a new event space in downtown Albany. The event turned out a record attendance with many new connections made among current and prospective members. Realtor Renea Miller was the winner of the Chamber’s $100 drawing. Others walking away with prizes donated by Mars Wrigley Confectionery and Craft Axe Throwing.

Albany Realtor Renea Miller, right, with Albany Area Chamber President & CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes, was the lucky winner of the Chamber's $100 Business After Hours cash drawing.

JULY 19 | HOSTED BY FLINT RIVER ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX A big time was had by all at the July 19 Business After Hours hosted by Flint River Entertainment Complex at the Albany Civic Center. Kaleb Hudson from Photo by KB won the Chamber's monthly $100 cash drawing, alongside several other winners of prize giveaways donated by Flint River Entertainment Complex, Craft Axe Throwing and Farm Bureau.

Left: Kaleb Hudson from Photo by KB, standing center, won the Chamber's monthly $100 cash drawing Right: Catering for the event was was prepared by the team at the Flint River Entertainment Complex.

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MAY 5 U.S. AUTO SALES | 500 W. OGLETHORPE BLVD. The Albany Area Chamber celebrated new member U.S. Auto Sales with a ribbon cutting on May 5. U.S. Auto Sales provides pre-owned automobiles to those who may not qualify for traditional financing and has proudly helped thousands of people obtain quality vehicles. The Albany location is one of the company’s 39 dealerships across the Southeastern United States.

MAY 6 ASPIRE YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT ACTIVITY CENTER | 321 WILLIAM JR. ST. The Albany Area Chamber was on hand to cut the ribbon with ASPIRE Behavioral Health as they opened their newly expanded Youth and Young Adult Activity Center on Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The opening of this facility is the result of advocacy from many community partners, and will aid in the intervention and treatment of youth experiencing mental health challenges.

MAY 26 BARGAIN LIQUIDATORS | 2805 PALMYRA ROAD The Albany Area Chamber celebrated the grand opening of Bargain Liquidators with a ribbon cutting on May 26. Bargain Liquidators is located at 2805 Palmyra Road. and stocks a rotating inventory of overstock goods from a variety of big box retailers. The selection commonly includes tools, furniture, home accents and pet supplies. Items are available for purchase individually, as sets and even by the pallet.

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We'd love to celebrate your business with an Albany Area Chamber ribbon cutting, one of the many benefits of Chamber membership. For details and to schedule, call Mary Bickerstaff at (229) 434-8700 or email at

JUNE 14 GEORGIA LEGAL SERVICES 2533 LAFAYETTE PLAZA DRIVE The Albany Area Chamber was on hand to celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Albany's new regional office of Georgia Legal Services Program, which provides free legal services to Georgians with low incomes and who reside outside of metro Atlanta. Believing that everyone has a right to high quality legal services, this nonprofit law firm exists to ensure qualifying Georgians have access to quality legal services from trusted advocates and partners.

JUNE 15 KELLEY-MEISTER INSURANCE 301 W. OGLETHORPOE BLVD. They Albany Area Chamber was proud to celebrate new member Kelley-Meister Insurance Services with a ribbon cutting on June 15. With offices in Moultrie, Albany, Valdosta and Vidalia, Kelley-Meister insures home, auto, farm, business, churches, motorcycle, RV, boat, life, disability, workers comp and more. New to downtown Albany, KelleyMeister is excited to be a part of the community, and has placed a focus on promoting its downtown partners.

JUNE 17 PET SUPPLIES PLUS 1224 N. WESTOVER BLVD. June 17 was an exciting day as the Albany Area Chamber helped cut the ribbon on Pet Supplies Plus, a full-service pet supply store and grooming salon. The newly-opened salon is owned by Steve Whatley DVM, owner of Albany Area Chamber member Bush Animal Clinic.



JUNE 23 THE SHOWROOM 127 N. FRONT ST. The Albany Area Chamber was proud to help cut the ribbon on new downtown Albany boutique The Showroom. The boutique is a collaboration by Lady Like Fashion & Beauty and R&B Fashions and brings another locally-curated shopping experience to downtown Albany. The Showroom joins Cornerstone Coffee + Co. as the newest spot on downtown's Front Street Market.

JULY 21 MERIT FINANCIAL ADVISORS 2551 LAFAYETTE PLAZA DR. On July 21, the Albany Area Chamber proudly helped cut the ribbon on Merit Financial Advisors, new to the Albany Area. Although operating under a new name as part of a broader, more dynamic network, the advisors at Merit Financial have been serving the Albany Area for more than 40 years under their former Dasher & Padgett brand. The new affiliation enables the team to continue providing the same level of outstanding local service while being able to tap into a broader spectrum of benefits.

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M AY REN EWA LS ACMI Albany State Universit y Allerg y and A sthma Clinic Applied Fibers Brook s Real Estate Management Clenny and Luke ComNet Technical Solution s Delta Life In surance Company Dougher t y Count y Far m Bureau Eagles of America Eggs Up Grill EMC Eng ineering Emily Jean McAfee First Baptist Church Freeman & A ssociates Georg iaCEO Golden's Fire Eq uipment Honey Baked Ham Hugh ston Clinic Inv ision Technolog ies KingsCor n Kirbo & Kirbo Liber t y Hou se Logo Marketing Long Leaf Dental Marcu s, Inman, Daniel s Wealth Adv isors Master Body Work s Necco Oak s at Oakland OneSource Healthcare Premier Pediatrics Pretoria Field s Collective Pro-1 Spor tswear Procter and Gamble Ray mond James Rober t Baker and A ssociates Seller's Rental s South Georg ia Heating & Cooling Souther n Commercial Material s Southwest Georg ia Pediatrics Southwest Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery State Farm Steve Perrine Subway Sunbelt Bu siness For ms Sunbelt Rental s

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Sunnyland Farms Sy nov u s Tara Food s Taylor Chandler Technical A ssociates The Lily Pad SAN E Center Thru sh Aircraf t W J Kirsey Con struction W U PA Wy nf ield Plantation J U N E REN EWA LS Albany Auto Ser v ice Albany Green Energ y Albany Liv ing Magazine Albany Motorcars/BM W Albany Ty pew riter Aldridge Jordan Ameri s Bank B & B Electrical Bill Thompson Tire Chicken Salad Chick Cintas Do - Process Dougher t y Glass Dunkin Donuts - Dawson Road F lats at 249 Freddie Powell Sims Genesic Nonprof it Organization Georg ia Pacif ic - Albany Lumber GFL Env ironmental Ser v ices Glass Ser v ice Center Hall, Williamson & Har t Joe Najjar Medical College of Georg ia MetroPower NAMI Nav y Federal Credit Union Nonami Plantation OmniT R A X Point Nor th Senior Village Por terf ield Methodi st Church Por t man's Mu sic Pro Outdoor Land scape Management Qualit y Wrecker Radiation Oncolog y A ssociates RESOR A - New Communities

South Georg ia Printing LLC SOW EGA Chlorinator Stanley Steemer The Sig n Store Theatre Albany Threadcraf t Eng ineering U PS Store Veiland s Or thodontics Wild Advent ures Women's Health Professional s Woodall & Pf lepsen


MEMBERS U.S. Auto Sales 500 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. Albany | 229-302-4190 Steinberg Brand 113 Flint Ave.| Albany 229-753-7360 | Wetherald Behavioral Counseling 2411 Westgate Drive | Albany 229-343-2572 Ray theon Technical Services Co. 229-886-8345 | Ray Good Earth Holistic Solutions 230 South Jackson St., Suite 232 Albany | 229-344-5899 The Showroom 127 N. Front St. | Albany 229-496-1074 |

2533 Lafayette Plaza Drive Albany | 229-430-4446 | JTI Electrical & Instrumentation 2898-C U.S. Highway 84 W. Valdosta 256-653-0150 | Dougherty County Public Library 300 Pine Ave. | Albany 229-420-3200 | Heritage of Hope P.O. Box 70951 | Albany 229-598-9900 Myheritageof

NOT A MEMBER? Explore the benefits of what joining the Chamber can offer to your business. Visit us online at or call 229-434-8700. Questions? Email us about member benefits at

Jones and Sons Repair 1040 Clark Ave. | Albany 850-274-0989 Ambition Evolve Career Services 415 Persimmon Drive | Albany 912-312-5932

Next Step Empower, Educate, Elevate 1509 Canary Lane | Albany 229-869-2685

8 Mile Customs 200 Eight Mile Rd. | Albany 229-733-1232 |

Phoebe Foundation 1011 N. Monroe St., 2nd Floor Albany | 229-312-1483

360 Consulting Services Group 801 W. highland Ave. |Albany 229-792-4262

Pet Supplies Plus – Albany 1224 N. Westover Blvd. | Albany 229-448-4886 |

WoodmenLife 2539 Lafayette Plaza Dr. | Albany 229-903-1516 |

Bargain Liq uidators 2805 Palmyra Road | Albany 229-291-5025 Bargainliq

Above the Line Films 1815 Pine Needle Lane | Albany

Kelley-Meister Insurance Services 301 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. | Albany 229-985-4744 | Georg ia Legal Services Program



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CALL 800-479-2091 Mediacom Business Advanced Data Security requires Mediacom Business Internet for additional monthly charge. Does not help prevent access to malicious internet sites if connected via a public Wi-Fi. Free standard installation. First 6 months free; thereafter, standard rate of $15/mo. shall apply. For more information to go © 2022 Mediacom Communications Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Get the app. See your doctor. Skip the waiting room and schedule a virtual visit through the Phoebe Access app. It’s the easiest, most convenient way to consult with your primary or urgent care provider from the comfort of your own home. Schedule your virtual visit online, right from the Phoebe Access app, or by calling (229) 312-MYMD.

Download the Phoebe app today.