BIZ ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VOL. 21 / ISSUE 2 President & CEO, Editor Bárbara Rivera Holmes Chair Matt Reed Chair-Elect Don Gray Printing South Georgia Printing Photography Todd Stone 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 is 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 Albany Area Chamber is open and working for you 07 A Message from the Chamber President The present is exciting, the future more so 08 Georgia Still Peachy for Business Resilience and Innovation keep Georgia in first place 14 Taking the Leap New businesses walk through the door of opportunity 21 Fridays on the Flint is back! After a one-year suspension of the event due to COVID-19, the Flint River Entertainment Complex hosted a successful – and socially distanced – comeback. The community enjoyed live music by Stephen Harrell and the Dusty Boots Band, food trucks, and kids' activities. Stay up to date on future events by following @theFREC on Facebook or by visiting flintriverentertainmentcomplex.com.
Choosing Albany Karla Hearth-Sands, an anchor of the community
32 111th annual Meeting A reimagined celebration of the Albany Area Chamber and the community 34 Albany-Dougherty Day Accelerating impact; leveraging partnerships 36 How do you Art Ball? A creative hybrid of a beloved Albany Museum of Art event
ON THE COVER: WALB News Channel 10 Anchor Karla Heath-Sands is a staple at work and in the community, but she didn't always call Albany home. Learn more about how − and why − this local celebrity chose Albany.
Chamber Highlights Celebrating the Chamber and its members
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and at AlbanyGA.com.
COM M E N T S
FROM T HE 202 1 C HAI RM AN As we wrap up the first quarter of the year - we have been busy at your Chamber. While there are still not many public events, committee work and behind the scenes activities are keeping everyone busy as we continue to implement our strategic plan. I would like to thank all of our division chairs for their dedication and hard work in continuing the work of their committees. If you are not involved in a committee, please reach out and get plugged in! As we look ahead to the rest of the year and what is ahead for our region - I am encouraged by what we are hearing from the business community. The great work of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany Area Primary Health Care and others on the vaccine rollout will help us get back to a more sense of normalcy in the near future, and the herculean task that our local banks have performed in rolling out to the Payroll Protection Program allowed many of our small and medium sized businesses to continue operations as normal. We still have to be diligent and not let our guard down, but if the scene from recent Fridays on the Flint is any indicator, we are well on our way. This issue of Biz highlights some great small businesses who took a chance and opened up during the pandemic and are thriving. As many of you know, small businesses make up most of the businesses in our state - over 1 million. Know that your Chamber is here to assist you and your organization in any way we can to help make you successful! I appreciate all each of you do to better our community and I hope to see you at the Chamber's 111th annual meeting on April 29th.
6 MARCH | APRIL 2021
- MATT REED
M ES SAGE
F RO M T H E P R ES I DE NT & C EO The first quarter of 2021 has moved swiftly, bringing with it expanded commerce, new opportunities, more in-person engagement and an ever-increasing desire to meaningfully connect. The broad COVID-19 vaccination rollout across our community, region and state has allowed for engagement on a new level and for travel, which will help support our tourism and hospitality industries. Congress’ extension of the Paycheck Protection Program continues to provide much needed assistance and relief to businesses and organizations who have been impacted by the pandemic. The 2021 state legislative session that just ended saw the extension of COVID-19 liability protections for small businesses, significant investments in rural innovation and rural broadband, and funding of two important projects for Albany and the Albany Area: The health professions simulation lab at Albany State University, a state-of-the-art teaching space that will support the university’s efforts to increase production of the health professionals that are so critically needed by health care employers in the region, state and throughout the country; and expansion of the diesel automotive and collision center at Albany Technical College’s Albany Transportation Academy, which is training students in high-demand careers that have an immediate and direct impact on area businesses. The Albany Area Chamber has advocated for these policies and investments, working with decisions makers, stakeholders and legislators. You can read more about recent legislative activities in our highlights section, on page 34. At the end of this month, we’re hosting our 111th annual meeting, a tradition that celebrates accomplishments, shares how the Chamber will continue to move businesses forward throughout the year ahead, and shines the light on the Chamber’s most engaged leaders and those who have worked to make a positive impact on Albany and the Albany Area. The event, traditionally held in January, has been reimagined and will be held outdoors on the bricks at Thronateeska in downtown Albany. Follow us on Facebook for real-time news and updates on all of our programming and as we implement our new strategic plan, #ImpactABY2023, the details of which we shared in our last issue of Biz. Opportunities to be involved, engaged and part of the impact are abundant. Call us to learn more. The Albany Area Chamber exists to serve you − our members. It’s our honor and our cause to work on your behalf, to champion business success and to be a driving force for good for Albany and the Albany Area. Albany has positioned itself as a leader in collaborative partnerships, innovation and resiliency. The present is exciting, the future more so. -BÁR B AR A R I VER A H OLMES
ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
GE ORG I A Still Peachy for Businesses It doesn't take an economist to explain the negative impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on Southwest Georgia, Georgia as a whole, the Southeast, the entire nation and, indeed, the whole world. But those whose business is business — locally and statewide — say they're not focusing so much on the impact of the virus as they are recovery efforts in the months to come.
"The impact of the coronavirus on individuals and businesses can't be overstated," Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes said. "But there's another side to this that we need to also be talking about: The innovation and the resiliency of our businesses, some of which have experienced growth during the last 12 months." "Many businesses, out of necessity, learned things that will help them as time continues and as they move forward. You're going to see business patterns change and the geography of the work force change; location flexibility is the new fringe benefit."
Georgia as a whole, experts from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia say, has certainly fared well as the nation attempts to regain a sense of the economic normal that had settled in before the pandemic hit. The state was zooming along, boasting of its standing— for the eighth year in a row — as the No. 1 state in the country in which to do business.
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"Despite COVID-19, Georgia landed more economic development projects in fiscal year 2020 than in fiscal year 2019," UGA's Selig Center for Economic Growth Director Jeff Humphreys said in an updated report on the state's economy. "Due to the build-out of many economic development projects, Georgia’s total employment was only 2 percent below its pre-COVID-19 recession peak level by the end of 2020. In comparison, the nation’s total employment was 7 percent below its pre-COVID-19 recession peak level." Individuals and businesses no doubt benefitted from the stimulus packages passed by the federal government, but Terry College of Business Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise William Lastrapes said public health may play an even larger role in economic recovery and future response to a similar type of global calamity. "The federal government acted like a nationwide insurance policy to lessen the economic shock of the pandemic through disaster relief checks, unemployment compensation and Federal Reserve lending facilities," Lastrapes said. "But the surest way to make the economy less sensitive to future pandemics is to have a strong and effective nationwide public health system that can promote a plan of action, reduce uncertainty and provide a sense of security when infectious diseases arise. "This is, naturally, a role for the federal government, through agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. However, private sector funding and cooperation are also necessary components of a strong public health structure. Beefing up public health in the United States might entail significant costs in the short run, but the payouts in terms of future economic security are likely to be well worth these costs." Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has been criticized by some — even the man who was then president of the United States — for his decision to open state businesses much sooner than other states. But Kemp's decisions have apparently paid off for business interests in the state. Kemp, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of
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Economic Development, announced recently that more than 16,000 jobs were created across all regions of the state by economic development projects in Georgia during the first half of Fiscal Year 2021, generating nearly $6 billion in new investments. Those totals represent a 40 percent increase in new jobs created and a 47 percent increase in new investments compared to the first six months of the previous fiscal year. Numbers from the first half of Fiscal Year 2021 also show a significant increase in economic development projects in areas outside of the Atlanta area, with 9,782 jobs delivered outside of the 10-county metro region.
Albany and southwest Georgia, too, saw new outlets open during the pandemic, helping offset the loss of businesses that were unable to weather the dramatic downturn wrought by the pandemic. "Literally yesterday, I had contact with a developer who wanted to talk about development in our downtown district, and I talked with three the day before," Downtown Albany Manager
10 MARCH | APRIL 2021
Laqurica Gaskins said. "Yes, we were hampered by the restrictions that COVID brought, but we didn't just sit on the sidelines. We have continued to talk with developers looking to bring what we hope are 'good fits' to the downtown district.
JANA DYKE ALBANY-DOUGHERTY ECONOMINC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION, PRESIDENT & CEO
"We saw two new businesses — Kingscorn and the Broken Heart Bakery — open in the last few months, and we have two new businesses that we expect to launch in the coming weeks. It's a new world, and we're prepared to pivot with whatever changes take place."
Jana Dyke, president and CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, recently helped organize a groundbreaking for a new east Albany business cluster recently. She said the pandemic has made presence on new social media even more important than ever. "We, of course, will focus on industrial development, but I think even we have realized that there has to be a shift of focus to also support businesses that are already here and to small businesses that are not heavy industry," Dyke said. "We have to find that great entrepreneurial spirit in our community. ... Look at what Bo Henry has done. He's knocked it out of the park. We have to find more Bo Henrys. "Site visits are part of the life blood of economic development, and we have to now provide on our website and on our social media a virtual site visit that shows developers what we have to offer. Businesses know now what they're looking for when they get ready to move on a site. We have to show them that we're prepared to add the other things they need when they get here."
Negative impact? Absolutely. We all felt it. The data have yet to show long-term economic and demographic impacts. But we also experienced incredible business innovation, courage and support. I saw businesses protect against a future supply chain breakdown. These businesses didn't rely on someone else. It was the resilience that helped these — and other — businesses persevere and even grow. That's one of the great stories of the pandemic."
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A crucial factor, Holmes notes, is that good old American know-how.
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"Yes, the pandemic was hard on business," the Chamber president said. "But Procter & Gamble's (in Albany) production has increased 20 percent since the pandemic and they've added significant new permanent jobs. Sunnyland Farms has had a serious uptick in online of their products. Pretoria Fields began making hand sanitizer that is now used in state government offices.
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ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
TAKING THE LEAP NEW BUSINESSES OPEN IN SPITE OF GLOBAL PANDEMIC
VATISHA PROPHET, OWNER OF TRUE VINYL
BRITNEY WRAY AND MADI HERZOG, BROKEN HEART BAKERY
14 MARCH | APRIL 2021
Prophet opening the doors to True Vinyl at 1507 Dawson Road last year on Sept. 26. “My daughter was trying out for cheerleading at Albany State University where she’s a student,” Prophet said. “On the way out the door, she asked me to make her a custom cheer bow. Now, I’m that mom who does extra for my child, so I got everything together and realized I didn’t have enough vinyl to make what she needed.” As she searched for the material, the only sources she could find were big-box stores. With a business background and having worked 12 years in printing, she realized opportunity was presenting itself. Admittedly, the COVID pandemic had her nervous, but she thought she could build a business supplying vinyl to t-shirt printers and small print shops.
SOMETIMES OPPORTUNITY DOESN’T KNOCK. INSTEAD, IT INSPIRES YOU AS IT WALKS OUT THE DOOR. It’s the type of epiphany that can even lead to the opening of a new business in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. That’s what happened to Vatisha Prophet. A casual request from her daughter resulted in
“To my surprise, instead we’re catering to people who adopted t-shirt printing or crafting as a hobby, just trying to find something to do during quarantine,” she said. “A lot of people picked up the hobby of crafting.” Starting with heat-transfer vinyl, she’s expanded to keep up with materials customers need for their Crickits and other hobby tools. She advertised early with The Albany Herald and iHeart radio stations, and said she got good response from online posts with the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. Her live DIY videos increased her social media presence. Word of mouth has been her biggest asset, as well as strong customer service. “We do curbside,” Prophet said. “They can come to the back to pick up products. They can call in orders. We try to make it convenient. Even with classes we offer, we limit the number of attendees, but we offer multiple classes so people can still take advantage of the opportunity.”
ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
For Broken Heart Bakery owner Britny Wray and manager Madi Herzog, necessity led them to create their opportunity. Herzog said they were working at Turner’s Furniture when the COVID restrictions hit last year. “Britny was unable to work because of her heart condition (that’s the source of the bakery’s name) and I was unable to work because of COVID,” Herzog said. “We started baking out of her house because she used to own a bakery in El Paso, Texas. We opened up a Facebook group, got a cottage license and started selling out of her house just to make a little income to help us through the COVID months.” Social media got them in touch with what has proven to be a loyal customer base. As the pandemic stretched into October and their business took off, they began baking something new—a plan for a physical business. “It grew out of control to where we could not just cook out of her house anymore,” Herzog said. “I went over to her house to start baking one day and she said, ‘I think we need to open a bakery.’ And I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’” Their bakery at 230 W. Broad Ave. had a soft opening New Year’s Eve with a grand opening Jan. 2. Broken Heart serves pastry items, cookies, brownies and cakes, and Herzog said plans are to expand soon by adding brunches. When conditions allow, they plan to open the upstairs bar area and host live bands. Their deliberate planning also has given them an advantage that many businessowners envy. “This was built off of brownies,” Herzog said. “We never took out a business loan or anything. Every week that we cooked, all of that went into buying things for the bakery.”
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KINGSCORN GOURMET POPCORN OWNERS CHRIS AND KAMARA KING
Kamara didn’t need any convincing. “I’m a popcorn lover,” she said. “I have literally eaten popcorn for breakfast.”
Chris and Kamara King can understand both outgrowing a homebased business and finding inspiration from an unexpected source. The kernel for Kingscorn Gourmet Popcorn started heating when popcorn-lover Karama and husband Chris, in Atlanta for a September 2019 family reunion, couldn’t find a parking place at Lenox Mall for a visit to Garrett’s Popcorn Shop. Instead, they dropped in at a small popcorn shop recommended by a cousin. Chris was taken with the shop, telling his wife, “We need one of these in Albany.”
Chris doesn’t like popcorn itself, but says he loves creating new popcorn flavors. (“Lots of trial and error,” Kamara says.) The Kings began selling their popcorn at pop-up markets in November 2019. When COVID struck in early 2020, Kamara said, “all the festivals and markets just shut down. We were asking, what do we do now?” “We already had our website going, so we started offering delivery via porch drop-off. It was nocontact,” she said. “That was when a lot more people became aware of us and started ordering. It was really word of mouth.” Chris added, “I think people liked the idea of having something different delivered to their house other
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than restaurant food. You’re getting something fun and, even locked up with COVID, something new to try.” Both work full time, so popping corn late into the night combined with three hours of deliveries each day was untenable. Kamara was reluctant about a brick-and-mortar store, and locating downtown wasn’t high on Chris’ list, but Albany Downtown Manager Lequrica Gaskins convinced them. Kingscorn opened on Dec. 4 at 104 Pine Ave., where popcorn aficionados can find up to 30 flavors in the store at any given time. Chris insisted they sell saltwater taffy in the store for others like him who don’t care for popcorn. Kingscorn also has candy, soft drinks and shaved-ice “snow blasts.” The Kings plan to add pecan pralines and fudge this fall. “People talk about how Albany doesn’t support local businesses, but that has not been our experience,” Chris said, adding store traffic has been great. “We’ve had all the local businesses around come and purchase product from us and talk about doing partnerships. I’m really excited about the local community involvement when it comes to this small business.” Prophet and Herzog also have been pleased with community support. Prophet adds that she encourages those thinking about opening a business “to just go for it. There are still opportunities to have a profitable business during the pandemic. You just have to be strategic, and very creative about your products and your services.”
18 MARCH | APRIL 2021
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ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
20 MARCH | APRIL 2021
FINDING A BRIGHT SPOT
Perhaps at no other point in recent history have people spent more time at home than in the last year. While some essential workers toiled around the clock, other people found themselves working remotely with more free time than usual. Working from home meant more time spent with family, but it also created a need for a safe way to decompress. Eager to escape their own four walls, many turned to outdoor activities as a way to relax in a socially distanced way. ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
backyard vegetable gardening among young people. “Before last year, 90 percent of our gardening clientele were older, but in 2020 we saw a lot of younger people.” Harrell said that the timing of quarantine created a “perfect storm” for his business. “COVID hit at the beginning of planting season,” he recalled. “People started thinking about how important it was to be self-sustaining. They wanted to learn more about growing their own food, whether that was with a backyard vegetable garden or by raising their own chickens. Thankfully, we had a full inventory and were able to help people get started.”
WHETHER NURTURING FLOWERS OR FOOD, people started rediscovering their own backyards and found gardening to be an escape and a respite during a troubling time. Young people, especially, took an interest in an activity that many had never had the time to try. Richard Spencer, owner of the landscaping company Garden Path, says he heard from a number of first-time gardeners looking for advice on how to start and what to plant. “While we didn’t have as much commercial work during the quarantine, we did have a lot of small projects come through,” he says. “I was able to consult with a lot of folks who were wanting to get into gardening and landscaping their property, and do it right. Some of them wanted to do all of the work themselves, while others ordered plants and flowers from us and asked us to help with the planting. We were fortunate that we could continue working because we could be outside.” At Bennett Feed and Seed, general manager Matt Harrell also saw a surge of interest in
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The challenge this year, he said, will be to stock enough inventory to meet the new demand. Seed companies across the nation are experiencing shortages and shipping delays, and it is difficult find basic building supplies, such as fence posts. Still, Harrell is optimistic about the trend in gardening and what it means for the future.
WHEN PEOPLE BEGAN TO SEARCH FOR ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THEIR HOMES, OUTDOOR RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, SUCH AS GOLF, WERE THE PERFECT ANSWER. Most golf courses only closed down for a brief time at the beginning of the pandemic before reopening with safety guidelines in place. As a result, 2020 turned out to be a great year for the golf industry. According to a study by the National Golf Foundation, U.S. golfers logged 20 percent more rounds in August 2020 than August 2019. That comes on the heels of a 13.9 percent increase in June and a 19.7 percent increase in July, which totals up to a three-month stretch of major growth — and 27 million more rounds played over that period than during the previous year. Local courses also saw an uptick in play. As they began to venture forth from their homes, members were eager to hit the links. Rob Allen, director of golf at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club, said that even though the club canceled tournaments, they booked more rounds of individual golf in 2020, while also picking up new memberships and welcoming beginning golfers. The increase in players meant an increase in demand for golf merchandise in the pro shop. The challenge there has been keeping adequate stock to fill demand. With production slowed down, order
turn-around now takes four to six weeks longer than usual. Doublegate Country Club also saw an upward trend in numbers of golfers. “After the first month of quarantine, we started to see an explosion of membership participation in both golf and tennis,” said Danny Souza, the club’s general manager. “Doublegate was an oasis for members to get out of the house.” According to Souza, Doublegate has added nearly 80 new members in the last year, a trend that he credits partially to the public’s increased interest in health and exercise. Members took advantage of tennis, pickleball, and the pool, while the club’s exercise facility and private trainer “have never been busier,” he said.
Photo courtesy Yamaha
People also sought out other ways to spend quality family time together, since they could not travel for a vacation. Instead of spending money on airline tickets or cruises, some invested in powersports vehicles, allowing them to ride offroad in the wide-open, socially distant spaces of tracks and trails or to take to the water on personal watercrafts. As a result, powersports companies experienced a surprising sales boom nationwide, and the industry went into high gear, with national manufacturers such as Polaris and Yamaha adding new workers to meet the demand.
ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
country did,” he siad. “We did see a jump in retail, though, as many (window) shoppers were converted to buyers. They went ahead and made the purchase so that they could enjoy the product right away, rather than thinking about it for a while.”
PowerSports Plus Albany is an authorized motorcycle, allterrain vehicle, and personal watercraft dealer for Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Suzuki, Traxxas, and Yamaha. Even though manufacturing production slowed somewhat, making inventory more difficult to stock, PowerSports Plus experienced its best year ever in 2020, said General Manager Grant Belk. While industry data shows that the national market had an influx of new buyers during quarantine, Belk said that the Albany Area statistics looked a little different. “Because so many people in Southwest Georgia are so outdoors-oriented and already enjoy powersports, we did not see as many first-time buyers as some other parts of the
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While some people enjoyed motorized vehicles to cure their cabin fever, others chose to enjoy the great outdoors at a slower pace by exploring the surrounding waterways via canoe or kayak. Kayak Attack owner Josh Lorber said that by adapting his business to meet safety concerns, he is able to report a great year for business, with more rentals than the previous year. Because the company can no longer transport as many people at one time, families now arrive at the launch site in their own vehicles, and Kayak Attack meets them with boats. Shuttling themselves also means shorter wait times for customers. During quarantine, Lorber saw more weekday rentals due to more flexible work and school schedules, and, while many customers were local, some families and friend groups made day trips from Columbus, Macon, and Atlanta. Lorber also said that more online booking and fewer cash transactions cut down on personal interaction.
“THE PANDEMIC COMPLETELY CHANGED THE WAY WE WILL DO BUSINESS FOREVER,” LORBER SAID. “IT WAS SCARY AT FIRST, BUT WE MADE CHANGES QUICKLY, AND PEOPLE RESPONDED. THE KEY TO SURVIVING WAS ADAPTING.”
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Choosing Albany T
he narrative of Albany all too often is one
that focuses on the negative: What Albany doesn’t
have, what it needs, why young people are leaving. With “Choosing Albany,” we are flipping the narrative, showcasing why people have moved to Albany from other communities, or why they're coming home. We want to show why people have moved from other communities or come back to Albany after a short (or long) hiatus. In short, we want to tell the stories of why people choose to call Albany their home. We're kicking off the series with WALB News Channel 10 Anchor Karla Heath-Sands, a familiar face to Albanians and Southwest Georgians for years. Her decision to make Albany home was a conscious one, one that she and her husband made together very early. A decision that only made more sense as the years went on, and as they saw how the community rallied together, how people supported each other.
Prints of this Katie Bacon original painting, featured on the 2020 cover of the Chamber's "Albany" magazine, are available for sale at the Albany Area Chamber. Call (229) 434-8700 for details.
26 MARCH | APRIL 2021
Throughout the series, you will get an in depth look at other Albanians and what led them here, or what led them back. We will feature a variety of people — some you may know well and others less — as we highlight what Albany has to offer, what Albany gets right, and what brings incredibly talented people here.
In print, online or on the go
The Albany Herald keeps you connecTed to what’s happening in your community and around the World. • Latest Breaking News • Sports Coverage • Community & World News • Local Events & Entertainment • Lifestyle Features • Food & Dining
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Choosing Albany KARLA HEATH-SANDS
WHILE KARLA HEATH-SANDS HAS BECOME WELL KNOWN TO THE Albany community and a staple in many Southwest Georgia homes as an anchor on WALB News Channel 10, she didn’t always call Albany home. In fact, she didn’t even imagine herself working in television initially. After graduating with an English degree from Mercer University in Macon, Heath-Sands worked in the school system coordinating volunteers. “I coordinated the Bibb County Schools’ volunteer program, which was Partners in Education,” says Heath-Sands. “ ... It was just about coordinating volunteers to go into the public school system.” But while everyone who watches on WALB might not know that she has a “God-given talent” for singing, she has always had a passion for singing and performing. Because of her schedule with the school system, she had the summers off, and in the summer of 1989, she auditioned with Six Flags Over Georgia and was chosen as a performer for the Crystal Pistol. “I tell young people this all the time: You never know who’s watching you,” says Heath-Sands about what happened next. “People at WMAZ had been watching my (performance) career, my pageant career, school volunteer career. I came home one day during the summer, and I had a message from WMAZ.” Heath-Sands calls this moment a “God-send.”
28 MARCH | APRIL 2021
An anchor of the Community “They called me and asked me if I’d be willing to come aboard as a weathercaster/ community service director. The woman who had been doing that for 30 something years was retiring. (I told them) I can do the community service piece, but I was an English major, not science. I’m not a weather person, and then they said they’d train me. ... That is how I got into television. God sent that to me.” While in Macon, and through singing, too coincidentally, Heath-Sands met her now husband, the Honorable W. Louis Sands. “He was our Minister of Music at the church in Macon,” says Heath-Sands. I had been invited to sing on a program at his church.” The rest, as they say, is history. When her husband was offered a spot on the federal bench, a move that would take them to Albany, they agreed to make Albany their home. “Albany was welcoming to us, and his position was for Albany,” says HeathSands. “We agreed that this would be home. This was where our children were raised, went to school here, graduated from here, and I became active in the community. This became our home. People always ask me, ‘Well why didn’t you move to a larger market or why don’t you go to a larger market?’” (It’s) because we established our home here.”
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30 MARCH | APRIL 2021
Since making Albany home, Heath-Sands has become a fixture here. Aside from anchoring WALB-TV's noon and 4 p.m. news and co-anchoring the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, Heath-Sands has enmeshed herself into the fabric of Albany through her community involvement. She has worked as a former trustee for Girls Inc. of Albany and as a former board member for Albany Technical College. She’s also a member of the Albany Chapter of Links, a former Board of Advisors member for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a current board member for the Board of Directors for the Georgia Humanities Council, and a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church.
“(Being involved in your community) gives you insight into the needs of the community,” says Heath-Sands. “It also gives you insight into strengths and weaknesses of your community. The very positive thing about working with Girls Inc. is that it was a successful program in terms of addressing teen pregnancy. (The girls) were smart, strong, and bold, and it was about learning STEM and learning about business. The focus for these young people was about being successful, and the program was successful. “Also, in terms of working on the board for the technical college, we were (recruiting students) not only here in Albany, but we also drew students from surrounding communities. (Working with them) was helping to improve our workforce. ... Companies would come to Albany Tech and say these are our needs, and Albany Tech would step up and help train to meet those needs. You got insight into what the needs, strengths, and weaknesses were for your community.” And through her time in Albany, Heath-Sands says one of the things she has always noticed is how the community rallied together.
“We moved here right after the first flood,” Heath-Sands says. “It would have been in ‘94, and I saw how the community came together then. Of course we’ve been here in the two storms and additional floods and all of that, and that is one of the things that I think is so telling about Albany. When the times are tough, the citizens rally together to help each other out. I think that’s something we all should be happy and proud of. We work to make sure that everybody is okay.”
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ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
THE ANNUAL MEETING CELEBRATION The Albany Area Chamber's 111th annual meeting will continue its tradition of celebrating the previous year's accomplishments, sharing how the Chamber will continue to move businesses forward throughout the year ahead, and shine the light on the Chamber's most engaged leaders and those who have worked to make a positive impact on Albany and the Albany Area. The 2021 event has been reimagined and will be held outdoors on April 29 on the Bricks at Thronateeska in downtown Albany. Music by the Evergreen Family Band, taste of Albany food vendors, and a unique atmosphere will complement the celebration. The 2021 annual meeting, presented by Georgia CEO and Colony Bank, will include the transfer of the chairman's gavel; honor the Chamber's Lifetime Service Award recipient; recognize the 2020 Small Business of the Year and the 2020 Nonprofit of the Year; and announce the 2020 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year. This event, typically hosted in January, is one of the most important events of the year for the Albany Area Chamber. You can expect the annual meeting to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, implementing high standards for an experience that is safe for networking.
32 MARCH | APRIL 2021
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THE ALBANY AREA CHAMBER LED A DIVERSE delegation of local leaders from the public and private sectors to Atlanta as part of the Chamber’s long-standing Albany-Dougherty Day, a government affairs advocacy program that uniquely positions the community’s opportunities and partnerships and showcases the impact of its leadership and innovation. Discussions with key state decision-makers and partners − including the office of Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the Albany Area Legislative Delegation − noted the community’s exemplary and decisive response to managing the pandemic and its resiliency in the face of adversity; its role as a leader in rural innovation and rural health care; and its economic opportunities in the growing areas of manufacturing, logistics, and health care services. “Through vision and action, Albany has positioned itself as a statewide leader in collaborative partnerships, resiliency, and innovation. Our present is exciting; our future more so,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, the region’s largest business advocacy organization. “The Albany Area Chamber will continue to accelerate impact by leveraging partnerships and opportunities, convening and connecting stakeholders and leaders, and driving transformational change for Albany and the Albany Area.” The Albany Area Chamber’s 2021 pro-business legislative priorities were discussed; among them are investing in rural broadband and rural innovation, which is critical to supporting educational attainment, economic growth, and utilization of telehealth services; the expansion of the health care professional pipeline to ensure Georgia has the workforce to provide the care and services citizens need and supporting telemedicine to increase access to care for rural Georgians; small business liability protections; support incentives and initiatives that remove barriers for small businesses, that expand access to resources and that have proven to assist companies in investing and expanding their footprint in Georgia, ranked the No. 1 state for business eight years in a row.
34 MARCH | APRIL 2021
A P PA R E L
D R I N K WA R E
T EC H I T E M S
–left– MARLIN JONES SALES SINCE 2002 ALBANY, GA –center– NIKKI CABALLERO NEW SALES REPRESENTATIVE AUBURN/OPELIKA, AL
L E T U S H E L P YO U B U I L D YO U R B R A N D 229.435.0000 | WWW.LOGOSPLUS.COM
–right– KENDYL WHITE SALES SINCE 1995 ALBANY, GA
HOW DO YOU
ART BALL? That was the question posed to the Albany Museum of Art supporters for the 2021 Art Ball, the organization's largest annual fundraiser. Held on March 13, the event was transformed into a fun collection of events to allow for a safe social experience.
From left, Andy Wulf, Dr. Gloria Esoimeme, Hope Campbell, Puddin Bass, Jim Womack and Mallory Black. (Puddin and Mallory co-chaired the Art Ball committee.)
In a quick pivot of creativity, the Art Ball organizers created a hybrid of the annual fundraiser that allowed its attendees to choose from two options. "Art Ball in a Box" – a beautifully curated box that included everything needed to celebrate from the comfort of home - equipped individuals to host their own private, in-home event, which also allowed kids the opportunity to participate. Other attendees chose to be in person at one of four locations, including the Director's Dinner, Henry Campbell's, The Catch, and Manor House. The funds raised from the Albany Museum of Art's Annual Art Ball keeps admission to the museum free, supports the "Art from the Start" program for Head Start families, and provides scholarships to art camps and classes.
36 MARCH | APRIL 2021
From left, Annie Vanoteghem, Elinor Saragoussi and Max Boyd. (Eli created the Escape Plan installation in the West Gallery and her music partner Max created the background soundtrack for the installation. Annie is the AMA director of education and public programming.)
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ALBANY AUTO GLASS & ALBANY AUTO TRIM 404 W. ROOSEVELT AVE. JANUARY 13 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Albany Auto Glass & Albany Auto Trim is a family-owned business specializing in auto glass repair and replacement. As a certified AGSC - AGRSS qualified auto glass technician shop, they can handle insurance claims and work closely with dealerships and manufacturers on the new operations available for vehicles, including lane departure warning, adaptive driving capabilities, and rain sensor technology. Owners Larry and Lafaya Robinson recently acquired Albany Auto Trim, an upholstery shop that has served Albany since 1977. Learn more about their business by visiting www. albanyautoglass.net.
JOHNNIE JOHNSON JR. MEMORIAL CREW QUARTERS BUILDING 1900 N. MONROE ST. | JANUARY 21 The City of Albany, Georgia Public Works Department Johnnie Johnson Jr. Memorial Crew Quarters building located at 1900 N. Monroe St. was commemorated January 21, 2021. The 4,800 square foot building project, managed by the City of Albany Facilities Management Department with prime contractor W.J. Kirksey, has an occupancy of 145 people. Facility highlights include a training room that can accommodate 135 personnel, a break room area with a full kitchen, men's and women's restrooms with adjacent crew locker rooms, an ice machine room, and a mechanical room. The exterior also features a custom sign that memorializes the Albany Public Works 1971 sanitation workers strike, led by the Reverend Johnnie Johnson Jr. The success of this strike helped identify and address racial inequities.
38 MARCH | APRIL 2021
COLONY BANK NORTHWEST ALBANY BANKING CENTER 2900 OLD DAWSON ROAD | FEBRUARY 11 The Albany Area Chamber celebrated the newly opened Colony Bank Northwest Albany Banking Center with a ribbon cutting at 2900 Old Dawson Road. Colony — Georgia's 8th largest publicly-traded bank and the largest community bank headquartered outside of Atlanta — has more than 300 team members passionate about serving their customers and delivering financial solutions. Learn more at www.colony.bank.
CLENNEY & LUKE, PC 2700 DAWSON ROAD SUITE B FEBRUARY 17 Clenney and Luke, P.C., a locally owned and operated CPA firm serving clients throughout Southwest Georgia, moved to a new location and the Albany Area Chamber was on site to help cut the ribbon. For more than 27 years, Clenney & Luke has provided tax preparation, auditing, and bookkeeping to businesses and individuals throughout the region. The firm is located at 2700 Dawson Road, Suite B. Learn more at clenneylukecpa.com.
FLINT RIVER SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT MARCH 17 The Albany Area Chamber helped celebreate with a ribbon cutting the newly rebranded Flint River SHRM, the local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. On site for the event were local, regional and state SHRM officials, including local chapter president Tracy SimmonsWilliams, of Albany State University. SHRM creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. Learn more at flintrivershrm.org.
ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
R E N E W I NG MEMBERS JANUARY 2021
AB&T Adams Ex terminators Airgas South Albany Air Conditioning & Heating Albany Beverage Company Albany Communit y Together Albany Inter nal Medicine Albany Lock & Safe Albany Realt y Company Albany Rental s Albany Surg ical, P.C. Albany Urolog y Clinic & Surgery Center All Ways Caring American Peanut Shellers A ssociation Bates Gas Company Berg Eye Center Bet ter Brand s of South Georg ia Brad Lanier Oil Company The Bridges of Southlake Brook s Real Estate Management Co. Buffalo Rock Company Bu sh Animal Clinic Capital Cit y Home Loan s Collection s And Billing Ser v ice Compassion Comfor t & Care
Creek wood Apar t ments Dominion of Georg ia Draff in & Tucker Eng ineering & Eq uipment F leming & Riles In surance F lint Eq uipment Company F lint River Fresh F lint RiverKeeper FOX 31 W FXL-T V Garland, Williams, & A ssociates Gill's F lint River Habitat for Humanit y Hay man's Garage Hilton Garden Inn Albany Hou se of China II Hughey & Neuman J. Ellis Cosby, O.D. James W. Buckley & A ssociates LR A Con structors M ADlab Marketing Mauldin & Jenkin s, CPA Moder n Gas Company Motel 6 Moulton & Hardin, CLU Needmore Proper ties Open Arms Or thopaedic A ssociates
Oxford Con struction Company Pace Bur t PeoplesSouth Bank Perry & Walters Phoebe Put ney Health System Powerspor ts Plu s Purchasing Alliance Solution s Reeves Con struction Company Rental Depot Rober t J. Pinnero, P. C. The Royal Collection The Shoe Box Smith Gray Electric Company South Georg ia Brick Company State Farm - Karen Cohilas Stewbo's - Har vest Moon, The Catch, Henry Stripling Auto Air Electric Sunbelt's Ford Lincoln of Albany Sy nov u s The Levee St udios Thronateeska Heritage Center U Save It Pharmacy United Way of Southwest Georg ia Vizorre Ware Health Care Ser v ices Webb Proper ties WebstaurantStore WSWG-T V Y MCA, Albany
Albany State Universit y National Alumni Albany Strikers Anderson Contracting & Roof ing Araamda Inn Arcadia Bapti st Church A sa Healthcare Solution s A shley Fur nit ure Homestore A SPIRE Behav ioral Health & Developmental Bill Thompson Tire Ser v ice Burger King Car pet World Cask Gover nment Ser v ices Coldwell Banker Walden & Kirkland Complete Carriers Log i stics Concrete Enter pri ses Doher t y, Duggan Har t & Tier nan Doublegate Country Club Dougher t y Count y Dept. of Family & Children Gardner, Willi s, Sweat, Plaire & Wil son Georg ia Depar t ment of Labor Georg ia Pacif ic Georg ia Pacif ic - Albany Lumber Goodlife Vapor Lab Gray Log i stics Har vey Drilling Kimbrell-Ster n Lake Park Storage M&S Managed Care Mars Wrigley Confectionery
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MEMBERS Mediacom Bu siness Medi-Save Pharmacy Moss and Brannan Or thodontics Newk s Eatery Pellicano & Blanken ship Poultry Health Price, Larry R & L Eng ineering Rhema Word Cathedral Rich Graphics Schnitzer Southeast Securit y Finance Shor t & Paulk Supply Company Singletary Rental s South Slappey Village Shopping Center Souther n Rebar and Supplies Spinrite Yar n s Still Pond Vineyard Winery & Distillery Stonebridge Golf & Country Club The Church at the Groves The Landing at Southlake Villager Cleaners Walker Heating-Cooling Company Watson Spence Winchester Paint & Body Woodall and Pf lepsen
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OmniTR AX Industrial Development 252 Clay ton Street, 4th Floor Denver, CO 303-398-4582 | Omnitrax.com Communities in Schools of Georg ia in Albany/Dougherty 722 Corn Avenue | Albany 229-483-6300 | Cisga.org Melted – A Grilled Cheese Shoppe 2319 Gillionville Road | Albany 321-229-0654 | Meltedrestaurant.com SoftDev Incorporated 3700 Koppers Street, Suite 150 Baltimore, MD 21227 919-246-4380 | Softdevconsulting.com
Explore the benefits of what joining the Chamber can offer to your business. Visit us online at albanyga.com/benefits/ or call 229-434-8700. Questions? Email us about member benefits at email@example.com.
Bottoms Up 719 N. Westover Blvd. | Albany Rebel Dolls | 719-B N. Westover Blvd. Albany | Shoprebeldolls.com Vita-Fuse | 719 Westover Blvd. vita-fuse.com Sugar Mama’s Bakery 719 Westover Blvd. | Albany
ALBANY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Better When local businesses and education leaders come together, good things happen. From internships to guest speakers, our partnerships are yielding results. If you want to join our growing list of partners in education, email firstname.lastname@example.org