Interim President Justin Strickland Reflects on ADEDC Progress
Thursday, April 17th, 2014
To mark Albany-Dougherty Industry Celebration Week, AlbanyCEO posed a series of questions to Justin Strickland, interim president, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission (ADEDC) on the ADEDC and the state of economic development in the area. Here are his replies.
What are the biggest ADEDC accomplishments from the past year?
Beginning two new forward thinking projects that shake up the traditional methods of doing economic development. First, we partnered with Lattimer Communications to develop a new communications plan to help unify a vision and brand for the community. We have worked with our Renewal Task Force at EDC to develop a strategy for communication and now with the guidance of Lattimer Commutations, who has worked with the City of Atlanta and Georgia Power on similar projects, we feel that we are on the cusp of something powerful. The creative is in development, and we anticipate the new campaign to begin by the end of March.
Also, the creation of the Albany Job Investment Fund in 2012 is a huge win for our economic development efforts. We’re thankful for the vision shown by the Albany City Commission to provide such a powerful incentive that we can use to recruit and retain industry. The fact that existing industry can utilize the fund is a plus.
What are the biggest opportunities/challenges in the year ahead?
The biggest opportunity we have is in the area of communication. We are hopeful that the communication plan will allow for a perception shift to take place within the community. We want Albany to be proud of the assets and opportunities that are here, and to tell other people about them. Our EDC staff is definitely proud to call Albany home.
I have always liked the statement Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joel Wernick makes when speaking at different events: “Albany, Georgia – a place where thousands live and millions wish they could.” I hope that our community can truly believe that and accentuate the positive that happens here. We also have a great opportunity to further promote the Albany Job Investment Fund; the first win we have utilizing the fund will bring about the best marketing possible for it.
What key initiatives address these opportunities/challenges?
We have an engaged board and task forces. Our board has representatives from the city of Albany, Dougherty County and the business community through the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce board leadership. Our Recruitment, Retention and Renewal Task Forces grew from our strategic planning sessions in 2012. Having these task forces has allowed our EDC to interface with more people in the community than we normally would, to get more active involvement from community leaders and citizens, and to bring in more knowledge than we could ever gain as a staff alone. We have almost 90 people participating on these task forces – and welcome anyone to be a part of them that wants to get involved. I believe it has allowed for our EDC to take a more proactive role in the life of the community.
How does Industry Week advance economic development?
By putting a bright spotlight on our existing industries for a week, we hope that the community can glean how valuable these businesses, both big and small, are to Albany-Dougherty County. About 80 percent of new jobs and investment growth comes from existing industries, and we consider it one of the highest honors when an existing industry chooses to invest here. To show what our existing industries do, often out of sight to many citizens, and to be able to tell the stories of the positive impact they have here, is an incredible opportunity. We are so fortunate we get to share their story during Albany-Dougherty Industry Celebration Week and all throughout the year.
What key messages would you like to leave with AlbanyCEO leaders about the ADEDC?
I recently read an article about Huntsville, Ala., in The Wall Street Journal, and a quote from an official there has stuck with me – “We view everything we are doing through the lens of economic development.” What if our entire community thought like this? It would revolutionize the perceptions and realities of Albany-Dougherty County. We at the EDC want everyone in the community to be a team of economic developers. We feel like we are moving towards that goal a little more every day.
More information on the ADEDC is available at choosealbany.com.