Albany-Dougherty Industry Roundtable Builds Rapport Among Local Leaders

Barbara Kieker

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Every other month or so since mid-2014, a group of leaders from about 15 companies that operate in and around Albany get together at different plant locations to talk about the common opportunities and challenges they face. They share ideas on how to influence positive change in the community and explore solutions that have worked well in other times and other places. 

"The Albany-Dougherty Industry Roundtable grew out of our Retention Task Force.  We wanted to get a small group of local industry leaders together to better understand their needs and wants," said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, vice president of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission (ADEDC). 

"It's been phenomenal to watch the rapport being built as leaders talk through issues, possible solutions and also opportunities. For example, the group has been looking at workforce development programs that are working well in other areas and thinking through what would work best in our area." 

The Albany-Dougherty Industry Roundtable is co-chaired by Jim Donovan, site leader for Pfizer, which manufactures ThermaCare heat wraps in Albany, and Pam McDonald, director of Supply Chain for SASCO Chemical Group in Albany. The group, which consists of plant managers and other senior executives, will hold its fifth meeting this month. 

Finding ways to collaborate

Each roundtable meeting typically begins with a presentation from a service provider, which is followed by a discussion of relevant issues faced by most of the participants.  A recent presentation was on logistics, for example. 

"The conversations are very open and also confidential.  We deliberately kept it a small group to create a foundation of trust," Holmes said.

"The roundtable provides a structure for local leaders to interact with their peers in industry.  They know that nothing they say will leave the room, unless they’ve agreed that it should.” 

The social relationships that are being built help strengthen the community.  Plant managers can pick up the phone and talk to their peers about a challenge they are facing or an opportunity they see.  Collaborating on solutions can benefit all of Albany's existing industries.

According to Justin Strickland, president of the Albany-Dougherty EDC, "Participation at each of the roundtable meetings has grown by leaps and bounds. The group is eager to keep meeting and keep the conversation going, and to act on their ideas for strengthening their businesses and Albany-Dougherty County.” 

More information on the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and its programs to support existing industries is available at

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.