Georgia Quail Hunt Celebrates 30 Years in Southwest Georgia

K.K. Snyder

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Area leaders were on hand this week to welcome 27 site selection professionals to Southwest Georgia, not only for the world-class quail hunting but more importantly to learn about the potential for doing business in the region. It’s all part of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s 30th Annual Georgia Quail Hunt in Albany.

The hunt, sponsored each year by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, connects statewide business and economic leaders with guests whose companies or clients are looking to move to or expand in Georgia. Through hunting and networking opportunities, prospects learn first-hand about the state’s numerous benefits for doing business here.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the state’s premier business advocacy organization and organizer of the Georgia Quail Hunt since its inception, said the annual hunt has been successful in recruiting businesses to Georgia.

“If you think back to 1988 and to have local business leaders come together with state business leaders, state elected leaders, people from the Georgia Chamber, from the Department of Economic Development to all say, ‘We want to do something special for Southwest Georgia, we want to tell the story, we want to showcase the quality of life,’ said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. “To pull that off once is pretty significant, but then to keep doing that every year and to see the fact that, at the end of the day, you’re bringing in tens of billions of dollars worth of investment, thousands of jobs―not only to Southwest Georgia but all over the state…that really is a testament to this part of the state and the commitment.

“Our focus is to bring attention to Southwest Georgia and the incredible talent, strategic location, natural resources and quality of life we have to offer businesses from all over the world,” said Clark.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was also on hand for the event. “The Albany-Dougherty region is essential to Georgia’s economy and this event is a great way to showcase much of what Southwest Georgia has to offer,” said Governor Deal. “Sometimes you just have to get people’s attention to show them all the good things that you have in your state, and this is a good way to see what is outside of the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area.”

The governor took the opportunity to remark on the importance of a building a strong K-12 education system to feed students into Georgia’s technical colleges and universities, perpetuating a skilled workforce. “If we’re going to attract the kind of businesses that you want, we have to start with a good foundation,” said Governor Deal. “Albany has its challenges, Dougherty County has its challenges, as does a great deal of the State of Georgia.”

As a result of legislation passed at the state level last year, he continued, Georgia now has a State Turnaround Officer who will concentrate on some of the poorer performing schools. “I am sure that over the next few years we will see very positive results coming out of his work. That’s what I hope will improve that part of our society, not only here in South Georgia but all over the state.”

One of the premier economic development events in the nation, and the largest for this corner of the state, the Georgia Quail Hunt veered somewhat from the typical schedule, allowing the visitors to experience Pretoria Fields, Albany’s new downtown brewery. In fact, visiting state leaders familiar with Albany remarked on the changes they see happening in downtown.

“I think Albany has figured out what many communities need to figure out which is you have to be a talent hub. You have to be about a quality of life that young men and women―not just baby boomers, not just Generation X―but really Millennials and Zoomers, want to live, work, play and pray,” said Clark. “Albany’s doing this, with your aquarium down here, with your river walk, with your new connection with the trail systems, with the businesses you have investing in downtown. All of these things are going to payoff in the long run because you’re becoming a destination where young talent wants to go.”

Pat Wilson, commissioner of Georgia Department of Economic Development, concurred. “One thing we are able to do this year is showcase some of the nice new businesses going on in downtown Albany. Just driving around today, it was a different feel. There’s a lot of vibrancy, and we’re very excited about it.”

While the event showcases Southwest Georgia and some of the great opportunities here, “This is about bringing jobs to the entire state. We want to see the same thing coming out of this year that we’ve seen in the past and that’s economic growth across the State of Georgia,” Wilson continued, noting that this year’s focus was on consultants instead of just companies. “Consultants, of course, work a number of economic development projects, so we’re excited about being able to share with them the great things going on here.”

Wilson added that doing business in Georgia comes down to three things, “an amazing workforce, tremendous logistics and a tremendous quality of life.”

Justin Strickland, president of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, said collaboration in Albany-Dougherty County is key. “Having the opportunity to host this broad range of partners in Albany each year gives us the chance not only to connect and network with one another but to show off our skilled workforce, infrastructure, low costs of doing business and other assets that make this an attractive location for industry locations and expansions.”

Such collaboration is largely to credit for Georgia’s consistent recognition by industry experts as the nation’s top state for business for the past five years.

“Economic growth benefits every citizen and every industry sector,” said 2018 Georgia Quail Hunt Chairman Daryl Ingram, senior vice president of Electric Cities of Georgia. “That is the objective of this event, which brings together public and private business leaders from around the state and country to showcase our great state. We hope to leave them with a strong impression of why Georgia is the No. 1 state in which to do business.”

Last year’s event was held just weeks after deadly storms tore through Albany and Southwest Georgia. Governor Deal remarked on the incredible recovery that has already taken place. “It was a very quick recovery and shows how people can work together in times of disaster,” said Deal.

In addition to the Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, corporate sponsors include Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, MillerCoors, PowerSports Plus, Glock and Trulock Choke Tubes.