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      Economic Development Commission amends budget to exclude pay raises

      The Economic Development Commission decided to remove the two percent pay raise to its employees from the budget during their retreat Wednesday. This after Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines chastised them for the act since the county couldn't do the same for its employees.

      Knowing the thought and the pain that they went through putting together the budget, with 2/3 of our budget coming from them, we just felt like it was the right thing to do, said EDC Chairman Jay Smith.

      Also discussed were the results from their strategic planning sessions with community leaders. A great idea that came out of those meetings was a new way to help welcome new businesses and companies to the area, called a deal closing fund that sets aside money to help entice businesses and industries to southwest Georgia.

      This would set us apart. If we had the ability to have our own incentive fund that could match what the state of Georgia does, it would put us head and shoulders above our competition, said EDC President Ted Clem.

      The board also talked about changes to how they go about marketing Albany to other industries and building a better self-image.

      And how we can develop a better attitude within Albany itself, meaning a community that believes in itself, because we can't really sell ourselves to outsiders if we don't believe that Albany is a great community, adds Clem.

      And as part of its five-year strategic plan, the board has set a goal of creating 400 jobs each year, increasing the number of economic development events hosted by Albany/Dougherty County and increasing traffic to its website, among other things.