Albany-Dougherty EDC names Industries of the Year

The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission today honored three of its existing businesses during the annual Industry of Year Rise 'n Shine breakfast, held at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Equinox Chemicals, Tara Foods and MillerCoors were recognized as the small, medium and large Industries of the Year, respectively. Each industry was weighed on its economic impact, its commitment to the community and its innovation.

"The Industries of the Year are a testament to the strength and diversity of the Albany-Dougherty County economy," said EDC President Ted Clem. "It's imperative that as a community we recognize, support and assist our existing industry, which are the base of any economy."

Existing industry is responsible for more than 80 percent of new jobs in a community, Clem said. To further facilitate its ability to assist existing industry, the EDC has implemented a Business Retention and Expansion Program, led by EDC Vice President Andrea Schruijer.

Equinox Chemicals, small

Equinox Chemicals is proof that when a door closes, a window opens. Founder Mark Grimaldi was an employee at Merck when it downsized. But Grimaldi took that as an opportunity. In 2003, Grimaldi founded Equinox Chemicals, a custom organic synthesis research and manufacturing company right here in Albany-Dougherty County. Equinox's synthetic services include government, research and development, pharmaceutical, food, flavor, fragrance, industrial coatings, polymers, semiconductors, alternative fuels and specialty chemical sectors. Equinox makes more than 700 products and has customers throughout the world.

Last year, the company of 27 employees made an $880,000 capital investment; in 2009-10, Grimaldi expects there to be $1 million in capital improvements.

That's quite the investment in Albany-Dougherty County. And it's an investment that shows dedication to taking advantage of the great opportunities here.

Tara Foods, medium

Dougherty County is one of the few communities in Georgia to have earned its Work Ready designation. Tara Foods â" which, among other clients, makes food products for Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain â" played an important role in earning that designation. Work Ready allows employers to take the guessing work out of matching an applicant's work skills to the job requirements. Among other things, Work Ready reduces overtime and employee turnover and increases productivity and employee morale. Tara quickly saw the benefits of its 140-person work force becoming Work Ready certified, and jumped on board early to move Albany-Dougherty County along the designation process. Today all potential Tara hires must be Work Ready certified. Tara Foods is a great model of a company utilizing available resources in order to strengthen itself. In that process, Tara Foods has helped strengthen Albany-Dougherty County.

MillerCoors, large

MillerCoors set up shop in Albany in 1979, and since that time has grown to become a valued corporate citizen and, at nearly10 million barrels annually, is one of the company's best-producing breweries. When you hear MillerCoors, don't let your thoughts start and end at "Miller" and "Coors." In Albany, the 600-employee facility â" which the EDC is proud to say expanded earlier this year by about 40 employees â" brews more than 50 products, including Miller Lite, Miller Chill, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Genuine Draft 64, Coors Light, Keystone Light, Mickey's, Foster's, Killian's Red, Miller High Life and Miller High Life Lite. That's an impressive roster of world-famous labels brewed right here in Albany. Beyond what is produced locally, there are 550 products that are packaged and/or distributed from the Albany facility's Cordele Road plant.