Albany job loss/gain numbers reflects shift in economy

Senior Life Insurance employed 134 people in 2008 / Ashley Knight

We all know the economy has taken a toll on our local businesses and many have lost jobs because of it.

Albany has seen several new businesses come into town, but we have definitely had our share of heartbreak first with Merck and then Cooper Tire.

But one company in town may be able to help.

Commissioner Gloria Gaines recently attended a meeting of the Southwest Georgia Regional Council, who came out with numbers of jobs created and lost in southwest Georgia since 2005. The results were dismal.

"We lost almost 100% greater than we gained over that period of time, in jobs in the 14 county, southwest Georgia area," says Gaines.

the closing of the Cooper Tire plant accounted for 1,400 job losses and 1,100 indirect job losses. But Gaines believes it's a sign of the times, saying we're becoming a services-based economy rather than a manufacturing economy.

"We know that the job market is changing. There is a lot of question, nationwide even, whether or not those manufacturing jobs will ever come back."

The marine base employed 2,100 people from 2003 till now. Second runner up is Senior Life Insurance, who employed 134 people in 2008. Charlie Speller is Vice President of Sales and moved down from Delaware in April to help make a change.

"We feel it was a perfect opportunity to come down here and create some jobs. I'd heard that a lot of companies were leaving, but our company, Senior Life, we're looking to hire," says Speller.

Speller feels Albany has a lot of potential, housing three institutions of higher learning. Given this economy, he has some lofty goals.

"Create a lot of jobs, help grow our company, Senior Life, take it to a billion dollar company. And we feel that we're gonna do $20 million in the next 24 months and a lot of this will come from right here in Albany."

Meanwhile Commissioner Gaines feels a solution will have to come from everyone.

"However dire the situation is, I think the leadership in this community has got to come together to address it because the after affects of the job loss is just too great on our community," says Gaines.

Merck came in second in number of job losses in 2005 when they closed--900 jobs were lost.

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