By Walter L. Johnson II
Ride past a few houses in the metro Albany area, and you’re likely to see a small white sign in the shape of an octagon, with bright red letters and trim, that says:
WARNING. PROTECTED BY CENTRAL MONITORING. 431-0800.
That’s been the trademark of Albany-based security company Central Monitoring Services since it opened in 1984. As its sole owner since 1994, 2011 Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Chairperson Judy Randle says using that sign as the official company logo has become synonymous in the minds of Central Monitoring customers.
“We used to have a logo, and since we have yard signs all over that say ‘Central Monitoring’, we just started using the yard signs as our logo,” Randle said, “because everybody already recognized the yard signs, and it was easier than trying to have the yard sign and the logo.”
But Randle’s role as a small business owner, as well as being a volunteer chair, goes far beyond simply protecting homes from criminals.
“We have just finished up our fifth year for our “One Warm Coat Drive”, Randle said regarding Central Monitoring’s recently completed drive to donate coats to needy residents of metro Albany. “We have collected coats for (the) needy in our community, gently used new coats. Many people have actually donated new coats, (in 2011), we’ve collected almost 1,300 coats, that will go to local people in the area that need coats.”
Beyond just simply providing clothing to keep local residents warm in cold weather, Randle’s company has also played a major role in the local Mardi Gras and Snickers Marathon festivities.
“We frequently donate things to, for door prizes, or for silent auction
items for local charities, and we are also volunteer coordinators for the marathon this year,” Randle said. “So, we would love for people to call us, and sign up to volunteer and help for this year’s marathon that will be in March.”
Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Catherine Glover describes Randle as one of the community’s constant cheerleaders.
“Judy is a volunteer that is the one of the most caring, dynamic individuals I’ve met,” Glover said, “and she puts her time into anything that she believes in, which is pretty much our whole community. She is driven and motivated to make our strategic plan come to fruition, to make sure that we provide the services that we should be to the members that we serve.”
Emerge Albany and Encompass
In addition to making sure that businesses have the support they need in what Glover has called “economy that has been very challenging,” the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce will continue to support initiatives such as the young professionals networking group Emerge Albany, as well as a new effort called Encompass.
“Emerge (Albany) has a membership of over 350 young professionals under the age of 40, “ said Glover. “It has grown so large, that the Chamber offices, our board room, can no longer accommodate the luncheons, the educational sessions, and the professional networking that happens.”
Glover added: “It’s essential to the whole future of our community, that these young professionals believe in the community, buy into the community, and give back to their community.”
Another new initiative the Chamber recently started is the new Encompass program. It’s designed to encourage entrepreneurs to interact with their customers, although they can’t always physically leave their own building.
“Encompass” is designed specifically for members of the Chamber, and remember, we represent almost 1,200 companies, and about 35,000 employees,” she explained. “But the smallest businesses are the ones that can’t get out of their shops, morning, noon, and night, they’re tied to their business, and yet, they need some assistance.”
Glover continued: “Encompass” has connected the Chamber, and students from the upper level management courses at Albany State University, into a partnership, where the students bring in cutting edge technology, concepts, ideas, their book learning, into the place of business.
The businesses don’t have to go somewhere to be counseled or to be helped. These students will come in, and for a semester, work on anything from accounting, bookkeeping, business strategies, marketing plans, and so on. It’s the best of both worlds.
Our goal is get these students to believe in their community, and stay here when they graduate. Their goal, at Albany State University, is again, community citizenry, but also to give these students valuable hands-on training they need to succeed in the world of work.”
We are the ‘Good Life City’
With yet another new program that will tentatively be called either All Together Albany, or Positively Albany, expected to launch later this year, both Glover and Randle hope 2011 will be a year where more people will get involved what the Chamber hopes to accomplish.
“I really would love to see people involved in the Chamber,” Randle said. “I say it’s like people who join the gym, and never go to the gym are not going to get in shape. People who join the Chamber, and never go to any Chamber events are not going to get much out of it.
I really want to see people at the events that we have. Everyone should consider serving on a committee, where they’ll really get to know other people in the community. It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring exposure to their business, and the opportunity to network and meet other business people.”
Glover added: “We will need the positive influence of the media to spread the word to our own populace, and to keep that positive momentum out there. It’s detrimental to us when we try to attract businesses here, and folks will come, and interact with the folks in the community, and may not have a bright picture to paint. We want the folks here to know that it is a very bright picture, and we need the media to be our partners with that.
It’s been a very difficult couple of years, and then some, for our area, and our area’s businesses and our community, with the loss of some key manufacturing facilities, in particular, with the unemployment rate, with just a lot of issues in particular, that we’ve had to face. 2011, 2012, from our projections, looks to be healthier, and stronger, with each year, and we have very good programs in place, and the city and county are also building together. I think as a whole, our community will get better, and stronger, with these resources, and with the firm belief, that we are the “Good Life City.”
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