In late 2011, a poll done by Daily Finance.com revealed Albany, Georgia as the fourth poorest city in the nation. Not in the state of Georgia nor in a particular region of the state, but in the entire nation. This speaks loudly for a city with a population of a little more than 70,000 people. Albany is supposed to be a major city for the Southwest Georgia region. However other cities in the region are ranked higher than Albany.
According to an interview done by previous Mayor Adams “The one common denominator that keeps people out of poverty is education.” Wow this can’t be true! Not when Albany State University graduates approximately 290 students per fall and spring semester and some of those students choose to seek employment in Albany to give back to the community. Not to mention the students that graduate from the two year college and the technical school and remain locally. With each secondary institution producing many educated and trained graduates each semester, Albany should have the jobs available to attract them to stay and become residents of Albany.
I personally have been unemployed for the past four years and I am a college graduate. I have only had the opportunity to volunteer and dedicate my skills and services without pay. Even after much dedication and experience gained, I have still been unfortunate to find a job in the city. Yearly, Albany loses many educated men and women who could contribute viably to the community because of the lack of jobs and opportunities for those people who would like to contribute to the cities resources. One factor that I believe to be true about Albany is that in order to advance in a career it depends on who you know and not what you know.
In a city where the average income is less than $19,000 per year, no college graduate would want to remain in such an impoverished city. Those who choose to stay just love the city and would love to see it grow. Albany needs to wake up and allow these college graduates that want to remain locally the opportunity to start a career and succeed. Train them and give them an opportunity to help this city grow and become the Mecca of the Southwest region that it should be.
Albany is not ranked fourth because of education but because the power to be are hiring their friends and family members, regardless to their education or skills. Based on my personal opinion the hiring process has not been based on the skills but based on who referred you to the position. In this way, it keeps the financial gap closed to others and keeping the money within a certain section and/or group of people. If more jobs were brought to Albany and not just jobs that suit a certain group of people then the economy could boom and everyone could prosper.
Albany is also number four because businesses and corporations are leaving Albany because of the city’s approach to financial viability. Similar to the same reason Walmart left the city of Albany and moved to Leesburg. There seems to be more talk about bringing businesses and corporations (jobs) to Albany than what has been actually done. This is also why so many graduates obtain their degrees and leave this city; it is a dead end for any educated person who doesn’t have a last name that is renowned in this city. Wake up Albany, in order for our city to prosper, it’s not who you know, but what you know!
Albany area resident M. Douglas is a graduate of Albany State University with a degree in journalism and is a Masters student in public relations at Kent State University.