On a special edition of DeKalb Business Today, host Matt Holmes sits down to talk about the future of commerce in DeKalb with two of the top business leaders in the county. Al Edwards shares his perspective as a longtime DeKalb resident and business owner. Ray Gilley reflects on his first year heading up operations at the Decide DeKalb Development Authority and looks at some of the keys to attracting more business to the county.
Albert Edwards/Founder & Managing Director of CERM, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
Albert Edwards is the Founder and Managing Director of Corporate Environmental Risk Management, LLC (CERM), a regional engineering, environmental and program management firm that provides vast services for some of Atlanta’s premier institutions, including MARTA, Georgia Power, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Atlanta Beltline and many others.
Mr. Edwards chairs CERM’s Management Committee and provides day-to-day leadership and strategic direction to the firm’s business management, project delivery and client management functions. Mr. Edwards has more than 20 years of experience in the environmental and engineering industry in assisting organizations managing of environmental, engineering, infrastructure and capital projects throughout the United States.
He is heavily involved in the greater Atlanta region community, serving as the Chairman of the Board of the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Regulatory Fairness Board of Directors; Georgia Piedmont Technical Colleges Foundation’s Trustee Board and Camp of Champions Board of Advisors. Mr. Edwards has been honored with the Georgia Governor’s Small Business Award of Excellence Award, the Georgia Mentor Protégé Connection Eagle Award, COMTO Transportation Trail Blazer and the DeKalb Chamber Apex Small Business of the Year Award, among many other community service and business acknowledgments.
Ray Gilley/President of the Decide DeKalb Development Authority
As President of the Decide DeKalb Development Authority, Ray Gilley leads a professional staff and works with his board and partners to deliver comprehensive economic development services designed to increase high wage jobs, capital investment and diversify the DeKalb economy.
“Decide DeKalb will continue to develop and cultivate the industries of advanced manufacturing, logistics, professional and business services, as well as support trades, tourism and life sciences throughout DeKalb County,” said Ray Gilley. “These represent healthy industries in our country so we will create an environment in our region that allows for synergistic growth.”
He was formerly Chief Executive Officer at Solodev, a leading provider of content management software that enables organizations to easily manage and maximize their online presence. Ray worked with his Solodev team to provide secure and scalable online solutions for clients in diverse industries, including healthcare, government and enterprise corporations. Previously, Ray was Executive Council Director for TWsquared, a leading regional PR & marketing firm. He served as President of Metro Orlando EDC where he and his team produced 41,300 announced high wage jobs and $2.69 billion in capital investment from 2001 through 2010. They marketed Orlando internationally and focused on economic diversification and consistently attracted innovative industries to Central Florida, including the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. Ray’s leadership resulted in the retention and expansion of major employers including Lockheed Martin, Darden Restaurants, EA Sports and JetBlue.
Ray also served 15 years in professional and executive roles in the electric utility industry with Progress/Duke Energy. He is currently a board of trustee member at University of Central Florida and the International Economic Development Council. Other former boards include Florida TaxWatch, BBVA Compass Central Market, Orlando Health, Leesburg Regional Medical Center. He is past chair of Workforce Florida and the Florida Economic Development Council.
The Development Authority of DeKalb County is charged with bringing prosperity to DeKalb County through stimulating new investment, expanding existing industry and developing sustainable economic strategies for balanced growth in every DeKalb community through the following services:
- Loan and Grant Programs.
- Business and Film Site Selection Services.
- Business Recruiting and Retention.
- Business Start-up Assistance and Capacity Building.
- Incentive Programs.
- International Business Facilitation.
The DADC works closely with local and state wide governments, including Workforce Development, DeKalb-based Chambers of Commerce, business associations, utility companies, colleges and universities, large private sector employers, as well as neighborhood and community groups. Through collaboration with local governments, businesses and citizens we can expand DeKalb’s economy, strengthen our tax base, support local businesses and create an IDEAL DeKalb!