With political, business and community leaders in attendance, there was a lot going on at a recent celebration from the Chamber of Commerce.
While the biggest news of the evening was a new logo and a name change to the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, instead of the longtime Cumming-Forsyth County moniker, there were several other items brought up or discussed during the chamber’s annual celebration on Friday.
Here are a few of the things that happened.
Welcoming the new chair
Friday’s ceremony featured a change at the top level of the organization. As previous chair Kevin McDonough completed his term, he welcomed new chair Carter Patterson, who serves as CEO of Forte’ Data Systems.
“The chamber has been extremely fortunate to have great business leaders willing to give their time and resources to this organization,” McDonough said. “Our incoming chair for 2020 certainly fits into that role.”
Patterson, who was a big advocate for the recently-approved community improvement district (CID) in South Forsyth, told the crowd about the chamber’s plans for 2020, including adding more CIDs – which are voted on by businesses within a certain area that then pay extra taxes for upkeep of the area – across the county.
“Forsyth County joins the communities of large counties that can offer community improvement districts,” Patterson said. “With our first CID in operation, you will soon see a major transformation in the McFarland corridor, similar to what you see in Windward Parkway today. We will be working with our Forward Forsyth [a partnership between the chamber, Forsyth County the Development Authority of Forsyth County, the local system and Lanier Technical College] partners to push for the creation of five more CIDs throughout the county.”
Patterson said businesses would be in charge of beautification of roadways once road projects are done and said the new districts could go along Bethelview Road/Hwy. 141, Market Place Boulevard and Hwys. 9, 20 and 369.
Along with a new logo and branding for the entire chamber, Patterson also talked about Discover FoCo, a tourism project from the chamber meant to promote filming, sports tournaments and other events.
“We will soon see the launch of the Discover FoCo brand with a full rollout of new marketing elements. These elements include a standalone website dedicated to tourism in Forsyth County, a new and improved visitor guide and a digital media campaign,” Patterson said.
“There are many stories to tell in Forsyth County, and Discover FoCo will be a tremendous catalyst in highlighting all the amazing adventures to experience in Forsyth County.”
Moving to a new home
With the new name, the chamber will also soon have a new home, and McDonough updated attendees of the event on the latest plans.
Last week, the chamber sold and moved out of their longtime location on Kelly Mill Road and has moved into temporary space.
“Rather than seeing us as a homeless chamber, I’d prefer to see us as getting ready for that next stage,” McDonough said. “We’ve already secured a location, we’re in the design phase and we have really excellent potential. I’m excited for what we’re going to see next year with that.”
Patterson said the new facility would be “in the heart of the city of Cumming.”
Though Friday’s event spent a lot of time looking back at what had been accomplished by existing members and businesses, there was also talk of providing opportunities for the next generation of leaders.
McDonough said the chamber was working on new programs and internships with students attending local schools and a new position to oversee the program.
“We’re creating a position within the chamber that the school system is helping fund to solve two issues for the good of the community and the school system,” McDonough said. “First, this new position is going to work on creating opportunities for internships for our students… The second part of this program, and where there is benefit for our businesses, is this gives them access to our incredible talent pool of students.”
McDonough said the interaction between the students and businesses would give students real-world experience while also potentially keeping students in Forsyth County rather than moving to another area.
Near the end of the ceremony, Patterson referenced a nearly century-old edition of the Forsyth County News, citing an editorial from June 22, 1922, arguing for the need for a chamber of commerce.“Part of that letter states, ‘A chamber of commerce means cooperation between all of the people. The lifeblood of the community is the chamber of commerce. In order to grow and be prosperous, we must have teamwork, and a live chamber will give us that teamwork,’” Patterson said. “Well, that teamwork today is called Forward Forsyth, and I look forward to speaking to all of you a year from now about what we are going to accomplish in 2020.”