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Authority hears update on economic growth
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County has had a "very active year" in regards to recruiting and growing businesses, an official told the county’s development authority.

Randall Toussaint, vice president of economic development with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, presented an overview of economic growth to the authority during its meeting Thursday.

Toussaint noted the chamber has worked on nine economic development projects to date in 2011.

"Five of those were recruitment projects and four were expansion projects," Toussaint said.

He noted that the five recruitment projects have generated about 400 new jobs and $17.2 million in new capital investments.

The expansion projects generated 393 jobs and $4.3 million in new capital investments, for a total of 793 new jobs and $21.5 million in capital investments.

"We’re on pace to have a very good year," he added. "I think by the end of the year, we’ll hit the 1,000 mark for jobs created."

Toussaint attributed much of that success to Lanier Technical College, which has a local campus on Majors Road.

"A large part of [those projects] has to do with Lanier Tech," he said. "They’re able to make sure companies have access to the skilled workers they need to be successful."

Toussaint noted that Forsyth has seen continued economic growth over the past few years.

According to Toussaint, the county saw the creation of 210 new jobs in 2009, with capital investments of $34 million.

In 2010, those numbers rose to 484 new jobs and $68.8 million in investments.

"About $50 million of those capital investments in 2010 are attributed to Northside Hospital-Forsyth’s expansion," he said.

The information and other facts about the county are also being included in new marketing materials.

Eventually the materials will be available online or in hard copy for potential businesses, Toussaint said.

In other items from Thursday’s meeting, the authority discussed a potential business park.

It entered an agreement with Forsyth County earlier this year to work to develop a 33-acre, county-owned site off Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

Toussaint reported Thursday that there has been some interest from development companies. He suggested holding an information session with county commissioners.

"It would be an open session for folks interested in the park," Toussaint said. "They could come and ask questions, and someone could speak to them about the site’s history and any engineering challenges.

"From there, the companies could have enough information to create strategic plans to bring back to the board."

Toussaint said he would check with commissioners to schedule the session.