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Authority may target European companies
Panel will learn more next month
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Forsyth County News
The local development authority is weighing a lofty investment in the county’s business future.

During its monthly meeting Wednesday, authority members discussed a $60,000 action plan that could help attract international firms, particularly those from Germany, to Forsyth County.

Brian Dill, economic development vice president for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the plan has been through several drafts, and continues to be a working document.

Wednesday’s meeting did not draw enough authority members for a quorum, so no action was taken on the matter.

Dill said the concept involves Germany and the European market. A full presentation on the subject is expected in January.

“It’s built on engaging the authority in trade shows, trade missions, strategic plans,” he said of the plan. “... To have you guys a seat at the table, to be involved in the process and to have some resources.”

German companies tend to cluster specific industries together within one locale, Dill said. That makes it easier for the county to “pinpoint one area, market to one area, buy our list of companies, research those companies and do it a little bit more effectively.”

Light manufacturing and data center type industries have been targeted as ideal for Forsyth County.

Without a recruitment plan in place, the county could find itself playing catch-up for a piece of the European market. Dill said it would be a good time to take advantage of the value of the U.S. dollar.

“It’s the companies that are losing money producing in Germany that could be making money producing in the U.S.,” he said. “These are tough financial times, and I’d be the first one to tell you guys that it’s not going to be easy to sell public dollars in a new plan.

“But at this point ... what we’re seeing within industries is this is probably the best time in the worst market to do something proactive.”

Chairman Bobby Thomas said the authority would need to look at accountability before any plan could be adopted.

“We want to make sure that we have clear goals and clear ways of managing those goals, so there is accountability for how the money is spent and what we accomplish,” he said.

Dill said the $60,000 figure is not definite, but he wasn’t sure “if you take those monies out of the plan, how effective we can be.”

“Having said that, we’ve done a lot with a little and we continue to,” he said. “I’m amazed with the amount of resources that this community can bring to bear just by involving people in the process.”