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Business 400 joins push to market corridor
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Businesses along Ga. 400 may not be immune to a struggling economy, but several groups continue working to limit its impact.

The newest organization is Business 400 Inc., a Cumming-based networking tool for business owners from Buckhead to Dahlonega.
Beginning in April, the organization will hold monthly networking meetings.

Co-founder Ron Dinsmore said he expects to offer workshops and networking sessions, as well as helping form subgroups for medical, real estate and other interested industries.

“This is not localized. This is the whole Ga. 400 corridor,” he said. “When that happens, you open up a lot of doors of opportunity because people are meeting people they would normally not have had an opportunity to meet.

“We’re doing it to help people, to lift people up. We can’t bail them out, but we can lift them up.”

Business 400 Inc. joins a list of other organizations marketing the corridor, including Hospitality Highway, local chambers of commerce and Network for Success, Dinsmore’s other group.

Given the economic downturn, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce is "supportive of any efforts by business people to come together and grow their opportunities,” said Kris Carroll, the group's vice president of communications and development.

The chamber, which offers a small business services center, workshops and other assistance to its members, is also promoting its Buy Local Forsyth program.

Carroll said the effort could help drive business not just in the county, but also throughout north Georgia.

“It’s encouraging people to go out and participate in commerce,” she said. “It’s encouraging them that even a small purchase or a small consignment of goods and services can make a big difference, if you multiply that by the number of residents who live up and down the corridor.”

Even a $5 purchase, Carroll said, can make a difference if 10,000 residents make that purchase.

“Too often, people look at the challenges that we have and they think they’re so enormous that one person can’t make a difference,” she said. “But one person can make a difference.”

The Hospitality Highway initiative, which promotes tourism along Ga. 400, hasn’t changed its game plan because of the economy, said co-founder Janet Rodgers.

“I think the consistency in our marketing efforts is helping us,” she said.

Hospitality Highway is made up of area chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and other tourism entities.

The organization promotes tourism-related businesses, but the results affect many merchants, including restaurants, retailers and gas stations.

Having multiple groups along the corridor working toward the goal of promoting Ga. 400 business makes everyone a winner, Rodgers said.

“We’re doing business with other people around our area and it helps market and promote what those different businesses are doing in our communities,” she said.

“All of us buying and marketing each other and working together, I think, make us a stronger community up and down Ga. 400.”