The local chamber of commerce feels Forsyth County is a very important place, and last week some of its most important people were recognized.
On Friday, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce hosted the Chamber Annual Dinner and Celebration at Lanier Technical College. The event’s theme, “very important people” and a “very important place” celebrated local business people and the community.
“It’s been said several times tonight, and it’s been said several times because it’s true, this has been a remarkable year for this organization and for this community,” said Chamber President and CEO James McCoy.
Throughout the black-tie event, speakers and video presentations highlighted the year’s achievements for Forsyth County, with several designations, including: healthiest county in the state; the Technology Association of Georgia’s most innovative community in the state; as well as the highest college readiness and SAT scores in metro-Atlanta and highest ACT scores in the state.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Peter Carpenter with Thoroughbred Design Group. “It’s great to see those stats … ”
The event was also a chance for the community to see work done by the chamber this year.
One of the year’s largest projects was bringing California-based, e-commerce company Sports Warehouse’s east coast hub to Forsyth County, which is expected to bring more than 300 jobs.
“This project is the largest single impact announcement our community has had in over 15 years,” said 2017 Chair Doug Jenkins.
Carolyn Hall Fisher, a Forsyth County resident and first vice chair of the Georgia Republican Party, said she was excited to hear about the county’s economic growth.
“I thought that was absolutely amazing,” she said. “I was very impressed.”
Jenkins also had the honor of giving out the year’s annual Chairman’s Award, which went to his wife, Julie, daughter, Ellie and son, Luke.
“I’ve never been able to recognize my family publicly, so for all these reasons and more, I would like to recognize them as the recipient of the 2017 Chairman’s Award,” Jenkins said.
Members of the chamber also announced some new plans moving forward, such as hiring a new technology project manager and increasing tourism and film opportunities for the county.
“One of the things I’ve really learned being a member of the chamber board that I never would have understood is the role tourism plays,” Forsyth County Public Library Director Anna Lyle, a member of the chamber board, said after the dinner. “I had no idea of all the [sports] teams coming in.”
Jenkins said the county was a popular place for a number of youth sports events, and added that hotel occupancy in the county was up 3.8 percent over 2016.
Chair-elect Erik Christensen said he was hoping for another big year in 2018.
“You can expect to be invited to participate in the development of the new, large-scale, community-wide strategic plan for economic development,” Christensen said. “Thanks to the leadership and vision of our board of commissioners, we have the funding for the development of a five-year plan that would be the largest undertaking of a plan in our community’s entire history.”
During his presentation, Jenkins said the plan — which is between the chamber, Forsyth County and the Forsyth County Development Authority — would save taxpayers an estimated $83 million.
Christensen said the plan would keep property taxes low by “creating a balanced tax digest” and to expand the number of technology firms in the county.
The chamber is also expecting to move to a new location for the first time in 17 years.
“We’re currently exploring options for a new location in Cumming, and I’m optimistic that in ’18, we’ll be announcing our plans to transition into a new facility,” Christensen said.
Lyle said the evening was a good chance tWo get the community together and celebrate the year’s accomplishments.
“As Doug Jenkins and James McCoy said,” she said, “we had a really great year at the chamber.”