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Chamber's annual gala set for Feb. 23
DOT chief to give keynote address
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Forsyth County News
If you're going
The 54th Annual meeting and awards dinner is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Metropolitan Club, 5895 Windward Pkwy. in Alpharetta. Tickets are $85 for members, $100 for nonmembers and $900 for a table of 12. For reservations (prior to Feb. 17), contact (770)-887-6461 or go online at

For its 54th annual meeting and awards dinner, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce will focus on the accomplishments of an otherwise difficult year for business.

“There is good news inside the bad news for folks in Forsyth County business,” said Jerry Bowman, chamber board chairman. “Unfortunately, we are suffering from a lot of the same issues that the rest of the country is. But fortunately,

Forsyth County is not suffering to the extreme levels that some other communities are.”

As many as 500 business owners, employees and entrepreneurs are expected to attend this year's event, said Kris Carroll, chamber vice president of communications and development.

“This is an excellent opportunity to meet other people and businesses in the community and meet with the community’s elected officials and other people that can influence your business and policies that affect your business,” she said.

In addition to networking, guests will have an opportunity to learn about transportation issues affecting the county as state Department of Transportation Commissioner Gena Evans delivers the keynote address.

“We asked her to give us an update on what she sees as the state of transportation, particularly as it relates to our region, and to talk about the issues we face in trying to overcome those problems,” Bowman said.

“Having Gena there is a rare opportunity for our members to hear directly from the person who is responsible for running the organization just what the issues and challenges for the DOT are in terms of being able to improve our infrastructure and relieve our congestion.”

Evans is married to Mike Evans, a former state representative and DOT board member from Forsyth County.

The event also will include awards recognizing, among others, the top entrepreneur, corporate member, minority business and volunteer of the year.

After a couple years at the Marriott in Alpharetta, the event shifts to the nearby Metropolitan Club.

While the chamber touts keeping business in Forsyth, there is no venue large enough in the county to house the expected crowd.

“We didn’t want to get into a rut ... we thought it might give our folks something different to experience,” said Bowman of the change in venue. “Of course our goal is, in the near future, to have that event at a facility inside Forsyth County.”

Also during the event, James McCoy, chamber president and chief executive officer, will offer a report on the organization’s progress in 2008.

Among the success stories will be the Small Business Services Center and other measures the chamber has taken to help its members, particularly those operating small businesses.

“It’s just a great opportunity for us to have a forum for all of our members,” Bowman said. “It’s chance to speak to volunteer and paid staff that lead the chamber and to interact with fellow business owners and to celebrate and reflect on the last year.”