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Data hailed in economic recruiting
Provides chamber real estate 'snapshot'
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Forsyth County News

In the past year, Forsyth County has welcomed 762 new jobs and more than $71.1 million in capital investment.

The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s economic development efforts and the Forsyth County Development Authority have helped guide that business growth. But a little credit should also go to CoStar, said Randall Toussaint, the chamber’s president of economic development.

CoStar, a real estate information company, is a customized resource that gives “a snapshot of what’s available in the market.”

“It gives us the opportunity to be more competitive … so we can respond to needs almost immediately,” Toussaint told authority members during a recent meeting.

With a $650 monthly price tag, it’s worth the investment, according to Toussaint.

“We use it on a weekly basis,” he said. “Our office usually generates approximately four new leads per month and we close roughly two out of every four leads.

“CoStar has really allowed for us to not only respond to those needs more quickly, but increase our closure rate.”

The program, which includes mobile applications as well as real-time technology, allows Toussaint to enter the specific details requested by an interested business, including square footage and location preferences.

The program then instantly returns with a list of proposed sites that could meet the client’s needs. The county’s tax assessor’s office also uses CoStar.

During the meeting, development authority chairman Bobby Thomas said officials “probably get the most benefit per dollar on this deal than anything we spend money on. It’s amazing the information you can get.”

Toussaint agreed, adding that it is “really a huge paradigm shift. Honestly, it’s one of those things that’s really a game changer.”

For 2013, Toussaint said the chamber likely will continue to focus on encouraging current industries to grow, as well as recruiting new firms.