Forsyth County and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce could be making changes to how they do business.
Chamber President and CEO James McCoy presented a new economic development plan to members of the Forsyth County Development Authority, who approved the concept 5-0, with members Ben Knight and Larry Duckworth absent.
“Really this is more about an economic development plan itself for the next 12 months, what beyond those 12 months, the development of a five-year plan, would look like, what the funding would be from the county and what we hope the outcomes of that will be and what the goals are,” McCoy said.
Under the new plan, the Chamber will deal with commissioners through the Development Authority.
“The idea is the Chamber will be the entity that executes the work, we would have an operating agreement with the Development Authority and the Development Authority would receive direction from the county and funding,” McCoy said.
Currently, the county gives the Chamber funds for economic development and the Chamber reports back to the county.
McCoy said the plan is broken down into two sections.
“It’s one plan with two parallel tracks,” he said. “One is the development of a longer-term, five-year economic development plan that will take 12 months to develop, and the other is, in the interim, what do we do to get us prepared for what we expect to come out of the five-year plan?”
The plan is intended to bring more commercial business into Forsyth County.
“For every dollar of public money that has been invested in economic development, $358.16 have come back to the commercial portion of the tax base,” McCoy said.
For the five-year plan, work will include establishing dialogue with the community, an analysis of economic opportunities, a marketing plan and budget and funding recommendations. A consultant will need to be hired.
Of the approximately $195,000 for the plan, about $33,000 has been committed. The consulting firm will make up the largest expense at $150,000, and personnel will cost $35,700.
The other track, which is called the surge plan, will cost an estimated $204,000, with the largest amounts coming from: personnel, $86,000; marketing and communications, $76,350; and direct engagement activities, $34,000.
McCoy said the Chamber board and the chamber executive committee, a stakeholder group and a subcommittee that drafted the plan have all endorsed it unanimously.
The plan will need to be approved by Forsyth County commissioners.The plan was the result of a previous meeting with county commissioners, and next steps will involve getting feedback from the Development Authority and to establish agreements between the Development Authority, Chamber and county.