At a meeting of the Development Authority of Forsyth County held Friday, board members were given a mid-year update on the economic development work that has been accomplished in the county by Forward Forsyth, the joint initiative between Forsyth County, Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholder groups.
In his presentation before the development authority, Robert Long, vice president of Economic Development Forward Forsyth said much has been accomplished over the last half year, including dozens of projects that have the potential to bring millions of dollars in investments and hundreds of jobs into Forsyth County.
"Overall this has been a very busy year. We've already logged over 50 projects for the year, and my guess is we'll end up with probably 80 to 90 projects for the year," Long said.
According to Long, through the Forward Forsyth partnership, which was formally announced at the 2019 State of the County event in May, they are able to execute the county’s economic development plan by bringing business and jobs into the county through investment and development projects.
Long said the group has brought 51 projects to Forsyth County so far in 2019 that have created $61.8 million in capital investments and 418 new jobs, including projects like the Embassy Suites at Halcyon and Premier Automation, which are expected to bring in 120 jobs.
"With what we've done this year, we're ahead of schedule. If you look at the two-year average, we're ahead of where would expect to be," Long said.
But even with that success, Long said that things are down from where they were last year, in terms of capital investments, jobs and overall projects. At this time in 2018, the group had 66 projects under their belt with $100.3 million in capital investments and 788 jobs.
Long said that the dip looks bad when the two years are compared side by side, but it is mostly a testament to the phenomenal year they had in 2018.
"Last year was a bit of anomaly as far as our announcements and our actual overall project activity, I think we had 107 projects,” he said. “In my entire professional career in any of the two positions I've held, I've never had anything approaching that amount of activity."
Other things like international business and technology projects could also have been affected by the state of the overall global economy in the last year, he said.
"The plus side is that my manufacturing project activity is actually up a good bit from this same time last year, and I think a lot of that is because people are looking at us as a good place to invest and develop as a long-term strategy given the current environment,” he said.
In the remaining months of 2019, Long said that they still have many things in the pipeline and are confident that they can stay on track towards achieving their long-term goal of 1,000 jobs and $150 million in new investments.
"We do have quite a few projects that are in the final stages of making decisions, so I don’t know if we'll hit the [$150 million] and 1,000 jobs, but we're going to come pretty darn close on some of the projects I have in the pipeline," he said. "I think that over the next couple of months we'll have a few nice announcements that will get us closer to where we need to be."