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Grimes receives Charles Welch Award at Chamber’s annual event
Scott Hutchinson named as the 2021 chamber president
Chris Grimes
Chris Grimes is the director of emergency management for Forsyth County. - photo by Matt Braskett

Forsyth County Emergency Management Director Chris Grimes recently won one of the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s highest awards for his and the county’s response to COVID-19.

During the chamber’s annual celebration on Friday, Nov. 6, which was held virtually due to COVID-19 concerns, organizers played a pre-recorded video where Jimmy Lane, the chamber’s executive vice president, surprised Grimes with the Charles Welch Citizenship Award while he was working at the county’s emergency operations center.

“It’s not every year that we can give the Charles Welch Citizenship Award, but this year has been an extraordinary year, and we give this award to someone who has exemplified the qualities that he did to this great community, and those qualities are service without regard for recognition, a commitment to always do what’s right and a passion to make sure Forsyth County is a great place to live,” Lane said as he presented the award to Grimes.

Grimes, who has helped lead the Forsyth County government’s COVID-19 response since February, said “it truly is an honor to do what I do every day.”

“Thank you for this award,” Grimes said in the video. “It truly is an honor to get to serve our community every day and make it a better place to live to work to have a family. I have my family here, just like many of you have your families here, so it truly is an honor.”

The celebration was also a chance for chamber officials to show off their new headquarters on Webb Street. 

“One year ago, we stood on this site for the groundbreaking of the future home of the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. I don’t need this hard hat anymore, because it is now the home of the Forsyth County Chamber,” said 2020 chamber president Carter Patterson as he crossed out the first part of signage calling the building the future home of the chamber.

Patterson was joined on the tour by Scott Hutchinson, who was also named during the meeting as the 2021 chamber president and presented Patterson an honorary gavel for his work in the prior year, which Patterson called “an honor of my lifetime.”

“Our chamber is the best in Georgia, one of the best in the nation because we have a community that is involved actively, and they expect us to be one of the best, and I think we’ve done a great job even in 2020 with this pandemic,” Patterson said.

Hutchinson said the chamber had learned a lot of lessons this year for him to apply to his term as pres-ident.

“[In] 2020, the chamber has learned that we’ve got to be mobile, agile and with [COVID-19 resources] Together 4 FoCo and the CARES Act, been able to pivot our vision and help the community with the dollars that we can get from the government and everything else,” he said. “We’re looking forward to next year just pumping all of this into the community some more.”

Hutchinson said in 2021 he wants to see more product development for companies to move into the community, increase workforce development by working with local colleges and better infrastructure, particularly in north Forsyth.

While 2020 didn’t go as planned for most of the community, chamber officials said during the year, they hosted 115 webinars attended by 3,500 participants, lead 16 small business administration loan information sessions, consulted 211 businesses on SBA loan applications, held 30 virtual networking sessions, held six virtual job fairs, ensured 319 businesses received a total of $2 million in CARES funds, announced 18 economic development projects, worked on $109 million worth of new capital invest-ments and fostered 220 new jobs.