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Chamber gala enjoys 'Jewels of Johns Creek'


Lt. Gov. Cagle delivers address



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Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, left, the guest speaker at the 2013 Johns Creek Gala, is joined by Phil Wolfe, CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center, Roger Wise and state Sen. David Shafer. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)

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Yvonne Riner is congratulated for the President’s Award by the chamber’s Neil Stevens, Robin Buckley, John Bemont and Maria Rose. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)

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Chamber Chairman Neil Stevens congratulates a winner. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)

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Susan Davies, vice president of World Finance Group, and husband Kent Davies, vice president World Group Foundation, enjoy the evening. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)

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Agnes and Paul Ortlep, owners of Abbotts Bar and Grill, let their hair down. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)
January 30, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – It was a sparkling evening Jan. 25 at the Atlanta Athletic Club as the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 2013 gala, "The Jewels of Johns Creek" with Diamond sponsor the Gwinnett Medical Center.

In addition to the Chamber Board of Directors, enjoying the evening were the City Council, Mayor Mike Bodker and County Commissioner Liz Hausmann.

Distinguished guests included Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other members of the Legislature including President Pro Tem of the Senate David Shafer, state Sen. Brandon Beach, Sen. John Albers, state Rep. Lynne Riley and state Rep. Mike Dudgeon.

In making his remarks to the 230 attendees, Cagle said these are still tough times for Georgia but there are positive signs for the future. While the 2013 budget is austere, it required no tax increase and the state retains its AAA bond rating.

"What we have learned is that we cannot continue to do the things we once did to be successful," Cagle said.

While Georgia prided itself in its diversity of companies bringing jobs and prosperity to the state, it had become heavily reliant on the construction industry and its real estate boom to fuel continued growth.

"When the [nationwide] real estate market fell, it was responsible for fully 25 percent of our unemployment," Cagle said. "The focus now must be on innovation and technology."

There are already major assets in place such as Savannah, the fastest growing port on the East Coast preparing to be able to accept the new supertankers that can pass through the Panama Canal. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest in the world.

And Georgia's technical colleges are building the workforce to serve in the new technological era to staff the IT companies that are already coming to Georgia and bring the state into a new era of prosperity.

"It will be like going from papyrus to texting. Last year, Home Depot did $60 billion in revenue with stores on every corner. Meanwhile, Amazon.com did $50 billion in revenue with no bricks and mortar," Cagle said.

"But this economy creates for us the opportunity to market ourselves globally."

Cagle pointed to one company in Athens that did $200,000 in sales annually, and then it went global on the Internet. The first year, it did boosted sales to $500,000. Last year, it did $3 million.

That is an example of the scale of growth possible in the Information Age, he said. And the key for Georgia is to train the next generation of IT designers, programmers and innovators. With the technical schools in place and coming online such as North Fulton's technical school, the future for Johns Creek and North Atlanta is indeed bright.

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2013 Chamber Award winners

President's Award: Yvonne Riner of Uber Trade

Chamber Leadership Award: Michelle Still of Trattoria 141 and Viande Rouge; Carolyn Briner of Sandler Training; Will Caraway of Georgia Brace and Spine

Chamber Spirit Award: Clint Curry of Cartridge World; Robbie Helms of Striking Solutions; Gary Robinson of Commercial Office Furniture; Sam Zimmerman of QB Alternatives; Chris Zimmerman of Zimrock Marketing Inc.

Business Spirit Award: Roosters Men's Grooming Center; Alphagraphics

Business Sponsorship Award: Gwinnett Medical Center – Duluth

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