LOOK AHEAD: Chamber leader Linda Cole discusses what lies ahead for Forsyth County



As in any organization, the turning of a new year is a time for chambers of commerce to reflect on accomplishments and look toward in the future.

In the past year, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce has gained 200 new members and 17 new Chairman’s Cabinet members. Forsyth County’s unemployment rate has decreased to 6.4 percent and new single family housing permits have increased by 66 percent over 2011 figures. Eighteen new and existing companies created 762 new jobs and invested $7.1 million in new capital in 2012.

Outside of the books, it is the chamber’s mission to be the voice of business, provide leadership, information and solutions to foster a strong economic environment and a superior quality of life in Cumming/Forsyth County. This is reached by focusing on various aspects that affect both the community’s business structure and quality of life.

The chamber holds several events weekly, monthly and annually to promote networking, including Member Power Networking Lunches, Business After Hours events and Economic Development events. In August, the Small Business Services Center held the largest Business Expo in chamber history with over 1,000 attendees. This expo also included a working lunch aspect with a keynote speaker. In 2012, the SBSC assisted 222 small businesses by providing classes, roundtable discussions, business coaching and mentoring.

Another exciting accomplishment of the chamber in 2012 was the introduction of the Principal for a Day program. Twenty-seven business and community leaders spent a day shadowing a Forsyth County Schools principal. The inaugural edition of this program was the catalyst to strengthen business to education relationships within the community.

The chamber’s director of tourism attended four tradeshows this year to promote venues in Cumming and Forsyth County to different organizations that bring various tournaments and festivals. From these tradeshows, over 30 new leads were secured including several sporting tournaments and other events. With these events come hotel room reservations and in 2012 alone the chamber secured over 6,000 hotel room nights through these events.

Economies are built upon relationship and leadership. The chamber plays an integral part in facilitating those relationships and fostering strong leaders. It is the sole economic development entity in the community. Its partnership with the city of Cumming, Forsyth County and the Forsyth County School System makes it a strong player on the global stage.

The chamber acts as an avenue to channel the incredible collective resources of great business people to create economic opportunity for everyone. That opportunity is what makes this community remarkable and sets it apart from so many places around the world.

In the coming year, the chamber plans to expand the reach of its economic development efforts and provide additional support to the fastest growing industry in the community: healthcare. With the economy in a steady upward turn, now is the time to seize the opportunities that recovery will bring.

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