LOOK AHEAD: Chamber wants to be ‘go-to’ guy for businesses

Small Business Resource Center, Johns Creek Advantage new initiatives

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JOHNS CREEK, GA. – 2013 is the year the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce really aims to mean business in the city.

The Johns Creek Chamber has several goals for 2013 that our staff, board and membership are excited to see put into motion. Our primary focus will be to enhance member relationships and bring additional value-added service to our members.

We have a number of new initiatives planned as well as adding improvements to our existing services, products and events.

We have already forged an excellent working relationship with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. They are providing a wide array of very professionally led education offerings.

This was started at our 2012 Business Expo with seminars on strategic planning and business development. Current plans are to expand these learning opportunities to our 2013 lunch and learn sessions.

Additionally, we will explore opportunities to provide one-on-one consulting services to our members.

We of course will continue to offer as needed, ad hoc learning opportunities such as a recent social media marketing program.

Enhancing member services also includes:

  • Partnering with business, government and community organizations to promote common interests and vision.
  • Fostering leadership development by facilitating business-to-business connections. 
    This will be done with our traditional networking offerings, Business After Hours and utilizing our 2013 Johns Creek Chamber Business Expo.
  • Ensuring economic viability through serving, promoting and growing our membership.

Perhaps our most exciting initiative will be the development of a Small Business Resource Center in connection with Johns Creek Advantage, the new economic development corporation in Johns Creek.

Economic and community development today is a highly competitive process, with communities and regions pursuing new jobs and investment through aggressive tactics to attract new businesses, retain/support the expansion of their existing companies and grow new companies from the ground up. Many communities – both larger and smaller than Johns Creek – have launched multi-year programs to gain a competitive advantage and ensure they are on the winning side of the economic rebound and beyond.

With this competitive environment in mind, Johns Creek business leaders and public officials, led by the chamber, have engaged in a conversation about the best approach to economic development in Johns Creek.

The conclusion is that an operational and financial public/private partnership is the best approach to achieving the intelligent growth and prosperity all desire for Johns Creek. This approach is consistent with local, regional and national best practices.

In recent months, a collection of top leaders in Johns Creek formed “Johns Creek Advantage” (JCA) to drive economic development in Johns Creek. JCA has developed a five-year economic development initiative to proactively drive balanced growth in Johns Creek.

JCA developed the initiative in collaboration with the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce and in consultation with the elected leaders of the city of Johns Creek.

This initiative is flexible – it can and will be adjusted to address the opportunities and challenges before the community. As with any plan, we will only be successful if we execute the plan effectively. Economic development is a “team sport” – to be successful, the initiative will need strong support and collaboration from the JCA Board, the JC Chamber Board, other business and organizational leaders in the community, and importantly, the elected officials,  city staff and contractors.

Johns Creek Advantage will partner with the Johns Creek Chamber to create a Small Business Resource Center (SBRC). 

  • The SBRC will connect area small businesses to business planning, marketing, capital, workforce and other resources traditionally needed by small businesses.
  • Utilize a retail gaps study to support the commercial space needs of small business and entrepreneurs.
  • Continue work to identify and address any unmet small business needs.

The chamber will, of course, continue to offer its annual gala, an elegant awards and dinner event set for Jan. 25 at the Atlanta Athletic Club. This year’s keynote speaker is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Our annual golf tournament will be March 25at St. Ives Country Club. This is the chamber’s largest fundraiser and was attended by 136 golfers in 2012.

 After an incredibly successful inaugural event in 2012, our 2013 Business Expo is eagerly anticipated. Last year’s event quickly sold out of exhibition space. Over 1,000 people attended and were offered a wonderful showcase of Johns Creek businesses, extensive and productive networking and provided many excellent educational opportunities.

Johns Creek offers many exciting challenges and opportunities for 2013. The Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce is up to the challenge and is looking forward to a very successful year.