The Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce held its sold-out annual black tie gala last Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, and I have to imagine that it was by far the most successful effort that the chamber has produced.
Around 500 area business owners and staff attended, as well as a long list of local and regional elected officials. And at the risk of using a cliché , I will say that the majority of people who are significantly influencing the future of our cities and our region attended.
If there was a “theme” for the event, it would have to be something along the lines of “unprecedented bright future.”
Much of Chamber President and CEO Brandon Beach’s message to the audience focused on the opportunities at hand for the region and the efforts the chamber has undertaken to not only take advantage of the opportunities at hand but to also create new ones. Mr. Beach cited the chamber’s efforts on multiple fronts including:
- the recent approval of Avalon in Alpharetta – a $600 million investment that will generate 1,000 short-term construction jobs and approximately 3,000 permanent ones;
- the opening of Westside Parkway, a companion artery to North Point Parkway;
- the influx of companies relocating to the area recently including a number of data centers such as T-5, which recently opened on off Webb Bridge;
- and other new companies including Graphic Packaging in Sandy Springs, State Farm in Johns Creek, Corfire in Milton, and TracFone Wireless in Sandy Springs.
The list of new companies that could be cited is much longer and the number of new jobs created in roughly the past year numbers in the thousands. But you get the point. The region, said Mr. Beach, has momentum and the pace of growth is accelerating.
In addition to touting the current economic development in the region, Mr. Beach also heavily emphasized the importance of investing in our infrastructure to remain competitive with all the other regions in the country such as Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Charlotte. They are already pushing full speed ahead with their own infrastructure development.
Keeping the businesses that we already have, said Mr. Beach, must be a priority as well as attracting the relocation sector and creation of new business in the future. We cannot retain our current businesses as well as attract new ones if we fall behind on critical transportation and infrastructure needs, he said.
In closing, Mr. Beach cited three critical factors – all of which the chamber leads or is involved – that will collectively determine our region’s well being and growth in the future:
- the North Fulton CID;
- the chamber’s “Progress Partners” initiative;
- “mandatory” passage of the upcoming TSPLOST, which will be voted on by you and me in July of this year.
The TSPLOST is a temporary one penny sales tax that will fund the bulk of all major transportation and infrastructure construction that, in turn, will keep our region competitive.
And staying competitive, at the end of the day, is what will maintain our quality of life, because it will generate jobs, jobs and more jobs.