JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce has grown tremendously in the last six years of its short life, due in no small part to its CEO during that term, John Bemont. He is stepping down in the spring, but his replacement is already waiting in the wings.
Kent Davies of World Financial Group/Transamerica has agreed to take over as CEO in 2018.
Johns Creek Chamber Chairwoman Marilyn Margolis, CEO of Emory Johns Creek Hospital, said Bemont was one of the most professional, caring and kind individuals she has met through the chamber.
“When I first came to Johns Creek, he really helped me learn the city and understand the importance of the community and the hospital partnership,” Margolis said. “So I am crazy about him.”
As far as the chamber, his work has strengthened it to be a “player” in shaping the community.
“The success of the chamber today rests on his shoulders,” Margolis said. “He is so much more than the CEO of the chamber. He is the voice of reason when it comes to affairs of the city, the chamber and economic development.
“His presence really transcends just the chamber. People look to him as their True North because he is always willing to talk with people and help them get to where they want to be.”
Bemont said the chamber has a number of successful events that enhance the organization’s ability to help its members. The Chamber Expo he began five years ago and its business-to-business relationships it promotes may be the crown jewel in services the chamber provides.
“It does allow local businesses and organizations the chance to showcase their wares to the community and one another,” Bemont said. “But other events such as the Chamber Gala and its annual golf tournament are not only good fundraisers, they provide business people the opportunity to meet and become involved socially in ways that they otherwise would not have.”
But Bemont says the chamber helps members in many ways including being part of the city’s branding effort along with City Hall, the Johns Creek Community Association and the Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Together we lead the city’s branding efforts” he said. “We try to bring a unified portrait of the city to those who would like to live, work or start a business in the community.
“We like to think we are real voice for the business community,” he said.
The chamber played a big role in branding Johns Creek and has participated in important task force groups including the Sign Ordinance Committee and recruitment for the health care community to name two.
“We have a lot of health care providers in Johns Creek. Not only the hospital and doctors but Alcon, the contact lens manufacturer and any number of senior care facilities. All have made Johns Creek their home,” Bemont said.
The Small Business Resource Center helps small businesses get started and grow, providing them guidance in many areas including getting insurance and finance, he said.
“And we work with the Johns Creek Advantage, the public-private economic development arm of the city,” Bemont said.
Attorney Susan Grissom, a chamber board member, said Bemont has brought many skills to bear at the chamber.
“I really appreciate his skill in working with our different leaders in the community,” Grissom said. “I remember when John was asked to come aboard to lead the chamber, it was so he could work with the city to forge a good working relationship with the city leaders. I believe he has done an excellent job in that.”
Bemont has also done a good job in growing chamber membership. “A big piece of that” was Bemont’s tireless willingness to meet with business people to understand their needs and help them, she said.
“John was always looking for new ways to grow the chamber and one of the big things was to add the Expo,” Grissom said.
The Johns Creek Chamber Expo outgrew its first two venues, and since its location at The Bricks at Northpoint Community Church it has continued to sell out every year.
The Chamber Gala has grown in its appeal doubling in size under his leadership.
“He’s just a good person to know,” Grissom said. “I say that as a personal friend. He makes a point of really getting to know those folks who are interested in growing the chamber. He has been a great leader for us.”