Message from the Chair

Dear Fellow Chamber Members,

The Chamber’s mission is to advance positive business growth and community partnerships to promote a superior quality of life for all who live in Forsyth County. The Chamber Board, its staff and its membership were more driven than ever before to fulfill this mission despite the uncertainties 2020 presented which continued into 2021. From the move to a new home to the continuation of an economic recovery initiative, I am proud of what our Chamber accomplished in 2021 and what is in store for the future.

While the Chamber led the local business community in economic recovery, the organization itself thrived. We were once again named a national 2021 Chamber of the Year Finalist by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. We lived out the brand adoption words we set in 2019 as we intentionally monitored our business community’s needs, innovatively transitioned our events and collaborated with Forsyth County Government to continue to assist businesses grow and thrive through an uncertain economy.

Forward Forsyth, the community’s economic development partnership, saw the creation of 1,823 new jobs and $253 million in new capital investment. Forward Forsyth took action to move the community’s unemployment rate (which was 10.4 percent at the end of April, 2020) to 2.7 percent by the end of November. And Forward Forsyth celebrated when Forsyth County was accepted into the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Building upon lessons learned throughout 2020 and into 2021, your Chamber is already hard at work ensuring that our community continues to thrive creating innovative programming, intentional initiatives to drive workforce development, education, and transportation development.

The Forward Forsyth economic development partnership will focus on Forsyth County’s product development to attract businesses into the community and infrastructure development in the north portion of the county, all elements of Forsyth County’s strategic economic development plan.

In early 2021, our Chamber launched a dedicated focus on workforce development. We will continue that path with strong partnerships with Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia (UNG), producing training opportunities and programs like Profs for FoCo that matches a UNG Mike Cottrell College of Business faculty member with a business leader for short consulting appointments. Our workforce development efforts will aim at maintaining Forsyth County’s historically low unemployment rate despite the economic consequences of the current global health crisis.

I have been involved in the conversation revolving the development of workforce with the future generation of our community and was part of the Chamber’s workforce development initiative which launched in 2021. FoCoWorks has cutting-edge plans in 2022 and I am excited to see those accelerate this year.

With Forsyth County’s first Community Improvement District (CID) now in operation (the South Forsyth CID), you will soon see a major transformation in the McFarland Corridor. My goal this year would be to see us make strides toward the creation of additional CIDs in specific areas of Forsyth County.

These initiatives remind us that outstanding communities and economies do not develop by chance. They are built on the foundation of leadership and relationships. We are blessed to have both in the City of Cumming and Forsyth County.

In closing, I appreciate the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Board for the Chamber. In 2021, we saw that the Chamber is our community’s venue to channel the incredible collective resources of great businesspeople to launch economic recovery and create economic opportunity. To achieve the Chamber’s goals, we require support from many sources, but it all begins with you. To that end, I extend my sincere gratitude for your commitment to the Chamber of Commerce, Cumming and Forsyth County and look forward to our continued collaboration in 2022.


Derek Brooks


Forsyth County Chamber