Letter from Carter Patterson, 2020 Chairman of the Board of Directors
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 strived to fulfill this mission with some big initiatives in 2019. From a new home and brand for our Chamber to the launch of a five-year strategic development plan that will continue Forsyth’s success into the future, I am proud of what our Chamber accomplished in 2019 and what is in store for the future.
By adopting our original name and creating a new brand, we are demonstrating to our community of more than 230,000 residents that we are listening to them. On December 19, 2019 we broke ground on our new home in the heart of the City of Cumming, central to all residents in Forsyth County. We are proud to be in the city while representing every citizen in the county.
2019 saw the launch of Forward Forsyth, a partnership entity connecting Forsyth County Government, the Forsyth County Development Authority, the Forsyth County Chamber, Forsyth County Schools, Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia to focus on enhancing the county’s future. The results of this partnership’s efforts is that our community remains a great place for businesses to succeed and for residents to prosper. In 2019, we saw 39 new and existing companies create more than 800 new jobs and nearly $111 million in new capital investment.
Forsyth County continues to lead the state in population growth and job growth. Despite this growth, our unemployment rate is just three percent. Considering our strong business community, coupled with Forsyth County’s internationally recognized schools, it is easy to see why our community continues to be at the top of national lists measuring prosperity and quality of life.
Building upon the strong year of 2019, your Chamber is already hard at work to make sure that 2020 is an even greater success. In 2020, the best school system in Georgia and the Forsyth County Chamber will hire a joint position to help facilitate the needs of both the business community and the school system. Teachers that need externships and students that need internships will be one of the many focuses that this new position will help facilitate. Make no mistake, economic development does not happen without a great school system.
In 2019, Forsyth County joined the communities of large counties that can offer Community Improvement Districts (CID). With our first CID in operation you will soon see a major transformation in the McFarland Corridor, similar to what you see on Windward Parkway. We will be working with our Forward Forsyth partners to push for the creation of more CIDs throughout the county so that when our road projects are finished, the businesses in those areas will have the opportunity to improve them immediately with landscaping, mast arms and quality signage. Such proposed areas include Highway 9, Highway 20, Highway 369, Marketplace and Bethelview/141. These CIDs will attract growing businesses in higher taxed areas to consider Forsyth County as their next home.
Sawnee Mountain is to Forsyth County what the Statue of Liberty is to New York. Along with Lake Lanier, Sawnee Mountain is a beacon attracting visitors from all over to hike our trails and camp at our parks. Tourism is growing and is a vital part of our economy and we will continue to work with our local businesses that they serve to meet the demand of the amateur sporting industry, the film industry and leisure travelers.
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 Chairman of the Board for the Chamber. The Chamber is our community’s venue to channel the incredible collective resources of great business people to create economic opportunity. To achieve the Chamber’s goals, we require support from many sources, but it all starts 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 2020.
Forsyth County Chamber