The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 State of the County Luncheon certainly made a bang- or perhaps it was the confetti cannons! This year’s event, presented by Northside Hospital Forsyth and held on May 8th at the Forsyth Conference Center, began with the State of the County Address by Forsyth County Board of Commissioners Chair Laura Semanson.
In preparation, Commissioner Semanson looked back at documents from the 2009 State of the County Address. She noted the economic tough time the nation as a whole was experiencing then but also the victories that were being celebrated – foundations of Forsyth County’s blessings today. She noted the realization of those blessings, mentioning the high caliber of Forsyth County Schools, the county’s repeat rank as the healthiest county in Georgia, the county’s low crime rates and many other accolades.
The Commissioner then noted the need to continue to move the community forward…and economic development as the mechanism to do that. She spoke on the ways that economic development can benefit residents – things like shortening commute times by providing residents with job opportunities closer to home and balancing the tax digest to lessen the tax burden on residents.
With economic development the topic at hand, the Commissioner was joined by representatives from the Chamber of Commerce (Board of Directors Chair Kevin McDonough), the Development Authority (Chair David Seago), the Board of Education (Chair Kristin Morrissey) and Lanier Technical College (Vice President of IE and Operations Dr. Joanne Tolleson) to discuss the future of economic development in Forsyth County. James McCoy, president of the Chamber of Commerce, moderated a panel discussion as these leaders spoke on the importance economic development has in every aspect of Forsyth County residents’ quality of life.
State of the County culminated with the announcement of a new entity: Forward Forsyth. It is a partnership of the Forsyth County Government, the Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority, the Forsyth County School System and Forsyth County’s higher education institutions.
The new entity will serve as the driving force behind Forsyth County’s strategic economic development plan produced in 2018 by TIP Strategies consultants. The plan identified target industries: e-commerce, data services, technology, healthcare and advanced manufacturing, to name a few. It also promoted action items like convention center development, development of commercial product in north Forsyth County, mixed-use developments, efficient regulatory processes and other items.
“The new partnership is really designed to provide leadership, oversight and guidance to the execution of the economic development plan and to provide all of us an opportunity to communicate and chat with each other a little better,” explained James McCoy.
Forward Forsyth was ceremonially “open for business” as the panelists cut a ribbon and confetti rained down on the sold-out audience.
“This is not 2009, this is 2019. The economy is booming, and we can’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of that quality growth,” commented David Seago. “There’s a lot of competition out there, and we’ve got to be on top of it, and at the end of the day, we improve the tax base so it’s the right time.”
To learn more visit www.ForwardForsyth.org.