January 6, 2021

Forward Forsyth Partners Recap 2020 at the Annual Economic Development Summit

At the community’s annual Economic Development Summit the Forward Forsyth partners (Forsyth County Government, Forsyth County Chamber, Forsyth County Schools, Forsyth County Development Authority and Forsyth County’s higher education institutions) discussed their individual efforts and collective success in economic development in 2020 despite the challenges this year presented.

Carter Patterson, the 2020 Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors, noted the changes made to Forward Forsyth’s 2020 workplans that occurred in the Spring due to the global changes surrounding the community. Forward Forsyth’s economic recovery initiative was the first to launch in the state of Georgia and one of the first in the nation. It focused on providing business leaders with information to make sound business decisions, provide access to working capital and engage residents in supporting local businesses.

Forsyth County Commissioner Laura Semanson shared about the priority Forsyth County Government has placed on economic development and that despite this year’s focus on economic recovery that Forward Forsyth still worked on 21 economic development projects in 2020, contributing to the creation of 528 jobs and $110 million in new capital investments. The county government’s priority on economic development is in an effort to balance the community’s tax digest and raise the commercial portion of the tax digest from 30 percent to 40 percent. She shared the results of a recent analysis of the tax digest that showed that since the inception of Forsyth County’s strategic economic development plan the community has seen a 19 percent increase in assessed value of properties owned by businesses.

The commissioner also shared about the Forsyth CARES Small Business Grant Relief Program. This program was made possible by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and executed by the Chamber of Commerce. The program resulted in 319 local, small businesses receiving $2 million in relief funding.

Board of Education member, Kristin Morrissey, acknowledged the high priority the Forsyth County School System places on economic and workforce development, specifically through programs like the Workforce Forsyth initiative, Junior Achievement, and career pathway programs at specific high schools.

Lanier Technical College’s President, Dr. Ray Perren, and Vice President for Economic Development, Tim McDonald, shared about the tools Lanier Technical College uses to enhance the community’s workforce and appeal to prospecting businesses. Lanier Tech offers customized training programs for local employers to close the skill gaps in their processes. Just this year Lanier Tech partnered with the Chamber to offer a manufacturing technician training program for unemployed and under-employed individuals in the community.

Finally, David Seago, Chair of Forsyth County’s Development Authority explained the authority’s role. He forecasted an expansion of initiatives to come in the new year as the Development Authority focuses on some of the “catalyst projects” noted in the community’s strategic economic development plan.

The annual summit was quite the bright spot in what has been a difficult year for many. To learn more about the work being done to maintain Forsyth County’s outstanding quality of life, view the recording of this event HERE.

January 6, 2021 Laura Stewart