April 19, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today

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Cumming-Forsyth County’s Technological Pursuits

Typically, a county that sits near a metropolitan giant like Atlanta lives in the commercial shadows as a bedroom community. That is exactly what Forsyth County is overcoming – with great success.

Forsyth County is Georgia’s most affluent county, and one of the 20 most affluent in the nation, with a median family income exceeding $100,000. More than half the residents are college educated, and the population is growing at a 4.2 percent annual clip – among the top 25 of counties nationally.

The mix of highly educated professionals, engineers, tech experts, educators, and other business leaders and highly-trained specialists has made the county a leading business destination. Students are the highest testing in Georgia, and the county operates a real jewel in Alliance Academy for Innovation, one of the most advanced collaborations between STEM-trained students and the business sector in the nation.

“Last year was a record year for us,” said Robert Long, VP of Economic Development for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. “We had over 100 projects in development, and now have 60 active projects after [the first] two months of 2019 – more than the total in 2016. Most counties are seeing 60 percent expansion to existing business in their mix. We’re seeing 33 percent – the rest of our projects are companies being attracted to Forsyth County.”

Furthermore, Forsyth County set a capital investment record in 2018, with $185 million spent and 1,150 jobs created.

This is impressive enough, but consider the scope of the businesses Forsyth County is drawing from a few projects in which it is involved:

• The hit Netflix series Ozark is filmed in Forsyth County;

• Algae Tech has relocated an operation to export product to Brazil;

• Scientific Games, the world’s largest supplier of scratch-off lottery tickets, now is manufacturing Las Vegas-style video games from the county;

• Ciox, a healthcare tech company, expanded operations in 2018;

• AV Stumpfl, an Austrian company, is building control systems for conference centers;

• Lanza, a Swiss company, has expanded its plastics lab;

• Tech-Long, a Chinese company, is manufacturing bottling machines.

“One of the things we’ve done to broaden the appeal of Forsyth County is to set up a local executive tech group,” said Economic Development Director Scott Evans. “We meet monthly, providing a peer network and recruiting tool for tech companies coming into Forsyth. This has turned into a collaborative peer group.”

To wit, the county is starting an active incubator for up to 20 companies – all of whom either specialize in Internet of Things, blockchain, or artificial intelligence. It’s perfect timing, as all three areas are defining the present and future of tech use and commerce.

“Scott’s probably the only Economic Development Director in the nation to be certified in blockchain,” Long said. “At first, it was intertwined with cryptocurrency; now, people understand blockchain is a better way to secure data.”

The county is also defining its space as primarily industrial in the north, and tech and office complexes in the south. For instance, Halcyon is looking at a $370 million mixed-use development that includes a seven-story office building.

“When it comes to the tech sector, we have a great case study to talk about,” Long said. “It’s
an opportunity for us to create a way for people to live, play, and work in Forsyth County. Now, about 75 percent of our professionals work outside the county. We’re working to change that.” 

By Robert Yehling

By Robert Yehling

Robert Yehling is a former Editorial Director of Sustainability Today, and STEM Today. He is the author, co-author and ghostwriter of 18 books, including the acclaimed "Just Add Water" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the biography of autistic surfing great Clay Marzo, a finalist for the 2015 Dotty Gray Literature Award for outstanding writing on autism; and “Writes of Life: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life” (Open Books Press), called by the Midwest Book Review “the most comprehensive, diverse, and enjoyable writing exercise book on the market.”

Yehling has edited and shepherded more than 130 books in all genres,
including New York Times bestselling memoirist Lynne Martin ("Home Sweet Anywhere"), and 2015 International Book Award and IPPY Gold Medal winner for Visionary Fiction Lynnda Pollio ("Trusting the Currents"). His engaging, informative presentations have inspired writers for 15 years, and take him to conferences and classrooms throughout the country.

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