FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — One day each year, between 10 and 15 members of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce visit local businesses to ensure they nominate a local establishment or business owner for the Excellence in Business Awards Gala.
Local business leaders embarked on their journey Dec. 5, 2016 to seek out the businesses that not only contribute to the local economy, but those that serve the community.
The rain that day was torrential, yet, chamber member Don Kemp said it was the best day of the year.
“We look for reasons to recognize and celebrate local business owners,” Kemp said. “They are our neighbors, we buy our groceries at the same places, our kids go to school together – so we want to make sure we give them the attention that they deserve.”
On Feb. 9, these chamber members, local business leaders and Forsyth residents gathered at the Forsyth Conference Center. The awards, complete with a three-course meal, live music and drinks, honored those found most deserving for recognition.
In the past, attendance to the event included 50 to 75 people. After a few tweaks last year, the event hosted about 100 people. This year, under the leadership of Tony Peters, vice president of Community Development, the event drew about 180 people. Kemp said he thinks the turnout comes from the addition of local nonprofits, Forsyth County Schools and the University of North Georgia.
The awards honored five high school students, one from each Forsyth public high school, that all participate in internships. The local businesses and individuals who received awards are:
• Business of the Year – The Mauldin Group
• Entrepreneur of the Year – Leigh Ann Cannady of the Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts
• Franchise of the Year – The Joint Chiropractors at the Collection
• Overcomer of the Year – Audition Audio
• Non-Profit of the Year – Whispering Hope Women's Resource & Pregnancy Center
• Community Impact Award – Forsyth County Family YMCA
• 24/7 Award – Bald Ridge Lodge
• Lambert High School Intern – Hailey Guerrasio
• South Forsyth High School Intern – Will Bradley
• West Forsyth High School Intern – Trey Barber
• Forsyth Central High School Intern – Abigail Henderson
Next year, the Chamber hopes for even more business participation.
Chamber Executive Vice President Jimmy Lane said, “Forbes recently released a study that showed consumers are 70 percent more likely to do business with a chamber member over a non-chamber member (…) The chamber exists to be the voice of business that will foster a strong economic environment and superior quality of life in Cumming and Forsyth County.”