In 2017, the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) launched its most industrious endeavor to date: Cherokee By Choice. The five-year public-private partnership and economic growth campaign transforms big ideas into action.
COED has partnered with Power 10, an Atlanta-based capital campaign management group, to raise more than $2 million in pledges over the five-year campaign. This partnership focuses on three goals:
• Growing the local workforce.
• Growing and diversifying Cherokee’s business and tax base.
• Growing building and site inventory for commercial investment.
The quiet phase of the campaign began in early February 2018; the public phase began April 13 and ended June 30. Through the collaborative efforts of our community and business leaders, the Cherokee By Choice campaign raised $1,853,750, or 92 percent of the $2 million goal, by June 1. The final investment amount will be publicized on the COED website in July. Even if the goal has been met, there is an ongoing opportunity for investments throughout the five-year campaign. Visit www.cherokeega.org/campaign or call 770-345-0600 for more information.
Cherokee By Choice funds will be reinvested into programs and initiatives specifically targeted to ensure businesses prosper and find the talent and resources they need to grow. Some of the investments include:
• an interactive mobile workforce training lab geared specifically toward educating our next generation on the wide range of training and career opportunities.
• a new, interactive COED website promoting the skilled trades.
• a proactive branding campaign that positions Cherokee as the ideal place for business.
• a continued focus on smart commercial planning and development.
Keeping Locals Local
One goal we set is to change the statistic that nearly 80 percent of working-age residents leave the county for work each morning. The Cherokee By Choice campaign is working to connect local businesses that need enthusiastic employees with qualified, exceptional talent, to reduce the overall out-commute of talent and resources that leave the county.
This strategy involves two parts. First, most of the residents who commute outside of Cherokee are employed in high-wage industries like information technology and corporate headquarter operations. Part of our plan will be to launch a more aggressive marketing campaign targeting site consultants and project managers that work with these industries, to let them know that Cherokee is a great place for business relocation. This campaign will include creating a national site selection consultant and corporate headquarters visitation program, and partnering with national and regional organizations that will allow us to market to these targeted prospects.
Second, our strategy features an educational component designed specifically to grow awareness in the community about local career opportunities. These initiatives include a state-of-the-art mobile training lab and an interactive clearinghouse of local job opportunities on the new COED website, which is expected to launch by the end of summer. This multi-faceted approach to economic growth will help grow and retain existing industry, recruit new businesses into our area, and open a new world of possibilities for Cherokee residents seeking a career closer to home.
Finding Room to Grow
As local job opportunities are created and businesses become fully staffed, they also need room to grow. Companies looking to locate or expand need move-in-ready space that can serve various needs, such as office space, manufacturing and warehouses. COED is working to make space available for more businesses to expand and make Cherokee home.
With room to breathe and space to grow, large corporations and international companies are taking note. Inalfa Roof Systems, Jaipur Living, and the adidas SPEEDFACTORY recently settled into the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park, but they’re not the only ones choosing Cherokee. The Circuit, Cherokee’s first ever co-working space, opened its doors last year to give entrepreneurs a sense of community while launching startups close to home.
Great ideas take time to incubate and grow. That’s why COED created Fresh Start Cherokee, an initiative focused on providing entrepreneurial education for our next generation, and growth support for our next wave of innovators and startups. Fresh Start Cherokee provides a comfortable environment where entrepreneurs can collaborate and develop innovative solutions through programs such as the Creative Problem-Solvers meet-up, monthly Lunch Circuit, and 1 Million Cups Cherokee. After all, many of life’s greatest breakthroughs often come over a warm cup of coffee, or lunch with friends.
While these programs – and many others – are moving Cherokee forward, there is still more work to be done. Whether you’re part of Cherokee’s highly skilled workforce, an entrepreneur, a local industry leader or a resident, you have a powerful role to play in Cherokee’s next wave of growth.
Tell us why you chose to live or work in Cherokee County, using the hashtag #CherokeeByChoice. Cherokee By Choice is more than a catchy tagline – it’s a movement that resonates locally and inspires globally. So, take your seat at the table and tell us why you chose to make Cherokee home.
Economic growth and development is a communitywide effort. Thank you to all of the public and private partners who graciously invested their time and financial resources to support Cherokee By Choice. More information about the campaign and a full list of investors can be found at www.cherokeega.org/campaign.
– Submitted by Cherokee Office of Economic Development