Cherokee County has been growing at a record rate and won’t be slowing down soon. This month, the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) is celebrating the kickoff of Cherokee By Choice 2.0 (CBC 2.0) — a five-year strategic plan that aims to nurture the county’s business sector and increase the overall quality of living.
COED developed the forerunner, Cherokee By Choice 1.0 (CBC 1.0), in 2017 to address several business community needs. Over the five-year campaign, more than 75 community investors collectively committed $2.7 million to cement Cherokee as the choice for businesses and residents. CBC 1.0 created more than 2,200 direct jobs and $450 million in new investment.
Despite the strides made by CBC 1.0, there still were barriers to Cherokee’s continued economic success. To guide the country’s economic growth, CBC 2.0 was launched in 2022. COED has been preparing to execute its initiatives. The campaign aims to create a place where employees want to live and employers want to hire.
“Cherokee By Choice 2.0 continues to build upon our current strategy for how to help businesses today but also strengthen the future pipeline,” said Misti Martin, CEO and president of COED. “We want to grow our startups here and recruit diversified companies that will employ our people, so they can work in their home community.”
The attraction, retainment and alignment of talent is CBC 2.0’s first ambitious goal. This means curating a skilled workforce that is willing and able to work in Cherokee. To achieve this, CBC 2.0 is debuting the Work in Cherokee campaign, in which county residents are encouraged to #ForgetTheCommute and begin working in-county.
COED’s website features a Cherokee County career portal, allowing users to search for employment opportunities in the county. A Cherokee Career Expo was held Sept. 27 to connect residents with local career opportunities.
To curate a skilled workforce, CBC 2.0’s Cherokee Workforce Collaborative partners with the business community and higher education officials to strengthen the pipeline. The Cherokee Summer Internship Program will continue to be improved to match high school students with paid, real-world opportunities with local businesses.
Be Pro Be Proud Georgia is being expanded under this campaign, with the construction of an additional interactive mobile workshop. These workshops provide tours of schools in Cherokee and statewide, highlighting in-demand skilled professions, such as computer programming, manufacturing, welding and health care.
The second goal for CBC 2.0 is increasing innovative businesses, investment and jobs. To support existing businesses, CBC 2.0 will hold roundtable meetings where business leaders are invited to provide input on pressing matters. This includes the founding of the International Business Council.
To nourish entrepreneurship, CBC 2.0 will expand the Fresh Start Cherokee initiative. Fresh Start Mornings is a new twice-monthly program for entrepreneurs to engage with one another, ask questions, learn and promote their businesses. The North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service also will progress under CBC 2.0, providing team-based mentoring for new ventures. A free startup kit is being developed to aid local entrepreneurs.
CBC 2.0 aims to attract new businesses through the promotion of Cherokee County globally. This includes refining Cherokee’s brand and building relationships with site selection consultants and other partners.
To create a welcoming environment for global businesses, workers and residents, CBC 2.0 will cultivate infrastructure and products. This entails development of land, sites and buildings that fit Cherokee’s target sectors — technology, startup companies, advanced manufacturing, film and entertainment, headquarters and commercial developers.
To increase Cherokee’s attractiveness to residents, CBC 2.0 will promote countywide connected trails, such as Woodstock’s Green Print Trails and the Etowah River Hiking Trails in Canton. CBC 2.0 also strives to help residents understand the importance of economic development and curating a business-friendly environment.
If you want to help shape your community, get involved as a Cherokee By Choice 2.0 investor. Visit cherokeega.org/cherokeebychoice for the detailed campaign plan and to learn how you can help make Cherokee the No. 1 choice.
– The Cherokee Office of Economic Development is the leading organization for business and film recruitment as well as industry retention and expansion in Cherokee County.