Divisions of the Chamber worked with many programs and civic leaders to impact the lives of local businesses, community members and students.
It was a packed house Thursday, Jan. 10, at The Colonnade as Anglea recognized new members and newly elected sheriff Gary Sisk. Chamber staff were presented with roses and retired members with a table clock.
But the meeting was more about the future of industry and growth in Georgia than the accomplishments of the past year.
Starting the movement of change, Anglea symbolically passed the gavel to chairman-elect Roger Forgey, who is CEO of Erlanger at Hutcheson hospital in Fort Oglethorpe.
“You have left it (the chamber) better than you found it,” Forgey said to Anglea.
Addressing the crowd, Forgey explained the struggle for chambers to find themselves in the current economy. A place once centered on connection and communication is being replaced by social media and other mediums, a possible impact of the economic downturn, according to Forgey.
Forgey has a plan to make the Catoosa Chamber relevant for today. A new website, committee chairs with a modern outlook, a stronger relationship with the economic development board, and outreach programs with other municipalities will be the focus for 2013.
“This will be a year of transition,” said Forgey. “And I will try very hard to do it this year.”
Featured speaker for the annual meeting was Georgia commissioner of labor Mark Butler. The commissioner continued the topic of progress with examples of where Georgia was two years ago, compared to today.
“Georgia was one of the fastest-growing states in the country and we got the rug pulled out from under us,” said Butler. “Even with all that (more than 160,000 construction and manufacturing jobs lost) the state is coming back.”
Butler described several new programs aimed to improve the workforce and save taxpayer money. Companies are hiring but having trouble finding skilled employees to work, according to Butler.
The Georgia Best program is designed to teach children soft skills, or what Butler calls “common sense.” Approximately 130 schools were enrolled in the program last year. These students are giving rise to higher graduation rates.
“These skills are not being taught at home and it is becoming an economic development issue,” Butler said.
In addition to implementing cost-free programs to strengthen the workforce, Butler said the state labor department has closed offices, improved the welfare payout program and downsized staff in order to 'live within their means.”
“Georgia is on the path to recovery,” Butler said. “We are strong.”