Progress hasn’t been stifled

Through effective partnerships, strategic collaborations and a service-focused approach for success, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce is confident and excited about the future. Despite recent criticisms and challenges within the community, the momentum shown by local businesses, chamber investors and residents prove progression has not been halted.

The sentiment, “there is always room for improvement,” holds true for many, and the DeKalb Chamber is no different. Just under two years ago, the chamber fielded concerns from local leaders about the ease of doing business in DeKalb.

The county has committed an investment of updated technology and human capital to address the business community’s permitting pain points. The county launched the Permitting Improvement Project to make the licensing, permitting and approval process more efficient for customers and the government.

We join the DeKalb County government in its commitment to consistently share and promote strengths within the community. By being transparent and telling our story, our goal is to reignite excitement around business recruitment and retention so residents and onlookers will discover a new DeKalb.

As Georgia gets more national and international attention, the county has mapped out a course that will leverage the excitement around business recruitment and retention and, more importantly, highlight the greatness in this county.

The chamber was in full support of the intergovernmental agreement that allowed the DeKalb Development Authority to become its own entity and offer greater flexibility in facilitating new business deals and a more inviting atmosphere for businesses looking to build or relocate to the county. To further show our support of this more focused economic development model, the chamber developed a monthly economic development e-newsletter, where our partners can provide updated content and information to the DeKalb community.

Another example is the newly designed Workforce Enhancement (WE) DeKalb program. Through WE DeKalb, if you work for a DeKalb-based employer but do not live in the county, you can qualify for a 5 percent down payment grant for a primary dwelling in DeKalb. It’s the first program of its kind in the country.

Once launched, WE DeKalb will help develop competitive incentives for business prospects. That will lead to an increased workforce, community growth and overall progression for the county.

In addition, the county’s 2020 Vision has received positive feedback and shared enthusiasm from the community and business leaders. However, it is most rewarding to know that after critiquing our own practices and programs, the chamber has a greater understanding why it is important to develop integrated strategies versus isolated programs.

Collaboration and partnership, and highlighting resources of community partners, make the chamber a place of access for DeKalb. By taking a more unified approach, we have provided more value to our members, giving them greater confidence in our ability as their business, government and community liaison.

Our eagerness as a chamber to create a strategy more aligned with the community’s needs has also strengthened our educational partnerships with the DeKalb County school system and technical colleges. Through actions being taken by our school board, I am confident DeKalb will once again be a premier location for educational advancement.

Although it is not often talked about, there is great work being done in DeKalb County. The angst of our lack of transparency or government structure certainly creates caution for community and business members. However, as we work toward our goals, we will continually learn from our mistakes and offset the concerns of observers with positive reinforcement. We cannot allow negative attention to stifle progression.

DeKalb County is positioning itself for innovation and future results.