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Home >> About the Chamber >> Presidents Message  
Presidents Message

Working Together

Every so often, almost like clockwork, the topic of a regional organization for economic development pops up and there is usually a great deal of debate on both the pros and the cons of the idea in each of the respective counties involved at the time. Inevitably and necessarily it becomes political and even emotional at times. It has been a source of conversation for at least the last 30 years. Several efforts have been made, but little has been formalized for many different reasons.

Usually the focus has been on Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties, but we actually live and operate in a much larger area where robust economic health is of vital interest to us all. Madison, Jackson, Oglethorpe, Barrow, Elbert, Walton and beyond are all important to this region of the state. As one of us grows and prospers, so do the others.

Recently the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce and the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce met to formalize a cooperative effort that has been going on for the last several  years. We have made several trips together to the legislature with business leaders from both communities, we promote each other's events and activities, and we have hosted several dedications, ribbon cuttings, and Business After Hours.

Just last week Matt Forshee, the new CEO of the Economic
Development Foundation in Athens, hosted a meeting to discuss a fall event for foreign consulates, and there were 10 counties represented in the room. Some were from the Chambers of Commerce; others were from that community's economic development office or authority.

Not long ago Rusty Haygood, head of Economic Development in Oconee County organized a trip for Oconee and Athens representatives to spend the day with our counterparts in Macon discussing a host of issues that we all face.

Don't get me wrong, I will always be on the lookout for ways to improve and formalize the effort of promoting our overall economic development, in a more positive, aggressive, and cost effective manner. Until such time as the political stars align, rest assured that there are groups within our communities that have been and will continue to work together for the betterment of the region and share bright prospects of becoming even stronger.

Doc Eldridge
Past Messages
Working Together - 06.07.2010

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