I was lucky enough to find myself in the company of a Fortune 100 CEO 17 years ago. After a very brief chat, he took it upon himself to give me some great advice. He said: “You can only control what you can control. Keep your head down, do good things and you’ll be amazed how things improve around you.”
That guy was Sy Sternberg, then CEO of New York Life. He was visiting Forsyth County from his headquarters in New York City to attend the grand opening of their new office. It was a big deal for Forsyth County because they went through a significant round of vetting and won the office over several locations from around the county. There wasn’t as much in Forsyth as there is today and this move was seen as a huge deal: If New York Life approved of the area, that would open the door to many other businesses to follow. And of course, many did.
Since then the entire Metro Atlanta area has grown to become a premier, global city for business investment. And there are so very many reasons why. Today the question is: Will we be saying the same thing in 20 years? What will be the reasons for our success in 20 years? One thing I know for certain is it will be our constant improvement of our schools and our continuous output of a smart, hard-working and useful workforce.
Many of our community leaders here in North Fulton and Forsyth have done a really fantastic job of helping to establish the best public schools in the state and schools that are competitive with the best schools in the country. And I say competitive because it is most certainly a competition. As our business leaders recruit businesses to move and stay in the metro area, schools are a top priority. Corporations want to move somewhere, and want to stay somewhere that guarantees a talented workforce. And good schools provide that. Good schools also provide good reasons for other talented professionals from around the world to want to move here and work for those corporations.
North Fulton, Cobb County, Gwinnett County and lately Cherokee County boast the best schools in our state – by far. And because of that, businesses are moving here and executives are living there. Just ask any real estate agent. They will tell you how important a good school is.
I currently serve as Chairman of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s Education Connection. Every year we host the Partners In Education Expo. It is a high-energy event where all of our North Fulton public schools, and most of our North Fulton Private schools, set up booths and meet with attending businesses. We invite all businesses, whether you are in North Fulton or not, to attend for free. Walk around, talk with each school’s business outreach team and see if you can find a way to help that school. In the short-term, it’s a great marketing plan for your business brand: do good in front of your community. In the long term, you will be fueling the gift that keeps on giving by ensuring the future success of our business community. The event is this Thursday February 9 at AdancED in Alpharetta. If you are interested in attending, go to GNFCC.com and navigate to the events page to register.