The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce has “five really active (economic development) projects,” president and CEO Jim Shaw told the board of directors at its Sept. 20 meeting.

All five of those projects are for manufacturing and involve land that is all around the county, he said.

Shaw also said the SK America Battery facility in Commerce is “going vertical” – steel for the building has started. He said the company hopes to begin testing its products by mid-year 2020.

He said the company, and the economic activity for the county, is putting on pressure for a trained workforce and for housing for that workforce.

“It’s going to require a level of cooperation that’s beyond where we are right now,” Shaw said.

He said the Habitat for Humanity chapter will sponsor a luncheon Oct. 18 to “start” a conversation about housing in the county.

The shortage of “affordable” housing is “hitting” all the county’s municipal governments and the county government, Shaw said.

He said Empower, the county’s college and career academy, is dependent on the completion of the new high school on Skelton Rd. in Hoschton. The new CEO for the school, John Uesseler, started work July 1. Shaw said if all goes well, the new Empower facility could open in the fall of 2021.

NEW MEMBERS

Shaw also told the board the staff is “basking” and “drowning” in the work from adding 200 new members in August.

He said the membership drive was successful and said the staff still is getting the paperwork for the new members completed. Shaw and Melissa Britt, vice president of operations, both praised the chamber’s ambassadors group for delivering membership packets to new members.

The chamber had 762 members Sept. 20 “a level that we’ve never been before,” Shaw said.

The chamber set a goal last fall to add 60 net members to the chamber this year.

Each month, Britt makes a report on new and dropped membership. The chamber had been around 550 before the membership drive.

Shaw said the drive also added to current members’ knowledge about the chamber. He said 92 volunteers participated in the drive.

“We educated an awful lot of people” for the drive, he explained.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the chamber board:

•heard a report from Shaw that the group’s annual audit should be completed by November. He said that does not meet the goal of getting the audit to the board by June, which he said would again be a goal in 2020.

•heard the chamber expects to receive its certification from the state chamber at the volunteer leadership conference in November. That was one of the chamber’s goals this year.

•heard a retreat for the board is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29.

•heard the chamber has $259,960 in reserve, exceeding the three months’ expenses that are recommended as a reserve.

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