Letter from the Chairman
I am honored to lead the chamber’s dedicated Board of Directors for the coming year and want to thank our members and the community for their continued support. I see great accomplishments ahead for all of us as we address the challenges for Effingham County businesses. Despite the decline of COVID from our headlines, we know that challenging times are not over. The chamber of commerce is needed now more than ever to help local companies adapt to the one constant in business -- change. As it did during the pandemic, your chamber will work to help Effingham businesses succeed and grow in an ever-changing environment by:
- helping them connect with their clients, customers and community,
- keeping them informed about trends and opportunities that can affect them,
- and being a strong and consistent voice to our elected officials.
In Effingham County, we face the challenge of preparing for growth while preserving the quality of life, small town character, and natural beauty we cherish. After being the seventh fastest growing county in Georgia in the previous decade, Effingham County's population is now about 70,500 with a growth rate of 3.02% per year, according to the most recent U.S. census. That rate is in the top three percent of counties in the U.S. We’re expected to add more than 10,000 residents between 2020 and 2030.
We also welcomed an estimated 475 new businesses from 2020 to 2022, a growth rate of 4.7% per year. The announcement of a Hyundai electric vehicle plant locating just across our southern border – and expected to employ 8,100 workers as early as 2025 – puts the need to prepare for residential growth and infrastructure needs into hyperdrive. The waves of change bearing down on our county are largely positive and welcome but will require thoughtful and collaborative leadership. We are blessed to have such leaders at the state, county, and city levels who have fostered an environment of responsible and inclusive planning.
The chamber of commerce is proud of the role it has played to help provide our communities with resources to adequately address growth – promoting passage of TSPLOST in 2020, and the SPLOST renewal and E-Commerce referendums last year. We anticipate that the chamber will play an important role in attracting workers to address the existing and future needs of our employers. We also see a need to help employers and residents understand the cultural differences that will come with a growing and diverse workforce and population. The chamber looks forward to an exciting transition as we relocate our offices to the planned Co-Op Business Center in downtown Springfield this fall. When complete, the Co-Op Business Center will house store front businesses, rental offices with private entrances, and additional business offices to serve small business startups. We’re energized by the opportunity to support entrepreneurs as they launch and grow here.
In closing, I would like to say a few words of thanks to the chamber’s Board of Directors for its confidence in me. Thanks also to Ryan Thompson for agreeing to stay on as Chairman for a second year leading the chamber board and staff through the many challenges of the COVID pandemic, as well as chamber’s designation as a Certified Georgia Chamber of Commerce, one of only 50 in the state. Thanks, too, to Past Chairman Joe Marchese for seven years of service on the board, providing valuable insight to the executive committee. We hope you enjoy this website, support the local businesses in our directory, and stay informed about your chamber of commerce.
Dr. Fran Witt
Chairman of the Board
Effingham County Chamber of Commerce