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Chamber staff at Roam in the Town at Trilith

Featured Article

Live Work Play Stay

The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce provides a conduit for businesses to help the community.

Article by Susan Walworth

Photography by South Atlanta Photography and Provided

Originally published in Fayette County Lifestyle

You’re getting old, Fayette County.  With an average age of about 46, our county has the oldest residents in metro Atlanta, beating other counties by about 10 years. It’s a concern for Fayette County Chamber of Commerce President Colin Martin. “If I could wave a magic wand and say this is what I want to do, it would be creating an environment that young families want to come to and raise their kids and be a part of.”

Part of creating this environment would require adding starter homes. “We have these beautiful homes, but we need some for young families to move into so that they can then trade up to the really nice houses,” Martin said. Believing that Fayette County is a great place to live, work, and play, Martin said it’s also important to continue to cultivate what is already here.  “We are rightfully proud of our school system in Fayette County and that's a huge draw but having starter homes and unique retail and restaurant concepts all come together in creating a place where people want to move to and live and spend their dollars.”

Why do things such as starter homes concern Martin and the Chamber of Commerce?  The Chamber’s focus is serving businesses and business interests, and the county’s need for starter homes affects a pressing need for area business owners—an available workforce.  

Contrary to popular belief, the Chamber, formed in 1967, has nothing to do with the government. “Our focus is totally on serving our members, which are businesses,” Martin said, “but hopefully the residents here get a thriving business community that's interested in contributing to the well-being of the community. We are here to serve businesses, but businesses want to serve the community, so we are the conduit for that.”

Not only does the Chamber offer members an opportunity to network with potential customers and learn from other business owners, but it also informs and advocates on behalf of local businesses. For example, the Chamber keeps local education partners including the Fayette County Board of Education and area universities and technical colleges informed of needed skills so they can produce students who are ready to fill available jobs.

Martin, who became chamber president in 2018, said he and the chamber board are proud to have had Governor Brian Kemp speak to chamber members twice in the last four years as well as several other state officials. “That’s pretty remarkable,” Martin said, adding that the visits “show the importance of Fayette County in not only the metro region but also in the state. We may be the only chamber in the entire state to say that we had the head of each of the three branches of government come and speak."

“Any time our members can get direct contact with statewide elected officials that's positive for them and they can not only hear what that statewide official wants to accomplish while in office but also share concerns with that official.”  

The chamber wants to be the voice of business on government issues such as advocating to keep the film tax credits in Georgia since a lot of businesses here are doing business with the movie industry at Trilith and other studios. “We want to support that and make sure that our local elected officials and our state elected officials know that that the film tax credit is a big part of our business fabric here in Fayette County.” The chamber board has also endorsed and will campaign for the passage of the 2023 SPLOST, which includes infrastructure projects as well quality-of-life projects such as a new recreation center at Kiwanis Park on Redwine road. The Chamber also supports a feasibility study for a performing arts center.

Another thing Martin is proud of is the chamber’s annual diversity and inclusion summit, which addresses topics such as racial disparity and growing women leaders.  “We've tried to be innovative in that area and have gotten great support from our chamber members and the community every year.” 

Leadership Fayette is another way the Chamber grows new leaders.  The eight-month program sharpens participants’ leadership skills as they learn how their community works and how to serve it.

Martin is quick to commend the Chamber staff, board of directors, and volunteer ambassadors. “We have a fantastic staff who shows up every day doing great work and really are the ones who make this chamber work,” he said. “Secondly, we have a great board of directors who are local business owners or local executives who really want to see Fayette County be a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. They give their time and talent to us.” Martin said ambassadors are critically important to the Chamber’s success. “I'm grateful for those folks who are serving on our ambassador team,” he said.

For more information about the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, visit www.fayettechamber.org.

  • Colin Martin the Chamber Cornhole Tournament. Photo by Gobi Photography
  • Costas Soulakos 2022 Chamber Ambassador of the Year.  Photo by Gobi Photography
  • Chamber staff member Cereto Bean hands out prizes at the Chamber Golf Tournament. Photo by Gobi Photography
  • Fayette Chamber Staffers. L-R: Carrie Bittinger, Colin Martin, Cereto Bean, and Cindi Longmore. Photo by Gobi Photography
  • Cornhole tourny fun.
  • Chamber staff at Roam in the Town at Trilith
  • Chamber staff at Roam in the Town at Trilith
  • Colin Martin at the coffee bar at Roam