Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

The Right Job Can Change Your Life

July 12, 2016

The Right Job Can Change Your Life

The Right Job (view article as seen in ENJOY Cherokee – Summer 2016)

It was a game-changer for Matt Ringer. Not the sort of thing that usually comes from an off-the-cuff remark, but that’s exactly how he landed a new job just minutes from his home. A while back, Ringer was having a light-hearted conversation with a group of friends; among them were a couple of recruiters. As he got up to leave, he half-jokingly said to let him know if they hear of an IT opportunity in Cherokee County. The funny thing is, he wasn’t really looking; Ringer loved where he was working. But the two-hour commute in rush-hour traffic was taking its toll on the father of three. So when one of the recruiters mentioned global aerospace leader Universal Alloy Corporation (UAC) was in the market for an IT director, Ringer fired off an application. The next day, UAC called for an interview.

“It takes about four minutes now to drive from my house to the front door of the office,” Ringer laughed. “I’m able to go home for lunch, make it to my children’s events at school and volunteer as a youth pastor at my church. If I work late, I’m still able to make it home in time for dinner. I leave every morning in a good mood. I come home in a good mood. There’s a lot less stress.”

Like so many, Ringer thought he had to commute into Atlanta to find “serious” work. But Atlanta’s growing business community is looking for options, as are commuters. Cherokee County is already seeing the benefits of the “Opportunity Cherokee” plan as industry after industry locates.

“Listen I get it,” said Misti Martin, President of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED).  “You start talking about economic development and a lot of people’s eyes just glaze over; it can be a complex process. The fact is, we’ve been working for years to attract corporations here with good paying jobs, and by doing that, we’re creating opportunities for Cherokee residents to live and work in the same community.

But what it really means is that people like Matt Ringer now have the chance to spend quality time away from work, while still having a career they love. That’s the kind of success we’re working for every day, even when some of our projects take years. We’re committed to making a difference, because finding the right job can change someone’s life.”

COED’s success has not gone unnoticed. Martin was just named one of the top Economic Developers in the country by Consultant Connect. The honor comes on the heels of some impressive wins for COED, and for Cherokee County.

New Business|Hundreds of New Jobs|Strong Salaries
Papa John’s will soon open its new regional hub in Southwest Cherokee County, resulting in 106 jobs with an average annual salary of about $60,000. The move alone is expected to net more than a $15 million in investment. Another company, Jaipur Living, which specializes in rugs, throws and other home décor, is building a 189,000-square-foot headquarters facility on 23 acres of land in the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park. The area can easily accommodate an expansion of up to 329,000 square feet. With it, will come at least 100 jobs, paying, on the average, about $52,000 a year. ThyssenKrupp Materials North America just completed a move to Cherokee. The venture is a $17.2 million investment and brings an estimated 100 jobs, with a starting annual salary of approximately $50,000.


Existing Industries Expand|475 New Jobs Created

Attracting new industry to Cherokee County is a key priority, but that’s only part of the equation for COED. The other half is to nurture the corporate base that’s already here. “We have worked diligently to create an environment where existing industries can thrive,” said COED Chairman, Marshall Day. “Nearly 75 percent of job growth comes from existing industry, their success and job creation go hand-in-hand.”

Last year alone, 29 existing Cherokee County businesses expanded their operations, creating hundreds of new job opportunities. In fact, here are examples of just four expansions, which will generate 475 new jobs and represents a nearly $51 million investment in the county:

  • Canton-based automotive manufacturer, Piolax USA, is putting the finishing touches on an 82,000-square-foot-expansion. The company has been part of the community for 30 years.
  • LAT Apparel, previously LAT Sportswear, is building a new 166,000-square-foot headquarters on 45 acres in the Ball Ground area. The company has been part of the community for nearly 35 years.
  • Inalfa Roof Systems just completed a second building in the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park, creating a southeastern campus. Inalfa is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of automotive sunroofs and open roof systems for BMW and other well-known brands. The plant has been open for just over two years.
  • The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta now has five more stores open for business. The 33,000-square-foot expansion was completed last year in time for holiday shopping. The outdoor mall opened less than three years ago and has created millions in sales tax revenue for Cherokee and its cities.

Targeted for Growth|

In a recent Regional Snapshot released by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Cherokee County is projected to lead metro Atlanta in new business and industry expansion from now until 2040. According to ARC’s data, Cherokee will experience a 166.3 percent increase in jobs. Cherokee’s target sectors for business growth include:

industries chart
And with more career opportunities, comes more people. Cherokee’s population is also increasing. Between 1980 and 2010, the county grew by 315 percent. Over the next 20 years, the population is expected to spike by another 94 percent.

Cherokee County|Resonates with Millennials
There is no specific age attached to Millennials. By definition, they are the generation who graduated from high school and college around the year 2000.  Millennials currently make up the majority of America’s workforce, and by the year 2025, Millennials are expected to dominate the country’s workforce.

Right now, about a quarter of Cherokee’s population are Millennials. According to a report by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), Cherokee County’s young adult population is significantly higher than the national average. It’s also no secret that Cherokee appeals to this particular generation. The community continues to be named as being the Best Place for Millennials (, for being one of the Top Millennial Cities (North Atlanta Business Post), and for being among the Best Suburbs for Millennials (


The growth Cherokee County is experiencing has been years in the making. And without question, economic development is a team sport. But putting the pieces into motion is the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, carrying out a vision, partnership and a plan. It’s a game changer. Just ask Matt Ringer.


The Cherokee Office of Economic Development is the Leading Organization for Business & Film Recruitment and Industry Retention & Expansion.  For more information, visit