When the City of Chamblee was first incorporated by the Georgia Legislature in 1908 it may have been mistaken for more of a pasture than an actual town. That’s because the rolling hills of Chamblee and the surrounding area were home to over 200 dairies making it the largest producer of Grade A milk in the south.
With such a rich and promising trade, people saw the need for dairy hands and truck drivers and moved to the area to manufacture and deliver milk products to the city of Atlanta as well as the rest of the region.
The only other industry in the area during the late 19th and early 20th century was the railroad that served as a junction for trains carrying passengers from Atlanta to Charlotte and the Roswell Railroad, which carried textile good and workers back and forth from the Roswell Manufacturing Company.
Everything changed in 1917 when Chamblee’s dairy land was transformed into a military installation called Camp Gordon.
Camp Gordon became home to 1,200 buildings and 40,000 military personal. People near and far saw this boom as an opportunity to build businesses to serve this thriving community.
Seemingly overnight, this small dairy town was flush with new businesses. Forty stores, three theaters, two hotels and a bowling alley were built to cater to the growing population.
As the city grew General Motors took notice and in 1945 it began construction of a plant in nearby Doraville. Chamblee was no longer the quaint farming town it once was. It was a thriving hub of commerce and development. (http://www.thecrier.net/our_columnists/article_24be2568-ffec-11e7-b771-439e47f81938.html)
Today, that entrepreneurial drive is still alive in wall in Chamblee and surrounding areas. In fact, the entire state continues to show a bright economic future. Fortune 500 recently featured 21 Georgia-based companies on its 2018 list and the newest census reveals a growth rate of 1.2 percent between 2016 and 2017, almost double the nation’s average.
For DeKalb County, which consists of several cities including Chamblee, Brookhaven, Norcross, Decatur and Dunwoody, supporting small business has is a priority. The DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has been committed to promoting economic development for decades by offering numerous resources including seminars and workshops designed to equip and empower entrepreneurs and small businesses. As its website states, “In DeKalb, there is the right combination of investment incentives to attract new businesses; access support services ad capital to help businesses grow; and information on procureent opportunites to enable businesses to sustain their growth.”
This is clear as you explore Chamblee. Refugees and Immigrants account for much of the demographic giving the area an international flair that you can’t find anywhere else and a stretch of downtown dubbed “Antique Row” is home to the South’s largest collection of antiques. Combine the area’s diversity, its many independently owned shops and restaurants,
and the support from local government and the Chamblee's future looks bright.
It all began with rolling hills of dairy farms and the foresight of those who traveled here to start something new. In that regard not much has changed. People still see DeKalb through the eyes of possibility. That entreprenuial spirit is what continues to drive 3411 to create an atmosphere of community and creativity for the dreamers and doers of Chamblee and beyond.