In her seventh annual State of the County Address, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash declared the county's condition to be remarkable, highlighting multiple accomplishments while acknowledging challenges in the future.
"We've been building this brand over the course of decades but today, I see a strong Gwinnett brand thats been re-invented," she said.
Innovation is a hallmark of the Gwinnett brand, she said, citing the County's F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center, saying the wastewater treatment plant turns byproduct from the treatment process into fertilizer, and converts methane into electricity to run the plant. She noted the state-of-the-art facility also returns 14.5 billion gallons annually of the water used by the county back to Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River. Research institutions and others in water industry are working with Gwinnett County to discover new methods for recycling water and producing clean water more efficiently, Nash said.
Nash said collaboration between the County and its cities is another important element of the Gwinnett County brand of remarkable excellence. She spotlighted a new facility in Lilburn that doubles as a city hall and a county public library. The County is discussing similar library relocations in Duluth and Norcross, she said.
She said the County plans to work with the private sector to redevelop the 24-acre Olympic tennis venue on U.S. 78 near Stone Mountain, and with community improvement districts to improve pedestrian connectivity around Gwinnett Place mall and redevelopment and transportation along I-85 between DeKalb County and Beaver Ruin Road.
Nash also discussed the future expansion of the Infinite Energy Center as the county's signature business and entertainment district. Mark Toro, managing partner and chairman of the
board of North American Properties, described to the audience of about 750 what made Gwinnett County an attractive place to do business.
The County needs to explore new ways to improve mobility including transit, Nash said.
"We cant stop improving our road network, but expanded transit options must also be part of any long-term solution," she said.
Nash also reaffirmed the County's commitment to diversity and pledged to broaden its community outreach programs.
"Inclusion does not just happen," she said. "It takes intentional effort. Let me be perfectly clear failure to respect all Gwinnett residents and welcome their participation in our community is neither acceptable nor smart. Gwinnett's future success depends on all of us, working together to build the community."
Nash said she wanted to build on the County's Gwinnett 101 Citizens Academy, Dinner and Dialogue between citizens and commissioners, and Building Bridges events for various constituencies.
New inclusionary steps by the County will include adding young people to Gwinnett 101, inviting diverse groups to display traditional art, clothing, crafts and heritage in county buildings, and reaching out to minority job applicants and small businesses.
She called on people of all backgrounds and heritage to become more involved in their county government.
Nash announced a new tagline for the County's community outreach program: "Many Voices, One Gwinnett."
"Gwinnett's future depends on all of us, working together to build the community," she said. "We must engage and empower leaders from our diverse population who love Gwinnett to champion this important work."
Video of the speech is available on demand at https://vimeo.com/204436992 and will air frequently on the countys government access cable channel beginning at 7:30 p.m. tonight. A text version of the speech and a handout highlighting the previous years accomplishments can be found at www.gwinnettcounty.com.