Partnership Gwinnett’s 2015 Summit reflected an overriding theme Gwinnett has been very successful in bringing industry into the county, improving and expanding educational opportunities and building vibrant communities that will be attractive and viable for future growth. In short, Success Lives and Works, Starts, Learns and Builds Here.
"Gwinnett is the center of innovation," says Andrew Carnes, director of economic development for Partnership Gwinnett. The manufacturing and supply chain industries represent 58% of businesses in Gwinnett followed by company headquarters (21%), healthcare and professional services (11%) and information technology (8%). International companies are up 17% since last year, now 50% of businesses.
As important as it is to attract new companies to Gwinnett, supporting and fostering entrepreneurship is equally vital. Mark Farmer, director for entrepreneurship and information services for Partnership Gwinnet, and Stephanie Sokenis, director of small business development, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, have greatly expanded support services to Gwinnett-based new companies and expanded partnerships with Georgia’s Small Business Development Center and with SCORE. "Seventy-five percent of Gwinnett businesses have less than ten employees," noted Sokenis.
Increasing investment opportunities for entrepreneurs is also vital. Dan King, Gwinnett Angels Chapter Leader has been influential in getting high net worth investment groups together so that there is capital available for selected start-up companies.
"There’s a symbiotic relationship between business and education," states Mark Farmer, Director of Entrepreneurship & Information Services for Partnership Gwinnett. "We need to retain our best assets." The "Success Learns Here" section of the meeting emphasized the high quality of education in Gwinnett from kindergarten through college. Farmer stresses that internships are vitally important, resulting in a 70% higher likelihood of a job offer.
Developers are investing in Gwinnett County with mixed-use complexes popping up around the county. EpiCenter in Sugar Hill will have a sports complex and theater along with restaurants, retail and office space. The Infinite Energy Center at Sugarloaf is a $70 million public/private partnership and Solis Town Center in Suwanee will combine commercial, retail and restaurants with 235 high-end apartments.
Mac Holladay, CEO of Market Street Services, an expert in community and economic development notes that "this county represents the future of the whole state in so many ways ". The next Five Year Plan will develop "month by month, year by year".
2015 Partnership Gwinnett Awards
Individual: Taylor Anderson
Organization: Kids Count Campaign
Individual: Clyde Strickland
Organization: JA Discovery Center in Gwinnett
Individual: Dr. Mark Bouzyk
Organization: Great Exchange on Transportation