Gwinnett leaders to visit Virginia county

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett leaders will look north for a lesson in dealing with growth.

Nearly 50 leaders from the government, school system, hospital and business communities are flying this morning to Fairfax County, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb which has already passed the 1 million mark in population.

Virginia's northernmost county was recently compared to the Atlanta suburb in a Chamber of Commerce initiative, Partnership Gwinnett, to determine the county's economic vision.

It boasts an affluent, well-educated population, a low crime rate and a ripe business community.

Officials will present the Gwinnettians with forums on growth, transportation, diversity, the economy and tourism and the arts as well as information on schools, health care and housing.

"It's going to be a great trip I think to see how we compare and what we can gain," Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said. "They have done some things right. I hope we can glean a lot of good information."

Bannister said he learned "what not to do" during a trip with the Atlanta Regional Commission to Portland last year, so this time he hopes to learn how to do things right.

This is the first sojourn coordinated by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

"The visit is continuing education for our community and an opportunity for leaders in the public and private sectors to meet with their counterparts and learn about the best practices and lessons in another successful community," said Demming Bass, vice president of communications and business resources for the Gwinnett Chamber. "The Strategic Leadership Visit along with Partnership Gwinnett, are both groundbreaking initiatives in our county that, working together, are strategically designed to create proactive opportunities to move Gwinnett forward as one of the premier counties in the nation to live, work and play."