Minorities up 9 percent
More than 30 percent of residents now non-white

SUWANEE - Nearly a third of all Gwinnett residents are a race other than Caucasian, up from less than a quarter seven years ago.

According to U.S. Census data released today, 31.6 percent of Gwinnett residents are non-white. In 2000, that figure was 22.6 percent.

As the county's population has increased from 596,659 people in July 2000 to 757,104 in July 2006, the latest date for which Census data is available, more than 100,000 non-whites moved into Gwinnett.

Still, the county is a long way from being one of 303 nationwide that is considered minority-majority, where the minority population is higher than 50 percent.

Sunny Kim, who moved to Buford from Los Angeles a year ago, said while there are a number of Asians coming into Suwanee and the surrounding area, Gwinnett's diversity is nothing compared to Los Angeles. Los Angeles County's minority population is 71 percent, with the most Hispanics, Asians, American Indians and Native Alaskans.

"From a financial standpoint, for the real estate market, it's good," he said. "Academically, it's a plus."

The fastest-growing group in the county was Pacific Islanders, who nearly doubled their presence in Gwinnett. That was followed by Hispanics, then blacks.

Pat Jones, a Buford resident who said she has lived in Gwinnett on two occasions, said her children have always benefited from the diversity.

"They've learned to develop a lot of different friendships," she said. "My son's 30 now, but when he was younger, he said. 'This neighborhood has one of everybody in it.' We're not all the same one way or another."

Deidra Atkin said she thought the county's minority population was higher than the Census reported. She said there is more crime in Gwinnett than in other places she has lived, but Atkin said she did not know if that was connected to the county's diversity.

Bonnie Landress, who is half Japanese, also said she thought Census numbers seemed low. But she said having more varied populations brings different interests and experiences to county residents.

Landress said there may still be some time before Gwinnett is minority-majority, but that it is headed on that path.

"The attraction is for everyone, no matter what race you are."