Why quality of life matters -- and what we're doing about it

We all know it's true.

In today's world, both companies and employees are increasingly placing a high priority on quality of life factors in their location decision making processes. Everything from the attractiveness of land use patterns to crime rates, cultural assets and recreational opportunities impact those location decisions.

That's why enhancing our quality of life is a key goal in Partnership Gwinnett - the community's strategic public-private community and economic development strategy that the Chamber will begin implementing this year. Succeeding in this area will result in quality of life enhancements that will enable Gwinnett to attract and grow the best job opportunities, and bolster and retain the work force necessary to support our five target business sectors of health care, advanced communications, information technology, distribution and trade, and regional headquarters and professional services.

This goal addresses concerns about Gwinnett's stressed local transportation infrastructure and suburban-style, single-use environments. Both residents and employers are calling for strong actions to alleviate congested roadways, and progressive redevelopment that will result in more sustainable land-use patterns.

It also addresses Gwinnett's need to improve its realities, and internal and external perceptions, related to arts and cultural assets, recreational opportunities, and crime rates.

Aggressively pursuing these opportunities is critical for Gwinnett's attractiveness to visitors, future residents and prospective employers.

How will we address these issues? Here's a brief look at the four key objectives and tactics Partnership Gwinnett has developed to enhance the quality of life for Gwinnett over the next five years:

Objective 1: Promote redevelopment and more sustainable development patterns

•Work with the 2030 Unified Plan process to encourage "vertical" density, mixed-used projects, transit-oriented opportunities, and redevelopment

•Create small-area master plans for key Gwinnett centers

•Develop fast-track and "by-right" zoning for priority development/redevelopment projects

Objective 2: Enhance mobility in Gwinnett and throughout the region

•Ensure effective implementation of the Unified Plan's transportation element

•Lobby for timely development of key transportation projects

•Expand Gwinnett Transit destinations and intra-county service

•Assess the need for a Gwinnett Transportation Management Association (TMA)

•Partner in regional transit efforts

Objective 3: Strengthen arts, cultural, and recreational assets

•Work with the Gwinnett Council of the Arts to expand its role

•Establish a "Destination Gwinnett" package

•Facilitate entrepreneurial development of restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. in pedestrian-oriented areas

•Strengthen the Gwinnett Center area as an entertainment district

•Advocate for the development and connectivity of sidewalks, park space, and pedestrian, bike, and equestrian trails

Objective 4: Improve public safety and code enforcement

•Establish a Task Force to identify needs and create a best practice, evidence-based action plan for public safety improvements

•Increase the number of minority and bilingual law enforcement officers

•Renew the focus on improving property-maintenance code enforcement

New entertainment and recreational opportunities. More green space. Smart land use planning. Less crime. Managing traffic congestion.

These are all worthy goals - and goals all of our public and private partners aspire to achieve through Partnership Gwinnett.

Succeeding in the quality of life arena means a more prosperous and vibrant economic future for Gwinnett. It also means leaving our children a community they will appreciate many years into the future. And that's something we can all rally around.

Jim Maran is the president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.