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UGA to expand programs in Gwinnett

DULUTH - As a comprehensive economic development initiative works to add jobs and improve the county's quality of life, the University of Georgia will be expanding their graduate and continuing education programs offered in Gwinnett.

As businesses are built and grown in Georgia's second-largest county, professionals will be able to pursue master's degrees, said Jan Sandor, an assistant vice president for academic affairs at UGA's Gwinnett campus.

The development initiative, called "Partnership Gwinnett," was the topic of this month's Education Action Group, a meeting hosted by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce that brings together business leaders, educators and community members.

"I think what you are doing here is tremendous," Sandor said at the end of the meeting. "UGA can add to the plan by encouraging high-level professional training, continuing education and post-graduate studies."

Partnership Gwinnett has four major goals: economic diversification, education and work force excellence, quality of life enhancements, and marketing and outreach.

Bill McCargo, a co-chairman of Partnership Gwinnett's steering committee, said the initiative's vision is to make Gwinnett an inclusive community where businesses thrive and residents maximize their potential through world-class schools, an opportunity for lifelong learning, a vibrant economy and a superior quality of life.

McCargo stressed the inclusion of "world-class schools," saying the county's advantage is its school system, which produces some of the state's highest graduation rates and SAT scores.

Gwinnett Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said Tuesday in a telephone interview that an effective school system and a great education system are important to the county's quality of life.

"I think this (initiative) is a great opportunity to build Gwinnett County as the great, dynamic, viable community it already is," Wilbanks said.