Creating wealth in Gwinnett

There will be 65,410 new jobs and more than $5.8 billion in new wealth created in Gwinnett by 2011. That's just one of the many goals set forth in the aggressive Partnership Gwinnett economic and community development strategy we're launching this year.

Creating wealth and diversifying our economy is important to our future because building a stronger Gwinnett depends on growing job opportunities and earnings for our residents at various skill levels.

Partnership Gwinnett's goal of economic diversification and wealth creation focuses on strategies specifically related to generating and sustaining local jobs in Gwinnett's target business sectors identified for high-quality job growth potential: health care; distribution and trade; headquarters, regional offices and professional services; information technology; and advanced communications.

It also addresses the three legs of the best-practice "stool" of economic development: recruitment, existing business retention and expansion, and entrepreneurial and small business development.

Additionally, it recognizes that Gwinnett's diverse population is one of its most distinguishable competitive advantages to be leveraged for local economic development.

Here's a brief look at the four key objectives and tactics we have developed to create wealth and diversify the economy in Gwinnett over the next five years:

Objective 1:

• Attract new opportunities in our targeted business sectors.

• Align local and state leaders behind target development.

• Align marketing and visitation behind targets.

• Develop target-specific recruiting initiatives.

• Pursue incentives, zoning, permitting and land assessment/protection to support target development.

Objective 2:

• Retain and expand existing firms.

• Create a comprehensive business retention and expansion program at the Chamber.

• Redefine/create target-specific task forces/business councils.

• Strengthen relationships with government officials who can affect Gwinnett's business climate competitiveness.

Objective 3:

• Nurture entrepreneurs and small-business opportunities.

• Establish an official entrepreneur-based networking group and host an annual small business celebration.

• Garner support for creating an incubator shared by local colleges.

• Develop loan programs, micro-enterprise grants and seed-capital funding.

• Expand entrepreneur awareness programs in the K-12 system.

Objective 4:

• Advance economic

opportunities for international and minority businesses.

• Continue Chamber outreach and support efforts to integrate minority and foreign-owned firms into the local business community.

• Create an International Investment Group.

• Develop a comprehensive International Trade Initiative.

• Help internationally themed developments to succeed.

• Pursue the possibility of a retail incubator for minority-owned firms.

Partnership Gwinnett represents something bigger than any one person, organization or idea. It represents a shared vision and shared dream by the entire Gwinnett community with countless dedicated volunteers and staff all working toward one goal - a prosperous and successful Gwinnett for our companies and residents.

More than 65,000 new jobs and more than $5.8 billion in new wealth - it's an ambitious goal, but one worth striving for.

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