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Chamber gets $500K for economic effort

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County will be one of the biggest benefactors of a Chamber of Commerce initiative to attract 65,000 jobs to the county, so county government officials decided it should also be one of the biggest supporters.

Commissioners agreed this past week to contribute $500,000 to Partnership Gwinnett, the chamber-led program seeking to retain and expand existing Gwinnett businesses and develop new business in five key market segments: health care, distribution, corporate and regional offices, information technology and advanced communications.

The county contribution is a quarter of the Partnership Gwinnett goal of $2 million in new economic development spending in the program's first year.

"I think that's probably the next best thing we can do to further kick off economic development in this county," said Chairman Charles Bannister, who has focused on bringing a balance to the county tax base the past three years.

"It falls right in line with our own economic efforts here as a county government to boost the employment and gain in our commercial tax base," Bannister said. "We are involved much more heavily than a lawyer's office or a doctor's office. It's much more beneficial to the 437 square miles and 772,000 population than one individual business."

The agreement reached this week guarantees $500,000 this year, with renewal options for the next five years if the partnership reaches certain targets.

"We're pleased and excited to have the county on board with us for Partnership Gwinnett," Chamber President Jim Maran said.