World takes notice of Gwinnett

When I travel and people ask where I'm from, I sometimes say Lilburn, sometimes Gwinnett, and sometimes Georgia. When I'm far from home, I usually say Atlanta or northeast of Atlanta.

Last week, I learned that Gwinnett is rapidly gaining a global reputation. We're becoming much more than just some place outside of Atlanta. The world knows our name.

I joined Partnership Gwinnett representatives Jim Maran, Nick Masino and others on a trade mission to China and South Korea. In 15 days, we visited eight cities and had dozens of meetings with business and government officials.

The immediate results of our efforts include the expansion of Hisense USA, a division of China's largest manufacturer of flat-panel screens, that will bring between 35 and 40 high-wage jobs and an investment of $800,000 to Gwinnett County. Also, Ningbo Electronics, a division of China's SELF Electronics and a major manufacturer of LED lighting and display products, will expand its U.S. headquarters here. I also signed Gwinnett's first sister-city agreement with Gangnam-gu, a dynamic high-rise activity center near Seoul.

These new, expanding business relationships are early signs that the best is yet to come. Partnership Gwinnett is successfully and aggressively working with other innovative companies to bring more investments and high-paying jobs to our community.

We have some of the greatest people, cultural experiences, educational and business opportunities, and access to some of the best health care in the country. But if we're home most of the time, we forget how awesome it is to live here.

During my time overseas, I was continually reminded of two things we all know but don't always remember. One is that much of our success in life is built on meaningful relationships that are the foundation of understanding and trust. The relationships that Partnership Gwinnett had built before our trip plus the ones that we began in Asia will benefit the economic and cultural stability of our community for many years to come.

My second realization was that most people throughout the world want the same things in life - economic opportunity, good health care and a chance to raise children in a safe, affordable and enjoyable environment. We have all those things in Gwinnett and so much more. We are incredibly blessed. It is critically important that we work together to continually enhance and protect our assets and our resources.

We should appreciate, sustain, grow, share and market everything we have so that we continue to elevate Gwinnett's unique identity both at home and abroad. Now that we're on the map, we have a reputation to uphold.

Charles E. Bannister is Chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.