Gwinnett Village opens financial center

NORCROSS - What started as an idea discussed over a cup of coffee is now a reality.

The Gwinnett Village Community Alliance Financial Services Center opened Thursday in the new Gwinnett Village building on Jimmy Carter Boulevard.

The center's goal is to increase the financial well-being among low- to moderate-income families living and working within the Gwinnett Village.

"The Gwinnett Village Financial Services Center is a unique one-stop shop offering individuals opportunities and solutions that can lead to a financially secure future," said Letycia Pastrana, executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Alliance. "The center focuses on financial stability, career connections and entrepreneurship by increasing employment and home ownership, as well as decreasing personal debt."

Open to the public, the center provides several services at reduced or no cost, including workshops and classes on career options, job readiness, financial fitness, starting a small business, home buyer education and foreclosure prevention. The center will also offer free seasonal tax preparation, Work Ready testing, an Internet Cafe for job searches and online research, referrals and multilingual services.

Overall management and coordination of the Financial Services Center will be provided by the Gwinnett Village Community Alliance while specific programs will be directed by community partners, including The Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Gwinnett Technical College, The Impact Group, University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and Women's Economic Development Agency.

The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta has committed to support the Financial Services Center for three years.

"We believe that a key component of a thriving community is self-sufficient families," said Demetrius Jordan, area director of the United Way in Gwinnett County. "To achieve economic and financial security, working families need predictable resources to meet their basic needs, provide for emergencies, improve quality of life, and make ongoing investments in lifelong learning and to build assets such as a home or retirement savings.

"This center will allow families to have access to the economic and employment opportunities they need to provide for their future. This type of collaborative partnership leverages important resources across the community to provide maximum benefit for our residents."

Chuck Warbington, executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, said the Financial Services Center will help the Gwinnett Village to continue to improve its quality of life.

The Financial Services Center is located at 5855 Jimmy Carter Blvd. in Norcross in a building that also houses the offices for the Community Improvement District and Community Alliance.

"We think we're well on our way to having a successful center here that's going to be the heart of the community," Warbington said.