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Partnership Gwinnett reviews successes

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett is great. Success lives here.

The water towers emblazoned with those statements may be coming down, but one of the leaders of Partnership Gwinnett says that's OK.

"I believe what that message says no longer needs to be on the water towers," said Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, who is on the 2009-10 Partnership Gwinnett Executive Council. "I think it's implemented in our minds, in our actions."

Wilbanks and other leaders of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's Partnership Gwinnett -- a four-goal strategy designed to achieve more sustainable, long-term economic health in Gwinnett County and the metro Atlanta region -- spoke Tuesday about the annual accomplishments of the initiative.

"I believe the Partnership Gwinnett effort gives us an outstanding opportunity by bringing us together as one of the most desired communities in the United States," said Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, who is also on the Executive Council. "Economic development has always been a top priority in Gwinnett County, but Partnership Gwinnett has taken it to a whole new level."

The theme of the annual summit, held at Gwinnett Technical College, was "Strong Vitals. Healthy Outlook," said Terri Jondahl, the co-chair of Partnership Gwinnett.

"Partnership Gwinnett ... works together for the better health of Gwinnett and the greater Atlanta region," Jondahl said.

An annual report highlighted some of the achievements of Partnership Gwinnett, including the following:

* Partnership Gwinnett reported more than 9,200 new jobs and nearly 200 expansions or relocations since its inception in 2007.

* Gwinnett and the state of Georgia celebrated the official opening of NCR's global corporate headquarters in Gwinnett County. Since its June 2009 announcement, the company's corporate site in Duluth has grown to 409,000 square feet.

* NCR was globally recognized as one of the top 10 deals in North America in 2009 by "Site Selection" magazine.

* Gwinnett's 2030 Unified Plan, employing everything from transportation development to a solid redevelopment and revitalization focus, won the Georgia Planning Association's 2009 "Best Planning Document for a Large Community," and is also in the running for a national award from the American Planning Association.

* Gwinnett County's successful education system continues to prosper as it offers everything from pre-K to PhDs.

* Named one of the highest performing urban districts in the country for the second consecutive year, Gwinnett County Public Schools is one of five finalists for the 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education, the largest education award in the country.

* Gwinnett was recognized as a national leader in capitalizing on new urbanism by USA Today.

* Suwanee became the first community in Gwinnett to be certified "green" by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

* Gwinnett led a July 2009 Global Business Mission to China, reporting $3 million in capital and 40 new jobs.