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Duluth, Suwanee given ARC awards

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett cities brought home two of five CREATE Community Awards announced by the Atlanta Regional Commission Wednesday.

Duluth's Citizens Budget Committee garnered the city the Community Building and Involvement award, while Suwanee was praised for its social media initiative, taking the Application and Innovation in Technology category.

In Duluth, residents were engaged to help leaders make tough decisions on services, after the rough economy lead to revenue drops.

"It was felt that citizen confidence would only be achieved if there was full disclosure of every penny in the city's current budget and proposed next budget," a press release from the city said. "In the end, the Citizens Budget Committee made recommendations for increased fees in several areas and charging fees for services that had previously been free."

The process was such a success that officials plan to repeat it later this year.

Suwanee engaged its residents using the Internet, creating active Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep residents up to date.

The city has 2,823 Facebook fans and 377 Twitter followers, as of Wednesday.

"Our Facebook and Twitter pages allow us to reach an audience that probably wasn't 'tuned in' to our other primary communication 'channels,'" said city spokeswoman Lynne DeWilde. "Forty-four percent of our Facebook fans are 24 years old or younger. In addition to allowing us to reach out to this important audience, our social media outlets offer another way for Suwanee to 'listen' to its citizens."

Other ARC award winners are Sandy Springs in the Environmental Sustainability category, Cobb County for Educational Excellence and Morrow for the Regional Prosperity and Economic Development category.