County commits to Partnership

LAWRENCEVILLE -- County government's commitment to Partnership Gwinnett is back on track after money was added to the 2010 budget to help the economic development initiative.

Commissioners pledged in 2007 to contribute $500,000 a year to the Chamber of Commerce-led initiative, which was credited with the recruitment of the NCR headquarters to Duluth last year and other achievements.

But the grant was cut short in 2009, when the government faced a budget crisis and slashed spending. The Partnership fund was decreased to $250,000.

This week, though, commissioners approved a $750,000 pledge as part of the 2010 budget.

"Partnership Gwinnett has made a significant contribution to the economic viability of the county through job growth, business relocations and business retention," Gwinnett Finance Director Aaron Bovos said, adding that the amount would make the 2009 allocation whole and continue the normal contribution in 2010.

A $250,000 pledge had been advertised as part of the county budget in December, and $500,000 was added later in the month.

"All funds committed by the 160-plus public and private investors of Partnership Gwinnett, Gwinnett's community & economic development strategy, are used to implement that plan," Nick Masino, the Chamber vice president in charge of the program, said in a statement. "The strategy, action items and benchmark goals of Partnership Gwinnett are available for the public's review at www.partnershipgwinnett.com."

Out of town on a business recruitment trip, Masino was not available for further comment.

Chairman Charles Bannister did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday.