LAWRENCEVILLE -- Business leaders want to boost minority leadership and educational programs to draw more jobs to Gwinnett.
The initiatives are part of the second phase of the Partnership Gwinnett program, a Chamber of Commerce-led community campaign which is credited with drawing 280 companies and 12,000 jobs to the county since 2007.
"We've got to continue to recruit new companies, help small businesses," said Nick Masino, the chamber vice president leading the program. "We've got to continue to up our game."
After unveiling a new set of plans for the next five years, Masino said the economic goals are coupled with quality of life initiatives to create an environment for growth.
One of the biggest needs, he said, is more minority leadership in a community where 51 percent of the population is non-white.
"It's not reflective of the community," he said of current leadership. "It's something we've got to actively work on."
Another big part of the plan is an internship program for high school and college students in an attempt to keep them in the community.
Initiatives in the first five years of the program included establishing entrepreneurial programs, working to outreach to minorities and young professionals and establishing an arts council.
"Despite the economic downturn and nationwide unemployment crisis, Gwinnett County has had the lowest jobless rate in the core Metro Atlanta counties for the past 28 months," said Randy Dellinger, district manager at Jackson EMC who is a co-chair of the rebranded effort. "This is not by accident. It is through the partnership of dedicated individuals from the public and private sectors working in sync to generate results. This new economic development strategy for Gwinnett will confidently lead our community into the next five years to create more jobs and wealth in our county."
The new strategy, which is detailed at partnershipgwinnett.com, was created with help from hundreds of volunteers, working during the last eight months giving input in surveys, focus groups and interviews.