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Chamber launches new phase of economic program

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

DULUTH -- After some major successes in bringing businesses to the area, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce is launching a new phase to its economic development program: Partnership Gwinnett 2.0.

To kick off the planning officials are asking residents to give input through a community survey.

"This is a chance for folks across the county to share their thoughts and opinions about our community and its future," said Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash. The county government is a key supporter and the largest financial contributor to the program.

Since 2007, the Partnership program is credited with more than 200 business relocations and expansions yielding more than 10,000. But the area has continued to struggle with unemployment and a dip in tax revenues as part of the Great Recession. Officials are hoping to help the community bounce back quicker than other competing areas, a press release said.

"The success of the second phase of Partnership Gwinnett's economic development strategy is purposefully based on input from the community," said Randy Dellinger, the Gwinnett district manager of Jackson EMC who is co-chairing the relaunched campaign. "The effectiveness of the effort is contingent upon the participation of all Gwinnettians."

For the past five years, officials have worked on goals to promote economic development, improve education and maintain a high quality of life. The Chamber has established entrepreneurial programs, worked to outreach to minorities and young professionals and established an arts council.

Nick Masino, the head of the program, said the efforts led to Gwinnett having the lowest jobless rate in the core metro Atlanta counties.

"This is not by accident," Masino said. "It is through the partnership of dedicated individuals from the public and private sectors working in sync to generate results."

In the new Partnership Gwinnett 2.0, leaders will perform another major study to decide goals and establish a new plan for improvements.

"We are passionate about creating and implementing an effective strategy that will continue to make Gwinnett County a leader in Metro Atlanta," said Renee Byrd-Lewis, the effort's co-chair who is community relations director for Cisco. "This next phase will keep the strength and momentum of the initial Partnership Gwinnett plan while expanding the vision for continued positive community impact."

Market Street Services, which performed the first study, is back on board to create the 2.0 approach, the press release said. To begin the work, the Chamber is encouraging people to complete a 10- to 15-minute survey during the next week. The survey, available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/pgcommunitysurvey, is confidential.