Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce President Daniel Kaufman gives his inaugural speech since beginning the job earlier this month at the Lawrenceville Rotary Club Monday. (Staff Photo: Camie Young)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Just down the hill from the school he helped build, Daniel Kaufman warned the audience Monday that his speech might stray to a familiar topic of Georgia Gwinnett College.
But in his inaugural keynote as the president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Kaufman said he is focused on making this community not only a great place to learn, but a great place to do business.
“Economic development and community development, they truly are inseparable,” Kaufman said of his plans as the head of one of the biggest local Chambers of Commerce in the nation.
Members of the Lawrenceville Rotary Club and their guests were the first to hear the former Army brigadier general’s vision for the county, which he joked his board of directors had not yet heard since he started the job earlier this month.
He sees Gwinnett becoming “a vibrant and diverse community of choice in which to live, learn, work and play,” adding that the county has grown into one of the most diverse east of the Mississippi. The Gwinnett of today, he said, is what American melting pot will look like in 2040.
Currently, though, the county is divided among its racial groups, with little connection among the white, black, Hispanic and Asian communities, he said.
“That’s my job,” Kaufman said of uniting the groups toward a common goal. “We’ve got to do this because if we don’t then the America 2040 isn’t going to be a place you want to live in.”
The Chamber of Commerce, he said, is the platform to unite not only the varying ethnic groups but the different sectors of the economy, from business and government to education, health care, arts and entertainment and public service and philanthropy.
“That’s how we begin to get people working together and connecting,” he said.
Soon, Kaufman plans to have the Chamber create a strategic plan to carry out his vision.
Also, since 75 percent of the Chamber’s 2,100 members are companies with 10 employees or less, the former college professor plans to begin offering classes on entrepreneurship.
“How do we take this remarkable society of 825,000 souls and truly make it the community of tomorrow?” he said, asking the community leaders in the room for their help in the effort. “All of us are going to have to pull together … and truly creat something extraordinary.”
At the meeting, club president Nancy McGill presented Kaufman and GGC interim president Stas Preczewski with a check for the scholarship recently named in Kaufman’s honor. The club has pledged $1,000 a year for five years for the scholarship.