JOHNSON: Local college makes impact on Lawrenceville

Judy Jordan Johnson

Judy Jordan Johnson

As a veteran math teacher, putting two and two together has always been a familiar founding principle. Earlier this month, when news hit the stands of Georgia Gwinnett College’s ranking as the No. 5 Southern regional public college according to U.S. News & World Report, two and two added up.

What are the two and two of this equation? It’s simple: education and economics. They are directly proportional – as one goes, so goes the other. When combined, a greater sum is the result; a stronger, more vibrant community, the outcome.

So, how exactly does education and the success of Lawrenceville’s institutions of higher learning drive community development? How do two and two make four in this case? Well, it’s as constant as the T.I.D.E. - Training, Investment, Development and Engagement. Let’s take a closer look at these four results.

Training. The No. 1 reason businesses choose to remain in and/or relocate to a community is workforce. At almost 10,000 students strong, Georgia Gwinnett is producing qualified and engaged future workers and citizens. Its 12 bachelor degree programs were selected in collaboration with Gwinnett businesses to provide an efficient complement of workforce with employment needs. A long term commitment, by way of an established institution of higher learning, is Lawrenceville’s primary selling point to companies looking to expand and/or relocate.

Investment. In the last few years, GGC has constructed a new parking deck, 1,000-plus dorm rooms, a student center, library, lab building and an intercollegiate athletics complex with outdoor facilities. An Allied Health and Sciences building is currently under construction and will open fall 14. GGC’s facilities are currently over 1 million square feet. And just last year, the college reported a $296-million economic impact in the greater Lawrenceville area. You do the math.

Development. A 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Shrinking in a Bad Economy: America’s Entrepreneur Class,” states, “U.S. job growth depends on small businesses …. Start-ups fuel job growth … adding employees.” Just this year, Georgia Gwinnett incorporated its entrepreneurship program designed to teach students the art and economics through business creation. Central Gwinnett – Lawrenceville’s primary High School – also became one of four Gwinnett high schools to join the Entrepreneurship Alliance. Students enrolled in this program at Central are creating business plans and starting businesses. Business development and entrepreneurial opportunity have never been so ripe in Lawrenceville as it is today.

Engagement. This is probably the most abstract result of the four, but arguably the most important. Education that brings communities together and drives solid leadership produces a stronger, more vibrantly engaged population. On Oct. 5, the city – together with the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association – will celebrate Georgia Gwinnett College and our collective community at the sixth Annual Rock’n Ribville even.! For nearly eight hours, visitors and residents, college students, government leaders and businesses will come together on the Square and showcase Lawrenceville’s sense of community. All-in-all, more than 12,000 attend this event every year.

Two and two always make four, and a community with a strong workforce and emphasis on quality education always produces a strong and healthy environment. Lawrenceville is proud to be the home of one of the nation’s top workforce development institutions and looks ahead to a vibrant future together.

Judy Jordan Johnson is Mayor of the City of Lawrenceville. She was first elected mayor in November 2010 and prior to that served on the City Council from 2003-2008. She is a lifelong resident of Lawrenceville and taught math at Central Gwinnett High School for 30 years.