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COMPETITIVE ASSESSMENT

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					COMPETITIVE ASSESSMENT




Submitted by:
MARKET STREET SERVICES, INC.
www.marketstreetservices.com


August 22, 2006
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Overview................................................................................................................ 2
Introduction .......................................................................................................... 3
Methodology..........................................................................................................4
Executive Summary............................................................................................. 10
Education and Workforce Development ............................................................. 17
  Labor Force ...................................................................................................................17
  K-12 Education ............................................................................................................. 21
  Higher Education ....................................................................................................... 29
  Workforce Development Programs.............................................................................33
Infrastructure ...................................................................................................... 34
  Telecommunications................................................................................................... 34
  Road Transportation.................................................................................................... 34
  Air Transportation ........................................................................................................35
  Rail Transportation...................................................................................................... 37
  Public Transportation.................................................................................................. 37
  Commuting Patterns.................................................................................................. 40
  Housing........................................................................................................................ 41
  Access to Capital ..........................................................................................................42
  Research and Development ........................................................................................44
Business Costs ................................................................................................... 46
  Real Estate ................................................................................................................... 46
  Labor............................................................................................................................ 49
  Utilities and Gasoline..................................................................................................50
  Taxes and Incentives ................................................................................................... 52
  Entrepreneurship and Business Support Services ....................................................59
Quality of Life ..................................................................................................... 61
  Cost of Living ............................................................................................................... 61
  Health Care ................................................................................................................. 62
  Infant and Child Health and Welfare........................................................................ 64
  Child Care ....................................................................................................................65
  Crime Rates................................................................................................................. 66
  Arts, Cultural, and Recreational Amenities .............................................................. 68
  Environment ................................................................................................................70
  Civic Engagement.........................................................................................................71
  Rankings ...................................................................................................................... 73
Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 75
Appendix: Community Input Survey Results .....................................................76




Competitive Assessment                                                                                                               1
August 2006
OVERVIEW
Located just 20 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta and covering 437 square
miles, Gwinnett has been one of the nation’s fastest growing counties for over a
decade, and has experienced job growth that has outpaced the Atlanta metro area and
the state of Georgia. With experts predicting that Gwinnett will become Georgia’s
largest county in less than five years and based on its proximity to top colleges and
universities, Gwinnett’s economy is expected to continue as one of metro Atlanta’s
leading hubs for a number of high-growth industries.

However, despite its strengths and past success, the challenges that face Gwinnett
today are as complex and diverse as at any time in the community’s history. But as
with any challenge, there is also opportunity. To that end, the Gwinnett Chamber of
Commerce and title sponsor Scientific Atlanta, along with partners in government,
education, healthcare and business initiated the creation of a Community and
Economic Development Plan – entitled Partnership Gwinnett: A Shared Vision for
the Future – to develop a consensus vision for Gwinnett’s future growth and an
action plan to achieve it. At the end of the six month process, Gwinnett will receive
the foundation of a long-term strategic community and economic development plan
from Market Street Services – an Atlanta-based economic, community and workforce
development consulting firm – that will include:

•   A clear view of Gwinnett’s strengths, weaknesses, and competitive standing;
•   An inclusive process that involves all segments of the community;
•   Specific opportunities leading to sound, balanced development;
•   A comprehensive view of a healthy future that embraces the economic, social,
    educational, and cultural life of the area;
•   Identification of vulnerabilities and how to deal with them;
•   A long-term perspective that avoids quick-fix approaches; and
•   A framework for measuring progress.

This strategy, once effectively implemented, will enable Gwinnett to move toward
sustainable long-term economic prosperity for its companies and residents.




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August 2006
INTRODUCTION
This Competitive Assessment is the second phase of an effort to develop a
community and economic development strategic plan for Gwinnett. The process
began with an Economic and Demographic Profile which demonstrated recent trends
and current realities of Gwinnett’s demographic and economic structure. This
Competitive Assessment assesses Gwinnett County’s business climate
competitiveness as it compares to three comparison communities and national
averages, as will be described in more detail in the following methodology section.

The following is a brief description of the stages that will follow this Competitive
Assessment.

    1.   Target Business Analysis: This document will present an analysis of
         quantitative and qualitative research in order to determine priority target
         industry sectors for Gwinnett County to pursue. It will include an analysis of
         current business concentrations, future projections and an assessment of
         Gwinnett’s current workforce development capacity for each sector.

    2. Community and Economic Development Strategy: The Strategy utilizes all
       previously collected quantitative and qualitative research to provide a
       blueprint for the County’s immediate and long-term goals. This document
       will integrate all existing local plans and strategies relevant to the
       recommended goals, objectives, and specific action steps needed for
       Gwinnett to realize its preferred future.

    3. Implementation Plan: The final document in this process will assist
       Gwinnett County in prioritizing action steps, assessing key implementation
       entities, building timelines and researching current and potential funding
       sources. This document will help guide Gwinnett’s implementation process.

At the end of this process, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and its partners will
have a strategy focused on the community’s most pressing needs and opportunities,
and the action steps and implementation guidelines necessary to achieve success.




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August 2006
METHODOLOGY
For this Competitive Assessment, Market Street used the most recent data available
from reliable private, non-profit, state, and national data sources. For each of the
indicators, Market Street made every effort to match methodologies and units of
comparison to provide the most accurate, authoritative, and informative analysis
possible of Gwinnett County’s competitive position.


National, State, and Comparison Communities
When available, the data for Gwinnett County are compared to the State of Georgia
and the United States. Another key component of this analysis is the comparisons
made between Gwinnett County and three comparison communities. It is not
Market Street’s intention to suggest that Gwinnett County needs to replicate the
characteristics of these places; rather, the comparisons will help to inform the
analysis of the area’s relative performance.

The three chosen comparison communities for this analysis are the following:

    •   Cobb County, of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Metropolitan
        Statistical Area (MSA)
    •   Collin County, of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA
    •   Fairfax County, of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
        MSA

For Georgia data sources, comparable data for Collin and Fairfax Counties were not
always available because states often report data in different manners. The same was
true for data obtained from Gwinnett County data sources.

These comparison communities were selected because they have certain similarities
to Gwinnett in terms of economic and demographic dynamics, and due to their
geographical proximity to a large urban municipality. While in certain instances
Gwinnett’s trends and/or capacity in a particular indicator are more competitive than
the comparison areas, at other times they are not. Cobb, Collin and Fairfax Counties
are all very strong, dynamic, fast-growing and attractive places, and provide an
instructive comparison for certain of Gwinnett’s key opportunity and challenge areas.

The following are maps of Gwinnett County and the three comparison communities.




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August 2006
         Gwinnett and Cobb County of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA




                  Collin County of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA




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August 2006
         Fairfax County of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA




As noted, the three comparison areas were selected based on their location within a
large metropolitan area, population size and change, employment size and change,
unemployment rate, per capita income level, educational attainment levels, and basic
economic structure. These criteria were chosen as the primary indicators because
each of these is a defining characteristic of Gwinnett County.

The following chart illustrates the basic data used for the identification of comparison
communities.




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August 2006
          Basic Demographic and Economic Data, Gwinnett County and Comparables
                                    Gwinnett           Cobb              Collin            Fairfax
                                   County, GA        County, GA       County, TX         County, VA
    Total Pop (2005)                726,273           663,818           659,457           1,006,529
    Pop % Change ('90-'05)           105.8%            48.3%            470.7%              23.0%
                                    419,122           419,122          1,210,393           553,523
    Central City Pop (2004)
                                    (Atlanta)         (Atlanta)         (Dallas)            (D.C.)
    % White (2004)                    56.8%            62.7%             69.9%              60.5%
    % Black (2004)                    17.7%            21.0%              6.6%               8.7%
    % Asian or Other (2004)           10.3%             6.3%             11.2%              18.3%
    % Hispanic (of all races)
                                       15.3%            10.0%             12.3%             12.5%
    (2004)
    Median Age (2004)                   32.7             34.4              33.8              37.6
    Total Non-Farm
                                      372,099          402,678           313,816            785,452
    Employment (2004)
    Total Non-Farm
    Employment % Change               104.2%            61.7%            171.6%             40.0%
    ('90-'04)
    Unemployment Rate
                                       3.6%              3.8%             3.8%               2.3%
    (April 2006)
    Per Capita Income (2004)          $30,570          $37,827           $42,077            $58,266
    % with no High School
                                       12.7%            11.2%             8.2%               9.3%
    diploma (2000)
    % with 4-year degree or
                                       34.1%            39.8%             47.3%             54.8%
    higher (2000)
     Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis


       Total Covered Employment by Sector, Gwinnett County and Comparables, 2004
                                                 Gwinnett        Cobb           Collin        Fairfax
                     Sector
                                                   County, GA County, GA County, TX         County, VA
   Utilities                                            0.1%          0.3%        0.1%          ND
   Construction                                         7.4%          8.5%        5.0%         5.8%
   Manufacturing                                        8.1%          7.4%       9.7%          2.0%
   Wholesale Trade                                     10.0%          8.2%        3.5%         2.8%
   Retail Trade                                        13.9%         12.6%       15.5%        10.1%
   Transportation and Warehousing                       2.4%          3.0%        1.4%         0.6%
   Information                                          4.0%          3.2%       6.4%          6.4%
   Finance and Insurance                                5.0%          4.8%        6.8%         4.3%
   Real Estate & Rental & Leasing                       1.7%          2.2%        3.8%         1.8%
   Prof'l, Scientific & Technical Services              6.3%          6.9%       5.3%         22.6%
   Management of Companies & Enterprises                1.9%          3.2%       0.3%          3.3%
   Administrative & Waste Services                     11.4%          8.4%       5.4%          6.9%
   Educational Services*                                7.4%          1.8%        0.7%         1.2%
   Health Care & Social Assistance                      5.9%          8.2%        7.9%         7.1%
   Arts, Entertainment & Recreation                     0.8%          1.2%       1.7%          1.8%
   Accommodation & Food Services                        8.3%          8.3%        9.6%         6.7%
   Other Services (except Public Admin.)                2.6%          2.7%       2.3%          3.7%
   Public Administration                                2.0%          2.9%       2.3%          3.7%
                     *Note: The government employment portion of Educational Services was
                                 non-disclosed for all counties except Gwinnett.
                                    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics




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August 2006
Data Sources
National government sources used in this analysis included the U.S. Census Bureau;
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis; and the statistics
or information divisions of several federal government department bureaus.

Georgia government data sources were also used throughout the analysis. A few of
those sources were the Georgia Department of Education, Governor’s Office of
Student Achievement, Georgia Department of Revenue, and Georgia Secretary of
State. The equivalent state governmental departments in Texas and Virginia were
also used for the comparison community assessments.

Individual websites for colleges, universities, municipalities, counties, chambers of
commerce, and economic development authorities were also used in this report as
primary data sources. Additionally, many private and non-profit sources were used
including the National Center for Education Statistics, Federal Highway
Administration, Airports Council International, AirNav.com, Association of
American Railroads, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council,
PricewaterhouseCoopers Money Tree Report, CB Richard Ellis, Unionstats, AAA, Tax
Foundation, ACCRA, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Places Rated Almanac,
                              1
and Cities Ranked and Rated.


COMMUNITY INPUT
In addition to the data-based analysis of Gwinnett County and its comparison
communities, Market Street conducted an extensive community input process of
interviews, focus groups, and an online survey. The community input process
covered the same topics that are the focus of this Competitive Assessment, namely,
education and workforce development, infrastructure, business costs, and quality of
life. The primary findings of the community input process are intertwined in the
data analysis to provide a complete illustration of Gwinnett’s competitiveness.

The online survey opened for responses on July 17, 2006, and as of August 15, 2006
a total of 1,609 people had participated in the survey. The full findings of the online
survey as of August 15th are provided in the Appendix. Additionally, on Sunday,
August 13, 2006 the Gwinnett Daily Post provided a print version of the survey for
community members to submit. Market Street will assess the final, complete online
and print survey responses in a separate document.

During the week of August 7, 2006, Market Street conducted 20 interviews and 12
focus groups of persons representing large and small businesses of different sectors;
governmental entities; nonprofit organizations; K-12, higher education, and

1
 Savageau, D. and R. D’Agostino. Places Rated Almanac Millennium Edition. Foster City, CA: IDB
Books Worldwide, Inc., 2000; Sperling, B. and P. Sander. Cities Ranked and Rated. Hoboken, NJ:
Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004.




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August 2006
workforce development organizations; tourism, arts, culture, and recreational
interests; and real estate developers, planners, and homeowners associations.

These comments, in addition to the survey responses, provided invaluable
information regarding the community’s perceptions of Gwinnett County’s primary
strengths, weaknesses, and future opportunity areas.




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August 2006
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This Competitive Assessment seeks to identify Gwinnett County’s key
competitiveness factors in the areas of education and workforce development,
infrastructure, business costs, and quality of life. By comparing Gwinnett County to
the comparison communities of Cobb County, Georgia; Collin County, Texas; Fairfax
County, Virginia; Georgia and U.S. averages, the following summarizes Gwinnett
County’s competitive strengths and weaknesses.



Education and Workforce Development

LABOR FORCE
Gwinnett County is defined by its immense population growth, and when not
mirrored by employment growth, that disparity can impact labor force participation
and unemployment rates. However, as of 2004, Gwinnett County’s labor force
participation rate (82%) was in line with the comparison communities, and higher
than state (77%) and national averages (78%). The County’s unemployment rate
(4.5% in 2005) was also similar to Cobb and Collin (all three of which were lower
than state [5.3%] and national averages [5.1%]), but Fairfax had a significantly lower
rate than the others. Thus, Gwinnett County is currently in a competitive position,
but if its current trend of a declining labor force participation rate and increasing
unemployment rate continues, that may not be the case in the future. In addition, a
difficulty voiced by certain employers to find high-skill, value-added technology and
healthcare workers is an area of concern for Gwinnett.


K-12 EDUCATION
Public school enrollment trends are matching demographic shifts in the Gwinnett
County population, with significant growth and increasing diversification defining
recent enrollment trends. Community input suggests these trends are straining
school capacity, English as a Second Language, and other special needs programs. At
this point, student performance is not lagging substantially, except for certain
minority populations. For example, the total student population for 2004-05 showed
a drop out rate for grades 7 through 12 that was 3.0 percent in Gwinnett, compared to
6.0 percent for Hispanic students. A recent study also reports that Gwinnett’s
graduation rates are potentially lower than reported dropout rates would imply. Even
so, community input indicated that Gwinnett is doing a commendable job meeting
the district’s demographic challenges, and the County’s schools are still said to be a
key local strength.




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August 2006
HIGHER E DUCATION
While Gwinnett County has much lower total enrollment for its higher educational
institutions (4,739 in 2004) than comparisons Cobb (32,479), Collin (17,702), and
Fairfax (66,266), Gwinnett Technical College is a key asset, and the newly opened
Georgia Gwinnett College is projected to grow to five-digit enrollment in less than a
decade. As Georgia Gwinnett College evolves into a larger institution with a wider
variety of academic programs, and Gwinnett Technical College maintains its
commitment to a demand-driven approach to education, Gwinnett will become more
competitive in this area. However, the current higher education enrollment disparity
between Gwinnett and its competitors is notable.


WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT P ROGRAMS
Gwinnett County is equipped with several workforce development centers, including
Gwinnett Tech’s George Busbee International Center for Workforce Development, an
Atlanta Regional Commission Career Resource Center in Norcross, and a Georgia
Department of Labor Career Center, also in Norcross. Public input respondents rated
the quality and availability of Gwinnett’s workforce and training institutions as
“good.”


Infrastructure

ROAD TRANSPORTATION
Available Federal Highway Administration data illustrate that the Atlanta MSA has
more total road miles per 1,000 persons (4.67), daily vehicle miles traveled per capita
(34.4), and average daily traffic per freeway lane (19,512) than the Dallas-Fort Worth
or Washington, D.C. metro areas of the two other comparison counties. Even so,
Gwinnett still has significant road congestion, as reported by community input
participants. This congestion was rated as one of the County’s principal competitive
concerns by a large number of respondents, who also noted that Gwinnett’s quality of
life is being impacted by traffic congestion. Hundreds of millions of dollars have –
and will – be invested in enhancing Gwinnett’s road infrastructure, including
SPLOST monies approved by local voters. However, public input participants
indicated that these improvements seem to be falling behind Gwinnett’s high
population growth.


AIR TRANSPORTATION
Gwinnett County, and comparison community Cobb County, have the distinct
advantage of being in the metro area with the top international airport in total traffic
movements, as reported by the Airports Council International. While some
community input participants desire better accessibility to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport (of the comparisons, Gwinnett is the furthest from its metro



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August 2006
area’s major international airport), the community’s proximity to this airport is
something to embrace as a competitive advantage for office-based job growth.
Additionally, some believe Gwinnett County could more effectively leverage Gwinnett
County Airport-Briscoe Field, located in the north central portion of the County.


RAIL TRANSPORTATION
The Atlanta MSA also provides Gwinnett County with the advantage of its
longstanding status as a rail terminus, with CSX and Norfolk Southern running
through Gwinnett County. Availability of rail transportation was not said to be a
competitive concern for Gwinnett by public input participants who were
knowledgeable about this dynamic.


PUBLIC T RANSPORTATION
Gwinnett and Cobb County, and its wider metro area of Atlanta, do not have public
transit systems that are as comprehensive and integrated as those of Collin’s Dallas-
Fort Worth metro area and Fairfax’s Washington, D.C. metro area. Community
input participants repeatedly stated that Gwinnett County Transit would be more
effective if it better served key local activity centers, and if basic infrastructure
improvements were made. Additionally, participants were supportive of the potential
benefits of the “Brain Train” commuter rail proposal, which is planned to connect
Atlanta to Athens via Gwinnett County. A number of respondents indicated that a
regional transit solution will be key to enhancing mobility in Gwinnett. In terms of
commuting, more Gwinnett employees work in their county of residence than all the
comparables except for Cobb. However, Gwinnett workers have the longest
commutes among the profiled communities.


HOUSING
Assessed against the three competitor communities, Gwinnett’s lower median
housing values and contract rents (only Cobb had lower monthly rents) mean that the
County is still an attractive and affordable destination for buyers looking for housing
value. Comparatively high vacancy rates and still-robust issuances of building
permits promise to continue providing pressure to keep housing costs down.
This, in turn, may exacerbate issues related to population growth, school
overcrowding and traffic congestion noted by many public input participants as
Gwinnett’s priority competitive concerns.


ACCESS TO CAPITAL
Gwinnett County’s access to capital was very competitive compared to the
comparison areas. The average loan amount for the County’s commercial and
savings banks, and average amount of loans backed by the U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA) in recent years, was higher than each of the comparisons.



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August 2006
Additionally, Gwinnett’s total SBA-backed loan amount per capita was higher than
the comparison communities. These trends point to potential opportunities to
further leverage Gwinnett’s entrepreneurial and small business development
capacity.


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Without a large university or federal government presence, Gwinnett County is
comparatively anti-competitive for research and development (R&D) activity at this
point in time. However, some activity is occurring in the community, with the
number of patents issued locally growing in recent years, and a total of $22.3 million
in venture capital invested in the first quarter of 2006. Feedback during the
community input process found that it is “easier to find funding angels than getting
investments from large venture capital firms” in Gwinnett County. With R&D not
expected to be a priority for Georgia Gwinnett College in the near future, Gwinnett
will have to look to its incumbent businesses and potential regional partners to
enhance its technology transfer and commercialization capacity.


Business Costs

REAL ESTATE
In focus groups and interviews, Market Street was told that Gwinnett was not anti-
competitive relative to the availability, cost or quality of residential, commercial or
industrial real estate. However, a number of respondents noted that the cost to
develop property in Gwinnett is increasing due to the County’s regulatory processes
and the average time needed to secure building permits. In the online survey, quality
of commercial office space was rated by most respondents as above average, while
affordability was rated as average or below average. The responses were similar for
industrial space, with affordability rated less favorably than availability. Both the
availability and affordability of land were rated by the most respondents as average.


LABOR
Average annual wages in Gwinnett have escalated at a faster rate than Collin County,
but still are low compared to Collin, as well as Cobb and – by a significant amount –
Fairfax County. Union membership rates in Georgia (5.0%) are slightly above
Virginia (4.8%), and lower than Texas (5.3%), an indicator of interest to certain labor-
intensive industries. Gwinnett’s lower comparable labor costs are a competitive
advantage for companies, but, conversely, provide less buying power and wealth for
local residents.




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August 2006
UTILITIES AND GASOLINE
In the online survey, most respondents rated utility costs as average. Commercial
and industrial power costs in Gwinnett County are consistent with Cobb, which are
slightly higher than Fairfax and substantially lower than Collin. Natural gas prices in
Georgia have been consistently lower than Virginia, but higher than Texas and
national averages. Overall, utilities and fuel costs are not anti-competitive in
Gwinnett.


TAXES AND INCENTIVES
State and local tax structures have so many nuances it is difficult to do a comparative
assessment of them across geographies. Gwinnett and Cobb, which have the same
state tax structure and local sales tax rate, have comparable property tax
methodologies. However, the property tax rates are higher in Gwinnett than Cobb.
An assessment of Gwinnett’s tax revenues and expenditures over the past ten years
reveals that the community has increased its proportional reliance on sales tax
revenue and residential property tax revenue. Maintaining a balanced tax digest will
be vital to the fiscal health of the community and its ability to maintain necessary
services and infrastructure. The Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) has been
an important instrument for upgrading local infrastructure while maintaining fiscal
health. Public input respondents noted that taxes in Gwinnett are not overly
burdensome, but certain participants said that regulatory processes in Gwinnett were
cumbersome with turnaround time for receipt of permits longer than other regional
counties. These dynamics could be a result of public officials and planning and
zoning professionals responding to public pressure to better control growth and
development in Gwinnett.

Relative to incentives, Gwinnett elected officials voted in December 2005 to offer
business relocation incentives for the first time. These were said to be a factor in
Hewlett-Packard’s decision to locate a data center in Gwinnett.


ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES
Existing business services and small business support structures are vital to future
economic growth, as most job growth is derived from these opportunities. The
Gwinnett Chamber has a business resource center, counseling services, and other
programs aimed at small business owners. Additionally, there is a University of
Georgia Small Business Development Center in Lawrenceville that provides
information, training, and counseling to prospective and existing small business
owners. Public input respondents said that Gwinnett was an open and business-
friendly community and offered the means for enterprising individuals to start and
grow their businesses.




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August 2006
Quality of Life

COST OF L IVING
The Atlanta MSA is a relatively affordable place to live, based on ACCRA data for first
quarter 2006. Particularly affordable are utilities, housing, and groceries.
Gwinnett’s relative housing affordability within the Atlanta MSA is one reason for its
explosive population growth in recent years, but community input suggests the
available stock of affordable housing is becoming less desirable as it ages. Overall,
cost of living was said to be a competitive advantage for Gwinnett, especially in
comparison to high-cost communities such as Fairfax County.


HEALTH CARE
Community input participants were concerned about the local health care industry’s
capacity to keep up with a fast-growing population. Additionally, language barriers
are an ongoing concern for many local health care institutions. Based on available
information, Gwinnett has lower hospital bed and physicians per capita than Cobb,
Collin, or Fairfax, confirming community input perceptions that the health care
industry has not been able to keep up with Gwinnett’s population growth. Because
Gwinnett is “underserved” for healthcare, this represents a key growth opportunity
for the local economy.


CRIME RATES
Community input suggested gang activity and overall crime have increased in
Gwinnett in recent years. Data support these perceptions. As of 2004, Gwinnett’s
violent and property crime rates were higher than any of the comparison
communities, and did increase in 2003 after a slight decline in 2002. Ensuring that
Gwinnett remains a safe and attractive place to raise a family will be one of the most
important concerns for the County in the coming years.


ARTS, CULTURAL, AND RECREATIONAL AMENITIES
Gwinnett County has numerous arts and cultural resources, as well as an extensive
trail and parks network. While the community recognizes the need for more
development in each of these areas to bolster amenities for residents and increase
tourist activity, respondents said more must also be done to advertise existing
amenities to local residents. In addition, public input participants said existing
amenities must be more accessible via transportation modes other than the
automobile. A more robust provision of off-street bike paths and sidewalks was said
by many respondents to be a key local need.




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August 2006
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Gwinnett’s level of civic engagement, measured by itemized charitable contributions
per capita, was much lower than Cobb, Collin, or Fairfax in the most recently
available 1997 data. However, community input indicated that Gwinnett is a very
generous place that is committed to its future. One area to note is the need to engage
all racial and ethnic groups in working toward a shared vision for the future of
Gwinnett County, and encourage more dialogue among the various groups.
Gwinnett’s increasing diversity was said by the majority of input participants to be an
opportunity to leverage rather than a challenge to overcome.


Key Conclusions
Gwinnett and its cities remain attractive places to live, work and visit. However, as
the County continues to grow, numerous amenities that drew residents and
businesses to Gwinnett could potentially be compromised. Increasingly strained
local roadways, highways and schools pose risks to Gwinnett’s quality of life and
competitiveness in many key business sectors. How Gwinnett integrates its
increasingly diverse population into the County’s leadership, business community,
workforce and educational-support networks will also be key to determining
Gwinnett’s future capacity to generate economic development and maintain
community competitiveness. These factors will help to balance Gwinnett’s tax digest,
which is increasingly reliant on sales taxes to make up for declining relative receipts
of property taxes – more specifically, commercial property taxes.

Comparisons to the dynamic counties of Cobb, Collin and Fairfax highlight
Gwinnett’s need to bolster its percentage of educated and highly-skilled workers,
increase higher educational enrollments, provide more transportation options to
improve local mobility, reduce crime rates and augment healthcare capacity.
However, Gwinnett’s comparatively affordable business and living costs, competitive
provision of small-business lending and assistance, public school quality and overall
welcoming and business-friendly environment afford the County dynamic
advantages that must be fully leveraged to ensure continued growth in employment,
wages and incomes.




Competitive Assessment                                                               16
August 2006
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
In today’s knowledge-based economy, employers are increasingly focusing on the
skill levels of the workforce. Additionally, the capacity to build upon those skill levels
is a critical component of a community’s ability to remain competitive for the long-
term. This section will analyze the availability of labor in Gwinnett County and its
school system and workforce development resources.


Labor Force
The growth of the labor force and employment opportunities, labor force
participation rates (LFPR), unemployment rates, and educational attainment levels
are the primary defining characteristics of a community’s labor force.


EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND THE LABOR FORCE
The following graph shows Gwinnett’s normalized employment, labor force, and
population growth over the past 10 years. Since 1999, population growth in
Gwinnett has exceeded growth in employment and its labor force. This suggests a
growing available local workforce to fulfill employers’ needs. Online survey
respondents had a similar conclusion, with 57 percent of participants listing the
availability of the workforce to be above average (includes both “excellent” and “good”
ratings). One departure from this general feeling is the lack of a highly skilled,
technical workforce, as voiced by focus group and interview participants. Engineers
and healthcare worker shortages were often cited by community members as a local
challenge.

    Employment, Labor Force, and Population Growth Index, 1996-2005: Gwinnett County
      150
      145
      140
      135
      130
      125
      120
      115
      110
      105
      100
            1996    1997     1998    1999    2000     2001    2002    2003     2004       2005

                                Population          Labor Force          Employment

                           Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Census Bureau




Competitive Assessment                                                                           17
August 2006
LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES
As previously discussed in the Economic and Demographic Profile, labor force
participation rates in Gwinnett have declined since 1990. At the same time,
Gwinnett’s unemployment rate, which has historically been much lower than state
and national averages, has risen. This indicates that certain workers in Gwinnett are
having greater difficulty finding employment, despite robust job growth in the
County.

The following graph shows labor force participation rates (LFPR) for Gwinnett
County, the comparison communities, Georgia, and the U.S. LFPR measures the
workforce that is employed or looking for work divided by the total working aged
population (ages 18-69). The remaining adults comprise the “hidden workforce”
because they either have dropped out of the workforce or have given up looking for a
job.

Gwinnett and comparison area Collin County have experienced notable declines in
LFPR between 1990 and 2004. This is disconcerting because the decline in LFPR
can exacerbate socio-economic issues related to income and poverty. It also suggests
a favorable climate for employers in search of a large available workforce. Even with
this decline, Gwinnett was still very competitive with the comparison areas in 2004,
and far exceeded the LFPR of the state and nation. The increased LFPR in Fairfax
indicates a tightening labor market, thus a more favorable climate for workers.

                            Labor Force Participation Rates, 1990 and 2004

                                                     88%
            Gw innett                      82%

                                               84%
       Cobb Co., GA                           83%

                                                       90%
        Collin Co., TX                       82%

                                             82%
      Fairfax Co.,VA
                                              83%

                                     76%
             Georgia
                                     77%

                                                                                          1990
                                     77%
                 U.S.
                                       78%                                                2004

                     65%           70%           75%         80%        85%         90%      95%


                        Source: U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics




Competitive Assessment                                                                             18
August 2006
UNEMPLOYMENT RATES
As illustrated in the following chart, over the past ten years, Gwinnett County’s
unemployment rate has increased, narrowing the gap with the nation’s rate. This
adds evidence to what the LFPR data illustrated regarding a growing available labor
pool in Gwinnett County. However, as of 2005, Gwinnett’s unemployment rate
(4.5%) remains lower than rates for the state (5.3%) and the nation (5.1%). Collin
County’s unemployment rates have risen dramatically since 2000, suggesting its
employment growth is not keeping pace with its increasing population.

                            Annual Unemployment Rates, 1996-2005

     7.0%

     6.0%

     5.0%

     4.0%

     3.0%

     2.0%

     1.0%

     0.0%
             1996    1997    1998    1999    2000     2001      2002     2003    2004      2005
                         Gw innett               Cobb Co., GA             Collin Co., TX
                         Fairfax Co.,VA          Georgia                  U.S.

                               Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics



WORKFORCE QUALITY
Educational attainment is the primary indicator available for assessing workforce
quality. Additionally, educational attainment levels are associated with the earnings
potential of the available workforce, and the quality of jobs a community may be able
to attract or grow.

Based on high school diploma achievement as an indicator of workforce quality,
Gwinnett County is more competitive than state and national averages, but less
competitive than the comparison areas. Among the comparison counties, Gwinnett
has the largest proportion of adults without a high school diploma (14%) and the
smallest proportion of adults with graduate or professional degrees. In Fairfax
County, where 27 percent of residents hold a graduate or professional degree, the
community is highly competitive for jobs in the “knowledge” economy (Fairfax
County’s demographic and socio-economic indicators are impacted by the many
government-related technology jobs in the Washington, D.C. area). It is important to




Competitive Assessment                                                                            19
August 2006
note that if Gwinnett is to be competitive for high-tech employment, the percentage
of residents that hold a graduate or professional degree must increase.

                       Educational Attainment of Adults (ages 25+), 2004
        100%
                 11%         13%                                         9%           10%
                                            16%
                                                          27%
                                                                        17%           17%
        80%      24%
                             27%                                         6%
                                            32%                                        7%
        60%      6%
                              6%                          30%
                                            7%
                                                                        50%
        40%                                                6%                         50%
                 46%
                             43%
                                            37%
        20%                                               29%

                 14%                                                    19%           16%
                             10%            9%             7%
         0%
               Gw innett   Cobb Co.,    Collin Co., TX Fairfax Co.,   Georgia        United
                             GA                             VA                       States
                  No high school diploma                     High school diploma / equivalent
                  Associate's degree                         Bachelor's degree
                  Graduate or Professional degree

                                       Source: U.S. Census Bureau


In the community input process, Market Street assessed perceptions of the quality of
the workforce. About 62 percent of online survey participants found the quality of
the workforce to be excellent or good. In the survey, the most commonly cited
strengths of the local workforce included:

    •     Availability/abundance of workers;
    •     The wide variety of skill-levels and wage expectations of the workforce;
    •     The dedication/dependency/hard working attitude of employees;
    •     The diversity/multi-cultural nature of the workforce; and
    •     Availability of training programs.

Major weaknesses or concerns regarding the workforce noted in the survey included:

    •     Communication/English comprehension/language barriers;
    •     Educational levels and a lack of technical skills;
    •     The high number of illegal immigrant workers;
    •     Job turnover rate and the transient nature of the workforce;
    •     Lack of adequate public transportation and significant road congestion
          making it difficult to connect available workers and jobs; and
    •     Professionalism of the workforce.




Competitive Assessment                                                                          20
August 2006
K-12 Education
The quality of a community’s K-12 schools is related to its overall economic
competitiveness. Business relocation decisions are often tied to the condition of a
community’s public K-12 system. Typically, communities that succeed in educating
their children have a competitive workforce and are more competitive in the global
economy. Overall, community input participants were very positive about the quality
of K-12 education in Gwinnett County. In the online survey, 73 percent ranked
quality of elementary and secondary schools as excellent or good. Eighty-eight
percent of respondents gave a “very high” rating to one of the final questions on the
survey indicating the need to focus on ensuring that Gwinnett schools are of the
highest quality.


PUBLIC S CHOOL ENROLLMENT
There are two public school districts in Gwinnett: Buford City and Gwinnett County.
Buford’s district has a total enrollment of about 2,500 students. The district has two
elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Gwinnett County’s
2006 fall enrollment was 144,693. Because of its proportional size to the Buford City
District, Gwinnett County’s public school system is used throughout the analysis of
this report.

From 1996 to 2006, Gwinnett County’s public school system grew by a remarkable
71.2 percent. In 1996, total enrollment was 84,527, but by 2006 it was 144,693.
During the community input process, many noted the comparatively large class sizes
and enrollments of elementary, middle, and high schools in the County. Some noted
growing frustrations within the community that students and parents are lost or
intimidated by the size of the schools, making it more difficult and less likely they
will become involved and know their teachers, counselors, and administrators well.

To help integrate high school students into its school system, North Gwinnett High
School pioneered a program now being implemented system-wide in which every
high school freshman is paired with a trained high school senior mentor. This
program is designed to ease students’ transition into high school, resulting in
improved student performance and reduced number of dropouts. The community
input process demonstrated significant support for this program, a strong desire for
continued commitment to this program, and encouraged increased participation by
all high schools in the system.

Community feedback, particularly from the business community, also revealed
frustration with a perceived lack of career education in schools and an over-emphasis
on liberal arts over technical career education.

During recent years, Gwinnett County has grown increasingly diverse. This
population trend has been replicated in Gwinnett pubic school enrollment. As




Competitive Assessment                                                                 21
August 2006
shown in the following chart, white student enrollment has declined while minority
enrollment has increased. In 1996, white students accounted for 80 percent of
Gwinnett public schools’ total enrollment. In 2006, this figure dropped to 42
percent. During this same time period, black enrollment increased from nine to 25
percent, Hispanic enrollment increased from four to 19 percent, and enrollment
among Asians and students of other races increased from seven to 14 percent.

                   Gwinnett Public School Enrollment by Race, 1996 – 2006

        80,000
        70,000
        60,000
        50,000
        40,000
        30,000
        20,000
        10,000
             0
                 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000             2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

                         White          Black          Hispanic          Asian           Other

             Note: “Other” includes American Indian/Alaskan Native and multi-racial students.
                                 Source: Georgia Department of Education


The declining white enrollment does not correlate with rising white population totals
in Gwinnett. While public input respondents did not comment about a “white flight”
phenomenon in Gwinnett, these enrollment dynamics could potentially be a result of
increasing numbers of white parents sending their children to private school, home-
schooling them, or white families moving from Gwinnett and non-family white
households moving into the County. Data does not exist to expressly detail the
reasons for these trends.

The following chart illustrates how the Gwinnett County public school system has
become a minority-majority school district over the past ten years.

                   Gwinnett Public School Enrollment by Race, 1996 – 2006
                           White         Black   Hispanic             Asian          Other
              1996          79.5%           9.5%     4.0%                6.2%           0.7%
              2006          42.1%          25.1%    19.1%               10.1%           3.5%
             Note: “Other” includes American Indian/Alaskan Native and multi-racial students.
                                 Source: Georgia Department of Education


The Gwinnett school system was praised widely by community input participants as
being successful in responding to the rapidly changing demographics of the County
and finding solutions to maintain high educational standards. However, concerns



Competitive Assessment                                                                           22
August 2006
were raised whether the school system would be able to continue to keep up with the
increasing demands on the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, and
identifying opportunities for parents of students to improve their English speaking
and reading skills.


PRIVATE S CHOOL ENROLLMENT
The bulk of U.S. students are educated by public school systems. Based on U.S.
Census Bureau estimates illustrated in the following chart, the percentage enrolled in
private school has increased in Gwinnett from 2000 to 2005, consistent with trends
in the state of Georgia and each of the comparison communities.

In 2005, Gwinnett’s private school enrollment (13.4 percent of the population
                              th
enrolled in Pre-K through 12 grade) was consistent with state and national averages.
Each of the comparison areas had a higher private school enrollment rate than
Gwinnett. Higher private school enrollment can indicate declining confidence in the
public school system; however, it can also be evidence of higher household income
levels (data consistently indicate Fairfax County has a higher overall socio-economic
level than Gwinnett or the other comparables).

                 Private School Enrollment for the Population Over 3 Years Old
                      Enrolled in Pre-K through 12th Grade, 2000 and 2005

   25%
                                                         20.6%
                                          18.1%     19.4%
   20%
                             18.2%
                                     17.2%                                          13.7%
                         15.2%
              13.4%                                                    13.4%    13.7%
   15%
         12.1%                                                    11.9%

   10%


    5%


    0%
           Gw innett        Cobb        Collin        Fairfax       Georgia    United States

                                             2000    2005

                                     Source: U.S. Census Bureau


In the online survey, respondents were complimentary about the availability of
private education, with 54 percent rating it as above average. Feedback from the
survey, interviews, and focus groups revealed that community members are
particularly impressed with the quality of education provided by the Greater Atlanta
Christian School. Even so, the comparatively small increase in Gwinnett’s private




Competitive Assessment                                                                         23
August 2006
school enrollment indicates a continued confidence in the County’s public schools,
and also is counter to many residents’ perceptions that local private school
enrollment was rising substantially.


PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
In the 2004 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) performance assessment, 13 of
Gwinnett County’s 92 public schools did not meet standards. Focusing on the
                 th
results of the 11 grade Georgia High School Graduate Test, illustrated on the
following page, passage rates varied by race and ethnic group. Performance of
Hispanic students was especially of concern. Improving individual student
performance is vital to growing business activity in Gwinnett, particularly in sectors
that depend on a workforce with basic skill sets.

                   Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) Passing Rate
                      by Race and Ethnicity: Gwinnett County, 2003-2004

                                           English/                       Social
                                                       Mathematics                 Science
                                          Lang. Arts                     Studies

         Asian (11.4% of Total)              93%            98%           89%       77%
         Black (16.9% of Total)              93%            91%           82%       62%
         Hispanic (8.8% of Total)            79%            90%           69%       46%
         White (61.1% of Total)              98%            98%           94%       88%
         Multiracial (1.7% of Total)         97%            96%           90%       74%
         Total Students                      95%              96%           89%     78%
                              Source: Governor’s Office of Student Achievement


On the SAT college admissions test in the 2003-04 academic year, Gwinnett County
students scored higher than state and national averages. While Cobb and Gwinnett’s
scores were very similar (1039 and 1037, respectively), they are lower than Collin and
Fairfax Counties. Countywide data was not available for Collin County. However,
the average score among students in the Plano Independent School District, the
largest district in the County, was 1140. So, while Gwinnett students perform better
than students in Georgia and nationwide, they do not perform as well as students in
the out-of-state comparison communities.

In ACT scores released in August 2006, Gwinnett students performed well.
According to news reports, “Gwinnett County Public Schools beat the national and
state average on the latest ACT college achievement tests and tied its own record for
                                                                      2
the highest scores on the exam, according to newly released results.” These results
further bolster local residents’ confidence in their school system.


2
 Gwinnett Post Record. Gwinnett ACT scores beat state average. 21 August 2006.
<http://gwinnettdailypost.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=1&url_article_id=18512&url_subchannel_
id=&change_well_id=2>.




Competitive Assessment                                                                       24
August 2006
                                 College Admissions Test Scores, 2003-2004

         1200

                                                      1140
         1150
                                                                   1105
         1100

                      1037               1039
         1050
                                                                                                      1017
                                                                                   981
         1000

          950

          900
                     Gw innett           Cobb         Collin*     Fairfax         Georgia             U.S.


        Source: Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement; Fairfax County Pubic Schools;
        Plano Independent School District Note: Due to data availability, Plano Independent School
            District’s scores were used to approximate the countywide average for Collin, TX.


SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS
The following chart shows the percentage of students who are limited in their
English proficiency (LEP) or who are English language learners (ELL), as well as the
percent who are eligible to take part in the federal free or reduced-price school lunch
program. Both Gwinnett and Cobb Counties have high proportions of students who
are eligible for a free or reduced price school lunch (31 percent and 3o percent,
respectively). However, compared to Cobb, Gwinnett has a proportion of LEP/ELL
students that is almost twice as high. As County schools continue to diversify,
Gwinnett’s leaders must ensure that all students are given the proper resources they
need to learn effectively.

      Special Needs Student Populations as a Proportion of Total Enrollment, 2003-04

             35%
                           31%                  30%
             30%

             25%
                                                                                         20%
             20%
                                                                       16%                      16%
             15%
                                   11%
                                                                             8%
             10%
                                                        6%
                5%

                0%
                             Gw innett             Cobb                 Collin              Fairfax
                                     Free and Reduced Lunch Eligible         LEP/ELL


                      Source: National Center for Education Statistics Note: LEP/ELL stands
                       for limited English proficient students and English language learners.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                       25
August 2006
SCHOOL S YSTEM EXPENDITURES
Per pupil expenditures (PPE) are often used as an indicator of student-focused
investments. Gwinnett and Cobb per pupil expenditures in 2001 and 2005 were
lower than amounts spent in Collin County, Texas and Fairfax County, Virginia (a
factor likely attributed to higher tax rates in Collin and Fairfax Counties). Higher
PPEs do not necessarily imply higher quality schools; it is often costlier to teach
students who come into the school system with special needs. Gwinnett County may
need to consider new sources for increasing public school funding to provide all
students the necessary resources to excel in the classroom and beyond.

                    Change in Total Expenditure Per Student, 2001-2005
                                                                       % Change
                     County              2001            2005
                                                                      2001 to 2005
                Gwinnett                $6,325          $7,216           14.1%
                Cobb                    $6,235          $7,239           16.1%
                Collin                 $10,534          $10,818           2.7%
                Fairfax                $9,633           $11,249          16.8%
                  Source: Georgia Department of Education, Texas Education Agency,
                                and Virginia Department of Education


While per-pupil expenditures provide some insight into overall community
investment in education, they do not always relate a full picture of educational
dynamics in an area. For example, many urban districts spend five-figures annually
per student, but it is because the majority of their students are at-risk and the district
is eligible for certain state and federal grants. Gwinnett’s lower per-pupil
expenditures are not necessarily indicative of a lack of investment in education.


HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT RATES
High school dropout rates are an important indicator of student achievement, as well
as the skills of the future workforce. The National Center for Education Statistics
defines high school dropout rates to be the percentage of students who entered the
  th   th  th      th
9 , 10 , 11 , or 12 grade and did not enroll at the beginning of the following school
year or did not complete the “current” school year. The following chart shows
dropouts by race and ethnicity for Gwinnett and the comparison communities for the
2001-02 academic year, the most recent year which consistent data were available for
all the communities.

Overall, Cobb County has the highest dropout rates, but Gwinnett’s rates are not far
behind. Gwinnett has an overall high school dropout rate of 3.2 percent. White,
Asian, and students of other races are less likely to drop out than black and Hispanic
students are in Gwinnett County. In all of the communities examined, Hispanic
students are the most at-risk group of dropping out of high school.




Competitive Assessment                                                                  26
August 2006
          Dropout Rates by Race and Ethnicity (Grades 9-12), Academic Year 2001-02

   10.0


    8.0


    6.0




                                                                                 8.7
                                                                               7.9
    4.0




                                                                                               7.0
                                                         5.0

                                                        4.6
                                                       4.4
              3.8




    2.0
             3.2




                                                                                         3.1
                                      2.9




                                                    2.9
                      2.7




                                                                                                              2.5
                                    2.4




                                                                                                              2.4



                                                                                                                       2.3
                                  1.5
                    1.4




                                  1.1




                                                                                                                    0.9
    0.0
             Total Rate              White                 Black                Hispanic                    Asian or Other
                                  Gw innett        Cobb            Collin              Fairfax

                                   Source: National Center for Education Statistics


More recent data are available for Gwinnett and Cobb Counties for dropouts in
grades 7-12, using the State of Georgia’s dropout calculation methodology. As shown
in the following chart, Gwinnett’s minority dropout rates exceed those of Cobb
County according to Georgia’s methodology.

          Dropout Rates by Race and Ethnicity (Grades 7-12), Academic Year 2004-05

      7.0%

      6.0%

      5.0%

      4.0%
                                                                        6.0%




      3.0%
                                                                                4.5%
                                                    3.5%




      2.0%
                    3.0%




                                                                                                                             2.9%
                                     2.8%




                                                            2.8%
                           2.6%




                                                                                                                      2.5%
                                                                                                            2.3%
                                                                                                     2.1%
                                            1.8%




      1.0%

      0.0%
                     Total           Asian           Black              Hipanic                       White            Other

                                                           Gw innett    Cobb

                                  Source: Governor's Office of Student Achievement


Graduation rates provide a more robust picture of educational attainment than
dropout rates do, but states and districts rarely report this information. Education
Week recently published its study of U.S. high school graduation rates. In additional



Competitive Assessment                                                                                                              27
August 2006
to analyzing state level rates, the study also compared the 50 largest school districts in
the U.S. Rather than using self-reported rates, which can vary widely by reporting
method, the researchers calculated graduation rates using enrollment and diploma
data from a federal database.

With a graduation rate of 68.4 percent, Gwinnett County ranked 16th, behind Cobb
County by five slots. While the comparison county of Fairfax led the nation’s top
districts in graduation rates, no Collin County districts ranked among the top 50
highest in the nation.

            Top Graduation Rates of 50 Largest School Districts in U.S., 2002-03
                             Rank              District            Graduation Rate
                               1     Fairfax County, VA                  82.5%
                               2     Wake County, NC                     82.2%
                               3     Baltimore County, MD                81.9%
                               4     Montgomery County, MD               81.5%
                               5     Cypress-Fairbanks, TX               81.3%
                              11     Cobb County, GA                     70.4%
                              16     Gwinnett County, GA                 68.4%
                        Source: Education Week, “Diplomas Count”, June 2006,
                    <http://www.edweek.org/media/ew/dc/2006/41s-dc-patterns.pdf>


Thus, while Gwinnett’s reported dropout rates are competitive and local residents
consistently praise the district’s quality, a higher percentage of students are
apparently not graduating from Gwinnett high schools than was assumed in the
2002-03 school year.


HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE I NTENTIONS
State education agencies often survey graduating classes to track post-graduation
intentions. The proportion of Gwinnett’s 2004 graduating high school seniors who
planned on attending a college or university is comparable to Cobb and Collin
Counties. In Fairfax, 89 percent graduates planned on attending an institution of
higher learning compared to 53 percent in Gwinnett. Fairfax’s high proportion
corresponds with the community’s high educational attainment rates and likely
contributes to the County’s comparatively high proportion of well-educated adults.

                     12th Grade Higher Education Intentions, 2003-2004
                                         Attending        Not Attending
                          Gwinnett         52.8%               47.2%
                          Cobb             54.0%               46.0%
                          Collin           51.2%               48.8%
                          Fairfax          88.7%               11.3%
    Source: GA Dept. of Education, VA Dept. of Education and TX Higher Education Coordinating Board




Competitive Assessment                                                                                28
August 2006
Higher Education
In the online survey, the majority of respondents were satisfied with the
availability/accessibility of a local public four-year degree education (58 percent rated
it as above average). That percentage will likely increase in the future with the
opening of Gwinnett’s first four-year institution of higher learning in August 2006.
Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) was approved by the state legislature in 2005 and is
Georgia’s first addition to the statewide college system since 1970. The college’s
curriculum will expand along with enrollment to meet its stated objectives to build
associate and bachelor degree programs that meet the demands of the surrounding
community and to emphasize a collaborative partnership with Gwinnett Technical
College. Program areas that are currently planned as focus areas include teacher
education, information technology, business, and health care.

The College will be located at the former Gwinnett University Center campus in
Lawrenceville. The Gwinnett University Center was a cluster of satellite locations for
various colleges from around the state, including the University of Georgia, Georgia
Perimeter College, Southern Polytechnic State University, and the Medical College of
Georgia. As Georgia Gwinnett College begins to take root in the former Gwinnett
University Center campus, the programs offered through these other institutions will
be disbanded or relocated.

GGC will opened in August 2006 for students who have already completed 45 or
more college credit hours and are seeking a degree in biology, business, or
psychology. The first freshman class will begin fall 2007, and the college will be
“fully operational” by the 2008-09 academic year. The College’s administrators are
planning to work closely with the Gwinnett Chamber and other private sector
partners to develop classes that reflect true workforce skills and experiences.

The online survey asked respondents to rank potential areas of focus for Georgia
Gwinnett College by level of importance. Several items were rated “very important”
by respondents, including degree programs in education, health care, computer
science, engineering, research and development activities, and business-specific and
executive training programs. Additionally, arts and culture programs and
performances and on-site dormitories were rated as “somewhat important.”
Respondents were neutral about the college having prominent athletic teams.

There are currently two colleges that are not branches of larger institutions based in
Gwinnett. One is Gwinnett College, which focuses on administrative skill
development in a variety of specific fields. The second is Gwinnett Technical College,
which emphasizes a curriculum in sync with current and growing workforce needs.




Competitive Assessment                                                                 29
August 2006
In the online survey, 57 percent of respondents said the quality of Gwinnett Technical
College was above average. Feedback from the community input process
demonstrated strong approval for the technical college’s early learning center
program. There is also support for continued programs in English as a Second
Language, developmental English, and reading to help advance the educational
success of the County’s immigrant populations.

           Higher Education Institutions in Gwinnett County and Enrollment, 2004
                                Institution                 County       Enrollment
                             Gwinnett College               Gwinnett        273
                         Gwinnett Technical College         Gwinnett        4466
                              Source: National Center for Education Statistics

As illustrated in the following chart, Gwinnett County currently has substantially less
higher education enrollment locally available than the comparison communities.
While the new Georgia Gwinnett College will help reduce this comparative gap, it is
currently a competitive disadvantage for Gwinnett relative to companies looking for a
pipeline of locally trained university graduates.

                     Higher Education Institutions and Enrollment, 2004
                                     Gwinnett       Cobb          Collin         Fairfax
                 Institutions           3*             6             1              2
                 Enrollment           4,739         32,479        17,702         66,266
                             Source: National Center for Education Statistics
                           *Includes the newly opened Gwinnett Georgia College


Gwinnett Technical College’s recent enrollment trends illustrate overall growth. As
shown in the following chart, non-credit enrollment has decreased substantially while
credit enrollment has grown. Ensuring the college has the capacity to meet the
demands of the workforce and employers will be important to Gwinnett’s future
economic viability.

                             Gwinnett Tech Enrollment, 2000 to 2006
                                                                         Number        Percent
                                               2000          2006        Change        Change
           Continuing Education               10,236         4,858        -5,378       -52.5%
           ABE/GED                            2,521          2,631         110          4.4%
           ESL                                 3,167         5,410         2,243           70.8%
           Non-Credit Enrollment              15,924         12,899        -3,025          -19.0%
           Credit Enrollment                   5,661         6,806         1,145           20.2%
           Total Enrollment                   21,585         19,705        -1,880          -8.7%
                                 Source: Gwinnett Technical College
                   NOTE: Abbreviations are as follows: Adult Basic Education (ABE);
              General Education Development (GED); English as a Second Language (ESL)


The following data illustrate that the majority of students at Gwinnett Technical
College are under 30, while white and black students make up the majority of the



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August 2006
student body (81.9%). The Hispanic population in particular is underrepresented at
the college compared to the County’s demographics. As reported in the Economic
and Demographic Profile, 15.4 percent of the County is Hispanic, compared to only
6.4 percent at Gwinnett Tech.

                             Race/Ethnicity and Age Composition of
                           Gwinnett Technical College Enrollment, 2006
                             Race/Ethnicity                       Age
                   White                   54.9%      Under 21          23.0%
                   Black                   27.0%      21-25             26.7%
                   Asian                   6.6%       26-30             13.7%
                   Hispanic                6.4%       31-35             11.8%
                   Multi-Racial            4.9%       36-40             9.0%
                   American Indian         0.2%       Over 40           15.9%
                   Total Students                                         6,806
                                  Source: Gwinnett Technical College


Each of the comparison communities also benefit from relatively easy access to
colleges and universities within their respective metro areas. In the case of Gwinnett
(and Cobb), residents and employers can draw from opportunities at prestigious
institutions such as Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Morehouse
College, and the University of Georgia, which are all within commuting distance of
Gwinnett. In the future, Gwinnett County residents may prefer to have more
Master’s and doctoral degree programs in closer proximity, based on only 41 percent
of survey respondents rating the availability of these programs as above average.


DEGREES OFFERED
As of 2006, Gwinnett Technical College offers educational programs in the following
areas:

     •   Automotive (automotive service technology and general automotive
         technology);
     •   Business and finance (accounting, business management, marketing
         management, office technology, and sport and recreation management);
     •   Early childhood care and education;
     •   Computer science/computer information systems;
     •   Construction (air conditioning, carpentry and construction management,
         commercial construction management, drafting);
     •   Cosmetology;
     •   Culinary and hotel, restaurant, and travel management;
     •   Health science (bioscience, dental assisting, dental laboratory technology,
         health care assistant, medical assisting, office technology, practical nursing,




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August 2006
         radiological technology, respiratory care, surgical technology, veterinary
         technology);
     •   Horticulture;
     •   Machine tool and welding (machine tool technology, welding and joining
         technology);
     •   Public service and safety (criminal justice technology, emergency services
         education); and
     •   Visual arts and design (commercial photography, horticulture, interiors,
         marketing management).

Each year a number of pre-bachelor’s degree certificates are awarded by Gwinnett
Technical College and Gwinnett College. In the 2004-05 academic year, the majority
of certificates were awarded in service industries. Health care and repair
technologies were the two most popular certificate programs.

         Top 7 Certificates Awarded in Gwinnett County, 2004-2005 Academic Year
                                                                             Number of Percent of
                                                                              Degrees    Total
Health professions and related clinical sciences                                272      28.4%
Mechanic and repair technologies/technicians                                    209      21.8%
Business, management, marketing, and related support services                   180      18.8%
Computer and information sciences and support services                          102      10.6%
Construction trades                                                              80       8.3%
Precision production                                                             75       7.8%
Personal and culinary services                                                   41       4.3%
                          Source: National Center for Education Statistics


Overall, there were fewer associate degrees distributed during the 2004-05 academic
year as there were certificates awarded. Again, the majority of degrees awarded were
service-sector oriented, with business support services and health care topping
residents’ interest.

      Top 7 Associate Degrees Awarded in Gwinnett County, 2004-2005 Academic Year
                                                                             Number of Percent of
                                                                              Degrees    Total
Business, management, marketing, and related support services                   118      29.7%
Health professions and related clinical sciences                                115      29.0%
Computer and information sciences and support services                           74      18.6%
Mechanic and repair technologies/technicians                                    30       7.6%
Legal professions and studies                                                    20       5.0%
Agriculture, agriculture operations, and related sciences                        20       5.0%
Visual and performing arts                                                       20       5.0%
                          Source: National Center for Education Statistics




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August 2006
Online survey respondents felt that more programs are needed at Gwinnett Technical
College in the areas of health care (with approximately one-third citing nursing),
education, business administration, engineering, and computer graphics.


Workforce Development Programs
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the administrator of the Atlanta Regional
Workforce Board, of which Gwinnett County is a part, in addition to Cherokee,
Clayton, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and Rockdale Counties (comparison community
Cobb County has its own one-county workforce development agency). As part of a
statewide program legislated by the federal government, the ARC’s workforce
development programs focus on the needs of dislocated workers, low-income adults
and youth, and businesses seeking qualified applicants.

One of ARC’s Career Resource Center branches is located on Shackleford Court in
Norcross. The center offers internet job searches, interviewing skills education, and
information on available job training programs. The Georgia Department of Labor
operates the Gwinnett County Career Center on Beaver Ruin Road in Norcross. The
center offers programs, resources, and related activities to eligible dislocated workers,
low-income adults and youth, and businesses seeking qualified employees. The
office has language capabilities in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mandarin
Chinese. Gwinnett Technical College houses the George Busbee International
Center for Workforce Development. This Center opened in 2004 and was
established to more effectively meet the workforce demands of local employers. A
feasibility study conducted in 2002 indicated that local businesses needed a location
with high-tech infrastructure for events such as training sessions, sales meetings, and
stockholder meetings.

Online survey respondents were fairly positive about both the quality and the
availability of job training and continuing education in the community. About 54
percent rated the quality as excellent or good, and about 56 percent rated the
availability at that level as well. Even so, Gwinnett’s presence in a seven-county
workforce system, when compared with Cobb’s one-county system and other
communities with less expansive workforce regions, is more of a challenge to
Gwinnett’s workforce development system than if the County received more focused
attention from federally-funded workforce programs and professionals.




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August 2006
INFRASTRUCTURE
In today’s global economy, a community creates a competitive edge by developing
and maintaining traditional infrastructure such as transportation and utilities, as well
as new telecommunications infrastructure including broadband and wireless access.

As an urbanized area, Gwinnett County and its many cities and towns are well served
by commercial telecommunications services, so this Infrastructure section will
primarily focus on other components of infrastructure, including transportation,
housing, access to capital, and innovation resources.


Telecommunications
In the online survey, 92 percent rated availability of land-line and cellular services as
average or above average (includes excellent, good, and average ratings), and 91
percent rated availability of Internet and cable services at that level.
Telecommunications costs were rated as average by 50 percent of respondents. It
should be noted that while the vast majority of the County is well served by
telecommunications and other components of physical infrastructure, some of the
“outskirts” are not as well served.

Many communities across the U.S. – ranging in size from small to large – have
established partnerships to offer wireless access in core neighborhoods. Wireless
access can give a community a competitive edge in telecommunications
infrastructure, as Gwinnett County’s technology staff have already recognized with
their work to pursue a Wireless Communities of Georgia grant for up to $1.5 million
                                         3
from the Georgia Technology Authority.


Road Transportation
As a centrally located county in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Gwinnett County is
well connected to a vast interstate and highway network. Atlanta metro’s Cobb
County, Collin County of the Dallas-Forth Worth area, and Fairfax County of the
Washington, D.C. area also benefit from being within a large metro-based network of
interstate highways.

The following Federal Highway Administration statistics illustrate that the Atlanta
metro area’s roadway mileage per capita is more substantial than either Dallas-Fort
Worth or D.C. But the additional mileage does not result in less traffic, as the Atlanta
MSA has higher daily vehicle miles traveled per capita and average daily traffic per
freeway lane than the other metro areas studied in the following chart. Thus, it

3
 Chidi, George. “Grant would help build wireless network.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 18 July
2006.




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August 2006
seems that Gwinnett (and Cobb) are situated within a highly-trafficked metro area,
more so than Collin or Fairfax, which may make Gwinnett less attractive to certain
individuals and types of businesses.

                                   Key Roadway Statistics, 2004
                                                                   Dallas-Fort       Washington,
       Metro Area                                   Atlanta
                                                                     Worth              D.C.
      Total Miles Per 1,000 Persons                       4.67               4.12                2.66
      Daily Vehicle Miles Traveled Per
      Capita                                              34.4               25.3                21.7
      Avg. Daily Traffic Per Freeway Lane              19,512             16,705             18,500
              Note: Miles includes interstates, freeways, expressways, other major and minor
             arterials, collectors, and local roadways. Source: Federal Highway Administration


While 59 percent of online survey respondents found the physical condition of the
County’s highways and roads to be above average, they were less satisfied with the
accessibility and adequacy of the road network (39 percent rated it as above average).
In one of the final questions of the survey, 62 percent of respondents rated the need
to continue to develop Gwinnett’s transportation infrastructure, including alternative
modes of transportation as “very high.” Survey respondents and focus group and
interview participants overwhelming expressed concern about increasing traffic and
congestion in the County, and a lack of desired east-west road connectivity. The
“congestion penalty” associated with tremendous growth increasingly appears to be a
sacrifice that community members are not willing to make.

To be described further in the Taxes and Incentives section of the Business Costs
assessment, the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) has been an important
means of funding necessary transportation improvements in Gwinnett County. For
example, SPLOST revenue will help fund the planned six mile extension of Sugarloaf
Parkway, scheduled to be complete in late 2009. Other important projects occurring
in Gwinnett include the extensive Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) work
to reconstruct the Interstate 85 and State Route 316 interchange, including the
addition of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and a new 11-mile collector
distributor lane (i.e., an access road to serve as an alternative route for motorists
traveling shorter distances along I-85).


Air Transportation
Gwinnett has the advantage of being within the metro area with the airport –
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – with the most air traffic movement
(take offs and landings) in the world, according to the Airports Council International.




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August 2006
       Top International Airports in Total Traffic Movements (Take Offs + Landings), 20054
                                                                  Total          Annual %
                        Rank                Airport
                                                                Movements         Change

                          1       Atlanta, GA (ATL)                   980,386         1.6%
                          2       Chicago, IL (ORD)                   972,248        -2.0%
                          3       Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (DFW)          711,878       -11.6%
                         14       Washington, DC (IAD)                509,468         8.5%
                                      Source: Airports Council International


While the center of Gwinnett is about 47 miles from Atlanta’s international airport,
compared to the shorter distances of Cobb, Collin, and Fairfax to their respective
airports, the airport’s proximity is still a distinct competitive advantage for Gwinnett
when competing for businesses that rely heavily on passenger or air cargo
transportation services. According to Airports Council International, Atlanta’s airport
                                                        th
ranks first in the world in passenger traffic, and 25 in cargo traffic (in both instances
these are higher rankings then the three airports of the comparison areas). In the
online survey, most respondents rated the accessibility to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International as average or below average (52 percent). Feedback from the surveys,
focus groups, and interviews shows strong support for an express bus service to
Hartsfield.

                                        Commercial Airports, 2006
                                                           Distance from                    Avg. daily
                                      Distance from
                   Airport                                   Center of          Runways      aircraft
                                      Center of MSA
                                                              County                        operations

          Hartsfield-Jackson                              47 miles from
                                     7 miles south of
          Atlanta International                           Gwinnett; 27                5          2,684
                                     Atlanta
          (ATL)                                           miles from Cobb

                                     12 miles north-
          Dallas/Fort Worth                               41 miles from
                                     west of Dallas-Ft.                               7          1,967
          International (DFW)                             Collin
                                     Worth

          Washington Dulles          20 miles west of     17 miles from
                                                                                      3          1,819
          International (IAD)        D.C.                 Fairfax County


          Ronald Reagan
                                     3 miles south of     20 miles from
          Washington National                                                         3           748
                                     D.C.                 Fairfax County
          Airport (DCA)

                                  Source: AirNav.com; Accessed 2 August 2006


Not to be overlooked in the area of air transportation is further development of
Gwinnett County Airport-Briscoe Field, located in the north central portion of the
County. Bolstered by a 6,000 foot runway and full ILS (instrument landing system),
the Airport offers an attractive alternative to business travel via private aircraft. The


4
    Data provided for top 30 airports, which did not include Ronald Reagan Washington national Airport.




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August 2006
Airport Master Plan Update includes improvements such as a parallel runway,
parallel taxiway, and support facilities.


Rail Transportation
Atlanta was founded as a rail terminus, and it continues to be an important center of
rail transportation, as evidenced by the large number of freight railroads, as outlined
in the following chart. CSX and Norfolk Southern are the Class I railroads that run
through Gwinnett County. Cobb, Collin, and Fairfax are similarly situated, and thus
are competitive with Gwinnett in rail transportation.

                               Statewide Railroad Service Data, 2004
                                                  Georgia          Texas         Virginia
           Number of freight railroads                      22             45               9
           Miles operated                              4,779          10,246          3,236
           Total carloads of freight carried       3,934,239       9,060,153      2,428,663
           Total tons of freight carried        214,901,882      363,013,164    182,460,913
           Rail employees living in state               7,926          18,915         6,650
           Average compensation per freight
           rail employee                              $83,600         $92,300      $83,800
                                Source: Association of American Railroads



Public Transportation
Public transit is an important component of local infrastructure, and a valuable
means for those unable to drive or afford a car to access available jobs. Neither
Gwinnett nor Cobb is connected to the Atlanta area’s MARTA rail system. Gwinnett
citizens rely on Gwinnett County Transit for public transit, which connects to a
MARTA station in northeastern DeKalb County.

Of the comparison areas, Fairfax County is the most connected to its regional public
transit system, with several stops on Washington D.C.’s extensive Metrorail service.
Collin County is a component of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail
network, and coordinated a very successful transit-oriented development (TOD) in
the city of Plano’s downtown to correspond with the arrival of a DART extension.

Gwinnett County Transit’s route network is shown on the following graphic. While
residents praise the availability of public transit in Gwinnett, they feel the system
does not comprehensively serve the County’s major destinations and activity centers.




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August 2006
                         Gwinnett County Transit Local Bus Routes




                               Source: Gwinnett County Transit


A useful barometer of public transit services is the percentage of workers using
transit as a primary means of transportation, as shown in the following chart.
Percentages can vary greatly by metropolitan area, based on the amount of rail and
bus routes available. In 2004, Gwinnett County’s employed workforce used public
transit at a significantly lower rate (0.9%) than the Atlanta MSA as a whole (3.2%).
Collin County and Fairfax County’s percentages were much closer to their metro
averages, and also higher than the Gwinnett average, suggesting their systems are
more effectively meeting their workforce’s needs, or their communities have less
cultural or economic dependence on private automobiles.



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August 2006
For carpooling (two or more persons traveling together in a private automobile as the
primary means of transportation to work), Gwinnett County had a higher percentage
than the national average, the Atlanta MSA, Cobb County, and Collin County, Texas.
This suggests that the County’s dependence on private automobiles may be more
economic than cultural, and thus there is potential unmet demand for additional
public transit routes in the area and/or a potential need for better connectivity with
other Atlanta metro area transit systems.

                    Percent of Workers Carpooling or Using Public Transit
                     as Primary Means of Transportation to Work, 2004
                                                 % Public Transit   % Carpool

                  Gwinnett County                      0.9%          11.4%
                  Cobb County                          1.3%          10.8%
                  Atlanta MSA                          3.2%          10.7%
                  Collin County                        1.3%           8.2%
                  Dallas-Fort Worth MSA                1.5%          10.7%
                  Fairfax County                       9.6%          12.2%
                  Washington-Baltimore MSA*            9.4%          12.8%
                  Georgia                              2.1%          11.7%
                  United States                         4.6%         10.1%
                                          *Data for 2000.
                                    Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The community input findings were consistent with this data analysis, in its
revelation that residents of Gwinnett County are unsatisfied with their public transit
and commuter railway availability. In the online survey, 55 percent of respondents
rated the availability of public transit as below average or poor, and 77 percent rated
the availability of commuter rail at that level. While community input participants
were enthusiastic about the express bus service to downtown Atlanta, there was
concern that the local bus service is not being maximized. There is an interest in
ensuring the routes are serving all-income levels and special groups such as seniors
and teenagers.

Community input participants also noted the need to locate stops in closer proximity
to key destinations of transit-dependent populations (i.e., social service agencies,
hospitals and other health care centers, job training and educational resources, etc.).
Additionally, community members are supportive of more investments in improving
the quality of bus stops with increased lighting, shelters and furniture. Sidewalks – a
high priority in general – were noted as a key factor in ensuring that residents and
workers could safely access current and future bus stops.

Most online survey respondents indicated that the opportunities to work close to
home were good (37 percent). However, certain focus group and interview feedback
indicated the lower-wage earning population have difficulty finding quality-affordable
housing near their jobs.



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August 2006
Finally, many community input participants expressed support for better transit
connectivity with other employment and educational centers in the Atlanta MSA and
the University of Georgia in Athens. Many noted the importance of pursing the
“Brain Train,” a commuter rail plan to connect Midtown and Downtown Atlanta to
Athens, with Gwinnett County being a critical central stop on its route, as illustrated
in the map below.

                                 Proposed Brain Train Map




                               Source: Georgia Brain Train Group




Commuting Patterns
More people working with their county of residence can indicate more employment
opportunities there. The Economic and Demographic Profile related that more than
half of Gwinnett’s working population was employed within the County (55.80%).
This figure had grown by 8.5 percent since 1990. This led all the comparison areas
for this 15 year time period.

                  Percent of People Who Work in Their County of Residence
                    County           1990            2004          Percent Change
                   Gwinnett         47.3%           55.8%               8.5%
                     Cobb           51.4%           57.1%               5.7%
                     Collin         44.9%           50.5%               5.6%
                     Faifax         49.7%           52.5%               2.8%
                                 Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The percentage of Gwinnett adults who live and work in the County is second only to
Cobb among the comparables.




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August 2006
            Mean Travel Time to Work, 2002-2004: Gwinnett, Cobb, Collin and Fairfax

              35.0

              30.0

              25.0

              20.0

              15.0

              10.0

               5.0

               0.0
                     Gwinnett County, Cobb County, GA Collin County, TX   Fairfax County,
                           GA                                                   VA

                                                 2002    2004

                                      Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Even with more employees working in their county of residence than all but Cobb
County, Gwinnett still has the longest commute times among the comparables.
While this could partially be attributable to land area in Gwinnett, the statistic
nevertheless correlates with public input feedback regarding the County’s
increasingly congested roads and highways.


Housing
A community’s housing stock can be an important advantage for attracting and
retaining a competitive workforce. Next to the comparison areas, Gwinnett has a
high homeownership rate (75.6% owner-occupied in the below chart). It also has a
high vacancy rate (10.2%). The housing stock is relatively new, with about one in
three housing units built within the past ten years. Housing is comparatively
affordable, both as measured by median contract rent and median housing value.

                                      Key Housing Data, 2004
                                                   % of Housing                             Median
                                    % Owner                            Median
                     % Vacant                     Structures Built                          Housing
                                    Occupied                         Contract Rent
                                                     Since ‘95                               Value
 Gwinnett             10.2%          75.6%              35.6%             $685              $171,339
 Cobb                 7.6%           70.7%              26.5%             $654              $185,426
 Collin               4.3%           69.8%              46.0%             $722              $182,900
 Fairfax              3.2%           74.0%             13.3%              $1,106            $415,418
                                      Source: U.S. Census Bureau


From 2002 to 2005, Gwinnett County’s housing market had solid growth, with an
8.8 percent increase in the number of permits awarded. This may, in part, explain



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August 2006
the comparatively high vacancy rate referenced above. The value of Gwinnett’s
housing projects is also growing, with a 53.6 percent increase in the total value of the
permitted housing projects. For the first six-months of 2006, the total number of
permits awarded in Gwinnett already almost equaled the total awarded in 2005,
suggesting the community is continuing to have strong growth in its housing market.
This growth in housing permits, coupled with Gwinnett’s high comparative vacancy
rates, may depress housing values in the County’s immediate future.

                              Building Permit Data, 2002 to June 2006
                                              Gwinnett      Cobb      Collin    Fairfax
          Number of Permits
          Jan. to Jun '06                       4,634       2,088     6,590      849
          Jan. to Jun '06 as % of '05 Total    89.9%        21.1%     52.2%     36.2%
          '02-'05 Annual % Change               8.8%        5.1%      28.9%     -22.7%
          Total Cost of Projects
          Jan. to Jun '06 (millions)           $743.7      $493.7    $1,480.0   $165.8
          Jan. to Jun '06 as % of '05 Total    67.7%        45.5%     56.4%     33.7%
          '02-'05 Annual % Change               53.6%       11.6%     49.4%     -10.1%
                                        Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Focus group and interview respondents were particularly concerned about provision
of quality affordable housing for lower-income workers and seniors. It was noted that
apartment complexes are often serving as “de facto” affordable housing throughout
the County. According to feedback, many multi-family complexes are older or
otherwise of low quality. It was important to address housing concerns to ensure
Gwinnett maintains an attractive quality of life and offers attractive housing options
that allow workers to reside closer to their jobs and avoid lengthy commutes.


Access to Capital
Small businesses help strengthen an economy by helping to diversify its structure
and protect it from large company closings. Access to capital can be one of the most
difficult barriers to overcome for starting a small business. Many small business
owners and entrepreneurs find financing from a variety of sources, which often
leaves them vulnerable to shifting interest rates or personal crises. When banks are
willing to assume a higher degree of risk for a new business owner, that benefits the
entire community by providing essential capital and stabilizing business ventures.


SMALL BUSINESS LENDING
The following table demonstrates how small business lending activities in Gwinnett
compare to Cobb, Collin and Fairfax Counties. In 2004, Gwinnett had the highest
average loan amount of any of the comparison communities ($37,289), which
suggests Gwinnett’s banking institutions may be more willing or able to invest in
small businesses. In the online survey, 56 percent of respondents who felt informed



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August 2006
enough to respond indicated the availability of bank loans was excellent or good in
Gwinnett County.

            Small Business Lending Activity of Commercial and Savings Banks, 2004
                                    Number of            Total Amount        Average Loan
                County
                                     Loans                  (000s)             Amount
               Gwinnett                23,060               $859,876             $37,289
                 Cobb                  20,954               $748,430             $35,718
                Collin                 19,152               $532,880             $27,824
                Fairfax                27,605               $947,048             $34,307
                         Source: Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council



SBA LOAN ACTIVITY
The most recognized small business loan is the 7(a) program offered by the U.S.
Small Business Administration. These loans are made by commercial lending
institutions and guaranteed by the SBA for the purpose of financing small business
activities. The next table shows that from 2001 to 2004, Gwinnett had both the
highest average loan amount and the highest per capita loan amount compared to the
other communities. This lends support to the notion that Gwinnett appears to have a
small business community that is well informed about the process of securing SBA
loans, and/or a small-business-supportive banking community.

                          SBA Loan Activity, 7(a) Program, 2001 to 2005
                                                                Average       Total Loan
                            Number          Total Loan
              County                                             Loan         Amount Per
                            of Loans         Amount
                                                                Amount         Capita*
              Gwinnett        1,102        $325,444,916        $295,322          $448.10
                Cobb           897         $263,220,445        $293,445          $396.53
               Collin         1,130        $290,114,388        $256,738          $439.93
               Fairfax         796         $137,382,649        $172,591          $136.49
                  Source: U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Census Bureau
                                   *Using 2005 Population Figures


The other main SBA loan program is the Certified Development Company, or 504,
Program. These loans are only for “brick and mortar” financing – i.e., real estate or
machinery and equipment – and are provided through certified development
companies (non-profit development organizations established for economic
development purposes). Again, Gwinnett amassed the largest average loan amount
and per capita loan amount from the 504 Program.




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August 2006
                           SBA Loan Activity, 504 Program, 2001 to 2005
                                                            Average     Total Loan
                                Number        Total Loan
                 County                                      Loan        Amount
                                of Loans       Amount
                                                            Amount      Per Capita*
                Gwinnett          98         $68,476,000    $698,735    $       94.28
                 Cobb             55         $32,307,000    $587,400    $       48.67
                 Collin           94         $58,422,000    $621,511    $       88.59
                 Fairfax          118        $67,285,000    $570,212    $       66.85
                  Source: U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Census Bureau
                                   *Using 2005 Population Figures


Combined, these SBA loan data indicate that Gwinnett has a dynamic small business
finance component that could potentially be further leveraged for local growth.


Research and Development
Most small business-driven job growth is derived from product-driven companies.
These products are often the result of research and development activities at
universities, government entities, or private facilities. R&D work is often done by
professionals with a graduate degree in their field of study, so communities with
high-levels of R&D activity often have a corresponding high percentage of the
population with a graduate degree. Of the comparisons, Gwinnett had the lowest
percentage (8.4%) as illustrated in the following chart.

          Percent of Population 25 Years and Older, Highest Degree Attained, 2004

           Highest Level Attained       Gwinnett    Cobb      Collin    Fairfax         U.S.

          Bachelor's Degree              23.8%      27.2%     31.7%     30.0%         17.2%
          Graduate Degree                  8.4%     10.6%     12.9%     23.4%           7.8%
          Professional Degree            2.1%         2.6%      2.7%     3.9%           2.0%
                                        Source: U.S. Census Bureau


In the online survey, of those knowledgeable enough to respond, 45 percent rated the
availability of research and development resources as average, and 37 percent rated it
as above average (includes excellent and good).

While higher degree attainment is an indicator of R&D potential, patent activity is an
indicator of the conversion of R&D activities into potential commercial products.
Collin County has consistently had the highest number of patents awarded to local
residents of the comparison areas, but it is the only area to have a declining patent
activity figure from 2003 to 2006. During the time period, Gwinnett’s rate of growth
surpassed Cobb, but did not reach Fairfax County’s high 18.1 percent. As a
component of the Washington, D.C. metro, Fairfax’s rising patent activity could be an
indicator of recent increased government spending in information science and other
technologies related to national security and bio-defense.



Competitive Assessment                                                                         44
August 2006
                     Number of Patents Issued, June 2003 to June 2006
                                     6/30/03 -    6/30/04 -    6/30/05 -      %
                                     6/30/04      6/30/05      6/30/06      Change
                 Gwinnett County          258          255          292        13.2%
                 Cobb County              253          240          273         7.9%
                 Collin County           1044          929          982         -5.9%
                 Fairfax County            310          277         366        18.1%
                               Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


Venture capital is an important financial resource for high-growth entrepreneurs. In
first quarter 2006, Gwinnett, Collin and Fairfax Counties all had businesses that
attracted considerable venture capital investment. The PricewaterhouseCoopers
MoneyTree Report is a quarterly study of venture capital investment activity in the
United States. As a collaborative effort between PricewaterhouseCoopers and the
National Venture Capital Association based upon data from Thomson Financial, it is
the only industry-endorsed research of its kind.

In the first quarter 2006, Gwinnett County had a respectable $22.3 million of venture
capital invested in expanding and later-stage companies in the area. Without a
research university, it is a challenge for Gwinnett to attract certain venture
investments associated with technology transfer and commercialization. Of those
who had enough awareness to respond, the most online survey participants (41%)
rated the availability of venture capital as average. Feedback from the stakeholder
input process suggests that it’s “easier to find funding angels than getting
investments from large venture capital firms.”

                         Venture Capital Investment, First Quarter 2006
                  Total Amount of Venture         Position of
       County                                                               Industries
                      Capital Invested            Companies
                                                   Expansions       Software, Networking and
      Gwinnett            $22,308,000                & Later           Equipment, Medical
                                                     Stage           Devices and Equipment
                                                                      Telecommunications,
                                                   Expansions      Networking and Equipment,
        Collin             $65,615,200               & Later                Software,
                                                     Stages        Electronics/Instrumentation,
                                                                         Semiconductors
                                                  Expansions,
                                                   Start-up &          Telecommunication,
       Fairfax            $36,350,100
                                                     Later                  Software
                                                    Stages
                         Source: PricewaterhouseCoopes Money Tree Report
                    Note: Cobb County did not have any venture capital investment.




Competitive Assessment                                                                            45
August 2006
BUSINESS COSTS
Companies carefully consider the cost of doing business in a locality before
relocating, expanding or starting a new enterprise. Every business must factor in the
cost of real estate, utilities, labor, and taxes. Knowing this, local governments can
focus on the best way to provide support to their business community. Businesses of
various sizes and scope need different support mechanisms. This section discusses
both the cost of doing business and the types of support offered at the local level.


Real Estate
In speaking with real estate professionals in focus groups and interviews for this
report, Market Street was not told that Gwinnett was anti-competitive relative to the
availability or cost of residential, commercial or industrial real estate. However, a
number of respondents noted that the cost to develop property in Gwinnett is
increasing due to the County’s regulatory processes and the average time needed to
secure building permits. While these respondents did not bemoan Gwinnett’s
regulations as arbitrary or unfairly convoluted, they did argue that the added time and
cost of developing in Gwinnett is driving certain projects to neighboring, lower-cost
Metro Atlanta counties, and outside the region altogether.

While there are many agencies and firms that collect and report data on local real
estate availability, vacancies and costs, Market Street is utilizing information from CB
Richard Ellis’ U.S. National Office Vacancy Index for the following tables. While
outside the scope of this report, a full, months-long analysis of Gwinnett’s residential,
commercial and industrial real estate markets would be a key contingency of certain
target strategies and land planning scenarios.

To further assess existing local availability, the following chart compares metro
suburban area office vacancy rates (county-level data were not available). The Atlanta
suburban area’s vacancy rate decreased from second quarter 2005 to second quarter
2006. Still, for second quarter 2006, the Atlanta area had a much higher vacancy
rate than the national average and D.C. (and only slightly lower than Dallas-Ft.
Worth).

                             Suburban Area Office Vacancy Index
                                       2nd Quarter 2nd Quarter           Percent
                                          2005        2006               Change

                  Atlanta                   22.5            19.0          -15.6%
                  Dallas/Ft. Worth          21.2            22.3           5.2%
                  Washington D.C.           11.2            10.5           -6.2%
                  National Average          15.7            14.6           -7.0%
                     Source: CB Richard Ellis, U.S. National Office Vacancy Index




Competitive Assessment                                                                46
August 2006
According to CB Richard Ellis, in the second quarter of 2006, Gwinnett had an
advantage over the City of Atlanta in that rents were still more affordable in the
County than in the central city. The average asking lease rate for office space in
Atlanta’s surrounding suburbs was $18.36 per SF/Year. The City of Atlanta’s average
asking lease rate for office space was $22.10 per SF/Year.

For industrial space availability, Atlanta had a very high rate compared to the other
metro areas and the national average. Atlanta’s rate also grew by over 20 percent
from the second quarter 2005 to second quarter 2006. Thus, the Atlanta metro area
has a good availability of industrial space.

                                    Industrial Availability Index
                                         2nd Quarter 2nd Quarter             Percent
                                            2005        2006                 Change

                  Atlanta                     15.7             18.9           20.4%
                  Dallas/Ft. Worth            13.8             11.3           -18.1%
                  Washington D.C.             11.1             12.5           12.6%
                  National Average            10.2             9.6             -5.9%
                   Source: CB Richard Ellis, U.S. National Industrial Availability Index


In the online survey, quality of commercial office space was rated by most
respondents as above average (54%), while affordability was rated as average or below
average (56%). The responses were similar for industrial space, with affordability
rated less favorably than availability (44% rated the affordability as above average,
compared to 58% rating the availability at this level). Both the availability and
affordability of land were rated by the most respondents as average (38% and 34%,
              5
respectively).


REVITALIZATION AND REDEVELOPMENT
Community input participants had many concerns regarding land use patterns and
redevelopment needs in Gwinnett County and certain of its cities. Certain of these
issues will also be addressed in the Gwinnett Unified Planning efforts, which is an
ambitious attempt to coordinate the state-mandated update of Gwinnett County’s
Comprehensive Development plan with updates of its Comprehensive
Transportation Plan and its Consolidated (Housing) Plan. The County is partnering
with many of Gwinnett’s cities and towns in this effort. Since zoning and other
development controls are under the purview of Gwinnett’s cities and towns it is
crucial for comprehensive planning to include their growth and land use dynamics
when determining County-wide planning scenarios to reflect development projects
within their boundaries.


5
 Feedback on commercial and industrial space is based on respondents who had enough knowledge to
rate factors.




Competitive Assessment                                                                         47
August 2006
The primary concerns to be addressed in the Unified Planning efforts include:
dwindling supply of land for development; potential for re-development of aging
areas; an increasingly complex demographic base; quality of life issues; an over
reliance on commercial development for tax-base enhancements; and issues of road
capacity, housing affordability and choice, County planning priorities, and natural
resources supply/capacity.

Some key findings in the public input conducted for the Partnership Gwinnett
strategy included concerns regarding land use planning/patterns of development,
which 45 percent of online survey respondents rated as below average or poor. About
41 percent of survey respondents also indicated that accessibility to sidewalks,
greenways, and hiking trails was below average or poor. The majority of focus group
and interview comments regarding land use planning expressed similar concerns as
the online survey respondents. Several voiced a need for more sidewalks and bike
lanes in the County; but comments regarding greenways and hiking trails suggested
perceptions have not caught up with reality, as the County has been working to
improve the amount of greenways and trails in the area. The Partnership Gwinnett
strategy and the Gwinnett Unified Plan will be complementary efforts to regulate
growth and development according to best practices and the mandate laid out by
Gwinnett stakeholders.

Gwinnett County and certain of its cities have been making use of Community
Improvement Districts (CIDs) as tools to foster revitalization in certain parts of the
community. References to the CIDs during the community input process were
complimentary. To establish a CID, a majority of local property owners (at least 50%
of owners representing 75% of the total assessed value of the district) voluntarily
agree to a slight property tax raise to fund infrastructure improvements in their
neighborhood. The tax revenue, and additional state and federal funding that the
CIDs are able to obtain, is used for transportation, streetscape, landscape, and other
                                                         6
infrastructure improvements in these neighborhoods.

Furthermore, the CIDs are able to use tax revenue to provide additional security
within their districts. Improving safety has been a lead issue for all three of the
County’s CIDs. Heightening safety is an important aspect of redevelopment efforts.
Potential business patrons must perceive the district as safe if they are to get out of
their cars, shop, and spend time in the area.

The County may have a new redevelopment financing mechanism when Gwinnett
voters go to the polls in the fall to decide whether to legalize the use of tax-allocation
districts (TADs) in unincorporated Gwinnett. These districts allow infrastructure
bonds to be paid down through the tax “increment” accrued when property values in
a revitalizing area increase after municipal tax receipts are frozen at pre-TAD levels

6
 “CIDs boost bottom line for businesses.” Gwinnett Business Journal. January 2006. Accessed 17
August 2006. <http://www.gwinnettbizjournal.com/content.cfm?Action=story_detail&StoryID=1399
&CFID=479644&CFTOKEN=29954290>




Competitive Assessment                                                                           48
August 2006
for a set duration. Due to the language used in the enabling legislation, Gwinnett’s
cities would not be included in the vote and would have to independently secure
revitalization incentives from other mechanisms and sources.


Labor
A low cost of labor is attractive to businesses, particularly firms with a large base of
lower-skilled jobs. As illustrated in the below chart, average annual wages in
Gwinnett have escalated at a faster rate than Collin County, but still are low compared
to Collin, as well as Cobb and – by a significant amount – Fairfax County. In the
online survey, the most respondents rated labor costs as average (42%).

                            Real Average Annual Wage, 1994 to 2004

      $60,000

      $55,000

      $50,000

      $45,000

      $40,000

      $35,000

      $30,000
                94


                       95


                               96


                                      97


                                             98


                                                    99


                                                           00


                                                                  01


                                                                           02


                                                                                  03


                                                                                         04
              19


                     19


                             19


                                    19


                                           19


                                                  19


                                                         20


                                                                20

                                                                         20


                                                                                20


                                                                                       20
          Gwinnett       Cobb         Collin        Fairfax       Georgia         United States

                              Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis


While low wages potentially increase profits for businesses, they have the converse
effect of lessening workers’ buying power and incomes.

In 2005, Georgia’s union membership rates were lower than Texas, but higher than
Virginia’s. All three are “right to work” states, which signifies that legislation has
passed securing the right of employees to decide whether or not to join or financially
support a union (i.e. workers cannot be denied employment based on union status or
have union dues deducted from paychecks without the written consent of the
worker). Some workers seek union protection and representation, especially in times
of economic uncertainty, while others may be indifferent. Employers in some sectors
want to bring their union with them if they relocate; others prefer to be in a right-to-
work state.




Competitive Assessment                                                                            49
August 2006
                                       Union Membership, 2005
                                          Total              Union
                                                                               Percent of
                       State           Employment           Members
                                                                               Employed
                                         (000s)              (000s)
                 Georgia                    3,765                190             5.0%
                 Texas                      9,485                506             5.3%
                 Virginia                   3,406                165             4.8%
                                            Source: Unionstats

A final labor-related cost is benefits and insurance, which were rated as average in
Gwinnett County by 46 percent of online survey respondents.


Utilities and Gasoline
Utility costs also can impact a business operation’s bottom line, and are sometimes
monitored by businesses which heavily rely on power for the efficiency of their
operations. Gwinnett’s commercial and industrial power costs are competitive
against its comparison counties.

                Commercial Power Costs, 2002-2004 (cents per kilowatt hour)7
                                                                       Percent
                                             2002         2004
                                                                       Change
                            Gwinnett        0.062        0.067          8.1%
                            Cobb            0.062        0.067          8.1%
                            Collin          0.086        0.109         26.7%
                            Fairfax        0.060        0.060         0.0%
                   Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration


                 Industrial Power Costs, 2002-2004 (cents per kilowatt hour) 8
                                                                       Percent
                                             2002         2004
                                                                       Change
                            Gwinnett        0.039        0.044         12.8%
                            Cobb            0.039        0.044         12.8%
                            Collin          0.079        0.089         12.7%
                            Fairfax        0.044        0.047         6.8%
                   Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration


In the online survey, most respondents rated energy costs as average (49%). The
availability of the energy supply was rated by 44 percent of respondents as excellent
or good.




7
  Cost is calculated by weighing kWh rates for the respective utilities by number of customers, then
totaled at the regional, metro and state levels. Cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is calculated by dividing
revenue (thousand dollars) by sales (megawatt-hours).
8
  Ibid.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                     50
August 2006
For natural gas, Georgia is consistently less affordable than Texas and the national
average, but in recent months has been more affordable than Virginia.

      Industrial Natural Gas, Dollars Per Thousand Cubic Feet, April 2005 to April 2006
      18
      16
      14
      12
      10
       8
       6
       4
       2
       0
            Apr   May Jun       Jul   Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov Dec        Jan   Feb      Mar    Apr

                                      2005                                        2006
                                Georgia          Texas         Virginia         US

                  Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration


As illustrated in the following chart, gasoline prices in the Atlanta metro area have
consistently kept pace with the national average, which is higher than the Dallas-Ft.
Worth metro average, but lower than metro D.C.

                             Average Regular Gas Prices, July 2006
                             Metro Atlanta     Metro Dallas       Metro D.C.         National
              July, 06           $3.00            $2.93             $3.09             $3.01
              June, 06           $2.86            $2.83             $2.97             $2.86
              July, 05           $2.18            $2.24             $2.34             $2.29
                                 Source: AAA Daily Gauge Fuel Report



WATER AND SEWER
The online survey asked respondents to rate water and sewer capacity and costs. The
majority of respondents found capacity to be average or above average (61%) while
half of the respondents found costs to be average (50%). Interestingly, the focus
groups and interviews indicated that residents’ primary concerns centered on the
County’s sustained ability to supply them with water as the population continued to
grow. A significant portion of the participants saw this as the number one issue
affecting the County’s future success.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                51
August 2006
Taxes and Incentives
Taxes and available incentives programs can impact business operations since
relocating and expanding businesses will consider the favorableness of the tax climate
before making a location decision. Additionally, tax revenue and expenditure data are
important to assess the fiscal health of a local economy.


TAX RATES
An individual business’ location decision is based on how it weighs the impact of one
type of tax over another along with other business climate factors. Therefore, the
following distribution of tax revenue by type of tax for Georgia and the home states of
the comparison communities does not suggest one location is necessarily more
favorable than another. However, Georgia’s tax distribution is more balanced than
Texas, which relies on general sales and use taxes for about half of its tax revenues,
and Virginia, which relies on individual income for just over half of its tax revenues.

                         State Tax Distribution by Type of Tax, FY 2005
                             General
                                     Individual Corporate Motor
                   State     Sales &                            All Other
                                      Income     Income Fuels
                               Use
                 Georgia      33.9%    46.7%       4.5%   5.9%    9.0%
                   Texas      49.9%     0.0%       0.0%   9.0%   41.1%
                 Virginia     19.4%    52.5%       3.8%   5.7%   18.6%
               United States 32.7%     34.1%       6.0%   5.3%   21.9%
                                    Source: The Tax Foundation


The following chart provides basic tax rate information for Gwinnett and the
comparison communities. Again, a conclusive statement of relative competitiveness
is difficult to make because tax burdens can vary by industry and type of business.
Next to Cobb County, Georgia, Gwinnett does look slightly less favorable because its
property tax rates are higher than Cobb’s. In the online survey, of respondents who
felt knowledgeable enough to rate Gwinnett’s business and corporate tax structure,
56 percent responded that it is average.




Competitive Assessment                                                               52
August 2006
               Local Tax Rates, 2005: Gwinnett County and Comparison Communities


                            Gwinnett                     Cobb                    Collin                 Fairfax
Combined State
                              6%                         6%                   7.25% -8.25%                5%
and Local Sales
                          (County: 2%)               (County: 2%)            (County: 1-2%)           (County: 1%)
  & Use Tax

                         County: $32.10
                                                     County: $29.87
 Local Property       Lawrenceville: $34.41
                                                   Marietta: $29.973          County: $2.50
Tax (per $1,000           Duluth: $37.29                                                                $45.70
                                                (Effective rates: $11.95,     Plano: $4.535
assessed value)      (Effective rates: $12.84
                                                         $11.99)
                             - $14.92)

    Property Tax                                                            100% of appraised        100% of
                     40% of appraised value     40% of appraised value
    Assessment                                                                   value            appraised value

                        6% of taxable net          6% of taxable net
                      income attributable to     income attributable to
                                                                                                     6% of the
                         business done in           business done in
State Corporate                                                                                      computed
                       Georgia. Net Worth         Georgia. Net Worth               NA
  Income Tax                                                                                      Virginia taxable
                        Tax is $10 - $5000         Tax is $10 - $5000
                                                                                                      income.
                     depending on net worth     depending on net worth
                           of company.                of company.


      Source: Gwinnett County, Cobb County, State of Georgia, Georgia Department of Revenue,
    Collin County, State of Texas Dept of Revenue, Fairfax County, Virginia Department of Taxation.
                  Note: Gwinnett millage rates are 2006, Cobb and Collin millage rates are 2005.


Gwinnett’s six percent sales tax rate includes a one-cent Special Local Option Sales
Tax (SPLOST). The SPLOST was praised by many community input participants as a
means of funding necessary infrastructure improvements in Gwinnett County.
Begun in 1985, SPLOST has funded the construction of the Gwinnett Justice and
Administration Center, Civic Center, Historic Courthouse renovation, Pre-Trial
Detention Center, road projects (Ronald Regan and Sugarloaf Parkways, Anniston
Road, Lawrenceville-Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Pleasant Hill Road, Riverside
Parkway, SR 120), and numerous other transportation, parks and recreation, public
safety, and library projects in Gwinnett County and its cities. For 2005, the $503.9
million expected SPLOST revenue was budgeted to fund transportation
improvements (32%), parks and recreation (32%), public safety (16%), libraries (2%),
as well as money set aside by the County for its 15 municipalities (18%, or $88.6
         9
million).


REVENUES AND EXPENDITURES
The following charts provide an overview of the health of Gwinnett County’s tax base.
The first chart shows that, in 2005, for the first time in the 10-year period illustrated,

9
 “Sales Tax Program Update: Your Pennies at Work.” Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. Fall
2005. Accessed 17 August 2006. http://www.co.gwinnett.ga.us/cgi-bin/gwincty/egov/ep/gcNav
View.do? path=Home%7CHidden+Page%7CArticle+1; Gwinnett County Tax Information: SPLOST>;
and Accessed 17 August 2006. <http://www.co.gwinnett.ga.us/cgi-bin/gwincty/egov/ep/gcbrowse.do
?channelId=-19049&channelPage=%2Fep%2Fchannel%2Fdefault.jsp&pageTypeId=536879772>.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                       53
August 2006
total expenditures outpaced total revenues in the County. This dynamic reflects the
increasing costs of supporting residential growth that often outpaces commercial
growth in Gwinnett, and must be addressed if the County is to continue providing
the level of services its residents expect.

            Gwinnett County Total Revenues and Total Expenditures, 1996-2005

      700,000

      600,000

      500,000

      400,000

      300,000

      200,000

      100,000

             0
                 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

                                    Total Revenue          Total Expenditures

                 Source: Gwinnett County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, 2005


As seen in the following chart, the composition of total expenditures has not changed
substantially during the period from 1996 to 2005. During the time period, total
expenditures grew by 138.3 percent, with the most substantial growth in “Parks &
Recreation, Library, Grants, Community Services, Tourism, & Misc.” (211.3%),
“Judiciary” (170.3%), and “Capital Outlays” (167.3%). Despite its growth (by 115.7%),
“Police, Correctional, Fire & Emergency Services” declined by 2.4 percentage points
in its portion of total expenditures from 1996 to 2005.




Competitive Assessment                                                                 54
August 2006
                 Gwinnett County Total Expenditure Composition, 1996-2005

         100%                                       2.3%             Debt Services
                    4.7%            3.4%
          90%
                                                                     Capital Outlay
          80%      32.0%           32.0%           35.9%

          70%                                                        Parks & Recreation, Library,
                                                                     Grants, Community Services,
          60%       8.7%           10.9%
                                                   11.3%             Tourism, & Misc.
                    4.4%            4.1%                             Transportation
          50%                                       3.3%
                   13.3%           13.8%
          40%                                      15.1%
                                                                     Judiciary
          30%
                   25.1%           23.7%
          20%                                      22.7%             Police, Correctional, Fire &
                                                                     Emergency Services
          10%
                   11.9%           12.0%            9.5%             General Government
          0%
                    1996            2000            2005


                Source: Gwinnett County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, 2005


The following chart illustrates the composition of total revenues collected. “Taxes”
and “General Governmental Fees and Charges” increased by a few percentage points
as a percent of the total from 1996 to 2005, but, overall, no significant changes
occurred in the distribution.

                  Gwinnett County Total Revenue Composition, 1996-2005

        100%                                       1.1%
                    3.3%           3.1%            3.9%
                    5.2%           6.9%            2.1%
         90%        4.1%           3.4%            9.6%
                    5.4%           4.5%                           Misc.
         80%                       3.3%            3.0%
                    4.7%                           3.9%
                                   3.3%
                    4.2%
                                                                  Investment Income
         70%

                                                                  Judicial Fees & Charges
         60%

                                                                  General Governmental Fees &
         50%
                                                                  Charges
                                                    76.3%




                                                                  Intergovernmental
                                    75.4%
                     73.1%




         40%

         30%                                                      Permits & Licenses


         20%                                                      Taxes


         10%

          0%
                    1996           2000            2005


                Source: Gwinnett County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, 2005




Competitive Assessment                                                                              55
August 2006
The composition of tax revenue experienced a noteworthy change from 1996 to 2005,
with property taxes declining from 76.7 percent to 56.4 percent as a percent of the
total (note that Gwinnett caps property tax assessments regardless of increases in
value). The most sustainable and relatively reliable tax bases are residential and
commercial property taxes. Compared to sales tax they are less susceptible to
seasonal and economic fluctuations. From 1996 to 2005, total tax revenues
increased by 107.5 percent in Gwinnett County. General property tax revenue
increased by what seems to be a slow 52.6 percent compared to the substantial 451.3
percent growth of sales tax revenue.

                Gwinnett County Total Tax Revenue Composition, 1996-2005

        100%
                     11.3%               8.6%                11.8%
         90%
                     12.0%
         80%
                                         32.9%
                                                             31.8%
         70%

         60%
                                                                               Other
         50%                                                                   Sales Tax

         40%                                                                   General Property
                     76.7%
         30%                             58.5%               56.4%
         20%

         10%

          0%
                         1996            2000                2005


                Source: Gwinnett County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, 2005


Typically, commercial and industrial properties have a much higher value than
residential properties, so they are a reliable property tax revenue source for local
communities. Since 1996, residential property tax revenues as a percent of the total
have increased substantially, as commercial property tax revenue proportions have
declined. Industrial property tax revenues as a percent of the total have increased, but
by a small amount. From 1996 to 2005, total property tax revenues increased by
150.6 percent. Industrial tax revenues increased by a substantial amount (391.9%),
and residential property tax revenues also increased at a fast pace (172.6%). In
comparison, commercial property tax revenues increased by 87.7 percent.




Competitive Assessment                                                                            56
August 2006
           Gwinnett County Total Property Tax Revenue Composition, 1996-2005

        100%                                2.9%                  2.4%
                         3.4%
                         2.9%               4.7%                  5.6%
         90%

         80%             29.3%                                   21.9%
                                           28.5%

         70%

         60%                                                                          Other
                                                                                      Industrial
         50%
                                                                                      Commercial
         40%                                                                          Residential
                                                                 70.1%
                         64.4%             63.9%
         30%

         20%

         10%

          0%
                         1996               2000                  2005


                Source: Gwinnett County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, 2005


Gwinnett should make strategic decisions to sustain a well-balanced tax digest to
fund the delivery of County services. Revenues gained from sales tax are highly
susceptible to fluctuations in the broader economy and can be unpredictable. If sales
tax revenues continue to increase and becomes a bigger portion of total revenues then
the County is at risk for losing some of its historical balance. Currently, the currently
has a troubling trend of an increasing percentage of revenue from residential
properties, even as total property tax revenue as a percentage of all revenues has
decreased. Future efforts should work toward growing all revenue streams for
Gwinnett County, so that it can maintain a diverse tax base and improve its services
to remain a competitive location, regionally and nationally.


REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
In the online survey, of those who had enough knowledge to respond, 26 percent of
respondents rated the ease of the permitting process as poor and 53 percent rated it as
average or below average. Comments regarding the regulatory process expressed
increasing frustrations regarding the process and the nature of existing regulations.
As previously discussed, land use patterns and development projects are high on the
list of community input participant’s concerns regarding the future of Gwinnett, and
this may be impacting the tenor and intensity of regulatory oversight in the County.




Competitive Assessment                                                                              57
August 2006
INCENTIVES
Provision of incentives has become a prominent component of economic
development strategies throughout the U.S. They can come in many different forms,
and are typically presented as a variety of benefits offered by local and state
government to businesses they are hoping to lure to their communities. While some
types of incentives are seen as more effective than others, they have nonetheless
become an integral part of business and industry recruitment, and can also be used
to support small and other existing businesses interested in growing locally.

Gwinnett County has recently begun utilizing incentives in their economic
development efforts. During most of its rapid growth between the 1970s and 90s,
there was no perceived need to offer incentives because jobs were following residents
out of the city and into the suburbs. However, as illustrated in this report and by
                                                10
Gwinnett County government’s own research, tax revenues have become more
reliant on residential properties as commercial properties have begun to make up less
of the overall tax collections. As a response, Gwinnett officials have approved a set of
financial incentives, as recently as January 2006, to help the County become more
competitive for certain projects and prospects. The County’s recently created
economic development department determines the cost/benefit of providing
incentives, while recruitment and marketing is coordinated by the Gwinnett
Chamber of Commerce. It is important to note that incentives are primarily geared
to projects/companies in unincorporated Gwinnett. The County’s component cities
and towns are, for the most part, not eligible to provide incentives under the County’s
new legislation.

Gwinnett’s incentive program is designed as a combination of tax and administrative
relief programs. It is targeted at businesses that bring at least 25 jobs to the County
as well as those businesses that will have a significant economic impact on the local
economy. The incentive program was instrumental in attracting a Hewlett Packard
data center to the County. Gwinnett abated $8 million worth of county, school and
                                                                                  11
city property taxes, and the state provided $25 million in sales tax exemptions. The
County has also ensured that companies who do not live up to their contractual
promises must reimburse the government for any undue incentives. This practice,
often referred to as a clawback, has become more popular and is a smart way for a
local government to protect itself against a failing company.

In the online survey, of those who had enough knowledge of the process to respond,
most respondents rated state/local incentive programs as average (46 percent).




10
     “County ponders economic development projects.” Gwinnett Daily Post. 14 April, 2006.
11
     “Hewlett-Packard lured to Gwinnett.” Gwinnett Daily Post. 18 May 2006.




Competitive Assessment                                                                      58
August 2006
Entrepreneurship and Business Support Services
Gwinnett County’s entrepreneurs and small business owners are primarily served by
the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the
University Center in Lawrenceville (now the campus of Georgia Gwinnett College)
and the small business initiatives of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. The
SBDC, a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), offers one-stop
assistance – including resources, training, and guidance – to entrepreneurs and small
business owners.

The Gwinnett Chamber offers seminars, roundtables, networking opportunities,
import/export counseling, and additional services and opportunities for small
businesses. The Chamber gives an annual “Small Business Person of the Year”
award to highlight entrepreneurial achievements in the community. The Chamber
also has a Small Business Resource Center which serves as a “one-stop shop” for
business tools, resources, and services for anyone starting or expanding a business in
Gwinnett County. The Chamber works in cooperation with the SBDC to ensure that
small business owers are able to access all of the potential information, training, and
counseling services available to them.

Gwinnett County is served by a local chapter of the Service Corps of Retired
Executives (SCORE). SCORE is a non-profit organization and a partner of the SBA
which lends free counseling to local businesses. The Gwinnett County SCORE
chapter assists small business persons in the areas of writing a business plan,
developing a small business advisory board, investigating market potential for a
product or service, assessing business start-up capital needs, and cash-flow
management. SCORE counselors have regular office hours at the Gwinnett
Chamber of Commerce to provide guidance.

Community input suggested participants are generally satisfied with small business
support programs in the County. In January 2006, Gwinnett County was designated
by the Georgia Department of Economic Development as an “Entrepreneur Friendly
             12
Community.” Several items related to support services for small business
development and expansion of existing businesses were included in the online
survey. They were as follows:

       •    Half of the survey respondents rated opportunities to start your own business
            as above average (50 percent rated it excellent or good);
       •    For general support and retention services of area businesses, of those who
            knew, the most rated it as average (45 percent);



12
     Von Wedel, Jill. “State designates Gwinnett County as entrepreneur friendly.” Gwinnett Business
Journal. January 2006.



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August 2006
    •   Support for entrepreneurship, innovation and small businesses was rated by
        37 percent of respondents as average; an additional 37 percent rated it as
        good;
    •   Support for minority and women-owned businesses was rated by the most
        respondents as average 37 percent (this is of respondents who were
        knowledgeable enough to respond); and
    •   Of those who were knowledgeable, the most respondents rated support for
        international trade as good (42%); an additional 10 percent rated it as
        excellent).

While Gwinnett has had success in small business support programs, there are
opportunity areas to grow the County’s work to support prospective and existing
small business owners. For example, feedback from the community input process
suggested that small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses, are
interested in more programs that would provide mentoring from successful
businesses in the same sector. Existing business support for small and large
companies is also an area where respondents said existing efforts can be raised to a
higher level to help sustain job growth and economic stability in Gwinnett County.




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August 2006
QUALITY OF LIFE
Quality of life in a community has increasingly become a deciding factor for business
relocation and expansion decisions as business owners seek a quality environment to
live with their families and high-skill workers have more location choices than ever
before to live and work. Additionally, the indicators studied in this section reflect the
quality of the living environment for lower-income portions of the workforce. When
that quality is not maintained, it can become increasingly difficult for low-skilled
workers to participate in the local economy.

In the online survey, there were general questions that reflected the attractiveness of
the living environment in Gwinnett County and its component cities. They included
the following findings:

    •   While the majority of respondents indicated the likelihood they will continue
        to live in Gwinnett was above average (61%), a high 26 percent of
        respondents rated the likelihood they would retire in Gwinnett as poor.
        Focus group and interview feedback found that some residents do not intend
        to retire in Gwinnett because the congestion of the roads and its affect on the
        pace of life in the area.
    •   Most respondents indicated that the likelihood they will raise children in
        Gwinnett was excellent or good (54%). This is an additional boost of
        confidence in the K-12 educational system in the community, as well as
        residents’ feelings of a safe, quality environment to raise a family.
    •   Most respondents believed the likelihood their children (once grown) will
        want to live in Gwinnett was average, below average, or poor (55 percent).
    •   The majority of respondents believed opportunities for continued
        improvement in Gwinnett’s quality of life were excellent or good (56 percent).

While these findings suggest general satisfaction with the quality of the living
environment, they also suggest some negativity, particularly regarding residents’
desire to remain in the community when they retire, and their adult children’s
willingness to live in Gwinnett. Thus, Gwinnett must proactively address key areas of
concern to maintain the balanced age distribution necessary for a stable workforce.


Cost of Living
A cost of living (COL) index provides information about how expensive it is to live in
an area, because it considers not only home values, but also the cost of groceries,
utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services. The COL
can affect relocation decisions and a household’s standard of living when moving to a
new city. National data sources are helpful for evaluating and comparing the cost of
living relative to the national average, typically represented by the index value of 100.




Competitive Assessment                                                                 61
August 2006
The COL index shows that Metro Atlanta is an affordable place to live when
compared to the city of Marietta (Cobb County), and the Dallas-Ft. Worth and
Washington D.C. metros. Metro Atlanta’s composite index is 97.5, below both Cobb
and Fairfax Counties. Gwinnett’s grocery costs are lower than both Collin’s and
Fairfax’s, and its utility costs are well below any of the other three communities.
Gwinnett’s health care and housing costs are relatively high compared to the
comparison communities, but only barely exceed the national average.

                              Cost of Living Index, 1st Quarter 2006
                              Composite                            Trans-   Health
           Area                         Grocery Housing Utilities                  Misc.
                                Index                             portation Care
     Atlanta (Gwinnett)          97.5     97.8    96.3    86.2      102.0   101.2 99.9
  City of Marietta (Cobb)        98.8     91.8    89.2   101.2      102.3    97.3 107.6
 Dallas-Fort Worth (Collin)      95.8    105.8    78.4   119.1      102.6    99.7  97.0
 Washington, D.C. (Fairfax)     125.5    103.4   168.0   125.3      110.3    99.8 107.1
                  Note: Data represent the metropolitan areas, except for Cobb County,
                               which is represented by the City of Marietta.
                                             Source: ACCRA



Health Care
Quality, affordability and access to health care is important to every person,
regardless of their situation in life, and is an essential component in understanding
an area’s overall qualify of life. The information presented on the following pages
looks at these three factors for Gwinnett and the comparison communities.

Based on the community input feedback, Gwinnett citizens are very concerned about
the “stresses” being put on the health system by the “exploding growth” of the
population, and believe the community needs more health care professionals at every
level of expertise.


HEALTH CARE ACCESSIBILITY
The following table shows that Gwinnett trails the three comparison communities in
the number of hospitals available to the public, the number of hospital beds available
per 1,000 people, and the number of physicians available per 100,000 people. The
most noticeable difference is in the number of physicians per capita in Gwinnett (1.81
per 100,000) compared to Cobb, Collin and Fairfax.

Each of these counties is a part of a larger region, and Gwinnett’s low numbers may
represent that the County is not serving as a health care center within its region as
much as the comparison communities do. Indeed, both Gwinnett and Cobb
residents have access to the full breadth of health care options in Metro Atlanta. But
Cobb also provides a competitive array of local healthcare resources. The number of
hospital beds in Gwinnett is limited by the state of Georgia’s certificate of Need




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August 2006
policy. Many community input process participants emphatically stressed the need
for local efforts to update the County’s Certificate.

                           Hospitals, Hospital Beds, and Physicians, 2002
                       County                    Gwinnett       Cobb       Collin       Fairfax
            Number of Hospitals                     5             4           9            6
            Hospital Beds per 1,000 people        0.77          1.68        1.79          NA
            Physicians per 100,000 people         1.81          6.39        8.16         30.15
                     Sources: GeorgiaFacts.net, Texas Dept. of State Health Services,
                     Virginia Economic Development partnership, U.S. Census Bureau


The Milken Institute Health Pole Index describes the local concentration of health
care in a particular region and the level of importance a metropolitan area's health
care industry concentration has in the context of the nation as a whole. The Atlanta
MSA is ranked number 21, which is a higher ranking than the Dallas MSA received,
but a lower one than the Washington D.C. MSA. Noticeably, in health care, Places
Rated Almanac ranks the Atlanta and Dallas MSA much lower than the Washington
            13                                14
D.C. MSA. The Cities Ranked and Rated health care index ranks Atlanta much
closer to D.C., and well ahead of Dallas. Each of these indices are based on the
county’s MSA, and taken as a whole, they illustrate where each location stands on a
national scale.

                                         Health Care Rankings
                                                                               Washington
                                       Atlanta MSA          Dallas MSA
                                                                                D.C. MSA
             Health Pole Index (out       Rank: 21            Rank: 22           Rank: 6
                    of 317)             Index: 22.69        Index: 22.01       Index: 48.18

             Places Rated Almanac Rank: 152 Index:           Rank: 184           Rank: 7
                  (out of 354)         57.22                Index: 48.15       Index: 98.30

               Cities Ranked and         Rank: 244           Rank: 306           Rank: 223
               Rated (out of 403)        Score: 26            Score: 7           Score: 32
                              Source: Milken Health Pole Index (2003), Places
                         Rated Almanac (2000), and Cities Ranked and Rated (2004)



HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY
Having health care insurance is the best means of keeping household health care
costs to a minimum. Gwinnett County has a higher percentage of its overall
population (15.15%), and its population under 18 (15.5%), living without health



13
   The Places Rated Almanac incorporates physicians, medical specialists, surgeons, hospital beds and
accredited physician-teaching programs into their ranking methodology.
14
   Cities Ranked and Rated incorporates the number of physicians and hospital beds per capita, teaching
hospitals, cost per doctor visit, dental visit, and hospital rooms, and a number of environmental factors
in their ranking methodology.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                 63
August 2006
insurance than Collin and Fairfax. Gwinnett’s overall figure is more in line than the
comparables with the national uninsured average (14.2%).

                         County Uninsured Population Estimates, 2000

                18%
                         15.1%15.5%      15.3%15.7%
                16%
                14%                                           13.3%            12.9%
                                                         12.0%            12.2%
                12%
                10%
                 8%
                 6%
                 4%
                 2%
                 0%
                          Gwinnett     Cobb County      Collin County   Fairfax County
                           County

                                             All Ages   Under 18

              Source: United States Census Bureau, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates




Infant and Child Health and Welfare
High infant mortality rates are associated with poor health of the mother, absence of
medical care during pregnancy, and lack of medical treatment for babies. From 1994
to 2004, Gwinnett’s infant mortality rate fluctuated. In the mid-to-late 1990s it
dipped to 4.7%, but slowly climbed back to 7.4%, higher than it was in 1994.
Gwinnett’s rate has been more stable than Cobb and Collin Counties. Nevertheless,
Gwinnett’s high infant mortality rates are a cause for concern.




Competitive Assessment                                                                     64
August 2006
             Infant Mortality Rates, 1994 to 2004: Gwinnett, Cobb, Collin and Fairfax

    9
    8
    7
    6
    5
    4
    3
    2
    1
    0
           1994    1995     1996     1997    1998     1999     2000       2001    2002     2003   2004

                                  Gwinnett         Cobb          Collin          Fairfax

                                        Note: Rates are per 1,000 births.
           Fairfax data was only available for 2003 and 2004. Collin data was not available for 2004.
        Source: Annie E. Casey, Kids Count, Fairfax County Health and Welfare Program Area Summary



Child Care
Child care services impact qualify of life and the ability of the workforce to maintain
employment for single-parent and dual-income families. Gwinnett has a strong
concentration of child care centers available to local residents. The child care centers
employed 2,994 people in 2005, roughly 600 more than either Cobb or Collin.
Fairfax employed more people, but it also has a much larger population. Gwinnett’s
location quotient (LQ) of 1.70 indicates that the community has a larger share of
these types of child care centers than the national average, or any of the comparison
communities.

                            Child Day Care Center Employment Data, 2005
                                        Empl. '05 LQ '05 % Change '02-'05
                           Gwinnett      2,994     1.70       7.3%
                           Cobb          2,323     1.34       2.9%
                           Collin        2,325     1.69      25.4%
                           Fairfax       3,801     1.20       4.3%
                                       Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                          Illustration uses NAICS 6244 Child Day Care Services sector


It is important to note that this statistic illustrates comparative general trends, and
not a complete picture, as some day care centers may be listed under different
employment sectors than the NAICS sector illustrated. In the online survey, 43
percent rated the availability of child care above average, and 34 percent rated the
quality as such, suggesting a need for more reliable higher quality child care choices



Competitive Assessment                                                                                   65
August 2006
in the community. Increased quality could result throughout this industry segment
by increasing the standards. This can be done by adopting Georgia’s standards for
“Centers of Distinction” or by pursuing the national accreditation standards of the
National Association of Education for the Young Child.


Crime Rates
A sense of security is a key factor in many people’s definition of a favorable quality of
life. Reported instances of violent and property crime can be used to measure
                                                       15
whether a community is able to provide that security.

Between 2000 and 2004, Gwinnett’s violent crime rates increased from 223.1 to
304.5 acts committed per 100,000 people. This represented a 36.5% increase in
overall violent crime, and gives Gwinnett the highest crime rate in 2004 when
compared to the comparison communities. The increase in Gwinnett’s violent crime
rate is also much larger than the one experienced by Cobb (13.2%) or Collin (-14.1%).
Fairfax’s violent crime rate increased by 259.4%, but this number is misleading
because the number of actual acts committed is comparatively low (59.3 per 100,000
people).

                          Violent Crime Rates per 100,000 Persons, 2000-2004

        350

        300

        250

        200

        150

        100

          50

           0
                     2000               2001               2002                2003              2004

                                      Gwinnett          Cobb          Collin          Fairfax

      Note: Gwinnett is sum of County Police Department (P.D.) and Lawrenceville P.D.; Cobb is sum of Cobb
     County P.D., Marietta P.D., and Smyrna P.D.; Collin is sum of Collin County Sherriff Department, Plano P.D.,
        Frisco P.D., Allen P.D., and McKinney P.D.; and Fairfax is solely Fairfax County Police Department.
                                      Source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics




15
 Violent crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated
assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft.




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August 2006
In 2004, Gwinnett also had the highest property crime rate per 100,000 people
when compared to the benchmark communities (3212.1 acts committed). Its rate of
property crime increased 12.6% between 2000 and 2004, while Cobb’s decreased
11.4%, Collin’s increased 8.9%, and Fairfax’s increased 43.3%.

                         Property Crime Rates per 100,000 Persons, 2000-2004

        4,000

        3,500

        3,000

        2,500

        2,000
        1,500

        1,000

          500

             0
                       2000               2001              2002                2003             2004

                                       Gwinnett          Cobb          Collin          Fairfax

      Note: Gwinnett is sum of County Police Department (P.D.) and Lawrenceville P.D.; Cobb is sum of Cobb
     County P.D., Marietta P.D., and Smyrna P.D.; Collin is sum of Collin County Sherriff Department, Plano P.D.,
        Frisco P.D., Allen P.D., and McKinney P.D.; and Fairfax is solely Fairfax County Police Department.
                                      Source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics


Feedback from the community input process showed a high level of concern about a
decreasing sense of safety in Gwinnett, particularly in “pockets in the southern parts
of the County.” An increase in gang activity, which is difficult to measure, was cited
as a specific concern among survey respondents, focus group and interview
participants. Certainly, even the perceived decline in Gwinnett’s public safety has the
potential to damage its reputation as a family-friendly alternative to more urban
regional communities.


PUBLIC S AFETY OFFICIALS
In 2004, Gwinnett had 535 sworn law enforcement officers, or 0.74 per 1,000
persons. This figure is substantially higher than Collin County, but lower than Cobb
                   16
and Fairfax County. In 2006, Gwinnett had 0.92 firefighters per 1,000 persons,
consistent with Cobb County, but much lower than Fairfax County.




16
 Data for county sheriff’s offices only, thus does not include the additional sworn officers at the
municipal police departments in each of the counties.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                         67
August 2006
                         Police Officers, 2004 and Firefighters, 2006
                                                 Total law
                                                                       Total
                                               enforcement
                              County                             Firefighters/Per
                                            officers/Per 1,000
                                                                 1,000 Persons
                                                 Persons
                     Gwinnett                    535/0.74           670/0.92
                     Cobb                        540/0.81           611/0.92
                     Collin                      119/0.18              NA
                     Fairfax                  1,325/1.32          1,629/1.62
               Sources: FBI Uniform Crime Reports, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Gwinnett
                County Government, Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services, Fairfax
                 County Government, U.S. Census Bureau 2005 population estimates


In the online survey, 69 percent of respondents believed the quality of government
services – which included police and fire in addition to parks and similar amenities
and services – was excellent or good. This was supported widely by focus group and
interview participants who feel that the police forces in the County and cities are
doing as much as possible to handle increasing crime. Significant support was given
for providing police with additional resources in the future.


Arts, Cultural, and Recreational Amenities
A variety of arts, culture, and recreational amenities can attract tourists, prospective
residents, and businesses to an area. National rankings of metropolitan areas are the
primary means for comparing Gwinnett’s art, cultural and recreational amenities to
the comparison communities.

The Atlanta MSA has received mixed rankings in regards to its arts, cultural and
                                                                          th
recreational amenities. Places Rated Almanac ranks the Atlanta MSA 20 (out of
                                                    th
354) in terms of arts and cultural amenities, and 85 in terms of recreational and
                                                                      th
leisure offerings. Cities Ranked and Rated ranks the Atlanta MSA 28 (out of 403) in
                                             th
terms of arts and cultural amenities, and 28 in terms of recreational and leisure
offerings. The footnotes describe what each report takes into account and
demonstrates why sources may differ in their rankings.




Competitive Assessment                                                                      68
August 2006
                                      Arts and Cultural Rankings
                          Places Rated Almanac (2000)                   Cities Ranked and Rated (2004)
                       Score (out of 100) Rank (out of 354)           Score (out of 100) Rank (out of 403)
      Atlanta MSA             94.6               20                          91                 28
       Dallas MSA             93.2               25                          93                 23
     Washington MSA           99.7                2                          99                  2
                                                     17                                 18
                      Source: Places Rated Almanac        and Cities Ranked and Rated


                                   Recreation and Leisure Rankings
                          Places Rated Almanac (2000)                   Cities Ranked and Rated (2004)
                       Score (out of 100) Rank (out of 354)           Score (out of 100) Rank (out of 403)
      Atlanta MSA             76.2               85                          91.0               28
       Dallas MSA             89.0               40                          89.0               35
     Washington MSA           88.7               41                          97.0                8
                                                     17                             18
                      Source: Places Rated Almanac and Cities Ranked and Rated


The community input process highlighted many of the arts, cultural, and recreational
amenities currently in Gwinnett and its cities, and the need to raise awareness
internally and externally regarding what was available. The growing number and
high quality of the County’s parks was repeatedly listed as one of the primary
strengths of the community. Using SPLOST and other funding, Gwinnett has been
committed to expanding and improving its parks resources. As of 2004, the County
                                                            19
had 7,791 in total park acreage, with 28 operational parks.

Additional local entertainment opportunities in Gwinnett and its cities represent a
wide range of interests, including the following: Aurora Theatre, BellSouth Classic,
Gwinnett Center and the Arena at the Gwinnett Center, Gwinnett Gladiators, Red
Clay Theater, Southeast Railway Museum, and Yellow River Game Ranch. The
Arena’s impact, according to a respondent, has “been huge” and was consistently
noted as a major advantage for the County.

Shopping has long been a visitor draw in Gwinnett, with the biggest attractions being
Discover Mills, Gwinnett Place Mall, and Mall of Georgia. The ongoing revitalization
of historic downtowns and new development in cities such as Berkeley Lake, Dacula,
Duluth, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Snellville, and Suwanee, and the growing number
of festivals and family events such as “Barefoot in the Park,” have proven to be very

17
   Places Rated Almanac Recreational and Leisure ranking is based on amusement parks, aquariums,
auto racing, college sports, gambling, golf courses, good restaurants, movie theaters, professional sports,
protected recreation areas, skiing, water areas and zoos.
18
   Cities Ranked & Rated Recreational and Leisure ranking is based on number of outlet malls, number
of Starbucks, number of warehouse clubs, square miles of inland water, miles of coastline, and ratings
of restaurants, professional sports, college sports, zoo/aquarium, amusement park, botanical
garden/arboretum, golf courses, ski areas, and National Parks.
19
   Gwinnett County 2004 Parks and Recreational Annual Report. Accessed 18 August 2006.
<http://www.co.gwinnett.ga.us/cgi-bin/gwincty/egov/ep/gcbrowse.do?channelId=-
536881904&pageTypeId=536880236&Failed_Reason=Session+not+found&com.broadvision.session.ne
w=Yes>.




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August 2006
successful. Community input participants repeatedly cited the positive change over
the last 20 years in terms of amenities and are excited about the growing number of
“destinations” within the County.

Future amenities are also in the works, including the recently opened Medieval
Times (a dinner theater experience including medieval joust exhibitions).
Community feedback shows growing support for the arts and an interest in building
a “more cohesive” art community in terms of leadership and communication.

Community input feedback also revealed strong support for additional youth
activities and adequate transportation to ensure a high participation rate for these
activities. Additionally, participants expressed a desire for more arts and cultural
events and amenities that reflect the wide cultural diversity in the County, as well as
efforts to increase attendance from a wider variety of race and ethnic groups at
existing and future arts, cultural, and recreational events and venues.

In the online survey, respondents rated several items related to arts, culture,
recreation, and general tourism-related concerns. The following are two of the key
findings:

    •   The availability of quality hotel rooms was rated by 31 percent of respondents
        as good, and another 29 percent rate it as average. The need for a “full-
        service, high end hotel” was often mentioned during focus groups and
        interviews.
    •   The proximity to restaurants, office supply stores, banks, and printers was
        also rated as good (42 percent) or excellent (21 percent). Feedback from focus
        groups and interviews suggests that the community would like to have more
        “non-chain” restaurants in the community.


Environment
Environmental health is an important consideration for any business because it
affects their personal health, their families, and their employees. There are long-term
health consequences that can induce regulations on businesses in areas with poor air
and water quality. The table below summarizes activities recorded by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that could have an effect on air, water and
soil quality.

Gwinnett County performs better in some categories than in others. It has 13
potential hazardous waste sites that are part of a superfund site, which is far fewer
than its regional comparison county Cobb. Gwinnett does have a large number of
facilities that have reported toxic releases (68) when compared to the comparison
communities, but in all other categories it falls in the middle.




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August 2006
                                    Environmental Indicators, 2006
                                      Gwinnett            Cobb                 Collin   Fairfax
Facilities that produce and
                                         228               182                  49       524
release air pollutants
Facilities that have reported
                                          68                54                  42        25
toxic releases
Facilities that have reported
                                         970               929                  370      1346
hazardous waste activities
Potential hazardous waste
                                          13                24                   6        5
sites that are part of Superfund
Facilities issued permits to
                                          41                33                  61        39
discharge to U.S. waters
                                Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency



Civic Engagement
During the 2004 presidential election, 49.0 percent of eligible voters in Gwinnett
County turned out to cast a ballot, which was a relatively low number when compared
to the three other comparison communities. The percentage of actual registered
voters in Gwinnett who cast a ballot during the 2004 presidential election was much
higher at 81.67 percent. Gwinnett’s low percentage reflects potential low levels of
engagement in the community’s civic future, as well as potential low levels of eligible
and registered voters.

                            Percentage of Voting Age Population That
                             Voted in the 2004 Presidential Election
                                      County          Percentage
                                      Gwinnett          49.0%
                                      Cobb              59.0%
                                      Collin            66.4%
                                      Fairfax           62.1%
                      Sources: Georgia Secretary of State, Texas Secretary of State,
                      Virginia Secretary of Commonwealth, and U.S. Census Bureau


Most non-profit organizations service local residents, and the number of registered
non-profit organizations is an indication of the level of social services available to
residents within a given area. Community input participants noted that Gwinnett
County has a high number of organizations serving a wide range of interests.

Based on National Center for Charitable Statistics data, Gwinnett has a slightly
smaller number of non-profits than the comparison communities, but the number
has increased 101 percent since 2002. In addition, findings from a recent report,
“The Economic Impact of Gwinnett County’s Nonprofit Sector,” demonstrate that
non-profits generate over $411 million in revenue each year, indirectly creating three




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jobs in other industries for every one job in the non-profit sector. This translates into
                                                               20
over 11,000 jobs annually and a payroll of over $290 million.

                              Registered Nonprofit Organizations, May 2006
                                                               Per 1,000 % Change
                                 County             Number
                                                               Persons from 2002
                                 Gwinnett            1,706        2.3      101%
                                   Cobb              2071         3.1      52%
                                  Collin             1,863        2.8      72%
                                  Fairfax            5,014        5.0       28%
                     Sources: National Center for Charitable Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau


Another measure of civic participation is charitable giving. Itemized contributions
per 100 people were lower in Gwinnett than in the comparison communities in
1997, the most recent data available. However, contributions as a percent of the total
adjusted gross income of itemized returns was higher in Gwinnett than in Cobb,
Collin or Fairfax, as was the number of itemized contributions as a percent of all
returns.

                     Charitable Giving and Adjusted Gross Income by County, 1997
                                                                   # of Itemized         Itemized
                         Itemized     Contributions as
                                                                   Contributions       Contributions
          County       Contributions % of Total AGI of
                                                                    as % of All           Per 100
                      Reported (000s) Itemized Returns
                                                                      Returns            Persons
          Gwinnett        $171,277                 3.2%                46.8%              $33.19
            Cobb          $248,372                 2.9%                40.3%              $44.70
           Collin         $194,164                 2.6%                37.7%              $47.55
           Fairfax        $607,125                 2.5%                45.3%              $65.69
                                       Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
     Sources: National Center for Charitable Organizations and 1997 U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimate


Gwinnett County’s increasing diversity was noted repeatedly during the community
input process. The community’s diversity is one of its most defining attributes, and
many community input participants said Gwinnett needs to embrace this reality.
One means of embracement, noted by participants, was to more effectively integrate
the numerous race and ethnic groups into the civic and economic structure of the
community, and encourage more dialogue among the various groups.




20
 Source: Tanner, Dr. Thomas C., et. al.,“The Economic Impact of Gwinnett County’s Nonprofit Sector,”
Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 2006.




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August 2006
Rankings
This section of the Competitive Assessment summarizes metro area rankings from a
number of different sources followed by businesses and site selection professionals.
While methodologies of these rankings systems vary, they give an indication of where
the Metro Atlanta area stands relative to the comparison metro areas that we have
referenced throughout this report.

The first is Richard Florida’s Creativity Index Rankings, which ranks metro areas
using a methodology he developed to measure the creative capacity of a community
based on the composition of the workforce, patents issued per capita, high-tech
                                                              th
industries, and diversity. The Atlanta Metro area is ranked 14 in the country, while
the Dallas Metro and Washington D.C. Metro are slightly ahead at 10 and 8,
respectfully.

                         Richard Florida's Creativity Index Ranking
        Top Five Metro Areas, Atlanta Metro, Dallas Metro and Washington D.C. Metro
                                 Overall Creative High Tech Innovation
                Metrpolitan Areas
                                  Rank Class Rank   Rank       Rank
                  San Francisco    1        12        1         5
                     Austin         2        7       13         6
                     Boston        3         6        2         12
                   San Diego        3       30       14         13
                     Seattle       5        20        3         34
                     Atlanta       14       32        7         87
                     Dallas        10       55        6         40
                 Washington D.C.    8        4        5         85
                     Source: www.creativeclass.org. Accessed on 9 August 2006.
                            Note: Rankings are based on 267 metro areas


The following chart illustrates other rankings of note, more generally applicable to
the business climate than the creativity index. The Atlanta Metro area generally
ranked very well in each category, with the one exception being the Milken Institute’s
Best Performing Cities. In Forbes Best Places for Business, the Atlanta Metro area
ranked higher than both the Dallas Metro and Washington D.C. Metro regions.




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                               Business Climate Rankings, 2005/2006
                                                                        Atlanta    Dallas    Washington
          Measure                            Top Cities
                                                                        Metro      Metro     D.C. Metro
                                  1. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
                                  2. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
    Milken Best Performing
                                  3. Naples-Marco Island, FL               118        125           7
   Cities (ranking out of 200)
                                  4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
                                  5. Deltona-Daytona Beach, FL
                                  1. Albuquerque, NM
    Forbes Best Places for        2. Raleigh, NC
   Business (ranking out of       3. Houston, TX                            15         25          17
               200)               4. Boise, ID
                                  5. Knoxville, TN
                                  1. Riverside-San Bernadino, CA
  Inc. Magazine's Top Large       2. Las Vegas, NV
   Cities for Doing Business      3. Jacksonville, FL                       33         49          11
       (ranking out of 65)        4. Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA
                                  5. Northern Virginia, VA
                                  1. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
    Entrepreneur Magazine
                                  2. Charlotte, NC
      Best Large Cities for
                                  3. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC          7         22           6
  Entrepreneurs (ranking out
                                  4. Las Vegas, NV
              of 50)
                                  5. Indianapolis, IN
  Source: Milken Institute (2005), Forbes.com (2006), Inc. Magazine's (2005), Entrepreneur Magazine (2005)




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August 2006
CONCLUSION
This Competitive Assessment served to identify the key opportunities and challenges
of Gwinnett County’s competitiveness for future economic growth. Based on the
principle that economic growth is best achieved via strength in the four key
components of a business climate – education and workforce development,
infrastructure, business costs, and quality of life – this document cataloged key
quantitative and qualitative findings of Market Street’s research.

The Gwinnett County community had positive feelings about local K-12 and higher
educational resources, basic infrastructure, business costs, and quality of life
amenities in the area. Quantitative data and community input participant feedback
suggested that the K-12 system is strong, but there may be growing concerns about
school size and capacity to absorb additional students, as well as the need to integrate
growing numbers of English as a Second Language and special needs students into
Gwinnett schools. The higher educational system – namely Gwinnett Technical
College and Georgia Gwinnett College – were highly rated (and anticipated), but
there were some general concerns about the quality of the workforce and the
matching of workforce skills with local existing and future job opportunities.

Regarding infrastructure, many residents are concerned about the congestion on
Gwinnett’s roads. Overall, however, the County is actively attempting to address road
needs via SPLOST monies and other available funding mechanisms. Improving
internal public transit and creating regional commuter rail connectivity (i.e., the
Brain Train) were also cited as potential focus areas for resolving some of the
community’s mobility concerns.

Revitalization, mixed-use, and high-density projects were regularly noted as key
future components of development in Gwinnett County, although some members of
the community have concerns about these developments’ potential impacts on
already strained local infrastructure. The County’s approach to development
opportunities will also impact the tax digest, which has become more reliant on sales
taxes and residential property tax revenue in the past ten years.

Above all, Gwinnett residents and employers expressed a deep regard and affection
for their community and are passionate about ensuring that the County’s assets are
preserved for generations to come. The Partnership Gwinnett strategy, developed
through the findings of the Economic and Demographic Profile, this Competitive
Assessment, as well as the forthcoming Target Business Analysis report, will provide a
blueprint to maintain these assets and build upon them for the County’s successful
and sustainable future.




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August 2006
APPENDIX: COMMUNITY INPUT SURVEY RESULTS
This on-line survey is a key component of assessing the community’s perceptions of
Gwinnett County’s competitiveness relating to jobs; health and environment;
business and industry; education and training; quality of life; and transportation and
infrastructure. Responses are presented in graphs, maps, and charts.

Since July 17, 2006, the online survey has been open to the public for respondents to
provide their assessment of the area’s business climate. A total of 1,609 people
participated in the survey as of August 15, 2006. In addition, a print version of this
survey was run August 13, 2006 in the Gwinnett Daily Post to garner wider survey
participation. When these print surveys are received, Market Street will provide a
Survey Update to the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce. This Update will
include any changes to the online survey results, responses from the print survey, a
tally of one-line open-ended responses, and additional representative samples of
comments from the survey’s open-ended questions.

Every effort was put forth by the Gwinnett Chamber and its partners to ensure that
the public input for this process was reflective of Gwinnett’s population diversity.
While focus groups and interviews were well integrated, the online survey
respondents were overwhelmingly Caucasian. Not accounting for minority
respondents that chose not to note their race/ethnicity, this lower minority response
to the survey is reflective of a key challenge for Gwinnett County officials and
organizations. The need to effectively leverage Gwinnett’s diversity and partner with
minority and international-community leadership on County-wide programs and
efforts is an important strategic charge to emerge from the Partnership Gwinnett
research to date.

The opinions expressed in this survey help develop a stronger, more comprehensive
understanding of the community and economy that numbers alone cannot provide.
Whatever a person believes is a reality to that person. It is important to accept every
opinion as valid.

Key Points

    •   The average survey respondent was a white, employed individual between the
        ages of 40 and 59 years old who lives and works in Gwinnett County.

    •   Respondents who work for the government or in education accounted for half
        of all survey participants.

    •   Transportation and educational quality are the top concerns of survey
        respondents and are viewed as the County’s biggest challenges for the future.



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August 2006
    •   Survey participants view Gwinnett as a great place to raise a family. However,
        the largest proportion of respondents feel there is a below average or poor
        chance they will retire in Gwinnett. They are also pessimistic about the
        likelihood of their children remaining in Gwinnett once they are grown.

    •   Respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the availability of public
        transportation in Gwinnett County.

    •   Finally, respondents are optimistic about the County’s economic health and
        employment opportunities. Many noted that job opportunities in healthcare,
        skilled trade, and/or high tech fields in Gwinnett County are good or
        excellent.


Respondent Information

    1. What is the zip code of your primary residence?

                         Number of Survey Respondents by Zip Code




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August 2006
2. What is your age?
                                                        Response       Response
                                                         Percent         Total
    Less than 20 years of age                              0.1%            2
           20-29 years of age                             10.4%           168
           30-39 years of age                             22.1%           355
           40-49 years of age                             29.3%           472
         50-59 years of age                              30.8%            496
           60-69 years of age                              6.3%           101
         Over 70 years of age                              0.9%            15
                                                Total Respondents           1609
                                            (skipped this question)          0




3. What is your race or ethnicity?
                                                 Response        Response
                                                  Percent          Total
                    Caucasian                     87.4%            1406
              African-American                      5.3%               85
             Hispanic or Latino                     1.7%               28
                Asian-American                      1.2%               20
               Native American                      0.2%               4
            Two or more races                       0.8%               13
       I choose not to answer                       2.2%               36
        Other (please specify)                      1.1%               17
                                         Total Respondents            1609
                                     (skipped this question)           0


4. What is your employment status?
                                                 Response        Response
                                                  Percent          Total
                  Employed                         95.8%              1542
     Unemployed, looking for
                        work                        0.4%               6
  Unemployed, not looking for
                        work                        0.9%               15
                         Student                    0.1%               2
                         Retired                    2.7%               44
                                         Total Respondents            1609
                                     (skipped this question)           0




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Company Information

    1. What is the ownership structure of your company or organization?
                                                                            Response    Response
                                                                             Percent      Total
              Sole ownership                                                  5.4%         82
                  Partnership                                                 3.9%         59
                  Corporation                                                25.3%         387
                 Government                                                  20.4%         312
                   Non-profit                                                 5.9%         91
         College or university                                                3.6%         55
   Primary or secondary
              education                                                      33.9%        519
              Don't know                                                      0.5%          7
     Other (please specify)                                                   1.2%         18
                                                                   Total Respondents      1530
                                                              (skipped this question)      79




    2. What is your role in your company or organization?
                                                                            Response    Response
                                                                             Percent      Total
                       Owner                                                  8.8%         135
 President/CEO/VP/Director                                                   10.4%         159
Manager/Department Head                                                      15.0%         229
 Resources/Personnel Dept.                                                    1.5%         23
                        Staff                                                57.4%        878
     Other (please specify)                                                   9.3%         143
                                                       Total Respondents                  1530
                                                 (skipped this question)                   79




    3.      Please rate the following statements according to the degree to which
           you agree.

                                  Most agree   Agree     Neither agree     Disagree       Most
                                                         nor disagree                   disagree
       My business will grow in
                       Gwinnett     48%        39%           10%             2%           1%
     My business will remain in
           Gwinnett long-term       51%        36%           10%             2%           1%
      My business receives the
      support it needs to grow       21%       41%           26%             10%          2%
      I have no trouble finding
     quality employees for my
                       business      9%        41%           25%             21%          4%
                                                                Total Respondents         480
                                                           (skipped this question)       1129




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August 2006
    4.   How long have you worked at your current place of employment?

                                                                Response    Response
                                                                 Percent      Total
      Less than one year                                          10.1%       150
              1 - 3 years                                         22.1%       326
              4 - 5 years                                         15.2%       224
            6 - 10 years                                         23.2%        343
           11 - 15 years                                          11.7%       173
           16 - 20 years                                          8.9%        131
           21 - 25 years                                          4.4%         65
           Over 25 years                                          4.3%         63
     Doesn't apply to me                                          0.2%         3
                                                       Total Respondents     1478
                                                  (skipped this question)     132



    5. What is the zip code of your company or organization’s primary location?

                         Location of Respondents’ Companies by Zip Code




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    6. How would you characterize your company or organization’s type of
       business?
                                                                Response      Response
                                                                 Percent        Total
      Accomodation and food services                              1.0%           15
     Administrative services and waste
                               services                            0.1%          2
    Arts, entertainment, and recreation                            0.8%          12
                           Construction                            1.4%          20
                  Education services                              55.1%         814
                   Health care services                            2.8%          41
                 Finance and insurance                             3.9%          57
                           Government                              4.1%          60
                            Information                            2.0%          30
                         Manufacturing                             4.5%          67
                             Non-Profit                            3.2%          48
     Professional and technical services                          10.1%         150
                            Real estate                            2.4%          35
                            Retail trade                           0.9%          14
       Transportation and warehousing                              0.6%          9
                       Wholesale trade                             0.3%          4
                 Other (please specify)                            6.8%         100
                                                        Total Respondents      1478
                                                    (skipped this question)     132




    7. How many employees work at your place of business?
                                                           Response        Response
                                                            Percent          Total
   Fewer than 10                                             14.3%            212
             11-49                                           11.4%            169
           50-199                                            34.1%            504
          200-499                                            20.6%            304
        500-1000                                              4.6%             68
       Over 1000                                             12.5%            185
       Don't know                                             2.4%             36
                                                 Total Respondents            1478
                                             (skipped this question)          132




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August 2006
    8. How many employees work for your company or organization at all of its
       locations?
                                                              Response          Response
                                                               Percent            Total
     Only have 1
         location                                               14.8%             219
  Fewer than 10                                                  2.5%              37
            10-49                                                5.0%              74
          50-199                                                 7.6%             112
         200-499                                                 5.8%              85
       500-1000                                                  2.6%              38
     Over 1000                                                  52.0%             769
     Don't know                                                  9.7%             144
                                                   Total Respondents             1478
                                               (skipped this question)            132




    9. How many years has your company or organization been in business?

                                                               Response         Response
                                                                Percent           Total
    Less than 5                                                   8.4%            124
            5-14                                                  7.4%            110
          15-29                                                  14.7%            217
          30-49                                                   8.0%            118
   50 or more                                                    46.1%            682
    Don't know                                                   15.4%            227
                                                     Total Respondents            1478
                                                 (skipped this question)          132




    10. What is the primary market/service area of your company or
        organization (please check all that apply)?
                                                                    Response     Response
                                                                     Percent       Total
                Gwinnett                                             74.8%         1104
              Metro Atlanta                                          20.3%         300
 Multi-county region (other
              than Atlanta)                                          10.5%         155
                   Georgia                                           10.6%         157
   Southeast United States                                            9.0%         133
        East United States                                            3.5%          51
     Midwest United States                                            2.9%          43
  Southwest United States                                             2.7%          40
   Northwest United States                                            2.2%          32
             United States                                            6.6%          97
            North America                                             4.0%          59
                    Global                                           13.6%         200
               Don't know                                             0.2%          3
     Other (please specify)                                           0.6%          9
                                                          Total Respondents        1476
                                                      (skipped this question)      133




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August 2006
Economic and Community Climate

    1. Economic and Community Climate in Gwinnett
                                                                                                  Below              Don't
                                                                    Excellent   Good   Average   average    Poor     know
                             Overall strength of the economy          13%       59%     22%        3%        1%       2%
        Opportunities to earn good wages to meet daily needs          13%       54%     23%        5%        2%       3%
                               Availability of quality local jobs     10%       46%     28%        7%        2%       7%
                     Opportunities to start your own business         15%       35%     21%        4%        2%      23%
                     Job opportunities in manufacturing fields         2%       15%     23%       12%        5%      43%
                Job opportunities in non-manufacturing fields          6%       37%     25%        4%        0%      27%
                          Job opportunities in high tech fields       10%       38%     20%        7%        2%      24%
                           Job opportunities in a skilled trade       10%       38%     23%        3%        1%      25%
                        Job opportunities in health care fields       20%       42%     16%        2%        0%      20%
                Opportunities to work close to where you live         14%       37%     27%       13%        4%       4%
               Likelihood you will continue to live in Gwinnett       30%       31%     14%        7%       11%       7%
                         Likelihood you will retire in Gwinnett       16%       17%     15%       14%       26%      12%
                Likelihood you will raise children in Gwinnett        31%       23%     11%        5%       17%      13%
    Likelihood your children (once grown) will want to live in
                                                      Gwinnett         8%       16%     22%       11%       22%      21%
      Opportunities for continued improvement in Gwinnett's
                                                 quality of life      17%       39%     24%        9%        6%       5%
                                                                                                 Total Respondents   1466
                                                                                           (skipped this question)   144



Representative sample of open-ended comments:

    •      I think the CIDs are a great thing, and enabling the development of high rises
           is another opportunity that could bode well.
    •      I am very concerned about the pool of strong leaders that are willing to serve
           in public office to guide the future growth of this County.
    •      The County leadership must recognize that the imbalance in our tax base will
           be detrimental to our long-term viability.
    •      I have major environmental concerns in regards to the continued building –
           primarily air quality, water, rivers, streams, traffic, and large schools.
    •      Gwinnett seems to be growing well in the northwest part of the County, but
           the southeast side is lagging behind.
    •      The tremendous growth, ten years ago, was good but it’s now gotten out of
           control.
    •      The quality of life in Gwinnett will only improve if both community and
           business leaders truly embrace the diversity of this County, not only in words
           but in tangible business opportunities and financial incentives that extend to
           all different economic classes. New ideas for growth and development have to
           come from different strata of the society.
    •      We love the parks and recreation facilities that Gwinnett offers to its
           residents.
    •      I don’t feel the infrastructure in Gwinnett can handle the growth as it is now.
           Traffic, schools, green space and the quality of life have all been negatively
           impacted in just the 10 years I’ve lived here.
    •      The schools are overcrowded…putting students in trailers is disgraceful.
    •      Be proactive!



Competitive Assessment                                                                                                     83
August 2006
    •   Gwinnett always seems to be in a state of upheaval.
    •   The Broken Windows program and Lawrenceville’s Quality of Life taskforce
        are critical in supporting what will become the future “in town
        neighborhoods” in Gwinnett.
    •   Teacher and police need higher salaries.
    •   We must strive to allow the “community” to grow. The examples set in
        Suwannee and Duluth are extremely good.




Competitive Assessment                                                         84
August 2006
Education and Workforce Climate

     1. Education and Workforce Skills in Gwinnett
                                                             Excellent   Good    Average    Below        Poor       Don't
                                                                                           average                  know
                                Quality of the workforce       12%       51%       27%        4%         1%          5%
                            Availability of the workforce      9%        48%       31%        3%         1%          8%
           Quality of elementary and secondary schools         33%       40%       16%        6%         2%          3%
                         Availability of private education     15%       37%       23%        7%         2%          15%
                  Quality of Gwinnett Technical College        21%       36%       12%        1%         1%          29%
  Availability/accessibility of a public four-year degree
                                                education      19%       39%       20%       10%         3%          8%

 Availability of Master's and doctoral degree programs         11%       30%       22%       14%         7%          16%
            Quality of job training/continuing education       15%       40%       25%        4%         1%          16%
         Availability of job training/continuing education     16%       40%       24%        5%         1%          14%
                                                                                           Total Respondents        1381
                                                                                       (skipped this question)       228




     2. In the spring of 2005, the Georgia Legislature and the Board of Regents
        approved the creation of the first new state college in Georgia since
        1970. Located on the former Gwinnett University Center campus in
        Lawrenceville, Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) will begin offering
        junior-level courses in the fall semester of 2006, and is expected to be
        fully operational by the 2008-2009 academic year. The following list
        represents potential areas of focus for GGC. Please rate the areas of
        focus according to their importance to Gwinnett as a whole.

                                                     Very         Somewh        Neutral       Somewhat              Not
                                                   important        at                       unimportant         important
         Research and development activities          52%            33%         13%               2%               1%
              Arts and culture programs and
                               performances            37%           39%         18%               4%               2%
                 Engineering degree programs          51%            34%         13%               1%               1%
          Computer Science degree programs            59%            30%          9%               1%               1%
                  Healthcare degree programs          69%            25%          5%               0%               1%
               Education degree programs              72%            21%          6%               1%               1%
    Business-specific and executive training
                                  programs            52%            35%         11%               1%               1%
                            On-site dormitories        18%           35%         34%               8%               6%
                      Prominent athletic teams         9%            22%         31%               15%             22%
                                                                                       Total Respondents           1381
                                                                                  (skipped this question)          228


Representative sample of open-ended comments:

     •      The increased diversity of our community creates a demand to identify
            programs that enable an integration of the new cultures into our already
            successful economic growth model. Promote multicultural understanding in
            order to permit each person to add to the success of the community in which
            they live.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                                     85
August 2006
     •     Buses, buses, buses…we need more routes, more scheduled runs, and
           parking lots at the county edges.
     •     We need to start balancing the workforce with higher paid/higher skilled
           jobs.
     •     Gwinnett is near major excellent universities. I don’t believe we need to
           duplicate those offerings, but rather offer more options.
     •     Provide job-related training opportunities and language training so the
           immigrant population is able to assimilate faster.
     •     The future workforce isn’t being taught how to think and analyze, adapt and
           innovate, but rather are being trained to pass standardized tests. You have
           great teaching talent here… permit them to use their talents for the
           betterment of our children.


Infrastructure

     1. Infrastructure in Gwinnett

                                                                   Excellent   Good   Average  Below      Poor     Don't
                                                                                              average              know
                Physical condition of highways and roads             11%       48%     32%       7%        2%        0%
Accessibility and adequacy of highway and road network               7%        32%     34%      17%       11%        0%
                                  Availability of public transit      2%       13%     24%      29%       26%        5%
                          Availability of commuter railways           1%        4%      9%      23%       54%        9%
 Accessibility to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport            2%       18%     38%      21%       19%        1%
                      Availability of local airport operations       3%        20%     32%      13%       13%       19%
      Availability of land-line and cellular phone services          25%       43%     25%       4%        1%        2%
                 Availability of Internet and cable services         27%       43%     21%       5%        2%        2%
Capacity of water/sewer infrastructure to support growth             8%        29%     24%      13%        7%       18%
                                Availability of energy supply        10%       34%     32%       5%        2%       17%
 Quality of government services (police, fire, parks, etc.)          21%       48%     23%       4%        2%        2%
   Quality of land use planning/patterns of development              4%        22%     23%      17%       28%        6%
  Accessibility to sidewalks, greenways and hiking trails            8%        24%     25%      21%       20%        2%
                                                                                             Total Respondents     1353
                                                                                         (skipped this question)    257


Representative sample of open-ended comments:

     •     There is a significant lack of sidewalks and bike lanes throughout the County.
     •     I use and am aware of the Gwinnett bus system, but while it’s clean and
           efficient, it is not rapid enough for those of us who need fast access to
           Hartsfield or midtown.
     •     I am normally a pro-development person, but the County leadership is not
           doing enough to control the negatives of growth.
     •     The Gwinnett County Parks Department has really done an excellent job in
           the development of the County parks and recreation opportunities.
     •     Let our schools catch up to the growth and slow down on all the
           neighborhoods so that the schools have a chance!
     •     Sidewalks are being used everywhere that they available. Do a better job of
           putting them along major thoroughfares and install crosswalks.



Competitive Assessment                                                                                                 86
August 2006
    •     Land development is outpacing our infrastructure. Traffic, education, and
          especially our quality of life are suffering because of our continued prosperity
          here in the County.
    •     Gwinnett County is a “land of opportunity” for developers! I feel that I have
          very little input into the whole process. I know I can vote but that’s often too
          little too late.
    •     We are at the mature end of the growth curve and need to start ramping
          things down with a “sustaining” mentality.
    •     We need to revitalize existing abandoned development.
    •     Fund the police department to do an adequate job.
    •     There are no sidewalks nor streetlights in the older neighborhoods and that is
          where they are needed with the amount of crime in the area.
    •     We need more parks and public cultural activities for our youth.
    •     We make land use plans and then do not follow them.


Business Costs Climate

    1. Business Costs in Gwinnett
                                                           Excellent   Good   Average    Below     Poor     Don't
                                                                                        average             know
                                           Labor costs        1%       21%     42%        4%        1%      30%
        Telecommunications costs (internet, telephone)        1%       23%     50%        9%        4%      13%
                                    Water/sewer costs         2%       23%     50%        8%        4%      14%
                                          Energy costs        1%       20%     49%       11%        6%      13%
                          Benefits and insurance costs        1%       17%     46%       14%        6%      15%
                    Quality of commercial office space        6%       29%     25%        3%        1%      36%
               Affordability of commercial office space       2%       18%     24%        4%        2%      49%
             Availability of industrial/warehouse space       6%       24%     19%        2%        1%      48%
            Affordability of industrial/warehouse space       3%       17%     20%        3%        1%      56%
                   Availability of land for development       3%       22%     28%       11%        8%      28%
                                   Affordability of land      1%       12%     25%       17%       16%      29%
                            Ease of permitting process        3%       8%      17%        9%       13%      51%
                  Business and corporate tax structure        1%       11%     26%        5%        4%      53%
                                                                                        Total Respondents   1320
                                                                                  (skipped this question)   290



Representative sample of open-ended comments:

    •     The permitting process is too easy.
    •     The permitting process is awful!
    •     Moderate to small businesses are struggling. Benefits and insurance costs are
          off the charts.
    •     It is very difficult for existing corporations to get approvals for internal
          improvements to their facilities.
    •     Land costs are ridiculous.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                            87
August 2006
Business environment

    1. Business Environment in Gwinnett

                                                     Excellent   Good   Average    Below     Poor     Don't
                                                                                  average             know
                           State/local incentives      2%        17%     22%        5%        2%      52%
                       Availability of bank loans      7%        28%     24%        2%        1%      38%
                   Availability of venture capital     3%        16%     16%        5%        1%      59%
        Support and retention services for area
                                       businesses      2%        16%     21%        5%        2%      54%
      Availability of research and development
                                        resources      2%        15%     21%        6%        2%      54%
Support for entrepreneurship, innovation, small
                                         business      5%        20%     20%        6%        3%      46%
       Support for minority and women-owned
                                       businesses      4%        16%     17%        6%        4%      53%
                 Support for international trade       4%        18%     16%        4%        1%      57%
                Safety of business environment         4%        26%     26%        3%        2%      40%
               Availability of quality hotel rooms     7%        31%     29%       13%        4%      16%
    Proximity to amenities such as restaurants,
       office supply stores, banks, and printers       21%       42%     23%        4%        1%       9%
                                                                                  Total Respondents   1297
                                                                            (skipped this question)   313


Representative sample of open-ended comments:

    •     Attract a first-class hotel.
    •     If the County is more proactive in regards to its international ties, it could
          reap benefits in the future.
    •     Would like to see more restaurants that aren’t chains…some with a friendly
          neighborhood feel.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                       88
August 2006
Quality of Life

    1. Quality of Life in Gwinnett

                                                       Excellent   Good   Average     Below      Poor      Don't
                                                                                     average               know
                        Availability of health care      21%       47%     25%         3%         1%        2%
                            Quality of health care       18%       46%     27%         4%         1%        3%
                       Affordability of health care       5%       29%     43%         11%        8%        4%
                          Availability of child care     10%       33%     23%         3%         1%       29%
                              Quality of child care      6%        28%     26%         4%         2%       35%
                     Personal and property safety         6%       41%     37%         9%         3%        3%
                                     Cost of living      4%        36%     42%         12%        4%        2%
                            Availability of housing      19%       52%     24%         2%         1%        3%
                          Affordability of housing       7%        37%     34%         13%        6%        3%
        Quality of air, water, and the environment        4%       30%     37%         17%        11%       2%
                        Cultural and arts facilities     10%       38%     32%         13%        4%        4%
                       Cultural and arts programs        8%        35%     32%         16%        4%        6%
                        Recreational opportunities       16%       44%     27%         9%         2%        2%
        Quality shopping and dining opportunities        25%       47%     23%         3%         1%        1%
                                Civic engagement         10%       34%     32%         7%         3%       15%
                                                                                     Total Respondents     1280
                                                                                 (skipped this question)   330



Representative sample of open-ended comments:

    •      Need to engage in a strategy to encourage civic engagement.
    •      Lake Lanier is known nationally as a beautiful lake, especially for sailing…we
           need to capitalize on this jewel.
    •      Regulations and the decisions made by our elected commissioners are
           keeping housing out of the reach of lower-income families.
    •      “Quality of life” is being replaced by “Quantity of life” in Gwinnett.
    •      Regardless of public outcry, the Commission often seems to have made their
           minds up prior to meetings.
    •      There have been many improvements in quality of life offerings over the past
           10 years.
    •      The voters and elected officials need to stop demanding lower local taxes
           because it will lead to a decrease in our Quality of Life.
    •      Health care is in a crisis. The shortage of physicians coupled with the
           population growth has strained our healthcare system to the max. When
           insured patients can’t get in to see their own physician in a timely manner,
           they go to the emergency room. This is causing overcrowding of ERs just as
           much as noninsured patients are. Remove the red tape for building more
           hospitals healthcare facilities and encourage more medical education.




Competitive Assessment                                                                                            89
August 2006
Overall Rankings and Key Issues

    1. Please rate the following according to their importance for the future
       development of Gwinnett, based upon your personal experience and
       opinion.
                                                                Very      Important     Not       Don't know
                                                              Important               Important
             The development and implementation of a
   comprehensive strategic plan for sustainable economic
                                      growth in Gwinnett        64%         30%          2%          3%
        Capacity of businesses to create quality local jobs     53%         42%          2%          3%

    Increase in mixed-use and high density development          21%         36%         32%          11%
                        Greater focus on redevelopment          43%         43%          8%          7%
    Continuing development of Gwinnett's transportation
           infrastructure, including alternative modes of
                                            transportation      62%         29%          7%          3%

 Ensuring that Gwinnett schools are of the highest quality      87%         11%          0%          1%
  Development of a higher education and research-based
                                              community         59%         35%          4%          2%
        Greater availability of arts and cultural amenities     33%         49%         16%          3%
                                                                            Total Respondents       1231
                                                                       (skipped this question)       378




    2. Comments
          Representative sample of open-ended comments:

    •     Let’s make Gwinnett the “biggest village in the world.”
    •     We are dong a pretty good job on transportation, but because of the number
          of people who are moving into the area, the target keeps moving.
    •     People will settle where they want…offer good jobs, good education, good
          healthcare, and a clean environment and people will settle and stay.
    •     Plan out development better and stick to the plan
    •     I miss the old Gwinnett where we felt safe in our homes, let our children play
          in the neighborhoods, and felt a true sense of small town community.
    •     Gwinnett needs to continue to draw people and businesses but also institute
          high expectations for beautification. The whole County should be planned
          and landscaped like Suwannee.
    •     The schools are way too big…I’ve never heard of a bad small school.
    •     Gwinnett needs to focus on maintaining a good mix of business and
          residential elements to maximize the tax base and use on county services.
    •     Teaching to the lowest common denominator will not be tolerated. Should
          the good schools continue to deteriorate, so too shall the entire County.
    •     Gwinnett needs to capitalize on the potential of areas adjacent to the City of
          Atlanta – develop a long-range plan of demolition and reconstruction of the




Competitive Assessment                                                                                     90
August 2006
         more blighted areas. The potential of the area is mammoth if the security of
         the area can be assured and the infrastructure is updated to accommodate
         such redevelopment.
    •    Overall, I life living in Gwinnett and currently plan to live here the rest of my
         life. However, after being here almost 17 years, I see some things sliding into
         the negative zone.
    •    The redevelopment of property is going to be critical to the future of
         Gwinnett… building codes should be more strict.
    •    You don’t need to focus on increasing population diversity, it’s already here.
         The focus should be on how do our population commune, commute, and co-
         habitate successfully.
    •    We must improve what we have before we add more.


    3. Overall rating of Gwinnett’s economy and business environment

                                                                          Response   Response
                                                                           Percent     Total
        Excellent                                                          12.4%       153
           Good                                                            63.2%       778
        Average                                                            22.0%       271
   Below Average                                                           1.9%         24
            Poor                                                           0.4%         5
                                                    Total Respondents                 1231
                                                (skipped this question)                378




    4. Overall rating of Gwinnett’s quality of life
                                                                          Response   Response
                                                                           Percent     Total
        Excellent                                                          15.8%       195
           Good                                                            54.8%       674
        Average                                                            21.9%       270
   Below Average                                                           5.2%         64
            Poor                                                           2.3%         28
                                                    Total Respondents                 1231
                                                (skipped this question)                378




    5. In your opinion, what is Gwinnett’s greatest strength?

         The complete tally of responses is to be included in the Survey Update.

    6. In your opinion, what is Gwinnett’s greatest challenge?

         The complete tally of responses is to be included in the Survey Update.




Competitive Assessment                                                                       91
August 2006
    7. Which of the following represents the most important, most pressing
       challenge for Gwinnett to overcome? Please rank from most important
       (1) to the least important (6) factor.


                                     1     2     3     4           5         6       Response
                                                                                     Average
      Capitalizing on increasing
            population diversity    17%   11%   9%    10%        20%       33%         4.05
                  Transportation    28%   19%   15%   14%        15%        8%         2.92
             Educational quality    34%   26%   14%   9%          8%        9%         2.57
       Arts and cultural options    6%    7%    10%   17%        26%       35%         4.54
   Creation of quality local jobs   9%    19%   26%   24%        16%        7%         3.39
                     Health care    6%    18%   26%   27%        15%        9%         3.53
                                                               Total Respondents      1231
                                                           (skipped this question)     378




Competitive Assessment                                                                        92
August 2006

				
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