James Magazine May-June 2020 - Magazine - Page 42
Gwinnett County will continue to lead
portfolio lled with educational opGeorgia’s growth.”
portunities. We have been thrilled to
“Success lives here,” he continsee how many non-members have
ued, “and between the world-class
also joined in on our networking
service provided by Gwinnett
opportunities. It’s a great time to
County, the incredible uniqueness
get plugged in and stay connectof all our 16 cities, and even the
ed. Also, we are providing all our
opportunity Gwinnett County pubrecorded webinars on our YouTube
lic schools has had to highlight its
channel. Visit GwinnettChamber.
prociency in e-learning for the rest
org to get plugged in today.”
of the country to emulate, Gwinnett
New businesses locating in GwinCounty will continue to thrive.”
nett, as well as expansions of existing
And, as one would expect, Masino
rms, continue to be announced in droves
plugs what the Chamber is doing these days.
in recent years. Indeed, foreign-based comw i l ba n ks
“We asked ourselves… ‘What can we do in this
panies especially love Gwinnett. More than 600
virtual situation and lean into our membership and
international businesses, employing close to 25,000
community and still provide services?’ We immediately
people, already call Gwinnett County home.
switched gears and rolled out an expansive portfolio
of online offerings to provide our members with both
Highly-Acclaimed public school system
connections and valuable content. Our goal is to provide attendees with an online opportunity to build
A county’s attractiveness, of course, signicantly
connections. In addition to networking programs, the
depends on the quality of its educational opportunities.
Gwinnett Chamber has rolled out an expansive online
So any prole of Gwinnett County would be remiss if
it didn’t mention its public school system guided by
nationally-recognized CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin
Wilbanks. He assumed the helm 23 years ago and has
been going strong ever since.
It is no exaggeration to say that under his leadership
the school district is one of the most successful in the nation. For example, the Broad Foundation selected the system as a nalist for the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban
Education three times in recent years— and awarded the
Gwinnett system the Broad Prize in 2010 and 2014. The
prize honors districts making the greatest progress in raising student achievement and reducing achievement gaps
among low- and non-low income groups.
Additionally, Wilbanks has been tapped by three
Georgia governors and two federal secretaries of education to help craft education reform legislation at the state
and federal levels. And it was just three years ago when
then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed the superintendent to
head the Joint Study Committee charged with establishing a statewide school leadership academy for Georgia.
Public safety & crime prevention
M AY/JUNE 2020
Enhancing an area’s quality of life, too, is public
safety through effective crime prevention. Gwinnett
Countians apparently have appreciated Sheriff Butch
Conway’s leadership, since he was elected 24 years ago
has been re-elected ever since. He announced his retirement earlier this year, so there will be a new sheriff
after the November general election. But as Conway’s
successor looks to the future, there is the past to look to
as a guide.
One policy that Conway strongly supports, and has
been in effect for a decade, is an agreement with the
federal government, specically with the Immigration
and Customs Enforcement agency. It is a partnership in
what is called the 287(g) program that allows illegal immigrants who are arrested in the county to be deported.
A sheriff’s department statement says the jail population in the county began declining and has remained
reduced since the program began because “it helps make
Gwinnett an unattractive community to conduct criminal activity for those who are in the country illegally.”
“Saving taxpayers the cost of housing inmates is great,
but the value to public safety is priceless,” says Chief
Deputy Lou Solis.
A department Facebook post explaining the 287(g)
program, which Conway renewed in January, emphasizes that a lower jail population translates to taxpayer
savings since it currently costs approximately $63.25
per day to house a Gwinnett County jail inmate. Better
to have the feds handle foreign-born illegals who are
arrested rather than to have them housed in Gwinnett,
the rationale goes.
Yes, the county has its share of controversial issues
like any other. Transportation planning and traffic congestion are especially thorny public policy problems that
continue to be addressed. But an acclaimed school system
and effective law enforcement, coupled with a pro-business environment that creates more jobs and boosts
wages, appears to underscore what Masino proclaims:
“Success lives here.”
Phil Kent is the CEO & Publisher of James magazine and
MAY/ J UN E 2 0 2 0