);
Connect with us

Business

The Vote to Expand MARTA and What It Means

Published

on

MARTA REFERENDUM

On March 19, Gwinnett County voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on this question: “Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved?”

Go Gwinnett, a registered ballot committee, wants to make sure voters understand just what a “yes” or “no” vote means to Gwinnett County and its future.

What “yes” or “no” means for Gwinnett

A “yes” vote for the Gwinnett MARTA expansion will connect the county to the rest of the metro Atlanta region, giving residents more options to get to their destinations, whether for work or play and will offer new customers the opportunity to frequent Gwinnett’s shopping and entertainment venues.

The expansion will be funded by a new one-cent sales tax that will be used solely to benefit residents of the county. “Gwinnett’s money stays in Gwinnett,” said Brian Robinson, spokesperson for the Go Gwinnett campaign. “All tax dollars collected will return to the county for local projects.”

A “no” vote will prevent the expansion, and that won’t decrease traffic. It will, however, limit the opportunities of how residents and visitors can move through Gwinnett.

More transit options

There’s no question that the current road traffic is already strained, and it’s only going to get more congested as Gwinnett grows. The partnership with MARTA will bring more options for commuters.

“More transit options will help reduce traffic congestion on the roads and provide faster commutes for riders as well as those on the roads,” Robinson said. “Gwinnett would benefit early on from double local bus and express routes, more park-and-ride lots, flex “on demand” services, “direct connect” routes and more paratransit services.” Exciting new bus rapid transit options will follow.

Additionally, the MARTA contract would extend the heavy rail line from the existing Doraville station to a new multi-modal transit hub hear I-85 and Jimmy Carter Blvd.

Something for everyone

Not only will approval of the MARTA contract make lives easier for residents and ensure smarter growth, but it also will offer more independence and inclusion for seniors and disabled residents — and bring in more Millennials.

“Fast and attractive transit options will help our county attract and keep the Millennial and Generation Z workforce critical to our economy, our schools and our neighborhoods over the next 40 years,” Robinson said.

New transit hubs will drive smart growth around those areas and boost Gwinnett’s tax base by spurring redevelopment of aging retail centers. The expanded transit options will also attract new high-paying jobs. Many of metro Atlanta’s biggest economic development announcements have come from companies that demanded close access to transit for their employees.

Money and decision-making stay here

Every penny from the one-cent sale tax goes right back into Gwinnett County. “The 1 percent sales tax approach means that 25 to 30 percent of the dollars generated will come from people who live outside the county,” Robinson explained. That means that Gwinnett will get 100 percent of the benefit with only 75 percent of the cost.

The expansion is based on Gwinnett’s plan for transit expansion and its contract with MARTA. That contract has special provisions that protect the county.

“Gwinnett maintains local decision making on transit projects and service standards, and Gwinnett will attain three seats on the MARTA board, increasing our voice and oversight in regional decisions,” Robinson said.

MARTA Referendum

Why MARTA?

Some residents may question why Gwinnett should partner with MARTA, rather than Gwinnett County Transit, to expand local services. Robinson pointed out that what MARTA offers is a higher capacity to build out new infrastructure, and MARTA has the most knowledge and expertise to develop bus rapid transit, light rail and heavy rail in the State of Georgia.

Additionally, working with MARTA is essential so that the system that is developed in Gwinnett can connect to existing transit infrastructure as efficiently as possible.

Partnering with MARTA to expand access to transit and offer more transit options is an important part of making Gwinnett County a better place to live, work and raise a family. ■

Get Out and Vote!

► Election Day is Tuesday, March 19.
► Early voting begins Monday, Feb. 25 at the Gwinnett Justice Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville 30046. Starting Monday, March 4, early voting is available Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at every early vote location until Friday, March 15.
► Visit gogwinnett.org for updates and more information.

Continue Reading

Business

Soliant Continues Expansion in Peachtree Corners

Published

on

Soliant 2021 Summer Internship Program (Facebook page).

Soliant, a leading provider of specialized healthcare and education staffing services to hospitals and schools around the nation, is growing in Peachtree Corners. Soliant recently expanded their Peachtree Corners headquarters at 5550 Peachtree Parkway by 25,000 square feet, bringing the total to 83,000 square feet.

In 2020, the company announced the relocation of its national headquarters to a 58,000-square-foot space in Peachtree Corners. The majority of new job opportunities now open to applicants will be focused on education and healthcare recruiting. Soliant will employ more than 600 people once this expansion is complete.

Continue Reading

Business

Local Production Studio Innovates to Stay Afloat and Keep Creating

Published

on

MMP Production using Unreal Engine (Facebook Page)

What started as a business offering music lessons and instrument rental has grown by leaps and bounds, now supplying major concert venues with equipment and providing filmmakers with XR film capability.

Music Matters Productions (MMP) in Peachtree Corners pivoted from pandemic hardship into a new division. When live events sank in the wake of the spreading coronavirus, MMP took a different tack. The company, which had just signed a lease for 40,000 square feet of space on Green Point Parkway, began creating “live” environments within its studio with the help of the Unreal Engine.

With no events to produce in 2020, the company experimented with the Unreal Engine software, typically used in video game environments, to create XR scenes and environments to help clients create innovative content. The company began using it to produce films, music videos and commercials for clients who couldn’t perform for live audiences, all within its XR studio.

MMP sold a six-episode show to Apple Music and created a piece for Jimmy Fallon. Thus, its newest division was launched. Now, the company’s founder and visual designer, Aaron Soriero, is planning to expand in Salt Lake City and Nashville.

“It has been fun to expand our horizons and services, while staying fully in our lane of capabilities,” said Soriero. “Having the ability to shift the business into content creation and to have the opportunity to own and produce our own content is invaluable.”

In addition to mobile staging and virtual event production, the company organizes drive-in events, provides live event production, creates music videos and customizes, manages, and designs projects. In short, MMP is a one-stop production shop.

MMP has created productions for the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Shaky Knees Music Festival, Sweetwater 420 Fest, the Fox Theatre, State Farm Arena and the Tabernacle, among other venues. For more information, visit musicmattersproductions.com.

Continue Reading

Business

A Risk and Hard Work Lead to Sweet Success

Published

on

Left to right, co-owner Nancy Rangel, Ally Fowler, manager and co-owner Diana Hsieh.

What started out as a search for a part-time job turned into Peachtree Corners resident Diana Hsieh becoming the co-owner of The Chocolaterie at just 27 years old.

The Chocolaterie is an artisan chocolate shop located in the oldest remaining building on Main Street in Historic Downtown Duluth. It has a beautiful assortment of luxury chocolates, gourmet ice cream, handmade fudge and unique gifts.

Humble beginnings

Diana was just two years old when her parents moved to Atlanta from Vietnam. When her family arrived, they moved into a one-bedroom apartment across from Turner Field and her father worked two jobs to support them.

“Growing up, I fell into the trap of the Asian stereotype and believed that in order to be successful in my parent’s eyes, I had to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer,” she said. Her parents fought to make it to America and worked extremely hard to raise her and her brothers. She didn’t want to disappoint them.

Over time, she realized that her parents didn’t have those expectations at all. They just wanted her to be happy and successful.

Finding her way

In 2015, Diana graduated from the University of Georgia, where she majored in Public Health and Sociology. “The plan after college was to get my Master’s in Public Health and go into disaster management,” she said. “I was frustrated with not finding a job in my field since the positions I was interested in required years of experience.”

Because of this, Diana had to move back home with her parents. “I was pretty disappointed with myself,” she explained. “I really thought that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I watched all my friends moving on with their lives and I thought that I should be doing that too. But instead, I felt like I was going backwards. I felt as if, at that point in my life, I should be done with having my parents help support me. I wanted to be out on my own and not depending on someone.”

Over the next couple of years, Diana bounced around to more jobs, got married and she and her husband Calvin bought their first home in Peachtree Corners.

“We kind of stumbled upon the home and knew it was more than what we could afford and bigger than what we were looking for at the time, but it was a great deal,” she said. To help them, Diana’s parents gave them money for their down payment and Calvin’s parents matched the gift.

Pathway to destiny

Once settled into her home, Diana began looking for another part-time job since she had just enrolled in Kennesaw State University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. She saw a post on Facebook that The Chocolaterie was hiring.

“I applied and got the job. Right when I was hired, the owners, Mike and Elizabeth Ashworth, made it clear that they were looking for someone to take over the store.”

Diana saw people coming often to meet with the owners, but they were never a good fit. “Everyone was interested in the store for its prominent location,” she recounted. “However, they didn’t want to keep the chocolate business.”

One day, when Diana and Elizabeth were working in the store together, Diana said, “Elizabeth casually asked me what I thought about buying the store. I was surprised by the question, but told Elizabeth I would give it some thought.”

Over the next month, Diana thought hard about the opportunity. After going back and forth with the idea and trying to convince herself that she could take on this challenge, Diana’s brother told her, “It sounds like you already made your decision, I don’t know why you’re doubting yourself.” That’s when Diana finally decided that she was ready.

The time is now

After Diana made the decision that she wanted to be the next owner of The Chocolaterie, she approached the store’s manager, Nancy Rangel, about partnering with her on the opportunity. “I was super nervous bringing it up to her,” Diana said. “I knew there was a chance that she wouldn’t go in on this with me, which is fair because I was asking her to make a big commitment.”

The owners stand in front of a custom mural of some of their great chocolates (pictured below mural)

Nancy told Diana she would think about it and get back to her. “That took a couple weeks, but once she got everything in order, we had lunch at Fox Brothers where she told me she’d love to do this with me.”

Diana and Nancy went back to Mike and Elizabeth to let them know they wanted to buy The Chocolaterie, and their parents helped them with the capital to purchase the store.

“From there, we really hit the ground running,” stated Diana. “We had lunch in March and by April, we were incorporated and got all of our licenses in order. By the end of June, we were finalizing everything and took over the store on July 1, 2018.”

Never give up

After a little over a year of getting up to speed on the business and finally getting in their groove, COVID-19 hit and forced Diana and Nancy to temporarily close the store for in-store shopping for almost four months.

“It was so stressful,” said Diana. “Everything happened so fast during the shutdown there was almost no time to think; it was just do.”

Diana was worried about how they were going to continue paying their staff because they didn’t want to lay anyone off. “We continued to have them at the store taking the phone in and online orders while Nancy and I worked on getting a PPP loan and figuring out how we could convert the store to allow for in store shopping again,” she said. “Shutting down the store was just not an option. It never crossed my mind during the shutdown that we weren’t going make it through this somehow. The store was my livelihood, Nancy’s livelihood. I just knew I didn’t want to fall back on depending on someone to take care of me again.”

Now, Diana can’t help but reflect on the challenges she endured to get her to where she is. When asked about her decision to buy the store, Diana said, “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I learned so much in the short time that I’ve had this store. I obviously learned a lot about the business side of things and how to manage and operate a business. But I also learned a lot about myself. About how much I could achieve once I got over the idea of doing things because I thought it was expected of me, to doing things that I wanted,” she said.

“To this day, I still think I’m crazy for buying the store but I’m forever grateful that Mike and Elizabeth, my parents and Nancy believed in me.”

Diana finding her own path and purchasing the store changed her relationship with her parents. “It brought a deeper understanding of what they wanted for me all along,” she said. “To be happy and successful no matter what it was that brought that success.”

Coned ice cream

After the initial experience of being frustrated and unsure of her career trajectory, purchasing The Chocolaterie gave Diana the confidence boost she needed. “I feel that the business is going to be just fine. I feel like, after dealing with COVID, I can handle anything that comes my way.”

Continue Reading

Read the Digital Edition

Subscribe

Peachtree Corners Life

Capitalist Sage

Topics and Categories

Recent Posts

Authors

Trending

Copyright © 2020 Mighty Rockets LLC, powered by WordPress.

Get Weekly Updates!

Get Weekly Updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news, updates, and stories about Peachtree Corners.

Check out our podcasts: Peachtree Corners Life, Capitalist Sage and the Ed Hour

You have Successfully Subscribed!