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SWGC Volunteer Day: Gwinnett Junior Achievement Discovery Center

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October 13. 8 a.m-2:30 p.m.

Location: Discovery Center at Gwinnett
1333 Old Norcross Road
Lawrenceville, GA

Volunteer with The Southwest Gwinnett Chamber!  Help support Summerour Middle School for a JA BIZTOWN DAY at the Junior Achievement Discovery Center of Georgia!

JA BizTown creates an opportunity for students to interact within a simulated economy and take on the role of citizen, consumer and employee. During the visit to JA BizTown, students work in teams of 6-8 to manage their assigned business with the goal of generating a profit. Students also earn paychecks that they can use to purchase products and services from the different stores to practice basic personal financial management. 

Volunteer Role: Volunteers serve as business consultants for the day, coaching a group of students through the decisions and tasks they need to complete to successfully operate their businesses.

Schedule:

8:00 AM: Volunteer Check-in Begins (Coffee provided!)
8:30 AM: Volunteer Welcome, Tour & Training 
10:00 AM: Student Arrival
11:30 AM: Lunch Break (Chicken sandwich, side and water provided!)
2:30 PM: Student Departure
2:45 PM: Volunteer Departure

To RegisterClick here and you will be directed to the registration page where you can enter your contact information and submit your registration directly to Junior Achievement of Georgia. Thank you for your support of Junior Achievement and the students of Gwinnett County Public Schools!


Help inspire Gwinnett’s youth today! Make an individual donation to JA!

Watch the JA Discovery Center Video to see it in action

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Raise a Glass to Peachtree Corners’ Upscale Wine and Spirits Store

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Clockwise, Gerald and Virginia Davidson, Pat and Stu Cross, Libby Curry, holding photo of John D. Curry (Photo by Patrizia Winsper.)Gerald and Virginia Davidson, Pat and Stu Cross, Libby Curry, holding photo of John D. Curry (Photo by Patrizia Winsper.)

Uncorking Corners Fine Wine and Spirits

Eight and a half years of tenacity and a tremendous effort on behalf of three established Peachtree Corners families resulted in the opening of Corners Fine Wine and Spirits (CFWS) at 5730 Peachtree Parkway – the only store of its kind in the city. It was the news of Peachtree Corners becoming an incorporated city in 2012 that sparked the initial idea since only cities can permit such retail spaces.

Corners Fine Wine & Spirits

The vision was one of a refined store where people could enjoy tastings of an impressive selection of products and be guided in their choices by a friendly, knowledgeable staff and an in-house sommelier. With the celebration of their first-year anniversary just behind them, it’s clear to see that although it wasn’t easy, the store has more than met the criteria.

(Photos by Patrizia Winsper, Left to Right. General Manager of Corners Fine Wine and Spirits, Rob Ramos. Gerald and Virginia Davidson. Libby Curry holding a photo of her late husband, John. John D. Curry dedication plaque. Stu and Pat Cross)

Proprietors Gerald and Virginia Davidson, John and Libby Curry, Stu and Pat Cross — long-time residents of Peachtree Corners, friends and neighbors, each with unique aptitudes —were instrumental in the realization of Virginia’s initial dream. With previous knowhow from having owned a store in Dawsonville, and the credit of having had the idea, the Davidsons hold controlling interest.

They invited the Currys to join their venture knowing their background in construction and marketing would prove invaluable. The Currys, in turn, offered the Crosses part of their share in 2019, in exchange for robust financial backing and years of business experience…and so the CFWS founders were born.

Liquor Is Not a “Bad Word”

Whether you enjoy alcoholic beverages or not, the fact remains that buying liquor in Peachtree Corners generates revenue for the city. “There are so many negative connotations associated with liquor stores. People picture icky, cheesy places. That was never what we wanted,” Virginia said. She pointed out that plenty of residents do enjoy adult beverages, and those who purchase liquor locally are supporting our community rather than taking tax dollars elsewhere.

Ribbon cutting celebration, among those pictured are Peachtree Corners Business Association President Lisa Proctor, Councilman Phil Sadd, Mayor Mike Mason, Gerald and Virginia Davidson, Libby Curry, Councilmen Weare Gratwick and Eric Christ, Stu and Pat Cross, Rob Ramos.

Yet before purchasing liquor in a Peachtree Corners package store even became an option, the assembled dream team had a long road ahead.

A Trek That Felt Like Eight Years in the Desert – Also Dave Phinney’s Zinfandel

Smudge on the Dotted Line

When attorney Gerald, former homebuilder John, and retired Coca-Cola executive Stu started out, they quickly realized they’d need every bit of their specialized skills, as well as their personal strengths and resources to get the job done. The first order of business was obtaining the signatures of 35% of the registered voters in the new city (approximately 7,500 people) on a petition requesting that the mayor and council call a referendum allowing citizens to vote on an ordinance to allow for the sale of distilled spirits by the package within the city of Peachtree Corners.

The interior of Corners Fine Wine and Spirits.

Gerald recalled, “We started naïvely thinking we could do it ourselves.” They offered voters Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee at polling stations around town during elections one year, collecting the signatures of registered voters going in and out. “It rained sideways — all day,” recalled Libby.

In 2013, Gerald formed a committee called Buy Peachtree Corners First. They sought support for their petition at the Peachtree Corners Festival encouraging residents to buy locally to keep revenue within our city.

Even with the help of high school students hired to gather signatures, they were about 4,500 short of their target. The decision to hire National Ballot Access resulted in a skilled army that yielded more signatures than needed.

Impossible Mission – the Real Kind, Not the Drink

With a list of collected names, addresses and signatures, verifying the registered voters in support of the liquor store involved matching each signature with those on people’s voter registration cards. How many of us sign our names exactly the way we did when we filled out our voter registration cards? How likely is a signature scrawled across a clipboard while standing in the elements to match a signature penned while sitting at a desk?

“We turned them in to the city, which did not have the personnel to count and cross-reference the signatures,” Gerald said. The county board of elections was charged with the task; temps were hired to help.

After a long wait, it was determined by the county board of elections that CFWS was 168 signatures short. Gerald arranged a meeting with the county attorneys in which National Ballot Access was able to prove there were surplus signatures.

Success

With an adequate number of signatures confirmed, the Corners team was eager to hold a referendum, offering to pay for it themselves. The city council preferred to wait a few months for the 2014 general election in November. It passed with 74% voting in favor of distilled spirits being sold in Peachtree Corners package stores.

A New Ordinance to Regulate the Operation of Liquor Stores in a New City

Hoping to expedite the process, Gerald blazed a trail by studying the ordinances of surrounding cities in Gwinnett County and drafted a proposal, parts of which were adopted.

“Our original suggestion was not allowing a liquor store in a shopping center. Make it a freestanding building on a major thoroughfare, with at least 100 feet of road frontage. A minimum of 5,000 square feet and a maximum of 10,000 square feet in size,” Gerald said. “As a citizen, I didn’t want shabby little liquor stores with neon signs in the front windows cropping up in the city.”

Liquor stores in Peachtree Corners must be zoned C2, with a special use permit. There is a plethora of strict requirements that must be satisfied. “I remember John with measuring tape in hand because you cannot have the shop within a certain distance of a school or a church. That’s a state law: 300 yards door to door,” Virginia said. Distance requirements certainly limit the places one can consider for such a store.

Location Selection — Not a Game of Spin the Bottle

“John was familiar with every square inch of the city after having scouted locations,” Libby chuckled. The first location they considered is now Stäge Kitchen & Bar, formerly Noble Fin. Following numerous meetings and lease revisions prepared by Gerald, the property holder revealed an expectation of rent prior to occupancy, suspending discussions.

Next, they studied the lot between the former Black Walnut restaurant and Chase Bank. “We filed for rezoning and a special use permit on that property. We negotiated at length but couldn’t make the deal work. The landowner wanted to dictate the store’s appearance,” Gerald said.

Though the third time may have been the charm, their current site was not acquired without a hiccup. Initially under contract with Tech Park Associates, as was RaceTrac across the street, a thorny rezoning and development process coupled with ecological issues caused Tech Park to reconsider.

From Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

CFWS was happy to donate towards the walking trail from their property through Tech Park to the lake, as a condition of rezoning. “It’s a wonderful amenity for the city,” Gerald said.

With a mountain to be leveled on the RaceTrac side, a gaping hole to be filled and a creek on the CFWS side, it was challenging and costly to develop the land. “We had to go through all kinds of environmental stuff to pipe the creek. That was a setback,” Gerald explained.

When Tech Park Associates determined the project was too prohibitive, the unrelenting CFWS crew approached RaceTrac. “You have deep pockets, you can do this,” Gerald recalled telling them. RaceTrac agreed to purchase both corners and sell them their plot at a higher price once they had developed it. The CFWS building pad was delivered a year later as promised.

After a little tango with bureaucracy, they obtained a liquor license from the state Capitol.

Surviving the Storm

Construction of the store began in December of 2019. It rained incessantly causing delays and disruptions.

A crushing setback was suffered in April of 2020 when they lost John suddenly to lung cancer. He was the boots on the ground, sweat equity partner. Left with a stack of his handwritten notes, CFWS credits Ordner Construction Company with helping them overcome this major hurdle. COVID-19 didn’t allow for a funeral but it did further compound lulls in building.

The Perfect Cocktail of People

General Manager Rob Ramos has 26 years of experience in the liquor industry. John recruited him six years ago. “I keep the original card he gave me in my wallet as a token of my appreciation. He shared the CFWS dream with me and stayed in touch all that time,” Ramos said.

“The beer and wine buyers, Sean Whalen and Terrell Abney are in tune with the palettes of our regulars,” Virginia said. Because they’re so knowledgeable, they’re given autonomy in their selections, provided they stay within budgetary parameters.

Ramos facilitated the store layout, the selection of software packages and refrigeration equipment. He hired staff and placed orders so they could hit the ground running. It’s been over a year since they opened and CFWS has retained most of its original employees. “We’re blessed to have such good people,” Virginia said.

Opening During a Pandemic

CFWS opened on August 26, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. It was not ideal, but it did not stop people from wanting to imbibe. “COVID was actually, sadly, a good thing for the liquor business. Especially when we could start delivering,” Virginia shared.

There were merchandise shortages however. “It became a huge problem to get tequila because Mexico had shut down. It’s still a challenge,” Virginia said.

Ribbon Cutting

A ceremony the following month included the unveiling of a bronze plaque honoring John Curry who, unfortunately, was not able to share in the jubilation of that moment. Located on the building façade, it commemorates his tireless commitment to getting this venture off the ground. Patrons can read the touching tribute to the friend, husband and associate CFWS lost too soon.

Cheers to a Good Year!

The owners feel their concept has materialized perfectly with the first year of operation under their belts. Gerald appreciates the value in the extension of Engineering Drive. “It’s a great asset for the community, allowing for better ingress and egress for those who live here,” he said.

His dedication to serving the neighborhood he lives in is palpable. “Our pricing is very reasonable, even of our high-end bourbons. We don’t want to gauge people. These are our neighbors; we want them to be happy,” Gerald said. “We’ll call regulars to tell them when hard to find things we know they like come in.”

Virginia continues to boycott any tacky décor and create an elevated shopping experience for clients. “At the end of a very long road, it all paid off. The quote on the wall that makes the most sense for our journey, is “If you build it, they will come.” That’s what kept us going,” she said.

Libby enjoys answering store reviews on Google and helping to plan and participate in events. “I know John would be very proud of the store,” she said.

Stu joined the team later but rolled up his sleeves in full support of the mission. “Peachtree Corners deserves a store that has three things: a great location so you can get to it, the most amazing selection of products within 20 miles, and a friendly, customer-focused staff,” he said.

“They worked like crazy to make this happen. It’s another example of why Peachtree Corners is a very special place to live.”

Here’s to wishing CFWS many wonderful years of health and prosperity!

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Gwinnett study to establish redevelopment plan of Gwinnett Place Mall

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The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners last week agreed to a funding agreement with the Gwinnett Place CID for a Livable Centers Initiative study of the Gwinnett Place Mall site and surrounding areas. The Community Improvement District has contracted with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., to conduct the study.

The LCI study will establish a plan to guide the redevelopment of the Gwinnett Place Mall area. It will consist of public outreach, strategic development and preparation of final deliverables.

The LCI grant helps cities and communities with plans to connect residents to activities by walking and bike trails. The hope is to ease traffic on roadways.

The study is estimated to cost $275,000.00. The Atlanta Regional Commission awarded the Gwinnett Place CID an LCI grant for $220,000, with the estimated local match of $55,000 being split between the CID and the County. Each party’s share of the local match will be reduced equally should the total study cost less than estimated. 

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Gwinnett Partnership, It’s Influence, What Trends they See, and Resources to Empower Businesses [Podcast]

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Partnership Gwinnett is the economic development initiative behind some of the most exciting business ventures that have started or relocated to Peachtree Corners. Brian Dorelus, project manager with Partnership Gwinnett, is our guest on today’s episode of the Capitalist Sage. Join Karl Karham, Rico Figliolini, and Brian, as they discuss what exactly Partnership Gwinnett is and does for business in our community.

Resources:

Website: https://www.partnershipgwinnett.com
Brain’s Email: BDorelus@ParntershipGwinnett.com

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Opening
[00:02:14] – About Brian and Partnership Gwinnett
[00:03:29] – How Partnership Gwinnett helps Businesses
[00:04:34] – Why Businesses Choose Gwinnett
[00:05:47] – Industries that are Thriving
[00:06:59] – Activity in Peachtree Corners
[00:08:12] – Bringing Startups to Peachtree Corners
[00:15:02] – Resources that Partnership Gwinnett Provides
[00:22:12] – Closing

“Partnership Gwinnett is the economic development agency for Gwinnett County. So it’s our job and our privilege to wake up every single day to recruit, retain, and expand industries in our five target sectors… And so what we do every day is just provide resources and be a one-stop shop for companies big and small, so they could continue to grow in our community.”

Brian Dorelus

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:30] Karl: Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Brian Dorelus

[00:00:48] Rico: Hey Karl, great. Looking forward to this interview right now with Brian.

[00:00:53] Karl: Absolutely. We’re going to talk about what Partnership Gwinnett can do for businesses locally here in Gwinnett county, and Georgia overall. But let’s talk a little bit about our sponsors today.

[00:01:04] Rico: Sure. So Peachtree Corners Magazine is supporting this podcast along with the family podcasts that we do. And we just put our last issue to the printer. It’s coming out in about two days. So keep an eye out for it. Go to LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll see the digital version of that print edition that will be coming out this week.

[00:01:24] Karl: Fabulous. Great job with the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Lots of great articles in there, keeping up with what’s going on locally. So I really appreciate all that information that’s shared through that. Today we are going to talk about what Partnership Gwinnett, one of the organizations within Gwinnett county can do to help business owners, large and small. Help drive economic development within the community. Today I’m honored to have Brian Dorelus, who is a project manager with Partnership Gwinnett to talk a little bit about some of the mission of the organization, some of the successes and some of the things, resources that are available to business owners to help them with their businesses. Hey, Brian, how are you doing today?

[00:02:09] Brian: Doing good. Just trying to stay dry in today’s rainy weather, but doing good.

[00:02:14] Karl: Absolutely. No, I appreciate you joining us today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our audience and tell a little bit about yourself and what you do with Partnership Gwinnett.

[00:02:25] Brian: Of course. Thank you. So once again, my name is Brian Dorelus. I’m the project manager for technology and life science with a focus and concentration in entrepreneurs and small business here at Partnership Gwinnett. And Partnership Gwinnett for those of you who might not know is the economic development agency for Gwinnett County. So it’s our job and our privilege to wake up every single day to recruit, retain, and expand industries in our five target sectors. And then as I mentioned, I lead the initiatives for technology and life science, but my counterpart leads the manufacturing and supply chain sector. And our leadership leads the kind of bigger corporate headquarters relocation projects. And so what we do every day is just provide resources and be a one-stop shop for companies big and small, so they could continue to grow in our community. And then prior to this, I was actually a Peace Corps Volunteer at the Republic of Moldova doing very similar work. Doing economic activities with a local mayor focusing on infrastructure and capacity building with the local village that I was stationed at.

[00:03:29] Karl: Oh, that’s fabulous. I’m going to jump in with the first question and thanks for the introduction for Partnership Gwinnett. Can you describe a little bit about how you work with business owners? And I would also guess some of the other city economic development departments, to help support thriving businesses in our communities.

[00:03:48] Brian: Yeah, definitely. So one thing we do is we try to give a concierge level service to businesses and companies in our communities, within our 16 cities. So typically on average day I work with the local economic development managers or city managers in each one of our beloved cities. And just hear about some of the issues that some of our businesses, large and small, are facing and trying to connect them with resources that typically they might not be aware of. And one of the good things about Partnership Gwinnett, is that all of our services are free and complimentary. So if you’re looking for research data, or looking to get connected, or even needing help with business plans or getting exposure. If we can’t do it, it’s our job to hunt down a person who can do it for you.

[00:04:34] Karl: I’m curious, when you think about Metro Atlanta and Gwinnett County, what’s the selling point for businesses to come and thrive here in this community? What have you found to be some of the things that really attract large and small businesses to Gwinnett?

[00:04:50] Brian: I think typically we have some, big pieces of infrastructure and systems in place that make businesses thrive. One obviously being the airport. Being the busiest airport and being two hours flight from all major airports, it really helps the interconnectivity between us locally and internationally, between places of business. But on a more maybe personal and cultural aspect, one thing that Georgia has and in Atlanta that really stands apart is that we are just pro-business and a friendly environment. Ironically, I had a lunch with a couple of international prospects. They literally said the first thing they said that to other international companies is that Georgia is nice. Which you would think is a weird selling point. But I would say as a community, we really have thrived because we’ve worked together really well with other partners within our community, within our cities, and across the Metro Atlanta region.

[00:05:47] Karl: So, when you think about Atlanta and how it’s grown since the Olympics over the last 20 odd, 20 plus years, where do you see industries that are really starting to thrive in the Metro Atlanta region?

[00:06:01] Brian: Just a little more about my background, I went to Georgia State University downtown. I was able and fortunate to see that growth happening almost before my eyes. And so some of the industries that just appeared and blossomed, we can’t talk about Atlanta without talking about FinTech. The financial technical center, it’s called the FinTech capital of the world, just because there’s so many FinTech companies located here. So when you think about entertainment, FinTech, conjoining with the tech ecosystem here, it just became a natural boom. Because I guess before, if you look at Georgia and in Metro Atlanta, we was a huge manufacturing sector. And we still are. When you think of Georgia, you cannot not highlight some of the manufacturing pieces. But within the past 20 years, you’ve just seen a huge boom and kind of major corporations coming to find that talent for that tech pieces and engaging the new generation. With just the amount of startups that are appearing and them just engaging into the market.

[00:06:59] Karl: So I know locally here in Peachtree Corners, Atlanta Tech Park, and in this area there’s been a thriving tech community that’s been developing here. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the past and current activity you’re seeing in this part of town?

[00:07:17] Brian: Yeah, definitely. One thing Peachtree Corners has done really well, is really brand themselves as a city of the future. And a city to engage the technology, not existing today, but existing or will be in a market 10, 15 years from now. So when you think about Peachtree Corners in particular, and some success stories, they’ve branded themselves as I mentioned that city of the future by engaging with that 5g technology or the internet of things. Which is the interconnection between everyday appliance into the interweb. And just because they have made themselves the centerpiece and the tip of the spear in that, now companies are searching and looking to be a part of just kind of the platform and the energy here. And that’s not even talking about that autonomous vehicle track that’s been deployed in Peachtree Corners and what they’re doing with electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

[00:08:12] Karl: Yeah. I know that we’ve heard an announcement about a company that’s really expanding in the surgical, medical space here. Can you share with us just a little bit about that and how does something like that come about? And what role does Partnership Gwinnett play in helping make things like that happen?

[00:08:29] Brian: Yeah, definitely. We were brought in very early into their project as the company Intuitive Surgical was looking to expand and grow. And for those who might not be familiar, Intuitive Surgical is the creator of the DaVinci robot. The small robot that does surgery on individuals. And I’m not gonna lie, I will be the first to admit that I was hesitant to think about having someone perform surgery on me that isn’t a human body. But once you’ve seen the application and seen the success rate and seen what they’ve developed. You just wouldn’t go back to human hands. And so Partnership Gwinnett, in collaboration with the local city administration in Peachtree Corners, and then with our state partners all worked together, hand by hand. And kind of stepping forward, of bringing the company here. And just kind of doing what we do every day, is telling the story of Atlanta and Gwinnett County. Explaining that the workforce here, one thing that’s great about Metro Atlanta, is that we actually graduate more engineers than any other region. So telling them about the great work that’s done at Georgia Tech and Georgia State and Kennesaw, and SCAD. And then combined that with the quality of life then a few corners in the, some, the other innovation hub across the street, across Wynette county, it was a no brainer. And, we really just work well with our community partners, with the local administration. And we brought all the resources kind of bundled together and made a compelling case that, eventually, they decided that this is where they want to be their new home. So it was our team in congruence with everybody else. And we worked hard for this past summer to land a plane. And we’re proud to say that they’ve opened and it’s one of the largest projects in Gwinnett County history.

[00:10:05] Karl: Wow. That’s fabulous, the work that’s being done and seeing so many people playing a role, working together to make that happen. If I could ask a little bit around your area of specialty, when you think of startup companies, technology companies, and so on. What are some of the things that you see that can help bring more of that? How does that work to get more of that ecosystem developed here in greater Atlanta and Gwinnett County in specific.

[00:10:33] Brian: I think when people typically think of startups, there’s a little divide and there’s a lot of misconceptions on what startups will need and what they’re looking for. And the first thing that startups themselves and other people sometimes get wrong. Is that they’re looking for capital, they’re looking for funding. And everybody’s looking for funding. But one thing that we have here in Atlanta that really pushes the needle for these startups to grow is something that I mentioned earlier, it’s that just the interconnectedness between all parties and that mentorship and exposure. We’re in an ecosystem where generally speaking it’s pretty close knit. Even from Gwinnett to Atlanta or from Gwinnett to our community partners. It’s a small knit community where transportation time isn’t that far. And so when talking to these startups thinking about relocating or growing, we just tell him like, Hey, this is an area where innovation is booming fast. Innovation comes from areas where there is a problem and there’s someone looking to solve. And Gwinnett County has set themselves apart, being that problem solution for a lot of the world societal problems. And so these startups, they come here and they find a lot of success and become leaders very quickly because of that.

[00:11:42] Karl: Can you tell us a little bit about any specific startup that you’re watching, some exciting stuff that’s going on? Just to give people a feel of the activity that’s happening here.

[00:11:54] Brian: I could tell about some startups, but even some innovation hubs that we have where these startups are breeding. If we’re looking back on in your neck of the neighborhoods in Peachtree Corners, there’s a lot of startups that are focusing on 5g and cyber security. And one of them that their common conversation is Smart Eye Technology using that retina scanning to scan for security purposes for documents or providing cybersecurity solutions to municipalities. And especially with security and data breaches being something that was talked about maybe 10 years ago, but now being a necessity, these companies, these startups are becoming the face of what it means to protect yourselves in a new digital age. Kind of as you go up Gwinnett County, you have the water tower, which is a water innovation hub. Innovation hub, actually more of an innovation campus, if you really think about it. It’s an area built solely for the innovation of water development technologies and water workforce. And there’s just so many exciting water startups there from providing clean water to the masses using hydro stations that could tell you, not only the level of certainty how clean it is, but pull data about your current water usage and scan for that. To even some startups working on trying to gather water from solar panels. And then if you kind move across from the water tower, up north all the way up through 16 is kind of the biggest and largest innovation hub, which is called Rowan. Recently in Gwinnett county just purchased 2000 acres to build this kind of life science community. Life science community focusing solely on renewable energy. That life, science, and agriculture. And you can most accurately think about it as like adjacent or something very similar to what you see at the Research Triangle Park. And there’s something so similar that we’ve actually hired the COO of Research Triangle Park to run the Rowan foundation, to lead to that development. And so while the development is still ongoing, since it’s such a massive project for Gwinnett County, we’ve just engaged a lot of startups and larger corporations.

[00:13:55] Karl: Gotcha. I’m curious when you’re talking about some of these innovation hubs and so on, what are some of the things that make us more attractive than other cities around them? What infrastructure is in place that entrepreneurs and tech folks can come to Gwinnett County and leverage?

[00:14:13] Brian: One of them is just the level of service that we offer here at Partnership Gwinnett. As I mentioned a little briefly, we like to call ourselves, community connectors. So they’re kind of, the one-stop shop. So we have partners at score or SBDC or SBA and ACE capital who are willing to sit down with these entrepreneurs on one-on-one, and give them that service and that training they need to find capital. To find exposure, to find that mentorship that could really take them to the next level. But also we’ve got some, a lot of resources just around a region that provides that same level of service at very little to no cost. And one thing that’s, the best thing about Gwinnett that’s also sometimes may be the worst thing about Gwinnett, is that it’s so big that entrepreneurs don’t know where to go. And so we could help them point to that direction.

[00:15:02] Karl: Now I wanted to talk a little bit of specific resources. So if I’m thinking of starting a business, whether I’m a CEO of a large company looking to expand into the Southeast, or I’m a tech company, that’s looking to establish operations here locally, what are some of the specific resources and tools you have that I can come to and get help with that most people may not know about?

[00:15:25] Brian: And if you, as a small business, I would actually first you come to me as the, kind of the first level of inquiry, just get some general questions. And then what we’ll do from that process is kind of. direct you to the next staff. And you could think about this as almost as stages. So first the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce would be the first step, just to network. The community here and all the businesses that’s under that umbrella can really help you brandish yourself and find the market that you’re looking for. And then after that, we’ll probably divert you to Score. Which is an organization built from volunteers to help you with your business plan. To help you figure out what your target market is, what’s your SWAT analysis, who are you trying to aim for and kind of really solidify and drill down your kind of needs for your business. And then depending on your type of business and depending on if you’re a startup, we also have an Angel Investment Network. Where, similar to what Shark Tank has become, you can apply and pitch to Angel investors who are looking desperately trying to invest in startups in the region. To kind of find that next unicorn status startup. So there’s just a bunch of resources here between a lot of the agencies here that can really help you go to the next level.

[00:16:40] Karl: What if I’m a large company and I wanted to move here locally? What are some of the tools and resources available for people that are helping with that type of search?

[00:16:49] Brian: Well, if you’re a large company, the first thing you’re looking for is space. Where am I going to have my production facility? Where am I going to house my employees? Even though you might be an office, there’s the trend of working from home. You want a place where you can build that company and culture. And so one of the things we do is connect you with, well first find a property that kind of fits the parameters of your needs and connect you with our network of brokers. And then after that, pull some data and research into, where’s the best place for you? Are you looking for somewhere close to the airport or close to a major interstate? Or are you looking for a place where the city is, has a lively festival culture? And so we really work hand in hand to make sure that we find a facility for you. And then after that we pull research, we pull our state partners to help with the tax incentives that companies all often qualify for creating new jobs in our region and putting in capital investment. And then after we kind of helped you relocate you, your company, your employees, and their families. We like to do a grand opening and press release to kind of welcome you in the community. And we’ve seen some press releases that have gone and grand openings that are just minuscule. They just want to let the community know they’re here. And then we’ve also seen ones that want to do a whole festival. They want to have a ferris wheel and a barbecue. And what we try to do is have the elected officials, key stakeholders, people in the community that fits the needs and people that you want to get in front of, all at your grand opening. Just to show that the community is here for you. And then after that, it’s not after you’ve landed that we’re just done with you. One thing we always say is that one of the good things about us, that once you find us, we’re always going to be contacting you. So you then after kind of move into our retention program, where we have our director for business retention and expansion kind of keep our eye on you. Do checkups and just make sure that you’re growing and expanding. One of the services that we offer of course, is helping with permitting needs. So if you’re a company here located and you have some permitting concerns, or it’s just trouble getting someone in contact, or you need a Fire Marshall to do a quick survey of your building, we can help facilitate and expedite that process for you.

[00:19:03] Karl: If there was one thing that you, from your perspective, would really leapfrog Gwinnett County into the clear leader for companies of all sorts. What kind of infrastructure improvement would you say would need to be here, put in place so we could develop over the next five to 10 years to really become that easy decision for businesses to come and play here?

[00:19:29] Brian: It would be hard to say, because I feel like a lot of the things that Gwinnett County is already working on. So one thing typically that we’ve talked about internally in our offices, that quality of life piece. But one thing Gwinnett County it’s already one step ahead of me. Is that, you know, one thing of our 16 cities is all of them are developing their downtown area. Downtown Suwanee is very different than downtown Peachtree Corners or downtown Norcross or downtown Lawrenceville. But they all have bubbly activity. And it’s those little key pieces that are really important to the companies that are relocating. Because you have to remember, they are people too. These companies are comprised of people and of employees. And after work, they also want to unbutton their shirt and grab a beer or go to a beer garden. So just having a community that has activities, not only for the older generation, but even for the millennial generation as well. So for them to build their families. And Gwinnett County has led the way in developing that. So I would say, as for Gwinnett County it has continued to grow, we have almost a million people as a population is just to further develop. And redevelop. Which has become a huge thing in economic development, it’s redevelopment. And it’s something Partnership Gwinnett has now taken a role into is redeveloping old areas that have been long forgotten and making those areas of attraction and beauty and entertainment. Where family meets, and friends, and coworkers, and millennials, all alike can kind of enjoy the services.

[00:20:58] Karl: You know, reinvention is always a key part of rebirth. Reinvention, being able to do that. I’m curious, Brian, is there anything coming up that, what are you working on? What are some of the things that are coming up where people can engage in the community around Partnership Gwinnett?

[00:21:14] Brian: Yeah, definitely. One thing that I’ve been working on with my team is how to provide more resources to entrepreneurs. There seems to be a little bit of a gap between small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs to the larger corporations. So one thing that we’re working on is how to bridge that gap. How to match make where, a small business can apply to be a subcontractor for a larger company and incorporation. And see, that’s the thing that we’re hoping to try to roll out as a program or a database where larger corporations, not only in Gwinnett County but in general, a large corporation can have our RFI and these small businesses could apply. Can go to the website, apply, and to be awarded I guess a small subcontract work where they could work and kind of bridge the gap. As one thing, working in technology innovation is, innovation definitely comes from within. And it also comes with collaboration with other partners. So we’re actively looking at different ways and methods for that to happen.

[00:22:12] Karl: Oh, fabulous. Well, Brian, I want to thank you. How can people reach you? If they wanted to reach you, what’s the best way to contact you?

[00:22:19] Brian: Yes. Best way to contact me is go on our website, www.PartnershipGwinnett.com, going to teams and under my profile of Brian Dorelus. Or you can go on LinkedIn and reach me there. Or you can reach me by email at BDorelus@ParntershipGwinnett.com.

[00:22:38] Karl: Oh, that’s fabulous. Well, you know what, I want to thank you, Brian. For everybody that is joining us midway, this is Brian Dorelus of Partnership Gwinnett. Sharing some of the exciting things that are happening here in Gwinnett County, and Metro Atlanta, and here in Georgia. From on the small side entrepreneurs, startup community, the resources and the help that they’re bringing to the local cities as well as business owners. But also how they’re bringing large companies into the areas, working collaboratively, across many different stakeholders to make those things happen. Thank you so much for sharing some of the insight and introducing yourself to the local business community. Thank you, Brian. Thank you very much. And I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are available to help consult business owners, connect them to folks like Brian and other people in economic development. And if you’re looking for real estate, commercial real estate, et cetera, we have a network of folks that can help people. And also if you’re looking at planning for your business growth through acquisition, if you’re looking at doing something else, we help with business sales and business exiting planning. If you want to contact me, you can reach me at KBarham@TWorld.com. Or visit our website, www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. We’re here in the community to help. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got coming up?

[00:24:04] Rico: Sure. Sorry about, I’ve been acting more as an engineer on this episode than anything else. But we just went to press with the printer in Monroe, Georgia. To do a shout out to Walton Press. They do a great job of printing the publication. We’re at 88 pages this issue, the largest issue we’ve had since we started over two years ago. Lots of stuff in it. And the lead feature story is actually about the people that run the day-to-day activities, the five department heads of the city of Peachtree Corners. So it highlights them. Also, Judy Putnam is profiled in there. She’s the communications director who’s retiring. And we have a new communications director that will be taken over shortly. And a lot of other stories in there along with photographs from Peachtree Corners Photography Club. They did a great fall-ish photo spread for us. And it’s also the pet issue. So lots of pet pictures and the end of the giveaway that we’ve run for the last four or five weeks. So check that out and you can actually see the digital edition online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Other than that, Mighty Rockets is my company as well. A publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine, the purveyor of these podcasts and other marketing and product videos that we do for clients. So check that out. And if you need to reach me, it’s Rico Figliolini on LinkedIn. You can get me there. I’m probably the only Figliolini short of two others that are my siblings, if you find them. So Figliolini just checked that out and you can reach me.

[00:25:32] Karl: And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, if you want to keep up with what’s going on locally, multiple ways to follow us. Follow us on Facebook. What are some of the other ways that folks can hear the podcast and follow what’s going on locally?

[00:25:46] Rico: Sure. So the video podcast, if you go to Peachtree Corners Life on Facebook or the Capitalist Sage on Facebook, there’ll be streams. We always stream those as a simulcast live stream. Search YouTube channel for Peachtree Corners Life. You can subscribe there and you’ll get notified when we go live on the simulcasts. And if you’re looking to audio podcasts, anywhere that you find the podcast, right? I Heart Radio, Spotify, Apple. Anywhere that you find audio podcasts, you can find us. Just Google the Capitalist Sage Podcast and you’ll pick up all sorts of resources that way.

[00:26:19] Karl: Absolutely. Thank you for that. And the last thing I’ll mention, if you have ideas for stories and articles, is there a way for folks to send that in to you Rico?

[00:26:29] Rico: Great, great question. Thank you. You can send any story, any ideas that you have suggestions to Editor@LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. And if you’re thinking it’s going to be a great subject matter for the Capitalist Sage Podcast, certainly reach out to that email as well. And we’ll be able to talk to you a bit about that. And quite frankly, let me do this as well. If you’re looking to advertise or be a sponsor of the family of podcasts that we do, which includes the Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners Life and Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager, which is a monthly podcast, reach out to me at Editor@LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com.

[00:27:08] Karl: Excellent. How many homes do you reach currently with the magazine?

[00:27:11] Rico: We mailed 19,700 homes, households, get the magazine. And then another 1200 out to about a hundred locations.

[00:27:20] Karl: Lots of reach there.

[00:27:22] Rico: Oh, for sure. And more online because of the digital edition as well. And the weekly newsletters and website and all that, sure.

[00:27:30] Karl: Absolutely. Well, Rico, thank you very much. And for everybody that joined us today, thank you for supporting and watching the Capitalist Sage. We’re going to continue to have great topics for business owners and for people in the community. Let’s talk about business. Well everyone have a great day. Take care.

[00:27:46] Rico: Take care guys.

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