In my first State of the County address, I talked a lot about the high expectations we set for ourselves in Gwinnett County Government.
You may not have heard the phrase the “Gwinnett Standard,” but I can guarantee you’ve felt it. What’s normal here would be extraordinary almost anyplace else. I first encountered the Gwinnett Standard when I came to the county back in 2006. I fell in love with the opportunity, diversity, parks, recreational facilities, collaborative spirit, and unity of purpose.
Through the years, Gwinnett has moved forward and found success, thanks to leaders who set a standard of excellence. You see it in our Triple AAA/Aaa bond rating – held by two percent of counties nationwide. It’s in our Police Department’s repeated recertification by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. It’s in our award-winning parks and library system. It’s in the state-of-the-art F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center, studied by people from around the world.
The Gwinnett Standard is reflected in our response to the pandemic. Our small business assistance program disbursed $20 million in federal loans and grants for small businesses. Our departments focused on online services and events were held virtually. We amped up our Summer Meals service for children, adding 11 new locations and offering meals to seniors in need. Project RESET provided rental assistance to help prevent homelessness. And we worked with the Gwinnett Health Department to convert a vacant retail building into a mass vaccination center that can administer up to 3,000 shots per day as supply increases.
We are pursuing the Gwinnett Standard in our economy with the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center to nurture new businesses, The Water Tower water-oriented research and development initiative, and a 2,000-acre knowledge community called Rowen.
Part of the Gwinnett Standard is listening to our residents. We recently set up the Police Citizens Advisory Board to provide public feedback and advice on issues to build trust and strengthen accountability. We also must make deliberate investments to address the issues that can lead to crime, such as poverty, substance abuse, mental health issues and lack of education.
The new board will set goals, meet challenges, and carry the standard into the future. We are working to identify strong, affordable housing solutions with data gathered from our housing study, and we will address transit challenges in the short-term to bring mobility options to those who need them most.
Each resident is a standard-bearer, carrying the vision and promise of Gwinnett. When we all rally behind the same Standard, it fosters collaboration, like when we agreed to join the city of Lawrenceville, the library system, and the Hooper-Renwick Legacy Preservation Committee in an effort to renovate the historic African American Hooper-Renwick School into a themed library.
The people of Gwinnett County inspire my fellow commissioners and I to maintain the Standard to ensure that we continue to set the bar high. Despite the challenges we face, I love this county and have never been more hopeful about Gwinnett’s future than I am today.