By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
A Korean manufacturing company, Dasan Machineries, announced in May that it is opening a U.S. headquarters in Duluth, bringing an estimated $30 million investment and 150 jobs over the next three years. They make precision steel parts and components for the defense, auto, and avionic industries.
I had the honor of being present for the announcement in Korea as part of a Partnership-Gwinnett trade mission in May. “We were drawn to the pro-business environment, skilled workforce and existing infrastructure,” said Jin Noh, president of Dasan USA. “We were further excited to learn that Duluth is the center of Georgia’s Korean-American community. As a family-owned business, we place a high value on being locally involved and hope to positively contribute to the area’s growth and success for years to come.”
It’s one more example of how Gwinnett County’s sister-city relationship with the Gangnam District of Seoul helps attract new employers. Dasan Machineries is joining more than 500 internationally based businesses and more than a dozen Korean-based companies that already call Gwinnett County home.
Gwinnett now boasts four of Georgia’s 17 Fortune 500 companies as Asbury Automotive recently joined AGCO Corporation, Rock-Tenn Company, and NCR Corporation on that prestigious list. And our state was the 11th largest exporting state in dollar value and the 8th largest importing state in 2013, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Partnership Gwinnett reports there are more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs in Gwinnett County and about 25,000 professional, scientific, or technical jobs. In total, there are approximately 313,000 jobs in Gwinnett. We need – and appreciate – those jobs. Census numbers show we’re still adding more new residents every year than any other county in the state. Our estimated 2013 population of 859,304 is an increase of 18,729 people over the previous year.
UGA economist Jeff Dorfman expects retail sales to grow at a normal pace in Gwinnett and incomes to creep up, with about three percent economic growth both here and nationally. Here in Gwinnett County, we see sales tax collections starting to increase and recent property reassessments showing an increase in values throughout the county.
I believe we’re at a critical point right now. We’ve had to spend time trying to stabilize things the past few years, but now we can really focus on the future. With the county’s bicentennial coming in a few years, planning is not just about the next 12 months but setting a long-term vision. I believe it’s our chance — and our responsibility — to set the path for the next 100 years.