By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
Gwinnett County Public Schools officials said recently that they expect to enroll 2,800 more students this fall. That’s more than half as many new students in one year than we had total residents when Gwinnett became Georgia’s 50th county back in 1818.
Today, our outstanding public schools teach more students than our entire population as recently as 1980. We’re continuing to attract new residents as we grow toward one million over the next few years.
I believe our enviable quality of life is a key factor in our growth and success. In addition to excellent schools, we have a wide range of housing options with big-city amenities nearby, tremendous parks and recreation opportunities, and well-maintained roads for getting around.
We also have incredible public libraries where students of all ages can get the information they need to keep learning and growing throughout their lives. With 15 branch libraries conveniently located throughout the county, you can find one close by no matter where you live in Gwinnett.
Last month we broke ground for our newest library branch, which is now under construction in Lilburn. This new, high-tech library will replace the old, hard-to-find Lilburn branch with a much larger, more prominent facility that is part of a unique partnership between Gwinnett County and Lilburn officials. The city and county governments are working together to build a new building that will house both the library and a new Lilburn City Hall.
It took years of planning and negotiations to work out exactly how to share the costs of constructing and operating this $11 million facility, but I’m proud to say that we met the challenge. And the voter-approved SPLOST program is funding the new building.
With more than 6 million checkouts a year, Gwinnett libraries have the state’s largest circulation. The library served 2.8 million visitors last year, and the number of wireless sessions at Gwinnett libraries was up 24 percent compared to 2013.
Gwinnett residents are eager to learn. We appreciate all the available opportunities we have for continuing education. We love the Internet but we recognize that it can’t replace good schools, good libraries and the dedicated teachers and librarians who know how to help.
The rapid growth of Georgia Gwinnett College, the state’s newest four-year campus for higher education, and the presence of many other post-secondary educational institutions is further proof of the demand for more and better education options close to home for Gwinnett residents.
Employers look for a well-educated workforce when they make costly decisions about new facilities or headquarters locations. Gwinnett County is a very attractive option for those jobs and investments because we offer excellent schools and libraries along with nationally recognized parks and recreation facilities.
As a lifelong Gwinnettian, I can honestly say that I’ve never stopped learning. I love this place we all call home.