Snellville: Economic engine with deep roots
By Auveed Bagheri Cawthon
Over the last 90 years the City of Snellville has transitioned from a farming community into a daytime destination for many. Snellville has become a retail hub spurred by development on Highway 78 and, later, Highway 124 with more businesses in the works to make Snellville home.
The following restaurants are currently being built in Snellville: Chipotle, Zoes Kitchen; Lincoln Fill Station & Home Brew and Café 1711.
The City of Snellville has a residential population of 18,242 (2.3% of Gwinnett County population) and a daytime population of approximately 100,000. Snellville is a destination for Gwinnettians and residents of surrounding counties.
Are you wondering why there is such a daytime explosion of people coming into Snellville?
“Snellville is an amazing city and we offer everything from a major hospital, parks, library, movie theaters, bowling alley, great restaurants and shopping. Sometimes living here people get used to all of the amenities we have and take them for granted. But we are lucky because not every city has all that Snellville has to offer,” says Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz.
Mayor Kelly Kautz is the first female Mayor of Snellville and was elected in 2011. Prior to becoming Mayor, Kelly served on the Snellville City Council for 5 years. Mayor Kautz grew up in Snellville and is a 1995 Brookwood High School graduate. She is a practicing attorney in Snellville and Graduate of UGA Law School.
“The City of Snellville is very service oriented toward all their citizens and do an especially good job of working to support their business community. They have lowered taxes by a full mill over the past four years, provide great entrepreneurial assistance through their Economic Development Department and their Planning staff has a very can-do attitude. As a result, they are seeing a lot of new commercial growth,” says Amy Henderson, Georgia Municipal Association.
Kautz says, “Our Planning Department is great. The staff go above and beyond in helping to attract business. It’s important to note that not only are we attracting new business we are home to family businesses that have been here for decades that helped mold Snellville into what it is today.” Snellville’s economy is driven by healthcare and entrepreneurship.
Snellville is home to the thriving Eastside Medical Center, a 310-bed facility. Eastside has more than 520 affiliated physicians and employs more than 1,200 experienced healthcare professionals trained to provide exceptional medical care for the Gwinnett community. E.R. Snell Contractors, Inc and TOMCO are large employers who have been based in Snellville for decades.
With a visionary community focus to redefine Snellville’s Towne Center area in place, the City is also following an economic development roadmap know n as the Strategic Action Agenda. Snellville leaders and staff facilitate and support economic development and revitalization by working closely with developers and companies through fast tracking pre-application and permitting processes.
In March (2014), the mayor and council unanimously approved a contract with Tucker-based Root Design Studio to create a master plan to improve the look and feel of the city’s Town Green.
In recent years, the Town Green, located in front of City Hall at the intersection of Highway 78 and Oak Road, has become the “front yard” of the city, a place where numerous concerts and events, including the city’s nationally recognized Farmers’ Market, take place. The City of Snellville has launched innovative programs to support entrepreneurship and small business growth. Creating successful homegrown businesses is a track to the long-term diversification of Snellville’s economy.
In 2012, to help guide the city’s economic development, city members came together to foster a vision for growth. “The City of Snellville is fostering greater economic opportunity by promoting small business and entrepreneurship, developing exemplary talent and leadership, and pursuing targeted economic development opportunities that improve its residents’ quality of life and diversify its economy. “The City of Snellville is working hard to be more than an entrepreneur friendly place. It is working hard to create an entrepreneur ecosystem. The city through its partnership with the Snellville Entrepreneur Council (and other organizations - GECC (Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce; Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce; the Entrepre-neurship Alliance high school entrepreneur program, and others) is striving to create a “rainforest” that does more than encourage success; the City seeks to provide fertile ground for small and start-up businesses to thrive,” says Eric Van Otteren, Economic Development Manager, City of Snellville.
“From where I sit I see the efforts of Snellville, their entrepreneurship council and Eric Van Otteren as a shining example of proactive local entrepreneurship efforts. You would be hard-pressed to find a City with better or more effective entrepreneurship activities and results anywhere in the Atlanta region.,” says Nick Masino, SVP Economic Development, Gwinnett Chamber. While Snellville has grown so have the roots of a community of its people.
“As Mayor there are many community organizations, non profits, school functions, and civic events to support including our own through Snellville Tourism and Trade. The great thing about Snellville is we have such a strong community of citizens and organizations that help each other and fill a need in our community. There is so much diversity in our different organizations and events that there is something for veryone to do or get involved in. As Mayor, I try to get involved and support as many groups and events as I can,” says Mayor Kautz.
Snellville is home to both South Gwinnett High School and Brookwood High School and by extension Grayson High School and Shiloh High School.Some Snellville residents attend the Grayson School Cluster and Shiloh High School is close by.
“Many people reach out to us beyond the city’s limits and we try to get them involved. What happens on the outskirts of the city affects our community too. Since I have been elected I have especially tried to establish a better relationship with all of our local schools both inside and out of the City limits. As elected officials the decisions we make today especially with economic development will probably influence our youth more than anyone, so their voices and concerns need to be heard. That is one reason I have started the Mayor’s Roundtable a monthly meeting with high school students from each of the local schools," says Kautz.
Snellville Tourism and Trade is a destination marketing organization that was formed in 2010. Their mission is to promote business, tourism, and events in the City of Snellville. The overall goal is to help market Snellville and make it a destination that many people will want to visit and spend a night or two in one of Snellville’s hotels.
“We are very proud of all of our accomplishments in such a short time. We have the #1 Farmers Market in the nation, Community Garden, five major annual events on the Towne Green which are the Beach Blast, Star Spangled Snellville, Around the World Visits Snellville, Fall Festival and the Christmas Tree Lighting, food truck events, concert series, and an outdoor movie series. However, we would not be as successful without the support from our elected officials and the community support from our sponsors and volunteers. Our volunteers are what make us great. They are the heart of the city. We are all about “Connecting our Community to Celebrate Snellville,” says Kelly McAloon, Executive Director, Snellville Tourism and Trade.
Summit Chase Country Club recently celebrated 40 years and is home to many fundraisers and a strong community partner of many non-profits in the area.
“Summit Chase is proud to be a part of the Snellville community. Whether it is partnering with a group like Snellville Tourism and Trade to do an event, providing facilities for the local schools, or being a wedding venue for a local family, we are always working to make Snellville a great place to live, work and play.”
In December, Governor Nathan Deal visited Snellville and attended an event at Summit Chase Country Club.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is getting to travel all over our state to meet and speak with hardworking and industrious Georgians. Traveling to Snellville reinforced that belief. Snellville is a vibrant community with a strong economy and vision, a deep talent pool and a skilled workforce. I'm confident it will continue helping lead Georgia's comeback,” says Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
The 1st Annual Jamie Britt Memorial Golf Classic
presented by South Gwinnett Comets Football
Faces of Snellville Days 2014