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Asian Businesses Power Fast Growing County in Georgia

Photo Credit: The Blissful Glutton

Forty years ago, Gwinnett County, Georgia, was largely a sleepy rural area dominated by farmlands and pastures. Today it is a thriving, diverse suburban hub that helps power Atlanta’s business and cultural growth. And during those years of growth, Asian businesses and residents have played a key role in developing the quality of life and business infrastructure that continues to power the region.

Gwinnett is the second-largest county in Georgia and the most racially diverse, with the largest Asian and Hispanic populations in the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gwinnett’s Asian population grew from 43,096 in 2000 to 84,763 in 2010. By 2012, an estimated 10.8 percent of Gwinnett’s 825,000 residents were Asian – almost triple the 3.4 percent rate for the entire state of Georgia.

Since the 1980s, Gwinnett has consistently been among the top five fasting-growing counties in the United States. (It took first place in the mid-1980s and is currently ranked fourth.) Gwinnett borders Fulton County and northern Atlanta, putting it within 20 minutes of downtown Atlanta and 45 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Interstate 85 splits the county, providing easy access to the airport, the Atlantic port of Savannah, and a transportation network that spans the Eastern Seaboard. The proximity to the transportation hub of Atlanta has been a major factor fueling Gwinnett’s growth over the past three decades

The Asian community has been a strong part of that growth, with a number of businesses and individuals choosing to locate in Gwinnett. Koreans and Taiwanese were one of the first to come to Atlanta, but in recent years, a growing number of mainland Chinese have arrived. The Buford Highway (Georgia Highway 13) corridor, which spans Gwinnett and neighboring DeKalb County, has long been an international community that has drawn Asian immigrants for decades. Significant populations of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian and other Asian residents are found there, as well as large Mexican and Central American communities.

The diverse Asian influences have created a vibrant community of restaurants, bars, karaoke rooms, grocery stores, coffee shops, clothing stores and other specialty retailers. There is also a strong services industry, ranging from Asian doctors, lawyers, bankers and other professionals to beauty salons and traditional Korean bathhouses (Jjimjilbangs). Many Asians have put down roots in Gwinnett, buying homes and sending their children to college in Georgia.

Asian Firms Drawn on Deep Pool of Business Resources

As one of the fastest growing counties in the United States since the 1980s, Gwinnett has built a deep infrastructure of organizations and other resources to help businesses locate here and thrive. Fortune 500 companies such as NCR, AGCO and Rock-Tenn are based in Gwinnett, alongside thousands of other enterprises. The county “caters to domestic and international businesses of all sizes and works to promote the industries of advanced communications, information technology, manufacturing, healthcare and corporate headquarters,” according to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Like most U.S. communities, the Gwinnett Chamber is a great first contact point for businesses interested in the area. The Chamber has more than 2,700 members in the Atlanta area. Its objectives include “to create jobs and wealth, strengthen the community and your business,” and provide programs “to connect your business regionally and globally.” 

The Chamber can provide information about local business incentives that target companies relocating and expanding in Gwinnett, such as property tax abatements, fee reductions or waivers, and industrial revenue bonds.  It can also provide insights into such Georgia incentives as job tax credits, state-designated opportunity zones, and the “Quick Start” job training program.

While the Gwinnett Chamber has programs aimed to help foreign firms and entrepreneurs do business here, there are also many other organizations in the metropolitan Atlanta area that focus on Asian businesses. Those include the Association of Chinese Professionals, Organization of Chinese Americans/Georgia Chapter, Chinese Business Association of Atlanta, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Korean American Chamber of Commerce, Philippine American Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. There are also a vast number of community service and cultural groups, such as the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (with offices in Duluth and Atlanta), the Asian American Resource Center and NAAAP-Atlanta.

Asian entrepreneurs can also call on Gwinnett’s colleges and universities for a vast array of information and support services. The University of Georgia operates a Small Business Development Center in Lawrenceville that provides low cost training and free consulting services that includes assistants with developing business plans, market analysis, financial strategies, compliance and legal issues, and preparing loan applications to start or expand a business. Gwinnett Technical College provides comprehensive training and workforce development services, ranging from customized group classes for a given business to individualized computer training courses. Classes can be provided at your workplace or at the George Busbee International Center for Workforce Development in Lawrenceville.

From its international business focus to its diverse local community, Asians continue to play key roles in developing the quality of life and business expertise that make Gwinnett County the Atlanta area’s leading hub for technology, bioscience and innovation in Georgia’s information-based economy.

Questions or comments? Please email Michael Fenton at mfenton@atlantapacificgroup.com