Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson Thursday addressed hundreds of business owners and residents during the third annual State of the County.
The theme of Hendrickson’s speech came with a strong focus on serving the community with intention. She said the primary reason Gwinnett has solidified itself as a “proven leader in the region” comes from the people who help the community forge a path forward.
“The choices of almost a million people — and more over the years — created Gwinnett’s steady past, its vibrant present and its promising future,” Hendrickson said. “And whether subconscious or not, every decision we make is guided by intention — the choice to proactively solve a problem. It’s the small, yet intentional acts of bravery, kindness and support that fuel the Gwinnett spirit. This is serving with intention.”
Hendrickson cited the county’s proven track record of improving quality of life through water testing, public safety initiatives, a low unemployment rate and public-private partnerships. During her address, Hendrickson took care to conduct a moment of silence for fallen Gwinnett Corrections Officer Scott Riner, who was killed when he arrived to work last December. Gwinnett Police quickly found and arrested the suspect in the case.
Hendrickson touched on many points of impact for the county, starting with gun crimes and safety programs.
“Our police department is also leveraging technology to reduce and respond to gun violence,” Hendrickson said. “When a gun-related crime is committed in Gwinnett, our Gun Crimes Unit uses ballistic science to connect shell casings from scenes to guns possessed by suspects.”
Officials report the database is able to link up nationally and make connections to other crimes around the country. Hendrickson reported that connections between various public and private organizations in the county are what lead to the success of the Gwinnett Safe Communities Program. The program allows police to work with the community to have access to cameras, plate readers and other assistive technology.
On matters pertaining to housing and homeless shelters, Hendrickson said the county is doing what it can to help combat rising housing prices to bring them down to more affordable rates.
“Over the next few years, in partnership with the Gwinnett Housing Corporation and Gwinnett/Walton Habitat for Humanity, we will be able to provide 390 affordable low-income housing units,” Hendrickson said. “But the work doesn’t end there.”
There are currently plans to use federal funds to transform a multi-family building in Lawrenceville into shelter units that will serve adult men and couples with no children.
Another note in Hendrickson’s address was on public transit, emphasizing the new look and name of the system. In early 2023, the transit system was renamed Ride Gwinnett.
“Not only does it tell you what to do, this new name and look connects with Gwinnett County’s brand to show riders that they can expect the same great service they get from their county government in their local transit,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson rounded out her address by shedding light on the future using the Rowen Project.
“Late last year, I joined federal, state and local partners to break ground on the Rowen knowledge community — another gleaming example of intentional collaboration that will unlock opportunity for Gwinnett and beyond,” Hendrickson said. “Built atop a portion of the land being supported by our Eastern Regional Infrastructure project — which is bringing water, sewer and trails to 8,500 acres in east Gwinnett — Rowen will be home to innovation in the agricultural, environmental and medical fields.”
Rowen plans to maintain their goal of 30 percent of the contractors being small, women and minority-owned businesses.
“I’m proud of this community, of the people who, for generations, have decided to pour immeasurable time and effort into making Gwinnett somewhere we can feel accepted, supported and safe,” Hendrickson said at the end of her address.