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The Vote to Expand MARTA and What It Means

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MARTA REFERENDUM

On March 19, Gwinnett County voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on this question: “Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved?”

Go Gwinnett, a registered ballot committee, wants to make sure voters understand just what a “yes” or “no” vote means to Gwinnett County and its future.

What “yes” or “no” means for Gwinnett

A “yes” vote for the Gwinnett MARTA expansion will connect the county to the rest of the metro Atlanta region, giving residents more options to get to their destinations, whether for work or play and will offer new customers the opportunity to frequent Gwinnett’s shopping and entertainment venues.

The expansion will be funded by a new one-cent sales tax that will be used solely to benefit residents of the county. “Gwinnett’s money stays in Gwinnett,” said Brian Robinson, spokesperson for the Go Gwinnett campaign. “All tax dollars collected will return to the county for local projects.”

A “no” vote will prevent the expansion, and that won’t decrease traffic. It will, however, limit the opportunities of how residents and visitors can move through Gwinnett.

More transit options

There’s no question that the current road traffic is already strained, and it’s only going to get more congested as Gwinnett grows. The partnership with MARTA will bring more options for commuters.

“More transit options will help reduce traffic congestion on the roads and provide faster commutes for riders as well as those on the roads,” Robinson said. “Gwinnett would benefit early on from double local bus and express routes, more park-and-ride lots, flex “on demand” services, “direct connect” routes and more paratransit services.” Exciting new bus rapid transit options will follow.

Additionally, the MARTA contract would extend the heavy rail line from the existing Doraville station to a new multi-modal transit hub hear I-85 and Jimmy Carter Blvd.

Something for everyone

Not only will approval of the MARTA contract make lives easier for residents and ensure smarter growth, but it also will offer more independence and inclusion for seniors and disabled residents — and bring in more Millennials.

“Fast and attractive transit options will help our county attract and keep the Millennial and Generation Z workforce critical to our economy, our schools and our neighborhoods over the next 40 years,” Robinson said.

New transit hubs will drive smart growth around those areas and boost Gwinnett’s tax base by spurring redevelopment of aging retail centers. The expanded transit options will also attract new high-paying jobs. Many of metro Atlanta’s biggest economic development announcements have come from companies that demanded close access to transit for their employees.

Money and decision-making stay here

Every penny from the one-cent sale tax goes right back into Gwinnett County. “The 1 percent sales tax approach means that 25 to 30 percent of the dollars generated will come from people who live outside the county,” Robinson explained. That means that Gwinnett will get 100 percent of the benefit with only 75 percent of the cost.

The expansion is based on Gwinnett’s plan for transit expansion and its contract with MARTA. That contract has special provisions that protect the county.

“Gwinnett maintains local decision making on transit projects and service standards, and Gwinnett will attain three seats on the MARTA board, increasing our voice and oversight in regional decisions,” Robinson said.

MARTA Referendum

Why MARTA?

Some residents may question why Gwinnett should partner with MARTA, rather than Gwinnett County Transit, to expand local services. Robinson pointed out that what MARTA offers is a higher capacity to build out new infrastructure, and MARTA has the most knowledge and expertise to develop bus rapid transit, light rail and heavy rail in the State of Georgia.

Additionally, working with MARTA is essential so that the system that is developed in Gwinnett can connect to existing transit infrastructure as efficiently as possible.

Partnering with MARTA to expand access to transit and offer more transit options is an important part of making Gwinnett County a better place to live, work and raise a family. ■

Get Out and Vote!

► Election Day is Tuesday, March 19.
► Early voting begins Monday, Feb. 25 at the Gwinnett Justice Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville 30046. Starting Monday, March 4, early voting is available Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at every early vote location until Friday, March 15.
► Visit gogwinnett.org for updates and more information.

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Town Center’s Newest Eatery, Salata Salad Kitchen Celebrates with Ribbon Cutting

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Salata Salad

City leaders and local dignitaries joined Salata Salad Kitchen owners and staff recently to celebrate the opening of the city’s newest restaurant which is located at the Peachtree Corners Town Center.

The new eatery offers tossed-to-order salads and wraps, soups, organic teas and lemonade, breads and cookies. All fruits and vegetables are fresh and chopped daily in-house. Salad offerings include five salad bases, more than 50 toppings and 10 house-made, gluten-free dressings.  A variety of flavored iced teas are available at the “Tea Tap” along with other beverages.

Located at 5210 Town Center Boulevard, the Houston-based business was founded in 2005 and has over 65 franchise locations in the U.S. The company held a ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday, Feb. 6 for its Peachtree Corners location.

Mayor Mike Mason, Councilmembers Phil Sadd (Post 1), Lorri Christopher (Post 5) and Weare Gratwick (Post 6 and Mayor Pro Tem), along with members of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber and Peachtree Corners Business Association were on hand for the grand opening.

“We are delighted to welcome Salata Salad Kitchen to our city,” said Councilmember Gratwick. “It is a great addition to our Town Center that, when complete, will feature a number of restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues for our community to enjoy.”

The 3,000 square-foot restaurant seats 72 indoors and has an 800 square-foot outdoor patio that seats an additional 32. The Peachtree Corners location marks the seventh location in the Atlanta metro area and 83rd for the company.

The following day, Feb. 7, the company held a celebration that was open to the public and donated 25 percent of its opening day sales to the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA.

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Business

Department of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Prototype Prime

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Prototype Prime

Funds to Expand the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.8 million grant to the city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, to help expand the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator in the wake of Hurricane Irma. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 143 jobs, retain 46 jobs and spur $27.5 million in private investment.

“The Trump Administration is continuing to work diligently to help rebuild communities devastated by hurricanes and other natural disasters,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The expansion of the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator will boost entrepreneurship in the region and help local businesses grow and thrive.”

“From Lawrenceville to Savannah, Georgia has the one of the best climates for job creation in the nation,” said Congressman Woodall. “High tech entrepreneurs are flocking to the Seventh District because they have incredible opportunities to build and grow their businesses. I would like to thank President Trump and Secretary Ross for investing in Peachtree Corners. I have seen firsthand how Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator empowers local startups and helps them unlock their true potential. This grant will bolster an innovative hot spot and brings Georgia entrepreneurs one step closer to a better and brighter future.” 

This investment funds the purchase the 28,000 square-foot, two story building that Prototype Prime is currently leasing. Eliminating the rental cost will allow Prototype Prime to better support its hardware and software startups. The Incubator will focus on start-up companies engaged in software development, gaming programs, and web applications.

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Atlanta Regional Commission. EDA funds the Atlanta Regional Commission to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development road map to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

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Heaven & Associates PC & Alvarez CPA & Associates Announce Merger

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Heaven & Alvarez

The accounting firms of Heaven & Associates P.C. and Alvarez CPA & Associates announced a merger, which is projected to make the combined firm one of the largest independent accounting firms based in Gwinnett County. The merger became effective January 1, 2019

The combined firm will operate as Heaven & Alvarez, LLC and will be located at 4720 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Ste. 201, Norcross, GA, 30071.  It will have approximately 10 staff members, including 2 partners, Ranae Heaven and Carlos Alvarez.

“The merger brings together two established accounting firms and creates a genuine alternative to the regional and mid-sized accounting firms in the metro-Atlanta marketplace, said Ranae Heaven.” “The culture of both firms is highly compatible, with similar client service delivery models that focus on a value-based personal service approach.”

“I sought to merge with a similarly growing firm to expand the services offered to my clients, and also have the added benefit of tapping into Gwinnett’s large Spanish speaking population,” said Carlos Alvarez. “Our practice expands the services offered to clients in the areas of small business accounting services such as payroll, part-time CFO services, and strategic business and succession planning.”

Feature image, Ranae Heaven and Carlos Alvarez

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