The new president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce told members that the county’s diversity makes it a model for the nation’s future. But he said leaders need to guard against cultural balkanization and work together to tackle major issues such as infrastructure.
New chamber chief Daniel Kaufman said Thursday the business coalition needs to reach out to small businesses, including Gwinnett County’s robust community of minority-owned firms.
Kaufman said Gwinnett is one of only eight counties in the nation where African-Americans, Latinos and Asians each own more than 9 percent of the local businesses. Gwinnett’s demographics have changed to a majority-minority population base from 91 percent white in 1990, he said, citing U.S. Census data. The county is now 49 percent white. Those demographics largely track what the U.S. will look like in 2030, he said.
“We are the community of tomorrow, today,” Kaufman said. “We are going to do it right and be a model (for the nation).”
Ditching the lectern at a luncheon for chamber members before a jobs fair at Gwinnett Center, the former U.S. Army brigadier general and founding president of Georgia Gwinnett College took to the ballroom floor to energize the crowd of county business elite. Kaufman was named chamber chief in March and took on the role in July.
Gwinnett, he said, has done a strong job of attracting national and multinational companies to its borders, including NCR, Mitsubishi Electric and Hyundai Construction Americas.
But the county needs to continue recruiting and developing jobs that will attract future workers. Gwinnett also must get creative financially to tackle transportation and infrastructure issues and maintain the quality of its schools.
Gwinnett has 21,000 businesses, with 15,000 having fewer than 10 employees, and the chamber must be relevant, he said, to all. Kaufman said the chamber will soon embark on a new strategic plan for the 2,700-member organization and implored members to take part in shaping that direction.