Longtime Gwinnett County business owner and Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District board member Mark Williams shares his views on the role of Community Improvement Districts to keep communities safe and economically vibrant.
Land and buildings go through a natural evolution over time, which means that, just like a home needs upkeep and occasional remodeling, so too do neighborhoods and communities. In broad terms, the phases of a communityâ€™s evolution are:
- Raw land
- Development occurs
- Excitement and growth
- Flight and abandonment
It has always been my contention that communities do not have to hit the point of devastation before going through revitalization, which is why community improvement districts like the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (GPCID) are a vital public/private means of protecting an areaâ€™s economic vitality. In partnership with Gwinnett County and other community stakeholders, GPCID exists to fund revitalization projects, ranging from cleaning streets and providing security to making capital transportation infrastructure improvements that keep our area safe and attractive for the thousands of employers, employees and visitors who work and play in the district each day.
The GPCID is comprised of the local commercial property owners who self-impose a tax on their properties. The funds collected pay for a staff that wakes up every morning with one thing on their to-do list â€“ to find ways to improve the area and keep it thriving. All is done under the guidance, leadership and at the direction of an elected Board of Directors of property owners and representatives. As the central business district for Gwinnett County, it is imperative that Gwinnett Place maintains the ability to attract large, medium and small businesses and support their growth. To that end, GPCID was a leading proponent for the establishment of the Gwinnett Place Tax Allocation District (TAD) and the Greater Gwinnett Place Opportunity Zone, which has resulted in the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs. CID also is our communityâ€™s voice to our local and regional elected officials, but goes much further than that.
Since the CIDâ€™s inception, crews funded by the organization have removed over 165 tons of trash from area roadways. This trash would still be blowing around in our streets if it were not for GPCIDâ€™s efforts. By hiring a local security staff to provide community patrols, and working with law enforcement in the area, GPCID has helped improve public safety. In fact, the area experienced a 29 percent reduction in crime between 2007, the year GPCID began its public safety initiatives, and 2015. Other initiatives have changed mobility in the district, including new sidewalks, signage, intersection improvements, and even Gwinnettâ€™s first diverging diamond interchange or DDI bridge at Pleasant Hill and I-85. These are just a few of the many accomplishments of the GPCID and more improvements are planned and will soon be underway.
The next time you drive through the Gwinnett Place CID, take note of the clean right of ways, the properly timed traffic light signals, the improved traffic flow, the signage, and the lack of trash laying at the curbs. The area is being revitalized, and the GPCID is leading the way.
GPCID Board Member and Owner, Printing Trade Company