Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Executive Roundtable: A Sounding Board for Your Success

Like most small business owners, it is often times difficult to share some of your challenges with your staff for a variety of reasons. If you look outside your business, how do you know who to trust and who doesn't have a hidden agenda? You need a sounding board, a place where you can talk with non-competing firms who have "been there, done that."

The Gwinnett Chamber's Metro Atlanta Council for Entrepreneurship offers a unique sounding board, the Executive Roundtable, for business owners. The Roundtables serve as an exclusive association of dynamic business leaders designed to build business knowledge and increase productivity and profitability. Roundtables are peer group forums for entrepreneurs, executives, and business owners that directly impact an organization's bottom line. The groups offer a confidential sounding board for up-and-coming and small-to-medium sized companies.

"Executive Roundtables are the perfect sounding boards for up-and-coming and small-to-medium sized companies," commented Melissa Britt, program manager, Gwinnett Chamber. "As an added benefit to the Executive Roundtable, membership to the Metro Atlanta Council for Entrepreneurship is also included when you join."

On March 31, Gwinnett Chamber small business owners will have the opportunity to get to experience the Executive Roundtables at one of four open Roundtable meetings. The special presentation and roundtable discussion will feature Al Simon of Sandler Training. The presentation, "The Curveball Approach to Managing Salespeople," will give business owners insight on how to get productivity out of your sales team who are up against an anti-selling environment.

"The economy has thrown everyone a curveball," said Simon. "The Executive Roundtable meeting will help you teach your salespeople how to hit a homerun off of what the economy has thrown at them."

Many may ask why focus on the sales people, and not the customer or products. Simon explains that it is important to focus on the sales people in anti-selling environment because people who are managing sales people today have at least one, if not both, of the following situations: 1) if adversely affected by the economy, the sales people are getting 'beat up' on price over and over, and 2) with technology like email and voicemail, prospects hide from open and frank conversations with salespeople so that they can stay in control of the deal. This causes a problem to arise, says Simon, where the sales people have a tough time staying motivated.

"It is very difficult to perform well when you feel you can't gain proactive control. The boss tells them to 'do this and do that,' the prospect won't answer their calls, and they get frustrated," says Simon.

At the meeting Simon will discuss best practices for motivating sales people, how to coach them effectively, and how to understand them in a way that makes it easier and more effective to get them to be productive. After the presentation, attendees will split into different roundtables and discuss best business practices and different issues they will be facing in the year to come.

Join us for the first Executive Roundtable Quarterly event of 2010 by registering at

To officially join an Executive Roundtable, an application and a confidentiality statement must be submitted. After the application is received, it is reviewed by the facilitators for group placement. The program application fee is $150, which includes membership to the Executive Roundtable and the Council for Entrepreneurship. This is not a leads generating group. For more information on the Executive Roundtable, visit

Connecting Gwinnett’s Business Leaders with Georgia’s Legislative Delegation

A historic day was marked on February 25, 2009 when Gwinnett County and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce were recognized as indispensable contributors to past and future economic development successes of the State of Georgia by a Senate resolution. This special day in Gwinnett County history was also declared Gwinnett Day at the state capitol by the same resolution.

The Gwinnett Chamber will once again hold Gwinnett Day at the Capitol Presented by AT&T on February 24. Following a full day of lobbying for issues important to Gwinnett, the Chamber will wrap up with a reception in the historic "Depot" where the Chamber will host the entire Georgia General Assembly while showcasing the best of Gwinnett. The reception will present a wonderful opportunity for Chamber members and guests to speak with local and statewide representatives to discuss any ongoing legislation.

Last year, the Gwinnett Chamber's first annual Gwinnett Day at the Capitol Presented by AT&T was commemorated by a celebration at the historic Georgia Freight Depot to recognize Gwinnett's state elected officials. The 700 guests, many of whom took the Gwinnett Chamber's shuttle bus from the Chamber to the Depot, enjoyed all things Gwinnett while mixing and mingling with the Georgia Legislative Delegation. The Gwinnett Gladiator's Maximus, Georgia Gwinnett College's General, and Gwinnett Braves' Chopper were there to give guests a warm Gwinnett welcome. Giving everyone a taste of Gwinnett, Gwinnett Technical College's Culinary School, Mellow Mushroom – Lawrenceville, Ashiana's Indian Restaurant and Peterbrooke Chocolatier provided hors d'oeuvres.

Gwinnett Day at the Capitol Presenting Sponsor AT&T's Regional Manager Delores Crowell commented that the Day at the Capitol is a Gwinnett business leader's best opportunity to connect with their legislative representative during the session in an informal setting. "Your elected officials want to hear from you. Your opinions and feedback is not only valued, but it is often a critical factor when considering legislation and its impact on businesses."

Likewise, Senator Don Balfour said that "Gwinnett Day at the Capitol is very important in helping to inform all the legislators about the issues that affect Gwinnett County. This event was very successful last year."

Don't miss this great opportunity to meet one-on-one and discuss the 2010 legislative session with Georgia legislative delegation, the Gwinnett Chamber Board of Directors, and fellow business and community leaders.

Register today for Gwinnett Day at the Capitol to reserve your spot on the shuttle bus running from the Chamber building to the Georgia Freight Depot. The shuttle will leave the Gwinnett Chamber at 4:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $45 for Chamber members and $55 for non-Chamber members. RSVP to Natalie Shore at 770-232-8812 or or

An Interview With…Matt Hyatt, President, Rocket IT

Persistence and dedication are two words to describe Rocket IT's successful climb. Starting his own company at age 25 with little more than an idea and a plan, Matt Hyatt was born to be an entrepreneur. But it wasn't easy.

Sweeping changes in the industry and massive new competition, followed by unpaid collections from his largest customer, left Matt's fledgling company burdened with debt and unable to meet its obligations. Facing possible bankruptcy, Matt moved the company home and completely transformed the way he did business, working for more than a year without salary to repay creditors and to breathe new life into Rocket IT.

Today, Matt and his team have much to celebrate on his company's 15 year anniversary. Since 2002, Matt has grown his technology support company from only himself to nine employees. Rocket IT has enjoyed remarkable growth in a challenging economy, too. In 2009, company revenues grew more than 24 percent and profits grew a whopping 331 percent. Similar past successes brought him recognition last year when he received the Small Business Person of the Year Award for the 1-9 employee category at the Gwinnett Chamber's Pinnacle Small Business Awards.

Matt is a true Gwinnett business success story, and as the General Membership Meeting Presenting Sponsor for the third year as well as a new Gwinnett Chamber Board member, Matt shared with the Chamber how he has achieved such growth while reinvesting resources into Gwinnett to ensure our community continues to thrive.

Creating Jobs & Wealth
Q. Rocket IT has recently gone through an expansion with new employees and new service offerings. What are some of the factors that have enabled Rocket IT to expand in this tough economy?
A. There are a number of factors. Economic conditions have challenged many business managers to move out of their comfort zones and to try new things, including outsourcing IT, which has opened new doors and new opportunities for us. Fortunately, we were prepared for the increased demand. We've built a great team and we have a well-developed system. Perhaps most importantly, we offer a proven service that helps businesses drive dollars to their bottom lines. In this economy, that's a very good thing!

Growing Your Business
Q. As your company celebrates 15 years of being in business, what tools or concepts have been the most useful for growing your organization?
A. Without a doubt, getting outside help has been the single most useful thing I've done to grow Rocket IT. Building on relationships I've established at the Gwinnett Chamber and the Chairman's Club, I've made it a point to take another business or community leader out to lunch almost every day. I've learned a lot just by spending time with really smart people! I've also hired coaches, attended workshops, read books, joined peer advisory groups, prayed, and outsourced things I'm not good at. I can honestly say that hundreds of people have contributed to the success of Rocket IT, and many of those relationships were initiated in the Gwinnett Chamber Chairman's Club.

Q. What role has new technology, such as social media, played in the growth of your company?
A. Great technology is an accelerator, and social media is no exception. Tools like Facebook and LinkedIn have allowed us to connect with our community and to stay in touch with large numbers of people in a short amount of time, and we've certainly benefited from that at Rocket IT. We've used social media tools to get to know the people in our community, to share news and information, even to find and recruit new employees. We're still big believers in one-to-one communication, of course, but social media is a great supplement to traditional communications.

Strengthening the Community
Q. Rocket IT recently hosted students from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (GSMST) for a job shadow event. How do you feel this benefited the students as well as your organization? Why do you feel it is important to reinvest in the community?
A. Yes, about a dozen students from GSMST visited recently. It was a lot of fun! They spent some time shadowing Wendy Frank and Eric Henderson, two important members of my team. I also shared the story of Rocket IT and how I came to be an entrepreneur. I think we were successful in giving the students a taste of the amount of work and determination required to build a great business, and how important an education is to success. We were honored that the school selected Rocket IT for a visit and we'd jump at the chance to do it again.

We enjoy being an active participant in our community, and we all have a vested interest in helping that community thrive. Our families, employees, and customers are here, after all. Besides, there's a certain sense of fulfillment that comes from helping people. It feels really good to help others succeed.

Jobs, Small Business Growth, Mobility Top Chamber’s 2010 Priorities

By: Jim Maran, President & CEO, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

Under the leadership of Chairman Bartow Morgan of Brand Bank, the Gwinnett Chamber's top 2010 priorities are a renewed focus on attracting and keeping high-wage jobs; attracting and growing high-growth entrepreneurial firms and small businesses; and securing critical funds to address the region's and state's transportation crisis.

In today's economic climate it's no surprise that the Gwinnett Chamber's top priority is to increase efforts nationally and abroad to attract high-wage jobs through our Partnership Gwinnett Economic and Community Development Strategy. We will continue efforts to target businesses in the nation's "Rustbelt" communities as well as Europe and Asia including groundbreaking new marketing efforts targeting the emerging industry cluster of "Digital Entertainment." We already have an enviable record of success in economic development where we were recently the only community in the nation to recruit two Fortune 500 global headquarters in less than a year (NCR from Ohio and Asbury Automotive from New York). Gwinnett has also led the state in job creation since 2000 and, despite the current recession, more than 115 companies expanded or relocated in Gwinnett since Partnership Gwinnett's launch in 2007 resulting in more than 6,000 new jobs.

A second priority is strengthening Gwinnett and the region's network, culture and resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses through new programs like our Metro Atlanta Council for Entrepreneurship. Since its launch a year ago, the council has already assisted more than 1,000 entrepreneurs in developing their leadership, sales, financial and strategic planning resources. The Chamber also hosted more than 350 business development events attracting a record 35,000 participants in 2009. Small businesses account for 85 percent of our membership, 97.9 percent of all the businesses in Georgia, and employ 46.7 percent of the state's non-farm, private sector workers. They are the heart of our Chamber and our nation's workforce.

The third priority for the Gwinnett Chamber is to relieve traffic congestion. Since the end of last year's legislative session, the Gwinnett Chamber has been working behind the scenes with leaders in the House and Senate, Georgians for Better Transportation and GDOT to work with lawmakers to secure new funding for all modes of transportation. Due in large part to those quiet negotiations, there is for the first time a consensus among the House, Senate, and the Governor to get funding legislation passed. More than 85 percent of Gwinnett-based CEOs and entrepreneurs have told the Chamber in business retention and expansion interviews that transportation is the number one obstacle to their future growth in Georgia. It is time to remove that obstacle and get Georgia moving again.

Creating wealth through job creation. Growing our local businesses and entrepreneurs. Strengthening our community by reducing traffic congestion. These are just three ways the Gwinnett Chamber will be working for the citizens and businesses of Gwinnett and Metro Atlanta in 2010.

Valor Awards: Celebrating Gwinnett’s Public Safety Professionals

In celebration of the men and women who protect and serve our county by always being prepared, the Gwinnett Chamber and Presenting Sponsor Mobile Communications of Gwinnett, Inc. will host the Valor Awards on March 26, 2010 at 11:30 a.m. at The Atlanta Marriott – Gwinnett Place. The keynote speaker at the event will be Sergeant Major Billy Waugh, Green Beret and CIA Operative. This special reception will honor those in public safety by presenting awards to the men and women who have given the most to protect and serve the citizens of Gwinnett. The program will feature the presentation of the Purple Heart Award, Lifesaving Award, Public Safety Person of the Year, Public Safety Unit of the Year, Communications Person of the Year, Medal of Merit and the Medal of Valor.

In honor of the fifth anniversary of the Gwinnett Chamber's Valor Awards, there are five very good reasons why you should attend this year's ceremony, including:

Number One: Because Gwinnett's first responders are there for us when we need them.
For Mobile Communications of Gwinnett's Cathy Nichols, the Valor Awards gives her the chance to give back to Gwinnett's first responders. "We take for granted that when we dial 911 if a child is hurt or a house is on fire or there has been a car accident that our first responders will be there…every time."

Nichols, who serves on the Valor Awards Steering Committee, noted that too often, we forget to thank this group and the Valor Awards allows us the opportunity to pay tribute to a few of these local heroes.

Number Two: For all the little things that our public safety professionals do to keep our community safe that oftentimes go unnoticed.

Duluth Police Department Lieutenant Bill Stevens, who also serves on the Valor Awards Steering Committee, reminds us of many incidents that go on every day all over our county without the public ever seeing their public safety officers' efforts.

"Take for instance the icy conditions we experienced in early January," said Lt. Stevens. "On days like that, we have both fire and police vehicles on the roads early in the mornings ensuring patches of ice don't become death traps. On the fire side, engine companies check on home-bound individuals making sure they are safe and warm."

Other acts can be seen on a daily basis from the law enforcement community, Lt. Stevens added, including everything from officers changing tires on cars to training adults on how to put a child passenger safety seat in their vehicle to correcting safety hazards on roadside construction. "Incidents, such as when the Duluth Police Department found an elderly gentleman wondering around the city who could not remember who he was or where he lived, often go unnoticed. One of our officers was able to locate the man's family three hours away and provided personal funds for a meal until his family arrived. The Valor Awards gives the community a chance to thank public safety professionals however small or large the heroic act."

Number Three: They put themselves in the line of fire to protect us.
Valor Awards Steering Committee Member and Gwinnett County Police Officer Major Mindy Bayreuther's fondest memories of the Valor Awards was last year when the Gold Medal of Valor was awarded to Gwinnett County Police Department Officer James Huth and the Purple Heart Award was given to Corporal William Hoch and Sgt. Michael McKeithan. "All three officers, who put themselves in the line of fire while serving an arrest warrant, received a standing ovation at the ceremony. Although the officers will tell you that they were just doing their jobs, they performed extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism. The Valor Awards gives the officers the opportunity to be recognized by the community for their huge sacrifices."

Number Four: The business community and public safety professionals must work together to keep our community safe.
Major Mindy Bayreuther also commented that the Valor Awards reinforces the importance of working together to keep our community safe. "We need each other. The citizens are our eyes and ears. They are an important piece of the puzzle providing crucial information that leads to arrests of criminals that otherwise would be on the streets."

Valor Awards Steering Committee member and Gwinnett County Assistant Fire Chief David Dusik added that working together creates a better educated public that is proactive to safety instead of being reactionary.

Number Five: To simply say, "Thank you."
Amazed by the stories of Gwinnett's men and women in uniform, Nichols said that you often hear these men and women say that they 'didn't have to think about it' or 'it's just what I do.' "The Valor Awards gives the community the opportunity to see the sacrifices that our police, fire, sheriff, dispatch and EMS personnel make for us every day and thank them."

An excellent way to show your appreciation to these dedicated men and women is to sponsor a table at the Valor Awards. Sponsorships allow public safety professionals and families of those nominated for awards to attend the luncheon. Your company will be recognized in the awards program and the table will be reserved for the honorees in your company's name.

Join the Chamber and Presenting Sponsor Mobile Communications of Gwinnett in saying 'thank you' to Gwinnett's public safety professionals. For more information on sponsorships or to register for the Valor Awards, contact Nicole Wright at 770-232- 8816 or or visit

Thursday, February 11, 2010


February 19 Breakfast to Feature Presentation from Sitherwood on "Hard Hats and High Heels: Women in Leadership"

Duluth, GA- Gwinnett Chamber members and guests will have the opportunity to take a peek in to Atlanta Gas Light President Suzanne Sitherwood's closet full of suits, heels, purses, hard hats and uniforms as she presents "Hard Hats and High Heels: Women in Leadership" at the February 19 GLOW: Gwinnett's Leadership Organization for Women meeting Presented by Gwinnett Medical Center. The event will be held at 7:45 a.m. at Sugarloaf Country Club

If onewere to take a look in Sitherwood's closet, her wardrobe would show that women can do it all! While you'll find the expected power suits, stilettos and purses in Sitherwood's closet, you will also find a few items that might surprise you, including a hard hat and a uniform. These would be from her early days at Atlanta Gas Light Company. In 1980, when Suzanne joined Atlanta Gas Light, her first job was working out of one of the gas trucks doing maintenance. Working in a man's world is nothing new for Sitherwood, especially considering her childhood where she grew up on military bases in a world full of aircraft carriers and tanks. Now as one of the state's most dynamic executives, she is not only leading the company where she has worked for 30 years, but she is also the first woman to chair the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in its 100-year history.

Sitherwood is diligently leading the way during a time where women make up almost half of the labor force and still represent fewer than 16 percent of directorships andthreethree percent of chief executive officers in Fortune 500 companies. Fortunately, Sitherwood and many of the women leading the way through these rarely chartered waters are more than willing to open their closet doors and share what they've learned from their voyage with all of us.

"This seminar is a great chance to hear and learn from a woman who is leading the way in a male-dominated industry," commented Nicole Wright, program manager, Gwinnett Chamber. "Backed by her tremendous experience, Sitherwood will discuss how to reach new heights and attain leadership positions."

Those interested in the February 19 meeting are encouraged to visit GLOW's blog and write about some of the items that may be found in their closet that has led them to their current success. "Every woman has a story of how they have achieved success," said Wright. "Whether you got your start from humble beginnings or achieved overnight success, we would like to hear your story."

The cost to attend the breakfast is $35 for Chamber members and $45 for non-Chamber members. All no-shows will be billed. Walk-ins are not guaranteed a seat. To RSVP, please contact Nicole Wright at 770-232-8816; e-mail; or visit


Named one of the top three large chambers in the United States by ACCE, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's membership varies from FORTUNE 1,000 companies to innovative startups, and stretches across the Atlanta region, from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to UGA in Athens. Representing more than 7,200 members, the Gwinnett Chamber is the Southeast's 6th largest chamber and focuses on creating and growing quality job opportunities while enhancing the community's quality of life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Chairman Bannister to Give Community's Outlook at February 10 Joint Meeting

Duluth, GA- The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Quality Growth will be hosting Gwinnett County Board of Commission Chairman Charles Bannister and the Board of Commissioners for the annual State of the County Address Presented by Comcast and SKANSKA on February 10, 2010 at 11:30 a.m. at the Gwinnett Center. Attendees will have the chance to hear the Chairman's vision and plan for the county in 2010 and get an update on the County's efforts in economic development, revitalization, public safety and transportation. The Chairman will also show how the county is working to improve the overall quality of life for Gwinnett citizens.

"Gwinnett County continues to lead the region in infrastructure development, quality of life and economic development. I look forward to Chairman Bannister's outlook as he leads Gwinnett to a robust and prosperous 2010," said Michael Paris, president and CEO, Council for Quality Growth.

2009 was a year with a manifold of economic and revenue issues affecting personal, private and public entities. Gwinnett County, its cities and the State of Georgia are still weathering this complicated fiscal storm. At the address, members and guests will have the opportunity to hear from Chairman Bannister on how Gwinnett County has proactively managed the enormous, historic economic challenges by forming the citizen-led initiative, Engage Gwinnett: Citizens Committee for the Future of Gwinnett County. Attendees will also hear about the adoption of the final 2009 millage rate by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, which represents an increase of 2.28 mills to fund much needed services including libraries, parks and public safety. Don't miss this exclusive opportunity as Chairman Bannister reviews the County's 2009 achievements and lays out his vision for 2010 and beyond.

"Gwinnett County is in an exciting time with a future that is promising and hopeful. The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners is working hard to create and maintain prosperity," said Jim Maran, president and CEO, Gwinnett Chamber.

"We are pleased to welcome and hear Chairman Bannister speak at the State of the County Address."

For more information on the State of the County Address, visit


About the Gwinnett Chamber

Named one of the top three metro chambers in the United States by ACCE, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's membership varies from FORTUNE 1,000 companies to innovative startups, and stretches across the Atlanta region, from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to UGA in Athens. Representing more than 7,200 members from more than 2,500 firms, the Gwinnett Chamber is the Southeast's 6th largest chamber and focuses on creating and growing quality job opportunities while enhancing the community's quality of life.

About the Council for Quality Growth

The Council for Quality Growth works to ensure continued growth and economic success for generations to come by providing advocacy, information and education to its members. The Committed to the mission of promoting balanced and responsible growth, the Council is proactively involved in the formulation of policy and legislation critical to the growth and development industry. The Council addresses, head-on, strategic economic planning, infrastructure needs and tough quality-of-life issues throughout the metro Atlanta region and state.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Public Service, Legacy, Hudgens and Citizen of the Year Awards Presented at Awards Ceremony

Duluth, GA- The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce will celebrate Gwinnett's finest citizens, as well as a record-breaking year for the Gwinnett Chamber, on February 5 at the 62nd Annual Dinner Presented by Gwinnett Medical Center, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Annual Dinner, to be held at the Thomas P. Hughes Grand Ballroom at Gwinnett Center, will highlight Gwinnett's success and honor those who have made a difference in our community.

"The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's 62nd Annual Dinner is a time of reflection, celebration, and most importantly, a time of recognition of those who keep Gwinnett's future shining bright," says Jim Maran, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

The 2009 Chair Kerry Armstrong and 2010 Chair Bartow Morgan will join Maran in recognizing the outstanding contributions of several Gwinnett pacesetters who continually give of themselves to ensure that success lives in our community. The Gwinnett Chamber will also honor the 2009 Board of Directors, recognize newly appointed directors, and give several prestigious awards to Gwinnett's pacesetters.

Yesterday, Ambassador Service Awards were presented to Al Brown with Group, LLC and Martin Birkbeck with American Family Insurance
for their outstanding commitment, dedication and service to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. The Gwinnett Chamber is pleased to announce that Martin Birkbeck will be named the Gwinnett Chamber's 2009 Ambassador of the Year.

The five Public Service Awards will be presented to Jay Eun, Golden Stella, Inc..; Berney Kirkland, chief of staff, Gwinnett County Public Schools; Dr. Daniel J. Kaufman, president, Georgia Gwinnett College; Philip R. Wolf, president, Gwinnett Medical Center; and Jock Connell, former Gwinnett County administrator. These awards are given to individuals who have gone above and beyond over the years in their service to the community and its residents.

The Legacy Award, honoring the memory and legacy of an individual who has made a difference in the history and progress of Gwinnett County, will be awarded posthumously to the life of Wayne Shackelford. The award will be given to Wayne's wife, Anna Shackelford. With a photographic memory, brilliant mind, and booming voice, Shackelford crafted a successful career that included serving as Gwinnett County's top administrator in the 1970's as well as in the private sector, shaping Atlanta landmarks like Phipps Plaza. Wayne became commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation in 1991 and served in that role until mid-2000. He received global accolades for guiding the department's preparation for the 1996 Olympics and was instrumental in the creation of the Department's Transportation Management Center and the new I-85/316 interchange in Gwinnett, both named in his honor.

"Wayne was a true leader and one of the most amazing visionary and courageous men many of us have every known," reflects Maran. "While he blessed us with him many talents, we were the ones that were truly blessed by having known him these many years. Wayne is one of the few rare souls that left a significant legacy for the public and countless memories for those of us in private that will be remembered for generations to come."

This year's D. Scott Hudgens Award will be presented to the The IMPACT! Group. Accepting the award on behalf of the The IMPACT! Group will be The IMPACT! Group President Tom Merkel. The award is given in honor of Scott Hudgens, a respected developer and philanthropist who unselfishly gave of his time and talents to ensure that many others, especially those with limited means, would benefit from his treasure. The IMPACT! Group's work is more critical today than at anytime since its creation in 1992 by the Gwinnett Coalition of Health and Human Services. Formed to create and preserve quality, affordable housing as well as provide an emergency shelter program in Gwinnett, The IMPACT! Group focuses on three areas including transitional housing, home ownership, and serving low and moderate income residents by developing affordable housing units through The IMPACT! Real Estate Division. In 2009 alone, The IMPACT! Group provided housing to over 5,000 Gwinnett County families, which equates to over 12,300 people. Current projections call for those numbers to continue to rise with over 6,000 families and 17,700 people expecting to receive their services in 2010.

Dr. Manfred Sandler, partner, Cardiovascular Group P.C., will receive the prestigious Citizen of the Year Award. This year's Citizen of the Year comes to us from Johannesburg, South Africa. Dr. Sandler first called Gwinnett home in July 1994 and has never looked back. He is a partner of the prestigious Cardiovascular Group P.C. Since 1994, he has served in many leadership roles within the Gwinnett Hospital System. He has embraced the Gwinnett community and currently serves as vice chairman on the Gwinnett Hospital System Board and on the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee. It was during his initial 10 years of practicing Cardiology in Gwinnett and metro Atlanta that he and his colleagues realized the need for a full service cardiac facility in Gwinnett. This would save countless lives and provide treatment to thousands of Gwinnettians in the future. Dr. Sandler embraced this challenge and served as the physician's champion, leading Gwinnett Medical Center's effort to attain the certificate of need for Open Heart services. Thanks to Dr. Sandler's tireless efforts and solid community support, approximately 18 months after the initial filing, with the withdrawal of all opposing hospitals, the Department of Community Health ruled in favor of Gwinnett Medical Center and we're now preparing for Open Heart Services in Gwinnett. Because of Dr. Sandler's actions in both the operating room and in society, countless lives throughout our community will be saved and have a better quality of life. Because of his leadership and the aforementioned accomplishments he is truly worthy of the Gwinnett Chamber's 2010 Citizen of the Year.

"Leaders such as Wayne Shackelford have blazed the trail to success and the end result has been a Gwinnett that is one of the most innovative, diverse and dynamic communities in the nation. Through the strength and vitality of leaders like Jay Eun, Berney Kirkland, Dr. Daniel J. Kaufman, Philip R. Wolf, Jock Connell, Tom Merkel, and Dr. Manfred Sandler our community continues to flourish, so that people from every race, religion, culture, and creed can call Gwinnett home," says Maran.

For more information on the Annual Dinner, contact Alicia Krogh at 770-232-8809 or