Monday, April 12, 2010

Nurturing the Spirit of Enterprise

By: Jim Maran, Gwinnett Chamber President & CEO

When you think about all of the assets that make Gwinnett County great, what do you think of? Solid infrastructure? Good schools and government? Visionary leadership? A safe and prosperous quality of life? A pro-business atmosphere?

These all immediately come to mind and we see every day how we benefit from these assets that are the envy of other communities throughout the United States.

But I believe our greatest asset is our people; especially our entrepreneurs and small business owners. These are the unsung heroes of our success. Without these risk-takers and pioneers, the Chamber and our community would languish in mediocrity.

Often times, it is the massive relocating corporations like NCR that capture the headlines and generate the most buzz in our community. And while we certainly love to land – and all benefit from – these highly visible opportunities, the hidden truth is that it is our home-grown small businesses that create most of our new jobs each year. And it's those same small businesses that make up more than 85 percent of the Chamber's membership. That's why we invest a significant amount of our programming and resources into developing and growing small business.

But there is more to the legacy of Gwinnett's small businesses than job creation.

In my previous career with Motorola, I spent more than 30 years traveling the globe, working with communities and peoples from Asia Pacific and Western Europe to South America and here in the United States. In all of my travels, I can affirm that Gwinnett exemplifies the highest standards for entrepreneurial spirit and energy that exist anywhere in the world.

And the benefits of our people's spirit and energy are enormous. These are the people that built our Chamber – both figuratively and literally. These are the people that made Gwinnett Georgia's most powerful and influential county. These are the risk takers who used their creativity, talents, wealth and hard work to ensure the success for hundreds of community events and nonprofits from the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life to the Hi-Hope Service Center to Rainbow Village and countless others.

On April 23rd, we'll celebrate the best in small business and non-profits at our Pinnacle Small Business Awards Presented by AJC Media Solutions. This is an opportunity to celebrate our community of innovators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers (and their non-profit counterparts) that built the dynamic economy and community we enjoy today.

Nothing characterizes the Gwinnett community and our Chamber better than its small business members. And we have much to learn from them.

In these economic times, we need to do all we can to ensure the spirit of enterprise flourishes throughout the entire community, state, and nation. It is exactly that spirit that is quietly laying the foundation for tomorrow's recovery and our brightest future hopes, dreams and opportunities.

For that, small business owners deserve not only our appreciation and gratitude. They deserve our business.

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