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Stop Talking. Start Doing.

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IBM has a great advertising campaign, centered on the theme, "Stop Talking. Start Doing." I love it.

And for those of you that know me and our philosophy at the Gwinnett Chamber, you know that very same theme applies to our world view.

For years, many people have talked about creating a biotech corridor between Atlanta and Athens, with Gwinnett at its heart. Now is the time to "Stop Talking and Start Doing" the things we need to in order to turn this vision into a reality.

The Chamber is working to achieve this on two fronts this spring. In this column, I”ll talk about the first critical objective – expanding our life science educational opportunities. Next month, I”ll cover the second – the creation of the Innovation Crescent Regional Partnership. Stay tuned.

First, we must all rally to actively lobby our state leadership to ensure the Governor”s proposed budget includes funding for a much-needed Life Sciences Building at Gwinnett Technical College. As many of you know, this is one of the top priorities for our 2008 Legislative Agenda and is critical to the Chamber and Partnership Gwinnett”s efforts to build a thriving life science cluster in Gwinnett.

This is important for two reasons – the attraction and expansion of high-wage life science companies and the creation of high-wage jobs in this lucrative industry.

In 2006, life science giants Merck and Novartis both chose not to locate along the Highway 316 corridor because they perceived that there weren”t enough educated and skilled people to meet their workforce needs.

And if that weren”t bad enough, the demand for training of the healthcare workers in Gwinnett falls primarily upon Gwinnett Technical College, which serves approximately 600 people per year in its health sciences programs.

Yet, because of the lack of classroom space, they had to turn away 6,260 applicants to health science programs last year.

They were unable to serve 92 percent of their applicants – Gwinnett residents seeking the education for the higher paying jobs so vital to our community”s overall quality of life.

The additional capacity this building will bring – some 1,685 students per year – will benefit all sectors of Gwinnett County”s population – residents needing care, providers striving to serve patients, students wanting the knowledge to work in the field and employers needing a skilled workforce. This is good for Gwinnett!

This March, make sure you thank our legislators who are working hard to keep this critical project in the budget. Working together as a team with our legislative delegation, we can "Stop Talking and Start Doing" incredible things that will put Gwinnett on the map in the life sciences sector.