Google: Suwanee is 2014 eCity

Google has announced that the City of Suwanee is Georgia's 2014 eCity and one of the country's digital capitals. This designation from the global technology company recognizes Suwanee as having the strongest online business community in the state.

"We're thrilled," says Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, "and if I could speak in emoticons, I'd add several of those to this statement. More seriously, I'm very proud of our connected, forward-thinking, and engaged community. Like many of our businesses, the City of Suwanee has worked hard to keep pace with electronic technology and the opportunities it presents, maintaining a dynamic website, having a strong social media presence, and, most recently, making our website mobile-friendly.

"We know that e-commerce is a big part of Suwanee's thriving economy and we welcome that, and we'll continue to embrace electronic and other technologies to further strengthen our economy and overall community."

To determine America's digital capitals, Google and IPSOS, an independent research firm, analyzed the online strength of local small businesses in cities across the country. Factors considered included whether small businesses had a website, used a blog, promoted themselves via social networks, sold goods directly  from their website, and had a mobile-friendly website.

"Clearly there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in Suwanee, which should be embraced," says Brett Williams, Google's director of SMB marketing, Americas. "Businesses in Suwanee are turning to the internet to start and develop their own businesses and we hope Suwanee becomes an inspiration to other areas in the country."

Two hours to safer driving

The Suwanee Police Department is offering a free two-hour program designed to assist parents and their new teen drivers. Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 12, at the Suwanee Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

The course focuses on driver attitude, knowledge, and behavior. Rather than a technical, hands-on driver training program, PRIDE addresses seat belts, crash dynamics, Georgia's teen driving laws, parental influence, and peer pressure.

The course is free and open to the public, but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is required by November 5. A parent or guardian is required to attend with their teen.

The City of Suwanee Police Department offers PRIDE in cooperation with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.

We've got questions; you've got answers

Over the first couple of weeks of November, a random selection of City of Suwanee residents will receive an invitation to participate in the 2014 National Citizen Survey. This marks the fourth time that the City of Suwanee will participate in the survey, which is administered by the National Research Center and International City/County Management Association on behalf of local jurisdictions. The City typically conducts the survey every two years.

Residents' responses, which are anonymous, are tabulated and benchmarked by the National Research Center with more than 500 other local jurisdictions around the country.

Results from the 2012 survey indicated that 99 percent of residents found Suwanee an excellent or good place to live and would recommend living in Suwanee. The City was also ranked #1 by its residents, compared to other participating jurisdictions, in four categories: land use, planning, and zoning; preservation of natural areas; city parks; and availability of affordable quality child care.

The randomly selected 1,200 Suwanee households that will be invited to participate in the 2014 survey may complete and return a hard copy, which they will receive via the postal service, or complete the survey online. Only those households who were randomly selected may participate in the survey. The deadline for completed surveys will be around the middle of December.

Survey results assist the City with community planning, resource allocation, program improvement, goal-setting, and policy-making. Results from the 2014 National Citizen Survey are expected to be available in the early spring.

An opportunity to serve

The City of Suwanee is accepting applications from individuals interested in serving on the City Council-appointed Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. Positions are available only to City of Suwanee residents. Applications are due by November 5; a résumé and cover letter may accompany applications.

The five-member Planning Commission:

  • reviews rezoning and special use permit requests as well as amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and makes recommendations to City Council
  • reviews and decides on proposed waivers to the City's development regulations and proposed architectural alternatives to the City's architectural standards
  • undertakes special studies and reviews as directed by City Council.

The five-member Zoning Board of Appeals reviews and issues rulings related to variance requests and appeals of administrative decisions. Appeals Board decisions are not subject to the review of City Council and can be appealed only to Gwinnett County Superior Court. 

The Planning Commission typically meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month. The Appeals Board meets, as needed, typically at 6:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month.

For questions about these volunteer positions and boards, contact Planning and Inspections Director Josh Campbell at campbell@suwanee.com or 770/904-3372.

Be part of Suwanee's 'event-ful' scene

Races, festivals, concerts, movies, food trucks, and more – oh my! If your organization would like to be part of the City of Suwanee's eclectic event calendar in 2015, now is the time to submit an application. The City will accept applications for privately sponsored 2015 community events through December 10. Applications should be submitted with the $25 application fee; additional fees will be assessed for approved events.

Once the City's 2015 event calendar is approved in January or February, no additional events will be added. Please note that submission of an application does not guarantee approval. Events will be evaluated based on dates requested, event type, and overall variety.  All events should be free and open to the public.

Each year, Suwanee Town Center hosts more than 40 community events – nearly half of which are planned by private groups and community organizations.

"We're excited to see what kinds of creative event ideas people bring us for next year," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "We're really looking for something new, different, and fun that not only will bring visitors to our community, but also will be really enjoyable for Suwanee residents."

Snap – and share – Suwanee

Photos offer a great way to communicate – be it a thousand words or just 140 characters. The City of Suwanee's annual Snap! Suwanee photo competition provides a means for participants to capture and share images that communicate something telling about the Suwanee community.

Photo submissions for the 2015 Snap! Suwanee competition are now being accepted through December 31.

Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Click here for additional guidelines and an entry form.

Winning photographs will be exhibited, beginning in March 2015, for an approximately one-year period at City Hall.

Photographers may also share their entries with via Instagram. Use the hashtag #snapsuwanee15.


The Suwanee Town Center Master Plan is one example of community plans effectively implemented by the City of Suwanee.

Suwanee attains 'PlanFirst' designation

The City of Suwanee is in the inaugural class of 10 Georgia communities being recognized for excellence in community planning. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) awarded the PlanFirst designation in recognition that Suwanee not only creates good community plans, it also implements them well.

"Good planning by local communities is the hallmark of economic growth," says DCA Commissioner Gretchen Corbin. "These are communities that can serve as statewide models for others in how to actively and strategically implement a vision for the future."

Thirty communities applied to the PlanFirst program in its inaugural year. Designated communities had to demonstrate a proven record of plan implementation success in areas that included goals, leadership, and community participation.

In addition to Suwanee, these communities are part of the PlanFirst inaugural class: Athens-Clarke County, Braselton, Coweta County, Gainesville, Johnson County, Jones County, Madison, Vienna, and Woodstock.

These 10 communities will receive their award at the Capitol on January 28, and the designation will last for three years beginning January 1. The designation means that these communities can take advantage of various incentives, including public visibility, eligibility for funding, and certain reduced interest loans.

Winning streak

The City of Suwanee has recently received awards or recognition from a variety of state, national, and international organizations.

The City's Connects community newsletter and 2013 annual report have been recognized. The newsletter won two Awards of Excellence in September, in the printed publications-external publications and graphic design-publications categories, from the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA). Connects is written by City of Suwanee staff and designed by the Veugeler Design Group in Buford.

Earlier this summer, the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report received Excellence in Financial Reporting recognition and its annual report earned a Popular Annual Financial Reporting award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The publications are compiled and designed by City of Suwanee staff.

One of the City's annual events, Woofstock, co-sponsored with Star 94 radio, received a Georgia Downtown Conference Award of Excellence in August. The City was recognized in the promotions category with a silver award.

Finally, the City of Suwanee has been recognized for its performance management efforts with a Certificate of Distinction from the International City/County Management Association's (ICMA) Center for Performance Analytics. Suwanee is among 11 jurisdictions nationwide to receive the Certificate of Distinction and one of 49 (and one of two in Georgia; Decatur being the other) recognized overall. More information.

Student leadership – beyond the classroom

After meeting with a variety of community leaders, developing their individual leadership philosophies and skills, and logging more than 700 community volunteer hours, more than 50 local high school students have completed the City of Suwanee's inaugural Suwanee Youth Leaders (SYL) program. SYL is designed to build youth leaders in the community and outside the classroom.

"SYL has given me a chance to work deeper within my community on a level I had never experienced before," says Mimi Zhang, a senior at North Gwinnett High School. "I have a better understanding of how complicated and structured our City really is."

Suwanee's SYL program started in January with students meeting on a monthly basis to participate in activities designed to enhance their team-building, communication, and leadership skills. In addition, students attended Leadercast in the spring, helped plan Suwanee's August Food Truck Friday event, and volunteered at Suwanee's August concert and Suwanee Fest.

"We now have a group of young people who have more knowledge of their community and how local government works, and the work that goes into building community," says Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson. "The City wanted to develop a real connection with our schools and find a way to meaningfully encourage youth involvement as prescribed in our 20/20 strategic plan."

The Suwanee Youth Leaders program will be offered again next year and will run March-September. The program is open to current sophomores and juniors who attend public, private, and home-based schools in the North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge clusters. Applications will be available on this website beginning in November.

Photos by Karl Lamb

Fore! Disc golf course is open

Suwanee's new disc golf course at Suwanee Creek Park is now open on a first-come basis to area residents. Hole one is located near the Buckeye Pavilion, but golfers may start play from any of the course's 18 holes.

"A disc golf course was one of the suggestions that citizens put forward through the park enhancements survey we did in 2010," says Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth. "It fits with the passive nature of Suwanee Creek Park yet offers another reason for folks to come use the park."

The course opened on May 3 with a tournament organized by the Gwinnett Disc Golf Organization. About 80 people played in the tournament. Designed by John David, a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association's Hall of Fame, Suwanee's moderate-level course begins and ends near the Buckeye Pavilion at the top of the Suwanee Creek Greenway trailhead and meanders largely along the soft surface trail. No fee or registration is required to use the course.

Early users of the course seem to be impressed. "Awesome course," said Jennifer Montgomery on the course's Facebook page. "Tight and technical, keeps you honest! And heads up y'all, 15, 16 and 17 are brutal!"

"Great addition to the Gwinnett Disc Golf scene," said Kason Moody. "Lenora is pretty much wide open, Alexander is the perfect mix of open and wooded, Suwanee Creek is a beautiful, wooded, and technical course…. A great course to get better at your accuracy."

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