Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle said he was sitting in a dentist's chair last week when he took a call from Gwinnett Technical College President Sharon Bartels, and it could have been a very bad situation. Instead, he got some really great news, hearing that the college's North Fulton satellite campus was coming to Alpharetta.
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Belle Isle gave credit during Monday's City Council meeting to companies with offices in the city for convincing Alpharetta was the place for Gwinnett Tech's new campus.
The City Council knew what having a campus in North Fulton meant, and how valuable it would be for workforce education, he said. Gwinnett Tech's campus would help the city retain companies and attract new companies. And with the new Alpharetta Technology Commission, "there's a lot of reasons to think this would be a good match."
"So, earlier this year, with the support of this council, we basically threw an introductory gathering for Gwinnett Tech," Belle Isle said.
The city had the chance to introduce some key business leaders to Gwinnett Tech, such as Red Prairie, McKesson, ATT, Verizon, North American Properties, Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Alpharetta High Principal Shannon Kersey, Janet Rodgers, who heads the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and others. Councilman Jim Gilvin also attended.
"It really turned out to be just an incredible evening," Belle Isle said.
What the city decided to do at the gathering was different than any other suitor for the satellite campus, the mayor said. Each business was invited to say why they had chosen Alpharetta.
"They pretty much made the pitch. There really wasn't much for us to say," Belle Isle said.
Alpharetta had reserved the 20th spot on the Alpharetta Technology Commission for Gwinnett Tech as well.
But the City Council and Alpharetta Development Authority's $4 million incentive to attract the satellite campus couldn't have hurt. Each city or private entity that presented Gwinnett Tech with an option to pick its site for the campus was required to commit to $5 million to the project in anything from donated land to improvements to the infrastructure that serves the campus.
"This is a really great deal in Alpharetta. It doesn't get much bigger or better than this," Belle Isle said.