Driving Economic Development with Workforce & Company Growth Data

How Gwinnett County, Georgia is leveraging Gazelle and Developer

Published on Apr 17, 2024

Written by Miriam Glassman

Gwinnett County, GA is a vibrant and rapidly growing region in the Atlanta metro area. Partnership Gwinnett (PG) is the economic development organization dedicated to guiding and enabling that growth by bringing new jobs and strategic capital investment to the county. And Lightcast has the privilege of supporting that work with data and tools that helps PG do their work easier, faster, and more effectively.

In this case study, you’ll hear from Kendyl Lewis, Research & Community Development Manager at Partnership Gwinnett. Lewis’s team uses Gazelle and Developer – two Lightcast platforms that Lewis says have “done a really great job of translating the data in a way that can actually help our community.”

Below, you’ll see how the PG team uses these tools to:

  1. Identify the right businesses to recruit to their region 

  2. Understand local workforce conditions (which helps inform wage expectations for new jobs, as well as equipping PG to market their region as a desirable place to do business)

  3. Build out K-12 career pathways to strengthen the county’s talent pipeline 

Attracting the right company to a prime site

One city in Gwinnett had a valuable site and hoped to fill it by attracting a marquee company that would bolster the economy by providing high-wage jobs within the county.

However, the path forward was unclear. They lacked a dedicated research team and the necessary data to build a comprehensive business attraction plan. The city had a vision of who it wished to recruit, but didn't know if this was feasible or where to start.

The question loomed: Who should they target? And how could they find the right fit among a myriad of companies out there?

A data driven approach

They approached Partnership Gwinnett for support. In response, PG leveraged two Lightcast resources: Gazelle’s company growth data & Developer’s labor market analytics. These combined data sets allowed them to provide local analysis and research that improved their business attraction strategy.

Building an investor persona & a targeted prospect list

Partnership Gwinnett understood that building the right target audience is a crucial first step to building an effective business attraction plan.

They established that they wanted to attract a company from a growing sector such as the technology, life sciences, or the cleantech space.

They used Gazelle – a business intelligence platform that identifies and indexes growing companies across 910+ different sectors – to help them define their ideal investor and build a shortlist of prospects.

Gazelle helped us to identify high-growth potential companies actively growing and seeking a new facility like the one we hoped to have on this site.

—Kendyl Lewis, Research & Community Development Manager at Partnership Gwinnett

They used Gazelle’s verified projects feature to understand what companies look for in a location and to identify actual expansion projects that matched their investor profile.

An example of a verfied expansion project in Gazelle

“We identified 15-20 ideal companies by using Gazelle's filters and growth score. Gazelle helps us engage in more meaningful conversations that align with our mission rather than pursuing people blindly,” said Lewis.

Understanding the workforce & setting wage expectations

Another essential criteria for the ideal company was that it should offer high-wage jobs to the community. Without data or benchmarks, the city set wage expectations at a six-figure target. 

Partnership Gwinnett turned to Developer to research and analyze the local workforce and the wage distribution in Gwinnett. The findings revealed that this figure was unrealistic given that it significantly exceeded the average wage in the county.

An example of a Gwinnett Economy Overview report in Developer

This analysis led the city to pursue companies capable of offering competitive, yet realistic wages that promised wage growth over time.

Developer helped us set realistic expectations for this project, along with helping us understand and portray our labor force story.

"With Developer, we have all the data we need to show a potential investor what they can expect if they were to open a facility here,” said Lewis.

“Having all this detailed data on the labor market makes a huge difference in our work. The two platforms have done a really great job of translating the data into a way that we can actually help our community.”

Connecting Classrooms to Careers

Lewis also shared an additional real-life example of how they use Gazelle and Developer hand-in-hand to support economic and workforce development planning. 

Partnership Gwinnett is developing a comprehensive K-12 career pathways program aimed at helping students understand how they can study and build a successful future career in Gwinnett. This initiative will provide a clear view of leading occupations, detailed educational paths for those careers, and information on the top employers hiring for those roles. 

Gazelle and Developer are key components of this research project aimed at helping Gwinnett students stay and succeed in the region.

"What we like about Gazelle and Developer is that it is built for economic developers. They know what questions we need to ask and how it needs to be presented. We especially love how everything is so visual and can easily be exported and used to tell our story,” said Lewis.

“These are just two examples of how Gazelle and Developer work together to guide our economic development and workforce strategies.”

Curious how Gazelle and Developer can support your community’s business attraction and talent pipeline development efforts?