Rowen task force named to advise on Gwinnett development

Mason Ailstock AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Mason Ailstock AJC FILE PHOTO
Nicole Love Hendrickson, Gwinnett County Chairwoman

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A group of 18 Gwinnett County leaders have been tapped as a sounding board for plans for a massive new development near Dacula.

The members of the advisory task force, representing government, business, history, culture and education, will help local leaders determine what the development project known as Rowen should be.

“It’s really not about real estate,” said Mason Ailstock, president of the Rowen Foundation. “It’s about community and people and partnerships.”

Ailstock said he hopes the task force can help come up with strategies to ensure the 2,000-acre project — billed as a knowledge community with a focus on agriculture, medicine and the environment and modeled after North Carolina’s Research Triangle — is inclusive and creates economic opportunity for all.

It’s charged with identifying opportunities for Rowen to support, strengthen and partner with various local stakeholders.

The group will meet for the next six months but Ailstock said he expects to lean on members longer than that, as well. Its final report will be available, once it is completed, on

The task force members are: Nicole Love Hendrickson, chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners; Jasper Watkins, the Gwinnett County commissioner who represents the area; Sen. Nikki Merritt, D-Grayson; Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula; and Rep. Sam Park; D-Lawrenceville and chair of the Gwinnett delegation.

They also include: Reverend Marlon Allen, partner at Ramp Marketing; Ethel Andersen, partner at the law firm Andersen, Tate & Carr; Maj. Michelle Anglin, commander of the Community Affairs Section for the Gwinnett County Police Department; Everton Blair Jr., chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Education; Valerie Cadet, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Georgia; and Frederick Dawkins, a lawyer.

And rounding out the group are: Melvin Everson, vice president of economic development at Gwinnett Technical College; Ashish Gandhi, the CFO of OFS Fiber Optics; Doug Jenkins, the chairman of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Regional Director, Metro North of Georgia Power; Santiago Marquez, the CEO of the Latin American Association; Beverly Paff, president of the Gwinnett Historical Society; Jessica Stewart, the community program manager for Gwinnett County; and Tyler Yu, dean of the School of Business at Georgia Gwinnett College.

The project’s leaders also have a call out for proposals to create a study about Rowen’s possible impact on the region. Proposals were due Monday and a winner should be chosen later this month.