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Why one Gwinnett city dropped $350K to bring in big-name musical acts

The city of Sugar Hill has a not-so-unofficial mantra these days: “Go big or go home.”

And with that in mind, the city will plop down nearly $350,000 this summer to bring big-name musical acts — legendary rock-and-rollers Collective Soul, alternative star Ben Folds and country singer Josh Turner among them — to its cozy municipal amphitheater, the so-called Bowl at Sugar Hill.

The price tag, which will be offset in part by ticket sales and sponsorships, is a hefty one for the northern Gwinnett County city of about 22,000 people.

But the whole “go big” thing isn’t just bravado. It’s part of a grander vision — and a marketing mission.

“We are building a world-class downtown, and branding our community around engagement and entertainment,” Sugar Hill Mayor Steve Edwards said. “Our Bowl is a key part of this branding success.”

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