Development Authority of Gwinnett County authorizes bonds to advance sustainable community that will integrate collaborative research, office, living and civic spaces
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (Aug. 25, 2020) — Gwinnett County and the state of Georgia today announced plans for an independently led, nearly 2,000-acre knowledge community, Rowen, which will include a combination of offices, research facilities, public spaces and residences, along State Highway 316 just east of Dacula.
Planned to foster the convergence of innovators, ideas and inspiration to solve the problems of the future, Rowen will bring together public institutions and private industries to share talent, technology and discovery in three focal areas: agricultural, medical and environmental sciences. The accessible, networked, walkable community will provide a new way for individuals to live, investigate, collaborate and uncover scientific advancements with the potential to impact lives.
“By planning to focus on three of our state’s historical economic drivers and areas of expertise — agriculture, the environment and medicine — Rowen has the potential to create a new chapter of discovery and innovation that will enrich the State of Georgia for many years to come,” said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. “This project holds tremendous promise as an exceptional addition to our strong economic development porfoolio.”
Rowen is located in eastern Gwinnett County with over two miles of frontage on each side of SR 316 (also known as University Parkway) on several large, adjacent parcels of land generally bounded by GA Highway 8, the Apalachee River and Williams Farm Road. The location is equidistant from Atlanta, Athens and Gainesville, Ga. — which have a collective GDP of $405 billion — an easy drive from more than 50 Fortune 1000 headquarters and within one hour of more than 50 research and educational institutions. Substantial infrastructural improvements are planned or underway along 316, which will ultimately enhance the site’s connectivity to the region.
“The most important job for leaders is to carefully consider the future of their community,” said Charlotte Nash, chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. “This board has been seeking an opportunity that can create impacts not just for our current residents, but their children and grandchildren. By partnering with our Development Authority and the Rowen Foundation, we can achieve that goal while also preserving and allowing access to some of our community’s most spectacular natural environments.”
The project will be managed by an independent not-for-profit foundation. The Rowen Foundation will ensure that the mission of Rowen remains consistent and is diligently executed over time, functioning similarly to the foundation that oversees North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Structurally, Gwinnett County is supporting the Development Authority, which will provide the initial loan to the foundation to purchase the land for $60 million and an additional $10 million for infrastructure, then provide funds to support the foundation in establishing operations until supported by its own revenues. As the foundation sells land over time, the Development Authority and county will be repaid for their investment. No state subsidies or tax breaks are being sought at this time. Over time, the Gwinnett County government and the Development Authority anticipate working with a variety of local, state and federal entities to ensure appropriate transportation and utility infrastructure is available for the project.
“The potential impact of Rowen is tremendous,” said Foundation Chair Sachin Shailendra. “Preliminary analysis shows we could see 18,500 diverse, quality jobs generated by 2035 from building this new hub for thinkers and entrepreneurs, and that number goes up exponentially as we move toward 2050. But, more importantly, we envision a community that makes game-changing discoveries that can shape the direction of the world even as we create opportunities for Georgia’s best and brightest to flourish here at home.”
Much of the land for the proposed project is in the process of being acquired from local families who carefully stewarded it for generations, and Rowen will remain true to their legacy. Other parcels are already under control by the county or foundation. While the site could accommodate hundreds of large, commercial buildings, the foundation intends to take a very different approach, incorporating nature and preserving the beauty of the land’s natural forests and rolling hills within the design of the space, including the preservation of hundreds of acres of greenspace.
The word “rowen” refers to a second growth of grass or hay and symbolizes property that has been carefully cultivated for decades to provide sustenance for those who live there and the community around them. As its name implies, Rowen will be the “second harvest” on this site, bringing forth ideas and innovations that will drive a new economy for generations to come.
The three programmatic drivers for Rowen are rooted in the history of the site and the state: medical, in line with Georgia’s history of healthcare innovation and strong healthcare economy; environmental, where the unique preservation of the site, its river frontage and proximity to Atlanta allow for research and innovation at diverse scales; and agricultural, an industry in which Georgia has long been a giant but in a region where large tracts are quickly disappearing.
“As a purpose-focused ‘mega site’ in the metro Atlanta region, this project offers a unique opportunity to tie the unmatched research capabilities provided by our university system to strategic industry areas where the state excels — agriculture, the environment and health sciences,” says Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “We applaud the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners both for bringing this opportunity forward and for their approach to governance and planning that is focused on long-term benefits. We look forward to marketing this strategic site domestically and internationally.”
Proposed for nearly 2,000 carefully preserved acres along Highway 316 in Gwinnett County, Ga., Rowen is a visionary knowledge community that will bring together entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators at the intersection of the Atlanta, Athens and Gainesville metropolitan statistical areas and more than 50 research and educational institutions. A new multi-use concept designed to foster discoveries in agricultural, medical and environmental sciences, Rowen will build on the land’s rich history of thoughtful environmental stewardship, while changing the economic and social trajectory of Gwinnett, Georgia and our nation for generations. For more information, please visit www.rowenlife.com.
About Rowen Foundation
Rowen Foundation is the independent, mission-driven, not-for-profit entity leading the planning and visioning of Rowen, a proposed innovation district in Gwinnett County, Ga. With its mission to be a catalyst for education, research, innovation and transformation, the foundation is responsible for project leadership and operations to ensure the long-term vision for Rowen is never compromised.
Contact: Brian Brodrick
Rowen Deal Structure and Key Dates
- Aug. 18, 2020 – Gwinnett County designates millage of .30 mil to support Development Authority of Gwinnett County
- Aug. 25, 2020 – In separate meetings, Development Authority of Gwinnett County and Gwinnett Board of Commissioners authorize $70 million in bonds to purchase majority of Rowen site and fund associated infrastructure. The Development Authority also agreed to provide funds annually to the Rowen Foundation, which will manage the project moving forward, until it becomes selfsustaining.
- September – December 2020 – Land purchased by Rowen Foundation with loan from the Development Authority of Gwinnett County
- 2021 – Infrastructure planning and construction; global awareness building
- 2022 – Transportation, wastewater and other infrastructure construction; global recruitment
- 2023 – Initial tenant recruitment, construction