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Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is Rowen? How will it benefit the surrounding communities?
Rowen is Georgia’s hub for the intersection of business and innovation with an active focus on the environment, agriculture, and medicine. We are building a visionary knowledge community to include a combination of offices, research facilities, public spaces, residences, and preserved greenspace. The project will provide unparalleled direct and indirect economic benefits to Gwinnett County. Rowen will provide jobs, education, space for collaboration, community, and enjoyment of the site’s natural beauty.
What is a knowledge community?
Knowledge communities are a reimagination and reinvention of the traditional office and research environment. Rowen will embrace the best in design practices to create an innovation district that remains true to the natural beauty of the environment while also incorporating elements of mixed-use development throughout to create an authentic sense of place.
How did this project come about?
For years, Gwinnett County had been seeking the right place to create new opportunities in eastern Gwinnett. The county engaged a group of consultants to develop a plan and secure land, and they did so while embracing a knowledge community mindset – utilizing the site’s vast green space to cultivate business and innovation. Rowen will offer unique opportunities that are rooted in science, informed by history, and anchored by the natural resources found in the Georgia Piedmont.
Who is leading this project?
The venture is managed by an independent foundation, the Rowen Foundation, which ensures the long-term vision of the property is never sacrificed for short-term gain. The Rowen Foundation partners with Gwinnett County to fund land acquisition, the design and installation of needed improvements, and the curation of valuable public and private partnerships.
What is the Rowen Foundation’s vision for this project?
While there is space on site for many large buildings, the Rowen Foundation intends to take a comprehensive approach, incorporating nature and preserving the beauty of the land within the design of the space. The result will be a place where 100-year-old oak trees will inspire 25-year-old innovators. Residents of Gwinnett will enjoy the natural surroundings and pathways connected to the greater region while researchers and innovators collaborate in dynamic inspiring workplaces. Rowen will be an integrated, well-designed community with a global reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship, yet open and accessible to Gwinnett and the larger region.
What is the timeline for the project?
Currently in the planning and partnerships phase, Rowen’s initial Phase 1 infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, utilities) will break ground in late 2022 and a Rowen Convergence Center is expected to be complete in 2023. We are not building a typical multi-use development or office park; rather we are carefully cultivating a living community that is highly collaborative, inspiring, and accessible. With a 30+–year projected full build-out, this community will be constantly evolving and adapting to changes in research and development of the innovation economy.
Why this location?
Easy to access from across the state, Rowen is in the heart of three vibrant metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the Southeast, equidistant from several state research hubs and an easy drive from most of Georgia. With access to some of the nation’s most educated workforces, this location will allow for unprecedented knowledge sharing.
How did this project get its name?
Rowen alludes to the second harvest, or a second cutting of hay, which is metaphorically what will happen on this site. The land has been cultivated for centuries to provide sustenance for those who lived there and the community around them, and this “second harvest” on the site will bring forth ideas and innovations that will drive a new economy for generations to come.
What type of research will happen at Rowen?
The project will bring together various elements of research with a particular emphasis on innovation-driven agricultural, environmental, and medical research enterprises and the enabling technologies that connect these sectors. The site is not being marketed to industrial, heavy manufacturing, distribution or large-scale “big box” retailers.
How can I build here, open a business here, or get involved?
Rowen is still in the early stages of development and will provide multiple opportunities for local and global businesses to be involved across its estimated 30-year build-out. Please fill out our contact form, and we will look forward to exploring your needs and interests.
Can anyone build whatever they want on the site?
No. The majority of the Rowen site will be a mix of offices, research spaces and public greenspace. The Rowen Village and Convergence Center close to University Parkway will anchor the space. What can be built at Rowen is controlled by the county’s zoning code as well as our own design standards and covenants, which were adopted by our board in 2021.
What kind of businesses will come?
he vision for the project is one of a dynamic, convergent space that encourages businesses of all types to invest, grow and thrive. We anticipate most businesses to be knowledge-based and rooted in research and discovery, particularly with roots in the medical, agricultural, and environmental fields. There will also be opportunities for ancillary businesses to support the knowledge-based firms, as well as neighborhood amenities to serve Rowen’s workforce, residents, and visitors. Rowen will look very different than existing developments across the County. We will not see large format shopping centers or heavy manufacturing at Rowen.
Will small businesses be able to locate on the property?
Yes. We will have a variety of spaces for companies of all sizes. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Rowen will be a home for innovators.
What is the projected economic impact of this innovation district?
According to a preliminary economic impact analysis conducted in March 2020, Rowen will generate an estimated 18,500 jobs by 2035. Being planned and built with a long-term view, Rowen is estimated to bring 100,000 jobs to the Georgia economy, generating up to $8-10 billion in ongoing labor income annually at full build-out.
Will the public be able to access this space for their own personal use?
Yes. We plan to make Rowen a resource for the entire community. Rowen’s vision is that of a place that blends the beauty of the natural environment with innovative design that will welcome visitors to gathering spaces for community-building through the arts, learning, recreation, and entertainment.
Is multi-family residential the primary goal of the residential or will there be single family homes?
Rowen will be a knowledge community first—with space for labs, offices and other research space. The community will also include a variety of amenities such as cafes, parks, trails, and public spaces. For the limited space devoted to residential, we will focus on multi-family housing near a town center designed to promote an accessible, walkable community and conserve greenspace. We do not anticipate single family residential uses on the site, nor do we anticipate multi-family outside the Rowen Village.
What are some of the goals in the short-term that will help achieve long-term economic impact projections?
Near-term economic impacts will be focused on construction and infrastructure investments as the site is built out, as well as programmatic partnerships driving thought leadership. Long-term the site will be home to a range of companies, higher education and research partners that bring new jobs to the region, aligned with and supporting Rowen’s programmatic drivers of environment, agriculture, and medicine. We foresee research taking place in areas such as food sources, medical treatments, vaccines, climate change, renewable resources, urban ecology, and many others. This also includes the countless enabling technologies that power innovation in these areas, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, and microelectronics.
How is Rowen being funded?
Rowen receives funding through a Loan Agreement with the Development Authority of Gwinnett County. As the project is developed and land is sold, the Foundation will repay the loan plus 2% annual interest.
How are we attracting partners?
We know that Rowen will not be an isolated area of opportunity, and its success depends on strong partnerships locally, as well as across the institutions and firms that make up the innovation economy. Through active local and state engagement, thought leadership, and strategic connections, we are building cross-cutting partnerships with local communities and like-minded people and organizations that share our vision. Our Partnerships – with our community, businesses, educational institutions, civic and nonprofit organizations, and local and state officials – will help us create an authentic knowledge community that is inclusive, educates and inspires, and provides opportunities for growth and advancement. We have established a strong board of directors and worked with local leaders through our Gwinnett Community Advisory Task Force (GCAT).
Will ample greenspace be included in the Rowen Foundation plans for development?
Land conservation and environmental stewardship are pillars of the Rowen vision. The Foundation is committed to incorporating greenspace, trails, parks, and environmentally protected areas throughout the project.
What is going to be done to preserve the historical aspects of the property?
Rowen has completed a Cultural Resources Study in partnership with the University of Georgia that has identified historically significant areas for protection or restoration, and those findings are being incorporated in our design plans.
What types of transportation options will be available at Rowen? How will Rowen promote other types of non-auto options?
Rowen envisions the creation of a variety of transportation options to ensure accessibility for employees, visitors, and the community. The Foundation is actively working with the County and State to ensure long-term planning incorporates multimodal transportation solutions for all to utilize as they travel to and around Rowen.
What are we doing for existing residents to mitigate the effects of construction and traffic?
Rowen is easily accessed from both Highway 316 and Highway 129, so construction traffic will arrive on main thoroughfares. Construction will occur over a long period, which will minimize direct impacts. Also, Rowen’s general contractor will produce a traffic control phasing plan that will be made public for construction per Gwinnett County Planning & Development requirements. The Development of Regional Impact (“DRI”) process, completed by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), assesses overall impacts of large projects and was completed for Rowen. The Rowen Foundation is working with its traffic engineer and planning teams to appropriately address any resulting future transportation issues. Through this analysis, transportation improvements will be planned over the course of the next ten to fifteen years to help minimize the impact of traffic on the surrounding community. As the development process continues, Rowen will communicate regularly with the community about its plans.
How have you communicated with the public about Rowen?
Since the project was announced in September of 2020, we have hosted numerous public meetings, including three in Dacula, and had 100s of 1-on-1 conversations to discuss the project. These included opportunities for input on the vision, design and connectivity of the project. We have also engaged a variety of leaders from Gwinnett County through our Gwinnett Community Advisory Task Force who provided feedback through a six-month-long formal process and conducted a detailed cultural resources study of the 2,000-acre site. There has also been extensive media coverage of the project in the local and regional press. Local perspectives are also represented on our board by longtime Dacula resident Sam Hinton and Georgia Gwinnett College President Jann Joseph.
More information can also be found on our social media channels, primarily via our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages. People may also wish to view our recent Town Hall and Community Update videos or provide comments here for direct feedback.