Nine multinational corporations are in the process of substantially expanding their facilities in Gwinnett County this year, a development highlighted recently by the topping out ceremony for Matsushita Electronic Corp. of America’s Southeast regional headquarters and warehouse.

The Matsushita facility is a quarter mile-long and represents the consolidation of the company’s activities in the county. Matsushita, which sells JVC, Technics and Panasonic brands in the U.S., also operates a factory in Peachtree City and two other manufacturing plants in Columbus, Ga.

Other multinationals expanding their Gwinnett operations include:  American Express; AT&T Global Information Systems Inc.; Celleco-Hedemora Inc.; Makita Power Tools; Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc.; OKI Telecom, Fuji Film, and Volvo-Penta, a division of Volvo.

In addition, global giant Motorola has relocated its energy products division from Ft. Lauderdale to Gwinnett.

Jack Pluckhahn, a vice president at Matsushita South, said that his company was expanding in Gwinnett because of the county’s competitive incentives and the quality of its infrastructure.

“Most of our product is delivered from Western ports, with some shipments coming in from our Puerto Rico plant,” he added, explaining that the county’s rail links and highways provided the necessary access.  From its new Suwanee facility, Matshushita will ship its products to a seven-state region.

Brenda Branch, senior vice president of economic development at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, said that much of the development has occurred along I-85 toward Suwanee and Buford and along Georgia 316.  The 316 corridor, she added, is becoming a high-tech manufacturing hub due to its proximity to the Briscoe-Gwinnett Airport and the University of Georgia in Athens.

The increased presence of multinationals underlines the opportunities for other Gwinnett companies to become more internationally involved, according to Ms. Branch.  “Several hundred companies in the area have taken advantage of the county’s international programs,” she said referring to the export assistance activities of the chamber’s International Committee.

She also expects the county to benefit from “Operation Legacy,” a marketing and economic development program of the Georgia Power Co. designed to help counties throughout the state take advantage of the 1996 Olympics.

Ms. Branch may be phoned at (404) 513-3000; fax (404) 962-4390.