When Alvin Keitt was a 5th grader in small-town North Carolina, he won an art contest with his drawing of the Taj Mahal. He dreamed of visiting the famed monument one day. Little did he know that five decades later, he’d realize his dream alongside his wife, Renae, and a team of business leaders on the first-ever Embark trip hosted by the Gwinnett Chamber.

In February 2023, Mr. and Mrs. Keitt, toured the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India on the Embark trip, an exclusive travel program with once-in-a-lifetime excursions for C-level executives who are part of the Gwinnett Chamber Chairman’s Club. “This trip was amazing. We learned so much by experiencing other cultures, living habits, foods, and businesses. It was a true dream,” says Mrs. Keitt. “And the Taj Mahal was even more beautiful than we had expected.”

The group toured business districts, cultural centers, and top attractions across Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE as well as Delhi and Agra in India. “On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this trip a 20. We learned so much and had the time of our lives,” says Mrs. Keitt. “We toured amazing museums, rode camels in a desert, ate dinner at a water show, and had monkeys jumping over our heads while touring a downtown area of New Delhi.”

She explains that traveling with Gwinnett business leaders was very valuable. Mr. and Mrs. Keitt attend many Chamber events and often network with other members, but the focused time during the trip enabled them to build next-level business relationships. “After being together the whole week and sharing all these experiences, we formed a camaraderie that is so much better than what you can do at a networking meeting,” she adds.

At multiple stops, the group met with consulate representatives and business dignitaries. Mr. Keitt says, “A lot of businesses in UAE and India want to do business in the States. It was important for us to begin building those relationships, share what Gwinnett offers, and talk about how we might help them if they open in Gwinnett or Georgia.”

Mr. and Mrs. Keitt own and run ARK Temporary Staffing, a Gwinnett-based firm that handles both temporary and permanent placements across many industries. ARK is the leading staffing agency for the state of Georgia and provides staffing for elections, hospitals, colleges, jails, and other facilities. They also work with a variety of corporations to meet temporary staffing needs in roles ranging from light industrial and lawn care to administrative and call centers.

During the covid emergency, ARK was called upon by the state of Georgia to staff the pop-up testing and vaccination sites with testors, nurses, administrative staff, and supporting call center staff. “We opened and staffed testing sites at the World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome, and pop-up stations around the state,” says Mrs. Keitt.

Mr. and Mrs. Keitt have been building ARK for 16 years and are long-time, active members of the Gwinnett Chamber and Chairman’s Club. “The Chamber has opened so many doors for us. We’ve met so many people and businesses; it’s been very rewarding,” says Mrs. Keitt. “Anyone who is looking to build a business in this area should get involved and stay involved with the Chamber.”

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Gwinnett Chamber facilities are currently under renovation.