Broad Support Pushes HALLmark Initiative Funding Goal Over The Top

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, citing widespread business and community support, has surpassed its fund-raising goal for a five-year, $2.8 million economic development campaign that focuses on technology.

Marketed as the HALLmark Initiative, the ambitious program outlines a forward-thinking, high-tech vision investing in four key community areas:

• Planned economic growth targeted toward existing industry and the recruitment of technology-based companies

• Education and workforce development

• Unifying and strengthening cooperation among local governments

• A new Chamber office in Gainesville in addition to new leased Chamber operations in South Hall

“We’re continuing to follow-up with numerous businesses who have indicated they want to support our campaign, but the pledges to date already have pushed us over our goal,” said Chamber President and CEO Kit Dunlap.

HALLmark Campaign Co-Chair Bill Sanders pointed out that “it’s not the grand total of pledges that means so much as does each of the individual investments – small and large – from such a diverse representation of our business community. The support for this program ranges from our manufacturing sector and small business to local governments and the retail, service, and financial industries.”

“This kind of support illustrates what we’ve said all along – that HALLmark is a vision that will benefit everyone in our community,” said HALLmark Co-Chair Martha Simmons.

Ms. Dunlap also praised the volunteer effort of the HALLmark campaign team led by Mr. Sanders of Jackson EMC and Ms. Simmons of SunTrust Bank.

With funding now in place, Ms. Dunlap said plans behind the HALLmark Initiative will be pressed into action immediately. Investors will be updated regularly on the progress in various program areas, each of which will be measured and graded in accordance to specific target goals.

Under HALLmark’s plans for a new Chamber building, local architect Steve Hill already has been given the go-ahead to wrap up designs. Renovation and construction is expected to begin later this year. The look of the new building will be “open, bright and high-tech” in conjunction with the technology focus behind the Chamber’s HALLmark Initiative, Hill noted.

“The design of our new chamber headquarters will send a message that Hall County is going to be a regional leader in the new technological age of the 21st century,” said campaign leader Ms. Simmons. “This is as much about our image as the ‘Front Door’ to the community as it is about updating a 35-year-old facility and providing more space.”

Under Hill’s plan, the existing 3,504-square-foot Chamber building at 230 E.E. Butler Parkway in Gainesville would be renovated and reconfigured to join another 7,038 square feet of new space on the building’s southwest corner with one main floor and a basement level.

Ms. Dunlap said the updated building would provide space for a technology room, featuring a video-conferencing center and other state-of-the-art technology for access by area business and industry. It also would provide expanded meeting space with a conference room holding up to 50 people.

The HALLmark Initiative also includes dollars for relocating and expanding the Chamber’s leased South Hall Office with up to three full-time personnel, conference space and technology support. “With the tremendous growth in South Hall, it is imperative that the Chamber have a strong presence in that progressive community,” Ms. Dunlap said.

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