At the conclusion of 2015, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council reports the single best year of capital investment on record. Twenty-four (24) new and existing projects announced investment plans for over $320 million and more than 1,100 jobs.
Some of the job creation and investment announced in 2015 has already taken place, but for many companies, like Kubota, those investment and job creation plans are multi-year commitments that will take place over the next several years. Other new and expanded businesses in 2015 included Wrigley Manufacturing, ZF Industries, First Fresh Foods, PERFORMANCE Foodservice, Left Nut Brewing, Academy Sports, Hobby Lobby, King’s Hawaiian, Marel Stork and The Louver Shop.
The Chamber’s business activity for the period accounts for more than 1.7 million-square-feet of industrial and commercial space occupancy and over 1 million-square-feet of new construction. These capital investments do not include the anticipated construction and development of the new Lanier Technical College Campus on Highway 365, expected to open in 2018.
A surge in Downtown Development Activity in Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Lula followed a year of record-low vacancy rates in the downtown areas for the three cities. Downtown Gainesville is becoming an attractive location for high density workforce housing with its proximity to the growing healthcare sector, the universities, professional services and amenities.
2015 saw developments in area attractions with the opening of the new Atlanta Botanical Gardens Gainesville, proposed program and facility additions at the new Don Carter State Park, additional investment in Lanier Islands and new investments underway at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue ahead of the 2016 Pan-Am Games and Continental Qualifier for Canoe/Kayak.
“Our population is growing at 1.6% per year,” said Tim Evans, Chamber Vice President of Economic Development. “In addition to job creation, investment and construction, Gainesville-Hall County’s economy is benefiting from an increase in the home buying market and residential development. In 2015, building permits in Gainesville-Hall County hit an all-time high.”
Gainesville-Hall County’s economic growth is benefiting from many of the same factors recently cited in UGA’s Georgia Economic Outlook for 2016. Dr. Benjamin Ayers, Dean of UGA’s Terry College of Business cited four factors contributing to a forecast of 3.3% expected growth in Georgia’s 2016 Gross State Product: 1) Georgia’s economic development pipeline of projects, 2) a robust housing construction market, 3) population growth and 4) low oil and gas prices.
“The success we are experiencing speaks to the broad participation in this community’s economic development effort from the business community, educators, our partners and elected leadership,” said Brian Rochester, Rochester & Associates and Greater Hall Chamber Vice Chair of Economic Development. “The Greater Hall Chamber provides a forum for participating and working together to support the growth of existing industries, small businesses, the healthcare community, retail and business recruitment.”
With unemployment reaching a 10-year low for the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Area (4.7% October 2015), workforce development is a high priority for the Chamber and the business community. The Chamber’s Workforce Development Task Force is a partnership with Lanier Technical College, Hall County Schools, Gainesville City Schools, Brenau University, the University of North Georgia and private businesses. The mission is to ensure businesses can acquire the talent and skills they need for future growth and to replace an aging workforce.
“The outlook for 2016 and beyond is headed in a good direction for the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Area,” said Kit Dunlap, President and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber. “Many of the business expansions announced in 2015 will be hiring in 2016 and 2017, and for consecutive years, unemployment in Hall County has been on a steady decline.”
The economic development pipeline for additional project activity from new and expanding firms is at an encouraging level with 75 active projects and several additional project expansions pending in the first months of 2016.
Hall County’s regional role as a center for top rated healthcare services is growing in major centers like Gainesville and Braselton, and neighborhood services in Oakwood, Buford and Flowery Branch.
Urban redevelopment will continue in Hall County’s vibrant city centers in downtown Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Oakwood and Lula. Smaller development projects have been stepping stones to a bigger trend of development concentrating in walkable urban centers, including residential, retail, office and institutional uses.
The 365 Corridor from Jesse Jewell Parkway North will continue to develop punctuated by new construction activity at the New Holland Market, Lanier Tech’s new campus and Kubota’s new development in Gateway Industrial Centre.
New private residential development activity is responding to a decreasing supply of good quality available housing stock to meet current demand and a growing population.
Future economic development growth will be supported by long-term public and private infrastructure investments to expand gas service, water, sewer, electrical distribution and broadband access in Hall County,
About the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to supporting an aggressive business environment and making a positive contribution to the community by serving as a resource for information, a voice for business and a valuable link to community development. Founded in 1908, the Greater Hall Chamber serves the entire Hall County area, including the cities of Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Oakwood, Clermont, Gillsville, Lula, Braselton and Buford. With more than 2,300 business members, the Chamber offers a full range of business services.
About the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council
The Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council is a public-private partnership of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Hall County and the Cities of Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Oakwood. The Economic Development Council provides one-stop marketing and economic development services to support the community’s efforts in existing industry retention, new business recruitment, small business development and retail development.
About Gainesville-Hall County, Georgia
Gainesville-Hall County is a vibrant and growing community located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Surrounded by beautiful Lake Sidney Lanier, the area offers an unparalleled quality of life and a sound economic future for business and industry. Gainesville-Hall County is home to 47 Fortune 500 firms, more than 300 manufacturing and processing concerns, and 43 international companies representing 19 foreign countries. Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle both call Hall County home.