The Greater Hall Chamber Economic Development Council (EDC) reports 2022 year-end results of 15 new and expanding firms which will add 1,400 new jobs and $700 million in new capital investment to Gainesville-Hall County. This year’s capital investment is the highest on record for Gainesville-Hall County’s EDC and more than double the previous record-investment year in 2015 of $330 million. Furthermore, there are fundamental economic drivers to the local economy that indicate 2023 will feature a better than average economic performance for Gainesville-Hall County when compared to other metro areas in Georgia and the nation.
Georgia earned the #1 ranking for its business environment for an unprecedented ninth year in a row; during that time, Gainesville-Hall County has been the Top Job Producing Metropolitan Area in the State. In 2022, Site Selection magazine named Gainesville-Hall County one of the Top Small Metros in the Nation for Job Creation and Investment. Forbes magazine has rated Gainesville-Hall County as one of the “Best Small Places for Business & Careers” for the last eight years. Since 2015, the Chamber’s economic development program has assisted 149 new and expanding businesses, which have announced 8,400 jobs and $2.4 billion in new capital investment.
“The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development efforts have achieved record results, in no small part because of our diverse and vibrant economy and a community of business and elected leaders that work together to achieve great things,” said Glennis Barnes, Area Manager for Georgia Power and Chair of the Chamber’s Economic Development Council.
Most of the jobs and capital investment announced during 2022 are a direct result of the Chamber’s cornerstone effort in economic development to support existing industry. Existing industry expansions announced during the year include expansions at Agile Cold Storage, Elastron USA, King’s Hawaiian, Mar-Jac Poultry, Kubota Industrial Equipment, Syfan Logistics, Harris Products, Fox Factory, Zebra Technologies, Boost and Freedom Transport. Investments in new automation technologies and localizing the supply chain were recurring trends in the existing industry growth over the past year.
New corporate facilities announced in 2022 included GXO Logistics, Scanfil, Dart Advantage and new industrial building developments by Logistics Property Company and Crow Holdings totaling nearly one million square feet of new light industrial space. The 2022 year-end results do not include projects that were previously announced and are anticipated to begin construction in 2023, including the Georgia Ports Authority’s Northeast Georgia Inland Port Terminal. Some of the jobs and investments announced in 2022 have already taken place, but others, like King’s Hawaiian, Kubota, Mar-Jac Poultry and Agile Cold Storage, will be investing in new automation equipment and creating jobs in 2023 and beyond.
Among the expansions in 2022 were several food and food-related businesses including King’s Hawaiian, Mar-Jac Poultry and Agile Cold Storage’s new automated cold chain logistics facility. Also, the leading producer of agricultural equipment, Kubota, will construct a new implements manufacturing facility on their 140-acre site in Gateway Industrial Centre. Hall County is the top contributor to economic value and employment related to agriculture in the state of Georgia, with an estimated $4.4 billion in agricultural value production and 17,643 jobs related to agricultural production and food processing. Gainesville-Hall County has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of food processing per capita. Hall County’s Jaemor Farms is a top commodity producer and one of the largest agritourism destinations in Georgia with nearly 1 million visitors in 2022.
According to a recent forecast, the Gainesville-Hall County metro area will fare better than other areas in Georgia and in the nation in the coming year because of our broad base of existing industry. Dr. Jeff Humphreys, Director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth, wrote in the November 2022 issue of Georgia Trend that Gainesville-Hall County’s strength of economic development expansions and its resilient economic drivers in healthcare and education indicate the metro area will add jobs and perform well in 2023.
Major commercial developments underway that will extend well into 2023 include Capstone Property Group’s mixed-use hotel and apartment development “The National,” Gainesville Solis II apartments in Downtown Gainesville, as well as Bourbon Brothers and NoFo Brewing’s new location, both on the Midtown Greenway. Additional downtown developments in the works for 2023 include the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids Museum in Oakwood and additional downtown Flowery Branch investments.
Adjustments to the global supply chain for manufacturing featured heavily in the supply of new light industrial space in Hall County in 2022. The new year will begin with more than 2 million square feet of new industrial speculative building developments underway in Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch and Buford to be delivered in 2023. The region’s largest industrial developers are actively building and leasing new space in Hall County, including Pattillo Industrial Real Estate, Logistics Property Company, Crow Holdings, CA Ventures, Adams Properties and PB Properties.
New industrial investments underway in Hall County will total more than $120 million in real property improvements. Many local firms are employed in the construction of these new industrial developments, and business activity for these firms is forecast to remain strong well into the new year. The new industrial space will offer opportunities for new and expanding businesses to grow, add jobs, make new investments and add to bottom-line business growth.
Gainesville-Hall County’s long-term success in economic development is a product of community leadership working together on infrastructure planning and investment to support business growth. In 2023, the infrastructure development in the new 1,300-acre Gainesville 85 Business Park will be important to developing a future place to grow for expanding existing industries and new businesses. Planned infrastructure investments include major investments in roads, water, sewer, gas and electric distribution, expanding broadband access and investments in Hall County and Gainesville City Schools.
In the most recent 12-month data, the Georgia Department of Labor reports the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Area is finishing the year with an unemployment rate at 2.5 percent. The Gainesville-Hall County labor force is at an all-time high of 106,773, as of November 2022. More than 80 employers have job openings posted on the Greater Hall Chamber’s website (GHCC.com/JOBS) seeking full and part-time employees.
“The Chamber provides a forum for the business community, educators and elected officials to work together on the issues that impact existing industries, small businesses, the healthcare community, retail and new business recruitment,” said Tim Evans, Vice President of Economic Development.
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce hosted two Job Fairs & Career Expos in 2022 and will host another on April 23, 2023 at the Gainesville Civic Center (10am-2pm).
With a growing demand for talent and low unemployment in the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Area, the Greater Hall Chamber, businesses and educators remain focused on Work-Based Learning and Youth Apprenticeships for high-skilled career paths in demand by area businesses. During 2022, Lanier Technical College reached a record enrollment of more than 5,600 students at the Gainesville campus. Highly skilled talent is in high demand, and Lanier Technical College has a 100 percent job-placement rate for its graduates. 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 sustainable growth and to replace highly skilled workers as they retire.
Healthcare Services in Gainesville-Hall County enhance quality of life and provide a direct economic impact for an estimated 1.8 million Georgia residents in the 18-county service area. A study by the Greater Hall Chamber reflects that 447 regional healthcare providers in Gainesville-Hall County employ 14,725 and provide nearly $830 million in annual wages in the community.
Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is constructing a major $600 million campus expansion for the Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville and recently announced a new expansion to the NGMC Braselton campus estimated at $565 million. NGMC’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) Program has earned accreditation in Family Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, Cardiovascular Disease and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. The GME program is expected to grow to 170 Graduate Medical Residents by 2023 and is anticipated to have a $66 million economic impact in Hall County. Adding to the growing healthcare education programs, Brenau University recently added a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.
Ninety-nine percent of the 5,326 business establishments in Hall County are categorized as small, using the SBA’s definition of fewer than 500 employees. Approximately 93 percent of all businesses employ fewer than 50. Participation in the Chamber’s monthly Small Business Seminars has grown in 2022 through virtual and hybrid meetings featuring programs about navigating business in an unpredictable world, marketing and other topics to support small businesses. In its fifth year, 30 small business owners earned the Greater Hall Chamber’s “Certified Small Business Partner” designation for participating in at least six of the Small Business Seminars last year and will be recognized at an upcoming Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce board meeting.