Economic Development Council Year-End Report

PHOTO:  Wrigley Ribbon Cutting at the Gainesville-Hall County Facility on June 24, 2015. (L-R): Jeff Stowe, Hall County Commission; Billy Powell, Hall County Commission; Tom Croteau, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Casey Keller, President, Wrigley NA; Tim Evans, Chamber VP of Economic Development; Mayor Mike Miller, City of Flowery Branch; Kevin Fitzpatrick, VP Operations, Wrigley NA; Jim Fitzgerald, Facility Manager, Wrigley Manufacturing. 

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Council (EDC) concluded its fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. For the 12 months ending June 30, 2015, the EDC facilitated 21 new and expanding businesses that have announced or committed to create a cumulative 1,420 new jobs and a private capital investment of $206 million. This represents a 38% increase in jobs and a 21% increase in capital investment compared to the previous 12 months (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014). This exceeds its measurable annual objectives of 500 new private sector jobs and $125 million in new capital investment.

In addition to the direct jobs and investment these companies will provide, new business activity is yielding over 1,100,000-square-feet of new commercial and industrial construction in Gainesville-Hall County. Major commercial and industrial projects the EDC supported in the last 12 months include the new Kubota Manufacturing of America campus in Gateway Industrial Centre; Wrigley’s expansion in South Hall; the new North Lake Square retail development (Academy Sports, Hobby Lobby, Chipotle) under construction; the new LNB Microbrewery project in Chicopee Mill; and, many existing industry expansions, such as Gold Creek Foods and Zebra Technologies.

“Some project locations move as quickly as two or three months, and others take several years of study and research before making a final decision,” said Tim Evans, Greater Hall Chamber Vice President of Economic Development. “For example, our work with Academy Sports began in July of 2008 with a walk-in inquiry at the Chamber. Now, seven years later, we’re just a few months away from a grand opening. Economic Development requires a long-term effort.” As of July 15, 2015 the Chamber’s EDC staff reported a record 82 active projects in its economic development pipeline, including 59 new, qualified project opportunities added during the 12-month period.

“The economic engine of Hall County is much broader than our staff’s work with new and existing industry growth,” said Kit Dunlap, President and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “Economic growth in one area has a direct effect and benefits other areas including our small businesses, logistics providers, healthcare and professional services.”

“By any measure, we’ve had a great year in Economic Development in Hall County,” said EDC Chairman Brian Rochester of Rochester & Associates. “Our community’s approach to economic development is successful because of broad participation. Everyone in this community is a part of the team.”

Existing Industry Program

During fiscal year 2015, EDC staff orchestrated 79 project visits to the community and 80 one-on-one existing industry meetings as part of the Existing Industry Program. The EDC regularly hosts key partner meetings for facility managers, human resource professionals, commercial brokers and statewide economic developers. “The Existing Industry Program plays a role in maintaining relationships and participation with existing employers to help them address their needs,” said Shelley Davis, Chamber Vice President of Existing Industry. “One of the top needs our existing industries have expressed is workforce development, and they have been very receptive of our efforts to create partnerships with Lanier Technical College, Hall County Schools and Gainesville City Schools.”

Small Business Development

Additionally, the EDC plays a key role in coordinating the Chamber’s Small Business Seminar series and the community’s small business support efforts with resources like UGA’s Small Business Development Center and experts in marketing, accounting and finance. “Small businesses are our greatest source of jobs and family income in Hall County, and small business owners have different needs that we address through our many Small Business Programs,” said Kit Dunlap.

The HALLmark Initiative

The Economic Development Council is a public-private partnership of Hall County, Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. The Greater Hall Chamber’s HALLmark Initiative helps directly support and fund economic development, VISION 2030 and the Chamber’s education and leadership programs.

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.

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 45 international companies representing 19 foreign countries. Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle both call Hall County home.