From the Chairman

Our community, like every other in the nation, has experienced a Post 9/11 economic slowdown. In the last year, we have seen some local plant closings, but fortunately, these jobs have been replaced with existing plant expansions and new company locations.

Most recently, Kubota Manufacturing of America entered a partnership with Lanier Technical College and Georgia’s Quick Start program to recruit, train and employ 100 new employees at the Gainesville plant.

Our diverse industrial base has provided us with the benefit of not having to rely upon one set industry to carry the weight. Thus, in economic downturns, we are fortunate to have a mixture of industries, manufacturers, products and services providing jobs and securing our tax base.

We can maintain this economic tradition and grow our strong and diverse economic base by continuing to address and focus on critical issues including:

• Maintain and build on our public and private partnerships – keep working together to achieve common goals for a better Hall County. We are much stronger together as a team and can achieve great objectives by uniting instead of splintering into separate interest groups.

• Focus on infrastructure and unite various entities to common goals to provide additional sewer services and enhancements to water and sewer facilities in South Hall County.

• Educate key players on the importance of infrastructure and that without specific infrastructure in place, we do not obtain industrial growth. We default to residential growth, thus diminishing prospective tax dollars. Industry pays the bulk of our taxes alleviating rising residential taxes and removing the tax burdens off of our citizens. In addition, we will likely be experiencing an increase in taxes as our public school systems face more funding pressure. With no sewer service in South Hall County, we run the risk of more industrial annexation into Buford and Braselton. Losing these industries to neighboring communities means losing their investments in Hall County, specifically taxes for Hall County schools.

• Review the issues related to Impact Fees. Impact Fees may not be the panacea and have potential pitfalls as the fees relate to industrial development. Some industries may view communities with Impact Fees as areas not seeking industrial growth. Isn’t it more important to have infrastructure (sewer) in place that lures industry to Hall County? The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce is analyzing the pros and cons of Impact Fees via the Issues Committee. Let us hear from our members on Impact Fees!

• Campaign to push the Freeport Exemption to 100%. Freeport gives us an economic development tool that benefits new and existing industry. The City of Gainesville recently adopted 100% Freeport Exemption to qualifying industries. The Economic Development Council and the Greater Hall Chamber will encourage Hall County to raise their exemption by year end (Hall County currently offers 60% Freeport Exemption).

By setting our priorities and focusing on key issues, we maintain Hall County’s economic stability and continue its tradition as the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.