Hall County lands 1,195 jobs and $315.8 million in capital investments since 2000

The economy appears to be making a rebound and that’s good news for everyone. The recent downturn in the economy has had its effect on a number of businesses in Hall County. The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, through its Economic Development Council (EDC), continues to work with local businesses to assist in whatever ways possible to minimize the affects.

There is good news. The Economic Development Council continues to work diligently to encourage new business to locate in the community as well as continuing to focus on expansion opportunities for our exiting businesses. In that respect, it may be helpful to look at some figures that result from our efforts over the past two years.

In 2000, the Chamber, through the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council, was involved in nine projects that resulted in a total capital investment of $161.2 million and the creation of 410 jobs. These numbers include seven companies that were new to the community and two projects that were expansions of existing companies.

Some of the new companies include: ATEX, Continental General Tire, The Atlanta Falcons and Scanvaegt International. Expansion projects included: Siemens VDO and Wrigley Manufacturing.

2001 resulted in our involvement in 11 projects that totaled $61.1 million and the creation of 280 jobs. Again, these numbers included four projects that were new to the community and seven expansions of existing companies.

New projects included: International Processing, Alumilite, Aerocom and Direct Pools. Expansion projects included: Qualcon, ZF Industries, Mugele and Cargill.

Thus far, in 2002, we are on our way to another successful year. Current investment numbers total $93.5 million with the creation of 505 jobs. Six of these projects are new to the community and three are expansions of existing companies.

New projects announced include: Shintone, Totsumi, Crystal Springs and KOS Wire. Expansions include: ATEX, Elan Pharmaceutical and ConAgra.

The cumulative totals, since 2000, have resulted in $315.8 million in capital investment and the creation of 1,195 jobs. Where other communities have suffered, Hall County continues to be a leader in the region in capital investment and jobs creation. A major factor in our success has been the partnership that exists between the business community and the elected leadership.

Working together is vitally important to achieving results. Cohesive leadership is the most important element to economic development for any community. We are pleased to have forged a partnership with the City of Gainesville and Hall County with participation from Flowery Branch and Oakwood. It is only with strong elected leadership that we are able to enjoy the successes that we have in recent years.

On another bright note, Site Selection Magazine, in its March 2002 issue, selected Gainesville as one of the “Top 100 Small Towns for Corporate Locations.” This distinction ranks Gainesville at number 41 and is the only community in Georgia to make the “Top 100” list.

Again, this is due to the outstanding partnership between the business community and the elected leadership. We have a lot to be proud of in our community and this recognition is additional evidence that Hall County is a great place to live, work, stay and play!

In addition to the facility location and expansion projects, the Economic Development Council has undertaken a number of initiatives that play a significant role in achieving our goals:

• Facilitating the increase in the Freeport exemption levels with the local governments.

• Providing local Human Resource Managers the opportunity to interact on a monthly basis through the Human Resource Council.

• Providing local CEO’s and Plant Managers the opportunity to interact on a bi-monthly basis through the Industry Roundtable.

• Facilitating a reduction in Worker’s Comp rates through the Drugs Don’t Work Program.

• Weekly face-to-face visits with our existing industry to offer support and assistance. Since the inception of our “call” program, staff has made approximately 92 visits.

• The Infrastructure Committee continues to provide timely and valuable information and insight on important projects taking place in the community.

• The Environmental Management Committee provides a resource for new and existing industry when dealing with environmental concerns and it provides local environmental managers the opportunity to interface on a monthly basis.

• Recruitment and development of a professional Economic Development Division staff.

• Realignment of the Economic Development Division in order to be more effective and efficient.

• A total revamp of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce web page with an emphasis on Economic Development.

A new initiative was started through the EDC and the Chamber’s HallMark Initiative. Our Technology Committee has developed a plan of action for the recruitment of “high tech” companies and jobs to our community. At the February 2002 EDC Board Meeting, the EDC unanimously approved the marketing plan presented by the Committee and reallocated budget line items in order to fund the start of the program in the amount of $50,000 over several months. This marketing approach will seek to re-brand our community and market ourselves to the high-tech world.

We are currently in the process of forming a Technology Alliance in Hall County, developing a “flash media” presentation in order to market our own community on the activities we are undertaking. We are also developing the www.siliconlakelanier.com website to be the front door, online, for our technology efforts.

These are exciting times for our community and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. Through the EDC, we are at the forefront and will continue to lead economic development efforts. Public-private partnerships really do work for our entire community.

Richard Hagler is president of Barron & Brothers, a local farm equipment manufacturer, Vice Chairman of the Chamber’s Economic Development Division, and Chairman of the Gainesville and Hall County Economic Development Council.