Last year, Doug Carter concluded his term as Chamber Chairman with his Top 20 Reasons. I took a page out of Doug’s book – thought it was an excellent idea and perhaps will make his Top 20 an annual tradition.
I want to set the record straight. The Greater Hall Chamber and the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council had a very successful year representing the business community in Hall County while facing very serious challenges from the economy. I take pride in our many accomplishments and introduce to you the following Top 20 Reasons for Success:
1 – Economic development success with new investment from new industry and existing industry expansions. Since 2001, new jobs were created in Hall County and over $168 million in capital investments, compensating for the five plant closings and loss of 500 jobs in our community.
2 – Low unemployment rate in Gainesville-Hall County has stayed at around 3.4%. That’s below the state AND national average. This is reflected by our strong, diverse economic make-up.
3 – Lake Lanier Technology Alliance (LLTA) – one year in existence with 100 technology professionals that focus on talent and businesses available in area.
4 – Completion of the new Greater Hall Chamber facility in downtown Gainesville – built on time and within budget with over 200 private investors from the HALLmark Initiative.
5 – Lake Lanier is full at 1,073, as of June 10, 2003.
6 – Groundbreaking of new school – Lanier Career Center – will take place in the fall.
7 – Agribusiness in Hall County leads the State with a $720 million investment into our community annually.
8 – MainStreet Gainesville continues to expand with many new businesses on and around the Downtown Square. BetterHometown Flowery Branch has seen new investment and businesses in their downtown, and Oakwood opened a new City Hall.
9 – The Chamber’s 95th Annual Meeting and Gala had some 400 folks in attendance and recognizing our many hundreds of volunteers. Special Awards given to several community leaders and small businesses.
10 – A successful series of Small Business Seminars were held and will become an ongoing and expanded program to assist our many small businesses.
11- The arts, history and nature are blooming in Gainesville-Hall County with the Northeast Georgia History Center scheduled to open in 2004, the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in the midst of a multi-million dollar expansion, the Jack Burd Performing Arts Center at Brenau (a showcase for the entire community and State), the Arts Council Complex has opened a children’s museum, Elachee Nature Science Center completed their expansion, and the Smithgall Arboretum master plan for a 160 acre site in Gainesville is underway.
12 – Preparations are underway for the Lanier Canoe 2003 World Championships to be held on Lake Lanier at the Olympic Venue Site September 10-15.
13- Gainesville-Hall County hosted the first Tour de Georgia Bicycle Race.
14 – Gainesville-Hall County had a magnificent Patriotic Parade on Memorial Day with many state officials and thousands of citizens participating and lining Green Street to watch.
15 – Lanier Technical College and Gainesville College have had record enrollments providing education programs assuring our community a well-educated and qualified workforce.
16 – The Hispanic Taskforce sponsored, for the fourth time, a series of Spanish classes for business professionals and has also coordinated programs for Hispanic and Anglo businesses to network with one another.
17 – Chamber membership has continued to increase even in a slow economy. A one-day membership blitz brought in 80 new members with many good, new leads for prospective members.
18 – The Member Relations Committee has made over 4,500 good will contacts to existing Chamber members to thank them for support.
19 – A great new Welcome Center in the Chamber building creates a state-of-the-art display with space for information on tourism, events and relocation.
20 – 150 business and school partnerships make the Partners in Education program a success in EVERY Gainesville-Hall County school.