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Gainesville earns high rankings on job growth

Study ranks areas on job creation, economic performance

POSTED: February 5, 2013 11:38 p.m.

Gainesville was the best-performing small city in Georgia in 2012 and ranks in the top 10 small cities in the U.S. for job growth, according to a recent Milken Institute study.

The metropolitan statistical area that covers Hall County ranked No. 39 out of 179, which is 62 places better than its No. 101 ranking in 2011.

The Milken Institute’s annual index of Best-Performing Cities ranked 179 small cities and 200 best-performing large cities. It measures cities by how well they create and sustain jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary and technology growth.

“It’s nice company to be in,” said Tim Evans, vice president for economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “I think it really speaks well of where we are.”

The Best Performing Cities ranking depicts those U.S. metropolitan areas that are recording the top economic performance.

Gainesville ranked sixth in job growth from 2010 to 2011 and 2nd in job growth from 2011 to 2012. The overall top small cities in the U.S. for 2012 included Logan, Utah-Idaho; Morgantown, W.Va.; and Bismarck, N.D.

“Those economies are being driven by the energy boom,” Evans said.

Gainesville has attracted a disproportional share of new business for several reasons, said Frank Norton Jr., chief executive officer of The Norton Agency, a regional real estate company. Gainesville has had a standing inventory of vacant buildings ready for relocating companies.

The area also features an attractive tax rate, multilevel housing, including lower-priced housing, and it’s close to Atlanta, he said.

“Gainesville has a strong, compelling story and we’re telling it aggressively,” Norton said.

In 2012, 24 new and expanded industries created 1,232 jobs, retained 742 existing jobs and generated $164 million in capital investment for Gainesville-Hall County, the chamber reported.

Norton said he sees Gainesville continuing to grow this way for the next 10 years.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Hall County attracts companies in the food, automotive and business services industries. Evans said the city also has many manufacturing and retail companies.

Job postings at the University of North Georgia mostly fall into three areas, said Dora Ditchfield, career services director. Business, health care and computer science are those areas, she said.

The Gainesville Career Center, run by the Georgia Department of Labor, has about 226 advertised positions, including ads for nurses, software designers, salespeople, machinists and retail workers, Manager Mark Winters said.


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