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Tuesday event to discuss area demographics, business

POSTED: October 18, 2013 11:13 p.m.

Vision 2030 will present a year’s worth of research on diversity findings Tuesday morning at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The Diversity Committee, a subgroup of the growth and development project headed by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, has been working in collaboration with the Fanning Institute and Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia.

“The work we’ve been doing is concentrated in understanding the demographics of Hall County and Gainesville, and to see how the diversity we have affects the potential development of the region, of the county,” said Diversity Committee Chairman Enrique Montiel. “The first step to understanding diversity is we have to know our demographics.

“This need was identified within the work of the committee. We first of all wanted to understand the demographics today and how they are expected to evolve over time.”

The target audience for Tuesday’s presentation is a cross-section of the community, and there’s been no shortage of demand.

“We’ve completely sold out; we’ve actually turned down people,” Montiel said.

Montiel said understanding the numbers are a way to empower the community.

“I think what’s important is for people to know the information, because it’s the primary tool for every facet of community planning. This touches health care, transportation, education and private companies, too,” Montiel said. “Our intent is to provide basic tools for community planning, all facets of planning. The first step is knowing the community.”

Montiel cited school graduation rates as an example where research turned up troubling results, signaling the need for proactive solutions.

“The graduation rates in the city are lower than the national average. It’s been African-American males and Hispanic students who don’t graduate at rates as high as the white students,” Montiel said. “This is producing a shortage in qualified people to fill job offerings we have in the county and in the state.”

That gap could reach 720,000 statewide in 2020, he said.

Montiel said education and community leaders can use projections for advantageous planning.

“Knowing the facts, there are some actions that can be taken to alleviate the issues. If there’s a plan in place now, this gap can be resolved, at least for Hall County,” Montiel said. “And anybody we produce in excess can serve the state if they don’t find that job in Hall County.”

Doing otherwise would hinder economic growth, Montiel said.

“When you start having to reach outside to field job positions, everything economically slows,” he said.

Montiel said the presentation is being sponsored by several organizations in the community, and money isn’t coming from the Chamber of Commerce.

Ultimately, Montiel said, while growth projections are staggering, they’re neither scary, nor are they changing.

“The changes are not scary — the numbers are the numbers,” he said. “Politics may change, but the population you have is the population you have.”


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