OAKWOOD — Existing industry in Hall County is seeing a “bump in growth,” a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce official told South Hall business leaders Tuesday.
“Don’t watch the news too much,” said Shelley Davis, the chamber’s vice president of existing industry. “You’ve got to talk to your fellow businesspeople at chamber meetings and things of that nature to see how business is going.”
She added, “Not all of our industries are up. Some are still suffering and struggling, but the good news is we’re seeing a lot of growth.”
Davis and Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development, spent an hour early Tuesday giving an economic development update, focusing primarily on South Hall, at a meeting of the South Hall Business Coalition.
The group met in the clubhouse at the Royal Lakes Golf & Country Club, which is off Sloan Mill Road near Winder Highway.
Chamber officials talked about business and industrial openings and expansions, such as the new King’s Hawaiian Bakery in the Oakwood South Industrial Park off McEver Road.
King’s Hawaiian, with an expected employment of 100 initially, is expected to start operations this fall.
Also, Gainesville Business Park off New Harvest Road, near Calvary Church Road, is taking off as a new development.
As part of that, an area grading firm is about to prepare a 16-acre site at the entrance to the park for a 77,000-square-foot speculative building, the first one in metro Atlanta in 3« years, Evans said.
“For a community that’s in the business of serving expanding, existing industries or recruiting new businesses — and that’s the target for this speculative building — this is the bait on our hook,” he said.
“If we don’t have good quality, available buildings, we’re missing out on a lot of the existing industry expansions and new business recruitment opportunities,” Evans said.
The Hall County area is performing better than many communities in other sectors of the economy as well, including residential and retail growth.
“I’ve talked about a lot of good things this morning, but we’ve got a lot of challenges,” Evans said. “With the growth that we’re having and going to have, (top issues are) water and transportation — and not just for us, but all of metro Atlanta.”
Whether the issue is water consumption or “our perception of availability of water and the (traffic) congestion related to metro Atlanta, those (issues) drive economic development as much as reality,” he said.
Evans said he plans to support the 1 percent sales tax for transportation, which will be put to voters statewide as a referendum in 2012.
“I also support it for the metro Atlanta region, because if we can’t (travel) through Gwinnett, we can’t get to the airport (in Atlanta),” he said. “We can’t get to a lot of the things that our businesses depend on.”