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Economic development thriving in Hall County, chamber officials say
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Hall County is seeing more than its fair share of businesses opening and expanding, according to a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce presentation Monday night.

Chamber executives Tim Evans and Shelley Davis gave an economic development update to the members of the Hall County Joint Municipal Association, which was hosted by the town of Clermont in its newly renovated Chattahoochee Center.

In the past 24 months, 58 new and expanded businesses created 2,200 jobs and generated $283 million in capital investment for the area, said Evans, vice president for economic development. A big coup announced last week was King’s Hawaiian Bakery, which said it was growing its operations in Oakwood and could add another 400 jobs. Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs said the expansion will help keep people working in the area rather than having to commute to Atlanta.

“That’s going to be a real big success for all of Hall County and North Georgia,” Scroggs said. “You take 400 jobs, that’s a lot of people.”

Other recent development includes the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network building its headquarters in the new 500-acre Gateway Industrial Centre and the addition of Dick’s Sporting Goods, which opened earlier this month, to Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville. The poultry lab is the first tenant in the fledging industrial park.

“When you get down to how we spend our days, that’s about one project for every nine days,” Evans said. “That’s 4.4 new jobs per day, it’s 2.4 retained jobs per day and it’s about $560,000 in capital investment per day.”

Retail development has kicked up a notch with construction underway on the new Kroger and shopping center in the New Holland area expected to open next year.

International investment in the county remained strong, with four international firms opening or expanding here this year, including manufacturing companies ALBAform Inc., Atlanta Biologicals and ZF. Evans said the chamber, along with its public-private partnership with the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council, is working on 65 to 70 active projects. The EDC is a division of the chamber that is supported by several cities, Hall County and private funding.

Other current construction includes the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton, expected to open in spring 2015 in South Hall. A second medical office building, to be located adjacent to the new Braselton hospital, is also scheduled to open in early 2015.

Davis, vice president of existing industry, said she offers industry workshops and one-on-one meetings with manufacturers, distributors and processors to help provide resources and business solutions so they can grow their operations. That helps her meet job creation and capital investment goals that benefit the local economy.

“I like to go and sit down (with) about one or two industries a week, (I) usually sit down with the plant manager or the CEO and have a conversation about their building,” she said. “Are they filling it up or is it time to upgrade equipment, or what’s your turnover rate like with your employees and what do you attribute that to?”

Job creation and retention will continue to be high priorities for the EDC in fiscal year 2014, the marketing plan stated.

The next JMA meeting is scheduled for Feb. 3 in Flowery Branch.

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