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Gainesville has outpaced national job growth for 23 months
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The Gainesville metropolitan area is one of 23 nationwide — and the only one in Georgia — that has outpaced the nation in the employment growth rate every month since September 2010, according to an Atlanta-based economic consulting firm’s report.

“Looking across the entire 23 months, the differences among metros is striking,” the Garner Economics LLC report states. “Twenty-three metros have outpaced the nation ... while another 29 have fallen short of the national rate in every month.”

National trends “make for good headlines and broad simple generalizations of the economy, but in truth they are only simple aggregations of the activities happening within many unique local economies.

“The nation’s 372 metropolitan areas represent the real economic dynamism underlying the headline trends, and rarely do they fall in lockstep,” according to the report, written by Tom Tveidt, research economist with Garner.

The 12-page report received an upbeat response from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

“Recent job creation has been supported by a very diverse and growing economic base of manufacturing, food processing, professional services, retail, education and world-class health care services,” President and CEO Kit Dunlap said Thursday in a prepared statement.

“Gainesville-Hall County is a regional employment center for Northeast Georgia. We continue to develop the infrastructure and capacity to support business growth and job creation that will benefit family incomes throughout this region.”

Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president for economic development, delivered the news to Gainesville City Council on Thursday morning, and the announcement also was made at the chamber’s monthly board meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center later in the day.

“This is a really positive report, looking at the (other) cities we were compared to,” Evans said between the meetings. “It was a pretty stout group of peer metro areas.”

Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark, in town Thursday for a Greater Hall chamber board meeting, said he believes that the state chamber must have “strong partners at the local level working to foster the right environment for businesses to grow and create jobs in their community.”

He complimented Gainesville-Hall on its schools and colleges, road networks and “local leaders who understand the importance of empowering the private sector.”

Only two other Southeastern cities — Knoxville, Tenn., and Naples-Marco Island, Fla. — were among the areas outpacing the nation for as many months.

In Georgia, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metro area experienced higher growth than the nation in 17 of the past 23 months; and Athens-Clarke County, six of the past 23 months.

Brunswick was among 29 metro areas nationwide that have failed to meet the national employment growth rate in every month since September 2010, the report states.

There is more glowing economic news for Gainesville-Hall County.

The preliminary unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent in August, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 7.7 percent in July, the Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday morning.

The local jobless rate was 8.1 percent in August 2011.

The rate decreased because there were 425 fewer layoffs in manufacturing and administrative and support services. Also, the metro labor force declined by 1,712, partially because some students left summer jobs to return to school.

In Metro Gainesville, which includes all of Hall County, jobs decreased to 78,700 in August, down by 400 from July, but up by 3,500 from 75,200 in August 2011.

Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in August, unchanged from July. The jobless rate was 9.9 percent in August a year ago.

Metro Athens continued to have the lowest area jobless rate at 6.7 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha Regional Commission had the highest at 12.2 percent.

Evans said the chamber’s economic development activity “is up 60 percent from where it was two years ago.”

The area has as many as 75 active projects.

“What we call a project is a business with a defined need and a defined timeline that will create jobs and investment,” Evans said. “Over time, I have found that to be a good barometer for the economy, too. That we’re that active right now is really positive.”

At least a couple of major developments have been announced recently or are moving forward.

Work is expected to begin within the next 30 days on a new shopping center, featuring a Kroger grocery store, on Jesse Jewell Parkway at Limestone Parkway.

At full development, the 68-acre project could end up with some 400,000 square feet of commercial space, 200,000 square feet of nearby office space and about 300 multifamily residential units.

Also, a Murrayville developer has announced plans for a 288-unit gated apartment complex as part of Riverbrook Village, off Price and Thompson Bridge roads in North Hall.

McKibbon-Robison, which formed Riverbrook Village Development Partners for the project, is set to go before the Hall County Planning Commission on Monday on the plans, which also include 316,000 square feet of commercial space at the 82-acre site.