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Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce touts record year for business investment
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The Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce reported Thursday that new investments set a county record in the fiscal year ending June 30.

The council said project investments from 16 new firms totaling $187 million contributed to the best single-year investment recorded in the history of the council.

The report said 25 existing businesses also have made or committed to major expansions. The combination of new and existing business investment will result in the creation of 1,500 new jobs and $333 million in new capital projects.

"Supporting our existing businesses and industry remains a cornerstone of our efforts to retain and grow jobs and investment in our community," said Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.

"We can reach out to the global business community better by first taking stock of the successful business community within Gainesville-Hall County."

Investments included Wrigley, ElringKlinger (Sevex), Stork, TRW, Fieldale Farms and Atex.

However, the growth in jobs and investment is tempered by the loss of 220 jobs at Peachtree Doors, which closed in the first quarter of 2008. The closing of the Mohawk carpet yarn plant in Dahlonega also affected Hall County as approximately 160 of the 400 workers lived in Hall County.

A number of executives with Gainesville Bank & Trust were left unemployed by the bank’s merger with SunTrust. At least 60 employees were terminated, many of them beginning today.

Prospects for the current fiscal year remain upbeat and began with an announcement that ZF Industries will construct a new automatic transmission plant in Gainesville that will employ 150 people and include $41 million in capital improvements. Construction will begin in the first quarter of 2009 in Gainesville Industrial Park West.

Also on the horizon is the $20 million headquarters and data center for ProCare RX in the former Central Park site off Candler Road. The company processes pharmaceutical benefit claims.

Officials say the outlook for recruitment and existing industry activity remains positive for Gainesville-Hall County. The council currently is managing between 40 and 50 active retail, commercial and industrial development projects. The city of Gainesville and Hall County have worked closely with the Economic Development Council to partner with private developer Pattillo Construction on a new 170-acre business park in Gainesville to accommodate new and expanding businesses.

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