The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce might want to raise the bar on projected annual job creation numbers.
Hall County businesses are more than exceeding the 500 number estimated by the chamber, with nearly 2,500 jobs created in the past couple of years.
The number dropped to 1,225 in 2015 from 1,310 in 2014, with Kubota’s late 2014 announcement of a new plant off Ga. 365 that’s estimated to create 580 jobs, skewing the numbers somewhat.
“One big project like Kubota can add a lot of jobs,” said Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.
He said he believes “the big news in terms of jobs (locally) is there’s a lot of existing businesses that are hiring.”
Evans pointed to a March 23 job fair featuring 60-plus employers as a strong sign of Hall’s employment situation.
In addition to jobs, companies are adding to the economy through plant investments. Last year ended with 24 projects totaling more than $320 million, the chamber’s best year of capital investment on record, according to its 2016 Economic Development Report.
Firms expanding or gaining a foothold in Hall included King’s Hawaiian, Jinsung TEC, Big Creek Foods, Tatsumi, Elringklinger, Wrigley Manufacturing, ZF Industries, First Fresh Foods, Performance Foodservice, Left Nut Brewing, Academy Sports, Marel Stork and The Louver Shop.
The reports also note that Hall’s food and agribusiness sector has the highest county economic impact in Georgia, with more than $5 billion in economic output and 17,642 jobs in the sector.
One new institution helping job numbers in Hall County is Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton in South Hall.
The 100-bed hospital, which is off Friendship Road/Ga. 347 near Old Winder Highway/Ga. 211, has about 900 employees, rising from 600-650 when it opened this past April 1.
“That continues to grow,” hospital President Anthony Williamson said. “Our physicians have looked to this market to be where they want to base their practices.”
The area around the hospital also is developing into a medical community.
One focus of the chamber is what it calls “workforce development.”
“We not only have a growing number of job opportunities, along with a growing population, but there’s also going to be quite a few people leaving the workforce in the next decades in all fields,” Evans said.
“There’s an effort across society to try and develop those job skills within a whole new generation that will come in behind (retirees).”
Evans added: “That’s one thing I think the new Lanier Technical College campus will be better equipped to help support.”
Lanier Tech is planning to move from its campus behind the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus in Oakwood to an 85-acre tract off Ga. 365 at Howard Road in North Hall.