Hall County’s economy is hot and getting hotter.
The Gainesville-Hall metro area has racked up more rankings from business publications, being named one of the best metros for business expansion in the country by Site Selection Magazine — the same publication that has ranked Georgia the best state to do business for the past five years. In January, the Milken Institute named the metro the best-performing small metro in the state and No. 3 for small metros in the nation.
That hot performance is starting to show up in hard numbers: Hall County government reported on Tuesday that its sales tax revenue has jumped 7.5 percent over 2017.
County tax revenue is about $700,000 ahead in the first six months of its 2018 fiscal year compared to the same period in 2017. By this time last year, the county had collected $9.4 million in local option sales tax dollars. So far in 2018, that figure is $10.1 million.
“It’s a pleasant surprise for us considering we were only seeing 2 to 3 percent in previous years,” said Zach Propes, finance director of Hall County government.
A sales tax jump isn’t just about groceries or the checkout line: Construction materials, home-improvement goods and even cars all carry the county’s 3 percent local option sales tax. Tim Evans, director of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, noted that local retail revenue will remain strong in the coming months and years as several large-scale construction projects get underway.
“When you think about Carroll Daniel’s new headquarters, a project like that could be $15 (million) to $20 million,” Evans said. “Not all of that is construction materials, but construction materials is a big part of that — and that is all subject to sales tax.”
Along with Carroll Daniel Construction’s new headquarters, the Parkside on the Square development will be coming this year from Knight Commercial Real Estate. Lanier Technical College is preparing its new facility in northeast Hall. Mincey Marble hopes to finish its new building by mid-summer. Building permit numbers are up significantly in both Gainesville and Hall County.
“This represents a lot of growth, a lot of construction activity,” Evans said, adding that consumer optimism “is just really good too.”
The numbers back it up: In 2017, 900 new jobs were created by 29 businesses either moving to or expanding in the area, representing more than $170 million in investment.
And along with new jobs, federal tax reform is putting more money in people’s pockets through both changes to withholding and economic incentives leading to bonuses for employees.
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 economic development report includes a litany of growth indicators: record-high tourism spending around Lake Lanier, population growth to more than 203,000 people, an 8 percent increase in the average home selling price and a host of expansions in the county’s manufacturing sector.