The individual parts that make up a community is what allows Hall County to continue to grow as a whole, local officials say.
That was part of Tuesday’s discussion at a South Hall Business Coalition meeting, where representatives from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce provided the group with an economic development update.
“When businesses are looking to expand or relocate, they look at a lot of factors — not just location,” said Tim Evans, chamber vice president of economic development. “They also look at things like work force, (local) talent and logistics.”
It is those factors that have helped Hall retain industries that were looking to consolidate operations and possibly move out of the county.
“In 2009, we were working on 13 consolidation projects,” Evans said. “In the end, we won 11 of those. I think that’s a pretty good batting average.”
So far in 2010, 18 new and expanding industries have created more than 500 jobs and retained another 460 existing jobs, Evans said.
Those industries have also generated more than $150 million in new capital investments.
A key to attracting and retaining industries is having the proper infrastructure. According to the chamber, there are more than $115 million in road improvement and transportation projects under way in Hall County.
One of those projects is phase three of the Thurmon Tanner Parkway project in Oakwood, which will connect exits 12, 16 and 17 of Interstate 985 and is scheduled for completion in 2011.
Going forward, the chamber’s economic development council is focused on several goals, including diversification of businesses and services as well as expanding retail, to help bring more jobs and consumers to the area.
According to the chamber, Gainesville-Hall County is 50 percent to 75 percent under retailed. The right blend of high-end retailers could make the area a tourist destination, chamber staff say.
“(Last year) was a tough one for us — for everybody,” Evans said.
“A lot of capital dried up, and we had to change our strategy overnight from attracting new businesses to (maintaining) existing industries and consolidations. We fared better than most and we’re starting to see some real (positive) changes this fiscal year.”