Hall County has been able to fight the recession with the opening of several new retail stores over the last month.
Michael’s and Ulta have set up shop in the McEver Corners shopping center in Gainesville and Tractor Supply Company and Ben’s Brand’s For Less now call Oakwood home.
Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said Hall County has seen more commercial development than many surrounding areas.
“The retail industry is still very sluggish but we’re seeing a lot more retail here than in other places in part because we have a growing population and we were already under-retailed before the recession hit,” Evans said.
Evans said Hall County has the potential to support many more retail outlets than it currently does because it is a regional shopping destination. For people who live in the North Georgia Mountains, Gainesville is the shortest distance to get to big-box retailers.
“We’re not just a retail market of 200,000 people. We serve an entire area of 14 counties in Northeast Georgia,” Evans said. “People come here already to do a lot of things with medical services and professional services, so it’s only natural that retail services here would serve the same population.”
And there is more growth on the horizon.
A new shopping center is under construction at the intersection of Ga. 53 and Beechwood Boulevard.
“There are four sites for restaurants on the south side of Dawsonville Highway where the old nursing home was,” Evans said.
“On the other side Dawsonville Highway is a specialized retail shopping center that would be well over 100,000 square feet.”
The new retail provides some hope for the 9 percent of people in the Gainesville area who are unemployed.
“Retail stores can employ 50 to 100 people and that’s important. They provide job opportunities to people in this community that want to work in the retail industry,” Evans said. “One national chain restaurant can have quite a large employment base.”
The additional tax dollars will also be welcomed by local governments. Aside from new property tax revenue, the retail will generate an infusion of sales tax dollars as Hall County residents have more outlets to shop at home.
“Some of these are niche retailers,” Evans said. “Many residents have been leaving Hall County to shop at Michael’s in Gwinnett or other places, so this gives residents a chance to stay right here and spend their dollars in Hall County.”