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Northeast Georgia Medical Center's new Braselton hospital helps drives growth
South Hall campus opens Wednesday, bringing jobs, commercial boost to area
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New construction for a medical plaza is underway along Lanier Islands Parkway near the new Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.

By the numbers

  • Nearly $19 million net revenue impact over 20 years, according to January 2012 study by the Enterprise Innovation Institute done for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce
  • Almost 900 jobs at the hospital
  • $70,000-$80,000 average wage for hospital workers
  • More than $100 million cost of overall project

Hospital coverage
The Times plans special coverage leading up to the opening of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Braselton campus. That coverage will include a special section Wednesday.

New hospital
What: Open house for Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton
When: 2-5 p.m. today
Where: 1400 River Place, off Ga. 347, about 1 mile west of Ga. 211

Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton is making an economic impression on its surrounding area, even before it opens Wednesday.

A mixed-use development, including four medical office buildings, is starting to take shape at nearby Ga. 347 and Ga. 211. Two unnamed tenants already have committed to medical space.

“There’s definitely more interest now in the area from groups locally as well as in Atlanta and the surrounding markets,” said Karen Baston, medical specialist with real estate firm Sperry Van Ness/Hokayem Co. in Gainesville. “Everyone is looking to this site.”

The 100-bed hospital, which has been in the making for some 15 years, is expected to have a huge economic impact on South Hall, particularly in an area around Braselton and at the edges of Gwinnett and Barrow counties.

But there’ll be other consequences, such as the need for more infrastructure, including roads.

“New economic activity typically adds to property and sales tax collections, as well as the other revenue streams that accrue to the county,” states a January 2012 study of the hospital’s economic impact on the area by Enterprise Innovation Institute in Atlanta.

“However, as new households are created due to the new jobs, the county has to increase its expenditures on services to meet the increased demand.”

The net revenue impact on the Hall County government and school system over 20 years could be nearly $19 million, according to the study, which was performed for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

“The tendency is to look at the direct economic impact — the revenue and the payroll — and all those things are good, but it trickles down into what the hospital (is spending money on),” said Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.

“All those (people) visiting somebody at the hospital are going out to eat and buying flowers in the neighborhood,” he said. “There’s a draw the hospital creates … and it has an economic impact.

“It kind of goes on and on in retail activity. The dollars turn over and over again.”

The average wage for hospital workers tends to be between $70,000 and $80,000, Evans said, adding that those are people dropping money on services and goods in the area.

And the hospital is a big-time employer.

As of March 22, 780 positions have been filled at the new hospital, said Melissa Tymchuk, spokeswoman for the Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System.

And officials are still “actively recruiting” for 111 positions, she said, adding that those interested can check out openings at nghs.com/careers.

“Not only will you have medical facilities (in the area), but also retail businesses that follow along right around them — pharmacies, restaurants, you name it,” Evans said.

The new medical office building referred to by Baston is part of a larger development, Creekside Village, which has three other medical buildings, a pharmacy and three retail sites planned.

“Retail is kind of sitting back right now, I’ve been told, waiting for more rooftops and more activity in the area,” especially at Ga. 347 and Ga. 211, Baston said.

Retail has boomed at Ga. 347 and Spout Springs Road in Braselton, a few miles from the hospital and still in South Hall.

Also affecting growth along the corridor is completion of the Ga. 347 widening between Interstate 985 and Ga. 211. The road is finished between Ga. 211 and Spout Springs, and the Georgia Department of Transportation expects the rest of the widening to finish in January.

“That’s a rapidly growing area for Hall and Gwinnett counties,” said Richard Mecum, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners. “Mainly what you’re seeing right now is residential (growth).”

He cited Village at Deaton Creek, a retirement community off Ga. 347, next to the hospital campus.

Area residents “really do appreciate having the hospital and that type of resource available to them, certainly the retired folks living next door,” Mecum said. “It’s a great help for that whole area in there.”

Braselton Mayor Bill Orr said, “You can’t underestimate the impact it will have. For us, as service providers, we have to be concerned about water, sewer and policing.”

But growth is nothing new to Braselton, judging by the development at Spout Springs/Ga. 347.

“We have to be diligent to make sure we manage it appropriately for the community … so we continue to have the same great place to live, work and play,” Orr said. “That almost sounds trite, but that’s what we really want.”

Tommy Hunter, who grew up in the area and now serves on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, said he expects the new hospital to get busy quickly.

“There’s a lot of people who live just a stone’s throw from that place,” said Hunter, who lives off Spout Springs Road, just a few miles from the hospital. “I’m sure it’ll be a lot more convenient than having to drive to Gainesville or (Gwinnett Medical Center in) Lawrenceville.”

But still, there’s traffic trouble, he added.

“Of course, Ga. 347 dead-ends into a two-lane road, for some insane reason,” Hunter said.

Most area officials point to the need to widen Ga. 211, which connects Ga. 53/Winder Highway in Chestnut Mountain to Interstate 85.

The DOT “would like to widen Ga. 211 but doesn’t have funds for it,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman.

Area road planners set road priorities, and Ga. 211 improvements aren’t in short-range plans, she added.

The hospital’s opening also has had impacts during construction.

Rudy Lonergan, facilities development director, said that while the overall project has cost more than $100 million, construction contracts worth some $43 million have been issued in surrounding counties, with some $19 million of that in Hall County.

“We always want to keep things as local as possible,” he said.

 

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