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Survey shows growth in local health care industry
Chamber of Commerce: 11,500 employed in health fields
Environmental Services employee Alex Martin completes his rounds Monday afternoon on the Northeast Georgia Medical Center's ground floor. The health care industry has a huge impact on Hall County's economy with an estimated $575 million in annual payroll, according to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce survey.

Hall’s health care industry

2015: Employs 14.6 percent of workforce, about 11,500 people

2006: Employs 11.4 percent of workforce, about 8,045 people

Average salary: $50,076


Hall’s top industries

Manufacturing: 24 percent of workforce

Health care: 14.6 percent

Government, including schools: 12.8 percent

Retail: 10.9 percent

Source: Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce 2015 Geographic Study of Gainesville-Hall County

Health care is big business in Northeast Georgia now more so than ever.

And few industries provide better job security today.

That’s the takeaway from a new Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce survey on the field’s impact in Gainesville and Hall County.

The survey picks up on similar trends reported elsewhere.

For example, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in the health care industry to far outpace any other field in the state of Georgia between 2012 and 2022.

Health care jobs are expected to account for about four in five of the top 25 fastest-growing occupations in the Peach State over the next seven years, according to the BLS.

And according to the Georgia Department of Labor, health care employment in Georgia is projected to grow 2.8 percent annually and add 140,000 jobs by 2022.

With more than 300 providers, including physicians groups, specialty medical services, dental services, elder care facilities and independent clinics, the health care industry employs 14.6 percent of the county’s workforce, or about 11,500 individuals.

That’s up from about 8,045 workers in 2006, or about 11.4 percent of the workforce.

It’s the largest service sector in the county, and the average salary for workers in Hall County is $50,076, according to the GDOL.

That means health care providers in Hall County account for an estimated $575 million in annual payroll, according to the Chamber survey.

By comparison, the single largest industry is in Hall County is manufacturing, according to Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Chamber.

Manufacturing accounts for a full 24 percent of the county workforce with an average wage of $41,132.

The next largest employment sector is government (including educators at public schools and colleges) at 12.8 percent of all jobs, followed by retail work at 10.9 percent.

According to the Chamber survey, nearly 80 percent of health care jobs are concentrated within the Gainesville city limits.

There are 221 service providers in the city employing 9,159 workers and generating an estimated $457 million in annual payroll.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville has 4,700 employees alone.

“According to annual reports produced by the Georgia Hospital Association, NGMC provides an economic impact on our local and state economies that is greater than $1 billion, and we know the majority of that impact is made here in our local community and region,” Carol Burrell, president and CEO for Northeast Georgia Health System, said in a press release. “We take that responsibility very seriously knowing that so many in our community rely not just on the health care services we provide, but also on our financial stability and economic stimulus.”

The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville is another established health provider, employing 760 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and staff, with plans for continued growth.

“When we established The Longstreet Clinic, P.C., in 1995, with eight single-specialty and fewer than 120 employees, the physicians were confident that we were positioning the clinic to meet the challenges of the future health care environment,” said CEO Mimi Collins.

The clinic’s size consistently ranks it among the top few independent, physician-owned practices in the metro Atlanta and North Georgia region, Collins said.

That tradition will continue with a medical complex in Braselton that will add thousands of square feet to the clinic’s current capacity when the new facilities are completed, likely in summer 2016.

“We remain committed to providing high-quality medical care, which has been acknowledged time and time again by national organizations recognizing best practices for patient-centric, outcome-based medical care,” Collins said. “We anticipate recruiting physicians, providers and other health care professionals who share this same commitment over the next decade.”  

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 workers are employed in health care jobs in Braselton, Oakwood, Flowery Branch and Buford, according to the survey.

Tim Knight, the developer of the new North Lake Square on Dawsonville Highway, which includes an Academy Sports, Hobby Lobby and Chipotle, said in a release that the health care industry has undoubtedly had a positive impact on retail and restaurant growth.

The local health care industry also attracts new residents, according to real estate professionals.

Not since the development of our poultry components in the 1950s has one business sector had as powerful an impact,” Frank Norton Jr., president and CEO of the Gainesville real estate firm The Norton Agency, said in the release.

Evans believes that a robust health care industry is one of those incalculable “quality of life” measures that entice people to live, work and play in the county.

“Much of Hall County’s health care growth has come from servicing a fast-growing population in an expanding region of Northeast Georgia,” Evans said. “Top-ranked health care service providers in Gainesville, Braselton, Flowery Branch and Oakwood are a drawing card for those seeking a great community to live in, or those simply seeking quality health care services in a 16-county region.”