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Editorial: Hall County is still moving forward
This years Progress edition measures all the ways our community keeps growing
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A view of the pedestrian bridge across Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville.

Today's Progress edition is available at retail outlets in and around Hall County. To subscribe, call 770-532-2222, or click here for a form.

Inside today’s print edition of The Times is the annual special section which we call Progress. In it, we attempt to capture just a few examples of the incredible things that have gone on in our community over the past year which add to the exceptional quality of life we have come to associate with living and working in Hall County and the surrounding area.

Ask a dozen people to define what they think constitutes “progress” for the area, and odds are you’ll get a dozen answers. In compiling this section, we looked for stories of positive change, intelligent growth, proactive planning and general improvement in the factors that come into play in our daily lives.

So what constitutes “progress” in this year’s review? Here’s a sample of what’s included to give you some idea:

• Lanier Tech preparing for a brand new central campus as construction work is underway, funding secured and plans in place for a 2019 opening.

 The city of Gainesville becoming excited over plans to rebuild its midtown area, even as retail growth continues along Dawsonville Highway and at New Holland.

 Brenau University expanding course offerings in the field of health care, while University of North Georgia adds a new nursing program, both building toward the future in what is quickly becoming a burgeoning regional center for health care services and jobs.

 Hall County schools becoming increasingly technologically savvy, while Gainesville schools make preparations for new facilities and increased classroom space.

 An emerging boom in home construction which addresses housing needs while at the same time bolstering an already strong local economy.

 Roads, bridges and greenways all under construction as basic infrastructure needs are being addressed proactively.

 Flowery Branch looking forward to a new city hall, while Braselton enjoys its Town Green area.

 Expansion, additions, growth, new services and the growing national reputation of Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

 The continued role that the local poultry industry plays in solidifying the area’s economic foundation.

Those stories, and many more, are to be found in the pages of this week’s special section, and collectively represent just the smallest snapshot of all the good things going on around us as we rebound from years of economic doldrums and look forward to a bright future for the area.

As we do this section each year, we are reminded of just how positive a story there is to tell about the county and its residents. While other parts of the nation may have little about which to brag, Gainesville and Hall County have much for which to be thankful.

Natural beauty, a strong and active business community, quality schools at every level including exceptional post-secondary options, great recreational opportunities, a progressive blending of modern residential neighborhoods and traditionally agricultural rural properties, and top-quality health care opportunities combine to make this a great place to live, work and play.

But none of those elements are as essential to defining “home” as are the incredible people who live and work here. It is hard to imagine there is any community in the state where the willingness of residents to help others in times of need, to meet the demand for social services and to coexist as good neighbors tolerate of diverse populations is as obvious as it is here.

Perfect? Not by a long shot.

We still have too many people living in substandard housing and too few affordable housing options. We still have infrastructure needs to address. We still have traffic jams at certain hours of the day, retailers who need more customers, and employers who need employees with specialized training. We still have too many who need help, whether it is because of drug addiction, mental health problems, homelessness, domestic instability or just from going to bed hungry too many nights in a row.

But we’re taking strides to address those problems. Thanks to community involvement and proactive leadership on many levels, things are getting better. A great place to live is becoming an even greater place to live, and it’s happening every day.

In fact, you could say we are definitely making “progress,” no matter how you define that elusive term.

Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a a letter to the editor; you can use this form or email to letters@gainesvilletimes.com. The Times editorial board includes General Manager Norman Baggs, Editor Keith Albertson and Managing Editor Shannon Casas, plus community members Susan DeCrescenzo, Cathy Drerup and Brent Hoffman.

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