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Editorial: Hall County celebrates its economic star players
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Kipper Tools’ Kris Connolly packs away a chain saw into a tool kit Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 14, 2017, at the Murphy Boulevard tool business that serves military, commercial, industrial and local consumers. Earlier Tuesday it was announced that Kipper Tools was awarded the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce industry of the year award in the medium category. - photo by Scott Rogers

The benefits of living in a county with a vibrant, growing economy may be taken for granted by some of us, but it’s worth noting not every community enjoys such affluence and diversity of goods, services and workforce.

To recognize this, some of the companies and individuals who are driving Hall County’s economic engine were honored in a pair of events this week.

On Wednesday, the annual Masters of Innovation were celebrated at the Brenau Downtown Center. Those cited were: Clay Adams, Rustic Trades Furniture; Pap Datta, Left Nut Brewing Co.;  Jack Frost, Memorial Park Funeral Homes and Cemeteries; Wes Hunt, HomeStar Financial Corporation; Angel Retana, Gainesville Seafood Market, Fajitas, El Carreton Taqueria; Jim Southard, Southco/Restroom Stalls and All; and Dixie Truelove, Truelove Dairy Inc.

The Masters program from Featherbone Communiversity honors leaders in various fields throughout the year with such awards, including nursing, craftsmen and education. It was founded by late business leader and philanthropist Gus Whalen.

Though they represent different industries, each of the entrepreneurs honored have traits in common: A willingness to launch new ventures, a focus on customer service and a desire to ingrain themselves into the community whose patronage they seek.

Their efforts add energy to the local workforce. Small businesses such as theirs create 7 out of every 10 new jobs in the U.S., employing more than half of the nation’s workers, and have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.

A day earlier, three Hall businesses earned industry of the year honors at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The awards, sponsored by Lanier Technical College, cite industry leaders based on economic impact, workforce excellence and corporate responsibility, according to the chamber.

Count On Tools Inc. at 2481 Hilton Drive in Gainesville won in the small employer category for 1-50 employees; Kipper Tool Co. at 2375 Murphy Blvd. in Gainesville prevailed in the medium category for 51-200 employees; and Victory Processing LLC won in the large employer category, with 200-plus employees.

Count On Tools began in a garage in 1991, and now manufactures small-arms components and adhesion system technology. Kipper Tool, in business since 1992, creates custom toolkits and individual tools and supplies, and serves military, commercial, industrial and local consumers. Victory Processing, a poultry production company, has grown from 28 employees in 2006 to 1,700 today. Earlier this year, it boosted its production by 18 percent, investing $1.4 million and adding 230 jobs.

Other businesses honored with key awards were Bitzer US Inc., honored for corporate responsibility; Ceramic Tile Services Inc., safety and environmental stewardship; ALBAform Inc., workforce excellence; and ZF Gainesville LLC, workforce development.

Each of these businesses provides jobs that fuel Hall’s economic growth. They also add further evidence of the growing need for specialty training and education in modern manufacturing, a targeted goal of the partnership between Lanier Tech and local school districts.

The keynote speaker, Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield, noted a change from the mindset that “if you don’t graduate from high school, matriculate into a four-year college, get a four-year degree, you have somehow not lived up to the potential of everybody else around you.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, as these innovators and businesses prove. In a world of soft-skilled professions, there remains a demand for those who can make, fix and improve the items we need and use every day, and the ongoing value of such training and education.

We’re grateful to these individuals and businesses, along with Lanier Tech, Brenau, Communiversity and the local school districts, for boosting the county’s economy by building the jobs of the future.

Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a letter to the editor; you can use this form or send email to 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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