GAINESVILLE - As we bring 2012 to a close, one business and economic expert in our area said he expects growth to continue in the Gainesville/Hall County area in the new year.
Tim Evans is Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
"Our activity level is far above what it was 18 months ago. We have about 60 percent greater volume of project activity that's focused on Gainesville/Hall County, and that's keeping us very busy," Evans said.
"We expect that to continue in 2013."
Reflecting on 2012, Evans noted the area has outpaced the nation's growth for over two years. He said our area is one of only 23 metropolitan areas in the country recognized for that growth mark.
With some sectors doing better than others, Evans said a diverse local economy has helped our area.
As far as numbers go for the past 18 months, Evans said they had 32 projects, both new and expanded businesses, that indicated they were going to hire.
That marks 1650 jobs.
"Those existing industries are retaining 1500 jobs as well, so there's a lot going on. In terms of additional investment in the community, that represents over $200 million in new capital investment," Evans said.
As far as growth visible to the average citizen, Evans mentioned projects including the New Holland Market on Limestone and Jesse Jewell Parkways, the new Georgia Poultry Lab on Highway 365 and ongoing expansion and improvements to Lakeshore Mall.
Evans said population growth is an indicator he looks at. During boom times, six or seven years ago, Evans said the local population was growing about three percent a year. Currently we're at about a two percent annual growth rate. He said other growth goes with it.
"The housing sector is starting to pick back up again, slowly. It's not where it was just yet, but it's really vibrant compared to the rest of the nation and even the rest of Georgia."