Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark took the stage in Gainesville Wednesday to talk to North Georgia residents about how our region can adapt to the changes in the world and create a pathway for the next generation.
"The state of Georgia is changing dramatically, demographically over the next few years and if we're going to be successful, if our local chambers are going to be successful, we need to be representative of our communities which we serve," Clark said in his presentation.
Clark presented data specific to Hall County about the county's population, poverty rate and job growth. Hall County had a 20.4% population increase from 2015 to 2030, ranking 15th in the state; a distress score of 35, ranked 22nd; 27.9% of adults not working, ranked 12th; 18.5% of the population expected to be over 65 by 2030, ranked 29th; an 18.4% poverty rate, 48th in the state and 12.9% expected job growth from 2016 to 2026, ranked 8th in the state.
Clark also talked about the "Grey Tsunami" - the Baby Boomer generation that will be retiring in the next 10 years. With job growth and the Grey Tsunami, the economic development game has changed, Clark said, from the old "location location location" mantra. "The model now is talent, talent, talent. Communities that attract young workers will be successful. Those that don't, will not. Who has the talent will win this next game."
According to Clark's data, 14% of Georgia's population was age 65 or older in 2015, with an expected rise to 18% by 2030; Georgia also had 10.2% Millennial (1981-1997) and 13.5% Generation Z (1998 onward) expected growth from 2015 to 2030.
Clark said after the Grey Tsunami hits, over a million jobs in the state will need to be filled, and Millennials will be the ones to do so. His data showed hub counties like Hall and rural counties were most likely to lose Millennials and Generation Z, which in turn will hurt the local economy.
Clark said a quality of life strategy will help keep Millennials, which means addressing housing, healthcare and poverty in the county, as well as a strategy to recruit and retain workers in agriculture, tourism and creative, healthcare and advanced manufacturing industries.
After the presentation, Clark and representatives from two local companies talked in a panel discussion about the data and the importance of supporting local businesses.