Friday April 19th, 2024 9:44PM

Year in review: Business, jobs and development in Hall County

By Christian Ashliman Anchor/Reporter

Expansions in downtown Gainesville and across the region have characterized 2023 with a similar outlook heading into the new year.

The most notable areas seeing major development in Hall right now include the healthcare industry, downtown spaces, restaurant and retail growth and residential spaces, according to Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Tim Evans.

“Business expansions continue — to get into a few of those specifics, in the healthcare sector, expansions with NGMC Gainesville and NGMC Braselton are just a part of what is a five-hospital system based here in Gainesville, Hall County,” Evans said. “I can't speak enough about how important that is to not just the quality of life in the region, but the economic impact of having 15% of our workforce that works in health care.”

The Northeast Georgia Health System is currently providing care to nearly 21 counties.

The downtown Gainesville area has seen a boom in growth this past year, with the completion of the new Courtyard by Marriot location and the adjoining National apartments. Alongside those additions, residents have been enjoying time at Boot Barn Hall, Cotto Modern Italian and Johnny’s New York Style Pizza, to name a few.

With the population growth seen in Hall County, Evans believes expansion and development will continue.

“As we often say, retail and entertainment, they follow rooftops,” Evans said. “And that's been the case here in Hall County this year.”

Near the 130-plus room Marriott hotel, which opened its doors in August, is the Historic Walton Jackson building, which is currently undergoing renovations of its own. That space will host “eatertainment” venue Decoy and a barbecue catering service.

Currently, the area also offers a venue for weddings, meetings, events and more through The Vault.

For Hall County at large, several major companies are working on upgrades and expansions, including Kubota, Mar-Jac, King’s Hawaiian and Eskimo Cold Storage.

“Since January of 2022, we've had $930 million in new capital investment announced from 21 new and expanded businesses that are in the process of adding 1,700 new jobs to Hall County,” Evans said. “So it's a very diverse set of businesses and advanced manufacturers that make up our largest cohort of employment.”

Nearly 30% of Hall County’s workforce is employed in advanced manufacturing, food processing or logistics, according to Evans. That figure is reportedly three times the state and national average.

Unemployment in the region has continued to stay low, coming in as one of the lowest seen among all metropolitan areas in Georgia, Evans said.

“We have more people in the workforce in Hall County than we've ever had before,” Evans said. “108,000 people in the workforce, that's the highest it's ever been. So we're seeing new people move to the community. And that's evidenced by all the new residential development that's happening, both in our downtown areas and throughout Hall County.”

Hall County is currently adding approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people to its population every year, according to numbers provided by the Chamber.

The area also boasts a strong resiliency with its economy and employment base.

“We have a strong base of employment that’s in those advanced manufacturing, and especially food processing, food processing is very resilient,” Evans said. “Because even when the economy doesn't do so well, globally, or nationally, people still have to eat. We're strong in healthcare, and that's another very resilient area and education, education services, with Brenau, UNG Gainesville and Lanier Tech.”

Lanier Technical College is also reporting an all-time high enrollment figure this year as well, sitting at 6,100 students.

With expansion comes the need for additional connectivity, which arrives in the form of the Blue Ridge Connector, more widely known as the Inland Port. Construction on that $127 million development is slated to kick off in early 2024 and will connect Northeast Georgia via railway to the Port of Savannah.

“We're blessed to have the community and the region and the people that we do, it's a really giving community and as we round to the end of the year, hope everyone will keep others in mind, that there's folks that are not always as fortunate,” Evans said.

AccessWDUN is speaking with local officials across Northeast Georgia for a series of Year in Review stories to wrap up 2023. Stay tuned each day this week for new installments in this series. Other features include:

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