Gainesville/Hall County: Looking Ahead
For nearly a year, Gainesville-Hall County, through its Vision 2030 project, engaged hundreds of citizens in describing the community in which they would like to live, work and raise their families.
"It's probably the biggest thing that's happened in the last year," says Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored Vision 2030 "to the tune of $200,000. We had 13 total community meetings all over the county, and we've gotten these wonderful ideas. Out of this, there's a board of directors, and we'll probably try to break it off from the chamber."
Among the goals emerging from the final Vision 2030 report, released in June, is the hope that future development preserves the traditional scale of the city and county. "What this means," according to the report, "is that incorporated and unincorporated parts of the county are developed as walkable, bikeable communities, often around town squares." One of the aims of this kind of development is to help people know one another better and be connected with their community.
Another goal involves school achievement, specifically, raising high school achievement so that all public school students obtain a high school diploma or equivalency degree. Action steps related to this goal include concentrating resources on the youngest children, "as success before age 8 is critical to success in later years."
Other education goals noted in the report are increasing post-secondary offerings and creating innovative adult-learning programs. The report states that post-secondary entrance rates should increase by 10 percent within five years for minority students in Gainesville-Hall County. Regarding innovative adult learning, the action steps in the report state that the city and county should build Georgia's most effective adult literacy program aimed at making every Gainesville-Hall County adult functionally literate in English.
The report sets as a goal making the area a model for high-quality, affordable health care and a center for the health care and technology industries. Included in this would be a system that provides primary care to all residents, relieving the demand on emergency-care facilities and also saving money and improving health care.
Toward the goal of becoming a center for the health care and technology industries, the report suggests establishing a Healthcare Industries Task Force to identify short-term and long-term opportunities for growing or bringing health care companies to Gainesville-Hall County.
Vision 2030 aims to build transportation systems that connect Gainesville-Hall County to Atlanta and Athens via a multimodal system.
The report sets forth goals of providing parks and recreational areas and protecting greenspace, developing tourist attractions and bringing upscale retail to the area. Framers of Vision 2030 want to set aside a minimum of 10 percent of Gainesville and Hall County's total land area as parks and open space. They want to build a mixed-use waterfront community and a new hotel-conference center on Lake Lanier and they want to redevelop Gainesville's existing Colonial Lakeshore Mall.
Toward making Gainesville-Hall County a center for arts and culture, one idea is to create an international culinary/arts festival, and toward ensuring a high quality of life, the concept is to preserve the identities of the communities throughout the county.
Vision 2030 wants to create a diversity council to help bridge gaps within the community, and, finally, it hopes to improve relationships between government entities.