Our City

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             Boasting a recent designation on the AARP list as top 5 places to retire in the US[1], Gainesville is a very interesting and intriguing city with a generally diverse demographic. Geographically, it is situated in the highly touted North Georgia mountains, minutes away from the grandeur of the Appalachian Mountains and an hour-drive from the city of Atlanta. This gives way to a mild climate that promotes the outdoors and gives way to certain cultural adjustments that revolve around milder weather. A highlight of the city that attracts a retirement community is the beautiful and renowned Lake Lanier, where the 1996 Summer Olympics were held.  

            The community primarily consists of three major ethnicities: whites, hispanics, and African Americans. The first group populates the majority of the suburban areas outside of the city while the latter two ethnicities are concentrated in the inner city. Whites make up 74.1% of the population of 179,684 while African Americans rest at 13.9% of the population. The Census of 2010 shows that the total Hispanic Population is 26.1%. Collectively, this is more than 100%. The reason for this is there is a very high concentration of illegal immigrants that come from Mexico that find their way to Gainesville because of the industry that exists in the city. This influx of illegals is so strong that, as the L.A. Times reports, “illegal immigrants caught driving without a license in Gainesville, a city of 34,000, have found themselves on a fast track to deportation because of the county sheriff's participation in a federal immigration crackdown program known as 287(g), which lets officials check the immigration status of suspects booked into the county jail.”[2]

            The urban center of Gainesville is very small and quickly turns into a rural and agricultural town with the occasional manufacturing plant spotting the interstate and backroads. An example of this is the Wrigley’s plant, which makes its home in between Gainesville and the small incorporation called Flowery Branch, home to the Atlanta Falcons practice facilities. Even though these facilities are there, Flowery Branch remains very small, only boasting a Target and Publix. This is the only other considerably sized incorporated town in the surrounding area which focuses most of the industry in the city.

30501 -  Gainesville Inner City

            The zip code that the majority of Sola City’s members lives in is 30501, the inner city of Gainesville, GA. This is the most urban zip code in the surrounding area with a very interesting dynamic. Strictly from a geographical perspective, there is much diversity. One of the defining lines for different communities throughout the zip code is Green Street as it shoots straight down the middle of all city activity.

            The most desired areas in 30501 is Longstreet Hills, a prominent area for the city of Gainesville where many of its top doctors and businessmen reside. It seems to be a break from the crowded city dynamic where, in the middle of the city, suburbia meets historic charm. This area is full of established families and retired couples. It is also spotted with baseball fields and tennis courts, and is home to Friday night football where the perennial high school powerhouse Gainesville Elephants play during the fall, the high school of Heisman trophy winner and Clemson QB Deshaun Watson.

            Some other important highlights are the many parks that the city has placed throughout the area. From City Park in Longstreet Hills to Longwood Park no one can find themselves more than a 10-minute walk to a park anywhere in the zip code. The Gainesville Square - an epicenter for all commerce and business in the area - is a developed area spotted with boutiques, privately-owned restaurants, and coffee shops. This is a very popular place for all demographics and ethnicities within the city. 

            As far as the people, whites make up the majority of the population at 54.8%. However, the two other groups with a considerable presence within the zip code is African Americans at 13.4% and Hispanics at 41.5%. Once again, the majority of the Hispanic population in the city is illegal having migrated from Mexico. These groups can be broken down geographically as well. Longstreet Hills, being more prominent, is mostly made up of the upper middle class and majority white. As you cross Green Street, the dynamic becomes much more diversified where these three major groups are integrated into community. This area maintains the rest of the middle class.

            The third area worth identifying here is the government housing projects that can be spotted through the zip code. It has become a norm to see certain ethnicities populate different housing projects. The Atlanta Street apartments, right off Green Street and soon to be shut down because of crime, is predominantly African American with 20-30% Hispanic. Lenox Apartments is not too much further. This apartment complex is more balanced and appears to be approximately 50% African Americans and 50% Hispanics. Rosecliff Apartments on West Avenue is predominantly Hispanic with less than 30% African American. Because of the concentration of illegal Hispanics, Rosecliff can even be identified by the state in which the immigrants left in Mexico. After a recent poll[3] taken at this neighborhood, it was determined that over 70% of Hispanics in the Rosecliff Apartments are from the same state in Mexico, Michoacan. Melrose Place is another low-income neighborhood that boasts a large African American presence as well. Most Hispanics, though, are found in 30504 in residential housing, not apartments.

Cultural Profile

            Of these the ethnicities, ESRI identifies specific tapestry segmentation area profiles that show the mindset, cultural background, stage of life, and other observations in regard to the population. The first group is, what ESRI calls, Midlife Constants, and makes up almost 21% of the population. This segment of the population is mostly made up of married couples with a median age of 45. They reside in Older homes (most built before 1980) found in the suburban periphery of smaller metropolitan markets. For our specific setting it would be Longstreet Hills. They would identify themselves as “traditional, not trendy; opt for convenience and comfort, not cutting-edge. They see the benefits of technology but not if it is hassle to use. [4]

            The second group is found predominantly on the opposite side of Green Street and is called the NeWest Residents. This groups comes in right under the previous group discussed at 19.7%. The median age is 27 and median household size is 3. These statistics alone show the majority of this group is young married couples beginning their families and careers. ESRI highlights that with average household size exceeding three, presence of children less than 5 years old is high compared to the US average. Dependent children represent one-third of the population. Working full-time in blue collar jobs, this market works hard and dreams big. They seek adventure and take risks for the betterment of their families.

            The last one that I will highlight represents 9.5% of the population and is called the Hardscrabble Road. “This slightly smaller market is primarily a family market, married couples (with and without children) and single parents. Younger, highly diverse (with higher proportions of black, multiracial, and Hispanic populations), and less educated, they work mainly in service, manufacturing, and retail trade industries. Unemployment is high (almost twice the US rate), and median household income is half the US median. Almost 1 in 3 households have income below the poverty level. Approximately 60% of householders are renters, living primarily in single-family homes, with a higher proportion of dwellings in 2–4 unit buildings. This market is struggling to get by.”[5]

 

[1] http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/livable-communities/info-07-2011/affordable-cities.html

[2] http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-newlatinosouth-taxis-story-htmlstory.html

[3] This data was accumulated through personal interviews with those living in the community on April 19, 2016.

[4] http://downloads.esri.com/esri_content_doc/dbl/us/tapestry/segment20.pdf

[5] http://downloads.esri.com/esri_content_doc/dbl/us/tapestry/segment39.pdf