THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — As we roll into 2022, South Georgia can expect to see an increase in jobs.
In downtown Thomasville, businesses are anticipating an economic boost and more foot traffic this year.
"Empty shelves everywhere so I can't complain at the moment," Anna Lee, the owner of Imagination Emporium Toy Store, told ABC 27.
She said she's hoping this year is similar to 2021.
"I feel like people saw how stores struggled to get through 2020 and so they were a lot more conscious about shopping local in 2021," Lee said.
Imagination Emporium isn't the only store that's seen a consistent rise in sales from last year through now.
"I'm hoping that its consistent with 2021. I was very pleased coming out of the pandemic with people just really visiting their local businesses and taking care of their communities," Rhonda Foster, the co-owner of Liam's Restaurant, said.
She added that they had wonderful growth in 2021 compared to the downfall in 2020.
"But I'm thinking it's going to continue forward and even if it doesn't grow substantially and we've hit our plateau I'm okay with that," Foster said.
Now that 2022 is in full swing, Phillip Sprehe, an economist with Geographic Solutions, told ABC 27 that people in South Georgia can expect to see more jobs available.
"It should complete its recovery sometime in the late-spring, early-summer this year and then extend out through 2022 to finish up the year with 80,000 total jobs," Sprehe said.
Sprehes' forecasts job growth in Thomas, Decatur and Lowndes County and predicts it should continue at a steady pace throughout the year.
"The recovery is going to continue, the growth is going to be consistent and healthy and we'll see a return, a greater return to in-store retail activity," Sprehes said.
That recovery is something that Anna Lee added she is already seeing.
"I mean we feel the love for sure. people come in and are just so happy to be in here," Lee said.
Sprehes said the leisure and hospitality sectors were the most hurt during the pandemic.