Norton: Forsyth economic outlook has ‘praise and challenges’ - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Nov 14 @ 1:05PM

Norton: Forsyth economic outlook has ‘praise and challenges’

Real estate, insurance leader speaks on Forsyth’s economy

Frank Norton speaks on the highs and lows of Forsyth County’s economy.

• ranked Forsyth County 9th in the nation for incoming investment
• Business growth rate: 14.7 percent
• GDP growth: $580 million
• New building permits: 52.2 per 1,000 homes
• Municipal bond debt: $1,672 per capita
• Unemployment rate: Forsyth 4 percent, Georgia 5.4 percent
• Median household income: Forsyth $87,605, USA $53,889
• Graduation rate: Forsyth 92.7 percent, USA 83.2 percent
• Adults with bachelor’s degree: Forsyth 50.83 percent, USA 41.89 percent
• Highest ACT scores in Georgia
• Highest SAT scores in metro Atlanta
• Forsyth College and Career Ready Performance Index: 92.5 percent, highest in metro Atlanta

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Taking a peek into Forsyth County shows high performing schools, a thriving economy and a community bursting at the seams.

And while that may all seem good, to Frank Norton of the Norton Agency, a real estate and insurance company in north Georgia, it has its ups and downs.

Norton spoke Feb. 14 at the annual Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook breakfast. He’s given similar speeches for 15 years.

Managing Forsyth County is a job that never stops, and Norton said he has praise and a challenge for the leaders.

He said despite a study by that ranked Forsyth ninth in the nation for incoming investment, he believes the county is No. 1 in the state.

“If you look at what’s happened since the recession and the movements this county has made, I’m not really sure we should be compared with California or other parts of the country,” Norton said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation seems like it’s, “laying golden Easter eggs across the entire region” due to the increase of transportation projects, he said. This includes the widening of Ga. 400 in Forsyth County.

Additionally, hospital consolidations, Amazon’s opening of a 600,000-square-foot distribution and fulfillment center in Braselton and the starting of the Junior Achievement Discovery Center are all positives for the region.

However, Forsyth County seemed to have made a bad move when the county imposed a housing moratorium.

“Despite having 5,492 vacant and developed lots and 15,470 lots in zoned land future housing phases, the current political will is to shoot Forsyth in their own foot or kill the golden goose,” Norton said. “Forsyth is a fantastic, energetic, demographic and economic base boasting the highest school test scores, an average new home price of $395,538, a transportation initiative next to none and a progressively reasonably tax base.”

And that is a good thing for Dawson County whose greatest economic recruiter is a Forsyth County moratorium, he said.

“Dawson’s housing market surged during Forsyth’s last sewer moratorium and north Georgia’s premier outlet is located a mile into Dawson County because north Forsyth didn’t want them,” Norton said. “Moratoriums don’t work nor achieve the intended results. As one long-time Forsyth County observer said, ‘please forgive them for they know not what they do.’”

But even with the setback, Norton said Forsyth has everything it needs to maintain its top status in the state.

“It’s you that drives this county,” Norton said. “It’s the investment that you make each and every day in this county, whether it is your time, talent or resources. You are bringing great wealth to the long-term future of your children and grandchildren in Forsyth County. This county is booming, don’t let it stop.”

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