With 2017 nearly halfway over, residents, county commissioners and local business owners are looking back at what Forsyth County has accomplished since January.
On Tuesday, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Quality Growth, a nonprofit organization that supports growth and development in metro-Atlanta, held the annual 2017 State of the County address.
The event featured Board of Commissioners Chairman Todd Levent and Board of Education Chairwoman Kirstin Morrissey as keynote speakers.
Tuesday’s, which focused only on Forsyth, marked the final in the council’s 2017 series.
1. Economic development
Since January, the county has seen the creation of almost 500 new jobs and brought in $38 million in new capital investment, a pattern projecting 2017 to surpass last year’s totals.
“The county commissioners and the Chamber are making sure economic development remains a county focus,” Levent said. “Together, commissioners and the Chamber are dedicated to developing key areas, including healthcare, hotel, retail and advanced manufacturing.”
For the fifth year in a row, Forsyth County was ranked the healthiest county in Georgia, based on an annual study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
“We’re part of a larger, more comprehensive puzzle that forms this community network,” said Lynn Jackson, Northside Hospital-Forsyth’s administrator. “People are working to support their own piece of what we think of a continuum, to contribute to, in [their] own way, a well-rounded, healthy community.
“We have milestones left to conquer, but I’m confident our trajectory is a very positive one.”
3. School growth
Since last May, Forsyth County Schools has grown by nearly 2,000 students, bringing its total to 46,739 students.
“Since 2001, we have grown 170 percent in terms of student population and built 21 new schools,” Morrissey said. “Among metro-Atlanta districts and large districts, we have the highest CCRPI score, graduation rate, SAT score and state financial efficiency rating. These accomplishments from the past school year are the result of having excellent teachers, hardworking students and both supportive parents and community business partners.”
4. Public safety
This year, Ron Freeman began his first term as sheriff of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the Forsyth County 911 Center received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Forsyth County Fire Department opened two new stations.
“I thank Sheriff Freeman for adding four new school resource officers to four of our elementary schools,” Levent said. “On the topic of drugs, there have been 11 residential search warrants issued that resulted in the sheriff’s office seizing 23 guns, 5 vehicles, 96 pounds of marijuana, 30 ounces of methamphetamines, and illegal narcotics have resulted in 59 arrests.
“In addition to that, hundreds of illegal narcotics cases have been made by our deputies during their daily tours of duty.”
5. Parks, roads projects
Forsyth County is currently home to 25 parks, with the number soon increasing to 26. County roads have undergone major projects in the last year, with more to come.
“While our population grows, so do the amenities offered to our residents,” Levent said. “Last summer, we opened phase four of the Big Creek Greenway, offering a total trail length of approximately 9.6 miles. Our park system now covers over 2,700 acres as 25 parks, soon to be 26, with Eagle’s Beak park to be open soon.
“In 2014, in what seemed the height of traffic congestion in the county, voters approved a $200 million transportation bond. Eighty-one million is proposed for projects in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, leveraging state and federal funding, with the remaining $119 million proposed for county projects. The bond has provided the county with funds to improve our roads, sidewalks and intersections and has already funded multiple projects.”