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Breakfast offers peek at annual forecast
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Forsyth County News
If you're going
* The Economic Outlook Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 13 and will be held at Northside Hospital-Forsyth, 1200 Northside Forsyth Drive in Cumming.
* Cost, which includes breakfast, is $20 for chamber members and $30 for nonmembers.
* For more information, or to register, contact: (770) 887-6461 or go online at

His annual economic forecast won't be released until Jan. 22, but regional housing expert Frank Norton Jr. will offer Forsyth County a preview of his latest findings next week.

"What I'm doing is talking about the bright spots in the marketplace," said Norton, president of the Gainesville-based Norton Agency,  a commercial and residential real estate and insurance company.

"While there is certainly pain in certain categories," he said, "Forsyth County is faring better than other counties in the region and ... the recovery, while it will be a slow recovery comparatively, it will be swifter in Forsyth County than other markets."

For more than two decades, Norton has released his annual Native Intelligence report, an economic forecast for north Georgia showing past and future trends.

On Tuesday, he will give members of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, as well as real estate agents and community members, a sample of Forsyth's 2008 progress and opportunities in 2009.

"Frank does a very, very good job of being able to point out where opportunities exist," said James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the chamber. "And even in a challenging time, he's very thoughtful about the information that he conveys.

"He helps people understand, what they can expect could happen locally next year, and what they may be able to take advantage of."

Norton said he has a great story to tell: While the market may be down, $1.76 billion worth of Forsyth County real estate still traded hands in 2008.

"That is the same amount that roughly traded in 2003, so it wasn't like nothing happened," he said. "I'm going to talk about the opportunities as I see it through the next four seasons."

Marilyn Wedig of Keller Williams is a regular at Norton's forecast meetings. At his chamber event last year, Wedig said Norton was "right on the money."

"He was interjecting a reality factor that a lot of people didn't want to hear, or didn't want to believe," she said. "They had gone on the bubble for so long that nobody wanted it to end.

"I love this event, it's always one of my favorites ... I watch his statistics very carefully."

The Norton Agency, which has been in business for more than 80 years has had a prosperous year, Norton said. While younger companies may not have fared as well, "Our firm is actually expanding our presence."

"We realize there are great opportunities in a market like this," he said of Forsyth County's future. "From what I can see ... I think we're in good shape."