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Census: County has grown by 78 percent in decade
Pace continues to lead the state
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County has again been named the fastest growing county in the state, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released last week.

But more than year-to-year increases, the county has grown the most overall between 2000-10, at a 78 percent rate.

“Forsyth County has experienced a tremendous amount of growth as we continue to be one of the most desirable places in America to live, with our great schools, great parks and great public safety personnel,” said Forsyth Commission Chairman Brian Tam.

“We have tried in the past and we must continue to both prepare and preserve for the continued growth.”

The total county population is about 175,500, up from about 98,400 in 2000, according to census figures.

Georgia’s population swelled from 8.18 million to about 9.68 million during the same span.

By comparison, the state’s growth was 18.3 percent, neighboring Hall County grew 29 percent and Fulton County by 12.8 percent, according to the figures.

The growth has had its ups and downs, said James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

“If you drive anywhere, you probably notice it," he said. "We always have growing pains in terms of that we do need greater road infrastructure, we do need more building of schools ... and there are some daily reminders of that.”

But there are communities around Georgia and the nation that are having the opposite problem, McCoy said. They’re contracting in size and struggling to manage.

“We’ve shown prosperity is a benefit of a growing community, and our schools enjoy the benefits of that," he said. "Our amenities, things like parks and recreation, and all of the infrastructure that we enjoy every single day are the benefits of growth.”

Forsyth has also moved from 15th to 12th most populous county in the state, having added 77,104 people since 2000.

School system officials were not surprised to see the numbers.

Since 2000, the system has added 16 schools and has more than doubled its student population. With a pupil growth rate of nearly 109 percent over the decade, it’s been a constant pacing game.

“A lot can change in a fast-growth community like Forsyth, especially in 10 short years,” said Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Buster Evans. “This has meant that we have doubled the number of students that we serve, moving us from medium-size suburban to one of the top 10 largest metro systems in the state.

“Serving these growth demands with the lowest mileage rate in metro Atlanta has been a challenge for the district, particularly with significant decreases in state and local revenues.”

But it’s the school system’s ability to meet the demanding growth and exceed in student performance that draw people to Forsyth, said District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy.

“We have a great school system, we have the lake -- it’s just a nice place to live and work,” said Murphy, a Republican from Cumming.

Like McCoy, Murphy said there are some pros and cons to the rapid population gains, which he said really started with one road.

“I’ve often said that when Ga. 400 came through Forsyth County that was a tremendous asset for us,” he said. “That brought businesses and restaurants and people wanting to move to Forsyth County. But it also became a nightmare in trying to commute back and forth between Atlanta,” he said.

“But I’d much rather have growth and jobs available ... than other counties that are experiencing no growth, or even a downturn in growth.”