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County ranks high in young wealth
Officials credit schools, services
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Forsyth County News
A recent study by the Neilson Company ranks Forsyth County sixth in the nation for attracting wealthy homeowners between ages 25 and 34.

Nearly 7 percent of the county’s homes are owned by people in that age group, with a household income of at least $100,000, according to the study. The national average is about 2 percent.

Michael Mancini, Neilson’s vice president of data product management, said in a statement that the demographic has shifted over the last 19 years from the nation’s heartland and Texas to major metropolitan areas.

Forsyth’s ranking was no surprise to Frank Norton Jr., president of the Gainesville-based Norton Agency.

“Can I tell you, ‘I told you so,’” he said. “We have been talking about the growing influence of the people who have been moving into Forsyth County for some time. While most people think ... they might be in their 50s, quite frankly, you are getting the young executive.”

Norton said several south Forsyth developments are catering to what he calls the “urban warrior executive.”

The region, he said, gives the best of both worlds, allowing the younger demographic close access to the fast pace of Atlanta, with the recreational lifestyle of Lake Lanier.

Forsyth’s trend of attracting young homeowners began in the early 1990s, said Norton, when new schools and subdivisions were being built. He predicts the influx will continue for another 15 years.

“The more you have, the more you’re going to get and it just builds upon itself,” he said.

While the study noted household income for 4,128 young homeowners topped $100,000, there was no breakdown on how many were two-income families.

“Just on a personal level, I can’t think of anyone that, for the long term, is not a double income family that’s under the age of 40,” said James McCoy, president of the local chamber of commerce.

Some of the popular professions for young residents in Forsyth include health care, financial services and professional services like lawyers, accountants and management, McCoy said.

He said the county’s parks and recreation offerings, shopping opportunities and other amenities are attractive. But those looking to start a family may be most impressed with the schools here.

“The most important decision they make in the development of their child’s life is where they’re going to go to school,” he said. “Our great school system is a driver behind a lot of people’s decisions to move here.”

Ten years ago, the county’s kindergarten population was 1,475 students. Five years ago, that number had grown to 2,317. Enrollment this year is 2,974, according to school system figures.

“Our outstanding schools are a draw for families, especially those with young children,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, a spokeswoman for the district.
“We have seen an increase in our kindergarten through second grade population over the last 10 years and expect this trend to continue.

“Parents pick Forsyth because of our strong and caring teachers, plentiful instructional technology and locally funded programs, such as foreign language and additional art, music and PE teachers.”

McCoy said the Nielson report reflects attributes most residents know all about.

The county, he said, is “a really good place to live and we have great schools.”

“Overall, I think this community attracts the well-educated, thoughtful folks who have good jobs,” said McCoy, adding that’s one reason it’s “such an economically vital community.”