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Official talks economy with AARP
Forsyth has fared better
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Forsyth County News


Forsyth County hasn't experienced nearly the recession that many counties have, a chamber of commerce leader told the local AARP on Friday.

Even two years ago, when the economy was at its lowest nationwide, Forsyth still fared relatively well.

"2009 was tough, but not impossible," said James McCoy, chamber president and CEO. "In Forsyth, we added 210 new jobs and $34 million in capital investments even in 2009."

McCoy's remarks came during the AARP's monthly meeting at Golden Corral restaurant in Cumming.

He said the county added eight large business projects in 2010, bringing 484 new jobs and $68.8 million in capital investments. Several of those were tied to international firms.

He noted that Forsyth has the highest number of international companies per capita of any Georgia county. Of those, about half are German.

Forsyth has also fared well in population growth and household income levels.

From 2000 to 2009, the county's population rose nearly 75 percent, he said. From 2010 to 2015, it's expected to grow 24 percent.

Median household income last year was $101,728 in Forsyth, compared to $69,376 for the nation. In the next five years, it's expected to rise more than 10 percent, to about $112,500, McCoy said.

The county's jobless rate has doubled since 2008, but remains lower than state and national rates.

"I like to say we're now at a new normal," McCoy said. "We're at 8.2 percent unemployment, while Georgia's at 10.3 percent and the U.S. rate is 9.1 percent."

For 2011, McCoy said he expects "continued growth and activity over 2010," particularly in the areas of health care and international business.

Northside Hospital-Forsyth is the county's largest, private provider of jobs, McCoy said.

Also in 2011, he hopes to see additional retail businesses.

"Overall, we believe we've hit the bottom and are on our way up in regards to retail," he said.

One large project, Academy Sports, was announced last week. The retailer, which is coming to The Avenue-Forsyth shopping mall, is anticipated to bring in 150 jobs and 300 construction positions.

Another project, which McCoy said could be made official soon, will bring 23 new jobs and $1.8 million in capital investments.

AARP member Marion Allen said she "took notes" during McCoy's presentation.

"It was very encouraging to know that we still have new companies coming in," she said. "But I was surprised so many of them are German."

Allen was also surprised by Forsyth's high income levels.

"I knew it was high, but I was shocked it was that high," she said.