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Publication assesses local quality of life
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Forsyth County News

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A recent report from a Forsyth County group aims to measure something few communities have attempted: quality of life.

“Forsyth on the move” is a report from the county’s Quality of Life Council, which formed in 2007 as a product of the Envision2030 community planning process.

The 16-page booklet, available online and in limited print copies, is intended to be a tool for the community in determining areas of success or need, said James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

McCoy, who sits on the 10-member Quality of Life Council, said the committee developed data measurements that could capture the 12 categories related to quality of life, as identified through community surveys and focus groups.

Most of those categories have been incorporated into the first report, including: health care; business; strong families; education; taxes/government; transportation; environment; and public safety.

“It is data that is readable and easily accessible for all kinds of purposes,” McCoy said. “That’s the whole idea here is that we are setting ourselves on a path of where we are and where we want to be and identifying those key indicators of where the problems are.”

Council member Terry Smith said the informational report, released earlier this year, has received positive feedback in the community so far.

The Quality of Life Council and its work to measure an abstract concept is a unique venture, Smith said.

“There’s only two or three communities in the United States that have undertaken this,” he said. “Forsyth County’s very unique. It’s one of a very few in the country that is trying to do it. I’m proud of it, and those that have seen it are proud of it.”

The first report, he said, intended to be a baseline for future measurements of quality of life.

The 500 copies, printed through Northside Hospital, also serve as a guide to the county, Smith said.

The council will begin its work in soliciting information for 2014 at the end of this month, with the next report due to be published in 2015.

The group has continued to work toward gathering measurements for categories left out of the first report due to lack of available data, such as communities of faith.

McCoy said the plan is to complete a report every other year to evaluate the community’s quality of life by categories and benefit organizations who want to measure their impact.

“They will be able to use this data in their strategic planning to help better focus themselves around areas of greatest need and greatest opportunity,” he said.

McCoy used the chamber as an example, pointing to a statistic showing that the majority of residents leave the community for work as a benchmark the organization can use to evaluate some of its efforts.

“The growth of the number of commercial entities would have very positive impacts on our infrastructure, on economic opportunity and prosperity,” he said.

“So the chamber, and we have done so, needs to change its strategy a bit to be more aggressive about creating a more balanced approach. We’ve taken that data and that information very seriously and we’ve taken it on as a high priority for ourselves.”