Like the trusted family doctor of days gone by making a house call in order to perform an annual physical, Frank Norton Jr. brought his Native Intelligence road show to Forsyth County last week and diagnosed the patient as being pretty darn healthy, all things considered.
Norton, president of the Norton Agency, a real estate and insurance firm, has spent years studying the business climate and economic trends of northeast Georgia, and is considered an expert on the subject. Each year he compiles Native Intelligence, a look at the region and the various counties it comprises, and presents his findings to local audiences.
At his Forsyth County stop last week, Norton offered encouraging words that belie the economic doom and gloom so prevalent in much of Georgia.
The county, Norton said, is doing “absolutely great” in terms of its real estate market and economic climate.
“You ought to be breaking your arm patting yourself on the back,” he said of those responsible for positioning the county at the apex of the north Atlanta economic ladder.
Those who have watched the county grow and change over the past several decades shouldn’t be surprised at Norton’s optimistic findings, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded now and then how well we truly are doing compared to other communities.
Norton noted, as we have in the past, that the exceptional quality of life enjoyed by those living in Forsyth County is the end result of a joint cooperative effort of those from many diverse arenas – elected officials, the business community, leaders in education, civic groups.
Forsyth’s success, he said, “is the testimony of your school system, of your infrastructure, of your quality of life, and the successes of the chamber of commerce and [civic organizations] … this is bragging rights.”
He noted that the county issued 1,480 new home permits last year, when only 7,000 were issued in 22 Atlanta-area counties combined. Gwinnett County issued 980, despite having more than four times Forsyth’s population.
Norton warned that the tough times that have battered the entire country in recent years aren’t over, predicting that economic pains will continue to be felt for at least another four years.
Despite the pain there is still plenty of opportunity for gain, he noted, and Forsyth is better situated to take advantage of those opportunities than many of its neighbors.
Bragging rights indeed.