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Optimistic signs for county's future
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Forsyth County News


Well, it’s not every week you get Frank Norton and Oprah Winfrey both talking about good things happening in Forsyth County, yet that was the case last week.

On her show airing on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Winfrey spent a few minutes telling viewers about the civil rights marches that occured in the county in 1987, the show she hosted here then, and the changes that have taken place since.

Her conclusion was that Forsyth County now is “one of the richest counties in the United States,” and that residents, both black and white, “say its a great place to live and raise a family.”

Thanks Oprah. We agree. We also feel certain the same would have been true if there had never been a march in 1987 nor the broadcasting of an earlier Oprah show from here. But we appreciate the recognition nonetheless.

And while Norton may not have the name recognition, nor the billions, of Oprah, his words likely have more import for those who live and work here.

Recognized as an expert in the real estate industry, Norton each year prepares a detailed economic outlook for certain counties in North Georgia.

His presentation last week offered at least a bit of solace for those looking for signs the economy may finally be improving.

Norton said that while the boom times of the past may never be seen again, Forsyth County “is stronger than any other county in this state. The growth engine may be puttering, but it’s still moving.”

After the harsh economic realities of the last two years, just knowing that engine is still running is a comforting thought. Hearing that it’s puttering along better than the rest of the state is definitely encouraging.

Norton pointed out that Forsyth issued 1,200 new home permits in 2010, the most of any county in North Georgia, including Gwinnett, which for many years was the state’s growth leader.

Norton went on to say that the growth taking place now reflects a more modest trend in homes, with “upscale, basic” residential replacing the “McMansions” of a decade ago.

But that’s OK. A steady rate of growth in housing that people can actually afford is a positive brick in the economic foundation.

Norton said Forsyth is leading in housing, will lead in retail and can lead in business growth.

After months of economic doom and gloom, Norton’s optimistic words paint a very positive picture of the county’s future — one we fully expect will become reality even if Oprah never visits again.