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Commission hears report on demographics
Study shows longer lifespans, rapid growth, millennial shortage

Forsyth County’s growth over the last two decades has brought lots of new neighbors to the community. This week, Forsyth County Commissioners looked into the county’s demographics.

At a work session on Tuesday, Forsyth County Commissioners were presented a draft of a demographic study by Jonathan Gelber of the Bleakly Advisory Group, the firm which performed the study.

“The real strong takeaway from this is that there is sort of a perfect demographic storm here where there are four key trends that are interacting with each other in a really interesting way,” Gelber told commissioners.

Gelber said those four factors were the high rate of growth over the last two decades, longer overall lifespans, an underrepresented demographic of those ages 25-34, or millennials, and the growth of northern counties of metro-Atlanta.

Gelber described a chart of age groups as a “violin,” due to the contrast in numbers of millennials and the age groups above and below them. Those aged 25-34 make up only 9 percent of the county, while those aged 15-24 are 14 percent and 35-44 are 15 percent.

Salaries, the price of housing and lack of nightlife were discussed as possible reasons for the trend, and Chairman Todd Levent said he felt the addition of the upcoming Halcyon, a mixed-use project, could bring more young people.

“I think Halcyon may start to attract some of the millennials because it gives a little more of the lifestyle they want,” he said.

The study also looked at what brings newcomers to Forsyth.

In a survey, those 55 and over said the main reason was a special homestead and school tax exemptions given to seniors while those younger were more swayed by the local school system. The study found Forsyth’s tax exemption was larger than surrounding counties.

Other findings of the study: the population could reach 361,000 by 2037, with nearly 71,000 of those (about 18 percent of the population) ages 55 and up as baby boomers retire.

Gelber said Forsyth was the fifth-fastest growing county in the country since 2000.

The county’s future growth is expected to increase by nearly 2,600 households each year and by some 52,000 households over the next 20 years.

Commissioners bid out the study to Bleakly for about $29,000 earlier this summer to look at senior demographics in the county.

Forsyth County is expected to release a final version of the study online soon.