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Forecaster says Dawson poised for great long-term growth

POSTED: February 25, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Frank Norton Jr., known for his North Georgia economic forecasts and predictions, told members of the Dawson County Home Builders Association last week that Dawson County is poised for great long-term growth, despite the lack of new development that took place in the county in the last year.

  

The problem, he said, is consumer confidence, which is going to take time to heal. “There will be a turn around, and we are starting to see signs of that,” he said.

  

People are still spending their money. They still go out to eat and still buy the products they need. But the difference, Norton said, is that consumers are eating less at expensive sit-down restaurants and more at fast food eateries, like McDonalds.

  

“McDonald’s sales are up 7 percent. Compare Wal-Mart to Macys. Wal-Mart’s seen an increase in sales,” he said. “There are pockets of recession, and yet there are still pockets of spending, and we are going to see spending change. We’re going to be spending on value priced goods and services, like North Georgia Premium Outlets.”

  

Norton said the county’s stagnant housing market will also see change in the coming months, although the forecasted change will fall only after Forsyth County sees an increase in home sales.

  

“I believe the moratorium in Forsyth County (five years ago) did more good in Dawson County than any other single event. It gave credibility to Dawson County and raised prices, because populous couldn’t find and businesses gravitated to Dawson County,” Norton said, adding once homes and lots in Forsyth County are gone, Dawson County homes will start selling again.

  

A lack of lots in Forsyth County in the next few years will have the same affect, Norton said.

  

“When they start running out of lots in Forsyth County, they’re going to still come up 400, which means our absorption level will be faster than predicted,” he said.

  

Dawson County, he predicts, will run out of certain home price points before developers start building new houses.

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

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