Dawson County took an economic hit in 2009 as the unemployment rate rose, businesses shuttered and home foreclosures soared.
Despite a drop in home prices, few new homes sold and home construction remained at a standstill. Several neighborhoods saw entire phases go into
Gold Creek Golf Club continues to sit vacant as residents of the upscale community wonder what the future holds.
The golf course closed in summer 2008 and later became the property of Regions Bank, which acquired it through foreclosure.
Local governments also felt the pinch the past year as revenues from permits, fees, fines and tax collections declined.
To compensate, Dawson County government trimmed its budget by about $5 million, which included employee furloughs and staff reductions, as well as spending cuts and new policies limiting travel, training, cell phone use and take-home vehicles.
Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner said it was one of the most difficult years in his career.
“We faced many challenges economically, but we are positive about the potential 2010 brings,” he said. “I am confident that we can continue to work together as a government and a community, we will have a prosperous new year.”
The Dawsonville City Council also approved a leaner budget in 2009, as well as shedding hours in an effort to save taxpayer dollars.
“The reason we were able to maintain staff and not have to furlough employees is because of sound fiscal management and by trimming very hard,” said City Administrator Kim Cornelison.
“We’re looking forward to better times, so we can provide our residents with the services they want and need and we can continue with some of our long-term projects, like our sidewalks.”
Other areas of the local economy also felt the pinch, with several small businesses closing in the city limits and along the Ga. 400 corridor.
The county also posted a record unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, with 1,161 Dawson County residents out of work in July.
Despite the hardships, there was an upside in 2009.
Downtown Dawsonville experienced somewhat of a boom, including the opening of four new restaurants.
In addition, two local manufacturers garnered national attention.
Industry Week saluted Nordson as one of the top 10 manufacturing plants in the nation and Vice President Joe Biden visited Impulse Manufacturing to unveil federal stimulus plans for local broadband Internet development.
Jim DeVries, vice president of Nordson’s North America adhesive dispensing system, described the year as the company’s most difficult.
“In spite of 2009, we learned a lot of valuable lessons,” he said.