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Outlets a mecca for north Georgia
Economist urges residents to invest
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A North Georgia economist and forecaster said June 10 that residents must invest in the Dawson County medicine to see a recovery.


“This stimulus plan that the government is taunting isn’t going to help Dawson County,” said Frank Norton Jr, who researches market conditions and outlines trends in an annual report, Native Intelligence.


“Dawson County you can produce your own stimulus plan by having the folks in Dawson County spend money in Dawson County,” he said.


As guest speaker at the monthly Dawson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Norton told attendees he believes the once affluent Dawson County is in recovery, but warned that the county’s market changed when the economy soured.


“What we’ve seen is that average people with average credit are buying average houses,” he said. 


Norton said the county’s new housing market is $250,000 and under.


“I grew up in a house where we didn’t have sheetrock in the garage or garage doors until I was about 15, so when did we all have to have three-car garages with tongue and groove paneling and custom-made cabinets?” he said.


Norton said the key to a successful recovery in Dawson County has not changed, though sales have dwindled.


“The fortuitous decisions of the leadership of the county that brought North Georgia Premium Outlets to locate to this community has set off the catalyst for the development for a brand new city,” Norton said. “We see a city at that intersection. In the early ’90s the only thing sitting at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Ga. 400 was Sankys [gas station].”


Norton said only about 20 percent of the shoppers at the outlet mall are from Dawson County.


“That means the rest are coming from other counties, spending their money and leaving tax revenue in Dawson County,” he said.


The outlets, Norton said, is a “mecca any county in North Georgia wishes they had.


“Look at that economic engine and invest in that medicine,” he said.