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Norton: Area’s strengths help us to survive

POSTED: March 26, 2009 10:45 p.m.

A Gainesville real estate executive told members of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce that the area holds a number of advantages when it comes to both attracting growth and recovering from the downturn in housing.

“We are different than the rest of the nation and the rest of the state of Georgia,” said Frank Norton Jr., president of the Norton Agency. “This community has a heritage of great stories through both the founding of the poultry industry and the founding of the center of commerce when they located Mule Camp Springs (the original settlement that became Gainesville).”

He said his firm’s residential sales were up 12 percent in the first two months of the year. Norton said about 35 percent of that business was what he called “stressed sales” of properties that had to be sold.

“Having some degree of properties changing hands is a good thing,” he said.

Norton said the near record low interest rates are creating interest from buyers. He said the community can take steps to stimulate the economy by banking locally, using local attorneys and buying goods and services from nearby businesses.

“Every dollar we spend in this community generates a dollar that can be spent on school infrastructure,” he said.

He said now is a good time to buy a house.“You can buy more house today than at any time in the past 10 years,” he said.

Norton said that in 2008, more than $6 billion in real estate was sold in Northeast Georgia, outside of Gwinnett County.

Also on Thursday, the chamber elected its leadership for the year beginning July 1.

Emily Bagwell, a partner in the law firm of Whelchel, Dunlap, Jarrard & Walker will serve as chairman. Darrell Snyder, a local executive with Georgia Power Co. will become chairman-elect. Brian Daniel of Carroll Daniel Construction Co. will be treasurer.

Vice chairmen include Russell Vandiver, Lanier Technical College, economic development; Beth Baldwin, Edward Jones Investments, education; Dixie Truelove, Truelove Dairy, community development; Cooper Embry, United Community Bank, government affairs;
Jay Jacobs, Jacobs Media Corp., marketing and communications; Allen Nivens, The Norton Agency, membership; and Mike Allen, Georgia Trust Bank, South Hall council.

Paul Chambers of AT&T, David Lee of Jackson EMC and Mimi Collins of The Longstreet Clinic were named as co-chairs of the HallMark campaign.

Rob Fowler of Turner Wood & Smith insurance will chair the Vision 2030 project. Benny Bagwell of Jackson EMC, a former board chairman, will serve as senior advisor and current chairman R.K. Whitehead will become immediate past chairman.



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