Real estate executive Frank Norton Jr. presented 10 steps to an economic “game plan for the next four years, a game plan for challenging times, a game plan for opportunity, a game plan for North Georgia” at his annual Native Intelligence report Thursday at the Gainesville Civic Center.
In the plan, Norton advised an audience of at least 350 people to buy strategically and think long term, recognize the reality that the market contraction is not yet over, anticipate higher taxes, consider a shelter for their homes and businesses and spend money wisely.
“We are all hoarding more, spending less. We’re watching how we spend that dollar and try to squeeze a dime out of that nickel. Hoarding is in, conspicuous consumption out,” Norton said.
The plan also recommended that Northeast Georgians consider private individual lending, seeking wise business counsel, promoting wellness and fitness in person and finances, thinking locally and envisioning the long term.
“Envision your person, your family, your business, your career, beyond four years, 10, 20 or 30,” Norton advised. “Great businesses have rolling three-year plans but have clear visions for the long term. A strong game plan has just that.”
And despite the dismal look of America’s overall economy, Norton emphasized the “mountain half of Georgia” is outperforming not only the majority of the rest of the state, but also many Southeastern markets.
Noting that 42 percent of all expansions and new industries with 50-plus employees in Georgia have chosen that part of the state, Norton said companies have “set their sights and their sites on Northeast Georgia.”
He credited Interstate 85 accessibility, pre-2007 available buildings and sites, abundant, well-educated labor supply, affordable multiple price point housing choices and aggressive home-folk recruiters for enticing small, medium and large entities.
“Our region is intertwined with a collective spirit, a collective wisdom and collective resolve. Our powerful mountains may not be on the world stage, but self-reliance is driving its independence,” Norton said in his report. “Despite what much of the mainstream media might lead you to believe, America is still viewed by the business industry and Earth’s citizens worldwide as the No. 1 safe haven.”
Norton added that out of the few basic essentials needed for human survival, including sustenance, food and water, shelter, a sense of security, wellness and transportation, the engines of the North Georgia economy each meet at least one of these needs.
“Over the last 18 months, Norton Native Intelligence has watched numerous cases of the power of local initiatives overcoming adversity in order to make transformational changes in community direction,” Norton said.
Chris Walker, a businessman from Cumming, admitted while he doesn’t always understand how the economy works, he appreciates Norton’s research that goes into the intricacies of Northeast Georgia’s forecast.
“You can watch economy experts on the news all day long, but you don’t get a lot of personal information central to where you live most of the time,” Walker said. “Frank is always very honest and to the point, regardless of how things are looking with the economy, and I can appreciate that about his reports.”