Norton reacts to census numbers showing growth

By Katie Highsmith Staff

GAINESVILLE - Census numbers released Thursday show the Hispanic population doubling in Georgia over the past 10 years, and the president of The Norton Agency said that's been reflected in North Georgia's real estate market.

"Somewhere between five and seven percent of all houses sold between 2001 and 2006 were to a Hispanic family," said Frank Norton, Jr.

Norton said a segment of the Hispanic community did leave during the latter part of the decade as the economy faltered and immigration enforcement became stricter.He said the segment of the Hispanic population that stayed during the past several years has become Americanized.
"Their kids go to our school system, they are shopping in our stores," Norton said. "We need to understand they are a part of our community that is going to be with us for a long time."

In addition, Thursday's census numbers also show the populations of Hall, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties outpacing the population growth in the state overall. Norton said that spectacular growth in North Georgia was expected by him and others who closely track these numbers.

"We are a very attractive community with relatively low housing costs, good strong labor rates, access to the labor markets... and all of that is a soup that mixes very well for population growth," he said.
Norton said he would need to do more research into the census numbers before he could draw more complete conclusions about what the numbers mean for this area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Forsyth County's population is put at 175,500. That's compared to 98,407 ten years ago. Hall County added 40,407 people during that time which is an increase of 29 percent. Gwinnett County also saw its population increase 36.9 percent since 2000.

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