Fayette puts best foot forward for industry

Tue, 02/12/2008 - 5:27pm
By: Ben Nelms

Fayette County was front and center Feb. 5 at the annual South Metro Outlook conference as county Development Authority President Matt Forshee joined presenters at Georgia International Convention Center in College Park to provide an overview of counties on Atlanta’s south side and a look at issues such as population growth, income levels and housing.

Forshee told conference attendees that Fayette was once a bedroom community, but with the advent of Peachtree City and the businesses located there, the county became a workforce center in south metro Atlanta.

Fayette County is currently experiencing an 11 percent growth rate, with a 2007 population of approximately 109,000 and a projected population of 121,000 in 2012. Forshee said a demographics breakdown showed that more than 90 percent of Fayette’s population in 1990 was Caucasian, but since that time the African American population had grown by 669 percent.

“We’re a much more diverse county today,” Forshee said.

Fayette’s median family income remains high, poised at approximately $87,000 in 2007 and expected to approach $100,000 by 2012, Forshee said.

Population growth in Fayette has been reflected in the number of homes built in the past two decades, he said.

Providing a sampling of housing starts, Forshee said 1987 saw 1,700 homes constructed, compared to 813 in 1990 and 1,265 in 1998. Between the 2000-2005, the county saw an average of 925 units constructed per year. Fayette also experienced a large decline in new home construction since 2005, with perhaps as few as 300 homes constructed, he said.

House values in 1987 were lower than the state average, Forshee said, but that soon changed. Fayette’s average new home cost today is approximately $300,000, compared to the state average estimated at $160,000, he said.

Earlier at the meeting, new Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner and Sharpsburg resident Dr. Gena Abraham said it is important to look at a comprehensive transportation plan that includes metro Atlanta and all of Georgia, noting that in past years some portions of the state have received more than their fair share of transportation funding.

“We’re going to be open, honest and transparent. And that’s something a little new,” said Abraham, noting that she began her position in December. “And we’re going to take a different approach to look at a statewide comprehensive transportation plan, something we don’t have now.”

Abraham said DOT would be focusing on three main issues, including the statewide plan, alternative funding mechanisms and project delivery.

“We’re known as DOT, but we also want to be known as the department of land use and planning. We have to be cognizant of that as we look at a statewide transportation plan,” Abraham said.

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