GAINESVILLE - Gainesville Realtor Frank Norton told his Civic Center audience Thursday night there are still 'unknowns' that could be economic pitfalls this year; other than that, it looks promising.
Norton, in his 26th annual 'Native Intelligence' economic forecast, announced a 10 point game plan for the next four years to deal with unknowns including inflation, unemployment and economic effects of health care.
"There are still a lot of uncertainties out there; interest rates, mortgage deduction, still a lot of uncertainties," Norton said. "But despite all of those America has moved on. We're spending money, not like we did in 2006, but we're spending money wisely. We're buying goods and services for our needs, not necessarily for our wants."
Norton said Americans have adapted to the new economic climate, adding that statistically his business got out of the recession last year.
"Our business had in 2012 its best year ever," Norton added. "All segments of the market in what we do were the best year ever. We believe that 2013 will be as good as 2012, maybe slightly better, but not worse."
Norton focused on 'what we know, what we don't know and what to do'.
In his game plan on 'what to do', he advised spending wisely, look for strategic investments, become a lender if you have extra money, even loan it to yourself and your business. Norton also said to promote wellness to contain health care cost, and to 'think local' by shopping in Gainesville and Hall County to support local employment, capital and profits.
"We have gone through six years of economic turmoil," Norton said. "It's time to look at long term where we're going as a community, where we're going as business, and where we're going as a family."
Norton also pointed to a solid business growth in Northeast Georgia with 42 percent of all expansion in Georgia locating in the region. Another positive 'known' indicator was that housing foreclosures are waning with a 20 percent decline in 2011 and 15 percent last year.
Norton also directed attention to banking, which he reported has stabilized. Although Georgia led the nation in FDIC bank takeovers for a while, Norton reported last year the regulators closed 10 banks, a 50 percent reduction from the prior year.
Norton concluded by saying that "life is different but not so bad. Traditional business activity is returning, the roller coaster is stabilizing its twists and turns, families are growing and North Georgia is once again alive and thriving."