What kind of economic future does Jackson County want?
That question comes as the recession bumps along the apparent bottom. While a second downturn isn’t impossible, the economy appears to be stable for now; not improving, but stable.
So will we see a return to the wild growth days of just a few years ago? Remember that time when everyone with a cell phone and pickup truck was a “developer?”
Remember when anyone with a pulse could walk into a bank and get a 100 percent mortgage that everyone involved knew could never be paid off?
Rem-ember when speculators were driving up land prices faster than a speeding bullet and how quickly the county government responded by raising property assessments?
Remember when the zoning board held five-hour meetings because so many people wanted to cash-in on the land grandpaw left them?
Remember when new retail and restaurants were sprouting up like flowers at every major intersection in the county?
Remember when the county tax digest was exploding and local governments were being showered with double-digit revenue increase year after year?
Ahh, seems so long ago now. Today, many planned subdivisions are just unfinished PVC farms in the county; foreclosures have left a slew of empty houses; mortgage loans are impossible to get even at the banks which have survived the recession; there are few zoning meetings; and many restaurants and retail centers sit empty.
The real psychological impact of this recession is that it has totally upended the previous notion that rapid, massive growth was inevitable.
It’s not. This year, the Jackson County tax digest is likely to shrink for the first time in decades. An economic reality of slower growth is starting to sink in.
Maybe in the long run, this downturn will bring some reality back into the market. During the boom years, housing was the driving force in Jackson and other Metro Atlanta counties. Construction was the economic engine.
But it was all a sham and we should have known it couldn’t last. Construction should be the result of solid economic development, not the driving force itself.
For a community to really have solid growth, it must have manufacturing jobs that employ people to create wealth. New wealth creates the desire for new homes and allows people to be mobile both in geography and in their climb up the economic ladder.
Housing by itself isn’t the creation of new wealth, especially when much of the real estate market was built on crazy loans given to people who could never repay the debt. That’s not real wealth.
Despite a high unemployment rate, Jackson County has been rather lucky. The recession did wipe out some local manufacturing jobs, but other new jobs seem to be destined to locate here. Exactly what impact that will have remains to be seen.
But the one truism to come out of this recession is that an economy built on shallow service and construction jobs isn’t a real economy. Only manufacturing can create the kind of wealth needed for a solid economic system to work.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
to whom it may concern, a simple solution to the 1.7million dollar short fall take the money from the poor unfortuniate individuals who got busted for the simple act of enjoying life and trying to persue happiness take there fines and put that money on the boc budget in refrence to all the communist thankin police in jackson county for the average week is 36118 dollars a week (just in fines alone).for a grand total of 1733664 dollars. a year after saving 17 county jobs we have a surplus of 33664 dollars take that money and donate to eldry for madication. scence the govt. is to busy giving free medical to illeagels . by the way where is our money going.