I was born in North Fulton, raised in North Fulton and I live with my family today in North Fulton. I have a good many friends up here who have said I should get out more, but you know what? All those friends moved here.
If you know me, you’ve heard me say this: I’d rather be from the place everyone is moving to than the place they are all moving from. And for the last 43 years, people and businesses have fought to get into North Fulton.
Some say that North Fulton’s success is because of the fiber-optic cable that was laid along roads in Alpharetta in the early 1990s. Others say it was Jim Cowart’s vision to build the first gated community of Country Club of the South. I’ll add that it was Roswell’s vision back in the 1970s to develop what just recently was awarded the Gold Medal Award for the best Recreation and Parks Department in the entire country.
You could keep going further back to Roswell’s founder, Roswell King in the mid-1800s. He stopped in Roswell to build a cotton mill. He was from Connecticut, and back then, the South shipped most of the cotton it grew to the North for processing. The finished products were shipped back down here to sell. King started the mill to cut out the shipping costs, and boom – a successful business town was born.
It is beautiful country up here. Roswell has about 10 miles of the Chattahoochee River running through it, and Johns Creek has about 13. Big Creek flows from Forsyth County with a near-continuous bike path along it through Alpharetta to Roswell. Take a drive through Milton’s horse country, and you’ll get jealous in a hurry that you don’t live there. Go to Canton Street in Roswell, or see what’s going up in downtown Alpharetta near Avalon and you’ll feel the same way.
It’s no wonder people want to pay top dollar to live here, and businesses want their employees to work here. Alpharetta has more than 600 technology companies within its borders. Windward Parkway should be a brand in itself. Johns Creek is awash in successful corporate offices — its downtown is essentially a grouping of corporate campuses.
When they look for a move, today’s corporations are trying to think like millennials, who will make up half of the workforce by 2020.
Most think that means moving intown near mass transit and in areas that are highly walkable and full of action.
North Fulton is countering this with the most desired suburban downtowns in the metro area and an incredible collection of undeveloped parks that take full advantage of the river and creeks.
Roswell owns more than a mile of parkland along the Chattahoochee that is already master-planned. And once developed, it will be a park not just enjoyed here in North Fulton, but admired throughout the metro area. It will surely be yet another draw for businesses looking to make a move.
I have not even mentioned the schools, but by almost any measure, you will not find a collection of higher-performing public high schools anywhere in Georgia. U.S. News’ rankings have 6 of the top 8 public high schools in Georgia as being located in North Fulton.
North Fulton didn’t get this way because of a few major events. It got this way because great servants in our community took these great resources and worked them inch-by-inch, project-by-project and success-by-success to piece together what I think is the best place to live, work and play on the planet (a new friend of mine said its better than her home city of Paris, France. So, you do the math).
The key now will be to take what we have been given to the next level so that my two boys will say the same thing in 30 years. And with the resources we already have, the sky should be the limit.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.