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No Rezoning Requests, But Cherokee County Economy Showing Signs of Recovery | Business

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No Rezoning Requests, But Cherokee County Economy Showing Signs of Recovery

CANTON, GA - Just a few years ago, many were complaining that development was out of hand in Cherokee County.

So out of hand, that several slow growth candidates took over the county commission.

Current Chairman Buzz Ahrens was one of them.

"We had some 25,000 to 30,000 homes already permitted and ready to be occupied basically, 3 & ½ years ago," Ahrens told 11 Alive News on Thursday.

Then the bubble burst and the booming economy wilted.

Many of those homes remain unbuilt or unsold.

Many new retail spaces remain empty or vacated.

Right now no one is even asking for any rezoning permits in Cherokee County and yet, there is a bright sign in the county's development department.

Building permits are on the rise again.

"I think that's really good news," says Commission Chairman Ahrens.

"We're talking 20 to 30% mix of residential and commercial, both kind of balance and that's really good news," he adds.

While many remain cautious, some businesses, like bicycle retailer Trey Richardson, say sales are starting to pick up.

"The traffic out here has been increasing," Richardson tells 11 Alive News, "We've seen some growth and we're starting to see more of that come into our store."

Cherokee County's Chamber of Commerce saw memberships drop off from a high of 1,300 a few years ago to about 1,000.

They also reduced their 250 new member goal to 175 this year.

But now they say those memberships are on the rise again.

"We'd like to think as an organization that is, of course, pro business, that business is still on the upswing and the economy is heading in that direction here in Cherokee County," says Chamber President Pam Carnes.

But she also admits some business people may be joining the Chamber to increase the possibility of networking, which they may not have thought was as important when times were better.

Everyone we interviewed said a big concern remains the difficulty of getting financing from tight-fisted banks.

They are also wary about talk of another possible double-dip recession and the uncertainty of the November elections.

But Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens says when the recovery comes, Cherokee County expects to be ready.