Forsyth is Central Georgia's fastest growing city. According to the Census Bureau, Forsyth's population rose 9 percent from 2007 to 2008, while Warner Robins' increased 2.3 percent and the city of Macon's population dropped 1 percent. Now, Forsyth and Monroe County are preparing for even more growth.
When Rob Daughtry researched where to build his next gym, he had one thing in mind.
"We were looking for an area that had growth coming to it," he said.
Since he decided on Forsyth and built the Georgia Athletic Club two months ago, he says he's had an overwhelming response.
"There's been about 400 people who've come and joined," he said.
And he's expecting more. In the fall of 2010, the Georgia Department of Corrections will relocate to the old Tift College campus in Forsyth. That leaves the community with less than a year to prepare for 400 additional people in the area.
"With the D. O. C. coming to Forsyth and some of the other entities that are in Forsyth, it was just a perfect fit," Daughtry said.
Executive Director of the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, Tiffany Andrews, says like a marathon runner, a city needs to train for growth.
"We want to make sure that we're leading the growth instead of vice versa, because typically then you run into traffic problems, and businesses that aren't needed here," she said.
To prepare for the Department of Corrections' arrival, the chamber helped create a readiness group. It has about 30 people divided into three sub-groups for infrastructure, community development and quality of life.
Businesses around town are thinking ahead, like Forsyth's Taco Bell. The manager there says they plan to expand to include a Pizza Hut, in anticipation of the correction headquarters arrival.
"We're looking forward to it, ya know, lots of challenges, but I think we're putting the right foundation into place that we will be ready," said Andrews.
Daughtry hopes having a gym in town will entice people to get fit and give Forsyth a running start on even more growth.
In January, staff from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center will move to the campus from their current location on Indian Springs Drive in Monroe County. Joan Heath with the Department of Corrections says when the headquarters moves in in the Fall, it's still unclear how many employees will commute from Atlanta or move to the area.