A recent audit of Guilford County government shows that building permits in unincorporated Guilford County and the county’s small towns increased in fiscal 2017-2018 over 2016-2017 – but not by as much as one might think given how hot the national economy was during that time period.

In fiscal 2017-2018, that ended June 30, 2018 the Guilford County Planning Department issued 4,315 building permits, an increase of only 67 permits over the previous fiscal year.  That’s a 1.6 percent rise.

Guilford County provides building permits for unincorporated Guilford County and, through contractual agreements, also provides permits for the towns of Stokesdale, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Garden, Sedalia, Whitsett, Jamestown and Summerfield.  The department also issues permits for projects on land owned by Piedmont Triad International Airport.

The rate of growth in building permits issued slowed down from a year earlier when it had increased 5.1 percent.  In 2016-2017, the county issued 4,248 permits, which was 208 more than the 4,040 issued in 2015-2016.

While the rate of growth has slowed in the last fiscal year for which full data is available, the county’s Planning Department is issuing nearly twice as many permits each year as it was in the depths of the building lull after the financial collapse.  In both fiscal 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 the department issued 2,200 permits – a bottom for building permits for the decade and likely for the modern era.  With the gradual increases in recent years, the number of permits has now grown back into the range of pre-financial collapse numbers.

Guilford County Planning Director Leslie Bell said recently that the department is seeing activity in some interesting categories.  For instance, he said, there’s been a boom in recent years in the growth of small convenience and dollar stores across the county.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said economic prosperity is the board’s number one goal in 2019 and he added that he hopes that projects such as the megasites at Piedmont Triad International Airport and the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite will bring jobs, growth and new development.

A proposed new regional water system in northwest Guilford County could also mean new housing developments and other construction in that area if the towns in the northwest decide the system is desirable and affordable.