Dawson County was recently named one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, but local officials are parsing out what those numbers really mean for population growth in the once-sleepy county that now boasts an impressive retail corridor.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released reports of the top 100 fastest-growing counties in the country, calculating the numbers in terms of percentage growth between July 2016 and July 2017. Dawson County had the 38th fastest growth in the country between 2016 and 2017, with a growth of 3.2 percent.
That amounts to a population growth of 766
people, from 23,613 to 24,379.
In 2008 Dawson County was ranked the 11th fastest growing county in the nation per the Census Bureau, based on numbers collected right before the downturn in the economy.
Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes said that the county actually hasn’t seen that much new housing growth, as a lot of the housing going up in the city of Dawsonville and elsewhere was zoned and planned pre-recession.
Haynes also said to keep in mind the context for these statistics.
“We are excited that Dawson County is recognized for being a leader in smart growth, but it is important to keep in mind that we are still a small community and that seeing a 3.2 percent annual rate of growth does not change that fact,” she said. “There are 11 counties from Georgia in the top 100 list. Georgia is a rarity in our nation in that we have so many counties (159). It is much easier to have a higher percentage of growth in small counties than in large counties like the majority of states have.”
Haynes said that while Dawson County is ranked 38 out of the top 100 fastest growing counties in the nation, the chamber believes the emphasis on smart growth is what will greatly benefit the community into the future.
“Local leaders, both elected and in the private sector, have witnessed explosive growth in other communities and understand the opportunities and challenges that come with that kind of growth,” she said. “As we move into the future, we look forward to the opportunities that growth, both business and residential, will bring and believe that the emphasis on smart planning in the present will allow us to enjoy those opportunities while maintaining the aspects of Dawson County that we all love.”
Also on the list were 10 other Georgia counties, including Lumpkin, which ranked 9th with a population growth of 4.3 percent; Forsyth County, which ranked 25th; Union County, which ranked 28th; and Pickens County, which ranked 65th; as well as Jackson, Paulding, Oconee, Barrow, Columbia and Bryan Counties.
Several Georgia counties also ranked high on another report that ranked the top 100 fastest growing counties based on percentage growth between April 2010 and July 2017. Though Dawson didn’t make that list, neighboring Forsyth County placed 11th with a 29.9 percent growth, Cherokee County placed 80th and Oconee County 76th.