Cherokee is growing by leaps and bounds and, according to the 2017 population estimates released by the Atlanta Regional Commission this week, the county grew at the fastest rate in the Atlanta region over the past year.
The county added 7,300 residents between April 2016 and April 2017, bringing the total population to 247,400. Cherokee’s growth rate of 3 percent was tops in the Atlanta region, followed by Henry County at 2.4 percent.
Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the latest results were “no surprise at all” and he was “delighted that Cherokee is leading the metro area.”
“What it means is this, a simple message to Cherokee, that we have compelling reasons to come to the county and they don’t happen overnight,” he said. “We have a leading school district—I know folks who have moved here for the school district from other counties. We have the best public safety, city and county, police and fire, 911, Marshall’s Office, district attorney and court systems. We have reasonable taxes—I would even say we’ve got low taxes.”
Ahrens referenced his “Unique Selling Points” list, which includes economic development, fiscal integrity, quality growth and environmental stewardship as the core basis to why residents are coming and staying in Cherokee County.
“We’ve got great parks and recreation and economic development. We’ve got a fiscally responsible leadership team, so when you put it together, it’s that package of predictability and honorability and people get it,” he said.
Long-term trends show that growth has been strongest in the region’s outer suburbs, according to an ARC release. Cherokee saw its population grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2017, also tops in the region.
Henry County followed closely behind with a population increase of 12 percent. Meanwhile, the city of Atlanta, which had been steadily losing population for several decades until the 2000 census, grew by 7 percent between 2010 and 2017.
“Metro Atlanta offers a world-class quality of life along with one of the nation’s best business climates,” said Kerry Armstrong, ARC board chair. “It’s a winning combination that has fueled tremendous growth in recent years.”
In the past year, the region’s population grew at a faster rate than at any time since the Great Recession, increasing by 1.8 percent, compared to 1.6 percent a year earlier. The Atlanta region is now home to 4,480,100 people, more than that of 24 states.
Jobs growth fueled the region’s population boom, the release stated. The 29-county Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area added more than 87,000 jobs between April 2016 and April 2017, the second-most in the nation during that time, behind Dallas-Ft. Worth. Metro Atlanta added jobs at the fastest rate, 3.3 percent during this stretch.
Each of the region’s 10 core counties experienced population growth during the past year. Fulton County led the way, adding 17,100 residents. Gwinnett County added 16,900 people, while Cobb County grew by 12,800. DeKalb County added 8,900 people, Cherokee County 7,300, Henry County 5,400, Clayton County 4,700, Douglas County 1,900, Fayette County 1,700, and Rockdale County 1,600. The city of Atlanta added 9,900 new residents in the past year, compared to 7,900 last year and 4,800 the year before, amid a boom in multi-family housing.
“The Atlanta region was slow to emerge from the recession, but strong growth in the past few years shows that our recovery has taken hold,” said Mike Carnathan, manager of ARC’s Research and Analytics group. “People are moving here because jobs are plentiful to a wide variety of job seekers.”