Growth of the Suburbs
Repost from the Montgomery Advertiser: Brad Harper, Montgomery Advertiser 1:41 a.m. CDT May 20, 2016
New Census estimates show that fewer people live within the Montgomery city limits than in 2010, but the city’s bedroom communities have seen an explosion of growth in that time.
The population of Alabama’s capital shrank by about 5,000 people over the past five years, according to the new federal data. Meanwhile, Pike Road alone saw a jump of nearly 3,000 residents in that same time period.
Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone said the town’s growth happened because careful planning has focused on “quality of life” at each step since it was incorporated.
“(Pike Road School) has certainly created a lot of interest and momentum, especially among young families,” Stone said.
“We work every day to tie all of our projects … together so that they reinforce the quality of life component.”
Still, Stone was quick to credit the city of Montgomery as “the economic engine” that creates opportunities for the entire area.
Other cities and towns in the Montgomery metro area also grew.
Prattville and Wetumpka each added more than 1,400 people, and Millbrook added about 700.
In fact, the population of the metro area grew by more than 500 people from 2014 to 2015, a year during which the city itself lost about 100 people.
Montgomery Development Director Mac McLeod said the city has a lot of commuters who work and spend money in the Capital City but live elsewhere —sometimes driving in from several counties away each day.
Montgomery collected more sales tax last year than any year in the city’s history, and Montgomery continues to lead the state in hotel occupancy rate.
“I look at it more as growth of the suburbs,” McLeod said.
City of Montgomery spokesman Griffith Waller pointed to the much slower rate of population loss from 2014 to 2015 and said “from this point forward, we only anticipate gains in population.”
“From our perspective these numbers are more indicative of successful moves made by the community to turn the tide of population loss (and the potential for growth ahead),” Waller said.
Montgomery remained the state’s second-largest city at about 200,000 residents in the new federal estimates. Birmingham held on to the No. 1 spot with a population of 212,461 and nearly no change the past five years. Mobile remained No. 3 despite losing about 800 people since 2010.
Stone said topping 8,000 in population will open up new opportunities for Pike Road, but he praised the direction of the area as a whole.
“I think the River Region has invested wisely in activities and programming that make it desirable to call this home,” Stone said.
Population change, 2010-2015
Pike Road: Gained 2,868
Wetumpka: Gained 1,466
Prattville: Gained 1,460
Millbrook: Gained 640
Montgomery: Lost 5,162
Source: U.S. Census estimate