Triad Sees Population Growth But Lags Behind Some Other Regions
The population of the Triad has grown by nearly 9 percent since 2010. That’s according to newly released figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
But during that same time span, other areas of the state grew at a much quicker clip. The Charlotte metro area, for example, has grown 17 percent since 2010. The Triangle isn’t far behind at 15 percent of growth.
Russell Smith is a professor of geography at Winston-Salem State University. He spoke with WFDD’s Eddie Garcia about his reaction to the numbers.
On the Triad’s population growth:
I think it's positive that the region is still growing as a whole. I mean, it's hard to keep up with Raleigh and Charlotte. Both those markets are national leaders in growth. Both of them are doing really well over the last couple of decades in terms of attracting people. They've got different things going on for them. You know, the Charlotte region with the strong financial institutions hiring and drawing people there, and then Raleigh-Durham is a little more diversified with education, government, [and] a lot of growth as a result of the Research Triangle Park. But to see that we're still growing is a positive sign for the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area, especially in light of the kind of dramatic re-shift they've had to do in terms of economic restructuring.
On the advantages of slower growth:
It's one of those things where it's hard to really dictate what happens. I mean, it's clearly a lot easier to slow growth than to speed it up; it's hard to attract. With that said, you know, a 5.6 percent increase since the last census is healthy. It's showing people still want to live there. There's been numerous studies coming out recently about how livable the Triad is...When you're at that percent a year or so a clip, you can plan a little bit more. You can actually accommodate growth more easily while still adding to the total number of people living in your region.
On what could spur growth:
I think when you look across the region, there has been a big push in terms of megasites, especially closer to the Greensboro area, trying to attract a big manufacturer. A lot of people have talked about [how] an automobile manufacturer brings thousands of jobs. That would be a game changer for the whole region. The growth and the preplanning they're doing out at the airport to attract people that are looking for easy access to the Piedmont Triad National Airport is another area. And then you have Winston with a strong focus on the biotech downtown. Of course, those are never going to be the types of jobs and the numbers of jobs generated that you used to have with manufacturing. It's just a different type of industry, but that can grow. And then Greensboro's focus as the Gate City – this logistics center attracting people that are looking for access to the railroad, the airport, [and] the interstate infrastructure. So all those things could be built upon, and people are putting things in place.