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Gwinnett still leads region in growth

LAWRENCEVILLE -- While the numbers have dwindled, Gwinnett still leads the Atlanta region in growth, the Atlanta Regional Commission said Thursday.

Between April 1, 2010, and the same date in 2011, Gwinnett gained 8,779 residents, about a quarter of the number for the entire metro region.

"Although slower, this pace is impressive in the face of the economic pressures we face," ARC Chairman Tad Leithead said of the 34,550 who came to the region in a year. "This gives us a chance to catch our breath, while we plan for the more growth we project, and which we've experienced during the past two decades."

During the decade of the 2000s, the Atlanta region routinely gains about 100,000 a year. But over the past three years, the area has added a total of 91,000, a press release said. The slow-down, officials said, is attributable to the economy and is similar to other metro areas.

"When job opportunities are scarce, people are less likely to move," said Mike Alexander, who is the head of the commission's research division. "And, with property values declining and financing more difficult to obtain, fewer people are able to sell their homes and move to a different metro area."

None of the region's 10 counties lost population in the last year. Fulton County boasted the second highest growth with 7,619 new residents, followed by Cobb with 5,522, Cherokee with 4,154, and Henry with 3,878.