Duluth town green

Thousands of people fill the Duluth Town Green for an event in this file photo. The Atlanta Regional Commission announced Wednesday that Gwinnett County added an estimated 15,100 residents in the last year. The ARC now estimates the county’s population at about 925,800 residents.

Gwinnett County is inching closer and closer to having 1 million residents according to new population growth figures released by the Atlanta Regional Commission on Wednesday.

The ARC announced Gwinnett’s population grew by 15,100 people between April 2018 and April 2019. That puts the county’s population at about 925,800 people as of this past spring, according to the regional group.

For some perspective, the ARC said Gwinnett’s population has grown by about 120,000 since 2010, when the last U.S. census was taken.

While that’s a lot of growth — and more growth is expected to come in the future — county Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said the county has been keeping an on eye on that growth and looking at multiple population estimates as local leaders prepare for the future.

“Growth is not anything new for Gwinnett,” Nash said. “We have based our plans for infrastructure and services on continued growth over the next 25 years. Since ARC estimates have been a little low for Gwinnett in the past, we look at other sources as well. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Gwinnett’s population at 927,781 as of April 1, 2018 (2019 figures not available yet), and Woods & Poole estimated Gwinnett’s 2018 population at 950,807.”

It’s been no secret for a while that Gwinnett is surging toward having more than 1 million residents. In recent years, ARC and county officials have been predicting that the county is expected to cross the 1 million population threshold in the next few years.

The projection is for Gwinnett to have 1.5 million residents, and become Georgia’s most populous county, by 2040.

Still, Fulton County outpaced Gwinnett in growth over the last year. The ARC data shows Fulton, the only county that had a total population increase which was larger than Gwinnett’s, added 16,700 residents.

But growth is happening across metro Atlanta. ARC data shows an increase in multifamily housing caused the city of Atlanta’s population to rise by about 10,900 people in the last year.

In all, the 10-county ARC footprint — which includes Gwinnett, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Henry and Rockdale counties — grew by 1.6% in population in the last year. That’s an increase of 72,500 people for the region.

The metro region now has a population of 4.6 million people, according to the ARC.

“The Atlanta region’s growth remains strong, driven by our diverse economy and great quality of life,” ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker said. “But to ensure our region’s future success, we must continue to invest in our region’s infrastructure and tackle key issues like housing affordability and equity.”

Officials said the continued growth of the metro area means there needs to be a focus on infrastructure to accommodate the new residents moving in. Two ARC counties — Cherokee and Henry — have doubled in population since the dawn of the 21st century.

“Regional planning is key to preparing for the region’s continued growth,” ARC Board Chair Kerry Armstrong said. “Population change impacts many issues that affect quality of life for metro Atlanta, such as transportation, the economy, and natural resources.”

Nash, who is retiring from elected office after her term ends Dec. 31, 2020, echoed those sentiments.

“We have good plans for Gwinnett’s future needs related to its projected future growth — the key now is that the county implements those plans in a timely manner,” she said. “As you have heard me say in the past, the most critical long-term issue for all of the Atlanta region is water supply, and dealing with that issue is complex, expensive and lengthy. The county must persist in making progress in this area.”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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