National rankings of the fastest-growing North Carolina counties for April 2010 to July 2012, along with the number and percentage of population increase have been reported by the US Census Bureau. They are:
20. Hoke County 3,584 7.6%
38. Harnett County 7,457 6.5%
51. Wake County 51,158 5.7%
56. Mecklenburg County 49,406 5.4%
88. Durham County 12,054 4.5%
89. Brunswick County 4,826 4.5%
According to data published in the Star-News, Brunswick continues to be one of the nation’s 100 fastest-growing counties. Between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2012, Brunswick grew from 107,431 to 112,257 people. The 4.5 percent increase was good for the nation’s 89th-fastest rate.
One factor affecting the county’s steady population increase is the rebound of the national economy from the recession, county officials said. “Quite a bit of the growth in the past 15 years has been from retired folks coming from the Midwest and the Northeast, and with the economy improving, we’re seeing these folks who purchased these properties perhaps years ago before the recession now being able to afford to move,” said Jim Bradshaw, executive director of the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission.
Debbie Smith, the mayor of OceanIsleBeach and a real estate agent, has seen the area begin to bounce back from the economic downturn. “We held our own (during the recession), and it looks like we’re starting to make positive steps forward,” she said. “Sales have increased, and most of the distress inventory has been absorbed. Those are positive signs. You’re seeing not as much of a total buyer’s market.”
Ann Hardy, BrunswickCounty’s manager, attributed the growth to the county’s quality of life. “I think people continued to want to live and work in BrunswickCounty due to our coastal environment and low tax rate, good quality of life, good services, good parks and good senior citizen centers,” she said.
Officials in the southwestern part of the county are keenly aware of their proximity to Myrtle Beach. Horry County, which Brunswick has joined in the Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistic Area, came in at 73rd on the list, with a 4.8 percent growth rate. “I think we’re definitely experiencing some of that growth over the state line,” said Chuck Nance, Calabash’s town administrator. He added that the town has vacant land that’s been zoned residential ready for building whenever the economy kicks back into gear. Read More.