Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

TOP STORY >> Growth to leave one city behind

BY RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Cabot could pass Jacksonville in 10 years, Searcy and Sherwood not far behind.

Cabot could pass Jacksonville in population in about 10 years based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Sherwood and Searcy could do it in about 30 years.

Also, Lonoke County will grow at a pace more than seven times faster than Pulaski County. White County’s growth will be three times faster than Pulaski County.

Based on census projections from July 2000 to July 2004, Cabot is growing at a rate of 1,040 new residents a year, Searcy is adding 372 new residents a year and Sherwood about 250 residents.

Jacksonville lags behind, according to the estimates, with a growth of 135 new residents per year.

If the trend continues, Cabot will surpass Jacksonville in just over ten years. In 2017, Cabot’s population will be 33,127 and Jacksonville’s will be 32,355.

Searcy will overtake Sherwood within 20 years, and both could overtake Jacksonville 10 years after that.

In 2026, Searcy’s population, according to estimates, will be 28,601 and Sherwood’s will be 28,014. Cabot will be over 42,000 and Jacksonville just under 34,000.

Many variables can come into play between now and then. If Jacksonville gets its own school district, proponents say that will bring more growth to Jacksonville.

If Sherwood gets to annex 2,000 acres later this summer, bringing its northern boundary up to the air base, that would increase Sher-wood’s growth potential and landlock Jacksonville’s growth efforts in that direction.

For example, North Little Rock, which is already landlocked, is projected to lose about 300 residents a year.

At some point Cabot and Jacksonville will face annexation issues on borders between the two cities and there could even be future land issues between Jacksonville, Cabot and Lonoke.

Cabot has already had land issues with Ward and Austin and could have some with cities to the north such as Beebe as growth continues.

According to the Census Bureau trends, Lonoke County is growing at a rate of about 3 percent or 1,565 new residents a year—70 percent of that growth is just in Cabot. The county’s population is projected to grow from 52,828 in 2000 to 68,478 in 2010.

White County, based on estimates, will grow about 1.3 percent a year or 833 new residents, going from 67,165 in 2000 to 75,495 in 2010.

Pulaski County, meanwhile is growing at a rate of about .3 percent or 997 new resident a year.

At that rate, Pulaski County will grow from 361,474 in 2000 to 371,444 at decade’s end.

For other cities in the area, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts growth, albeit small.

Austin’s growth is estimated at nine new residents a year, going from 608 in 2000 to 698 in 2010.

Beebe is expected to grow by 104 residents a year, going from 5,057 in 2000 to 6,097 in 2010.

Lonoke has an estimated growth of 55 people per year, going from 4,294 in 2000 to 4,844 in 2010.

McRae will increase its population by nearly five people per year, going from 662 in 2000 to 707 in 2010.

Ward is expected to grow by about 100 people a year, going from 2,612 on 2000 to 3,612 in 2010.