Warren County remained the Dayton region’s engine for population growth in 2016, with the county ranked third in the state behind Delaware and Franklin counties for growth since 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.
Among nine area counties Montgomery County was one of five that lost population during that period, according to the Census data, which uses actual 2010 population and an estimate of the 12 months through July 2016.
The statewide population rose slightly - 0.67 percent - to 11.6 million between those years, according to census bureau estimates, which are through July 1, 2016.
The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of Montgomery, Greene, Miami and Preble counties, also grew slightly - 0.18 percent - to 800,683, according to the data.
The largest of them - Montgomery County - saw population decline by 0.73 percent to 531,239.
“While Montgomery County saw a slight decrease in population, some of our neighboring counties saw growth, and as a region, that is good news,” said Catherine Petersen, county spokeswoman. “In addition, we are seeing positive momentum in other areas including low unemployment, the attraction of thousands of new jobs with companies like Fuyao, Spectrum Brands and NuVasive, and an increase in both residential and business construction.”
Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech said he is not surprised to hear that his county’s population declined by 2.4 percent.
“Being a small community a lot of kids go to college and don’t come home. And we are an aging community,” Creech said.
Evenso, he touted the benefits of a small community and a workforce he called “the best.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the region has stabilized since the Great Recession but its population has been fairly flat since 1990.
“That’s been some of the challenge overall,” Whaley said.
She said one of those challenges is that infrastructure is aging but the population isn’t growing enough to help pay for needed repairs.
Miami and Greene counties both gained population, with Miami growing by just more than 2 percent and Greene County a little under that.
“That just proves further that Greene County is a place that people want to live,” said Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson. “We’re happy to have them.”
He said the county’s population growth is good news for businesses because it makes the labor pool more robust. And Huddleson said the county continues to invest in things like ballparks, disc golf and bike paths.
“We know people come here for jobs but they also come here for amenities in the community,” Huddleson said.
Miami County Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien said the county has been focusing on economic development and seen growth in both new and existing companies as well as home building.
“I think Miami County is attractive to both employers and folks who want to live here both for the quality of life and the low tax structure we have here compared to some of our neighboring counties,” O’Brien said.
Darke, Clark and Champaign counties all lost population since 2010.
As of last July, Clark County’s population is estimated at 134,786 people, the lowest since 1962, according to the data.
Clark County’s population peaked in 1971, according to Census data. The county is estimated to have lost 3,547 people — an average of about 500 per year — since the 2010 census. It lost 1,029 residents between July 2015 and July 2016, the fifth-most in the state, according to the data.
Creating more jobs will be key to reversing that and bringing people back to Clark County, local leaders said.
While it’s disheartening to see the county population, Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt believes the community sits on the verge of bringing people back.
“I’ve seen so much stuff happen in the last year that I think is moving us back in the right direction,” she said. “I feel like we’re about ready to hit the scales and grow again.”
Several job announcements and expansions have provided positive momentum, such as the proposed Kroger on Ohio 72 and upgrades to the area near Interstate 70 and the Clark County Fairgrounds, County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.
Butler County continues to outpace state and regional growth, adding 2,078 residents to reach a total of 377,537 residents during the 12-month period ending July 1, according to the data.
Butler County has grown by 9,407 residents since 2010, a population increase of 2.6 percent, according to census figures.
County Commissioner T.C. Rogers said the area’s continual growth was product of a variety of factors.
“When you pick out a place that you want to call home, it’s going to be a combination of employment, transportation to and from work, entertainment options,” Rogers said. “Also, more and more people want nature-based amenities where they can walk and hike and swim, all that stuff.”
Butler County and its cities and townships, he said, have done a good job at adding and improving all those areas, he said. It helps also that the county has one of the two lowest sales taxes in all of Ohio and that it is situated “right in the center” of the Cincinnati and Dayton metropolitan areas.
Staff writer Michael Cooper contributed to this report.
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