Deschutes and Crook counties are among the fastest-growing communities in the nation, according to new population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Bend-Redmond metropolitan area, consisting of Deschutes County, is listed as the third-fastest-growing Metropolitan Statistical Area from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016. The local area’s population grew from an estimated 174,942 to 181,307, a 3.6 percent increase.
Only The Villages in Florida and the Myrtle Beach area in South and North Carolina grew faster.
Crook County ranks eighth among the fastest-growing counties in the country with a population of at least 10,000. The county saw its population increase from an estimated 21,647 in July 2015 to 22,570 in July 2016, a 4.26 percent increase.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott said the census data is consistent with the type of growth he sees in his city.
In 2016, Redmond approved 10 new housing developments, which will create almost a thousand new homes. The developments range from subdivisions with single-family lots to apartment complexes with multifamily units.
“It’s growing. We are seeing it,” Endicott said. “The builders wouldn’t be building if the demand wasn’t there.”
Endicott credits the city’s planning over the years to make more land available.
“Redmond is really well-postured for growth. All this land is here and approved,” Endicott said. “We do have land, and I think that is some of the reason our houses end up being less expensive than Bend, by comparison.”
Bend City Manager Eric King said he is not surprised by the census data, especially with the city experiencing its own amount of building activity each year.
King said the city is working toward returning to prerecession growth. Before 2006, King said, the city was processing about 2,400 single-family building permits each year. The city processed about 1,000 last year.
“We have always been in somewhat of a growth mode,” King said. “We are not at that frenzied pace we were in 2006.”
According to the census data, the Bend-Redmond metropolitan area had 5,698 new residents move to the area in the one-year time frame. For Crook County, 893 new residents moved to the county.
Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester said his city cannot deny the impact of the Apple and Facebook data centers. Not only do the data centers create jobs, but they also create the need for other businesses to support the industry. Employees are needed in construction, landscaping, security and food services.
Forrester compares the phenomenon to the sawmill days in Prineville. At that time, the mills needed other industries like truck drivers to better operate.
“Literally hundreds and hundreds of jobs have been created by a result of that industry coming to our area,” Forrester said of the data centers. “That has put a lot of strength in our growth potential.”
Each community in Central Oregon has different charms that make them popular places to live, Forrester said.
Prineville has its own attractions, whether it’s biking trails or city parks, Forrester said. But he admits all the regional communities benefit from the increasing popularity of Bend, which has become a hub for recreation, entertainment and dining.
“Bend is really the leader of Central Oregon,” Forrester said. “If Bend is in a growth mode that will start spilling over to the neighboring communities.”
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