Bryan County is the fastest-growing county in Georgia and the sixth-fastest growing in the United States, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Overall growth was at 48 percent, meaning more than 14,000 people moved to Bryan County since the last Census was conducted in 2010. Population gains were mostly in the south end of the county -- largely in Richmond Hill and the Belfast area -- however, growth also increased solidly in Pembroke and other North Bryan communities.
Bryan County leaders credit planning and forethought and say the area's growth has been organized without much strain. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan, updated in 2018, provides guidance for the physical growth of the county through the development of sound plans, programs and policies. In addition to population estimates, the plan reflects local residents' suggestions and requests.
Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger wasn’t surprised by the numbers, as he and the local government have been expecting and planning for this population increase for quite some time.
"Running a well-organized, ever-expanding government requires collaboration from everyone, from the elected leaders to government employees to our valued residents," Infinger said. "When updating the Comprehensive Plan, we took into consideration the wants and needs of anyone who was willing to provide us with feedback. Encouraging that participation resulted in a well-rounded plan that is clearly doing its job as we welcome more residents to a Bryan County that boasts a high quality of life and infrastructure that is expanding to serve needs."
The chairman predicts that with the recent sale of the manufacturing mega site, Bryan County is likely to grow even more.
While local leaders don’t know yet what company will eventually set up on the mega site, Infinger is confident it will be an impressive business whose location in Bryan County will have profound regional significance. The chairman estimates it will create between 5,000-8,000 jobs and draw from the workforce up to 90 miles away.
“We’re thankful for everyone who took the time to fill out their Census forms. We stressed how important it was to get accurate Census data, and the majority of our citizens understood this and completed their forms. This helps to ensure we get accurate federal funding, so it’s really critical,” Infinger said.
Census data is used by 316 programs to direct federal funding. These include Medicare and Medicaid, school lunches and health centers, and programs like WIC and SNAP. Without claiming Bryan County’s share of federal funds, the cost of these critical services would be borne by other resources.
Census data is also used to adjust political jurisdictions such as congressional districts or state house and senate districts, thus ensuring appropriate representation.