Gulfport-Biloxi Area Among Fastest Growing In Nation
The Gulfport-Biloxi area is listed as one of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas in the nation, according to census figures released Thursday.
The metropolitan area is ranked 46th out of 366, between Huntsville, Ala., and Gainesville, Ga.
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner is 35th and Hattiesburg just made it onto the list at 50th.
Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala., is 16th on a similar list of 576 “micropolitan” areas.
Metropolitan areas contain a core urban area of 50,000 or more residents, and a micro area contains an urban core of 10,000 to 50,000.
According to the Census, the Gulfport-Biloxi area’s population rose 1.9 percent -- from 248,820 on April 1, 2010, to 253,511 on July 1, 2011. That’s an increase of 4,691 people.
A month before Hurricane Katrina hit the Coast, population for Gulfport-Biloxi was 255,383.
Barbara Logue with the Center for Policy Research and Planning in Jackson predicts the pre-Katrina numbers will be passed in three to four years.
“People will come back. People like to live near the water,” she said. “That area is actually growing faster than the state as a whole.”
Clifford Holley, director of the Center for Population Studies at Ole Miss, agrees with Logue’s assessment.
“I think they showed not just the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast from Katrina but a return to the growth rates that was interrupted by the storm,” he said.
The amenities offered on the Mississippi Gulf Coast outweigh the negatives of hurricanes and high insurance costs, Logue said.
“What attracts people to visit typically attracts them to live, in our case,” said Beth Carriere, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She said what lures people to the area to live is the climate, quality of life, medical and educational amenities, safety, food and tourism-related jobs.
“It’s the quality of life, arts and culture and food, and most importantly the friendliness of the people, which always ranks in the top one or two reasons people visit or return,” she said. “So it would be normal to think that’s the reason people decide to move here.”
If she didn’t already live here, she’d move here, she said.
Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said people moving here may be attracted to tourism jobs, blue-ribbon schools, low crime and the overall affordability.
Biloxi hasn’t had a tax increase in nearly 20 years, he said. Then there is the sugar-white beach.
“People will always be drawn to the water,” he said.
As of July 1, the nation’s 366 metro areas contained 261.1 million people -- 83.8 percent of the total population.

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