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Texarkana, Ark Grew By 13%

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2010 census: Arkansas side is growing

City’s population up by 13 percent

By: Kristie Avery - Texarkana Gazette - Published: 02/15/2011

The numbers are in and they don’t lie: Texarkana, Ark., is growing.

The 2010 Census figures, released Thursday, report Texarkana’s population has increased by 3,471, or 13.1 percent, to 29,919.

The 2000 Census numbers for the city came in at 26,448.

“I think we’re growing at a steady pace. I think 13 percent is great compared to other communities in our region,” Mayor Wayne Smith said.

The increase ranks the city 13th in the state, behind Benton (with a 2010 population of 30,681) and ahead of Sherwood (population 29,523 in the 2010 Census).

Texarkana’s rank remains unchanged after being ranked 13th in the 2000 Census.

“It’s a great place to live. The taxes, cost of living, utility costs are all reasonable. I think that’s one reason for the increase,” Smith said. “It’s the level of living—it’s great.”

Smith said he was not sure if the areas Texarkana has annexed into its city limits were included in the 2000 Census numbers.

“Our growth is larger within city limits and can be contributed to (areas being) annexed in, but I’m not sure if it was before or after the 2000 Census,” Smith said.

Miller County also showed growth in the recent Census count.

The county’s population increased from 40,443 in 2000 to 43,462 in 2010, or 7.5 percent.

A July 2008 population estimate listed Miller County’s population to be at 43,226.

The increase bumped the county’s ranking up one, from 17th in 2000 to 16th in 2010. Miller County was ahead of Greene County in the northeastern corner of the state (population of 42,090 in 2010) and behind Mississippi County, also in the northeastern corner of Arkansas (2010 population of 46,480).

Miller County Judge Larry Burgess declined to comment on the numbers, citing still being new to the office and not following the Census figures.

“But I would imagine people move toward town. I’m not sure about why, other than moving to where the jobs are,” Burgess said.

Smith thinks recent developments in employment have contributed to the city’s growth.

“I think Cooper Tire and Red River Army Depot are two major employers and as long as they are viable, we’ll continue to grow, especially with Cooper Tire continuing to hire,” Smith said, adding, “I think the (coal-fired electricity) plant being built in Fulton has also helped.”

City and community leaders believe the growth is a start.

“It’s good to see moderate growth for the Arkansas side and Miller County,” said state Sen. Steve Harrelson, D-Texarkana. “Still, we’re being outpaced by the Texas side and need to ensure that we are as competitive tax-wise to compete for new jobs and businesses.”

Jeff Sandford, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce president, said the increase shows the strength of the local economy.

“It equates to the consistent strength of the local economy throughout the course of the decade. With existing businesses growing, and a few firms relocating to Miller County, the area realized steady job growth during the decade, which has lead to positive, albeit modest, population growth,” Sandford said. “Certainly lower land cost, the income-tax exemption and a very favorable property-tax rate all contribute to the attractiveness of Texarkana, Ark., making the city a viable option for a growing workforce to locate permanently to the area.”

The increases add up not only in population totals but in potential funding amounts.

State Rep. Prissy Hickerson said the population growth in both city and county is important when receiving state and federal dollars.

“I haven’t seen all the specific numbers, but it’s good to see we haven’t lost population,” Hickerson said. “I attribute it to the jobs in the area: the highway construction, Cooper Tire and others coming in. Also new housing developments and lower property taxes are getting people to move to the county and the city. It’s good news for us.”

Both Smith and Hickerson said they would like to see more specifics on the Census data.

“I would like to see the age breakdown, how many retirees are here in town or are coming back to Texarkana,” Smith said.

Hickerson said she would like to see the totals from each city within the county; she said she and the other state representatives were told during Monday’s session there was a “glitch” with the Census’ Website that should be addressed soon.

“But it’s a pleasure to see we are growing. I anticipate the next 10 years will be better with the opportunities, like Interstate 49, we have here,” Smith said.

Texas’ Census numbers are scheduled to be released later this week.

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This is good just wish the Arkansas side could grow as fast as the Texas side.

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