“The area we live in is close to the Marietta Square, Kennesaw Mountain (National) Battlefield Park and Kennesaw State University and is a short drive to downtown Atlanta,” said Amber Parks Durbin of Marietta. “How could it be more perfect? We love it here.”
According to the 2012 Census estimates, which were announced Thursday, Cobb County and the six cities have all experienced growth since 2010. Cobb went from 688,076 residents to 707,442, which is about a 2.8 percent increase. That’s a slightly faster rate of growth than the entire state experienced, at 2.4 percent over the same period.
Cobb’s fastest growing city is Acworth. Since 2010, the city resident count has bounced from about 20,400 to 21,200 — a 3.8 percent growth rate.
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said the city’s “great quality of life” is why people keep moving there.
It’s something they’ve been focused on to promote a positive business environment and growth in the downtown area.
“That creates the quality of life that brings people into the community and makes them want to raise their families here,” he said.
The second fastest growing city in Cobb is Marietta. Its population since 2010 has increased by 3.2 percent from about 56,500 to 58,300 residents.
Marietta Board of Education Chairman Randy Weiner believes his school system is what brings more residents into the community.
School officials saw their highest enrollment ever this past fall with 8,400 students.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in enrollment at West Side Elementary and Sawyer Road Elementary over the past five years, despite losing students — about 180 — from the now demolished housing projects at Fort Hill Homes, Lyman Homes and Boston Homes,” he said.
Marietta Superintendent Emily Lembeck said Marietta City Schools’ enrollment has grown by 5 percent since 2010.
She believes the increases are because of two factors: the district’s quality of education and city’s many low-cost rentals.
Smyrna’s growth can be attributed to schools as well. The city of now about 52,600 has seen an increase of 2.7 percent, or about 1,300 residents, since 2010.
The Cobb School District recently announced plans to split Smyrna’s Teasley Elementary into two campuses for the next two school years while classrooms are added and renovated to ease the overcrowding.
The kindergarten through fifth grade school is more than 300 students over capacity.
Teasley Elementary on Spring Hill Road will house second through fifth graders and Teasley Primary, which will be located in the closing Brown Elementary off Brown Road, will serve students in kindergarten and first grade.
Chris Ragsdale, Cobb’s deputy superintendent of operations, was asked if any other areas of Cobb are feeling the squeeze, specifically in Austell, which saw the smallest population increase but still has about 200 new residents since 2010.
“We have not experienced the kind of overcrowding in Austell schools that we have in Smyrna,” he said. “Pretty much all the schools in that area are under capacity.”
Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins thinks the increase might be because of the city starting to recover from the September 2009 flood when more than 700 homes were destroyed.
“We lost a good many on account of the flood,” he said. “That showed up in 2010. I think (the growth) is coming mostly from people coming back into the city now. I think that’s some of it and the economy is picking up a little bit … it’s not a lot but it’s better than losing some residents.”
History of population growth in Cobb
KSU professor Tom Scott has kept a close eye on the county’s growth and development since moving to Cobb in 1968. He wrote about it in his book “Cobb County, Georgia and the Origins of the Suburban South: A Twentieth-Century History.” It didn’t surprise him that Cobb continues to grow year after year.
“The fundamental reasons why this area has grown is because it is very affordable compared to practically any other metropolitan area, low taxes, good schools, dynamic universities, relatively low crime, good parks, good recreational areas and high quality of life,” the Marietta resident said.
Since 2000, the county has increased by about 8,000 residents a year, but that is nothing compared to the boom of the 1990s when Cobb’s population increased by 34 percent.
“We’ve definitely slowed down from the ’90s,” he said. “At any rate, it’s been a nice place to be.”
Scott said he’s also encouraged by the diversity of Cobb’s population, and pointed to Census data that shows approximately 26 percent of Cobb residents are black and almost 5 percent are Asian.
“That’s been positive in a lot of ways,” he said. “I think we have a lot to brag about in terms of our diversity. We are what America ought to be in Cobb County … there is no reason in the world that people wouldn’t move to Cobb County.”