From 2010 to 2013, the new population estimates released in May show the county went from 688,078 residents to 717,190, a 4.2 percent increase.
That is a slightly faster rate of growth than the average for the entire state. Georgia expanded from 9,687,653 residents to 9,992,167, a 3.1 percent increase.
Tom Scott, a retired Kennesaw State University history professor who has lived in Cobb since 1968, said he remembers when the county saw double-digit growth for decades, especially during a boom in the 1990s when the net gain was more than 30 percent.
Then, Scott said, from 2000 to 2010, the growth slowed down. Now, the numbers are ticking back up.
The growth in 2012 was a 2.8 percent increase for Cobb and 2.4 percent for the state.
“I guess it is pretty good evidence that the economy is picking up,” Scott said.
He admitted growth can lead to problems, but thanks to the leadership in Cobb, Scott said, taxes have been kept low in the county and funds have been used wisely to address issues such as traffic.
“Growth isn’t always a good thing,” he said. “If it is managed correctly, it can be a good thing.”
For example, a four-year 2011 SPLOST will end on December 31, 2015 after collecting nearly $500 million, according to the “Preserving Our Future” 2011-15 SPLOST report on cobbcounty.org.
Trans-portation projects accounted for half of the funds, with more than $250 million going toward infrastructure improvements for congestion relief and pedestrian enhancements, as well as resurfacing a portion of Cobb’s 2,400 miles of county-maintained roads.
In comparison, from 2010 to 2013, the Census estimates show Gwinnett County growing at a 6.7 percent rate, from a population of 805,321 to 859,304. Fulton County saw a similar jump of 6.9 percent, from 920,581 to 984,293.
Scott, who wrote the book, “Cobb County, Georgia and the Origins of the Suburban South: A Twentieth-Century History,” said the increases in Gwinnett and Fulton show a movement by people to live near downtown Atlanta.
“It is not just suburban growth,” Scott said.
Last year, Acworth was the fastest growing city in Cobb with a 3.8 percent growth from 2010 to 2012.
In the estimates released in May, Acworth was the second fastest growing Cobb city with an increase of 1,051 new residents, or 5.1 percent from 2010 to 2013.
Scott said the northwestern portion of Cobb is the most undeveloped part of the area.
“It is not going to be for long. It is developing fast,” he said.
Kennesaw on top
In Kennesaw, the population from 2010 to 2013 increased by 7.4 percent, from about 29,783 to 32,001 residents.
Mayor Mark Mathews said Kennesaw has seen stand-out growth because city staff and officials have been working hard for many years to provide a great quality of life.
Mathews said the town is family-friendly with great amenities such as the Swift-Cantrell Park and events such as the Big Shanty Festival.
“The way we judge success is the number of baby strollers we see,” Mathews said about noticing the growth first-hand.
Although Kennesaw provides a small-town feel, Mathews said his goal is to attract students from the nearby Kennesaw State University to stay in the area after graduation as young professionals.
One possible way to tempt these young residents is a new $20 million mixed-use development off Dallas Street across from City Hall.
The development will house 178 one- and two-bedroom rented apartment units located within 24 free-standing buildings, as well as 12,000 square feet of commercial space etched into three city blocks in Kennesaw’s Central Business District.
“We were holding out for what was best and what was right,” Mathews said about the recent spurts in residential and commercial development.
Another project, The Main Street development, will offer more than 250 “luxury” rental apartments, as well as 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The Atlanta-based developer, South City Partners, is the same firm that designed the West 22 apartment complex on Cherokee Street targeting Kennesaw State University students.
Mathews said these projects took 10 to 15 years to plan, with a focus on being “business and developer friendly, with smart zoning and smart land use.”
The entire county has recently seen a sharp jump in housing developments.
New residential construction in Cobb took a sharp rise for the first three months of the year, with Marietta and Smyrna battling for the city with the most new homes.
According to the 2013 Census estimates, Marietta had a slight lead over Smyrna in population growth in 2013. Marietta added 2,510 new residents, or 4.4 percent. Smyrna added 2,167 new residents, or 4.2 percent.
And those numbers do not reflect the many newly constructed homes that have yet to be filled by families relocating to Cobb.
In fact, more than 100 upscale homes next to the Marietta Square are expected come on the market this month.
Located off Roswell Street by the Square’s southeastern border, the Meeting Park neighborhood will be evenly split between single-family and townhomes.
Austell and Powder Springs had the smallest population increases in 2013. Austell added 229 residents, or a 3.5 percent increase. Powder Springs added 471 residents, or 3.4 percent increase.