Augusta Economy

More News | Fort Gordon | Plant Vogtle | Savannah River Site | Editor

Columbia County is one of fastest-growing U.S. counties

  • Follow Local Business

A year ago when Dean Dozier was looking for a new place to settle between his home state of Louisiana and his wife’s family in Maryland, the Augusta area seemed like a sensible spot.

Back | Next
Dean Dovier located his Kona Ice franchise in Columbia County partly because of the county's rapid growth.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Dean Dovier located his Kona Ice franchise in Columbia County partly because of the county's rapid growth.

It was about mid-way between the two states and the Doziers liked what they had seen while passing through. But more than that, Dozier said he liked the numbers.

“We did a good bit of demographic research,” said Dozier, who worked in emergency management and disaster response for many years before deciding to start his own business. “We started pulling together a lot of numbers on numbers of households, households with kids, disposable income, things like that.”

That research led them to Columbia County, which ranks as one of the fastest growing counties in the country, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“From a business standpoint it made a good sense to be in this area,” said Dozier, who started a franchise with Kona Ice, which sells flavored shaved ice from colorful trucks in 41 states.

Booming growth in Columbia County means more customers for his growing business, said Dozier, who expects to add a second truck to the franchise next week.

Few counties in the nation are growing as fast.

The latest census estimates indicate Columbia County’s population has grown by a little more than 6 percent, or about 7,600 people, between 2010 and 2012. Of Georgia’s 159 counties, only three added more people and only one – tiny Bryan County – grew at a slightly faster rate.

Columbia County’s estimated population increased from 124,053 in April 2010 to 131,627 in July 2012, making it the 45th fastest growing U.S. county.

There were nine other Georgia counties and three South Carolina counties on the list, but none in the metro Augusta area.

In Richmond County, the population increased by just 1 percent, from 200,549 to 202,587 residents in the two-year span. Aiken County grew by 1.7 percent, going from 160,106 to 162,812 in estimated total population.

Tammy Shepherd, president and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, attributed the county’s ongoing boom to good government and good schools.

“The number one driver of growth is the school system,” said Shepherd. “Being one of the top school systems in the state and also having some very good private schools attracts a lot of people to this area.”

Shepherd said the county benefits from a stable economy and a diverse mix of government, military, medical and industrial employers in the metro area that provide good incomes for professionals and skilled laborers alike.

Census estimates put Columbia County’s median household income at about $66,500. That’s about 34 percent higher that the statewide median household income and about 70 percent higher than the median income in Richmond County.

Shepherd said Census figures are a big driver for new business, especially national retail chains and franchisers looking for growing markets. She said growth in neighborhoods over the past decade, even with the economic downturn, has continued to attract new business to Columbia County, especially Evans and Grovetown. Census figures indicate that Columbia County issued about three times the number of building permits than Richmond County in 2012.

“You get the rooftops first and then you get the retail,” she said.

Shepherd, who has lived in the county since 1976, said not many people are familiar with Columbia County outside of the Augusta area, so she has a simple way to explain the surging rate of growth to strangers.

“We build a brand new school every year, add 700 new students every year and have three super Wal-Marts in the county,” she said. “When people come back here after being away a long time they are just in shock about the growth.”

U.S. CENSUS ESTIMATES AS OF JULY 2012
U.S. CensusRichmond CountyColumbia CountyGeorgiaAiken CountySouth Carolina
Population, 2012 estimate202,587131,6279,919,945162,8124,723,723
Population, 2010 (April 1) estimate200,549124,0539,687,663160,1064,625,364
Population, percent change,
April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012
1%6.1%2.4%1.7%2.1%
Housing units, 201186,53450,3314,102,99272,9762,157,033
Homeownership rate, 2007-201157%80.4%66.8%72.8%69.8%
Median value of owner-occupied
housing units, 2007-2011
$101,700$169,600$160,200$122,300$137,000
Households, 2007-201173,21443,0703,490,75463,4141,758,732
Persons per household, 2007-20112.592.82.682.452.52
Median household income, 2007-2011$39,090$66,556$49,736$43,999$44,587
Persons below poverty level, 
percent, 2007-2011
23.7%7.7%16.5%18.5%17%
Comments (29) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
countyman
21207
Points
countyman 06/14/13 - 02:34 am
2
14
''The latest census estimates

''The latest census estimates indicate Columbia County’s population has grown by a little more than 6 percent, or about 7,600 people, between 2010 and 2012. Of Georgia’s 159 counties, only three added more people and only one – tiny Bryan County – grew at a slightly faster rate."

This paper should go ahead and rename itself the Evans Chronicle. How could anybody believe this? Several counties grew faster and added more people in Georgia. The metro/CSA counties of Atlanta are huge in population. Cobb gained 19k, Fulton 57k, Gwinnett 37k, Dekalb 15k, Forsyth 12k and this is only metro Atlanta. I don't know why the Chronicle goes out of its way to hype up Columbia County. This happens across the US, and then growth comes back to the urban core. The same way Richmond County closed the gap with Aiken County in the latest estimate. Richmond will eventually surpass Columbia too in the near future. The paper mentioned how Columbia had more building permits. No mention of Coulmbia being down 124 residential permits compared 2011(single family), Aiken down 46, and Richmond up 104 in 2012 compared to 2011.
http://censtats.census.gov/bldg/bldgprmt.shtml?

Riverman1
89970
Points
Riverman1 06/14/13 - 04:38 am
8
0
Great Facts

I'll only add to the facts. If you only consider counties with a population above 100,000, Columbia County is ranked even higher in the fastest growing counties in the NATION. It is 20 something. (I forget the exact ranking, 25, I think.) We have something special.

Riverman1
89970
Points
Riverman1 06/14/13 - 04:40 am
9
0
This Millenium?

"Richmond will eventually surpass Columbia too in the near future."

Heh, heh, heh. This millennium or next?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/14/13 - 08:04 am
4
0
Skewed? maybe a little?

Doesn't come across legit Cman.

seenitB4
93264
Points
seenitB4 06/14/13 - 08:24 am
3
0
Augusta/Evans Chronicle

That has a nice ring to it....wow...I like it...:)

Can we send some of our "new" comers down your way......sell them some of that river land......we have some folks to spare LOL

seenitB4
93264
Points
seenitB4 06/14/13 - 08:25 am
2
0
Home owners make a difference

Homeownership rate, 2007-2011

57%

80.4%

Jake
33300
Points
Jake 06/14/13 - 09:36 am
5
0
Growth

I lived in Columbia Co for about 17yrs until moving to Calif in 1989. Growth is a good thing, it shows that an area is thriving.
When returning to visit over the past 24yrs, I am struck by how much of the surrounding country space has been filled-in with development.
One thing about this development that is troubling (and many of my Col Co friends agree) is that there does not seem to be a specific plan to the new development. Strip malls and chain restaurants abound with seemingly no coherent plan to their placement or their effect on the surrounding environment.
I know Richmond County has it's share of problems but at least it has the city of Augusta with all of it's history and, yes, charm. Other than Appling, Col Co has no charm at all, just urban sprawl.

seenitB4
93264
Points
seenitB4 06/14/13 - 09:39 am
5
0
I think you are right Jake..

seemingly no coherent plan to their placement or their effect on the surrounding environment.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/14/13 - 10:19 am
1
0
The Towne Center and Lady A

The Towne Center and Lady A are what I consider Phase I of the development of that big tract of land between ABBev and the Courthouse. That will be the centre. As fast as CC is, they still have to find private sector money to fill the developments and buildings. It's coming along though.

Sweet son
11056
Points
Sweet son 06/14/13 - 11:12 am
5
0
Too much too fast is bad!

jake is right is saying that more planning needs to go into development so that government support services especially schools can keep up. Just slow down and think!

GnipGnop
12691
Points
GnipGnop 06/14/13 - 12:56 pm
5
1
so when there are quotes straight from the census...

about any other county than richmond they are false? Got it...thanks for keeping me in the loop...I didn't get the memo....

gargoyle
19443
Points
gargoyle 06/14/13 - 04:04 pm
7
1
Col. County owes a big thank

Col. County owes a big thank you to Rich. County government policy. The neighborhood I reside is a good example of how the surrounding areas benefit from the failed four square mile policy emphasized by city leaders. Two neighbors have moved with a third in the market to move right now, the problem is not that they moved but the intangibles they brought to the community. Doctors and skilled business personnel cashing out are hard to replace and will be a great asset to Columbia County. Richmond County's leaders have forgotten that good people live outside of downtown and those people are voting with their feet about the failing infrastructure in their neighborhood and clown atmosphere that is City Gov.. Five Guys Burgers isn't going to replace the people who can afford to move .

itsanotherday1
46654
Points
itsanotherday1 06/14/13 - 01:52 pm
3
0
Jake

I am one of those concerned about the sprawl and randomness of development. Several years ago ColCo attempted to plan development in a concentric (right word?) pattern rather than linearly, around the Town Center. Land speculators who had bought up property expecting growth their way raised holy hell, saying that their rights were trampled on by attempting to control zoning for growth radiating out symmetrically from a center point. The result is the Washington Road Augusta syndrome we are seeing going out towards Greenbrier.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/14/13 - 01:59 pm
4
0
This is how it all comes off anyway.

"Failing infrastructure and clown atmosphere city government." That is the reality and using Five Guys as the medicine is about silly.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/14/13 - 02:06 pm
2
0
Washington Rd Augusta system

It's like a taproot. Once it extends long enough, it costs too much overhead in energy to get nutrients from the bottom to the top. It becomes more and more inefficient. Putting a new cluster in the Town Center is the fix for expansion in CC but only if the design abandones the extension of Washington road. Eventually we'd be talking about an overpass at Pollard's Corner and then it just becomes a joke.

Riverman1
89970
Points
Riverman1 06/14/13 - 03:12 pm
3
0
Gargoyle, that made a lot of

Gargoyle, that made a lot of sense.

CobaltGeorge
169768
Points
CobaltGeorge 06/14/13 - 03:52 pm
1
0
Thanks Jake

for mentioning Appling. The Monument downtown has a lot of Charm.

Darby
28251
Points
Darby 06/14/13 - 04:55 pm
6
1
"Richmond will eventually surpass Columbia

too in the near future."

.
In your fondest dreams....

In the "near future" intelligent people will still be fleeing the screwed-up, crime ridden corrupt government of Richmond County in droves.

countyman
21207
Points
countyman 06/14/13 - 05:03 pm
1
5
False information

Gnip Gnop.. Those quotes obviously came from the Chronicle and not the US Census. Click on the numerical and percentage growth rates for yourself.
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13000.html

Five Guys may not replace anybody, but what restaurant old replace the people leaving Columbia County. I don't see how you can spin the number of sinle family permits. This is Columbia County's bread and butter in terms of growth. The county is down 124 compared to Richmond being up 104. This doesn't include commercial buildings, resales, apartments, townhomes, or condos.

countyman
21207
Points
countyman 06/14/13 - 05:07 pm
0
4
Trends

Darby.. The Chronicle didn't mentioned the information in relation to the stats. The white population of Richmond County is growing almost twice as fast compared to Columbia County(1.1 vs .6). A lot of the previous growth in Columbia County was some white people leaving older parts of South Augusta.

Riverman1
89970
Points
Riverman1 06/14/13 - 05:33 pm
2
0
"The white population of

"The white population of Richmond County is growing almost twice as fast compared to Columbia County(1.1 vs .6)."

Can you label your numbers? 1.1 vs .6?

Riverman1
89970
Points
Riverman1 06/14/13 - 05:36 pm
3
1
"That research led them to

"That research led them to Columbia County, which ranks as one of the fastest growing counties in the country, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau."

I mean how in the world does anyone think the Chronicle is not presenting accurate information? Hilarious.

Darby
28251
Points
Darby 06/14/13 - 09:15 pm
2
1
How many white people are

left in Richmond County??

countyman
21207
Points
countyman 06/14/13 - 09:58 pm
1
7
Census

I know the Chronicle is presenting false information.

Riverman1
89970
Points
Riverman1 06/14/13 - 11:14 pm
2
0
The comments under this

The comments under this article are interesting.

Gage Creed
18687
Points
Gage Creed 06/15/13 - 03:58 pm
3
0
Take a look at this and see

Take a look at this and see who is presenting false information....it's not the Chronicle....

http://www.census.gov/popest/data/counties/totals/2012/index.html

Gage Creed
18687
Points
Gage Creed 06/15/13 - 05:08 pm
3
0
2012 Building

2012 Building Permits...

Columbia County 1209
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13073.html

Richmond County 378
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13245.html

Any questions?

seenitB4
93264
Points
seenitB4 06/16/13 - 08:11 am
0
0
^^^ummm

No.

bigj706
1280
Points
bigj706 06/17/13 - 06:31 pm
0
0
I thought CM didn't care if

I thought CM didn't care if Columbia county got good news. Sounds like sour grapes now

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs