Population going up in Paragould - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Population going up in Paragould

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Paragould city leader said they were satisfied with the latest census figures released earlier this month. According to Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill, the city is looking ahead to the next ten years after two decades of population growth.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Greene County has grown since 1990. Growth was stagnant between 1970 and 1980. Gaskill said he was excited Paragould has consistently grown in the past.

"Between 1990 and 2000, it was about that same amount so we've had two decades of strong growth," said Gaskill. "When you look at where you're heading, you're either growing or you're losing because if you stand still, you get passed by."

Gaskill said the larger number of residents will help the city get more state turnback funds. He said a large majority of the funding will be put in the road department budget and general fund.

"We have to continue being aggressive in our job recruitment and our commercial recruitment. We have to continue to make sure that our educational facilities, our education system, has the facilities to educate our kids," said Gaskill. "Some communities have lost population and they have to pause and think what's happening. Why is this happening? I think we have to be aggressive, proactive in everything that we do to ensure that Paragould remains a viable community in northeast Arkansas."

Sue McGowan at the Paragould Chamber of Commerce said the increase in residential numbers will help sell the city to prospective industries.

"It assists in us being able in a recruitment effort from industry because we have a work force. If we have new industry coming in, it helps our industry that is already here so they have an opportunity to expand because they also have a work force to pull," said McGowan. "Businesses that are looking to expand are looking to expand in a community in which there is growth, in which there is potential for not only the customer base that they would have at the time they would come to your community, but also future customer base."

Gaskill said he knew the population of Paragould was growing. Census statistics suggest Paragould grew 18.6%. More than 4,000 additional residents live in the city in 2011 than did in 2000.

"When we broaden our base, it provides us with more revenue, more opportunities to do to make the quality of life even better," said Gaskill. "When we stop growing, then what that's going to tell me is there's no longer anything here that interests people and that would always be a fear of mine, that we stop growing."

Gaskill said education and healthcare are two of the most important aspects of keeping a stable city.

"As much as anything to keep our best and brightest here. That's why we continue to push education so that when our kids get out of high school, out of college, that they'll want to return here and live here and work here and add to our community," said Gaskill. "When you take all of those things in, everything grows with it. We have to create more opportunities for jobs and commercial activities and things like that."

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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