Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Two of the United States’ fastest-growing counties are located in the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the latest population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday.
New Braunfels’ Comal County ranked second, and Boerne’s Kendall County came in fifth. With the addition of Hays County, which ranked third and is home to San Marcos, South Central Texas boasts three of the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing counties.
The annual estimates are based on the percentage of population growth from 2016 to 2017 for U.S. counties with populations of 10,000 or more.
Comal County grew by 5.1 percent, the estimates show. Falls Church, Virginia, grew the fastest at 5.2 percent.
In Comal County, that growth “translates into more construction, more housing, more businesses that these people are opening, and additionally more services that are needed for them,” said Christopher Looney, community planning and development director for the city of New Braunfels.
Looney’s office works on the permitting process for new construction in the area and is developing the city’s comprehensive master plan, expected to be completed this summer.
“We are seeing the intensity of our work with [permit] submittals increas[ing] on a daily basis,” he said.
The new census data also ranked counties by estimates of total population gain. Six of the 10 counties that added the most people are in Texas, the estimates show.
Houston’s Harris County ranked fourth, gaining more than 35,000 new residents between 2016 and 2017; Bexar County ranked seventh overall, gaining slightly more than 30,000.
The census data also show how many new residents migrated to Texas from within the U.S or international locations.
In Texas, Harris was the top-ranking county with the largest net migration of international residents (34,791) between 2016 and 2017. Bexar ranked fifth, exceeding 5,000 new international residents. Bexar County ranked sixth in Texas for domestic net migration.
“People are moving here from other places,” Looney said. “… Because of our economy and because of our climate, there’s a natural draw to the region.”
Looney said that local amenities, natural resources, and a healthy economy make the region a good place to raise a family, which may be a contributing factor to the increased population growth in the area.
“This is just a great place to live,” he said. “People recognize that.”