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Leaders review growth management data
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Regional leaders met May 25 to review forecast data that will help stakeholders prepare for future growth in Liberty, Long, Bryan and Tattnall counties. AECOM Technical Services, Inc. presented its regional growth distribution model, which examined population and employment growth.
For population growth, the model measured attractiveness factors such as land capacity, school test scores and proximity, military impact, available shopping and services and home pricing to determine which areas of the region can expect to see the most growth.
Liberty County garnered the highest total scores for these factors, followed by Long, Bryan and Tattnall counties. The model predicted population growth for the next 20 years — Liberty County may expect to grow from its current population of more than 60,000 to around 90,000 by 2030, according to the model.
Population findings as developed through the forecast model assume people ages 25-64 likely will leave the region in search of greater economic opportunities, but at the same time the lower housing costs found in the region will attract people, particularly second homebuyers and retirees.
The model also suggests if the region’s subdivision land were developed at quarter-acre lot densities, 85,620 single-family homes and a population of 214,050 could be supported.
To evaluate employment growth distribution in the region, employment and establishment data for goods-producing, service-producing and government categories were gathered. The study also determined percent share of regional total employment and establishments for each county.  
Liberty County again leads the four counties with 719 goods-producing establishments employing 1,801; 719 service — providing establishments employing 9,181; and 112 government entities employing 6,705. The regional employment numbers total 30,393, with service-providing establishments staffing the largest numbers.
The model does anticipate employment growth in the next 20 years, but potential growth challenges related to employment include findings such as the region’s private-sector wage rates, which are not high enough to attract potential works.
Additionally, the current labor force isn’t seen as strong enough to attract goods-producing industries, and it is disproportionately small in comparison to the population. As a result, the model anticipates only 31 percent of new jobs will be created in the private sector.
The growth management partnership team’s next steps include finalizing these growth projections as well as plan recommendations and implementation steps. The growth management partnership team will meet again June 22 to present final findings, and it also plans to share the findings at public outreach meetings in June and July.

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