The U.S. Census Bureau has published its 2011 population estimates for U.S. metropolitan areas. While St. George is no longer the second fastest growing U.S. metropolitan area as it was between 2000 and 2010, it is still growing. The area fell to the 11th fastest growing metropolitan area (out of 366), with a growth rate of 2.3 percent. This growth rate is about two and a half times the national average. In comparison, during the same periods, Las Vegas fell from 3rd to 150th.
On a state level, in the 2010 census, Utah was the 5th fastest growing U.S. state between 2000 and 2010. New census data shows the state is actually moving up the charts. In 2011, Utah ranked second behind Texas among the nation’s fastest growing states, with a growth rate of 1.9% for the year.
So What Does It Mean for St. George?
St. George has weathered the economic recession better than many other areas in the southwest. Its population continues to rise and this bodes well for businesses. Recently the Red Rock Common shopping center opened in the city. Its anchor tenants are a Dick’s Sporting Goods, which opened to large crowds, along with Petco, Ulta, Gap, and Old Navy (transferred from another location a few blocks north).
The city and developers are also taking on bold new projects. The St. George Municipal Airport opened in January 2011 and has allowed for jet service to Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The region is also working to connect State Route 9 from Interstate 15 to Hurricane, which would provide much better access from the north and east to the airport.
Now near the airport off Southern Parkway, construction is underway for a multi-million dollar sports complex, which will include a cable-operated wakeboarding park, a water park resort, a dozen baseball fields, and dozen soccer fields, motocross and go-cart tracks, and a pickleball complex. The wakeboarding complex is scheduled to open in May 2012 (source: The Spectrum).
A Plan for the Future
The city is hoping this new project help spur tourists to spend more time locally in St. George. Many tourists simply pass through or make a quick stop in the area on their way to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, or other attractions in the region. Zion alone had more than 2.7 million visitors in 2009.
One area of priority for the city in terms of improvement is its downtown. With the expansion of he city outwards and the fact that the downtown core is more than a mile away from Interstate 15growth of big-box retailers, outlet stores, and chains, the downtown is not the area of focus it once was. The city is looking to invest more into its downtown and with new shops and restaurants opening up, attract more visitors.
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