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By now you have read the description of the new statistical face of Shelby County as drawn by the 2010 census. We doubt you were surprised any more than we were about what this analysis discerned about our community.
To understand that Shelby County has seen burgeoning growth in the past decade – 38 percent more residents than in 2000 – doesn’t require a degree in statistics or even a detailed market analysis.
We’ve seen the growth just by driving around our communities.
We’ve seen new houses pop up in subdivisions from Cropper to Fisherville. We’ve seen apartments and condominiums expand the number of households.
We’ve seen farmland sliced and diced to change long rural lanes into vibrant country roads lined with single-family residences.
We now have a new high school and since 2000 two new elementaries.
We have a new jail, a new city hall and, under construction, a new judicial center. We have more fire stations and trucks and police cars. We have a 911 system.
We have a vibrant parks system with a Family Activities Center at Clear Creek Park. We have new golf courses.
We have new industry, a new industrial park and – believe it or not – a new beltway around Shel-byville.
Now, on face value, it seems we simply have numbers to help us understand what we always have know – which is important because those numbers tell the federal government how to distribute our tax revenue.
But as informative as the census can be, it also leaves us with questions:
What gaps are there that remain from the roughly 30 percent of residents who did not bother to return their census forms?
Do we feel comfortable that census takers followed through with missed households in a diligent attempt to count everyone?
Do we believe the Hispanic population of Shelby County is adequately proportioned at 3.7 percent, despite the 500 percent increase?
Government officials were aggressive last year to encourage everyone to participate in this process, but there undoubtedly are holes in the data that we can spot just as easily as we see the impacts of our growth.
But we are happy to see that Shelby County is growing so fast, that Shelbyville and Simpsonville have taken great leaps in their peer groups and that our economic and tax bases have matured significantly.
Because just as obvious as the new houses, schools and infrastructure, this shows what we have known for generations:
Shelby County is a great place to live, and more and more people are recognizing that.