Closer to Charlotte? Faster growth

Downtown Mooresville, shown in 2011.

Recently released U.S. Census figures show continuing growth in almost all the towns and cities in the Charlotte region, and one factor driving growth appears to be proximity to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.  

The Census numbers show Charlotte continues to be one of the nation’s fastest-growing large cities. The Census population estimate for 2017, released May 24, showed Charlotte gaining 15,551 in population from 2016 to 2017, putting it seventh in numeric growth among cities of 50,000 or more, and taking it to 859,035, a 17.4 percent increase from 2016.

For the period from 2010 to 2017, Charlotte added 127,611 people, a 17.4 percent increase.

A sampling of 19 nearby municipalities showed Fort Mill, S.C., had the highest growth rate between 2010 and 2017 – 62 percent.

The eastern Gaston County municipalities of Belmont and Mount Holly – just across the Catawba River from Mecklenburg County – grew rapidly from 2010 to 2017, with a 19.6 percent growth rate for Belmont and 12.5 percent for Mount Holly. Ten miles farther west, Gastonia saw slower growth, 6.8 percent. Even farther west, Bessemer City, Cherryville and Kings Mountain, all more than 22 miles from Charlotte, each had growth of less than 6 percent during the decade.   

The Gaston growth figures marked a change from a historic pattern in the region, said a UNC Charlotte geography professor. “Most notable is that growth throughout Gaston County, which has been one of the slowest growing portions of the metro in the past, has begun to accelerate,” said Associate Professor Bill Graves. “New residents have begun to choose Gaston due to relatively low-levels of congestion on I-85, Wilkinson Boulevard and N.C. 27.”

In Iredell County to the north of Charlotte, the population of Mooresville – whose southern edge is only 2 miles from the Mecklenburg County line – grew more than 15 percent from 2010 to 2017, while farther north, Statesville and Harmony, more than 40 miles from Charlotte, had above 7 percent growth.

In the northeast, Concord had a 16.4 percent growth rate for the decade, with Kannapolis growing 14.5 percent. But Rowan County’s Salisbury – 43 miles from Charlotte – grew by less than 1 percent. 

To the south, South Carolina's York County saw strong growth in towns along the I-77 corridor, including Fort Mill’s 62 percent growth and Rock Hill, which saw 10 percent growth. In the western part of the county the city of York, 36 miles from Charlotte and not on a major highway, grew a little more than 5 percent. And farther south, the city of Chester, 49 miles south of Charlotte, decreased 3.3 percent from 2010 to 2017.

Locust, 30 miles east of uptown Charlotte but just 10 miles east of the Mecklenburg County line, grew a little more than 8.4 percent. About 15 miles farther east, the city Albemarle grew only 0.4 percent.

Unless otherwise noted, all the distances are measured from uptown Charlotte.