An interesting discussion emerged at the regular monthly meeting of the Washington Civic Industrial Corporation Thursday. It had to do with promoting Franklin County as a place to live and to locate a business or industry.
The discussion began with mention of the slow growth of Franklin County in the past two decades. There was a time when the county was experiencing a growth of about 11,000 or 12,000 people every decade. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county’s population grew by only 934 people between 2010 and 2015. If that continues the county will show a growth of less than 2,000 in the current decade. That’s a growth rate of less than 1 percent.
The population of Franklin County in 2010 was 101,492. By 2015, the county population was 102,426, according to the Census Bureau. Its population figures show that most of the growth the past five years has been in the incorporated cities rather than in the unincorporated areas. For a period, the growth was in the unincorporated areas.
Who will take the growth issue and promote the county as a good place to live? Is promoting the county the responsibility of the county, cities or the Chambers of Commerce? Or is it the responsibility of all those entities?
There is no county Chamber of Commerce, but all of the larger towns in the county do have a Chamber.
It probably is going to fall on the Chambers of Commerce in the towns to promote their towns and the county. Perhaps some help could come from the county.
There is a small group of county citizens who are not in favor of growth. They say the county has enough people. They feel the same way about their towns. We suspect that attitude will be found in many sections of the country. However, we believe the vast majority of the people favor growth as long as it is controlled. There are enough regulations on the books in the county and in the cities to ensure that growth is orderly.
For many years we have watched St. Charles and Jefferson counties grow at a much faster rate than Franklin. However, many people view the growth in St. Charles County as too much in too short of a time.
Home building permits in the unincorporated section of Franklin County are on the rise, with the same happening in some of the towns. This hints that a recovery is happening in housing.
In 1990, Franklin County’s population was 80,603. By 2000, it had reached 93,807, and in 2010, as mentioned, it was 101,492.
At the discussion we mentioned, the comment was made that if Franklin County does not not grow it will end up like some counties in northern Missouri, which are losing population. Some towns in northern Missouri are dying.