Fighting A Decline In Population

WEBSTER COUNTY, Miss.(WCBI) – Where are they going? The population is down in many counties in our state.

That decline in people will affect every single one of us, from our health care, to our schools, to our businesses.

“You have to have people. That’s your most valuable asset is your human capital,” said Enterprise of Mississippi Director, Lara Bowman.

It’s no secret that there aren’t as many people living in several Mississippi communities like Choctaw and Webster county.

“Over the past 25 years you can look back and both of these counties have seen significant job loss. But it did hurt in these rural areas when you lose several families or you lose a few hundred people, you see a bigger difference in these small populated areas,” said Bowman.

Now head 30 minutes down the road to Oktibbeha County and it’s the exact opposite.

“We are living in one of the areas in the state of Mississippi where population is actually on the rise. That bodes well for us because as more people come in, that also brings the opportunity for us to attract more business and new business into our area,” said Starkville Greater Development Partnership President Scott Maynard.

However Starkville still has its obstacles.

“The population of Starkville is reflected on the internet is not necessarily the true population of Starkville. If you look and see the population of Starkville is 25 thousand. That doesn’t take into account the nine months out of the year we have another 23 thousand students that are living here and helping to support our economy,” said Maynard.

According to Census Projection Data, the Magnolia State is estimated at 2.98 million residents, which is up from the more than 2,967 million recorded in 2010.

However the Enterprise of Mississippi conduced a labor study for Choctaw and Webster County in 2017. The results highlighted the decline in area population.

“We’re top 10 for smallest population. We are rural when you look at the numbers even for Mississippi,” said Bowman.

Bowman says growing the communities is their top priority.

“We’ve got to start focusing on that growth because it comes to enrollment for your schools. If we’re going to have students, that’s going to come down to the funding that you receive per student. Health care looks at your numbers, what services are they going to be able to continue to offer, then when you’re looking at work force and retention. When it comes to having a local industry here and you want them to stay and grow with you, you’ve got to show, hey we have a pipeline and we’re going to continue to fill that pipeline with employees,” said Bowman.

Mississippians lost representation in Washington D.C. following the 2000 census.

Fewer people meant cutting congressional districts from 5 to 4.

The next census is scheduled for 2020.

Categories: Local News

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