Suffolk: 90,000 strong

Published 6:18 pm Saturday, January 30, 2016

Suffolk no longer is the fastest-growing city in Virginia or even in Hampton Roads, but city officials say its continued growth, however moderate, remains positive.

The University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released its 2015 population estimates last week, pegging Suffolk’s current population at 90,426.

It was the first time any estimate of the city’s population officially crested 90,000.

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“We’ve grown, and I think it’s good on a number of levels,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said. “We’re proud of our growth. It’s coming as we expected it to be.”

The city has grown nearly 7 percent since the U.S. Census in 2010, which counted Suffolkians numbering 84,585. In the region, its growth was slightly edged out by Chesapeake, which grew 7.2 percent, but Suffolk beat the city average of 4.5-percent growth.

“I just think it’s positive that we’re continuing to see people want to move and become part of the city of Suffolk,” Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said. He said he is excited to see how the growing population positively affects retail, restaurants, the service sector and the future workforce.

The city was the 12th-fastest-growing locality between 2010 and 2014 but dropped to 16th-fastest-growing between 2010 and 2015, according to the Weldon Cooper Center.

The estimates are important, because they are used in funding formulations based on per capita allocations, as well as in planning, budgeting, applying for grants and performing other official functions.

The estimates are produced using housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and licensed drivers.

Loudoun County was the fastest-growing locality between 2010 and 2015, according to the Weldon Cooper Center. It saw a whopping increase of almost 20 percent.

The rest of the top localities included, in order, Falls Church, Arlington County, New Kent County, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, Prince William, Harrisonburg, Manassas Park, Manassas, James City County, Stafford County, Greene County and Chesapeake. Richmond was 17th.

Every city in Hampton Roads gained in population, with increases ranging from .9 percent in Hampton to 7.2 percent in Chesapeake.

Johnson and Hughes said that’s positive news for the region, as well.

“The region is growing, and it’s not that we’re taking residents from one another,” Johnson said. “All the numbers are in the positive. If you look at all of it together, it looks like, as a whole, the region is moving in the right direction.”

“Obviously, we have a healthy increase, but so do our neighboring localities,” Hughes said. “It speaks to the growth of the metro area.”