The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

March 20, 2011

Mixed results from Census highlight need for continued projects

The Census figures accumulated every decade can go a long way in helping communities define their futures.

The 2010 Census for Garfield County shows the county has had an increase in population of nearly 5 percent, but the news still is mixed for rural Oklahoma, including northwest Oklahoma.

There is a substantial population shift toward metro areas. Counties surrounding the large metro areas had the most growth. These shifts effect a lot of changes, including redistricting and representation at the state capitol.

Garfield County, particularly Enid, came out a little stronger than many surrounding rural counties because Enid still is a fairly large city. Enid saw growth of 5 percent, and Garfield County now can boast a population of more than 60,000.

The reason for stability and some growth rest on the fact Vance Air Force Base has been protected and continues to grow. Enid’s medical community continues to expand, and Integris Bass is getting ready to officially open a new heart and vascular treatment center.

Enid patrons invested in their schools in 2003 and 2010 and for the first time in decades, residents will see the construction of two new schools in the community.

Enid has taken a more proactive approach in the last decade to improving the community. Certainly the Base Realignment and Closure process always spurs activity, but local officials have taken their efforts beyond BRAC.

Making these changes has been difficult. There have been several controversies over actions taken by officials to try to better the community. Yet, some good things are being accomplished.

The 2010 Census figures can help point Enid and northwest Oklahoma on a more prosperous path. The 60,000 figure for Garfield County can help attract retailers of a certain size. But, officials cannot let up and they cannot let any opportunity pass them by. Economic development officials must be proactive in all areas.

One thing is clear. Growth won’t come without a lot of investment and a lot of work and focus.

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