Diversified local economy keep county, city’s growth afloat amid state’s decline

Oh my, look at how we’ve grown.

You probably didn’t need to look at the numbers to figure that out.

The traffic, new neighbors, longer lines, more sirens and so on all point to more people.

In both Morgantown and Monongalia County the population increased notably from 2010-’17.

Morgantown’s population grew by 7.8 percent in that time frame, up more than 2,200 people since 2010.

With more than 30,547 residents in July 2017, our city became the third largest in the state, behind Charleston and Huntington.

Many newcomers moved here from other states, while many others were from around the world

Meanwhile, the county’s population swelled to 105,030 people in July 2017, from 96,189 in April 2010. That’s a 9.2 percent growth spurt. That 100,000-plus figure also makes Monongalia County the third largest county in the state, behind Kanawha and Berkeley.

Sure these are just U.S. Census Bureau estimates, not an official count, but we have every reason to believe our community continues to grow.

As a matter of fact, those estimates for Morgantown have grown every year since 2010, when the last official count was taken.

Needless to say, these population figures bespeak of a tale of two populations: Our city and county’s and our state’s.

We’re not going to attempt to explain the state’s population teetering on falling below 1.8 million.

However, it is obvious the biggest reason for these declines is the lack of a diversified job market, where the only response to layoffs often is moving.

Those who continue to claim  the past is still the future of West Virginia are only facilitating this exodus.

We have our issues, too, especially the deterioration of our roads, gridlock on them and the lack of affordable housing.

But it’s clear we’re doing something right, too, especially in our local economy.

Ranging from the healthcare industry to WVU, to light manufacturing and government, not to mention a thriving service industry, there’s a full slate of job opportunities here.

Our growth is not just confined to Morgantown, either. Housing and commercial developments continue to expand from the city outward.

Much like financial advisers who impress upon investors to diversify, that same advice has also paid dividends here.

Sure, more people add a few negatives. But we’re convinced the positives far outweigh an extra minute or two in line. Not only do these newcomers add to the county’s tax base, but they also come with new ideas, skills and insight.

There’s a lot to like about these Census numbers and the people they represent.

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