Cost of Growth: Surrounding communities feel impact

Surrounding communities feel impact

Marion’s population has grown 70 percent since 2000, from 4,943 to 8,400. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)
The Growing Entrepreneurs Marion Small Business Grant Program has invested about $28,000 over the last two years.{&nbsp;}(Photo credit: WLOS staff)<p></p>

As Buncombe County’s population nears 260,000, the growth is spilling over to surrounding areas, as well.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2017, Henderson County’s population was 115,708; Rutherford’s was 66,551; Haywood’s was 61,084 and McDowell’s was 45,159.

The growth in the Asheville area is spilling over to surrounding counties as well.{p}{/p}
Weaverville boom

The streets of downtown Weaverville are much busier than they used to be.

Around lunchtime at the local bakery, Well-Bred, you even might have to wait in line.

"It’s just crazy how the Asheville growth is moving north and everything is just exploding," Laura Bogard Taylor said.

It’s an explosion that’s transforming the small town.

"I think this used to be a sleepy little artist community, lots of retirees," Taylor said.

She said the growth has sparked a big boost in Well-Bred’s business. In fact, she said its sales have increased about 15 percent every year.

"It’s really great for the economy and for the businesses, and, at the same time, it’s changing the landscape of this small town Mayberry, which used to be so quiet," Taylor said.

City officials said they’ve seen a 61 percent population gain since 2000.

In 2000, the population was 2,416 and the current population is estimated at 3,889.

Mayor Al Root welcomes the change.

"Very positive, I would say. The vibrancy of Main Street, I would say of Weaverville, cannot be overstated," Root said.

He said the only real complaint is more traffic.

Root added that as housing costs rise in Asheville, more residents head north for more affordable options.

"Now, as the easy construction land has gone away, we’re seeing major growth up here, a lot of apartment projects now being built," Root said.

Weaverville has seen a 24 percent increase in sales tax revenue since 2000.{p}{/p}
Business boost in Marion

About an hour east, Marion is blossoming, as well.

In fact, the city manager said the population has increased 70 percent since 2000.

City officials said the population was 4,943 in 2000 and it is currently estimated at 8,400.

The Growing Entrepreneurs Marion Small Business Grant Program has invested about $28,000 over the last two years.{p}{/p}

Bob Boyette added that retail sales in McDowell County have grown 62 percent over the last decade.

He said even more businesses, events and festivals are in the works, including a conference center.

"Particularly on the commercial side, we are starting to venture into the territory of explosive growth in the downtown area, specifically," Boyette said.

Boyette said a new incentive program has invested thousands downtown, generating $1.6 million in private investment.

He said when you add in plenty of unfilled jobs, it’s a tempting move for many.

"It’s great to see some success happening. We’ve wanted it for years. We’ve been trying hard for years, and it’s finally starting to pay off," Boyette said.

We want to know how the growth in Western North Carolina is affecting you.

Email us at I-team@wlos.com

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