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Post-Katrina effects seen in local population growth

Anyone who has been on Brookway Boulevard at lunch hour inrecent months knows there are more people living in Brookhaven andLincoln County since Hurricane Katrina.

That speculation has been confirmed and quantified in a recentstudy by Claritas, a information resources company that helpsclients with their marketing efforts.

The study found there are more than 2,500 people still living inLincoln County since the hurricane struck the state lastAugust.

The county’s population swelled to almost 38,000 in October.That number has declined lately, presumably as evacuees return homeor find other places to live.

Not only was lunch time traffic congestion evidence of asuspected population increase, sales tax collections in the monthsfollowing the hurricane offered more proof of that conclusion.

Collections in the last quarter of 2005 were over $400,000 amonth and the total for January, which represented sales made inDecember, was $516,000.

The totals greatly exceeded those of the corresponding months inthe previous year and have provided a great financial boost to citycoffers so far. With a 19.3 percent increase over last year – thelargest in southwest Mississippi – Lincoln County’s retail tradecenter status is further enhanced and opens the opportunity formore jobs and further economic growth.

Many of our new citizens have discovered the warmth and charmoffered in Lincoln and surrounding counties and have decided tomake this area their new home. They represent welcome additions toour local community.

With the added population comes new challenges for business andcommunity leaders, challenges such as available and affordablehousing, employment needs and infrastructure maintenance concerns.It appears leaders are aware of these challenges and are strivingto meet them.

Through their efforts and those of others, evacuees areacclimating and assimilating into their new community. We are allbetter because of it.