Savannah ranks 38th on a list of the nation’s fastest growing major metropolitan areas, according to data released this week as part of Pitney Bowes Software’s inaugural Metro Magnets Index of 384 metro areas with more than 100,000 households.
Over the next five years, Savannah’s population is projected to grow 5 percent, 6,700 new households in total, at an annual rate of 1 percent.
That comes as no surprise to Bill Hubbard, president and CEO of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, he can sum up the area’s growing popularity in two words: Baby Boomers.
“Savannah’s ability to attract retirees is the fundamental piece that has driven our growth. Most Baby Boomers have weathered the recession with at least some of their wealth intact and, as they look to retirement, they are realizing that our area is a great place to live,” he said.
“Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population lives within an hour of the coastline, and this is the most affordable coastline between Myrtle Beach and Jacksonville,” he said, adding that it doesn’t hurt that Savannah is a tourist magnet.
“Our growing tourism industry has given us more exposure. Visitors who discover Savannah as a great place to vacation are also beginning to look at it as a great place to live,” Hubbard said.
“This should continue as the economy slowly rebounds.”
Trip Tollison, interim president and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, agreed.
“This index reaffirms what most of us in Savannah already know – that our community is an attractive and top-rated location, not only to visit but to work and live,” he said.
The large metro areas of Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., are projected to add the most households in absolute numbers over the next five years, the report concluded, while areas projected to see the highest percentage growth rate are Provo/Orem in Utah and the Texas communities of Austin and Killeen/Fort Hood.
Detroit and Charleston, W.Va., are the only major metropolitan areas that can expect to see a decline in the number of households over the next five years, the report concluded, with Cleveland expecting just a 0.2 percent increase.
“Projected household growth is a critical indicator for the economic prospects of a specific geographic area, and this data can help real estate, retail and a range of other businesses plan their growth strategy scientifically,” said John O’Hara, president of Pitney Bowes Software.
“It is no longer acceptable to make strategic business decisions on gut feel alone. Given the plethora of data and the advanced tools for analyzing it, business leaders can stay ahead of real estate trends for planning.”
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