Census figures show population jump for Hale County

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2005

For most Black Belt counties, new census figures don’t often offer much in the way of encouragement or signs of positive growth. But for Hale County, the most recent figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau tell a different tale.

According to the new figures Hale is, in fact, one of Alabama’s fastest growing counties. The figures are the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimation of population change from 2000 to 2003, a four-year period that saw Hale’s population increase by 1,114 residents, from 17,185 to 18,299. That represents a positive 6.5 percent change in population for the county.

If Hale continues to grow at the rate expressed by the 2003 estimate, by the 2010 census Hale will have experienced a 16.6 percent growth rate for the decade–a substantial figure when compared to the rest of the Black Belt, and even more substantial when taking into account that the 16.6 rate would better Hale’s growth rate for the previous decade (10.9 percent) by nearly 7 percent.

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“Everything is very positive in Hale County,” said Leland Avery, Hale County’s Judge of Probate. “We’re growing. We’re lucky…we’re one of the growing-est communities in the state.”

That growth isn’t spread evenly across the county, however. The northern end of the county has boomed as suburban Tuscaloosa has steadily edged southward across the Hale County border and more and more people are seeking to commute to Tuscaloosa from a rural home. Avery says that while growth hasn’t come to standstill in southern Hale, in the Greensboro area, it doesn’t come close to matching the progress at the county’s other end.

“Most of the people coming into Hale County are in the North end,” he says. “Right now the growth is mainly along the 4-laning of Highway 69. Up there around Moundville is becoming a kind of bedroom community for Tuscaloosa…there’s fewer people moving into Greensboro.”

Not only is northern Hale’s population increasing, but many of the people new to the area are professionals who are building new homes and bringing stable, substantial income to the table. Avery says the benefits are obvious.

“There’ll be more ad valorem tax for the county,” he says. “People will be buying more goods, more groceries, which will increase the sales tax and benefit the school system.”

If there’s any possible negative to the situation, it’s the chance that Hale could increasingly become split along northern/southern lines, with the “bedroom community” north end at odds with the more rural, traditional south end. But Avery says that not only is there no conflict of that sort right now, he can’t foresee anything like that in Hale County’s increasingly bright future.

“There’s no problems,” he says. “We certainly welcome everybody to come to Hale County.”