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Cumberland County set to be fastest growing county in the commonwealth

It probably comes as no surprise; Cumberland County’s population is growing, according to county officials, and faster than any other county in the state.

“The county is growing quickly,” Chief Clerk Larry Thomas said at the open of Wednesday’s commissioners’ finance meeting. “Growth has always been a major driver of revenue.”

The largest population growths in the state between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census came in southeastern Pennsylvania, including Cumberland County, according to Deputy Director of Planning Jeff Kelly.

Since Cumberland County is projected to have grown by 8,000 people by 2014, according to commissioner Jim Hertzler, that makes it the fastest-growing county in the state.

On a municipal level, Silver Spring Township is the fastest-growing municipality in the county, while areas like Mechanicsburg Borough are seeing a decrease in population, Kelly said.

Kirk Stoner, director of planning for the county, noted that many people who are moving out of the borough of Mechanicsburg are moving into the surrounding municipalities like Silver Spring Township.

Silver Spring Township has grown by roughly 2,000 people since 2010, according to Kelly.

The borough, however, remains the “largest game in town” for proposed development, Stoner said, with a proposed mixed-used development of roughly 650 units planned on the former Hess Farm.

Hampden Township, East Pennsboro Township and Carlisle are currently the highest population municipalities, but Kelly said he expects Carlisle to drop down to the number five spot as areas like Lower Allen Township see faster growth.

“I’m guessing by the 2020 census, (Carlisle) will be number five on the list with Upper Allen and Lower Allen above it,” Kelly said.

“If you don’t like change, Cumberland County is not the place to live,” Stoner said.

With the growth, Cumberland County has also seen an increased share of minority residents.

In 1990, minority residents only made up 3.7 percent of the county’s overall population. By 2014 that number had grown to 12.3 percent.

Kelly said the largest gains have been in the Hispanic population, which increased by 123 percent between 2000 and 2010, and the Asian population, which grew by about 97 percent in the same time frame.

Mirroring the state, Cumberland County is seeing its overall population increase in age.

In 1990, the median age in the county was 34.6 years old. In 2010, the median age was 40.3 years old.

Shippensburg currently has the youngest median population at 20 to 29 years old, something officials attributed in part to the presence of Shippensburg University.

Kelly said the county began seeing quick growth in the 1950s and projected that Cumberland County’s population would exceed Dauphin County in the next 20 to 30 years.

Read the article from the Sentinel here.

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