COVINGTON - Statistics recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show steady annual growth for all of Newton County's municipalities since 2000.
The city of Covington's population grew from 11,547 in 2000 to 14,980 in 2008.
Oxford is the county's second largest municipality, with a population of 2,546, up from 1,892 in 2000.
Porterdale's population grew from 1,281 in 2000 to 1,850 in 2008. Newborn's population rose from 520 in 2000 to 792 in 2008, while Mansfield's went from 520 to 792.
Covington's population is finally high enough to catch the attention of retailers and restaurants, said Shannon Davis, economic development director with the Newton County Chamber of Commerce.
Davis said retailers usually evaluate population, disposable income and median household income in making decisions where to locate.
"In 2007, we were just on the edge of all of those things that attract good retailers, and then the shift in the economy happened," she said, noting that the downturn of the economy decreased income and the number of owner-occupied homes.
Davis said many communities have lost retail, but since Covington had few choices to begin with, the impact was greater.
"If you don't fit into the demographic models that certain restaurants like or desire, they don't blink at you. That's the model that works for their company history," she said.
Covington is an underserved market, but the population can support more retail and restaurants, she said.
Atlanta was among the top 25 fastest growing cities with populations more than 100,000, as measured by the number of new individuals. The Census Bureau found the population shifted from 520,368 people in July 2007 to 537,958 in July 2008, ranking it 13th on the top 25 list.
The data showed the population of New Orleans grew 8.2 percent in 2008, faster than any other large city in the nation. The city has yet to reach its pre-Hurricane Katrina population.
New York led the nation's cities in numerical increase during the period, adding more than 53,000 residents. New York is the largest city in the country, with more than 8.3 million residents.
"As the 2010 Census approaches, these population estimates provide a sense of the population trends throughout the decade," said Tom Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau's acting director.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.