By Sarah Huether
College Station is ranked the second fastest growing city in the nation, followed closely by Bryan at number 17, according to a study completed by Sreekar Jasthi of NerdWallet. Jasthi is an analyst for NerdWallet, a website based out of San Francisco that offers financial advice to users and “transparency as to what cities are prospering across the U.S.” says Jasthi. “Lots of cities growing in Texas.”
Jasthi used three sectors to calculate and compare the 506 cities used in NerdWallet’s annual Fastest Growing Cities study. Based on the 2009-2013 Census, the sectors included growth in the working age population, growth of the population actually in the work force, and growth in the median income.
“More people moving there doesn’t necessarily mean that more people are working in the city. More people living there, and more people working there, doesn’t mean they’re making more money,” explains Jasthi as to why he looked beyond population growth and studied work force and median income growth. “What was interesting [was that] a lot of these cities are relatively smaller cities,” says Jasthi.
The nation overall experienced an average five percent growth in population and a surprising negative two percent drop in the people in the workforce. College Station, however, defied these statistics. College Station’s population grew by 18 percent, a significant amount in a few years, but was surpassed by its median income growth at 25 percent, according to Jasthi’s research.
Bryan grew 12 percent, which Jasthi says is “still a rapid growth” throughout a four to five year period, but Bryan matched the nation’s drop in work force growth.
“I think when looking actually at the numbers, the median numbers for all the workers is a little bit higher in Bryan,” as Jasthi says the median income grew by 22 percent.
“As a city, if you’re not growing, you’re dying,” says Chuck Gilman, deputy city manager of College Station. “We’ve been watching this area grow in recent years, tracking the numbers,” says Joey Dunn, deputy city manager of Bryan. Both were surprised by the high ranking of Bryan/College Station compared to the country, but were not surprised by the growth.
Texas A&M affects the whole community, admits Dunn. “It doesn’t hurt that we’re in the SEC and the football team is doing well. It’s bringing a bigger spotlight to the area,” says Dunn. However, Dunn says “Many aggies who are set to retire and beginning to invest, want to come back to the area and are looking in Bryan, especially the Traditions Club development.”
“Being a larger city puts us on the map,” says Gilman, as larger companies are now seeing College Station as a viable option for business. With the growth, jobs are created not only through the cities but through a growing medical district in the area known as the Bio Corridor. A joint venture between College Station and Bryan, a new industry that joins the public and private sector, alongside the major university system is big,” says Dunn.
“Aggies come here for school, but leave after they receive their degree to find higher paying jobs in other markets,” says Dunn, but the multimillion-dollar Bio Corridor development will bring “true high paying jobs to the community.”
“It was a dusty little college town,” says Dunn. Having lived in the Bryan/College Station area for more than 20 years in various city planning and development positions, Dunn says, “it’s amazing to see the growth.”
“Seeing a growing community – that’s a plus,” said Gilman.
“College towns are seeing a lot of growth in general,” says Jasthi. As for B/CS, Jasthi attributes this to industry, investments, the low cost of living, and the university. The growth in industry and investment makes for a “more attractive destination to not just college students,” says Jasthi.