Hardeeville and Bluffton continue to rise as two of South Carolina’s fastest growing municipalities over the past year.
Bluffton ranked No. 1 in the state for total population growth in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 estimates, according to the SC Department of Employment and Labor. Hardeeville was ranked eighth in total population growth and first in percentage growth. Bluffton was second in percentage population growth.
Hardeeville’s population increased by 14.3%, gaining approximately 1,106 new residents. Bluffton’s population increased by 12%, with 3,457 new residents.
South Carolina’s estimated population grew to 5,190,705, an increase of 1.4%. Department of Jobs and Manpower director Dan Ellzey said 26 of 46 counties saw population increases in 2021, but most rural areas saw gradual losses, especially those in the south and east of the state.
Ellzey noted Hardeeville’s growth, adding that SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office projections indicate that the city and county of Jasper will likely become a much larger part of the state’s total population and economy in the years to come.
“This city has increased its population by one-seventh in a single year and is the fastest growing municipality in the state by percentage,” Ellzey said in a news release. “Hardeeville benefits from its proximity to Hilton Head Island and Savannah, making it a very convenient place to live and work.”
City Manager Michael Czymbor said Hardeeville undertook a comprehensive analysis of the proposed development and its potential impact a few years ago.
“This vital analysis has been updated annually and provides insight and guidance in the preparation of our annual budget request and grant applications to meet the need for additional personnel, equipment and facilities,” Czymbor said. “…The City is also working to amend all of our growth management policies and the Municipal Zoning and Development Ordinance to address all of the issues and challenges that come with rapid growth environments.”
Growth is important to the city, Czymbor said, because it creates an attractive environment for business developers trying to attract.
“The city’s ideal proximity to the Port Authority of Georgia makes the US 17 corridor south of Exit 5 an ideal location for storage, logistics and manufacturing,” he said. “The City has licensed over 15 million square feet of industrial space in this area. All of this growth will provide many high-quality, high-paying positions for our residents and Jasper County residents.”
Czymbor said the city is working to limit the impacts of some of the negative elements of growth, such as “increased traffic, pollution and its impact on all of our existing infrastructure and roads.”
“The city, as development proposals are submitted, (requires) a traffic impact analysis and detailed studies of how the current environment and landscape will be affected by the proposed development” , did he declare. “Ongoing due diligence on our part will be required to ensure quality end products.”