The metropolitan statistical area that includes Brunswick County was the second fastest-growing metro area in the nation from 2015 to 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday.
The area, officially known as the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach MSA though it includes a North Carolina county, grew nearly 4 percent between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, to more than 449,000 people, the Census Bureau reported.
The fastest-growing MSA was The Villages, Florida, with a 4.3 percent population increase during the same period.
The Raleigh MSA came in 14th on the list of the top 25 areas in the country. Wilmington's MSA, which includes New Hanover and Pender counties, did not break the top 25 but did grow by 1.8 percent between 2015 and 2016 to about 283,000 people.
Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy said she wasn't surprised by Thursday's news.
"I'm going through the budget process right now and all departments, all areas, all functions are showing an increase in workload measures, output of services and service demands," Hardy said.
The county and communities in Brunswick have been making investments that support growth, including in parks and infrastructure, she said, and are drawing residents from the retirement demographic as well as other population groups.
"There's certainly still strong growth in those that are coming here to spend their retirement years, but I believe we are also seeing growth in folks coming to support that, especially in the areas on the ends of the county," Hardy said.
From 2010 to July 2016, the population of Brunswick County by itself grew 18 percent, from about 107,000 to nearly 127,000, according to Census Bureau statistics, with 3.4 percent growth from 2015 to 2016.
Horry County in South Carolina, which includes Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Conway, grew by 4.3 percent between 2015 and 2016, the Census Bureau data shows.
Brunswick County was dropped from the Wilmington MSA and added to the South Carolina MSA in 2013.
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