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Census shows increase in city

The city of Andalusia gained almost 500 residents in population from 2004 to 2008, according to U.S. Census population estimate figures released earlier this week.

Although an official census will not be taken until 2010, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce releases a population estimate every year on July 1. According to those estimates, Andalusia had a population of 8,480 in 2004, a number that blossomed to 8,978 residents in 2008 — an increase of 498 residents.

“Whenever you have people moving into your community, as opposed to out of the community, then it’s a great thing,” Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said. “People are either moving here for jobs, or for job opportunities, or because it’s a nice place to retire. There are so many factors that have helped us attract new people, whether it’s renovations to our streets or our new school or our friendly people.”

The county as a whole also saw growth during the same period, with Covington County’s population jumping from 36,317 residents in 2004 to 36,856 residents in 2008 — an increase of 539 residents.

Other cities saw growth from 2004 to 2008, as well. Opp grew from a population of 6,550 to 6,582 and Florala grew from 1,856 to 1,884. The balance of Covington County — areas that are not included in any city or town limits — fell from 15,630 residents in 2004 to 15,556 in 2008.

Tucson Roberts, president of the Covington County Economic Development Commission, said he feels the growth in the county is attributable to several different factors.

“People are coming, I believe, for two reasons,” he said. “One, we have a number of people who have come here to retire. And two, we’ve had people coming in here to secure new jobs, and new high-paying jobs. There’s been jobs created in Andalusia, and in Opp, and at the airport, and as long as the jobs are here then people are going to come to the county.”

The growth in Andalusia can be seen as an especially positive sign, because the city lost population every year from 2000 to 2004. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Andalusia had a population of 8,794 in 2000, a number that had dwindled to 8,480 by 2004 — a loss of 314 residents.

But by 2008, the population of 8,978 was even higher than it was at the start of the decade.

“I think people are starting to look at Andalusia with a different eye,” Johnson said. “I think we were once seen as a little small textile-based farm community that was losing jobs and sort of stuck. I think that now, they see a community that’s trying to reach out to bring in new jobs and new careers that are outside of the careers you would normally see in a small town.”