Community leaders in Rome and Floyd County have been putting a great deal of emphasis on getting the word out to anyone who will listen about the importance of participating in the 2020 Census.

Obviously, an accurate count is critical for all sorts of reasons, particularly the flow of federal dollars for a variety of programs. Perhaps more importantly, an accurate count will let folks get a better picture of how Rome is growing. Or not.

The U.S. Census Bureau last estimated Rome’s population in 2017 at 36,635. That would represent growth of less than 1% from the 2010 Census. The 2010 figure was up a very modest 2.9% from 2000.

Countywide, the numbers are a little better. The 2017 estimate was 97,613, up 1.3% from 2010 and the 2010 data was up 6.3% over the decade. Obviously there is physically more room for growth outside the city limits.

Rome needs bigger numbers.

Enter the “which came first” question, the chicken or the egg?

Aside from a relative handful of folks who are perfectly satisfied with the status quo, most community leaders want growth.

The one industry that seems to be do very well in Rome is the restaurant industry. Apparently, we just don’t eat at home much anymore. Checked out the crowds at Chicken Salad Chick in the last couple of months? Remember this — those people used to be eating somewhere else.

By this time next year, we expect several additional restaurants to open up in the new East Bend shopping center on the former Kmart site on Hicks Drive. We’ve heard Texas Roadhouse, Chipotle, Fazoli’s and Panda Express names bantered about, though nothing official has been revealed yet. When they all open, their seats are going to be filled by people who used to be hunkered down at a counter or booth someplace else.

At some point, Rome will reach a critical mass number and some restaurants that have been around for a while will fold. Then we’ll see the whining on social media that Rome just won’t support this restaurant or that restaurant. It can get vicious, but it’s quite simply a numbers game.

Rome needs more numbers.

Big deals are positive indicators

Some really big deals impacting local enterprises have been announced in the past week. Floyd Medical Center merging with Atrium Health and Atrium agreeing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the Floyd system which includes hospitals in Cedartown and Centre.

Chicken Salad Chick, founded by Rome native Stacy Melton Brown, sold a majority interest in the company to a California equity firm which Brown believes will facilitate additional growth. The Goo-Goo car washes were also sold.

All of these deals indicate a level of confidence in the market conditions. (Unless of course some of these large companies are just looking to unload cash. If that’s case I’d be happy for them to send some my way!).

Recommended for you