Rome and Floyd County will keep the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area designation, a U.S. Office of Management and Budget release stated.
The designation, which dictates the allocation of over a half a million dollars in federal funding, had appeared to be in jeopardy because Rome and Floyd County’s population fell just under a proposed 100,000 threshold unveiled earlier this year.
However, a release issued Tuesday said that, for now, the Biden administration will keep the previous 50,000 population threshold used to determine an MSA.
“Consistent with the Standards Review Committee’s revised recommendation, OMB’s 2020 Standards will maintain the MSA threshold of 50,000,” a release from the Office of Management and Budget stated.
“Recognizing the committee’s concern that MSA thresholds have not kept pace with population growth, OMB will work with the Standards Review Committee to conduct research and stakeholder outreach to inform the 2030 standards update,” it noted.
It may not be an issue if Floyd County’s total population grows by just under 2,000 people in the upcoming census.
The Census Bureau estimated Floyd County’s population at 98,498 as of July 1, 2019 — up 2,281 residents from the official Census count in 2010.
The purpose of the statistical area designation has not changed since the standards were first established 70 years ago: to provide a nationally consistent set of delineations for collecting, tabulating, and publishing federal statistics for geographic areas.
“This is tremendous for Rome and Floyd County and the 143 other metropolitan areas at risk of losing their MSA designation,” said Jeanne Krueger, president of the Rome Floyd Chamber. “The MSA designation allows for us to attract development and to receive funding for projects from housing to transportation to community development. We want to thank our community leaders for sending letters and making calls on our behalf.”
For local business representatives, Krueger said earlier there’s no question that Rome and Floyd County is a regional hub.
“Look at our medical community, our four colleges, our strong and diversified manufacturing base,” she said. “Absolutely we are a metropolitan area for all of the northwest Georgia. We are a hub.”
The loss of the status would have meant Rome could lose its annual Community Development Block Grant entitlement funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Community Development Director Bekki Fox earlier estimated Rome’s 2021 entitlement amounted to $466,386. There are more than 30 federal programs alone which use MSA status to help determine funding levels.
Among the other consequences of the loss of MSA status would likely have been the loss of some business opportunities. Many retailers won’t even consider putting a store into a community that is not considered to be metropolitan in nature.
Large industrial firms also use MSA status to include — or even more importantly, exclude — communities from a new location search.
Industries use data sets published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis to compare metropolitan areas when they are looking to locate a new facility. Not having those detailed statistics at the click of a mouse will make it much more difficult to get data.