Population figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in its Regional Population Growth report late last month, confirmed the growth of every local government area in the Northern Tablelands.
Welcomed at both a local and state government levels, the report showed the electorate had an overall growth rate of 2.5 per cent (from the August 2016 Census to June 30 2018) The increase of 1987 residents pushed the overall population past the 80,000 mark for the first time, to an estimated population of 81,220.
By the look of this report, with a 4.3 per cent growth rate, that's very good for a country regional city ...Cr Simon Murray
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray thought the city was heading in a good direction. An increase of 1258 people since the Census, made Armidale one of the fastest growing local government areas (LGA) in regional NSW.
"Our population has increased to 30,707, rather than decreasing," Cr Murray said.
"By the look of this report, with a 4.3 per cent growth rate, that's very good for a country regional city and there would be a number of reasons for this growth.
"We've had the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority moved to Armidale, refugees moving to the area, TAFE Digital being set up. Combine them all and that gives you the increase."
A delighted Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall welcomed the ABS report and said the growth rate during the 22-month period exceeded the region's growth rate in the previous five years.
"These are an incredibly exciting and pleasing set of figures, especially in the midst of one of the worst droughts in living memory," Mr Marshall said.
"This growth in such a short period is virtually unprecedented for our region. In the past, growth has been inconsistent, but now every single community is firmly on the move.
These results show the strength and resilience of our Northern Tablelands communities during drought ...Adam Marshall
"As a region, we're bucking the trend compared to many other areas across country NSW, which are sadly not faring well."
He said Uralla shire continued to develop and grew by 0.2 per cent, an extra 14 residents giving it a population of 6062. Glen Innes Severn LGA benefitted from the renewables sector and added another 72 people, an increase of 0.8 per cent for a population of 8,908.
Inverell Shire also fared very well with 361 new residents for a growth rate of 2.2 per cent and a population of 16,844. Impressively, the Gwydir LGA grew by 91 residents or 1.7 per cent to 5349, and Moree Plains added 191 people, an increase of 1.5 per cent and a population of 13,350.
"The community is resilient and now is turning a corner, especially with inland rail and other economic infrastructure firmly on the agenda," Mr Marshall said.
"These results show the strength and resilience of our Northern Tablelands communities during drought and this trend bodes very well for the future."