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Top Growing Florida Cities Address New Challenges

Jacksonville, FL
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Jacksonville tops the list for largest growth by population in Florida, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

With all the state has to offer, Florida cities welcome new residents every year. But as a city grows, so does its responsibilities.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Florida is one of the four states that gained more than 50,000 housing units in the last year, behind Texas and ahead of California and North Carolina.

Census figures shoe the ten Florida cities that saw the largest growth by population between July 2017-July 2018 are:

  • Jacksonville, an increase of 12,153 residents
  • Miami, 8,884
  • Tampa, 6,313
  • Port St. Lucie, 5,983
  • Cape Coral, 5,901
  • Orlando, 4,570
  • Lakeland, 2,725
  • Fort Lauderdale, 2,709
  • St. Cloud, 2,567
  • Kissimmee, 2,392

Officials from these cities give similar reasons for the growth. Safety, affordability and of course, the Florida weather and leisure activities were all huge draws to new residents.
But with this growing population comes new challenges.

For the Lee County city of Cape Coral, the concern is public safety.

“In order to keep pace with [the city’s growth] we really need to make sure that we also add to our public safety sector with both police and fire.” Mayor Joe Coviello said. “So we’re trying to grow our public safety sector while we grow externally with the building and structures going up.”

Moving eastward to Port St. Lucie, transportation is leading its list of improvements.

“Transportation is right at the top.” Mayor Gregory Oravec said. “We’ll finish an $89 million bridge over the [St. Lucie] River… we talked about how we can expedite the widening of Port St. Lucie Boulevard, that’s a $30 million project.”

In Polk County, Lakeland is focusing primarily on housing, and all that goes along with it.

“Some mix of ...affordable housing that exists to be able to grow the workforce that sustains the business growth,” Mayor William “Bill” Mutz said. “Infrastructure has to follow all of that…if you’re building projects along the way, then you need to help pay for the impact of those projects.”

Adam Bakst is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2019.
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