Shawnee’s population has increased by 4.1 percent over the last decade, something that may be helpful for different aspects of the city.

Shawnee’s population has increased by 4.1 percent over the last decade, something that may be helpful for different aspects of the city.
While the growth isn’t as much as some other cities within the state, it’s encouraging for most of the city’s different entities.
Brian McDougal, city manager, said the growth was a good sign.
“That’s a steady growth,” he said. “That’s about 100 people every year moving to Shawnee.”
Any growth is good for Shawnee, McDougal said. It makes the city more attractive for industry and retail developers and future development.
“We welcome that because that’s our primary revenue source,” he said.
This growth also helps the labor force because it means a larger pool to hire from, McDougal said.
And, while the city has increased, the retail pool area is more than just the population of Shawnee, he said. What’s just as important is what the county increase is, and surrounding cities and counties.
“That will be just as important,” McDougal said.
Nancy Keith, president and CEO of the Greater Shawnee Chamber of Commerce, said this is great news for the city.
“With our population increasing, it’s coming from somewhere,” she said. “I think we need to see it as further proof that our city government is on the right track.
“They’re working on ways for us to improve our quality of life, which of course makes it more comfortable for all of us who live here,” Keith said. “As far as the chamber is concerned, an increase in population means an increase in workforce. That means a happy business community and more money for city coffers. So, needless to say, it’s excellent news for Shawnee.”
Tim Burg, executive director of the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, said the increase is a positive indicator for different markets that impact Shawnee, including housing, industry, retail and others.
“As we market Shawnee to the world...we’re an expanding, growing community,” he said.
This helps SEDF to market the city, Burg said.
“It’s all positive indicators for everything we try to do in economic development,” he said. “More is better. From my perspective, more population is more people to visit places in town.”
Gordona Rowell, executive director of the Shawnee Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said requests for information about Shawnee has increased some, especially from California.
Part of that could be because the cost of living is a lot less, she said. There seems to be a lot of movement from the west coast.
“Oklahoma City’s great, but a lot of people don’t want to be in the middle of the metro,” Rowell said.
Shawnee does attract some of those people because it’s smaller and being on the fringe of the Oklahoma City metro area also can help when different entities choose to locate in Shawnee, she said.
“Our retail and restaurant industries, I think there are a lot of them, they realize the impact of tourism,” Rowell said. “That’s why some are selective by their location.”
Some of those businesses, however, build smaller in Shawnee, which makes it more difficult to recruit, she said.
Shawnee does have a large trade area, Rowell stated, adding some businesses see that as a plus, while others see it as a minus.
“We are so much more than the city limits,” she said. “They’re looking at our trend. The fact we’re continuing to show growth is a good thing. If more residents means more offerings, that’s good from a tourism standpoint as well. It’s a big circle.”
Justin Erickson, planning/community development director, said this growth is a good sign.
“It’s a positive growth rate,” he said. “It’s a fairly slow growth rate. When you break it down, that makes sense. You’re looking at average household sizes, 2.4 people per household. Over the last 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, we’re probably looking at roughly 1,000 new structures, new residential homes that have been constructed.”
Some of these structures have replaced previously existing ones, but that means residents are getting newer housing, which is “providing some better, safer living environments for people,” Erickson said.
The increase may speak to quality of life issues, closeness to larger cities, long-term capital improvements, aquatics center, things like that, he said. Those all factor into the increase in population.
Josh Burton may be reached by calling 214-3926.