Bolstered by a strong school system, a growing industrial base offering good paying jobs and, in general, a high quality of life, Auburn remained one of the fastest-growing cities in the state of Alabama for the last decade.
U.S. Census data released last week confirmed that trend. It showed that Auburn has grown by roughly 43 percent over the past decade, with the population increasing from 53,380 in 2010 to 76,143 as of April 1, 2020, according to U.S. Census data.
"Our approach over the past few decades has been to maintain and improve our economy and quality of life rather than to actively seek growth. What's important to us is that we provide the best schools and public safety as well as entertainment and recreation opportunities for those who call Auburn home," said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders in a news release. "I believe this growth is evidence that people love living in Auburn, and we're seeing that more people want to be a part of that. We're happy to welcome more to the Auburn family and look forward to the future we will build together."
Auburn is now the seventh-largest city in Alabama, and was the fourth-fastest growing city in the state since 2010. Lee County also showed significant growth over the past decade, with the population rising about 24 percent from 140,247 in 2010 to 174,241 in 2020.
The last update to the 2010 Census, which estimated population through July 1, 2019, showed Auburn with a population of 66,259. The jump in nearly 10,000 residents in one year likely includes a good bit of recalculation.
"While we have certainly seen significant growth, it's possible that what we believed to be an undercount in 2010 has somewhat corrected itself in the 2020 census," said City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch in a news release.
The 2020 Census process was hampered by the pandemic, which caused multiple delays and made counting Auburn University students living in Auburn difficult after on-campus instruction was halted in March 2020, just a few weeks before the 2020 Census was set to begin.
The re-emergence and surge of Covid-19 cases in the community has also thrown another wrench into city's efforts to help chart the course for the next 20 years of Auburn's growth, as the Auburn 2040 process, which had already been delayed a year because of the pandemic, has now been put on hold.
The city of Auburn announced last week that the Auburn 2040 process has been paused, and that all planned meetings had been canceled.
The reason for the pause is the same as the reason for the delay last year — because meeting and crafting a guiding document with hundreds of people involved would be difficult to conduct virtually.
"It's with great disappointment that we make this announcement," said Mayor Ron Anders in a news release. "I believe that the very best plan that we can present to our community derives from in-person conversation, debate and idea-sharing, not through virtual means. I believe that waiting until we can resume safe, in-person meeting is best."
Further updates will be provided at www.auburnalabama.org/2040.
"Some teams have yet to meet, and even our most active teams have only met twice," Anders said. "Now is the time to pause this process to ensure that, when it is finally complete, all voices are heard and it truly reflects community vision for Auburn's future."