In the coming months, legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly will use redistricting data from the 2020 Census to redraw state congressional districts, state senate districts and state house districts. The redistricting data for North Carolina, including for Alamance County, was released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Aug. 12.
The first release of data from the 2020 Census by the U.S. Census Bureau occurred on April 26. The redistricting data from the 2020 Census was released this past month. The delay in the release of the 2020 Census data is due to the ongoing pandemic.
Takeaways from Redistricting Data
A major takeaway from the release of the redistricting data is rapid growth in unexpected areas, including Alamance County. The county’s total population increased 13.4% between 2010 and 2020, according to the 2020 Census.
Rich Roedner, town of Elon manager, said the population growth in the county shows that Alamance County is a place individuals are gravitating toward living.
“That’s good news for the county, that the county remains an attractive place for people to relocate,” Roedner said. “Likewise, the numbers for Elon, they are up at this point. I would say that demonstrates the desirability of Elon as well.”
The redistricting data also revealed the decline of white residents in the U.S. for the first time along with a growth of minority populations in the U.S. In Alamance County, minority populations also saw a surge since the 2010 Census. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Black population in Alamance County grew to 20.9% in 2020 and the Hispanic population in Alamance County grew to 13.1% in 2020.
Roedner said this did not come as a surprise to him, as he expects the town of Elon to follow this trend gradually over the coming years.
“There wasn’t a tremendous shift, so I think it’s for us a change or an impact over time as opposed to any major shifts,” Roedner said.
Although these population shifts were found from redistricting data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Roedner said he doesn’t expect the town of Elon to see a large impact from this data and with redistricting.
The town of Elon does not have specific districts. Rather, elections are held at large, meaning everyone in the town as a whole gets to vote for the candidates running in municipal offices, and there will be no district changes, according to Roedner.
What Redistricting Data means for Alamance County and town of Elon
Roedner said the data from the U.S. Census Bureau is used by the county to apportion sales tax revenue and for state allocations.
Sales tax revenue is revenue collected by the county government through taxes levied on the sale of goods and services. Roedner explained the county government receives a certain amount of revenue, which is then distributed back to municipalities based on relative population sizes.
“For a community that is growing faster than the average within the county, they would stand to gain their share of increase of sales tax revenue,” Roedner said. “For communities that’s losing population compared to other towns in the county, they would lose sales tax revenue.”
Roedner said the town of Elon is currently awaiting data from a state demographer to see if the town of Elon has experienced growth or reduction in their population over the past few years. He noted the town should receive this data within the next week or two.
Looking to the town of Elon’s future
The town of Elon is a “growing community,” according to Roedner. He said through recent annexations from surrounding communities, like Gibsonville, the town of Elon has acquired additional acreage and land space which will provide additional growth to the town’s population.
“We’re looking at over the next couple of years about 250 new homes, which for a town of 12,000, for argument’s sake, that’s a significant boost in population over a short period of time,” Roedner said.
Roedner said he hopes the trend in population growth in the town of Elon will present new opportunities for the town’s government to help revitalize downtown. Current plans for land development of the town of Elon include having more commercial businesses, restaurants, offices and public spaces. The plans call for having a “higher density downtown rather than just continue to grow on the outskirts of town,” according to Roedner.
“There is a real desire to grow downtown, have more services downtown, have more reasons for people to come downtown,” Roedner said. “That’s kind of been the development goal of the community for the last several years now based on our adopted plans.”