Locust Grove surpasses Hampton in population estimate

Chart of Henry County population growth 1980–2019 (staff photo)

Locust Grove has surpassed Hampton to become Henry County’s third largest city in the Census Bureau’s 2019 estimates. The estimates are the last population figures that will be shared before the 2020 census results in early 2021.

As of July 1, 2019, Stockbridge remains the county’s largest city with an estimated 29,904 residents. McDonough is the second-largest with 26,768 residents. Locust Grove now stands in third place with 8,243 residents closely followed by Hampton with an estimated population of 8,073.

Together, the four cities now represent a combined 31.1% of the county’s population. Last year, the cities requested to increase their share of SPLOST V collections from 25% to 30%, but county commissioners did not agree to the request.

Locust Grove’s shift into third place follows the build-out of “busted” pre-recession subdivisions throughout the city. Since 2010, the city’s population has increased an estimated 52.6%. Other cities in the county trail far behind between 15.54% and 21.21%.

Though not as easily measured, the city has seen significant growth in other areas of the economy as well. The opening of Wal-Mart in March 2011 has sparked new businesses and several hotels are either under construction or have opened in the last year.

It was announced earlier this month that Love’s plans to build a distribution center and tire retread plant inside the city. The location, accessible from Colvin Drive and Davis Lake Road, is one part of a growing industrial sector approved by the city council through various rezoning requests since 2016.

In response to the growing population, Locust Grove has collaborated with Georgia DOT to secure state funding for a SR 42 widening project and is actively working with the state to implement short-term improvements at the Bill Gardner Parkway / exit 212 interchange. The location and design for the widening project was approved this month on May 5 providing a requisite step before the project can begin right of way acquisition.

Other transportation projects planned within the city include new traffic signals at Marketplace Blvd and Colvin Drive along highway 42, and looking long-term, a new interstate exit at Bethlehem Road.