August 23, 2023 - Originally posted by Log Cabin Democrat (Jordan Woodson)
Metroplan, the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for central Arkansas, released their annual demographic and review outlook last month which showed that Conway has surpassed North Little Rock to become the second largest city in central Arkansas.
After the 2020 census, Conway was the third largest city in the region with a population of 64,134. North Little Rock had 64,591.
Metroplan’s new study shows that over the past three years, Conway has now passed North Little Rock to become the second largest city in the region behind the state’s capital with Conway’s 2023 population now being 67,509, compared to North Little Rock’s 65,840.
“While I’m not completely surprised, I’m excited to see Conway as the second largest city in central Arkansas,” Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry told the Log Cabin Democrat on Thursday.
The mayor attributed many different elements to Conway’s growth and milestone, including the Conway school system, the city’s healthcare providers, Conway Corporation and the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.
“They all do a great job of working together to attract investments in our city and to make sure Conway is a great place to live, work and play,” he said.
Castleberry also said the areas of Conway the city has been investing in is also a factor making Conway a fast-growing community.
“Yes, we’re investing in new amenities like the Conway Soccer Complex, Conway Community Center and the Connect Conway greenway trail, but people also love to see that we’re re-investing in the transportation and recreational infrastructure in the older areas of our city,” he said.
The Conway Soccer Complex is expected to open in the fall and will include ten lighted fields, a concessions building, bathrooms, office space, seating and trails.
The Community Center is expected open sometime around May 2025 and will feature indoor and outdoor pool features, concessions, volleyball and pickle ball courts, a fitness center, two to four party rooms, two multipurpose rooms, Parks and Recreation offices and a community lounge.
As for the Greenway trails, the city has invested $25 million into 15 miles of trails connecting the city.
Castleberry also credits local Conway businesses for helping keep the city growing.
“A lot of our existing businesses and industry are expanding their footprint rather than packing up and moving away,” he said.
Conway’s population has risen 5.3 percent over the past three years while the City of Vilonia has seen the highest increase in population so far this decade out of the cities in Faulkner County with a six percent increase in its population. All cities in Faulkner County saw an increase in population since 2020, including Greenbrier at five percent, Mayflower at 4.4 percent and and Wooster at 0.8 percent.
Faulkner County as a whole is now the fastest growing county in the region with a four percent population growth compared to Lonoke County’s 1.9 percent growth, Pulaski County’s 1.6 percent growth and Saline County’s 3.2 percent growth.
Since 1990, Faulkner County has become the second largest county in the region, passing Saline County, of which it was previously tied with each making up about 12 percent of the region’s population. Today, Faulkner County makes up 18 percent of the central Arkansas population, while Saline County makes up for about 17 percent.
“At the end of the day, the people of Conway make it great,” the mayor said. “We all love Conway and want what’s best.”
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