New growth sprouts along both sides of U.S. Highway 380 in northern Collin County, along the Sam Rayburn Tollway and within the gap between Interstate 35E and I-35W in Denton County. These outer reaches of Dallas-Fort Worth are booming — the 2013 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau prove it.
Frisco and McKinney join five other Texas cities in the Census Bureau’s list of the 15 fastest-growing cities of 50,000 or more. Frisco ranks second, trailing only San Marcos, which also led the list in 2012.
The Texas cities on the fastest-growing list aren’t just booming suburbs, either. True, they have their share of outbound commuters every morning, but they serve as significant job centers on their own, said Dr. Lloyd Potter, Texas’ state demographer. “I can tell you that when I’m driving in to Austin on many mornings it certainly feels there are a lot of people coming from San Marcos,” Potter said. “But people from San Marcos are mostly working in and around San Marcos. They aren’t dependent on working in Austin or San Antonio.” That’s true of Cedar Park and Georgetown in Williamson County, north of Austin, as well, he said. “What you’re seeing is all the growth of the high-tech industry and associated businesses in that area,” Potter said. “It’s driving a lot of the growth in Williamson County.”
Six of the seven Texas cities on the fast-growing list are near enough to a big city for commuting. Then there’s Odessa, the West Texas city of about 110,000 which, with neighboring Midland, has seen a rush of growth thanks to the Permian Basin oil and gas fields. “There’s a lot of fracking-related growth there,” Potter said, referring to techniques used to free oil and gas from fields once considered unproductive. In Dallas-Fort Worth, the fastest-growing cities tend to be smaller, though none are quite as small as Dish, the Denton County town that changed its name from Clark some years back after reaching a marketing agreement with Dish Network.
In a repeat appearance as the fastest-growing city in the region, Dish’s population soared 16 percent from July 2012 to July 2013 — from 262 to 304, the census data showed. Since the 2010 census, when Dish was home to 201 people, the population has increased 51.2 percent. Prosper holds down second place in regional growth, up from about 9,500 in 2010 to almost 13,000 in 2013, a growth rate of 37.4 percent, followed by Trophy Club, Melissa and Fate, with around 10,000 residents or fewer.
Texas’ largest cities don’t add population at nearly the same rates as these fastest-growing mid-size cities, none larger than 150,000 people, according to census figures. But in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, the raw numbers are pretty impressive, up by about 15,000 to 35,000 people from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013. Houston, at almost 2.2 million people the biggest of the bunch, added the most — 35,202 — second only to much larger New York City and more than Los Angeles, home to almost 4 million people. In the smaller cities — Frisco and McKinney, for example — much of the growth comes from migration from other states and other parts of Texas, Potter said. In the large cities, the biggest driver of growth is “natural increase,” the number of births minus the number of deaths. “One of the things everyone tends to believe by default is growth is being exclusively driven by migration,” he said. “But in the big cities — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, a larger percentage is being driven by natural increase. “It’s the suburban areas where most is driven by migration.”
Frisco is a prime example. Last year, the city added roughly 2,300 homes, Mayor Maher Maso said. This year, it will add 2,000 more. “We’re probably about 55 percent developed, so we have a way to go. We’re around 140,000 people now,” he said. “We’re going through a comprehensive plan, and the [potential] population numbers are starting to inch up to 300,000, maybe 350,000. “It’s my guess, when we look at the final numbers, that Plano will be the fourth largest city in the area, Frisco third, McKinney maybe second and looking at the land area around them and if they annex, Celina has the potential to be first,” Maso said. That could be decades away — Celina had 6,744 residents in the 2013 census estimates — but Frisco’s rapid growth continues. “We’re about halfway” to build-out, Maso said, “but it’s going to happen quickly. Twelve to 20 years is probably a good projection, depending on how sustainable that rate of growth stays. “If we didn’t have a great master plan, it would be a mess,” he said. “But this isn’t an overnight thing. It’s been this way for 10 or 12 years.” When Maso joined the City Council in 2000, Frisco had about 30,000 residents, he said. When voters re-elected him a few years later, the population had doubled.