Pinal County one of fastest growing in nation

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Over the last decade across the country, counties, unincorporated areas and cities have been overrun with people seeking affordable housing within easy reach of major metropolitan centers. And while growth has not been in step with the record rates in the first half of the decade, in the second it has continued grow.

Pinal County is one of the fastest growing in the nation. Here is a look at the five fastest growing counties during the past 10 years, ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau in terms of total percentage of growth.

No. 1:  The fastest growing county isn’t in the Sunbelt, but rather the rust belt. From April 1, 2000, until July 1, 2009, Kendall County, Ill. witnessed a growth rate of more than 93 percent, erupting from a population of 54,563 to 104,821.

Kendall is a 300-square-mile county, which transformed from being mostly farmland to being a bedroom community just a short commute to the Chicago metropolitan area.

No. 2:  Arizona’s own Pinal County is the second fastest growing county in the country. In just 10 years the county has witnessed a growth rate of 90 percent, blossoming from a population of 179,727 in 2000 to nearly 342,000 today.

Leading the way in growth was the city of Maricopa and the San Tan region, both of which witnessed growth rates near 1,000 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,374 square miles. Pinal County was carved out of neighboring Maricopa County and Pima County on Feb. 1, 1875.

No. 3:  The third fastest growing county during the 2000s is Rockwall County, Texas. The county nearly doubled from a population of 43,000 to more than 81,000 in nearly 10 years.

The county, which feeds into the Dallas suburb, is Texas’s smallest in terms of land area. It was founded in 1873 because access to the county seat of Kaufman County, of which the area was then a part, was inconvenient for the residents of what became Rockwall County. The county and city are named for a wall-like subterranean rock formation that runs throughout the county.

No. 4:  With warm weather and scenic beaches, it is no shock that Flagler County in Florida checks in fourth on the fastest growing counties’ list.

The 571-square-mile county in the Sunshine State grew by 84 percent with its population moving from about 50,000 to almost 92,000. Flagler County was created in 1917 and named for Henry Morrison Flagler, a famous railroad builder who built the Florida East Coast Railway. The county neighbors the Jacksonville metro area.

No. 5:  The fifth fastest growing and oldest county on the list is Loudon County, Va.

Loudon, which was formed in 1757 from Fairfax County, has seen the number of its residents grow from 169,599 to slightly more than 300,000 or 78 percent. While Loudon, which borders the Washington D.C. metro area, is not the fastest growing county of the decade, it is one of the wealthiest.

In 2007 Loudoun had the highest median household income in the United States at $107,207, beating out neighboring Fairfax County at $105,241. During the past decade, the two counties have passed the title back and forth between one another.

The county is named for John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudoun and Governor of Virginia from 1756 to 1759. Western settlement began in the 1720s and 1730s with Quakers, Scots-Irish, Germans and others moving south from Pennsylvania and Maryland and by English and African slaves moving upriver from the Tidewater.

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