Study: Ascension fastest growing parish in state

Wade McIntyre

Ascension is the fastest growing parish in the state, according to estimates from the Louisiana Tech University College of Business.

Ascension Parish grew at a rate of 36.17 percent from the year 2000 to 2009, gaining 27,961 people, the Tech study said.

Louisiana on the whole grew just .52 during that time period.

Neighboring Livingston, another fast growing parish, grew by 33.74, and picked up 30,976 new residents.

“It’s not a surprise,” Ascension President Tommy Martinez said Friday. He said growth in Ascension is actually slowing down a bit at present, which is good because it will allow the parish to put a parishwide master plan into place and prepare for the next wave of growth.

“We have to get our infrastructure in place,” Martinez said.

Both Ascension and Livingston parishes actually gained more residents in the past nine years than East Baton Rouge Parish, according to the study.

“That was a surprise,” Martinez aid.

EBR came in with a 6.35 percent growth, and 26,199 new residents, according to study figures. The recently incorporated area of Central was not included in the Tech study.

Continuing its rebound from Hurricane Katrina, Orleans Parish grew at minus 34.38 percent, losing 166,610 residents.

Recovering from Hurricane Rita, Calcasieu Parish, home of hard hit Lake Charles, grew at 3.55 percent and brought in 6,512 residents, most in the Lake Charles and Sulphur areas.

The fastest growing incorporated area of Ascension was Gonzales, picking up 2,999 new residents and growing at 39.39 percent.

Gonzales grew from 7,613 people in 2000 to 10,612 in 2009.

“I figured we would go up,” Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said. “During my campaign I was walking down one street and about 90 percent of the residents were from St. Bernard.”

Gonzales growth is steady, Arceneaux said, and can be readily handled with existing infrastructure in sewer and water. “It’s the reason why people come in from time to time and want us to expand our boundaries.”

The Gonzales mayor said it was good to see continuing growth in his city that did not hinder the infrastructure already in place.

Donaldsonville picked up 72 residents while growing at a .95 percent rate. The historic city now has 7,685 inhabitants, according to the Tech study.