Anyone who lived in New Braunfels and Comal County anytime in the last decade could tell the area was experiencing explosive population growth.
But it wasn’t until August of this year that residents got the actual statistics on how much the area grew during the second decade of the 21st century.
According to 2020 Census data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, population figures for New Braunfels and Comal County jumped 56.6% and 48.9%, respectively, over the last 10 years.
New Braunfels population grew by 32,663 to 90,403 from the 2010 count of 57,740. Comal County’s population grew by 53,029 from 108,472 in 2010 to 161,501 people.
The census, which represents where people lived as of April 1, 2020, provides data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to deliver daily services, products and support for the community.
State officials also use the once-a-decade results to realign congressional and state legislative districts, taking into account population shifts since the previous census.
Mayor Rusty Brockman told the Herald Zeitung in an August story that the numbers present a continuing challenge to city leaders to keep up with the fast pace of growth.
“I think we all need to continue to do what Mayor (Barron) Casteel and councils did over the last six or seven years, and that’s to include the community in the important decisions that affect the community,” Brockman said. “We’re going to continue involving the citizens. We’re going to continue having meetings and going out into the community, as well as in the districts and workshops here at city hall to plan. That’s one of the key pieces to how everyone works together.”
The increase in population means more development, more infrastructure, more roads and more traffic. But it also means more federal funding for hospitals, public safety, schools, roads and other resources based on the census data.
New Braunfels residents approved multi-million dollar bond programs in 2013 and 2019, with another in the planning stages for 2023 to keep up with growth.
Brockman added that he doesn’t see the growth stopping anytime soon.
“People want to live here because of the quality of life,” he said. “I think people like being part of a community that has such good environmental activities that bring a lot of outdoor recreation. Not only are they moving here for jobs but they’re moving here to retire and they’re moving here because they like the Hill Country.”
Jonathan Packer, president and CEO of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, said the 2020 results were not surprising.
“This confirms what a lot of us are seeing — that New Braunfels is an incredibly desirable place to live in and also a community that is very welcoming,” Packer said. “That’s reflected in these numbers. This reconciles with other things we’ve seen in the community, such as homes built, roads built and schools making capacity decisions.
The 2020 numbers cement New Braunfels’ status as one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the country. It’s the second consecutive census that saw the city grow by more than 50%.
“We had a committee that worked very hard to get as much participation in the census as we could get,” said Michael Meek, who chaired the New Braunfels Complete Count Committee, which included several county and city representatives, New Braunfels Utilities, the McKenna Foundation, various volunteer organizations and the Ministerial Alliance. “That’s great news because the more accurate the count for New Braunfels and Comal County means the maximum amount of federal dollars to be returned here. From that standpoint, it’s good for health care, transportation needs and economic development.”
Guadalupe County, which includes a portion of the city of New Braunfels, also saw substantial growth. The population grew by 41,173 people to 172,706, up 31.3% from the 2010 count of 131,533.