Using Demographic Data to Plan for the Future
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By Town of Bennett
After an innovative look at data from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Demographers Office, the Town of Bennett is preparing for a “boomer boom.”
Having overall growth of 11 percent last year, and recently investing $22 million into infrastructure, Bennett is in the middle of a growth spurt. The town of fewer than 3,000 residents is working to develop a flexible and integrative capital asset inventory master plan that will evolve with the community.
To guide this transition, the Town’s development team worked with DOLA to forecast different population scenarios. These population scenarios will be used with the master planning document to accommodate the evidence-based projections in the demographic shift, as well as a range of possible growth scenarios. Often, towns rely on anecdotal evidence or local information when drafting population growth plans, but the objective data available through DOLA provided Bennett with a more specific perspective that revealed a pattern of steady growth in the 60-and-older population, as well as a bump in the 30- to 40-something populations.
“The capital asset inventory master plan for the Town is designed to be responsive,” says Rachel Summers, Bennett deputy town administrator.
One of the important aspects of this master plan was to be able to capture the holistic population growth as it relates to infrastructure and planning needs.
“While we, like the rest of the state, are preparing for an increase in our older population, Bennett is also poised to be welcoming an influx of 30- to 40-year-old residents, requiring our areas to be inviting and exciting for not just the older population but the younger one as well,” says Trish Stiles, Bennett town administrator.
Additionally, to accommodate the growth in retirees, Bennett is implementing plans with the help of and assessment from the Denver Regional Council of Governments’ “Boomer Bond” program. This includes amenities, wayfinding strategies, walkable areas, parks, and public lands that are inclusive for disabled residents — for what the Town now refers to as “Go-Go, Slow-Go, and No-Go” (catchphrases referring to different stages of retirement). Noting that, such amenities also can provide lifestyle options for a wide variety of demographics.
In addition, Bennett is using demographic and population forecasts to recruit industries to come to do business. Updating the industry recruiting materials to highlight the population forecasts and changing demographics has been key to attracting various types of new development. Equally important to Bennett is working with existing businesses to help prepare them for potential growth and an influx of demographic changes.