Where we are growing
The east Hamilton County suburb of Collegedale experienced the fastest rate of growth from 2010 to 2017 in the Chattanooga region, followed by Signal Mountain, Walden, Cleveland and Soddy Daisy, according to population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. Among the top area cities, Rossville, Etowah, Bridgeport, Spring City and Lookout Mountain, Ga. lost population since the 2010 census.
City // 2017 population // Growth since 2010
Chattanooga // 179,139 // 6.8 percent
Cleveland // 44,483 // 7.7 percent
Dalton // 33,748 // 1.9 percent
East Ridge // 21,118 // 0.6 percent
Cartersville, Ga. // 20,978 // 6.4 percent
Soddy-Daisy // 13,693 // 7.7 percent
Athens // 13,615 // 1.2 percent
Red Bank // 11,754 // 0.9 percent
Collegedale // 11,659 // 40.8 percent
Fort Oglethorpe // 9,831 // 6.1 percent
Signal Mountain // 8,560 // 13.3 percent
Dayton // 7,354 // 2.3 percent
LaFayette, Ga. // 7,121 // 1.1 percent
Dunlap // 5,0775 // 4 percent
Chatsworth, Ga. // 4,300 // 0.1 percent
Rossville, Ga. // 3,984 // - 2.9 percent
Etowah // 3,463 // - 0.8 percent
Jasper // 3,316 // 1.1 percent
Chickamauga // 3,144 // 1.4 percent
South Pittsburg // 3,039 // 1.6 percent
Walden // 2,118 // 11.6 percent
Bridgeport, Ala. // 2,312 // - 4.4 percent
Lookout Mountain, Tenn. // 1,872 // 2.3 percent
Spring City // 1,857 // - 6.3 percent
Lookout Mountain, Ga. // 1,569 // - 2.1 percent
Source: U.S. Bureau of Census population estimates
A century after Collegedale was founded as the site of Southern Adventist University (then Southern Junior College) in 1916, the college town has grown into one of the fastest growing cities in Tennessee.
The city of Collegedale, which was incorporated a half-century ago under a city manager government in 1968, has more than doubled its population since the turn of the century in 2000. The city grew by nearly 41 percent since the last official census count in 2010, according to new population estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Census.
Among Tennessee's 100 largest cities, Collegedale is second only to the Nashville suburb of Mount Juliet in its growth rate from 2010 to 2017. Collegedale added 3,377 more residents during the past seven years to nearly match the population of Chattanooga's second biggest suburb, Red Bank.
Collegedale grew as Southern Adventist College expanded into a full-scale university, McKee Foods became America's biggest privately owned bakery and the nearby Enterprise South Industrial Park landed two of the region's biggest employers — Volkswagen and Amazon, along with their suppliers.
"Collegedale has always been a great bedroom community, but we are becoming much more of a commercial and employment center as well," says Collegedale Mayor Katie Lamb said, who came to Collegedale to teach nursing at Southern 46 years ago when the city, true to its name, was a small college town that was home to McKee Baking Co., and only a few thousand year-round residents.
McKee now employs nearly 3,000 workers at its Collegedale headquarters and bakery facilities. Within a 10-minute drive from Collegedale, three of Hamilton County's other 20 biggest employers — Volkswagen, Amazon and U.S. Xpress Enterprises — collectively employ nearly 10,000 workers.
The increase in Collegedale's population also reflects the eastern tilt to the growth pattern of the Chattanooga region along Interstate 75 and the faster pace of growth in Chattanooga's newest suburbs. While older, closer suburbs to Chattanooga's urban core such as East Ridge, Red Bank and Rossville showed little or no growth in the past decade, Signal Mountain, Walden, Soddy-Daisy, Fort Oglethorpe and Cleveland all showed growth above the statewide rate of 5.8 percent from 2010 to 2017.
By contrast, municipalities east of Chattanooga, including South Pittsburg, Jasper and Bridgeport, Alabama, have grown very little in the past decade.
The latest population estimates show the city of Chattanooga also grew at an above-average rate, adding an average of 4.3 new residents every day since the last official population count in 2010. Chattanooga's growth pace was nearly 17 percent faster than Tennessee as a whole.