Knoxville metropolitan area expands

6:18 PM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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The Office of Management and Budget recently added four counties to the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area.

A growing commuter population in East Tennessee is driving the expansion of the metropolitan area.

The change comes from the federal government and the Office of Management and Budget in Washington D.C. (OMB).

OMB recently added four counties to the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The metropolitan area used to consist of the following counties: Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union.

The four recently added counties include: Campbell, Grainger, Morgan, and Roane.

"Metropolitan Statistical Areas are defined based upon the economic connections between counties. The stronger those connections, the more likely a county will be included in a MSA," said Matt Murray, director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at The University of Tennessee.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, about 24,000 people commute into Anderson County every day.

"We are close to an interstate exit, which is huge for our county. We draw those people from Scott and Campbell County that get off at Exit 122 and go to work here in Clinton. It's the county seat and we're real proud of it," said Jackie Nichols, Anderson County Chamber of Commerce president.

Besides drawing in commuters to Oak Ridge's Y-12 National Security Complex, Anderson County's four industrial parks bring in commuters as well.

"There are not as many opportunities in a lot of your northern rural counties, along the Tennessee/Kentucky border, for employment. So really Clinton is one of the closest places for high paying industrial jobs," said Tim Thompson, president of Anderson County Economic Development Association.

Murray went on to say, "Jobs have been very difficult to find and difficult to keep in recent years. So I think people are much more willing to drive longer distances."

According to the U.S. Census 2012 estimates, Knoxville's metropolitan area holds more than 700,000 people.

With the four additional counties, that number is now closer to 848,000.

The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce recently hired an employee who will focus on retail development within the county.

They expect these new numbers will help draw more business to the area.

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