DeKalb County’s city of Chamblee and the city of Norcross in Gwinnett both made the top five on the list.
Zippia – a website that offers career information and advice – used census data to get the 2010 and 2014 populations of every U.S. city with a population between 5,000 and 100,000. The growth rate of each city in that time period was determined, and a list of the top 10 fastest growing small cities was created.
Norcross had a 72 percent growth in population between 2010 and 2014, coming in fourth place. Part of that increase in population was due to annexation over the years.
“We annexed in about 16,000 residents plus some businesses,” said Rudolph Smith, the city manager of Norcross.
Smith has lived in Norcross for 18 years and been its city manager since 2008. In that time, he has seen plenty of residential growth and redevelopment as old districts are updated.
“I think Norcross has done a very good job in planning growth and being smart about what type of growth they would like to have,” he said. “We have a lot going on that really makes it an attractive place for people to want to live.”
He attributes the many highways and interstates nearby with giving Norcross an edge.
"it’s just ideal to get to where you need to be," Smith said.
Over in DeKalb, the city of Chamblee was the fifth fastest growing small city between 2010 and 2014 with a 62 percent growth.
"There's a short answer: annexation," Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson said. "It has not really been an organic growth."
Thousands of residents were annexed into the city of Chamblee in the last six years, but Clarkson says it was often to clean up confusing districts.
"Some of them were just neighborhoods that were split by an arbitrary line," he said. "The last two times it’s been a result of those folks living on our borders asking to be annexed into the city."
According to Clarkson, these new residents only strengthened the sense of community in Chamblee, and he believes the city will continue to grow, both organically and through more annexation. He believes people want to move to cities like Chamblee because of their urban environment and access to transit. And annexation? Clarkson doesn't think unincorporated areas will last much longer.
"At some point I believe that all of DeKalb county will either be brought into a new city or annexed into an existing city," he said.