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Wednesday, 12 September 2007 00:00

What Sylva is and isn’t: you be the judge

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Buxton, a consulting firm that analyzes a community’s demographics, has 60 some population classes that it uses to describe the population. The Jackson County Economic Development Commission disagrees with how the firm described the Sylva area. The analysis seems to leave out the tourism base, the university and the large second-home and resort community population — all factors that don’t show up at first blush by looking at basic census information.

Here are the top categories Buxton used to describe Sylva:

• Young and Rustic. 24 percent of the population. These are young and restless singles that tend to be lower income, high school educated only, living in “tiny” apartments and filling service industry jobs with modest incomes.

• Simple Pleasures. 7 percent of the population. Lower-middle class retirees living in modest homes, high school educated, and held blue-collar jobs during their earlier years.

• Golden Ponds. 6.2 percent of the population. Retirees described as “downscale.” High school educated and on an income $25,000 a year or less, following a sedentary lifestyle that includes watching TV and bingo.

• Old Milltowns. 5.9 percent of the population. Retirees also described as “downscale,” living in pre-1960s homes and apartments, but their lifestyle includes gardening, sewing and socializing at veterans clubs.

• Crossroads Villagers. 6.1 percent of the population. Middle-aged, blue collar couples and families in rural communities. They are high-school educated only, lower-middle income, a quarter live in mobile homes and have an “air of self reliance” supplementing their groceries through fishing, gardening and hunting.

• Backcountry folks. 5.9 percent of the population. Described as a “long way from economic paradise,” these are poor people over 55 living in manufactured housing that are a “throwback to an earlier era.”

• Bedrock America. 5.5 percent of the population. Young, economically challenged families in small, isolated towns with modest educations, blue-collar jobs struggling to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, this is what Jackson County isn’t, according to Buxton. These are population classes Buxton has in its repertoire but did not use to describe any of Jackson’s population.

• Country Squires. These are wealthy residents from ex-urban America that live in Country Squires, an oasis for affluent baby boomers who have fled the city for the charms of small-town living. In their bucolic communities noted for their recently built homes on sprawling properties, they live in six-figure comfort.

• Bohemian mix. Young, liberal and progressive, prone to laptops and microbrews.

• Greenbelt sports. These are middle-class, college-educated people with or without children who have a high rate of outdoor activities such as canoeing, backpacking, boating and mountain biking.

• New Empty Nests. These are upscale, college-educated older Americans with no interest in a rest-home retirement.

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