According to the report, the 10-county region added 31,500 new residents between April 1 of 2009 and April 1 this year, a rate "dramatically slower" than historic levels. Since the recession began more than two years ago, the region has added approximately 56,000 people, the slowest growth period in the region since the 1950s.
The ARC attributes the slowdown to the national economy, which it blames for slim job opportunities and the difficulty homeowners are having selling their houses.
Cherokee did see its population increase during the one-year time period from 205,900 to 209,100, a total increase of 3,200. That total was the fourth highest in the region, behind Fulton (12,300), DeKalb (6,900) and Gwinnett (4,500).
The average yearly change in the county from 2000-09 was 6,720 people, according to the report. Buzz Ahrens, chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners and member of the ARC board, said that the percentage of growth for the county has been at about 1.5 percent the last two years.
"I think we have hit the bottom on the percentage," he said. "Or it may hold for another year. I don't think it will go down to one."
Ahrens said the growth could increase as a result of business opportunities in the county such as the Cherokee Commerce Center in southwest Cherokee and the Airport area. He said the Cherokee Office of Economic Development has a lot of prospects it is considering for the county.
"(Cherokee County) is a good place to be looking," he said. "That is a really positive direction."
ARC Board Member Dennis Burnette said some of the growth is natural, adding that Cherokee is having babies faster than people are dying. Outside of natural growth, he said, Cherokee is still attractive to outsiders.
"We have the most affordable housing within the closest commuting distance to major employment centers," he said. "Cherokee is still very attractive from a housing standpoint."
Waleska Mayor Doris Jones, a member of the ARC board, said she feels that the economy is turning around, which could free up some more job and housing opportunities.
"I have that feeling that when you go out, you see more people shopping," she said. "There is a different atmosphere now."