“Ready State” Won’t Leave You Blue

By | December 1st, 2006

Candidates found plenty to blab about in those torturous days leading up to last month’s elections. But no one jumped on what I thought was really big news that was also perfect for political pronouncements and pontificating.

Just two weeks before Election Day, the United States’ population reached 300 million. Even more surprising, as articles marking the milestone pointed out, was the projection that we’ll hit 400 million in 2040.

This really snuck up on me; I have to admit I didn’t know the country had gotten that big so fast. I still have 230 million embedded in my brain from when?I memorized it in school (long, long ago). I also had no idea the pace of future population growth was heating up to an even higher degree.

When the country hit 200 million in 1967, President Johnson made a speech to rousing cheers. But President Bush—and other politicians, current or aspiring—didn’t do, or say, anything to note the 300 million mark, much less make an issue of it. That’s because we’re now growing as much through immigration as from births—a political hot potato no one wants to touch.

But as USA Today noted, growth of this magnitude is more of an opportunity for the U.S. than a problem, basically because we’re at least still growing at a healthy rate, while many other countries are stagnant. And compared to places like Japan, the United Kingdom?and China, we’re still relatively uncrowded.

As our State of the Industry report points out (“Staking Out Your Territory,” pg. 12), the population explosion has many implications for clubs and resorts, too—almost all of which appear to be good. As people keep pouring into the country, we should see a breakup of what’s now a lopsided imbalance between metroplexes choked by sprawl, and huge expanses of barely populated areas. This will create two types of opportunity for clubs: development and growth in the uncrowded areas, where more people are now more likely to migrate, and increased opportunities in already swelling regions where people will look for the “get away from it all” relief our properties can provide.

Another plus: If immigration (primarily legal, presumably) is going to fuel much of this projected growth, it only stands to help everyone find solutions to their labor challenges.

And finally, if you chose this business primarily because you like doing nice things for people, you should also be happy, simply because there are now going to be a heck of a lot more of them around.

So even if politicians didn’t choose to talk (for once) about a genuinely historic occasion, I think we should not only acknowledge it, but embrace it. No matter what your political leaning, if you’re properly prepared to greet the new arrivals, it should only lead to happy returns.


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