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by Paul Leakan
(June 16)Clarksburg may get that shrinking feeling.
Clarksburg's estimated 1998 population, 17,114, will dip to 16,666 in five years, according to the city's latest market and retail profile reports.
That means there also may be an estimated 1,393 fewer people in Clarksburg since the U.S. Census Bureau's 1990 tally of 18,059.
Those numbers, however, can be highly deceiving, according to Jeff Mikorski, Clarksburg director of economic and community development.
"The projections were based on past data -- nothing in the future," Mikorski said. "They look at the past few years for the age of the population, the birth rate and the death rate (in the area). They're not as accurate as they could be because they don't take into account development and other things that are going on."
The reports were compiled by Information Decision Systems in California for a cost of $70. They include housing, income, age, race, sex, education, employment, transportation and spending estimates for Clarksburg, Harrison County and aggregate counties in West Virginia for the year 2003.
The information is used as a tool for identifying trends and projections, which helps with the city's planning, Mikorski said.
"Those are the types of information we want to keep track of, even though those projections aren't made of stone," he said. "It's a good idea to see what kind of numbers we can get. It gives us an indicator that we didn't have before.
"If we do see things that are out of the ordinary, we can investigate them."
The Census Bureau provides detailed information about the city every 10 years, Mikorski said. In between that span, the bureau focuses its data on the county level.
The city, however, has purchased the reports for the past three years because it wanted to look at the trends in Clarksburg every year instead of having to wait for 10 years, he said.
And the results can be used in many ways, Mikorski said.
For example, the data indicates that Clarksburg has $203 million of total retail sales yearly.
"The amount of money available to businesses in this area, based on the data, is quite a large amount of money," he said. "It shows that the area can support the businesses in the area, and continue to (do so)."
The city is also targeting information about areas around Harrison County, Mikorski said, because the city does a lot of business with surrounding counties.
"That's our big markets for business," he said. "A large portion of shoppers, or people requesting services, do come out of the other counties as well."
The results are even used for recruiting potential businesses.
"With this information I can call a company or business and say: 'This is the total spending money,'" Mikorski said. "It gives them a good idea of the spending in the area."
The city's departmental leaders will also receive the results to gauge any trends that may occur in their field.