Local Economy, Population Grow

The economy, and population in Salina and Saline County is showing positive growth.

According to the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, the Saline County economy grew by 12.4 percent from 2020 to 2021, and the city of Salina had its first net growth in population since 2012.

The economic growth equates to a record high of over $3 billion total. This change amounts to an addition of $341 million to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); a number that surpasses the highest growth of recent record in 2017 when the GDP increased by 7.3 percent or $116 million.

“We can’t stress enough what a huge win this is for our growth and overall economic health,” Renee Duxler, Salina Area Chamber Interim President & CEO said, “It truly speaks to the public and private partnerships and investments that Salina and Saline County have made over the last few years, and the dedication of community and business leaders working toward a shared vision for progress.”

While other Kansas counties saw growth, comparatively Saline County saw the highest percentage change in growth. Shawnee County (Topeka) GDP went up 10.2 percent, Sedgwick County (Wichita) increased by 9.1 percent, Riley County (Manhattan) by 8.7 percent, and Reno County (Hutchinson) by 8.6 percent. Saline County’s economy did contract in 2020 by 1.1 percent during the height of business shutdowns, after seeing incremental gains in 2018 and 2019 of 3.3 percent and 2.1 percent growth, respectively. The drastic growth seems to be indicative of high demands for goods and services, including housing and retail trade. Manufacturing, real estate, health care, and retail trade make up over 55 percent of the GDP for the County.

But while incremental growth was seen in all of these top industries, it was the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation industry that saw the most astonishing increase, with a jump of 72.5 percent— from $8 million to $13.8 million– between 2020 to 2021. The highest annual impact for this industry on the GDP prior was $9.9 million total in 2014, and its never increased by more than $500,000 year-over-year.

“This is exciting news, particularly as it demonstrates how our arts, entertainment and recreation sector is
recovering from the pandemic,” Sylvia Rice, Director of Visit Salina said, “Coupled with the significant
investments to enhance recreational facilities and revitalize downtown, Salina/Saline County is promoted
as a destination and is drawing visitors who bring new dollars to the area. This is all generating very
healthy economic growth.”

Other positive news for the city of Salina includes the first net growth in population since 2012. While a
nominal increase of 276 people from 2020-2021, it marks the first time Salina hasn’t lost population in
almost a decade.

“We’re hopeful that this is marking a change in the tide,” Duxler said, “I think we’re all feeling proud about
the energy and the partnership and the diligent work that has been put into Salina these last few years. It’s
great to have some hard data that tells us we’re moving in the right direction.”

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data provided is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and compiled by
Chmura Economics & Analytics. Population data is from the Kansas Division of the Budget, Certified
Population Data.