Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
A recent report conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach revealed that Jefferson County is one of a few Iowa counties that have grown between 2010-2016.
According to the report, Jefferson is one of 26 Iowa counties estimated to have risen in population since the 2010 Decennial Census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population of states, counties, and the country as a whole each year.
?Our economy is strong,? said Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy. ?At every sector, everything we do from a government standpoint to community and economic growth ? we understand that we have a natural strategic advantage. Our community is known of as an entrepreneurial community, but it?s also known as a very fun place to live.?
The report also revealed that Jefferson County is one of 11 counties that equaled or exceeded the state?s overall growth rate of 2.9 percent.
Additionally, Jefferson County is one of a handful of counties that exceeded 7 percent of growth. Along with Jefferson, those counties include Johnson, Polk, Story and Warren.
Besides Jefferson, which according to the report had a population of 18,090 in 2016, Dickinson is the only other rural county to exceed the state?s growth rate.
Dickinson showed a population of 17,243 in 2016, which had risen by 3.5 percent between 2010-2016.
?It?s a tourist area, where Lake Okoboji is,? Malloy said, explaining that it might have been the reason for the growth.
Although Malloy said the student population at Maharishi University of Management accounted for the growth spike in Jefferson County, it?s not the only reason that the county is seeing an upward trend.
?I think the university definitely plays a role, but we saw stagnant population for 20 years from 1990-2010. I think it?s the growth of employers, and the overall attractiveness as a place to start a business,? Malloy said, adding that the U.S. Census report also showed double-digit growth for those 25-40 years old.
?It does show that young people are staying and moving into the community,? Malloy said.
Josh Laraby, the executive director of the Fairfield Economic Development Association said he expected to see the growth trend continue.
?Most of the population growth you see from this report shows growth in the counties that have some of Iowa?s larger cities or the counties that are directly adjacent to those areas,? Laraby said.
Laraby said there are a few outlier counties showing growth that do not have a large metropolitan city, and mentioned that Jefferson County is one of the rural outliers that has risen to the top
?With some employers in the county growing their employee base and adding square footage to their firms, and housing developments in the city either underway or near coming online, I?d expect to see additional growth going forward.?