Community Development News

Cole County, Jefferson City experience slow growth
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2014 5:00 pm
By: Mark Mehmert

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Not to get too philosophical, but let's assume that the answer actually may be--both! 

Why both?  Well, it's similar to the conundrum which faces the community and economic development profession.   Does our population grow because people find the area attractive and decide they want to live here?  Or does our population grow because there are career opportunities available? 

The answer actually IS both.  It's great to have lots of amenities such as greenway trails, multiple theatre groups, a beautiful downtown and lots of entertainment options.  Those items attract folks to our area.  However, without career opportunities, it can be tough to get those folks to live here.

Conversely, if career opportunities are abundant but people are less-than-enthralled because they don't find our area attractive, they won't stay.  So growing our population is really about both sides of the economic development coin.  That's why the Chamber works to help our current businesses expand, markets our area to new businesses, and partners with other entities to improve our quality of life. 

Chamber staff is working daily with two large challenges: a rather tepid national economy, and our major employer (state government) is shrinking.  Despite these tough conditions, population growth is still occurring.

Keep this in mind as we examine the population estimates for 2013 at the state, county and municipal levels, which were recently released by the US Census Bureau. 

Statewide, over the last 10 years Missouri's population grew at a 5% clip, averaging about half a percent over each year during the period.  The US as a whole grew 7.9% during the period.  Cole County grew by 6.3% during the period, and Jefferson City grew by 9.8%. 

If we look at the last 4 years (from 2010 to 2013), the data indicates population growth slowed substantially.  Missouri's population grew .8% during the period, while the US  grew 2.2%.  Cole County kept pace with the state, growing .8%, while Jefferson City increase .4%. 

It should be noted that during this same period, 67 of Missouri's 114 counties (about 59%) actually lost population.  

The past year has been a time of meager population growth for the counties which make up the Jefferson City MSA: Callaway, Cole, Moniteau and Osage counties.

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