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Ridgefield the fastest-growing city in Washington

Expert: It's evidence that smaller U.S. towns are growing

By , Columbian Political Writer
Published:
4 Photos
New construction in Ridgefield near Heron Drive from the air on Wednesday September 10, 2014.
New construction in Ridgefield near Heron Drive from the air on Wednesday September 10, 2014. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Ridgefield is the fastest-growing city in the state, adding about 500 new residents between July 2013 and July 2014, according to new population estimates unveiled Thursday.

The city experienced an estimated 9 percent population growth, putting its population at about 6,123 people as of July 1, 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

It’s old news to Mayor Ron Onslow, who on Thursday was touring local schools to figure out what to do about capacity issues.

“We’re exploding,” he said.

The reasons, the mayor said, are straightforward.

“We have land out here; land for jobs, land for housing,” he said, and then listed Ridgefield’s other attributes such as “real neighborhoods, with parks and trails.”

Scott Bailey, a regional economist for the Washington Employment Security Department, pointed out, of course, small towns generally have a faster growth rate than larger towns because it doesn’t take many people to boost the percentage.

“Going back four years, Ridgefield has had a rapid population growth,” Bailey said. “I would guess it has to do with available land and affordable housing.”

Battle Ground also made the top 10 list for fastest growth rate among cities in Washington, going from an estimated 18,301 residents in July of 2013 to 18,930 in July of 2014.

Sarah Gibb, a statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau, recently co-wrote a post that notes smaller towns around America are growing, despite a belief that small-town America is shrinking.

“Between Census Day (April 1, 2010) and July 1, 2014, the populations of small places grew by 293,000 (1 percent), with a corresponding growth in their housing stock of 1 percent as well,” Gibb wrote.

Fewer Americans live in small towns compared with 50 years ago, Gibb wrote, but many small towns are now enjoying a bump in population.

“Many people are nostalgic for “small town” America, where everyday life was commonly organized around a bustling Main Street lined with small shops and restaurants,” she wrote.

With a quaint downtown district, Ridgefield could be considered one of those places.

Meanwhile, Vancouver continues to grow, too. More than 2,000 new people decided to call Vancouver home, according to the estimates.

The city’s population grew 1.3 percent to an estimated 169,294 on July 1, 2014.

Portland saw a jump a growth of 1.6 percent, with 9,840 new residents over the yearlong period.

New York City remains the nation’s largest and had the most new residents, with 52,700 people added during the year ending July 1, 2014.

San Jose, Calif., broke the 1 million mark last year, becoming the 10th largest city in the country. The nation’s 10 largest cities all have more than 1 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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