The 2020 Census numbers are in and, on the surface, the results for the nation seem to be right on line with expectations. Metropolitan populations outgrew rural areas. The Midwest and central U.S. saw a slight decline in population compared to the coasts. And the average age of those polled ticked up just a bit over the 2010 census. But when you take a closer look, especially at Iowa and south-central Iowa, you start to see a slight anomaly. Clarke County and the City of Osceola not only increased in population, they outpaced neighboring communities while also exceeding overall state growth numbers.
In 2010, census numbers showed the city of Osceola’s population at 4,927. In 2020, growth took the city to 5,415, a 6.4% jump over the previous data. The state of Iowa’s cumulative growth percentage from 2010 to 2020 was 6.3%. Osceola’s growth was in contrast to other cities throughout south-central Iowa. Creston, Chariton, Leon, and Lamoni showed population reductions of -1.5%, -3%, -7.8%, and -15.3% respectively.
“We’re blessed with advantages other southern Iowa cities just don’t have,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the Clarke County Development Corporation. “Our manufacturing base remains strong, even through the pandemic. That’s meant more jobs, higher demand for workforce housing, and more amenities for growing families.”
Other factors that contribute to the areas’ growth include a population increase in unincorporated areas of the county – farmland, acreages, etc. – the ease of access to the metro via interstate and highway connections as well as a constant growth mindset from the economic development community.
The City of Osceola reached a significant milestone from the last decade’s growth. By reaching and exceeding the 5,000 mark in population, Federal and State road and street funding opportunities will be locked in at considerably higher per-capita levels than the previous decade.
“This is exciting progress,” said Ty Wheeler, City Administrator for the City of Osceola. “Osceola has hovered just below that 5,000 mark for quite a while. Breaking through that barrier means more development opportunities for the entire community.”
With increased funding comes better streets and roads, but also incentivizes developers to continue building to meet the demand. Wheeler was quick to point out that without the increase in workforce housing as well as beautiful, new homes being built at Arbor Valley, Harkin Hills, the new Autumn Ridge area and others, local businesses who depend on a strong workforce would have to recruit elsewhere.
“The 2020 census proves our focus on long-term growth is working,” said Wheeler. “The goal for the next 10 years will be capitalizing on our momentum and building a brighter future for everyone.”