May 22, 2019 Community news from the prairie to the lakes  
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  Is county really fourth fastest growing in state?
  by C. A. RAY, Editor

A couple of weeks ago, the Echo Press newspaper had a front page article extolling Douglas County as one of the fastest growing counties in Minnesota. While that is no surprise to anyone going shopping in Alexandria lately, the same article, using U.S. Census Bureau data comparing the population from 2017 to 2018, stated that Grant County is the fourth fastest growing county in Minnesota, That caused some excitement, until you realize that adding 50 senior citizens to a new assisted living facility would be a significant population increase in a county with just over 5,000 citizens.

Actually, according to the State Demographers Office, Grant County towns are among the slowest growing — or fastest shrinking — towns, in Minnesota. Among the 906 municipalities in Minnesota, Wendell is ranked 48th slowest growing at a -31.64 percent growth rate since 2000. That’s minus 31.64 percent! Norcross is the state’s 136th slowest growing town with a growth rate of -15.25 percent since 2000. Elbow Lake is ranked 235th slowest growing at -6.98 percent, Barrett is ranked 288th slowest at -4.23 percent, and Herman, ranked 380th, shows zero percentage growth, or population loss for that matter, since 2000.

Some towns, such as Ashby and Hoffman, show minuscule population gains since 2000. Ashby, ranked 388th slowest growing, grew by 0.21 percent, and Hoffman, ranked 434th slowest growing town in Minnesota, is booming, relatively, with its population growing by 2.08 percent since 2000.

Comparatively, Kensington, is growing by 5.64 percent and is the 511th slowest growing town in Minnesota.

Alexandria, by the way, is the 761st slowest growing town, or the 133rd fastest growing at 29.99 percent since 2000.

We may be shrinking in population, but our population is well-educated. Grant County towns are among the better educated cities in the state. In fact, tiny, shrinking Norcross is ranked the 43rd most educated town in the state, with the average level of education at the 14.65 grade level. That means the average of the 42 citizens in Norcross has a high school diploma and over two and one half years of higher education.

Barrett is ranked 270th in education, with the average grade level of 13.35. Kensington, not in Grant County but part of the West Central Area School District, is ranked 418th with an average grade level of 13.00.

Next comes Elbow Lake, ranked 502 out of 904, with an average grade level of 12.84.

Ashby’s 485 people have an average grade level of 12.64, making it the 612th most educated town in Minnesota.

Hoffman, ranked 787, has an average grade level of 12.20.

And Wendell, suffering from population loss, is ranked at 838th, with its 154 citizens acquiring an average grade level of 11.86.

But don’t despair. The town of Trail, population 40, in north central Minnesota, has the lowest average grade level in Minnesota, at 10.14.

And the smartest town in Minnesota? That would be North Oaks, a northern suburb of St. Paul. Its 4,318 citizens average a college degree education or better, with a grade level of 16.44.

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Website last updated:
May 21, 2019