Iowa’s capitol city is situated in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the midwest. Recently-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 65,000 residents moved into the Des Moines area in the past seven years and Iowa Department of Economic Development director Mike Tramontina calls that remarkable.
"That’s about like adding Ottumwa…and Mason City to the Des Moines metro area," Tramontina says. "That from a population of about 450,000 to grow 65,000 in seven years — the Des Moines metro area is growing very well."
Five counties are considered part of the Des Moines metropolitan area. Dallas County, which is next door to Des Moines, grew 40 percent from 2000 to 2007. The capitol city is centered in Polk County, which also saw significant growth. Since 2000, Polk County’s population has grown by 43,000 people. "That is a pretty substantial growth rate," according to Tramontina.
While the City of Des Moines lost about 6000 residents in the first seven years of the decade, Polk County grew because of the rapid expansion of its suburbs. The Census Bureau showed population growth in Pottawattamie and Mills Counties connected to the Omaha metro as well as in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor, but the Des Moines metro grew by 11 percent in the first years of the 21st century.
David Maahs of the Greater Des Moines Partnership says about 16 percent of the people who work in metro Des Moines work in some sort of financial services company. "But we’ve seen, you know, growth in the health care industry. We’ve got some major medical centers here that are adding more specialists and people to take care of our population here. You know the retail base and support services (have) grown as the population’s grown," Maahs says, adding manufacturing companies in the Des Moines area have "held their own" and employ about six percent of the people who are working in the Des Moines metro.
Maahs and Tramontina made their comments this week at a forum sponsored by www.iowapolitics.com .