County’s population grows 26 percent since 2000

Mesa County’s population grew 26 percent between 2000 and 2010, a growth rate second in western Colorado only to Garfield County’s 29 percent.

The increase of 30,468 people brought the Mesa County population to 146,723, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday. Garfield County’s population grew by 12,598 people, to 56,389, the bureau reported.

Colorado grew by more than three-quarters of a million people, or 17 percent, over the decade, the census said.

Grand Junction, meanwhile, grew by 39 percent, or by 16,580 people, to 58,566.

The growth of Mesa County equates to an annual growth rate of about 2.6 percent, or about the same growth rate that has characterized the county over the last century, said Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I find it amazing that we are so consistent” in terms of population growth, Schwenke said. “When you’ve got a pattern that’s been going on for 100 years, I think we can put some validity to it.”

The fact Grand Junction’s growth outstripped that of the county as a whole shows that an effort to direct development to the city is bearing fruit, said Tim Moore, public works and planning director for Grand Junction.

The growth reflects not the increases to the city population as a result of annexation, but instead reflects the new development in which developers sought to have vacant land annexed by Grand Junction and then begin building houses, Moore said.

Grand Junction and Mesa County have sought to encourage development within the reach of its sewer system.

“I’m pleasantly surprised to see the policy is working as it’s intended to work” and encouraging growth in the urban area. Moore said.

Despite its rapid growth relative to the rest of the state, Mesa County remained outside the state’s 10 most populated counties, ending the decade in 11th place, just behind Pueblo County, which had a population of 159,063 in 2010, the bureau said.

Garfield was the state’s 12th most populated county.

Elsewhere in western Colorado, Montrose was the state’s 17th most populated county, up 7,844 people, or 23.5 percent, to 41,278.

The growth in Delta County left it the state’s 18th largest county, at 30,952, up 3,118 people, or 11.2 percent.

Caucasians made up the vast majority of Mesa County residents, totaling 131,000. Hispanic or Latino residents accounted for the second-largest ethnic group, nearly 20,000.

In Grand Junction, there were 51,986 Caucasians and 8,133 Hispanic or Latino residents.


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