Scott Co. Enjoys Population Boost Even as Other QCA Counties See - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Scott Co. Enjoys Population Boost Even as Other QCA Counties See Decline

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Call it a sign of the times: As the younger generation increasingly search out jobs in urban settings, most counties in Iowa and Illinois are seeing their populations decline.

Scott County is a major exception, though. In fact, between 2011 and 2012, it saw one of the biggest population increases in Iowa.

That's according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The estimates show that 65 of Iowa's 99 counties saw their populations decrease from 2011 to 2012. In Illinois, 58 of the state's 102 counties saw more deaths than births in that time.

That trend of shrinking numbers holds true for most of our area.

As you can see from the table above, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, all but Rock Island County saw some level of decline.

A handful of our counties on the Iowa side saw populations increase modestly. But, it's Scott County leading the way in growth.

"It takes the work of many organizations and many people doing many different things in a community to make it grow," Larry Minard, Scott County Board of Supervisors Chairman, said.

It is work Minard says is really paying off.

"It's a good thing for many reasons," he explained.

Not least of those reasons: a larger tax base to share the load. That helps keep property taxes lower.

What's more - a growing population is a very strong indicator of a growing, prospering economy.

"I think a lot of our growth has come because we are the heart of a very strong agricultural economy and we've been doing really well in the manufacturing sector," said Tara Barney, President and CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, "So we've had extraordinary growth in manufacturing over the last couple of years, and there's a high alignment there."

No matter what the industry, job growth fuels population growth, which fuels growth in the economy.

"It's usually the jobs that are encouraging the population to come," Barney explained. "And as the population comes and gets a job, they spend money on housing, and on groceries, and on movies, and on cars, and all those things that make our economy work."

That population growth - even at a modest rate - builds on itself in a positive cycle. The jobs attract people, who spend their money and in turn create more jobs, attracting more people.

"This is a nice up tick. Would we like to see an even bigger up tick? Sure!" Barney said.

But Scott County leaders say modest growth has its upside, too. County services - from public safety to sanitation and beyond - have been able to keep pace with the growing demand.

"We have a lot of pieces in place that should encourage growth in this area," Minard said.

The challenge now - keeping it up in the future.