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Census shows big growth

Finally, 10,000.

Alexandria's official population has topped the 10,000 mark - a goal that city leaders have been pursuing for decades. It can help the city get more state and federal aid and add to its economic clout by appearing on the "radar" for companies looking for the right demographic mix to support their business.

According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, Alexandria's population in 2010 was 11,070 - a 25.5 percent jump from the 1990 census of 8,820.

As impressive as the growth is, city leaders intend to challenge the numbers. They think the population is significantly larger and point to an April 2009 projection from the state demographer's office that pegged Alexandria's population at 12,441.

"We think that's more accurate," said Alexandria City Planner Mike Weber when contacted by the newspaper on Monday. "We believe there's an undercount involved here."

The city plans to file a "Count Question Resolution" as soon as the process allows it (June 1).

Census errors can happen if a wrong geographic boundary or housing coding unit is used, Weber said. He said the city will ask the Census Bureau to investigate whether some of the city's population counts were mistakenly thrown out as duplicates.

Even though Alexandria's official census number isn't as high as city leaders hoped, they still view it as an impressive sign of growth.

"We're excited about our population," Weber said. "Anybody who lives here knows our population has certainly expanded quite a bit in our service area, which includes not just the city but the urbanization of our townships as well."

Weber added that exceeding 11,000 and growing by 25.5 percent in just 10 years are a telling indication of how vibrant the Alexandria area is.

"We're one of the few communities, not just cities, but counties and townships as well, that are experiencing that kind of growth," he said.

Out of the 36 biggest cities in the state - those with populations of 20,000 or more - only five grew at a faster pace than Alexandria and they're all in the metro area. They include Shakopee (80.3 percent increase), Woodbury (33.4 percent), Lakeville (29.7 percent), Savage (27.4 percent) and Blaine (27 percent).

The census revealed that small towns in Douglas County are doing just fine, population-wise.

The city of Carlos grew 53 percent, from 329 in 2000 to 502 in 2010.

Miltona experienced a similar spurt. Its population increased 52 percent, from 279 in 2000 to 424 in 2010.

Osakis also grew by leaps and bounds. Its 2010 population is 1,740 - 25 percent more than the 1,392 count in 2000.

Of the 11 incorporated cities in Douglas County, only two experienced population declines from 2000 to 2010 - Forada dipped from 197 to 185, and Millerville's census count decreased from 115 to 106.

Here are the new census numbers for three other towns just outside the county: Glenwood - 2,564, Parkers Prairie - 1,011 and Hoffman - 681.

As a whole, Douglas County's population increased from 32,821 to 36,009 - a jump of nearly 10 percent. Of the 87 counties in Minnesota, Douglas County was the 24th fastest growing county in the past decade.

The population dropped in 37 counties in the state.

Minnesota's overall population increased 7.8 percent to just over 5.3 million.

Challenging the numbers

Local governments that think their population was under-counted in the 2010 Census, such as Alexandria, can challenge the results by filing a Count Question Resolution.

If a challenge results in a population change, the U.S. Census Bureau will issue official revised counts to the affected governments. These changes can be used by the governments for future programs that require official 2010 Census data. They will also be used to calculate subsequent population estimates for that community.

Following the 2000 Census, potential count problems were identified for 1,180 out of 39,000 jurisdictions - less than 3 percent of all governmental jurisdictions across the nation. The final 2000 CQR corrections resulted in a net gain in population of about 2,700 people. This amounts to about 1/1000th of 1 percent of the nation's population of 281 million people counted in the 2000 Census.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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