Outer ring cities were people magnets in the 2000s

8:26 PM, Apr 27, 2011   |    comments
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HUDSON, Wis. -- Saint Croix County's population grew by 34 percent in the first decade of the 21st century, making the western Wisconsin area a poster child for a demographic trend in the United States.

The 2010 Census revealed that the faster growing areas were core metropolitan areas and outer ring suburbs and exurbs, areas beyond the suburbs.  First ring suburbs and rural areas, on the other hand, didn't fare as well.

"It's a great place to raise a family," Alan Burchill, the Mayor of Hudson, told KARE. "I think a lot of young families come here, they locate here because of the schools."

Hudson, the county seat of St. Croix County, grew 36 percent during the decade, rising from 8,778 in the 2000 census to 11,900 in the 2010 head count.  Burchill said the community almost sells itself.

"We have an excellent downtown with a small town America feel and beautiful parks and yet we're really close to the metro area."

The historic city along the St. Croix River is less than 20 miles away from downtown St. Paul.  In fact, at least 50 percent of the working people in St. Croix County commute to Minnesota to earn a living.

He doubted that instability of fuel prices would make much of a dent in residential growth. And the mayor cited economic development efforts underway to generate more homegrown jobs on the Wisconsin side of the line.

"We've had good commercial growth here," he said, "We've had more calls in the last two months than we did in the last two years, looking for industrial spots, looking to expand."

Newest Citizen

St. Croix County's newest citizen, Carly Ann Rassbach, was born Wednesday morning at Hudson Hospital.  She's part of a baby boom at that hospital, which saw a record 532 births in 2010 and is already on pace to exceed that mark this year.

"They've treated me great here," new mom Beth Rassbach told KARE, as she held her seven and a half pound newborn girl.

And, while people don't get to pick where they're their born, Carly Ann's parents are a perfect example of why so many families choose to live in the exurbs.

Beth and Brandon Rassbach wanted to stay in western Wisconsin, but they also wanted to be close enough to his construction job in the Twin Cities.

"My husband and I moved to Baldwin six years ago and we've loved it ever since," Beth said.

"We definitely chose to live in Wisconsin for the pricing, and we love the communities, it's great. It works out. And it's a perfect place to raise a family."

Several other Twin Cities outlying counties also made the lists of the nation's fastest growing counties in the 2010 Census, including Chisago, Sherburne and Wright Counties. Significant growth was also seen in Isanti County and Pierce County, Wis.

They defied a national trend of the last decade, during which population shifted to the south and west.  And, demographers note, the exurban growth boom would've been even more pronounced if not for the housing slump and the recession.

In fact, most of the surge in the outer rings took place in the first half of the decade, from 2000 to 2005, before the economy and housing crash put the suburbanizing trend in pause mode.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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