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Old 06-23-2009, 11:11 AM
Location: Chicago
6,365 posts, read 7,025,494 times
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I've had quite a bit of Iowa City experience and think it's a great place. I noticed that among Iowa cities, IC seems to be dominating the discussion on this board. In fact, other than DM, I (personally) have never read about any city with state-wide appeal the way IC has. And IC has appeal to out-of-staters as well who attended UI.

So here's a question:

certainly the jobs of the future will be more and more knowledge based. and clearly agriculture will be less of a component than it has historically been. and college towns where major research universities are located have seen impressive growth throughout the country with quality-of-life points that are most impressive.

Given the above (if you accept it), would it be reasonable to think that Iowa City's relative position (let's use population as the variable) is likely to go up? If you were to see an Iowa census for 2020, 2030, or 2040, would you assume that IC would be higher ranked than it is now? Could it, in fact, end up second to DM in population in state?

Realizing they are in more urban states, one can still note that Madison, Columbus, and Austin have each risen greatly with their combination state capital/flagship public university. I suspect that the u gives more to the growth than the state govt. So would IC experience it without it being the st capital?

And while Iowa City would appear to be the one that would really benefit from the university in its midst, could Ames expect to also see a rise, albeit not as dramatic as IC's?

What do you think, Iowans?
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:25 PM
Location: Des Moines
586 posts, read 1,983,582 times
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I think it's very plausible that over the next 10-15 years, the Iowa City metro will overtake the Cedar Valley area, but there's a pretty big leap to the next sized metro, Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids has nothing on Iowa City's growth, but it's been growing at about 8% over the last decade. I think the population of the entire metro will dip slightly as a result of the flood and the very industrial workforce which has taken a beating. If it ever did overtake Cedar Rapids well into the future (at which time it may very well be a consolidated metro area), there's not much room for it to go up any higher in the tally barring the drastically unforeseen.

From the 2008 Census Estimates:

Iowa Metro Totals:
Omaha-Council Bluffs: 837,925
Des Moines-West Des Moines: 556,230
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island: 377,626
Cedar Rapids: 255,452
Waterloo-Cedar Falls: 164,220
Iowa City: 149,437
Sioux City: 143,157
Dubuque: 92,724
Ames: 86,754
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:38 PM
Location: Marion, IA
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I dont think Iowa City will ever overtake CR. At least not before they become one MSA.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:21 PM
Location: Coralville/Ames, IA
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I believe Iowa City has already overtaken Waterloo at the most current census estimate. Of course, this is just an estimate, but it is probably true given that Waterloo has supposedly lost population. And since Coralville plus North Liberty is going to be about as big as Cedar Falls soon enough, I think Iowa City metro will easily move past Waterloo/CF.

But I agree with zz4guy, by the time Iowa City has grown that much, it will be combined with Cedar Rapids. In terms of city (not metro) population, I think third is the highest that Iowa City could ever possibly hope for, and it will be a while before we could beat Davenport, if we can. Sioux City is shrinking, but Davenport seems to be pretty stable at 99,000 or so.

Ames, meh. I just don't see Ames taking off growth-wise. It seems to be growing slowly and steadily, but it doesn't have as many companies (which obviously provide jobs) as Iowa City. IC has UIHC, ACT, Pearson, Proctor & Gamble, a branch of Rockwell Collins, etc...
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:10 AM
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Yeah, historically Iowa City and Ames were almost twins as far as population, but for whatever reason in the 80's through now Iowa City has stepped it up while Ames has fallen back from its previous growth.

Iowa City has strangely grown by 15%-20% almost every single decade going back to the early 20th century.

I think it will still keep up the healthy growth, but it's not really BOOMING like other areas of the country - which I actually think is a very GOOD thing. Boom towns create economic growth off growth, it's a cycle that keeps feeding itself. Once that growth stops, it can be very traumatizing for the community to keep itself propped up. Iowa City is growing a pace where it can put together the infrastructure, schools and support to properly keep itself healthy and under control.

I think it will certainly grow larger than the Waterloo area in the near future:

Black Hawk County:
1980: 137,961
2000: 128,012
2008: 128,347

Johnson County:
1980: 81,717
2000: 111,006
2008: 128,094

I don't think it will grow past Cedar Rapids though, because it's % might be lower, but Cedar Rapids has been growing in sheer number by a fairly healthy amount (espeically for Iowa).

Linn County:

1980: 169,775
2000: 191,702
2008: 208,574

I know their metro areas have other fairly slow growth or stagnant counties in them - but realisitically these counties contain the main urban areas of each city.
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:25 AM
11,289 posts, read 23,019,086 times
Reputation: 11164
Just looking, I think one of the most striking things about the state is this:

Growth of the Des Moines-Ames and Cedar Rapids-Iowa City areas since 1990:


Growth of the State of Iowa as a whole:


I think those two urban areas of the state will really intensify their hold as far as economics and population.

1990: 742,717; 26.7% of state population
2008: 1,047,873; 34.9% of state population
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:11 AM
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,808,045 times
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I agree. I don't see Iowa City ever topping Cedar Rapids in size. I think that as the two cities grow closer together (physically and perception-wise) I think the growth of the two cities will probably equalize to some extent. Cedar Rapids will lose population in the near term, but the city is overdue for a renaissance and I think the flood is just the kick in the pants it needs to remake itself.

I think the Iowa City area will definitely overtake the Cedar Valley, probably within 15 years unless Waterloo can straighten itself out.

The Iowa City/Ames thing is really interesting. When Iowa City really set itself apart from Ames seems to be the somewhere around the 80s. According to Wikipedia, both cities grew by about 40% in the 60s. Then in the 70s, Ames was growing faster than Iowa City for a time, but for some reason dropped down to about 3% growth by 1990, while Iowa City boomed to 20% growth. It's puzzling.

Last edited by SharpHawkeye; 06-24-2009 at 09:39 AM..
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