Saturday, July 12, 2008

Grand Forks growth compared with Fargo

Can it be? Is it possible? Grand Forks gained more people and grew at a rate more than twice that of Fargo's growth rate between the years 2000-2007?

It's true.

Sure, plenty of people made fun of the story that ran in the Grand Forks Herald this past week proclaiming that Grand Forks gained 70 people last year. Big deal, huh? However, look beyond last year's figures to the past decade worth of figures and the numbers are much more interesting.

From 2000-2007, Fargo gained 2,061 people for a growth rate of 2.3% while Grand Forks gained 2,419 people for a rate of 4.9%. (Fargo Forum article)

We do have to keep in mind that these numbers come from the Census Bureau which many people feel has a history of undercounting local populations. Also, obviously populations are in constant shift and a few years worth of data don't necessarily mean that much.

However, there is something that I find very interesting about these numbers. These numbers cover a period when Fargo was considered to be the economic powerhouse of the region and during the same time when Grand Forks was a city recovering from the region's worst natural disaster in modern history and major reductions at the Air Force base which is so integral to the city's economy.

Under those circumstances, which city do you think would be the logical leader in growth? I just find it very interesting that Grand Forks not only held its own, but beat Fargo in both growth rate and number of new residents.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

One really needs to consider the growth rate of not only the major city, but the adjoining cities. West Fargo has grown by 50% since the last census, and it as well as Harwood, Reile's Acres and Horace, and has Fargo bsically hemmed in.

Grand Forks' growth is reasonable, but still not to the FM level.

ndborn said...

Does anyone know where to find data on Bismarck versus GF revenues. I just can't help but wonder why when they are comparable size, but Bismarck has so much more to offer it's residents in terms of parks and leisure (3 outdoor pools w/ waves and slides, zoo, amusement park, mini golf, golf dome, paintball parks, outdoor waterpark, etc.). I guess I have always assumed they must have more money than GF, since I can't help but wonder why we don't have at least some of those activities here. I sure miss Bismarck :( I loved the mini-basketball take off from mini-golf.

Anonymous said...

Grand Forks is a smaller city and in closer proximity to Fargo. It's amazing the people that commute from GF to Fargo or vice versa. Bismarck does not have that, since they are more isolated and are the big dog in their area.

ndborn said...

anonymous @ 10:54.
GF WAS larger than Bismarck until recently, yet Bismarck has had those entertainment options for a long time. So the size argument just doesn't seem to explain it.
Also, I do understand that we are closer to Fargo and Bismarck's only real competition is Minot, but there are also way more people in the eastern part of the state and also MN that travel to GF to shop (not to mention Canadians!), I also understand that Bismarck has the government offices, but they have no major university so those two probably cancel each other out.

Having lived in both cities, I've just always frustratingly wondered why GF doesn't have a few of those family activities to offer ... is it the way GF manages their money or is it a revenue difference that the cities bring in?

Just curious if anyone has any insight on this.

Anonymous said...

Sorry ndborn. I meant GF is smaller than Fargo and within what some people consider commuting distance, so GF has been more affected by not getting certain stores, activities, etc. since people were willing to drive to Fargo to do those things. Bismarck does not have that competition. We may have Canadians, but look at the population west of Bismarck. There is no place else for them to go besides Dickinson, so most of that corner of the state and even SD travel to Bismarck to shop.

J- said...

It's interesting to find out that Grand Forks is only 51,740 when the MPO is placing the city around 55,000. I guess we'll have to wait til 2010 to find out the real numbers.

Anonymous said...

I don't put much trust in the census estimates. They under-estimated the population of GF in 2000, and I'm sure it's the same story now. I'm sure they've undercounted Fargo as well. A much more realistic figure for Fargo is probably 97,000-100,000, and 54,000 for GF. I think the census has a really hard time estimating the size of university cities which is strange given all of the advances in statistical techniques and models during the last 10-20 years.

I'd have to agree with the previous writer about GF versus Bismarck. Bismarck has a much larger trade area than GF. Minot is not a powerful pull so Bismarck really has almost the entire western half of the state as well as neighboring states. Moreover, Bismarck's population is also different. There's a lot more married families with children in Bismarck, and I think that's why there's more parks, mini-golf, and so on. GF is a college town with less kids. The Bismarck school district is much larger than GF's. I think it’s around 11,000 students, while GF is only about 7,000 now.

Finally, people spend their leisure time differently in the two cities. GF has a lot more athletic events with hockey, football, and basketball all connected to UND. Again, I think that's why you see less water-parks (though we do have CanadInn now), no zoo, and not really any amusement parks in GF.
-NordicMan

Anonymous said...

One more thing. During the summer a lot people in GF go out to the lakes in Minnesota as well. GF is pretty dead really in July and August, and even though I'm sure that people in Bismarck go on vacations too, the draw of the Minnesota lakes for Bismarck folks is not at the same level.

--NordicMan

Anonymous said...

Bismrach has always kind of embraced the Missouri River (especially after Garrison Dam was built more than 60 years ago practically guaranteeing no floods) and so Bismarck integrated it into its park /zoo system with no risk and great rewards.

Grand Forks and the Red River had much more of an antagonistic relationship until recently with the dike and the Greenway. Bismarck only sports outlet is really at the high school level, so people were more apt to give to community projects, while GF and Fargo give to their respective universities.

Anonymous said...

Minot actually is pretty powerful from a regional trade perspective. It it "the mall" for all of northwestern ND and northeastern MT. There are a lot of folks that drive 2-4 hours one way just to shop in Minot. It is also where a lot of the Canadian shoppers go from the Brandon, Manitoba area and rural southwest Man/southeast Sask. region travel to.

Anonymous said...

Why can't this town get a strip club??? Please!

Anonymous said...

Someone should send this to Olive Garden!

Anonymous said...

Build a high speed rail link between the two cities. Nice to have a train that actually keeps to schedules, amtrak *cough*

Matthew said...

I'll continue to second the high-speed rail between Grand Forks and Fargo. Especially if we built a monorail, it could get you the whole way within an hour, you could shop, or go to a movie, or go to the bars, or whatever, and then just catch it home in less than an hour. I think it would be a moneymaker.

Or people could actually take risks and start businesses that people want (not including more fast food joints) and see how that pans out.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
growingupartists said...

Had I known you were an Optimist, I never would've let my dog pee in your park. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see where Playboy is picking "The Women of Olive Garden"?

Anonymous said...

"" growingupartists said...

Had I known you were an Optimist, I never would've let my dog pee in your park. Sorry.""

are you related to greenglass 2+2 ?

Matthew said...

Dale, I'm not confusing anything. People commute to Fargo daily; in this part of the country, an 80 miles drive is not an especially long distance. People in other areas sit in traffic for two hours to go less than the same distance.

I'm not talking about a train from Grand Forks to Fargo with six stops along the way--I'm talking about a high-speed direct line. You get on, the train goes fast, you get off: it wouldn't be $2 a ticket, but I can see occasional riders paying $10-15 or more to avoid the hassle of driving and the price of gas (my Jeep gets $20 mpg, which means a trip to Fargo costs around $30), and daily commuters paying about the same amount for the savings in fuel and the additional 1 to 1.5 hours of usable time while sitting on the train every day (round trip).

Sure it would take a couple years to build and a couple years to pay off, but look at the Alerus Center.

Anonymous said...

Are you using the Alerus Center as an example of a success?

Too funny.

Anonymous said...

Why would Grand Forks want a monorail to Fargo? They want to keep the Canadians here, not make it easier for them to get to Fargo. Also, after the flood, Grand Forks had a lot more room for growth after people left. As soon as the infrastructure came into place, more people decided to come to Grand Forks.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think that Grand Forks is ugly? It's got lots of potential with the Greenway, ample stands of trees and fertile soil, but we just seem to lack the will-or creativity-to make changes in landscaping, lighting, storefront design, etc. that could make a real difference in how we feel about this place we call home.

Anonymous said...

I agree that GF does very little for aesthetic appeal ... Hwy 2 drive into town from the West is a prime example of that ... some simple steps like clearing the brush and half dead trees and planting new bushier trees instead of those wild Russian olive trees would help a lot and wouldn't even cost that much to do.

Anonymous said...

Grand Forks is looking very tattered. The problem is our current community leaders. They sit in positions of influence not for the good of the community, but for their own lead generation and creating conditions favorable for themselves and their cronies. It's a very transparent and negative situation. Something has to be done. The communities apathy is their gain and they know it.

Nettie said...

You guys still beating this dead horse? Thought Monday would grace us with a NEW topic, geez!

Who would build a monorail to Fargo, a nice train would be better (we've already got the tracks, haven't we?) Oh, how I long to take a cross-country trip via train with my children, show them how the west was won and landing squarely in a National Park. Yet, 'tis expensive, and we'd require a sleeping car.

And I know this isn't Russia, but I'd well expect to get my wallet stolen on one of those things (it's worse than the bus!)

ec99 said...

"ample stands of trees"

By the time Dutch elm has run its course, most of those stands will be saplings.

Anonymous said...

Marge & the Monorail.

GJB said...

The Northstar Commuter Rail, which will run from Big Lake, MN to downtown Minneapolis, 40 miles, will be from $4 to $6 each way, depending on where you start/stop. Capital costs are estimated to be $320 million. Ridership is projected to be about 5000/day.

Assuming that's an average fare right in the middle at $5, that will amount to $25,000 each way per day. So, $50,000 day at 260 working days per year is $13 million per year. (They will run on the weekend, but no estimates on ridership.) Assuming no daily costs, that would take almost 25 years to pay off the capital costs.

I just don't really see where something like that could be viable between Grand Forks and Fargo. Not unless Fargo got to be a lot larger and starting drawing more people commuting to work.

Source of information: http://www.mn-getonboard.org/

GJB said...

The Northstar Commuter Rail, which will run from Big Lake, MN to downtown Minneapolis, 40 miles, will be from $4 to $6 each way, depending on where you start/stop. Capital costs are estimated to be $320 million. Ridership is projected to be about 5000/day.

Assuming that's an average fare right in the middle at $5, that will amount to $25,000 each way per day. So, $50,000 day at 260 working days per year is $13 million per year. (They will run on the weekend, but no estimates on ridership.) Assuming no daily costs, that would take almost 25 years to pay off the capital costs.

I just don't really see where something like that could be viable between Grand Forks and Fargo. Not unless Fargo got to be a lot larger and starting drawing more people commuting to work.

Source of information: http://www.mn-getonboard.org/

GJB said...

The Northstar Commuter Rail, which will run from Big Lake, MN to downtown Minneapolis, 40 miles, will be from $4 to $6 each way, depending on where you start/stop. Capital costs are estimated to be $320 million. Ridership is projected to be about 5000/day.

Assuming that's an average fare right in the middle at $5, that will amount to $25,000 each way per day. So, $50,000 day at 260 working days per year is $13 million per year. (They will run on the weekend, but no estimates on ridership.) Assuming no daily costs, that would take almost 25 years to pay off the capital costs.

I just don't really see where something like that could be viable between Grand Forks and Fargo. Not unless Fargo got to be a lot larger and starting drawing more people commuting to work.

Source of information: www.mn-getonboard.org

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ec99 said...

"Are there still elm trees around?"

Drive down University Ave.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't think a monorail between Fargo and GF would make it. The city of Wahpeton has over 1,000 commuters working in Fargo. They tried a bus going back and forth to Fargo ... and it failed, twice. People around here will not embrace mass transit. Instead we will make up any excuse to use our own vehicles and complain about the costs.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a joke?

Anonymous said...

Take a train to Fargo for what? As for aesthetic appeal, Grand Forks has a much more attractive business corridor along 32nd than Fargo has anywhere in the city. Fargo as a whole looks like Main Avenue. Ugly.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Broadway in Fargo is sure ugly. Give me the "anywhere USA" look of the big box stores and chain restaurants of 32nd ave any day!!

GJB said...

Hmm....

Three copies of my post.

I guess I should be a little more patient when I click the Publish Your Comment button and nothing happens...

ec99 said...

"I'd have thought Dutch Elm was a thing of the past, along with all the trees."

Still plenty of trunks with orange paint wrapped around them. I heard about 300 trees were taken out lst summer.

Anonymous said...

How would life in grand forks improve with a massive influx of new residents? Does anyone here actually enjoy gridlock and gangs?

Anonymous said...

F-M area has grown by about 20,000 people since 2000. Check the FMMetroCOG numbers. There's NO WAY GF has grown that much.

Anonymous said...

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell"
-Edward Abbey

growingupartists said...

Well, Edward Abbey, if you're so smart, why did you accidentally put your name down as anonymous? Now we know who you are (moron).

Am I the only one dancing a jig everytime I pass a clever CHURCH SIGN (love what the episcopals are saying about circumstance... totally made me think about circumstances). And not just because I'm baptized episcopal either.

In my soul I know I'm Catholic.

But back to the topic, 'fore someone gets grouchy. As I was meandering down University Av, the sign by some unknown church says "Change is inevitable, growth is optional."

And cancer cells have no ideology (are we not all degreed here?)...

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

growingupartists - please tell me you are not that stupid....
"stupid is as stupid does"
-Forrest Gump

Anonymous said...

Grand Forks is big enough.