Census: Ottawa County up 10.6 percent

Local municipalities are seeing diverse results from the 2010 U.S. Census, which released localized data for Michigan on Tuesday. The city of Grand Haven's population of 10,412 in last year's Census is a 756-person decline from the 2000 Census, a 6-percent drop. "It's probably greater than what we expected,' City Manager Pat McGinnis said.
Alex Doty
Mar 23, 2011


While he has not yet fully digested the data, McGinnis said some factors for the decline could include families getting smaller — and the city could be becoming more of a summer home for residents, as opposed to a year-round homestead.

“It sure doesn’t seem any less busy in Grand Haven,” he added.

Despite the loss, McGinnis said he was confident that things could improve during the course of the next 10 years.

“There’s no new land being made, but there’s vacated land waiting to be developed,” he said, adding that there are condos that aren’t at capacity and new senior resident facilities on the drawing board that all could increase the city’s population in 2020.

McGinnis said a smaller population means decreases in state-shared revenue and Public Act 51 road revenue for the city. 

Grand Haven Township had an increase of 1,900 people in the 2010 Census, resulting in a total population of 15,178.

Over the past 20 years, Grand Haven Township Manager Bill Cargo said there has been a 56-percent increase in population in the township. When he started working for Grand Haven Township in the 1990s, he said its population was less than the city, and now it is larger.

As a result of this increase, Cargo said he expects more money in state revenue sharing, and he expects it to cause more of a push toward collaboration with other area communities.

“The positive thing is that there’s still growth happening on this side of the state,” Cargo said.

Cargo said he sees this growth continuing for the foreseeable future because of West Michigan’s job market and the environment.

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” Cargo said. “And it’s very difficult to expand economically if you don’t have a population that’s expanding at 2-3 percent.”

Elsewhere in Northwest Ottawa County, Spring Lake Township has an official population of 14,300, an 8.8 percent increase from the 2000 Census; Robinson Township increased by about 500 to 6,084; Port Sheldon Township decreased by 263 to 4,240; Spring Lake Village decreased by 191 to 2,323; and Ferrysburg decreased by 150 to 2,892.

Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger said he was surprised by the new Census numbers.

“We’ve had a number of new housing starts in the last decade,” he said. “I kind of thought that there might be a slight increase in the (city’s) population.”

Like McGinnis, Bessinger was optimistic about his city’s future.

“My guess is that the city of Ferrysburg will rebound, and the population will increase in the future,” Bessinger said.

Ottawa County had the fifth-largest growth among the 83 counties in Michigan during the past 10 years, according to the just-released Census report.
The 2000 Census figured Ottawa County’s population at 238,314. The Census taken last year saw the population was at 263,801 — a 10.6-percent gain. It is now the eighth-largest populated county in the state.

Only Clinton (16.5 percent), Livingston (15.3 percent), Grand Traverse (12 percent) and Isabella (11 percent) counties outdid Ottawa County in gains over the 10-year period.

Hammered by the auto industry’s slump, Detroit saw its population plummet 25 percent over the past decade. The 2010 Census statistics show that Detroit’s population fell from 951,270 in 2000 to 713,777 last year. Although a significant drop was expected, state demographer Ken Darga said the total is “considerably lower” than the Census Bureau’s estimate last year.

Detroit’s population peaked at 1.8 million in 1950, when it ranked fifth nationally. But the new numbers reflect a steady downsizing of the auto industry — the city’s economic lifeblood for a century — and an exodus of many residents to the suburbs.

Communities that saw some of the biggest gains in population over the 10-year period were in southeast Michigan. In Macomb County, New Baltimore jumped 63.4 percent and Macomb Township rose 57.7 percent.

big gainers in the state were Fife Lake Township in Grand Traverse County (84 percent), Marenisco Township in the U.P.’s Gogebic County (64.3 percent) and Linden in Genesee County (39.5 percent).

The city of Grand Rapids fell 4.9 percent to 188,040 residents in the 2010 Census, while Flint declined by 18 percent to 102,434 people.

Lawmakers will use the new Census information to adjust boundaries for U.S. House districts in Michigan, which is losing one of its 15 congressional seats after being the only state with a population decline over the past decade. The data also will help shape districts in the state Senate and House.

Republicans control both chambers of the Michigan Legislature and will have the upper hand in crafting district maps. On Monday, state Senate Democrats said they will soon introduce legislation that would create an independent commission to play a key role in the redistricting process.

The commission would include members appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, and hold public meetings around the state. Two-thirds of the members would have to sign off on a plan before it could be submitted to the Legislature.

Tribune reporters Jordan Travis and Mark Brooky, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Ah, I wondered if this would be addressed. Grand Haven shouldn't be entirely puzzled that its population declined, and Grand Haven Township should know that jobs certainly aren't the reason for the growth in population. I'd also hope the township could work on a plan to better control the growth that has/is/will occur there.

I'm studying Urban Planning/City Design and the increase in subdivisions in the Township would account for the growth seen there; it is not surprising that many residents seeking homes would much rather live in a larger, newer, and spacious home. Tack on the housing boom that happened nation wide and it all starts to come together. This trend has been happening on larger scales in cities across the nation. Then we overbuilt and had bad mortgages and the rest is history.

Its unfortunate, puts people farther away from downtown and activity centers and drives the big box retail (Walmart and the such) that develops to accommodate the movement. You can't expect downtown and the city to flourish when residents are choosing to live farther out and their necessities follow them. I hope the condo's and newer developments in town fill up and we get less pet stores/art galleries and tourist shops and more appealing year round stores in downtown! We've got a great one!

Given Michigan's economic decline, and even my personal story, people are also moving out of the state. I moved after I graduated from high school to California. I miss Michigan but the education and economic opportunities out here were much more enticing! Perhaps someday I'll get to come back and work in Michigan.


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