Population booms

Ottawa County officials are anxiously awaiting the release of the 2013 population numbers.
Marie Havenga
Jan 11, 2014


That's when it will become clear if Ottawa County still holds the distinction of being the fastest-growing of 83 Michigan counties.

The most recent numbers, from 2012, clocked Ottawa County with 269,099 residents. Statistics show that 1,870 new residents moved into Northwest Ottawa County – the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, Village of Spring Lake and townships of Spring Lake and Grand Haven – between 2010 and 2012.

Ottawa County Research and Evaluation Analyst Shannon Virtue said in the eight years she has worked for the county, population has increased, even during the economic recession of 2008.“I think this is positive for the county,” Virtue said. “We weathered that (economic downturn) population-wise.”

Ottawa, which is the 10th largest county in the state, hopes to retain its No. 1 growth ranking when the new numbers come out in March. Between 2011 and 2012, Ottawa bested second-place Kent County and tied-for-third-place Grand Traverse and Kalamazoo counties for the largest resident influx.

“We've been in the top 3 or 4 for the last eight years,” Virtue said. “We've definitely been growing. It's a nice area with lots of good amenities. Obviously the beaches in the summer are a big attraction and Ottawa County has a good tax rate for homeowners. I think it's always a good selling point. We have the second lowest county millage rate in the state.”

Speaking of state, the grand ol' mitten gets a thumbs up for population consistency.

According to Atlas Van Lines’ annual migration study, the number of people moving into and leaving Michigan in 2013 balanced out.

During economic tough times a few years ago, there was a mass exodus of people looking for work in other states.

Dennis Zimmer, who rents U-Haul trucks from Zimmer Automotive in Spring Lake, saw that migration first-hand.

He ran out of moving equipment because all one-way rentals were going the other way.

“Lots and lots of folks were headed to the Carolinas, Texas and Arizona because they didn't have any work here,” Zimmer said. “2007 was a banner year, but in 2008 we had a real problem with no equipment.”

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Ottawa county is unique is what it provides. Going to be a little bold, blunt and rough around edges with grammar so tough it out for some cry babies out there. Grand Haven city and township is appealing to some around the state and country because of its "police state" more cops and more rules and more fees than ya can shake a stick at. But some people just love that. But no fear to other population who loves rural living where you can burn cars in your back yard and target practice with skeet. Kids can put up a lemonade stand without a permit, build a tree house without building inspector and ordinance enforcers shutting them down and applying fines. Just east of 144th is "Robinson Tucky" Throw Crockery and Chester twps in there too possibly. Grand Haven City has more cops per square inch than any city. Ottawa County last I heard had over 80 plus reserve deputies and more than 15 prosecutors. And there are more billionaires being made per square inch along the lake shore. And just to the east we have "trailer trash" More churches per square mile than Amishvilles across the country. Ottawa County has extremes in both directions in everything.

Grand Haven Happy

zwesterhouse, you are one ignorant person!

You are free to move to anyplace else you'd rather be in or at. Detroit, Flint, Muskegon Heights, etc all have less police and churches too and sound like they may be right up your alley of desire. Their lack thereof shows what happens when your thinking is exercised!

The rest of the good people in Ottawa County and especially in the Grand Haven area and all those constantly moving here sure don't seem to mind about your complaints as it is one of their reasons for coming as is so often verbalized by them. Regulations in the County of Ottawa etc serve to keep your type of thinking out of here and that's so incredibly important!


West Michigan is a Special Place, a place with family values, strong work ethics, and a safe environment for all, it is a Special Place because of the people who live and work here. It is the People that give of themselves in so many ways, volunteers, or donating funds, just ask any non-profit organizations, look at state statistics for local crime rates, education achievements or standards, health issues. West Michigan ranks above average for most of them, and I am proud and very pleased to live in the Tri-cities.
If Ottawa County was not one of the safest, productive, or social concern counties in the state of Michigan, why would anyone chose to move here, maybe because the grass is truly greener right here in Ottawa County. No I am not a county worker, nor a politician, or police officer just a local taxpayer who choses to live here.
Thank God for those who live and work here, paying taxes for those who cannot, or just won't, sometimes you just got to be a contributor instead of a taker. God Bless.


According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports 2010(the most recent I found in a very short search) the average police to population ratio for cities of 10,000 people is 3.5 cops per 1,000 people. The City of Grand Haven has a population of approximately 10,500 people and according to the city's website 35 sworn police officers. That works out to, wait for it.... 3.5 police per 1,000 people!!! Holy cow! We are held down by an occupying force that numbers the exact national average for a city this size! Oh, the cops are the fire department too, so should we count them each twice or as 1/2 a police officer each? Sounds like maybe you have some sour grapes from getting caught breaking the law. We all know the laws don't apply to everyone and how dare those ignorant, egotistical cops try to enforce any laws with you. Totally their fault! They get paid to enforce only the laws I want enforced, not the ones I want to break.

Former Grandhavenite

Ottawa county, and particularly the Tri-Cities have a very good quality of life in many ways. There are great parks everywhere along the lake and inland. For example, the fact that Pigeon Creek has lighted XC skiing paths is an incredible amenity that not a lot of other areas have. Around here, I'd have to drive 3-4 hours to get to a beach as nice as the ones that are everywhere around GH. The MI Supreme Court ruling that any beach can be used by the public as long as you remain below the high water mark is a great thing that protects public access to the beaches.

The cost of living is relatively low, and for the most part the local units of government are pretty good. They're generally more politically conservative than I'd prefer, but even the more ardent religious people in town don't really get in your face about it the way they would in a lot of areas. There seems to be an emphasis on getting along with one another and staking out fairly moderate positions.

You could also buy a very nice house in the GH area or one of the newer downtown condos for half the price that around here would get you an older townhouse in a neighborhood where you'll most likely wake up one morning to find your car on blocks and your wheels missing.

Tri-cities realist

Why did you move to Flint? Or is it Washington D.C.? Haha


This article talks about how many people moved in to the county but doesn't say how many moved out. Probably not many since a lot people are still upside down on their mortgage and can't sell their home.


FYI - Ottawa County is in the Top Ten of most populous counties in Michigan, and is #1 for the most growth in population in the decade 2000-2010.


We love living in Robinson TWP and Grand Haven in general, it was a punch in the guts to find out an expressway is moving next to us. Reluctantly we are likely to move north (for our jobs) such as SLT or Fruitport area.


Two times??


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