Three Western Colorado counties grow at 10 percent rate |

Three Western Colorado counties grow at 10 percent rate

GRAND JUNCTION – Three Western Colorado counties’ populations grew at a rate of about 10 percent between 2000 and 2004, U.S. Census Bureau figures show.Garfield County, in the midst of a natural gas boom, grew 10.7 percent to 48,503.Montrose County grew 9.7 percent to 36,674 and Mesa County grew 9.5 percent to 127,253.Weld County, in northeastern Colorado, was the fastest-growing county in Colorado and the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation, at 16.8 percent, the Census Bureau said. Weld County’s population is more than 211,000 people.Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said Mesa County’s growth rate may be poised to speed up.”I think in-migration is increasing,” she told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel for Friday’s editions.The figures suggest the county’s population will double in population in 20 years, Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock said.Kathy Hall, who works with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and is a former Mesa County commissioner, said the county’s steady growth rate may explain why its economy did not suffer a downturn after the 2001 terrorist attacks.”In that time, the rest of the state was in a downturn,” Hall said. “Mesa County and Grand Junction were the only places in the state that saw sales-tax increases.”She said oil and gas development likely helped prop up Mesa County’s economy.

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