Storm Lake, the fastest growing city in Iowa

From the Storm Lake Times: The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Storm Lake’s population was 11,300 in 2020, a 6.3% increase from 10 years prior.

Iowa State University Sociologist Dave Peters told The Times the city’s distinction as the state’s most diverse community is the reason why it posted more growth than the state’s 13 cities of similar size and geographic location. An analysis he completed found Buena Vista County would have shrunk by 12% if it were not for non-white population growth.

The chief underlying cause of the upward pressure is Tyson Foods’ expansions to its Storm Lake facilities. The company, which has added over $100 million collective value to its Storm Lake plants since 2010, now employs around 3,200 people at wages ranging from $17 to $22 per hour.

(Thanks to the National Immigration Forum, here and here.)

From an editorial in the Storm Lake Times:

Immigration has been the story of Iowa since the mid-19th century. The Danes came to Newell, the Swedes to Albert City, the Germans to Hanover, the Irish to Sulphur Springs. Now Latinos, Asians and Africans are writing a new chapter of growth by launching their own enterprises and improving their own lot through education.

That model can be repeated throughout Iowa. There will be jobs in a new energy economy in towns that have actively resisted immigration. Someone will have to fill them. There will be new food processing jobs in southern Iowa as cattle move north, and Latinos will fill them. Iowa’s future, like its past, is bound up in the endless cycle of immigration. Storm Lake is attempting to make the most of it, and so are the little towns around. It’s a tremendous tale of success that Iowa should study.

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