Greeley MSA’s growth ranks third-fastest nationwide

The Greeley Metropolitan Statistical Area’s 3.5 percent population increase last year was the third-highest percentage growth of any MSA in the country. That’s according to July 1, 2017, population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Growth in the Greeley MSA — which consists of all of Weld County — was topped only by the St. George, Utah, MSA, and the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach MSA in North Carolina and South Carolina, which grew by 4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.

The Greeley MSA added 10,390 people from 2016 to 2017, with population reaching 304,633 people, up from 294,243 on July 1, 2016. Greeley’s percentage growth matched that of the prior year, when the MSA also grew by 3.5 percent, for a No. 4 ranking nationwide.

“The numbers that have come out continue to be dramatic,” said Rich Werner, CEO of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, which focuses on Weld County.

Werner said that a stabilization of energy prices “has helped create confidence in that particular industry sector. They’re continuing to hire, and we’re continuing to see (new residents) come in.”

But Werner said that if one analyzes population growth trends for a longer period, “you’ll see that growth is actually slowing.

“Things are very positive right now,” he added. “We do not expect this trend to continue in perpetuity.”

Weld County’s growth is concentrated in three areas, Werner said, including Greeley; the Tri-Towns of Dacono, Firestone and Frederick; and “a strong interest in development along the I-76 corridor.”

Much of the growth is being driven by the energy, manufacturing, food-processing and service sectors, he said.

The Fort Collins-Loveland MSA — consisting of Larimer County — grew by 1.6 percent from 2016 to 2017, with population increasing to 343,976 from 338,531, up 5,445. The MSA ranked No. 65 nationwide based on percentage growth.

The Boulder MSA — consisting of Boulder County — saw more-modest growth, with population reaching 322,514, up 0.4 percent from 321,173, ranking No. 215 nationwide based on percentage growth. The increase totaled 1,341 residents.

Broomfield is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA, so it is not ranked as an MSA. But Broomfield County’s population increased to 68,341, up a robust 2.7 percent from 66,509, with 1,832 new residents.