Census data shows slight growth in Craig, Moffat County
Keli Walls was hanging clothes, stacking books and vacuuming floors Thursday in preparation for the grand opening of her new store — Faze II.
It’s a fitting name.
Faze II is a thrift store, and the inventory will soon enter its second phase of retail life.
The name also befits one of the store’s owners. Walls recently moved to Craig for the second time.
Walls, who was raised in Craig, moved to Austin, Tex., at age 19. Now, at 20, she has returned.
“I guess I just missed the mountains,” she said of her decision to return.
During the year Walls was a Texan, she filled out the U.S. Census Survey. And, even though she’s a Craig resident now, the 2010 Census data, which was released Wednesday, won’t reflect her new status.
And, maybe it doesn’t matter.
Kate Nowak, executive director of Yampa Valley Partners, said the population numbers in Moffat County and Craig haven’t changed significantly in a long time.
“Moffat County has not changed dramatically in population in…20 years,” Nowak said.
That claim is supported by the 2010 Census data.
Over the 10 years since data was last collected in 2000, the population of Craig has grown by 275, or 2.99 percent. Moffat County has grown by 611, or 4.63 percent.
Rio Blanco County showed more growth over the same period. Its population grew by 680, or 11.36 percent. The town of Meeker grew by 233, or 10.39 percent.
The biggest population growth in Northwest Colorado took place in Routt County. Its population grew by 3,819, or 19.4 percent. Steamboat Springs grew by 2,273, or 23.16 percent.
Nowak said second-home owners could be a reason for the growth in Routt County.
“Their kids are grown, so they’re relocating,” Nowalk said. “And, that happens a lot.”
Moffat County, on the other hand, is steady, she said.
Nowak said her organization gathers year-to-year data from the IRS that shows how many people move in an out of the area every year. It correlates well with the Census data, she said.
“It basically hasn’t changed much,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of movement in Moffat County as far as a great exodus of people or a great influx of people.”
Darcy Owens-Trask, director of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, said the lack of growth isn’t discouraging, especially in light of the weak economy.
“We have to remember there are places in Colorado and in the West that have chronic out-migration,” Trask said. “That’s not the case in Moffat County.”
Trask said that recent mineral leasing activity in Moffat County is an encouraging sign for future growth.
“There’s a lot of oil and gas activity right now in terms of leasing,” she said. “There are going to be some exploratory wells in the spring. If those are strong producers, we’ll potentially see a little boom associated with that.”
And, Trask said if growth in Moffat County continues to be slow and steady, maybe it will keep the majority of people happy.
“I know that there is a certain segment of the population that loves Moffat County very much, and would be perfectly delighted if we didn’t have any new folks,” she said. “On the other hand, in terms of economic growth, it’s important that we have new folk coming to town, new businesses coming to town, and economic opportunity.
“So, maybe some slow steady growth is just where we’d like to be.”
Walls said she’s happy she returned to Craig.
“I missed it,” she said. “I missed Colorado.
“I’ll be here for a while.”