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Jasper County population decreases but officials hopeful - KOAM TV 7

Jasper County population decreases but officials hopeful

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While the state of Missouri and most counties gained residents, according to the U.S. Census numbers Jasper County saw a decrease of about 2,500, partly due to the 2011 tornado.

But officials are optimistic for the town's progress and its future.

"Joplin is located in two counties, so as far as the Joplin market area, I don't think they're experiencing a population loss as much as we are experiencing a population redistribution," says Troy Bolander, the Joplin Community Development Director.  "People that were impacted by this event, their first priority was to find housing that was available so some of our citizens moved to Newton County or moved to Neosho.

"To say that it's down by 2,500 I think really is a tremendous plus, if you will, because if we make the assumption that most of that comes from Joplin and Duquesne, that is about 5% - that is a real significant number when we compare other places that have had large scale natural disasters," says Rob O'Brian of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bolander says with the rebuild he's seeing a bigger interest in the area.

"We look at utility hookups, we look at the number of vacant lots, and it's actually looking very encouraging for population as far as Joplin," says Bolander.

With new businesses on the rise across Jasper County officials believe residents who once lived here before may not have gone too far.

"A lot of those people who we see as a population loss in Jasper County may well still be in the area," says O'Brian.  "They may still have their job.  They may not necessarily be living here, but they haven't strayed too far."

Officials are optimistic they will see growth in the county for the 2013 Census.

One of those new businesses to begin production in Joplin is the Blue Buffalo Dog Food manufacturer, which will employ 150 people.

Along with added employers comes new housing and apartment complexes, which according to officials, are selling quickly.

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