Midwestern Cities Revisit Census to Boost Growth and Funding


Several small Midwestern cities are opting for a second census count to capture rapid population changes, aiming to secure better funding and attract new businesses.

Midwestern Cities Seek Second Census Count

Nearly a dozen small communities in the Midwest, mainly in Illinois and Iowa, have decided to undergo a second census count in 2024, four years after the previous census. The primary motivation behind this move is to capture the significant population growth and changes that have occurred in these cities, in hopes of obtaining more state funding for various development projects and attracting new businesses.

Impacts of Population Growth on Funding and Business Development

City officials in these communities believe that the rapid population growth in recent years has not been accurately reflected in the initial 2020 census. They are concerned that this oversight is causing them to miss out on crucial state funding for infrastructure, such as roads, fire stations, and parks. Moreover, reaching certain population thresholds, like Norwalk’s goal of surpassing 15,000 residents, is seen as a critical factor in attracting new businesses to the area.

Financial Implications and Challenges

While the 2020 census was federally funded, the cost of these special censuses will be incurred by the local municipalities, ranging from around $370,000 to nearly $500,000. Some communities have opted for self-conducted recounts or engaged in disputes with the Census Bureau to challenge their initial numbers. However, a few cities in Iowa, such as Altoona, Bondurant, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, and Waukee, have committed to the Census Bureau-run second count in 2024, due to their exponential growth and development.

State-specific Considerations

In Iowa, the significance of special censuses is amplified as the state relies on the official population count from the decennial census to distribute funding. With the 2020 census currently standing as the official count for all cities and counties in Iowa, these second counts are essential for adjusting the population totals until the next decennial census in 2030. The scenario is different in Illinois, with cities like Warrenville, McDonough, Pingree Grove, and Urbana undertaking second counts for various reasons related to population changes and development.

Challenges and Opportunities for Growth

Cities such as Warrenville are expecting substantial annual increases in federal and state funding, amounting to millions of dollars, based on the anticipated population growth reflected in the special census. Urbana, a college town with a significant student population, aims to recapture lost revenue caused by the undercounting of students in the 2020 census. These second counts open up opportunities for cities to attract higher funding and support from state and federal sources by accurately representing their growing populations.