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Entries in Washington County (46)


Washington County Cities are Growing

Pledge to WEDG

Thanks to those that have already made a pledge to WEDG for 2017-2019. We are 70% to our goal of $100k! To our existing investors - please consider re-affirming your pledge into the future. To our potential investors - please consider supporting WEDG to help us pursue our mission - Create & Promote an Environment for Economic Development.

WEDG is pleased to have Washington State Bank as one of our premier Platinum investors. Thanks to President/CEO, Steve Bohn and the WSB Board of Directors for your generous historical and future support!

Ed Raber and Steve Bohn

Here is a pledge card to save you looking through your mail.

Washington County Cities are Growing

All 8 Cities in Washington County are estimated by the US Census Bureau to be growing since 2010. That is impressive since only 243 out of 944 Cities in Iowa are estimated to be growing. That is only 26% growing and 74% declining.

City est 2016 2010 % change Num change
Ainsworth 584 567 3.00% 17
Brighton 659 655 0.60% 4
Crawfordsville 270 264 2.30% 6
Kalona 2,534 2,371 6.90% 163
Riverside 1,039 993 4.60% 46
Washington 7,424 7,270 2.10% 154
Wellman 1,424 1,411 0.90% 13
West Chester 148 146 1.40% 2


Underlying that growth are three important factors. Washington County has more births than deaths. In addition, Washington County has a positive migration flow, both domestically and internationally. More people are moving in to Washington County than moving out.

In fact, Washington County is one of only 13 counties in Iowa to have positive natural growth, and positive domestic and international migration, ranking 9th.

54 Iowa Counties had more births than deaths between 2010 and 2016. However, only 20 Counties had a positive migration flow (more people moving in than moving out). Most Iowa Counties are experiencing an exodus.

Below is a table showing the change in population of many cities in Iowa's Creative Corridor and in Southeast Iowa. Its a mixed bag of growth and decline throughout the region.

City est 2016 2010 % change Num change
Tiffin 3,006 1,947 54.40% 1,059
North Liberty 18,520 13,391 38.30% 5,129
Marion 38,480 35,141 9.50% 3,339
Iowa City 74,398 67,946 9.50% 6,452
Coralville 20,397 18,912 7.90% 1,485
Fairfield 10,206 9,466 7.80% 740
Lone Tree 1,388 1,302 6.60% 86
Cedar Rapids 131,127 126,441 3.70% 4,686
Williamsburg 3,179 3,068 3.60% 111
Monticello 3,836 3,784 1.40% 52
Muscatine 23,914 23,772 0.60% 142
Oskaloosa 11,523 11,502 0.20% 21
Tipton 3,217 3,221 -0.10% -4
Wayland 952 965 -1.30% -13
Burlington 25,277 25,625 -1.40% -348
Anamosa 5,430 5,537 -1.90% -107
Ottumwa 24,487 25,023 -2.10% -536
Vinton 5,143 5,257 -2.20% -114
Columbus Junction 1,848 1,896 -2.50% -48
Mount Pleasant 8,392 8,668 -3.20% -276
Sigourney 1,987 2,059 -3.50% -72
Richland 559 584 -4.30% -25
Keota 966 1,011 -4.50% -45

Data Source: US Census Bureau,

In fact, most economic trends in Washington County are positive. We have increasing:

  • Population
  • Laborforce
  • Jobs
  • Income
  • Retail Sales

Feel free to view/download this 4Mb pdf slide deck of economic data charts and graphs to learn more.



Spreading Washington County's Message

The 2nd Annual Washington County Luncheon for the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors is Wednesday, Nov. 9th, 11:30-1:00 at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort's Event Center.

This casual mixer event, hosted by WEDG, is a way to build professional networks across Johnson and Washington Counties. Anyone related to real estate, land development, mortgage lending, legal & abstracting, and home construction is encouraged to attend. Realtors eat free, everyone else is $20. But its a great lasagna buffet with two salads, so its worth it. Maybe 120 people.

What will you learn?

Hear 8-minute updates from the City Administrators of KalonaRiversideWashington and Wellman. Plus get our education picture from the Superintendents of HighlandMid-Prairie, and Washington Schools, and the 3-year old Kirkwood Washington Regional Center.

We all think that Washington County is a great opportunity for growth, for families, for innovative businesses, and an impressive list of Quality of Life amenities.

Want to know what was covered last year? Click here.

This isn't the only event to raise awareness about the opportunities around the fringe of the Creative Corridor. Last weekend, Jones County Development hosted their 2nd Tours of Opportunity in downtown Anamosa. Deals were made. People were impressed.

Thanks to our Sponsors!

City of Kalona
City of Riverside
City of Washington
City of Wellman
Highland Community School District
Mid-Prairie Community School District
Washington Community School District
Kirkwood Washington Regional Center
Elliott Realty Group
Golden Crest Realty
Home Team Advantage Realtors
Integrity Abstract Company
Washington Title & Guaranty Co.
Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
CBI Bank & Trust
Community 1st Credit Union
Federation Bank
Hills Bank and Trust
Washington State Bank


Washington County population growing

Washington County's population continues to slowly climb, according to the US Census Bureau. Most rural and non-metro Iowa counties have lost population over the last 5 years. Washington County grew by 543 or 2.5% since 2010 to 22,247. At this rate, Washington County will surpass 23,000 population by about 2022.

A look at the components of population change will really open your eyes. Are there more births than deaths? Is domestic (US) migration showing people moving into or away from a county. Same with international migration.

In Southeast Iowa, Washington County hits the trifecta of population change over the past five years. There are significantly more births than deaths, like 327. People move in and out of Washington County all the time. But over 200 more people moved in to Washington County from other places in Iowa or the US compared to moving out. And there is a modest but positive gain from international migration in to Washington County.

In fact, besides Johnson and Linn Counties (and Scott County), only Washington County has experienced a positive population increase from domestic migration in Southeast Iowa. That is remarkable. Washington County was 10th in Iowa for positive domestic migration, even including the big metro counties (and places like Dallas and Warren Counties).

If nothing else, Washington County communities have worked very hard over the last decade to make Washington County an attractive and desirable place to live and work. That strategy may be paying off by attracting new residents.

Neighboring sister counties, like Jefferson County (Fairfield) had an even larger population increase than Washington County. However, most all of this increase is from international migration, tempered by domestic out-migration, and more deaths than births.

If you'd like to chec out the population estimate data for every county in Iowa (or all the States) check it out on the Iowa State Data Center's web site.


In addition to the US Census Bureau's population estimates for 2015, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) reports on monthly laborforce changes, and unemployment rates.

Washington County continues to have a strong and growing laborforce, compared to many other rural counties in Southeast Iowa. Washington County's laborforce of 12,700 is one of the region's largest, which is remarkable considering it was only 9,500 in the early 1990s.

Henry County (Mt. Pleasant) is 2,000 people smaller than Washington County, but its laborforce is 3,000 less. Mahaska County (Oskaloosa) is almost identical to Washington County in population, but its laborforce is 1,000 less.

Washington County's unemployment rate did creep up to 3.9% in February, following trends around Iowa and the US.

In the next blog post, we'll highlight the recently released Washington County Laborshed Analysis completed by IWD. More maps and tables to enjoy.



Washington County Unemployment falls to 2.4% in October

Washington County's unemployment rate fell to 2.4% in October from 2.6% in September. The number of employed persons rebounded to 12,500, and the number of unemployed persons was about 300.

Washington County's laborforce has peaked again at 12,900, equalling the historical high set this summer.

Iowa Workforce Development offers this data in several formats. At IWD's Local Area Unemployment Statistics page, you can select county maps for any month, and for several data types. That is the source for the following maps.

Source IWD Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: IWD Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: IWD's Local Area Unemployment Statistics

This map shows the percentage of the population between the ages of 20-65 that are employed or unemployed and seeking employment. Washington County has a participation rate of 86.2%, which is the third highest rate in Southeast Iowa. In Iowa, Washington County is in the top 20% of all counties for laborforce participation.

This high level of participation accounts for the large laborforce in Washington County, compared to other counties with a similar population.

The source of this map is the "Map of the Week" service of the Iowa Legislative.

Source: Iowa LSA Map of the Week

I like maps. 


Washington County is top Conservation County

Washington County has the most acres in Iowa enrolled in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with 37,046 acres or 2.6% of the state total.

"The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), established in 1985 by the Reagan administration, is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the CRP program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat."

As a result of the last CRP signup in August 2013, Iowa had 1.39 million acres enrolled in CRP on October 1, 2013, down from 1.53 million acres. This decrease is because there were 183,857 acres that expired from the program, and only 47,418 acres that were accepted in to the program. The average number of CRP acres per county is 14,000.

Washington County had 6,779 acres that expired in 2013 and 3,203 acres that entered the CRP program, resulting in a state leading 37,046 acres. The reason that so many acres expired is that 10-15 years ago, even more acres were enrolled in CRP.

Washington County's 3,203 acres entering CRP in 2013 is the most in Iowa, followed by Keokuk County. This is significant to note because 2013 was the highest corn and soybean prices in Iowa history, averaging over $7 per bushel of corn and $15 per bushel of soybeans in the months leading up to the CRP signup.

This means that with sky-rocketing grain prices, Washington County farmers and property owners did not move to plant as many acres as possible. Instead, Washington County led the state for conservation acres enrolled and also for the number of new CRP contracts (110, 2nd to Keokuk County). Washington County farmers and landowners have a long-term view of caring for the land, and is not lured to plow up sensitive land by spiking grain prices.

Among the top 8 CRP enrollment counties, Washington County has the largest population, as well as the most enrolled acres. Five of the top 8 are on the southern Iowa border with Missouri, having populations between about 5,000 and 8,600. 

Source: USDA CRP 45th Signup, August 2013 County by County Summary

Among the top five hog producing Counties, Washington County has 12,000 more acres of CRP than the other four combined. In Washington County, leadership in livestock numbers is matched by leadership in conservation.

In southeast Iowa, a cluster of four counties account for 9% of all the CRP acres in Iowa - Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, and Washington Counties.

The Des Moines Water Works has sued three Northwest Iowa counties over water quality. Only one of these three counties has more than the average CRP enrollment, and the other two have half the average CRP enrollment. In 2013, these three counties combined had 2,067 acres that expired from CRP, and only 260 acres that were enrolled in CRP.

Washington County is a unique County in Iowa (and the Midwest).

  • #1 in land conservation with 37,046 acres in CRP
  • #1 in solar with over 4.1 MW of user-owned, distributed power
  • #2 in hog production (which is all locally owned)
  • #3 in organic production
  • #3 in goat production
  • #6 in turkey production (with no avian flu cases in 2015)
  • #14 in population growth (behind the core metro counties)
  • Renewable fuels - Iowa Renewable Energy 30mgpy flex-source biodiesel plant

Source: USDA 2012 Ag Census; USDA CRP Enrollment 2013; Alliant Energy & Iowa Dept. of Revenue

The next CRP signup window is December 1, 2015 through February 26, 2016.