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Small Town America: Which Towns are Growing the Fastest

Aug. 21, 2020
Bozeman, MT, is once again one of the fastest-growing small cities in the U.S. As you can see in the photo above, its drop-dead gorgeous mountain scenery is one of its many attractions.

There’s been a lot of chatter in the national media recently about city folks moving out of urban areas because of COVID-19 and relocating to smaller towns and cities in rural areas, where they can buy homes at a fraction of city prices and work out of their home offices.

In normal times, fast-growing metropolitan areas like Austin and Dallas, TX, and Raleigh and Charlotte, NC, attract the most attention because of their steady and at times explosive population growth and the number of construction cranes piercing their skylines. That makes it easy to overlook the small towns and cities that are attracting hundreds and at times thousands of new residents. When enough new residents move into an area of any size, new electrical sales opportunities are sure to follow in the construction of homes, stores, schools and other retail or other light-commercial projects that are bread-and-butter business for local electrical distributors, independent reps, electrical contractors and other electrical or design professionals.

Many of America’s fastest-growing smaller towns are located in rural areas away from major population centers. Quite a few of the cities and towns shown in the table below are in the western United States near the region’s many mountain ranges or along the Oregon or Washington coasts. To get this data in a Google spreadsheet click here. The spreadsheet has population growth data  on more than 500 micropolitan markets - which are typically smaller towns with less than 100,000 residents.

Over the past few years, Bozeman, MT, has been the fastest-growing of these small cities and towns, with a +27.8% increase in its population since 2010 and 24,919 new residents moving in during the past decade, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Like many of the fastest-growing cities on this list, it attracts new residents with drop-dead gorgeous mountain scenery and proximity to a broad array of outdoor activities. Located in southern Montana about 90 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, the area offers world-class fishing in the Gallatin River, skiing at the Big Sky Ski Resort and all sorts of outdoor activities in the nearby Rocky Mountains. While Bozeman’s growth in recent years has been on a grand scale and the city has attracted more than its share of A-List Hollywood celebrities, plenty of other of the fast-growing smaller cities and towns share a similar outdoorsy profile, including Durango, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs, CO; Kalispell, MT; Pinehurst-Southern Pines, NC; and Port Angeles, WA.

It will be interesting to see if the current population migration from cities to smaller towns is a long-term trend. One way to check on it will be the U.S. Census Bureau’s updated 2020 population data when it’s released next year.