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Grand Rapids metro area now home to more than one million people

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

For the first time the Grand Rapids region now has more than a million people.

The boost in the 2012 estimate comes in part because of changes to the way the US Census is calculates the population there. The Grand Rapids metro area now includes Ottawa County because more than a quarter of the people who live there commute to work in Grand Rapids.

Tim Mroz is with the economic development group The Right Place. He says the million mark is significant in attracting big companies to the region.

“When expanding companies and site selection firms are looking for new communities, to expand businesses in or relocate to, one of the big aspects is population,” Mroz said.

Now, Grand Rapids won’t automatically get filtered out for not being big enough. Mroz says it’s not going to change much overnight, but in the long run it’ll help; especially when the numbers are put in a bigger context.

"Our unemployment is down, our population is up, and discretionary income is up. I think it’s becoming clear that West Michigan is a growing community and it’s starting to get the attention of a lot of national successful companies and from the economic development end of things we hope that continues,” Mroz said.

The census data shows the overall population in Metro Detroit has remained mostly flat.

The Detroit News reports Wayne County lost more people than any other large county in the nation last year.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.