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Published June 29, 2012, 09:11 PM

Census Says GF is Shrinking; Leaders Puzzled

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - New census figures estimate that North Dakota's fastest-growing cities are in the western oil patch, with Grand Forks seeing a slight decline.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - New census figures estimate that North Dakota's fastest-growing cities are in the western oil patch, with Grand Forks seeing a slight decline.

Some Grand Forks city leaders who study planning and economics say those number could be slightly off.

Growth in Fargo and Bismarck was less than two percent, while Grand Forks saw a slight downturn in population.

Local chamber officials say many other signs like very high sales tax income dollars, the number of new apartments that have been built with very low vacancy rates and the small number of houses on the Grand Forks market signal a population increase, not a decrease.

Chamber president Barry Wilfarht says Grand Forks' population has made a steady growth since the flood of 1997 which is good thing.

"We really don't seem to track with that census estimate, so from my perspective, I'm just really puzzled I guess. How they have Grand Forks decreasing when everything around us points in a different direction," Wilfarht said.

The census data shows that Watford City and Williston grew about nine percent last year, which is tops in the state.

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