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2020 Census shows Mitchell's population growing at slower rate than like-sized cities

According to the newly released 2020 U.S. census report, Mitchell’s population — which is the sixth largest city in the state — increased by just 3% since 2010, while similar-sized cities such as Yankton and Pierre saw a 7% growth in population, bringing the two municipalities closer to Mitchell’s 15,660 population.

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An aerial view of the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Luke Hagen / Republic)

While Mitchell saw a slight growth in population over the past 10 years, the rate of growth lagged behind similar-sized South Dakota cities.

According to the newly released 2020 U.S. Census report, Mitchell’s population — which is the sixth largest city in the state — increased by just 3% since 2010, while similar-sized cities such as Yankton and Pierre saw a 7% growth in population, bringing the two municipalities closer to Mitchell’s 15,660 population.

Geri Beck, CEO of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC) and Chamber of Commerce, said spurring more population growth continues to be the organization’s “biggest challenge.”

“Our population didn’t grow much, and that’s our biggest challenge,” she said during a recent City Council meeting.

To spur more population growth, Beck said the MADC — which is a nonprofit organization that’s tasked with recruiting businesses and workers to Mitchell — has been focused on adding more workforce housing options. Over the past year, city leaders have pointed to Mitchell’s lack of affordable housing as a key factor that’s slowing down Mitchell’s growth.

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During the Oct. 18 City Council meeting, Beck said she’s seeking to create a Homes Are Possible Incorporated (HAPI) organization in Mitchell to bring more affordable housing options to the community.

“We have the executive director from Aberdeen coming down soon to meet with our corporation and officials,” Beck said. “We also have an earmark on a Senate appropriations bill thanks to Sen. Mike Rounds. It made it past the first cut, so it’s good news that we didn't get cut out immediately.”

HAPI is a nonprofit organization based out of Aberdeen that helps individuals become homeowners through offering grants and other available financing resources. Since the group’s inception in 2000, it’s added over 260 homes and 12 subdivisions to the city of Aberdeen, which has helped boost the city’s population over the past 10 years at a rate of 9%, making it the third largest city in the state with just over 28,000 people.

As the MADC looks to create an organization dedicated to affordable housing, several housing developments are in the process of being built by private sector companies and individuals, such as Ethan Co-op Lumber, Chuck Mauszycki and Mueller Lumber Company.

Despite the slow rate of population growth, there has been a lot of interest in people exploring job opportunities in Mitchell. According to the MADC’s quarterly report, there were 75,257 pageviews on the available job openings in the city.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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