February 24, 2011 | Loveland Connection | Original Article

Hispanic demographic a big part of Loveland population growth

Loveland grew by more than 30 percent in the past decade, according to 2010 census numbers released today showing a population of 66,859 people.

By comparison, the 2000 census registered 50,608 residents, meaning 16,251 more people were counted in last year’s census for total growth of 32.1 percent.

The city is the 14th largest in the state, according to the numbers, moving down one spot since 2000 because of the city of Centennial’s formation.

As expected, the area's Hispanic population grew significantly in the past decade. The most dramatic Hispanic growth in the area was in Loveland, where Latinos made up 11.7 percent of the population in 2010, compared with 8.6 percent in 2000. In Larimer County, 10.6 percent of the population was Hispanic, up from 8.3 percent in 2000. In Fort Collins, it was 10.1 percent, up from 8.8 percent.

Thompson School District Superintendent Ron Cabrera said the census numbers mirror what his Loveland-based district has seen in the past few years. But he noted that even though the overall Hispanic population in Thompson School District is rising, the number of English as a second language learners has declined slightly. That means the new students have grown up speaking English, he said, and are not recent immigrants.

"What we're seeing that this is ... a movement of a population that's second- or third-generation English speakers," Cabrera said.

Cabrera said his district also has seen relatively flat school enrollment, which he attributed in part to a large number of retirees moving into Loveland.

Mayor Cecil Gutierrez said he sees a lot of retirees when he looks around his own neighborhood. He said knowing how many people live in Loveland and what stage they are in life will help the city plan for the future.

"We're going to have to look at transportation and housing issues," he said.

He cited increases in economic development and energy jobs at companies such as Vestas and Abound Solar.

Gutierrez speculated that the biggest growth occurred from 2000 to 2007, or “before the economy went in the tank."

arimer County, meanwhile, grew by 19.1 percent, for a population of 299,630. It is the sixth largest county in Colorado.

Fort Collins grew by 21.4 percent to make it the fourth-largest city in Colorado, with a population of 143,986.

Timnath, northeast of Loveland, was one of the fastest-growing places in Colorado in the last decade, rising 180 percent — from 223 residents to 625. Other fast-growing places in Northern Colorado include Firestone, Frederick, Erie and Severance, according to the new figures.

According to the census, the state's biggest cities are: Denver at 600,158; Colorado Springs at 416,427; Aurora at 325,078, Fort Collins at 143,986; and Lakewood at 142,980. Denver grew by 8.2 percent since the 2000 Census. Colorado Springs grew by 15.4 percent, Aurora grew by 17.6 percent and Lakewood decreased by 0.8 percent, the census said.

The state's largest county is El Paso, with a population of 622,263. Its population grew by 20.4 percent since 2000. The other counties in the top five include Denver, with a population of 600,158 (up 8.2 percent); Arapahoe, 572,003 (up 17.2 percent); Jefferson, 534,543 (up 1.4 percent); and Adams, 441,603 (up 21.4 percent).

State officials will use the census numbers to help apportion voters into districts, decide where to spend money, and project future growth.