- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - Nampa might no longer be Idaho’s second-largest city.

Though the U.S. Census Bureau still has Nampa in the second spot, an estimate from the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho shows fast-growing Meridian surpassing its western neighbor.

Twenty-five years ago, Meridian had about 10,000 residents. Now its population is roughly 85,000.

The mayors of the two cities told the Idaho Press-Tribune (https://is.gd/08AF2r ) that they don’t view the population figures as a competition, and are more concerned with growing the regional economy.

“Growth has never been to us growing of population,” Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd said.

Meridian has been growing faster in other ways, too. The median household income in Meridian, which has more adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, expanded by $10,295 between 2000 and 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nampa’s increased by only $5,486, and is more than $20,000 behind Meridian’s.

Rents and house prices have also been rising in Meridian. Jennifer Buckels, the owner of Cutting Edge Pilates, rents studios in Nampa and Meridian. Both are on busy streets with similar amenities. Though the Meridian studio is a little smaller, its rent is about 40 percent higher, she said.

Patty Metcalf, meanwhile, said home prices led her to buy in Nampa.

“When I was house hunting recently, I looked at homes in Ada County but discovered I could get a lot more for my money in Canyon County,” she said.

Nampa and Meridian will eventually grow together, de Weerd said, and the cities are planning for that day. The cities’ mayors and planning staffs have met to talk about their visions. The agricultural science industry is a prime target for collaborative growth, de Weerd said.

Nampa Mayor Both Henry said growth shouldn’t be measured by individual communities, but by the Treasure Valley’s growth as a whole.

“We sometimes get so hung up on our little community,” Henry said. “I look at all of us kind of partnering to make this a great place for people to come. I’m a very competitive person. But when you’re looking at my role as a mayor, I have to look at the whole Valley. I can’t say I just want what’s best for Nampa.”

“I still remember a technology company that was looking here and they brought their wives, and their wives wanted to see the blue turf at Boise State. We said, ‘That’s in Boise. That’s 20 miles away.’ And they said, ‘So?’ They were from San Diego - 20 miles was nothing.”

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Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, https://www.idahopress.com

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