- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area is edging closer to having a population of 1 million after eclipsing 900,000 people for the first time last year.

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1GYXNso ) reports that U.S. Census Bureau data places the metro area’s population at an estimated 904,421 people. The Omaha metro area includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Washington and Saunders counties in Nebraska; and Pottawattamie, Mills and Harrison counties in Iowa.

David Drozd of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research and chamber of commerce officials say there are benefits to hitting the one million mark. According to them, some larger businesses and high-end retailers will only consider locating to cities with more than a million residents. Omaha is the 60th-largest metro in the United States.

“There are certainly companies that look at that million and above,” said Randy Thelen, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Omaha Chamber. “We’re close, so for companies familiar with Omaha, they’ll already include us in their search. But sometimes we do find ourselves on the outside looking in. It does help.”

Collectively, the area has been growing over the past decade by about 1.2 percent a year.

“Barring some kind of major event, realistically Omaha should top 1 million in 2023,” Drozd said.

Omaha’s annual growth rate makes it the 39th-fastest growing among the nation’s 100 largest metros.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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