Riley ranks among fastest growing counties in nation

By Bethany Knipp

Riley County was recognized as the 15th fastest growing county in a recent nationwide study.

The study was conducted by a group at, a comparison website based in San Francisco.

Divya Raghavan, a senior analyst at NerdWallet, said the study considered employment, population and income from U.S. Census data available for 750 counties. There are 3,141 counties and county equivalents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Riley County ranked 15 out of the 20 counties on the list. According to the data, it grew 5.4 percent in population from 2007 to 2011. Ranking No. 1 on the list was Orleans Parish County in Louisiana, of which New Orleans is the county seat.

Raghavan said one factor that influences population growth in the fastest growing counties is the existence of the public universities within many of them.

John Pagen, vice president for economic development at the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, said the growth of Kansas State University is one reason for Riley County’s growth. He also said with Manhattan being a shopping hub for a multi-county area and Fort Riley, along with expanding housing options for military personnel, have been drawing people in as well.

“You’re just getting a critical mass of a lot of great things,” Pagen said.

He said this study is like many coming out right now. For the last four years, Forbes has ranked Manhattan in its top five best small places for business and careers.

Last month, Forbes ranked Manhattan third behind Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo, N.D., respectively.

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