MOUNDRIDGE — While many small towns in Kansas are struggling with declining population, the number of people residing in Moundridge is growing.
According to figures from the Kansas Secretary of State, Moundridge ranked fifth in population growth for cities with 1,000 or more people, increasing 2.4 percent from 2015 to 2016.
That influx of new residents came before the completion of the Meadowview housing addition, which added 42 more housing units and was partially responsible for a 7 percent boost in new housing construction in 2016.
Moundridge Economic Development Director Murray McGee said Moundridge grew to a population of 1,814 people in 2017.
"We've got a broad variety of housing that's available to people," McGee said.
The city offers new housing options from single-family homes to apartments and has plans to construct hangar homes near the airport.
"One of the things we have struggled with is available housing, so that's one of the things we've focused on the last few years," McGee said.
Moundridge businesses provide around 1,500 jobs, but a recent survey showed 68 percent of workers commute in from other cities, McGee noted.
While some new residents may be attracted by local jobs, small town atmosphere, low tax and utility rates and the ease of highway access to larger cities nearby, Moundridge is looking for ways to encourage people to live where they work.
Part of those efforts included making a series of short videos about Moundridge, from its founding to parents' impressions of the schools to interviews with city leaders.
Meetings for those new to Moundridge are held regularly, allowing people to meet with and ask questions of representatives of the city's administration and businesses.
At a Newcomer's Meeting held Thursday night, several people said they chose to retire to Moundridge because they grew up there.
Kathy Wedel left Moundridge in the 1970s, but recently moved back to be close to her daughter and grandchildren.
"I'm impressed with how much expansion Moundridge has done since back then," Wedel said.
Wedel asked McGee about plans to add more eating establishments in the downtown area.
"We're probably going to have some new food choices coming in here before long," McGee said. "It's just a matter of finding their locations and getting the finances to start up."
Questions were also raised about the availability of medical care, activities at the senior center and the latest news from major employers in Moundridge.
The Bradbury Group's Recruitment and Employee Development Coordinator Shonda Fast noted the manufacturer added a third shift in 2017.
"I have a lot of open positions," Fast said. "...I've got a lot of work on my plate to hire some people and get them to come to the area and work for us."
Moundridge City Administrator Randy Frazer noted that there are plans to add more outdoor recreation options such as walking paths and pickleball.
"There's some things rolling right now, and I think that's positive," McGee said.
For more information about Moundridge, visit the city website at http://www.moundridge.com. To view videos about Moundridge, visit https://youtu.be/LOOcfc0A2WY.