Two Cities in Iowa Could Lose “Metropolitan” Status
Two cities in Iowa are concerned that their status as "metropolitan areas" could soon be downgraded. Those in charge of changing the designation say it is purely for evolving statistical purposes, but leaders in those cities are concerned it could mean much more eventually from a financial perspective.
To currently qualify as a "metropolitan area," a city in the United States must have a population of at least 50,000 residents. A proposed change would increase that threshold to 100,000 and affect 144 cities across the country, including Dubuque and Ames, with current populations of 60,438 and 67,818 respectively.
The Associated Press says a committee of federal statistical agencies made the recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget. Many of the cities included are concerned that eventually, federal programs may change their thresholds for the distribution of funds to communities.
The AP article states that being classified as a "micropolitan" area (currently a population of 50,000 or less) often does mean less funding toward certain housing, transportation, and Medicare reimbursement programs.
And even if it doesn't, for some cities, "metropolitan status" is something meaningful to hang their hat on. The article didn't indicate whether they had talked to anyone from Ames or Dubuque about the possible change, but Patrick Rollens, a spokesperson for Corvallis, Oregon (home of Oregon State University) says,
I won’t lie. We would be dismayed to see our MSA designation go away. We aren’t a suburb of any other, larger city in the area, so this is very much part of our community’s identity. Losing the designation would also have potentially adverse impacts on recruitment for local businesses, as well as Oregon State University.
There are still a lot of hypotheticals, but with Ames being home to its own university, Iowa State, you can assume they have some of the same concerns. It remains to be seen how the changes will affect the cities involved, and if the changes even happen, as it's still in the proposal stages.