Ames to see population drop as semester ends


Jackie Norman/Iowa State Daily

Vendors line Main Street in downtown Ames on June 30 as a part of the farmers market.

Katie Ingle

With the second semester and finals week coming to an end, students of Iowa State are making plans for their summer break. Many of these plans take place back in hometowns or in new locations outside the city of Ames.

With all of the students leaving for the summer, the Ames population shifts dramatically.

According to the US Census Bureau, the total population of the city of Ames in 2017 was 65,005 people, with 30,594 citizens being part-time enrolled students. The summer of 2018 brought along a large population drop, leaving Ames to be home to only 34,411 residents.

With each summer comes a new wave of student absence. With this absence comes a lack of consumers, renters and activity in Ames.

Drew Kamp, director of public policy for the Ames Chamber of Commerce, said influxes in the student population have impacts on businesses.

“Sometimes it gets tight for some businesses owners,” Kamp said. “In most cases, established businesses owners know where their markets need to go and they are able to accommodate and plan for that.”

Barefoot Campus Outfitters is a student-geared Iowa State apparel store on Lincoln Way, and Jacky Perry, store manager of Barefoot Campus Outfitters, said the population shift affects their sales.

“The students aren’t shopping which is our main customer base, but we see a lot of locals during the summer,” Perry explained. “Orientation is June is absolutely insane for our sales, so that makes up for the students being gone.”

Insomnia Cookies, another common area for students and residents of Ames, alter their hours and employment during the summer, due to the slower business demand.

Susan Gwiasda, public relations officer for the city of Ames, pointed out that there is a trend within students, where it is more common to stay in Ames all year round. “This is due to a popularity in renting and living off campus, typically with a year-long contract,” stated Gwiasda.

“More and more people are choosing to stay in Ames year round because of year-round leasing,” Gwiasda said. “If you stay in Ames during the summer, you can tell that it is not as busy and traffic is not as heavy, but it’s not like it’s empty.”

Gwiasda also said the city starts projects, such as road work, the day after graduation in order to get roads fixed as soon as possible to inconvenience the least amount of people. She noted that there are dips in use of utilities such as water and electricity, which is to be expected.

Kamp expressed that there are many events held by Ames in the summer that attract more people from out of town. These events include the Iowa Association of Business and Industry Conference, the Iowa Games and Special Olympics, along with many others.