With about 25,850 people, Lyon County remains the largest county in Southwest Minnesota. According to 2010 U.S. Census, Lyon County’s population increased about 1.7 percent from 2000 to 2010, an increase of 432 people, while the state’s population gained 7.8 percent. Lyon was the only county in the 9-county Southwest Minnesota economic development region that peaked in population in 2010 – the other counties in the region have all been declining for 50 years or more. Only one other county in the region – Nobles County – saw a population increase from 2000 to 2010. See Figure 2-1.
Lyon County was the 41st largest county (out of 87) in Minnesota in 2010, and was one of 17 micro-politan statistical areas in the state. Micropolitans contain a core city with at least 10,000, but less than 50,000, people. With 13,680 people in 2010, the city of Marshall was the 72nd largest city in the state, slightly bigger than Brainerd (13,590 people), New Ulm (13,522 people), and Bemidji (13,431 people). The next largest city in Lyon County was Tracy, with 2,163 people in 2010, followed by Minneota (1,392 people), Cottonwood (1,212 people), and Balaton (643 people). The rest of the cities and townships in Lyon County all had fewer than 500 people. See Table 2-1.
Of the 31 cities and townships in Lyon County, just four gained population from 2000 to 2009, led by the growth in the city of Marshall, which gained 945 people. Lynd and Ghent, two smaller bedroom communities located around Marshall, both grew rapidly over the decade. The city of Cottonwood also saw a small gain. In contrast, the fastest population declines in the county were happening in the smallest cities and townships, including Florence, Island Lake township, and Custer township.