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Raleigh Moving In On List Of 50 Largest U.S. Cities

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The city of Raleigh is approaching the distinction of being one of the 50 largest cities in the United States.

Population estimates expected out in a few weeks put Raleigh's population more than 350,000 people inside the city limits.

"Raleigh's growth is not just on the fringes," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "Twenty to 25 percent is actually in the city in terms of infill and redevelopment areas. So we have both kind of growth, from annexation as well as growth internally."

The Capital City is currently larger than Tampa, Fla., Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. It is also expected to surpass St Louis's population of about 343,000 with the new figures and could surpass Minneapolis, which has a population of about 373,000, within the next few years.

Leaders said Raleigh can grow outward, unlike the aforementioned cities, which are denser.

About 12,000 people are moving to the city each year, making it one of the nation's fastest growing cities. Compared to expected population numbers of 350,000, the city's population was only 150,000 in 1980. A decade later, it increased to 212,000; and in 2000, the population was at about 276,000.

City leaders said they believe jobs and quality of life are two reasons the city is continuing to expand.

A growing city is also attractive for companies, city leaders have said. Better jobs and prestige are part of the benefits.

"I think from marketing -- and getting national attention is where it helps," said Raleigh planning director Mitch Silver. "It shows you are in a different class of a city, so there is a higher expectation for your downtown, having other venues and a place where people want to visit."

But there are other reasons Raleigh is moving up on the list of largest cities. A nationwide trend shows people from the Northeast and Midwest are moving further west and further south.


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