BENEWAH COUNTY, Idaho — Donna Spier says in her 12 years as the Benewah County assessor, growth wasn't always a talking point.
"The first seven, not a lot of activity," Spier said. "Just occasional few retirees moving in."
But, following the height of the pandemic, she says that quickly changed.
"It's just grown year over year in a pretty steep trajectory," Spier said. "We've tripled the number of our homes being built every year."
State data confirms the county growth Spier has tracked.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, between 2021 and 2022, Benewah County saw a 4.3% increase in its population.
"Each one of these files represents a piece of property," Spier said. "Maybe a house, structure. We got over 12,000 of them. We're adding 200 a year. That's a lot for us, and we're adding 200 a year steady for the last 3 to 4 years."
St. Maries realtor Ryan Olson welcomes the recent growth.
"We get a lot of older folks that do want to retire into this area and we do get a lot of younger families that want to get away from the hustle and bustle," Olson said. "We have a strong knit community here."
Spier says she's excited more people are moving into the rural town she grew up in. However, she can't help but notice the growing pains.
"We've had those discussions like, 'How do we keep up? What do we do?'" Spier said. "Emergency services has had to think about how to cover more area."
Se says she knows there's a lot Benewah County has to offer.
"It is a beautiful area if you're an outdoorsman," Spier said. "That's what draws them here."
Now, she says growth is a talking point she's familiar with.
"It's easy to talk about just because I've been talking about it," Spier said.
State data shows Boundary, Bonner, Adams and Jefferson counties also place in the top five fastest-growing Idaho counties. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, in 2022, Idaho was the fastest growing state behind Florida.
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