Border city of San Luis making waves with population surge

As a state, Arizona is booming when it comes to its population landscape. But most people may give a nod to the Greater Phoenix area or Tucson when it comes to moving that ball forward. But one border town is making waves of its own as a landmark of population growth.

San Luis, a town of roughly 32,000 citizens, has been recognized as Arizona’s biggest population boomtown. Located near Yuma, San Luis, which also plays host to a busy port of entry, has seen a 23.9-percent increase in population in the past five years and 104.2 percent in the last decade as a whole.

GoBankingRates, a new finance website, analyzed growth rates in owner-occupied housing units and per capita income rates in each state. Along with the population growth, the five- and 10-year changes in owner-occupied housing units were 13.9 percent and 106.2 percent, respectively.

But it’s not just new citizens calling San Luis home that has seen a rise. In fact, incomes have jumped up too, seeing a 26.2-percent rise in the past half decade and 64.7 percent in the past 10 years.

“We’ve been stuck in limbo for a while economically. So this is obviously a positive. The hurdle we can‘t get passed is related to our population, even with traffic at the border and ports of entry,” said San Luis city councilman, Matias Rosales. “But now this is opening up eyes and we’re seeing companies calling us to open new space or are ready to come back into town.”

According to Rosales, the city is already staking down five new housing developments, each with about 500 new homes. Many of these homes are already being bought or eyed by people from Southern California or Yuma looking for a new home at a cheaper rate.

Another component of the population growth relates to growth across the border. Cities bordering San Luis and Yuma on the Mexican side have experienced their own growth, and first generation and second generation Americans who have made their way over to San Luis have more disposable income and better jobs allowing them to afford homes of their own.

Some of the notable industries that stand out in GoBankingRates’ analysis are retail trade, agriculture, and manufacturing. These industries can be tied to the town’s port of entry, a busy port that sees 2.5 million pedestrians pass through each year. Last October, the port of entry unveiled a series of renovations aimed at boosting safety and efficiency in processing. The $6 million project included new technology and a new building, which helps to analyze images taken by cameras the officers review.

“We have a high presence of agriculture trade. This is the best trade we’ve seen in 10 years. A lot of shipping and trucking companies left us, but are coming back now,” Rosales said.

Nick Esquer

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