ST. CLOUD -- The population of Central Minnesota is changing.

Cities across the state are seeing an increase of immigrants. In St. Cloud, statistics from the state demographics office shows the number of minorities now makes up 16.7% of the total population.

These new immigrants are coming to the local area from all across the globe. This new trend is unlike the past two centuries, when the United States saw a majority of its immigrants come from Europe.

According to US Census data, there are 6,763 Latino's living in Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties. And more than 2,380 people of Asian descent also calling the St. Cloud metro area home.



One of the fastest growing populations is that of the African community. There are over 1,570 Africans now in the St. Cloud region.  However, that number is debated. Somalian leaders say their population, alone, is closer to 10,000.

No other state has a larger Somalian population than Minnesota. Overall, there are an estimated 32,000 Somali's living here.

State Demographer Susan Brower says like everyone else, immigrants are coming here for jobs.

Minnesota's immigrant groups are expected to continue to grow, as the Latino population is projected to go from 14% in 2005 to more than a quarter of the minority population by 2035, and doubling in 30 years.

Brower says this may seem like a large change, but it is happening all across the state.

Although St. Cloud is seeing an increase of immigrants, it is still lagging behind both the state and national averages. The city has less than half the share of foreign born immigrants than that of the nation as a whole.

These changes can be explained by looking at migrant patterns. Populations tend to build up around each other in metropolitan areas. Brower says migration flows open up once families find an area suitable to them. Over time, these populations grow as children are born and more family members come to the area.

This is part one of a five part series, examining immigrant populations in Central Minnesota.