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El Paso County: Bigger and ... better?

Long Story Short

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The U.S. Census Bureau announced last week that El Paso County remains Colorado's most populous county, its 655,044 residents outnumbering Denver County's 649,495. In a corner booth downtown, an economic-development honcho may have pumped a fist.

But population is a superficial way to gauge the health of a community, and a trip to census.gov will allow you to dig a little deeper. For instance, from 2008 through 2012, 12.5 percent of people here fell short of the poverty line, even though 93.4 percent of locals 25 or older had graduated from high school. Other info starts to hint at our culture: percentages of minority- and women-owned businesses, retail sales per capita, etc.

Every week at the Independent, we try to do something similar to what the Census Bureau does — to take a snapshot of this community, and see what we can learn both from and about it. Once a year, we take it a step further by publishing an "annual manual," meant to serve as a greater overview of Colorado Springs and its surroundings.

This is that week for 2014, so tucked inside this Indy you'll find our 88-page InSider guide. As you move through stories on cultural attractions, food and drink, recreation opportunities and more, we hope you'll get a more well-rounded sense of how this community's doing today.

We're bigger than Denver, and bigger than we've been, but it'd really be something to celebrate if we were better, too.

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