A large group of people sit inside a restaurant, turned and facing to the right.


After growing up in urban sprawls down of Florida, the last place Matt Kassawara expected to end up was a small town in southeast Kansas. 

But when he was looking for a job in 2003, he came across an opening at Pittsburg State University and he went for it. While he eventually left Pittsburg and lived all over the country — most recently in Denver — this quiet Kansas community left its mark.

“Of all the places I’ve lived, and that’s been many, the most people who kept in touch were people I knew from Pitt,” he said. 

Kassawara would return to Pitt once a year over Labor Day weekend, and each time he would notice the place changing for the better.

“I was looking for a slower life with still plenty to do.”

“I watched Pitt transform from a college town with college bars to a place with a variety of upscale restaurants, coffee shops, and bars,” he said. “Then TOAST and the breweries appeared. I was getting tired of the crowds and expense of Denver, I was getting older, and I was looking for a slower life with still plenty to do.

“I’ve been back here for almost a year and a half and have no interest in leaving.”

Kassawara is one of hundreds of people who have made the move to Pittsburg in the past few years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Pittsburg increased by nearly 500 people to 20,646 in 2020, a 2.4 percent increase over 2019. The city was recently ranked by Unacast as the fourth fastest-growing small city in the nation.

Caretakers help a child with a craft

1,677 new jobs over the past several years

City Manager Daron Hall said the population increase can be attributed to many factors, including growth in jobs and housing.

“I believe we are growing because of our increased commitment to improving our houses, schools and our amenities,” Hall said. “It all starts with jobs, but having houses for people to live in, and quality education, is what will keep them here.”

Hall said a “conscious effort by the community to grow and attract people is being realized.”

“Due to this effort, our community has seen an investment of $535 million and 1,677 jobs over the past several years,” he said. “It has truly been a joint effort by all of our business and institutions”