Tippecanoe County's growing gains

What's it like to live in the fastest growing cities in the state? Greater Lafayette falls into that category this year.

Posted: May 9, 2018 6:36 PM
Updated: May 9, 2018 8:51 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Recent data shows Lafayette and West Lafayette are the fastest growing cities in the state.

"From a small ant to a large elephant," said Randy Griffith when asked about growth in Greater Lafayette. 


"Growth can be good," he added. 

"I was born here, so I've been here 80 years," said Joe Bumbleburg. "I think that over the years Lafayette has done a really wonderful, incredible job of moving into the modern day."

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski agrees. He said in a global economy, you're either growing or you're dying.

"Because the minute you think status quo is OK somebody is going to come in here and snatch up some of your businesses some of your resources, they're going to start draining all of your talent," said Roswarski. 

That's not happening in Greater Lafayette. Large companies like Subaru are expanding. Jobs are being created, money is flowing into the local economy and more people are moving to the community.

"This house sold almost before the ink dried on the listing contract," said Cathy Russell, owner of The Russell Company Real Estate. 

If you want to sell your house, do it now.

"Cause it's nothing like it has been in the past," explained Russell. 

Buyers are so willing, they're signing escalation clauses. It's a purchasing technique Russell just started seeing within the past year.

"They're going to bid on the house maybe full price, maybe a little under, maybe a little lower, but then they're going to escalate their offer up to their cap," said Russell. 

Sometimes she'll have 15 different offers at once. Russell knows why people fight to live here.

"Just a great sense of community, good schools, it's a great place to live," said Russell. 

Tippecanoe School Corporation has been growing since its inception.

"We're one of the largest employers in the county, so as our school corporation grows we're adding jobs," said TSC Superintendent Dr. Scott Hanback. 

Partnerships with local businesses and the University have allowed school corporations to better prepare students for jobs in the future too.

"The pending Greater Lafayette Career Academy. All three of us are going to come together and provide a place where students can have some significant curriculum that we might not be able to otherwise offer," said Hanback. 

"I think what's going on here is what needs to go on here," added West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. 

Dennis said the neighboring cities have done an excellent job deciding what fits where. In West Lafayette, it's a world renowned research university, tree tops and roof tops. Across the river, it's advanced manufacturing with a small town feel.

"Those individually are great things but collaboratively, you can see how that really is starting to bring a lot of attention to Greater Lafayette," said Dennis. 

It's bringing attention from both outside communities and lifetime residents like Shannon Smeltz.

"The restaurant scene is getting a lot more exciting and a lot more variety," said Smeltz. 

That's because of restaurateurs like Melissa Mckeithanrohwer who just opened Core Life Eatery this week. She owns two other restaurants in Greater Lafayette as well.

"Performance history of my existing brands tells me that this is a strong market," said Mckeithanrohwer. "And it's a really sound investment for future growth for my brand."

It's an easy sell to employees when quality of life is constantly improving.

"We are hiring people that are coming into the community to relocate for a better opportunity to raise their children," said Mckeithanrohwer.

That may be the greatest benefit of all to those living here. Shannon Smeltz is proud she chose Greater Lafayette to raise her family.

"I wouldn't consider raising them anywhere else," said Smeltz. 

It's not all rainbows and butterflies, though. There are some negatives that come with a rapidly growing community.
Including an increase in crime and homelessness.

Growing Pains airs Thursday night on News 18 at Six.

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