By Carleigh Griffeth
Lynchburg, VA – Lynchburg has been recognized on a national level for its most recent growth spurt. According to Smart Growth America, Lynchburg is one of the fastest growing cities in small, metro areas.
Lynchburg city officials say the growth is coming from opposite ends of the spectrum. Graduates from Lynchburg colleges are creating roots there, and retirees are relocating there. And city officials say all this growth is sprouting from one place in particular–downtown.
Smart Growth America says Lynchburg is number four on the list of a growing trend: cities that are growing faster than their surrounding suburbs.
“I think it’s really the quality of life of small, metropolitan areas,” said Kent White, Lynchburg Director of Community Development.
From 2010 to 2011, Lynchburg’s population growth rate was 1.04%, compared to its suburban growth rate of 0.20%. Lynchburg’s growth can be attributed to two age groups—those just starting their careers, and those just ending them.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth both in our student population and in our retiree population,” said White.
“I think we mostly see young professionals, people right out of college in the first couple years of their career that are living downtown. But we’re also seeing those empty nesters, retirees, baby boomers that are down-sizing and moving into loft apartments,” said Anna Bentson, Executive Director of Lynch’s Landing.
Both generations are looking for the same thing–convenience and connectivity. City living offers easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, and friends.
“When you have those physical connections, you start to build those social connections. And that, I think that is what’s really driving our community,” said White.
And that’s what’s driving people downtown, not just here, but across the country.
“One of the common points was that all of them had successful downtowns,” said White.
“We have seen that growth and it’s just really nice to see it couched in a national trend,” said Bentson.