Fishers Tops List of Growing Cities

Fishers Tops List of Growing Cities

Fishers Tops List of Growing Cities

Thursday, June 24, 2010 - Paraphrased Article from Indianapolis Star

By:  Tom Knox

The recession has slowed down population growth across Indiana, but not in Fishers, which has nearly doubled its population since 2000. The town has gained 32,884 residents, accounting for the most growth of any city or town in the state, according to a study of U.S. census data released Wednesday by Indiana University.

Indianapolis had the second-most growth, adding 25,717 people from 2000 until July 2009.

"Gee, there wasn't anything here when we started," said Steve Sharp, who has owned a printing company in Fishers since 1983. "There were a few of us here, but not very many." The first McDonald's in Fishers was built downtown shortly after Sharp arrived, bringing the downtown area a water main and taking it off well water. A wide range of factors play into a once-rural town's sudden growth, but for Fishers, the highly ranked school system and suburban space has had a big effect, said Matt Kinghorn, state demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business, which analyzed the census data.

"If you have a family," he said, "not only can you get into a good school first but you have a little more space for longer yards and less traffic." Hamilton Southeastern Schools is the fastest-growing school district in the state, and its school system is often mentioned in magazine reports on why Fishers is an emerging place for families to live. In 1989-90, the district had 2,845 students and six schools. Twenty years later, enrollment increased to 17,797 -- an eightfold increase -- and 20 schools. More than 75 percent of residents have a bachelor's degree or higher, according to

Town Council President Scott Faultless moved to Fishers in 1991 after he completed law school. There were about 7,500 residents then. The reason people move to town is simple, he said: "People who are educated want to make sure their kids are educated, and they get that kind of education here." Dennis Olmstead, a project coordinator for Fishers-based engineering firm Stoeppelwerth & Associates, started working for the company in 1981. From his office on Allisonville Road, he could see and hear rabbit hunters on the prowl in a field behind the building. "You really felt you were out in the middle of the country back then," he said. Now, the area is home to a mortuary, dentist's office and apartment complex.

Fishers and most suburbs' growth have slowed during the recession as the housing market slump and wobbly employment scares people into staying put. Still, in 2000, Fishers had 39,043 residents. It now has 71,052. Indianapolis-area suburbs Carmel, Noblesville and Greenwood had the third through fifth highest population gains in the state, respectively.

Sharp, the print-shop owner, remembers there not being a stoplight in town. Back then, he thought overflow population from Marion County would come into Fishers eventually. "But I don't know that anyone envisioned that we'd grow this much."