CROWN POINT | You might have some money, but Dean White has more of it.

Northwest Indiana's only billionaire moved up 56 places in the Forbes 400, a ranking of the country's richest people by their estimated net worth in what the magazine calls "the definitive list of wealth in America."

Forbes estimates the hotel, billboard and real estate magnate is worth $2.5 billion, same as he was last year. White's wealth, however, has significantly risen since 2013, when it was estimated at $1.8 billion.

White, whose Whiteco Residential company has built more than 4,000 apartments from Washington to Florida in what Forbes calls an "under-the-radar empire," ranked as the 737th wealthiest person in the world, same as last year. He placed 869th in 2013.

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The 92-year-old Crown Point resident was 268th on the Forbes 400 list, up from 324th in 2014. He inherited his father's billboard company in 1946, significantly grew its reach, and made $960 million when he sold it off in 1998. He later made $1.7 billion from selling 100 hotels to BET founder Robert Johnson.

White has invested in real estate and hotels all over the country, including the splashy 33-story "Big Blue" JW Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis, which is the biggest JW Marriott in the world.

The richest person in America is Microsoft founder Bill Gates with a net worth of $76 billion, according to Forbes. Warren Buffett is second with $62 billion, while Larry Ellison is third with $47.5 billion. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos placed fourth with $47 billion.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.