St. John, Winfield among the fastest growing towns in the state

Flags wave in a gentle breeze at the official dedication to the new name of Veterans Civic Park behind Town Hall in St. John. St. John was again one of the fastest-growing towns in the state.

Winfield and St. John again ranked among the fastest growing towns in Indiana with at least 5,000 residents.

Indiana Business Research Center and Indiana University Kelley School of Business Senior Demographic Analyst Matt Kinghorn said in a new report in IU's INContext Magazine that most of the state's population growth was concentrated in the Indianapolis suburbs last year.

"In all, 13 of the 15 fastest-growing cities or towns in the state in 2016 were in suburban counties in the Indy metropolitan area," Kinghorn wrote. "The only places outside Central Indiana to make the top 15 were the Lake County communities of Winfield and St. John."

Winfield's population grew by 2.9 percent in 2016 to an estimated 5,560 residents. St. John's population increased by 1.9 percent last year to 16,800 residents.

St. John's population has shot up by 12.3 percent since 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

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"St. John has been one of the fastest-growing communities in the entire Chicago metro area for several years now," Town Manager Steve Kil said. "Outstanding schools, strict building and zoning regulations, proximity to downtown Chicago, and financial stability of not only the state of Indiana, but also St. John are just a few of the things that are attracting new residents to the community. Families really enjoy the small town feel along with the close proximity to the city."

Illinois residents in particular have been flooding to the border town of St. John, said Peter Novak, CEO of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

"Comparable to Illinois, it's viewed as a bargain," he said. "It's a solid school system with a number of arterials that lead back into Illinois, including U.S. 231 and 109th Street. There are multiple ways to get back to Illinois, and it's easy to navigate."

Winfield also has been growing because it has a top-notch elementary school and is in the well-regarded Crown Point school system for students from middle school on, he said. Both towns also continue to grow because they have undeveloped land on which new subdivisions can be built.

"There's more new construction and newer housing stock," Novak said. "Families can get bigger homes with more rooms and potentially finished basements. The population spikes because it's families moving into those towns, not just individuals. It's a husband, wife and then some kids, which really spikes those numbers."


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.