Historical Background & Critical Points Timeline
North Liberty: Come Grow With Us!
Within the last thirty years, North Liberty’s population has experienced significant growth. Between 1980 and 2014, the number of people in the city increased by 58.5% from 1,211 to 1,919. Much of this growth occurred between 2000 and 2014 when population increased from 1,402 to its current state, a reflection of the balance North Liberty provides between living in a small town and being in close proximity to South Bend.
North Liberty’s population has a higher percentage of residents identifying as White (97.1%) than both St. Joseph County (79.8%) and Indiana (84.8%). The town has a smaller percentage of residents identifying as Black or as another race, with the second highest minority being American Indians (0.5%).
North Liberty has experienced a significant growth in poverty since 1980, with the percentage of people below the poverty line changing by 193.6%. This growth is larger than the change in poverty of both St. Joseph County (91.3%) and Indiana (5.8%).
North Liberty’s median household income decreased by 3.5% from $49,510 in 1980 to $40,288 in 2014. This follows a statewide pattern where income changed by -4.9% from 1980 to 2014. Fortunately, the town hasn’t experienced the same change as in the county where median household income has decreased by 12.1% from $51,225 in 1980 to $45,012 in 2014.
North Liberty: Socioeconomic Characteristics of Decline
Source: 1970 Census of Population, PC(1)-C1 "General Social and Economic Characteristics", table 182. 1980 Census of Population, PC80-1-C1 "General Social and Economic Characteristics", table 245.U.S. Census Bureau, Census 1980 Summary Files 1 and 3. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 American Community Survey Table S1702. U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts, 2015. Data derived from Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, State and County Housing Unit Estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits. STATS Indiana, using data from Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota 2011.
a. Poverty figures for 2014 were the most recent data estimations from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2010-2014 Table S1701 estimations provided for the specific geographic area.
b. The Median Household dollar amounts reported for 1980 are values that have been converted to constant 2014 dollars according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, available at www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.
Neighborhood Stability and Quality of Life
North Liberty’s housing stock is similar to other Stellar Communities, with many aging homes in need of renovation or rehabilitation. For example, in 2014, 47.2% of the 718 housing units in North Liberty were built before 1939. The median home value is $94,000, which is about 20.6% less than St. Joseph County’s median home value of $113,400. Only about 9.5% of homes were built after 2000, and only three units have been built since 2010.
Community Economic Development
The town is known as a gateway to the nearby Potato Creek State Park, which provides the town with tourist traffic throughout the year, especially during the summer. As part of the Bicentennial Campaign, the state has announced the construction of a $24 million inn to promote the park’s attractions. Vehicle traffic has also increased in the last decade, suggesting an opportunity for higher exposure for the town and its activities.
In an effort to revitalize store facades, the town has come together to paint and clean businesses that would otherwise not have the funds to do so. In 2013, North Liberty partnered with nearby Walkerton to create the Southwest St. Joseph County Economic Development Initiative to “spur the development of housing, retail, and manufacturing.”
To further promote economic development, North Liberty applied for the Stellar Communities Designation in 2015. As part of the town’s Strategic Investment Plan, marketing and business investments were created to retain Potato Creek State Park tourists and improve downtown facades. The Town of North Liberty was awarded Stellar Designation in 2015.