Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen said if a community isn’t growing, it’s dying. As evidenced by recently becoming Indiana’s 10th-largest city, with a population approaching 70,000, Noblesville is clearly growing.
Although Jensen welcomes the distinction, he said there’s a fine line between cultivating growth and maintaining a “hometown feel.” Noblesville’s population, as of 2020, was 69,604.
“I want to credit the entire state of Indiana because it’s a place to live, work and play, and it maintains a healthy fiscal environment and we see businesses coming here and then families follow that business,” Jensen said. “Noblesville has natural assets. People are looking for the hometown feel, and we pride ourselves on that with our (downtown) square and the (White River).
“Ruoff (Music Center) and Exit 210 are hot spots to live, work and play. That’s happening because of a statewide effort.”
Jensen said growth brings with it benefits and challenges.
“It’s great to have a community that’s desirable. I believe you’re either growing or dying as a community,” Jensen said. “It also is on us, then, going forward to help guide that growth and manage that growth. We are insistent from the administration to maintain that hometown feel and maintain the historic downtown.”
Jensen said being one of the state’s largest cities makes Noblesville attractive to specific types of businesses.
“We can be more selective on what we go after in terms of business attraction,” Jensen said. “We have such a low unemployment rate, and we have to attract businesses that have the workforce we are looking for and make sure we have workers skilled up for businesses coming here.”
Jensen understands that some residents are wary growth. But when strategically managed, he said growth typically benefits all.
“We saw that when the Levinson was built. There was a lot of apprehension about a new building in downtown Noblesville, but now it’s built and open and people see it and the aesthetics put into it and see it actually really fits in downtown and solves a huge (parking) problem for us,” Jensen said. “And it adds residential to downtown. If we want our downtown, which is our bread and butter, to thrive and small business owners to succeed, they have to have more folks living in downtown and shopping at their stores.
“Anticipation is way worse than the end result.”
Bret Richardson, a lifetime Noblesville resident, embraces the growth.
“As a longtime resident, I am very excited for (the population growth),” Richardson said. “It brings in a huge tax base. It brings in a lot of new people to feed the downtown merchants. I think it’s both scary and welcomed.”
Richardson, whose family has lived in Noblesville since 1821, said the city has always adapted and thrived in changing business climates.
“Noblesville has had a very interesting move,” he said. “If you go across the United States or Indiana, you see small towns and a lot of them are boarded up. When Walmart came in, it took a lot of business away and those towns never made it back out, but Noblesville did. Noblesville was very resilient.”
Richardson said Noblesville’s growth differs from that of Hamilton County neighbors Carmel and Fishers, in that Noblesville maintains its “hometown feel” even while it grows.
“Carmel and Fishers do not have a downtown like we do,” Richardson. “All of our core is around the historic downtown because that’s what pulls old Noblesville back in. We have a homecoming parade that goes down the street, and that’s small town, right?”
Noblesville resident Bret Richardson, who serves on the Noblesville Preservation Alliance Board of Directors, said the city works to maintain its small-town feel. Noblesville is now the 10th-largest city in Indiana.
“The city is very good about preservation,” Richardson said. “This administration is very strong in that area, and they want to make sure that we retain our hometown feel. The mayor gives out his cellphone number to anybody who wants it. I think it still has the charm and feel of a small town but it’s really unique. I don’t think you can get that very many places where you have thriving infrastructure and a lot of development and money coming into town, but at the same time you are able to sit in a coffee shop and chit chat with the locals. I’m extremely happy with it.”
Mayor Chris Jensen said the city maintains its quaint feel by establishing essential partnerships with the Noblesville Preservation Alliance and Noblesville Main Street.