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Researchers say Liberty University helps fuel Lynchburg’s steady growth

The Lynchburg area grew by nearly 10,000 people over the last decade, extending the region’s trend of steady population growth, according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Last year, an estimated 262,428 people lived in the Lynchburg metropolitan area, up from the 252,634 people recorded in the 2010 census, according to estimates released this month by the Weldon Cooper Center, a research organization at the University of Virginia which tracks the state’s demographic changes.

Lynchburg itself grew to an estimated 80,783 in 2019, adding more than 5,000 people since 2010. The city grew faster than any other locality in the region, a phenomenon researchers attributed in part to Liberty University’s expansion.

“I think a lot of the population growth is tied to the growth of Liberty University,” said Hamilton Lombard, a Weldon Cooper research and policy analyst. “It’s been a big driver.”

Liberty’s growth hasn’t just benefited Lynchburg. The school’s expansion has also impacted neighboring counties in what Lombard called a “spillover effect.”

Bedford County, the second largest locality in the region, added more than 3,600 people to grow to 78,581. Campbell and Appomattox counties, meanwhile, both ticked up slightly to 55,480 and 15,818, respectively.

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