Despite its landlocked status, Worthington's population is increasing -- slightly.

According to annual estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on May 25, Worthington gained 39 new residents from 2015 to 2016, increasing from 14,489 to 14,528.

The slight increase brings Worthington's growth to an estimated 7 percent since the last official census in 2010, when the census bureau counted 13,575 residents in the city.

Although it might not be easy to see opportunities for growth in Worthington, City Manager Matt Greeson said those numbers were no surprise.

"I think it speaks to the enhanced vitality of our community," he said. "It's an indication of the positive things that are happening here and the desirable (nature) of the community. It's not unanticipated, in terms of those statistics."

Greeson said he thought two main factors contributed to the growth.

First, he said, the city has been smart in developing living options, such as the Heights at Worthington Place apartments, where those from outside the community are drawn to its amenities.

But second, and perhaps more evident, he said, is the influx of younger homeowners with families.

"Worthington schools have seen tremendous growth, and what we see is that the homes in our neighborhoods are turning over and being bought by young families with children," Greeson said. "One of our brands is that we think we're one of best places in Ohio to raise a family, and we're fortunate to have a highly desired school district and walkable, connected neighborhoods that attract families."

That growth can't be sustained for much longer, however, and Greeson said city leaders are cognizant of making new developments "cautiously and carefully planned to fit within our existing community" in order to make the best of the city's space.

"You're not going to see the types of percentage increases that you might see in ... other communities because we don't have farm fields to annex and put up new rooftops," he said.

Other central Ohio communities

The number of people living in Grandview Heights grew by the largest percentage among all Franklin County cities in the past year, according to census estimates. The suburb's population increased by about 5 percent and is now home to 7,628 people.

The second- and third-fastest growing cities in Franklin County in 2016 were New Albany and Hilliard, which grew about 4.6 and 3.7 percent, respectively. Now, 10,199 people live in New Albany and 34,905 in Hilliard.

The village of Marble Cliff, which borders Grandview Heights, increased its population by 5.1 percent, to 671 people.

The population in every other Franklin County city, village and township grew in 2016, but increases were from less than 1 percent -- like Worthington -- to 1.3 percent, according to the data.

Franklin County as a whole grew by 1.1 percent, or 14,249 people, for a total of 1,264,518. Columbus grew by 1.2 percent, or 10,046 people, for a total of 860,090.

As of this year, Franklin County is the most-populous county in Ohio, with 1.26 million residents, edging out the approximately 1.25 million Cuyahoga County residents sometime last year after that county lost 5,673 residents.

A recent report by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission estimates that the seven-county region of central Ohio is on pace to attract approximately 1 million new people between 2010 and 2050, for a total of 3 million residents by 2050.

Dispatch Assistant Metro Editor Doug Caruso and reporter Alissa Widman Neese contributed to this report.

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