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Lehi was 11th fastest-growing large city in U.S. between 2015-16

SALT LAKE CITY — Lehi was the 11th fastest-growing large city in the nation between 2015 and 2016, according to a U.S. Census Bureau figures released Thursday.

Lehi, which is home to Thanksgiving Point, the Adobe campus and several other tech companies, grew by 4.6 percent between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, according to census data. Lehi's population is now 61,100.

Its growth rate ranks just under that of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just outside Nashville, and Cedar Park, Texas, just outside Austin.

Two other Utah cities were in the top 50 fastest-growing large cities, which the Census Bureau defines as cities with more than 50,000 residents.

South Jordan was ranked 24th, with 3.8 percent population growth, taking its population from 66,500 people to 69,000.

Orem was ranked 31st, with 3.4 percent population growth, growing from 94,300 residents to 97,500 residents.

Pam Perlich, the director of demographic research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, pointed to continued economic development and expansions of I-15 and FrontRunner as explanations for the growth.

"There's been significant improvement in the connectivity between Utah County and Salt Lake County," Perlich said. "Transportation is part of the explanation."

The growth will have significant implications for the prison move and other development in northern Utah County, which is one of the fastest-growing areas of the state.

Other population growth hot spots are southern Salt Lake County and southwest Utah, Perlich said.

Within Utah, the once rural town of Vineyard was the fastest-growing city between 2015 and 2016, growing by 24 percent in one year.

Herriman, in second place, grew by nearly 15 percent. Bluffdale grew by 8 percent.

Perlich said the growth in the areas between Salt Lake City and the Provo-Orem area is reminiscent of a metroplex like Dallas-Forth Worth, which has two major economic centers.

In the past, Salt Lake County, centered around Salt Lake City, developed largely independent of its southern neighbor, Perlich said.

But the growth of BYU, Utah Valley University, the so-called Silicon Slopes, Thanksgiving Point and other major business developments has turned Utah County into a major growth center.

"It's not suburban development in the same way that Morgan County or Tooele County (are growing)," Perlich said. "It's fill-in as Utah County and Salt Lake County merge into one large metropolitan area."

The coal, oil and gas-producing areas of the state continue to struggle, according to the census release.

Vernal lost 3.9 percent of its residents, or about 433 people, between 2015 and 2016 — the largest decline in the state in terms of raw numbers.